Tag Archives: Best music to write to

The Postal Service – Give up

This is a light slice of dance electronica which is a tonic for the soul. It shimmers and grooves, and although others may dispute this definitely a case where the sum of the parts is greater than the individual pieces. Although many of the songs are sombre the overall mood of the album is upliftting, feet tapping perfect for deadlines or when you want a lift.

This was an unlikely and uplifting collaboration between Ben Gibbard vocalist for Death Cab for Cutie an Indie band, worked with electronic musician Jimmy Tamborello who is known as Dntel. A back and fourth exchange of sending each other CD’s as one then the other would cut paste and add either vocals, drums, harmonies or other instruments, cutting and posting and trading ideas and finally finished things. This exchange via post gave rise to the name The Postal Service.I’m not sure whether it came as a surprise when the US Postal Service tried to get them to can the band name, but a settlement was reached including them playing at a conference.

In the early to mid noughts this was one of the albums that was playing in every coffee shop in Newtown. I can almost equate this music to coffee, the light buzz and rush of energy it gives you, queue end of coffee analogies as it doesn’t give you bad breath or make you anxious if you have too much of it


Yes, the whole time, but they are beautiful, light male vocals.

By turns melancholy and uplifting,  a perfect meld.

Good to work to
Great when you need something breezy and by turns melancholy. The constant beat means your word count won’t falter and you’ll keep knocking out the words.

This is a like a disco pop scene. I’m thinking it’s a bit LCD sound system, a little post Kraftwerk, mixed in with some weird way with Shugo Tokumaru. Not sure if that’s a long bow or not.

If you like this I’d also recommend the Shins, a great pop band who released a lot of great music at the time.

The Artist/s
Ben Gibbard vocalist for Death Cab for Cutie an Indie band, worked with electronic musician Jimmy Tamborello who is known as Dntel. Jenny Lewis from Rilo Kiley also does backing vocals, as does Jen Wood, while Chris Walla plays piano on one track.

Perhaps the reason why the Postal Service is so delightful is the different approaches. Gibbard and Tamborello were the main players on this project. I have no idea why they haven’t followed up on one of the most popular albums their album Sub-Pop have put out.

Other works
Believe it or not they haven’t released anything else, well not unless you count the EPs they released that feature cover versions of some of their best songs by other indie darlings Sam Beam aka Iron & Wine and the Shins.

I can recommend Dntel although I’m not as big a fan of Death Cab for Cutie, but that is of fourse entirely subjective as Death Cab have many die hard fans.

Where Can I buy it, and in what formats
This has been repressed a few times now. A pop masterpiece. I’d go vinyl because that’s my favourite, but you can get it everywhere and of course on iTunes.

The Verdict
Hurry you need to buy this album immediately. It is liquid energy, but not in a distracting way. Liquid energy that lets you keep on moving.

Julee Cruise – Floating into the Night

A great album for David Lynch fans, Julee Cruise in her greatest moment. Dream pop, calm, and sombre magical are the words for this album which created the mood for the must watch TV series Twin Peaks.

This album was created of the back of the Blue Velvet film, and used extensively for the soundtrack of Twin Peaks the television series. Angelo Badalamenti and Director David Lynch composed the music and Julee Cruise was brought in to perform the hauntingly beautiful album. Twin Peaks was a revolutionary television series with touches of the surreal based around the brutal murder of a high school girl, Laura Palmer, in a rural community.

Badlamenti was tasked by David Lynch to create ethereal music for the earlier Lynch film Blue Velvet. Cruise was selected on the basis of her participation in a Theatre Workshop that Badalamenti had produced. When Badalamenti was commissioned to create the soundtrack for Twin Peaks Crusie was the perfect choice.


The single was called falling and it made the Billboard charts while the album sold half a million copies.


Yes this album is a breathy showpiece. All lyrics were written by David Lynch and all music was composed by Angelo Badamamenti.

Calm and relaxed is what this album is all about.

