Friday Playlist: No Words, Please
The end of week five has arrived. At this point in the term, most students are either cramming for that next big test or taking a much-needed break after finishing all their midterms. This playlist of instrumental music will hopefully come in handy, either as distraction-free study music or simply as something to relax to while patiently waiting for grades.
“Cabezon” – Red House Painters
For the band’s fourth album, “Ocean Beach,” Red House Painters decided to take somewhat of a break from its typical slow and drawn-out sound. “Cabezon,” the album’s opening track, communicates this very change. Folky guitars lead this pleasant instrumental, backed by light drumming and a homely acoustic bass. It all adds up to the kind of carefree mood an album title like “Ocean Beach” would most likely suggest.
“Superstar-Watcher” – Yo La Tengo
Nobody can create a mood in the same way Yo La Tengo does. “Superstar-Watcher,” comes as an introspective interlude on the band’s 1993 masterpiece, “Painful.” The track gently floats by with a subtle organ underneath Ira Kaplan’s mellow electric guitar playing. But at only a minute and 45 seconds, it ends too soon. This pick might be somewhat controversial on an instrumental playlist given the quiet spoken word sample used throughout; however, it’s hardly intrusive, so it’ll count.
“Djed” – Tortoise
In 1996, the post-rock band Tortoise reached a high point with its album “Millions Now Living Will Never Die.” The album’s 20-minute opener, “Djed,” could have easily turned into some kind of grand statement, but instead, it feels like an energetic walk in the park followed by a soothing, dream-filled nap at home. Jazzy keyboards and spacey synth sounds introduce themselves throughout the composition, all with a complete subtlety and tranquility. It’s worth listening to this one with a nice pair of headphones.
“Avril 14th” – Aphex Twin
Kanye West made this Aphex Twin track a little more famous after sampling it on his 2010 album, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.” The original recording, however, is a much calmer piece crafted for a solo piano. “Avril 14th” comes from the often underrated Aphex Twin album “Drukqs.” It acts as a smooth break from electronic artist’s frantic bleeps and bloops, but it doesn’t sacrifice any of Aphex Twin’s typical attention to detail.
“In a Silent Way” – Miles Davis
Legendary jazz artist Miles Davis broke into new territory with his 1969 album “In a Silent Way.” The title track — which also takes up the record’s entire b-side at nearly 20 minutes — glides through a series of sparkling jazz chords before jumping into an upbeat and improvisational jam with electric guitar noodling and, of course, some of Davis’ own expert trumpet playing. “In a Silent Way” is often cited as an early example of jazz fusion and the beginning of Davis’ electric period.
“Thursday Afternoon” – Brian Eno
Despite its title, “Thursday Afternoon” can be enjoyed during any day of the week, and at any time of day. The track was originally composed as a soundtrack for a 1985 video art project of the same name, and like other Brian Eno ambient releases it features plenty of ethereal soundscapes and wispy piano melodies. It also lasts just over an hour, but it’s okay to sleep through most of this one.
Check out the full playlist below:
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