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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

Surfing iTunes Radio

I listen to a lot of different music while I write, but I don’t like to hear lyrics. So that means a lot of classical, groove stuff, trip-hop, Jazz, and “ambient sounds” music (another name for New Age, giving it a cooler sound than the flakiness associated—and well deserved—of the Kalifornia Kulture Krowd … which brings me to the subject of “Spinning”: this exercise routine that is no different but for the name than stationary bicycling. I mean, give me a fucking break with the euphemistic bullshit. Call an afternoon bike ride what it is, not a spinning adventure in God’s creation on a star-lit post meridian).

So I opened iTunes this morning at 6.45, wanting something soothing, a little weird, with no words, to carry me into the text and then pull me along. Music has powerful mood affectations. Under the “ambient” category in iTunes radio, you’ll find station titles like Ambient Popsicle, which sounds lewd; Beach House Radio; Chill Out Lounge; Drone Zone; Entranced; Groove Salad; and Birdsong Radio, which i’m almost afraid to open. All of these sound a bit odd, but mostly they are soothing electronica that are simply, as the name correctly defines, ambient sounds. Not white noise, exactly, but something that carries on behind your thinking, rarely interrupting a train of thought. This music is excellent for the creative mind; it masks those intrusive house settling cracks and groans, street noise, the creaking chair on which I sit, flouresent light white noise, and for all you old-time rock’n’rollers with tinnitus because you listened to jams cranked up to 11, ambient sounds cover up the buzz of your own mind.

LuciferI also came across this station: Doomed. This is the creepiest music. Think of Death coming for you, slowly; or, The Exorcist meets your frazzled imagination on a dark night, walking home hearing only your footsteps then others and echos and voices and movement and shadows. Yeah, that kind of creepy.

Doomed radio’s raisson d’etre is the Halloween Season. Listening to it this morning, before the light of day had come up, with fog hanging in the street outside my window, I felt as if demons stood breathing heavily at the door, that gargoyles hung from the cornices above the windows, waiting for me to appear, that Lucifer waited far below down a dark well, his mouth open wide to catch me as I fell through a hole in the floor made real by my imagination, my past, and all those evil thoughts we have lurking behind bright-colored curtains.

I turned that shit off quickly. If you have the time, try to listen to that stuff for more than 10 minutes without the bugs starting to crawl under your skin: “Doomed on SomaFM” in iTunes Radio, category “ambient.”


  chris wrote @ October 27th, 2008 at 10:41 am

I was listening to Gregorian chanting a few weeks back – for similar reasons of background ambient sounds. Damn tranquil it was too.

  ClaireMargaret wrote @ November 9th, 2008 at 7:11 pm

Think I’ll pass on this one, your last paragraph was enough for me to be scared to the bone

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