Good to work to
Great album to relax to.

Like a jazzy mood album of the past, mixed in with a dose of dark magic.

The Artist/s
Julee Cruise who sings the tracks is an actress and singer.

David Lynch the lyricist is an acclaimed film director

Angelo Badalamenti is a composer who has worked on a host of soundtracks and other musical projects

Other works
Julee Cruise did release other albums after this but it would be fair to say there is no way it could be compared to this.

What I would recommend is the Blue Velvet soundtrack. This was another Lynch Badalamenti collaboration and the first where they brought in Julee Cruise on the track Mysteries of Love. The success of this collaboration gave the impetus for the latter album. It is different as it is a more traditional soundtrack featuring the music of other artists such as Roy Obison with In Dreams and Bobby Vinton on the title track Blue Velvet.

Angelo Badalamenti was a continued collaborator with David Lynch so you might want to check out some of the other soundtracks they worked on such as the darker follow up Twin Peaks movie Fire Walk with Me, likewise other movies such as Mullholland Drive. I wasn’t able to find much of this on itunes, although I’m sure it’s there if you search hard enough. Below is a link to the official Twin Peaks soundtrack.


You may also like Dark night of the soul, a musical/visual project of Sparklehorse and David Lynch with a range of musicians and featuring Lynch singing on a few of the tracks. A different style to the featured album, but interesting

Where Can I buy it, and in what formats
A bit pricier on vinyl these days, but fairly cheap on iTunes and a winner from start to finish.

The Verdict
A great album, just what you need to send yo on to another world. This album definitely has a presence that may work for you.

The Beta Band – The Three EPs

Definitely coming under the ‘not for everybody’ category, if you don’t hate this you’ll probably think it’s the genius. I’t been labeled trip hop, folktronica and a number of other things, none of which quite prepare you for the journey that is the three EPs. At it’s heart this is a band who play some very enjoyable jams and weave together some honey sounding vocal melodies. When you throw on top all of the fun experimental stuff they put on top, you get the whole picture.

An intriguing mix of sounds that can sound like honeyed folk one moment, then acid and electronic tinged folk, to hip hop and Beatlesque number nine like flights of fancy on tracks like the 15.48 minutes “Monolith.” I think this album just gets better as you listen to it.

They never made it super huge, but they’ve been name checked in movies like Hi Fidelity as the album you put on when you want to sell five copies of an album in a really short time.

Not surprisingly it is made up of the first three EPs to be produced by the anglo scottish Beta Band. The EPs are in order Champion Versions, The Patty Patty Sound, and Los Amigos del Beta Bandidos. You’ll probably have your own favourite one even if you listen to it as one. My favouritee is the Patty Patty sound that goes a little crazy in a good way.


Yes, and they are great. Also quite a few samples thrown in as well.

This is a fun album, lots of folky very rhythmic folky sing along, wight eh trip hop and a bit of weirdness throw in. I find this a really enjoyable piece of music as a whole. Really I’m a big fan. This would be one of my all time favourite albums if I’m being honest.

Good to work to
Well I like slightly weird music so it’s always going to be good for me, but this album is folky and groove based so large parts of it will work for anyone. When it veers off and gets triply it’s not going to appeal to everyone, but those who like it will really like it.

I know not everyone might agree but there is a bit of Beck in the folk hip hop electronic vibe of his earlier work that I’m reminded of. Maybe not the other albums on this site, but something like Beck’s Odelay.

The Artist/s
Hailing from Scotland, forming in 1996 and disbanding in 20014 the Beta Band are…

John Maclean
Richard Greentree
Steve Mason
Robin Jones
Gordon Anderson
Steve Duffield

Other works
This is one of those albums that herald the birth of creative genius where you think they are going to become absolutely massive, but never quite happens. The Beta band released 2 other albums Hot Shots II in 2001, and Heroes to Zeros in 2004.

While they received some critical acclaim, the three Eps is the stand out work in my mind. Steve Mason the Beta Band’s lead singer alson released music as King Biscuit Boy.

Where Can I buy it, and in what formats
The CD and electronic versions of the album have been in constant circulation. If you love vinyl the original three individual Eps have been re-released.

The Verdict
Pass the crazy pills this is a great album where folk and a big dollop of imagination combine

Micachu and the Shapes with the London Sinfionetta – Chopped and Screwed

Micachu and the Shapes with the London Sinfionetta- Chopped and Screwed

This is a menacing moody dissonant masterpiece, with all the off centre features of Micachu and the shapes song transcribed into an orchestral setting. Not everyone can pull off dissonant in a satisfyingly musical manner, but Micachu and the shapes have the chops to pull it off. That said there are more than a few songs with vocals and a few hooks to hold onto.

I came to Micachu and the Shapes after hearing they were Bjork’s favourite band for a period of time. They are usually catchy melody driven dissonant pop songs. This album is anything but that, there are some recognisable elements but this is a true artistic departure from that known way.

Even from their elarlier debut album, you could tell they were super talented to twist such catchy pop songs in a way that didn’t distort it away from the song. I don’t find any weird for weirds sake posing in the way they put toether songs.

2011, through Rough Trade

There are some lyrics but they blend into a soundscape more than ever taking centre stage.

Mood –
While there are inherently menacing elements to a musical palatte that leans so heavily on dissonance. Paradoxically there is a warmth throughout the numbers on this album which are absolutely delightful.

Good to work to –
I find this album to be great for putting me into a mood that allows me to keep on going and block out the world really effectively.

I could possibly put it into the minimalist classical school. But that is most probably a misnomer, as the songs are only repetitve in theme for a length of time more similar to a pop album, than as opposed to something like Steven Reich or something like that.

The Artist/s – Micachu and the Shapes with the London Sinfionetta
The London Sinfionetta are classical muscians first and foremost, but they are part of a body that promotes new contemporary music. I had a quick look on the web and they seem to have played on lots of things, but they’re not like a band or something. They sound pretty darn fine to me though. You can go on their site and check out many of their other collaborations and listen and watch.

Micachu and the Shapes are
Mica Levi – vocals
Raisa Khan – Keyboards
Mark Pell – drums

Micachu and the sahpes specialise in differnet time signatures, distortion, non-standard tunings, found object intruments and generally putting a different slant on classic pop. This album is nothing like there standard though.

Other works
If you are curious about Micachu and the shapes they have an absolutely transcendent alternative pop album. Starting out with Jewellry which I think every household should have. It is such a sunny beautiful weird album you can’t go wrong.

If you are interested in hearing some mix tapes in a completely different style, there are several available online for free download

Where Can I buy it, and in what formats
You can find this album on iTunes and the link is shown below, there was also a limited edition album version on vinyl. This is one of my favourite albums, and it is just great to get into a different headspace.

The Verdict
Yes, it’s great, but maybe have a listen to it first at the iTunes link above and see if it’s your cup of tea

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu – Gurrumul

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu – Gurrumul

There is a depth and gentleness to this album that will put you into a good place to write. But, unless you are one of the handul of people who can speak Yolgnu or one of the other aboriginal languages the lyrics aren’t going to distract you.

There is a deep beauty and emotion put into the delivery of the lyrics and songs on this album that goes beyond words. You can get lost this set of songs, gentle lullabies with depth.


Yes but in a mixture of languages spoken by very few people that will not distract you.

Calming and perfect for meditative works.

Good to work to
Great to work when you need to be calmed.

I can’t imagine what I could compare this to aside from indigenous lullabies.

If you like the idea of exploring Australian Indigenous music I can point you in a few directions. There is in my favourite aboriginal band, a black and white collaboration called the Warumpi Band from the early eighties, although it’s definitely not music to write to.

If you like that but want something less raw Christine Anu did a beautiful cover of one of their most famous songs my Island home.

MIA is a Sri Lankan Tamil Englishwoman, and she collaborated with some aboriginal kids in this great track “Mango Pickle Down River” from her earliest album

The Artist/s
Geoffrey “Gurrumul” Yunupingu a blind Yolgnu guy who plays a right hand strung guitar left handed, didgeridoo, drums and organ. He is a very shy bloke who can’t read braille, and speaks little English. He sings in Galpu, Gumatj, or Djanbarrpuyna languages. He was born and grew up in Arnhem land, and a remote area aborigin’d knocked around in bands such as Yothu Yindi. Despite the success of his youth he was plucked from obscurity in the remote Northern Territory of Australia, to release a breakout album in a mixture of English, Yolgnu, and other aboriginal dialects.

Other works
Gurrumul has released later albums but this is my favourite so far.

Before his breakout album Gurrumul, Geoffrey “Gurrumul” Yunupingu had already had a career in one of the biggest Australian aboriginal rock bands Yothu Yindi many years before. Yothu Yindi was the first band Gurrumul was in and a hugely successful one of the nineties with their song treaty, after the hoped for treaty between the aboriginal nations of Australia and the Australian government. This treaty has still not eventuated.

In Latter days Gurrumul has been a member of the Saltwater band.

Where Can I buy it, and in what formats
It has been re-released on vinyl as well. An absolute cracker of an album, and of course on itunes

The Verdict
Yes get it as soon as possible. It is calming, and will work for you.

Moondog in Europe

Moondog  In Europe
Moondog had lived and performed on the streets of New York for years before he was taken to Europe, lauded and given the freedom to make albums such as this one. It’s not his most eclectic album, but he has fairly high standards of eclecticism. If a modern day DJ mixed native american beats, classical arrangements and jazz they would be lauded. When Moondog mixed these styles sixty years ago, he was considered a talented Kook.

Moondog a.k.a Louis Hardin grew up and lived in the west of America. It is said that the seminal moment in his life was when his father took him to a Sun Dace of the Arapaho tribe. He is said to have sat on the lap of Chief Yellow Calf and played a tom tom during the ceremony. Moondog can truly be seen as a product of times that will never come again. He was an unwitting pioneer of world music, influenced by jazz, and the classical music training available to him by chance after he was blinded in his youth.

I am quite verbose on many topics, but the music of Moondog speaks for itself. He has inspired countless people and thinkers. The first thing you don’t necessarily need to know but adds a little spice to the listen is, that it was all done by a giant blind man dressed as a viking who lived on the streets of New York. This might not be all you need to know, but hopefully it is enough to interest you. Moondog is in his own genre.


                Not a one


The album is fairly eclectic, with the first half a bit of everything before moving into the second half which focuses on Church organ. I guess the first half is more eclectic and contains many of the standard Moondog sounds such as glockenspiel, native american drumming, as well as Church organ.

Good to work to

Absolutely fantastic to work to. Meets all the requirements, it takes you beyond and has few associations with anything of my brain to cling to and divert me with. While I learnt to love Moondog because of his diversity, this album has more steady motifs than most and is excellent for focus. I always like working to Moondog’s music, but I find the first half is great for shaking things up and removing my head from the day to day. The second half with it’s slower Church organ music that really gets me going and in the mood for writing.


I can think of nothing like this album and artist. Don’t let it discourage you though. Moondog mixes classical, church, native american, and be-bop.

Other artists on this site he is similar to from the point of view of being consider a minimalist are Philip Glass and Steve Reich. Moondog is definitely on the experimental side of the coin though.
He also gets compared a lot to a guy called Harry Partch who was also a virtuoso who made his own instruments, but I think their musical sensibilities are not of the same ilk.

The Artist/s

Louis Hardin who later took the name of Moondog had a fascinating life. Brought up by his father near to an indian reservation. He was sent completely blind when he was sixteen. A blasting cap he was holding in his hands exploded. He was sent to blind school and received a musical education he said he could have afforded otherwise. Perhaps because of the loss of his sight, he became quite the amazing musician.
I lose track of the story when he moved to New York and decided to live on the streets dressed as a Viking. He had some amazing encounters with potential collaborators like Stravinsky, Bernstein, and Charlie Parker that all seemed to go wrong at one stage or another. After many years on the streets, with sporadic recording contracts, he eventually moved to Germany. The Germans recognised his genius and took him under their wing and allowed him to record a number of eclectic albums  such as this one, using Sax, Church organ, and many other instruments. Oh yeah, and he also invent various musical instruments.

Other works

Moondog had a long and eclectic recording career, from the New York, to latter day German eclectic renaissance. Other albums such as The Viking of Sixth Avenue, Moondog, Moondog2, Elpmas, H’art songs,  Moondogin Europe, Sax Pax for a Sax, and various other lesser known albums released from a random mix of countries in Europe and America. I would get everything if I was you, but maybe check whether you like this album first.

Where Can I buy it, and in what formats

This is not always the easiest album to find in any format other than electronic, but thanks to iTunes it’s a pretty easy one to find these days.

The Verdict

Get out there and buy it as soon as you can.

Steve Reich – Music for 18 instruments

Steve Reich – Music for 18 instruments
Music for 18 instruments is considered a minimalist classic. It pulls you in and keeps you moving. The musical themes are repeated making listening to it a particularly meditative experience.

It is classical music, but modern classical. It has obviously really good musicianship, but repetitive grooves that work for you without getting too clever or distracting, whilst at the same time being quite riveting. It’s probably not an album I’d listen to when I wasn’t working as it really sends you to that meditative place I don’t always want outside of work hours.


No lyrics, just orchestra.

There is a pace to this piece, but I am conscious that it seems to move in cycles as it plays. It is one of those albums that has a fast tempo that keeps you moving without overdoing it. I would say it is a driving piece of music. I certainly feel guilty when I’m not typing along to this.

Good to work to
Music for 18 instruments is consistently listed as one of the top albums to listen to when you’re writing, for good reason. There is nothing in this album to distract you. The musical motifs are present, and the tempo is driving. Like other classical music it’s not going to bother the hit parade, but it is music that sends you inside yourself, which is just where you want to be when you’re writing

Steve Reich is usually mentioned in the same breath as Phillip Glass. Reich and Glass are both minimalist composers. The only work of Glass I have on this site is Powaqqatsi. I have got other classical music but little in a similar vein to this album.

Something like “Music for 18 musicians” reminds me more of electronic music more than anything. The difference is that not many electronic albums sustain a motif the whole way through, although some do of course.

If you know any other albums of a similar nature that are good to write to please let me know and I’ll do a little piece on them.

The Artist/s
The eightenn musicians in the Steve Reich Ensemble are
– Steve Reich – percussion (tuned drums, marimba), piano, whistling
– Pamela Wood Ambush – vocals
– Rebecca Armstrong –  vocals (soprano)
– Marion Beckenstein –  vocals (soprano)
– Bob Becker    – percussion (tuned drums, marimba, xylophone)
– Phillip Bush – piano
– Jay Clayton – vocals (alto), piano
– Tim Ferchen – percussion (marimba, xylophone)
– Ben Harms –  percussion (tuned drums, marimba)
– Russell Hartenberger – percussion (tuned drums, marimba, xylophone)
– Garry Kvistad – percussion (glockenspiel, marimba, xylophone), piano
– Jeanne Le Blanc – cello
– Richard Rood – violin
– Elizabeth Lim – violin
– Edward Niemann – piano
– James Preiss – percussion (tuned drums), vibraphone, piano
– Joseph Rasmussen – percussion
– Scott Rawls – viola
– Todd Reynolds – violin
– Cheryl Bensman Rowe – vocals (soprano)
– Gary Schall – percussion (tuned drums)
– Leslie Scott – clarinet, bass clarinet
– Mort Silver – piccolo
– Nurit Tilles – piano, electric organ
– David Van Tieghem – percussion (glockenspiel, marimba, xylophone, tuned drums, claves), piano
– Glen Velez – percussion (tuned drums)
– Thad Wheeler – percussion (tuned drums, glockenspiel, marimba, maracas)
– Evan Ziporyn – clarinet, bass clarinet

Other works
Although this album is the biggie he has a gazillion other works, I just don’t know any of them.

Where Can I buy it, and in what formats
You should be able to get this most places, It’s a bit pricey with Vinyl, but it’s defintely on iTunes. You might even get the chance to see it in concert.

The Verdict
Your not going to get much a better album to tap away to. The sound is completely immersive and just what you need when you need to block out the world. This is a really good album to work to. The motif takes you in and blocks everything else out.

Top 6 albums to write to

6  – Alice Coltrane – Journey In Satchidananda
Alice Coltrane’s Journey in Satchidananda has a feel unlike any other album I know. Deep bass Jazz grooves are infused with world music flavoured harp and percussion.  A touch of India  is combined with the smell of the jazz cigarettes in clubs across Europe and the states.
Whether it’s all the cultural references in my head, or something else entirely, this album is otherworldly. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t think this is completely different to anything they’ve ever heard before. I saw this album for years before I made the choice to buy it. The album with the crazy looking name was a hard sell, but once I got it I never regretted it.

5 – Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever ago
This is an album for those who like to listen to warm sounding music that takes you on a comfortable sad journey. This is an album that you will enjoy listening to, and can savour but never overpowers you. Warm vocal harmonies and relaxing sounds are the order of the day.

Bon Iver is apparently pronounced Bon ee -vare, thought you might like to know that. Bon Iver is a french expression meaning Good Winter. This album has a great story behind it that if anything enhances the listen.

4 – Ravi Shankar – Three Ragas
When Ravi Shankar put out this album in 1956, the world was a small place, and Rock n’Roll was still an infant. Ten years later and Ravi Shankar had taught George Harrison how to play sitar and you could hear it on Beatles and Rolling Stones albums across the world. Beatles tracks like Norwegian Wood and Within You Without You, certainly gave the western ear their first taste of the distinctive tones and made it cool. Earlier than that even Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones had immortalised the ringing introductory sounds of Paint it Black.

A great album to put you into a trance, where your fingers fly across the keys and the next thing you know you have completed some words and are feeling better for it. This is one of the earliest and most famous Sitar albums and certainly one that will suck you in, if for nothing else, as an extremely effective tool to help you write.

3 – Janacek – Sinfionetta
Another great album if you want to shift your consciousness to a place where you can focus. From the opening bars of symphonic brass this album hooked me. It fluctuates and goes from peaceful, sweet, to confrontational and loud. I found that the somewhat erratic styles of this music for some reason don’t throw me at all. It is definitely not the kind of music I ever imagined liking.

It seems more like music that would be used on ads for the winter olympics than anything you would work to. After I wrote this I discovered it had indeed been used as a theme song in a seventies/eighties TV show, and was partly covered in a rock style by Emerson Lake and Palmer. The motifs and themes push me to write faster and then gives me some respite to slow down.

This album has garnered a lot of attention in light of it being mentioned throughout IQ84, a magical realist novel by popular Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami. I have listened to a lot of the music name checked in Murakami’s novels, but this is the only one I use consistently to write to. It has the drama that if nothing else makes reading IQ84 a much more emotional experience. What Murakami is tapping into is the emotional journey that Janacek takes you on

 2 – Kraftwerk- Man Machine
Man Machine is classic Kraftwerk German electronica. From the opening track ‘We are the robots’ the tempo is set, it has lots of beeps and whistles, and seventies pseudo computer sounds as it goes along. Kraftwerk were unique at the time and even with the passage of time the quality of their work is not diminished. This is one of those great albums where even the artwork is laid out to  enhance the listening experience. The album cover as above is another reflection of the tracks on the album that pull you along with a thematic experience of the man machine.

This album grabs the iconography of extremes, super imposes the world of machines and industrialism, and isolation, to make a great cohesive album. It was massive at the time and will be one of those timeless album that is always around.

1 – Moondog – Viking of sixth avenue
Albeit a ‘best of’, if a modern day DJ mixed native american beats, classical arrangements and jazz this well they would be the next big thing. When Moondog mixed these styles sixty years ago, he was considered a talented Kook. After hearing this, if it doesn’t have you scouring the internet for his other releases you are wasting valuable time. A beautiful eclectic album all about the music, for it is the message.
I am quite verbose on many topics, but the music of Moondog speaks for itself. He has inspired countless people and thinkers. The Viking of Sixth Avenue is a compilation of his life and career. The first thing you don’t necessarily need to know but adds a little spice to the listen is, that it was all done by a giant blind man dressed as a viking who lived on the streets of New York. This might not be all you need to know, but hopefully it is enough to interest you. Moondog is in his own genre.

Kraftwerk – Man Machine

Kraftwerk – Man Machine – music to write to
Man Machine is classic Kraftwerk German electronica. From the opening track ‘We are the robots’ the tempo is set. Beeps, whistles, and seventies pseudo computer sounds create a memorable and ground breaking album that set the scene for much of the music to come over the next forty years. This album takes a lot of beating as a writing album. It is cohesive, fun, speedy, and great to drive your fingers as they tap away at the keys.

Kraftwerk were unique at the time and even with the passage of time the quality of their work is not diminished. This is one of those great albums where even the artwork is laid out to  enhance the listening experience. The album cover as above is another reflection of the tracks on the album that pull you along with a thematic experience of the man machine.

They actually designed and created some musical instruments to enable them to record their albums. They also conceptualised their music as a response to technology and modernism. The red and black cover with the whole band in matching uniforms is inspired by Russian artists of the Suprematism movement, in particular El Lissitzky. Suprematism is based around geometric forms and a limited palette of colours. Suprematism refers to ‘the supremacy of our artistic feeling. The movement was born around the time of the start of world war one, but with the development of the Russian revolution developed artists were pushed into conforming. Like many artistic movements it foundered but gave birth to further art movements that I also know little about. To the outsider the symbolism looks purely authoritarian and also shares the nazi colours. This album grabs the iconography of extremes, super imposes the world of machines and industrialism, and isolation, to make a great cohesive album. It was massive at the time and will be one of those timeless album that is always around.

They are as you would imagine by looking at the artwork on their albums, eccentric visionary chaps. They are notoriously reclusive. The standing information that they hand out about contacting them is that they have set up the phone in their studio so it does not ring so they are not interrupted when they are recording. They advise of a time when the phone will be answered.

Coldplay apparently asked to use a sample and had to write several letters through their lawyers to the Kraftwerk lawyers to get into contact. Apparently they received a handwritten letter with a single word written word. I can see a certain synergy there as Coldplay also write music as if it were written by robots, although it is written by humans.

Bottom line, a great album to write to.


Yes, but not that money. As you listen to this album the only lyrics sounds more like electronic directions for how to use the dishwasher than song lyrics.

Mechanical and speedy. Not quite inhuman, but it certainly has the feel of people trying to sound like computers, but just before the era when it would have been possible for them to actually make the entire thing with computers.

Good to work to
Yes, Man Machine puts you in the mood to do something quickly straight away. The album is melodic in a really simple minimalist way, but it is the insistent tempo that keeps you working.

There was a veritable plague of German electronica in the seventies with bands like Can and Nue, so much so that the term Krautrock was coined as a result.

The Artist/s 
Kraftwerk are one of the most influential electronic bands in the world. Kraftwerk mean power station in germ on.

The Kraftwerk line-up that created Man Machine were
Ralf Hutter – album concept cover, keyboard, synthesiser, vocoder, voice etc
Florian Schneider – album concept, electronics, synthesiser, vocoder
Karl Bartos – electronic drums
Wolfgang Flur – electronic drums

Other works
They have a whole set of great albums, you aren’t going to find a big difference in sound between these albums but a whole

Where Can I buy it, and in what formats
You can get Kraftwerk everywhere in all formats

The Verdict
Perfect for writing, a steady pace and active tempo to work to.

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – Will the circle be unbroken

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – Will the circle be unbroken

One day the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, a rag tag bunch of talented hippies, had an idea that some of the most talented musicians in America who had been overlooked were slipping into obscurity. They thought the best way to bridge the gap between these musical superstars who were overlooked outside of the Nashville sound and scene was to make an album celebrating that heritage with them. Not all of the greats agreed to participate but they certainly got most of them. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band get their name on the cover and deserve a big slap on the back if for nothing else than gathering together the greats while they were still alive and making this fantastic album happen.

Country may not be your thing, but this is high quality country and I find it mellow and relaxing, the perfect thing to have in the background when I’m writing. I have friends who think it’s sacrilege to have things in the background that are paid no attention. I on the contrary like having the right kind of music with the right kind of feel washing away any thoughts other than what I am focussing on.

The songs are generally classics of the country era although perhaps not so well known these days. Stars of the era like the Mother Maybelle Carter, Roy Acuff, and Earl Scruggs sing and play a mixture of guitars and banjos with a skill built up over a lifetime. At times the bluegrass rags and traditional songs he ark back to a celtic folk heritage, but the accents are unmistakably American. All of the tracks are first or second takes, these were experienced musicians.

Track list is full of classics like keep on the sunny side, like a rolling stone, honkytonkin and a stack of other tracks that will probably vibrate in the back of your head as you’ve heard them used on various films used as the sound of rural America.

Part of the joy of this album is the dialogue between the songs where the musicians are working out who will play what and how. As well as recording the tracks they let the tape record throughout the entire sessions so you can get an idea of what kind of person that these musicians were.


Yes, straight-forward songs with lyrics

This album has a down home yes haw feeling. It goes from ballads to hoedown finger picking frenzy songs. There is some real emotion and genuine feeling in these songs that will not disappoint.

Good to work to
I find this a comforting album to work to. I like albums that occasionally go into some high tempo music, this can lift my typing tempo and flip me into a different type of thinking, but one I can’t keep up forever. For that erason I like a diverse album like this.

I can’t say I listen to a lot of bluegrass music, but I guess anything else that is labelled as bluegrass. I don’t know enough other stuff to reccomend.

The Artist/s
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band with many legends of the bluegrass and country and western scene including…

Roy Acuff – Renowned singer and fiddler who popularised the more commercial singer style that popularised the music

“Mother” Maybelle Carter – Original member of the Carter family singing group, that popularised the Carter Family picking style. A mother figure on the country circuit, and Johnny Cash’s grandmother.

Doc Watson – Singer and master of guitar flat picking

Earl Scrugges – Acknowledged as the inventor of the scruggs three finger style banjo picking style, and performd the ballad of Jed Clampett for the cult sixties TV show the Beverly Hillbillies

Merle Travis – popular singer songwriter who often wrote about the hardships of coal-miners

Pete “Oswald” Kirby aka Bashful Brother Oswald popularised the resonator guitar and Dobro

Jimmy Martin – Known as the King of Bluegrass

Vassar Clements – dubbed the father of hillbilly jazz, who taught himself to play fiddle at the age of seven

Other works
The incredible string band and all of the fantastic musicians that play along on this album……… have hundreds of albums between them.

Where Can I buy it, and in what formats
This is one of those albums that will always remain in print. You should even be able to find a second hand copy on vinyl without to much trouble.

The Verdict
This is a great laid back album to listen to while you’re typing away. It’s country but straight up bluegrass country. So know big steel guitars and nashville production just straight ahead backwoods musicianship.