Tag Archives: High tempo

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.

Charanjit Singh – Ten Ragas to a disco beat

Charanjit Singh – Ten Ragas to a disco beat
Disco and ancient indian music. A strange mix that’s not for everyone, but perfect for others. With a late eighties disco electronica sound it’s been called early acid house trance before it’s time. Well, it wasn’t very successful at the time, but it has been rediscovered by a later generation.

The story goes session muso Charanjit Singh thought he’d do something a bit different. He mixes traditional Ragas with a disco beat, and the results are a trippy, trancey, disco pop eastern masterpiece, with all the hallmarks of the technology of the time.

1982, re-released in 2002 and 2010

All instrumental with just a smidge of vocoder vocals.

Upbeat electronica, with endless Raga grooves. Put this on your mixtape and you’ll definitely spin out your friends.

Good to work to
This album has a frenetic pace and is designed to either send you mad or kick you into a higher gear. For me I love it. It works like a charm for getting my fingers skimming over the keyboard,

Amongst the music I’ve written about you might think it shares most in common with Ravi Shankar’s, Three Ragas album, but I’m not so sure. It has elements of trance and electronica. I wouldn’t really compare it to any of the electronica on this site, it’s got to much of an eastern feel. If you like this you might find Kraftwerk and Lemon Jelly too bland.

For me this album has more in common with Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew than any of the albums on this site. The music has the same power to melt your head and completely go through you. With that said it takes me to another place where the worries of the day can’t touch me and I’m free in my head to put words down.

The Artist/s
Charanjit Singh was a session muso on Bollywood films and albums from the sixties through the eighties. This album first came out on cassette which was cutting edge in 1982.

Other works

You can try Experiments in Calypso his later record. I haven’t been able to find it so good luck with that. I could affiliate this with other world music, but I’m not sure it fits.

Where Can I buy it, and in what formats

You can get this album on iTunes. I found the vinyl but expect to pay a premium if you want to get it on vinyl.

The Verdict

I love this, very trippy.

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.

The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard & Clark

The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard & Clark – Gene Clark and Doug Dillard
One of the first bands to combine bluegrass rock n’ roll and east coast hippie idealism, this is one great band. This album is smooth and fun, with classic songs and great grooves, with none of the sacharine that makes country indigestible. It maintains a steady pace that keeps my fingers tapping over the keyboard.

The vibe of the entire album is relaxed fun bluegrass fingerpicking good times ho-down music.

This is a significant album in the history of country rock, and is played on by a who’s who of country rock royalty, Byrds, Eagles, and Flying Burrito Brothers. The fact that Gene Clark, Chris Hillman, and Bernie Leadon are some of the all time fantastic song writers of the country rock pioneering generation doesn’t hurt either.

I can’t quite describe the happy little rythm bluegrass/rock has, but this album has it in spades. It is an easy high tempo pitch that keeps you moving along and I find my words move along at the same pace.

This has nothing to do with the quality of the album or the speed with which you can write to it, but if you want to listen to the most rootin tootin, cool album you’ve ever heard… And as for that album cover it is so funny, two of the coolest looking hippie bluegrass wildcats in a cool motorcycle and sidecar. File this under unbelievably cool, and indeed fantastic.



Relaxed and easy. Country bluegrass.

Good to work to
If you don’t like bluegrass you’re going to hate it. I like Bluegrass a little bit, and I like country rock with good lyrics, so this is metaphorical music to my ears.

This album is a bit of a cross between classic bluegrass and the country rock later popularised by Gram Parsons and the Eagles. Bernie Leadon who featured in this line up not surprisingly was in a key member of the supergroup the Eagles.

The only thing I’ve put up so far (although I hope not the last) that would compare is some of the Bluegrass, including will the Circle remain Unbroken. That album is more old school but has the same uptempo bluegrass feel.

The Artist/s
Gene Clark has the curious distinction of only ever lasting for one album with any one record label before being dropped for wilful, drug fuelled, or erratic misbehaviour. He gained fame in the Byrds and with ex Byrd Hillman. There are numerous books about his Clark’s life, with one of the funniest anecdotes coming from many years after the release of this album. He took his kids to see orginal Star Wars then to grab some fast food afterwards. In the fast food joint Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) happened to pop in and seeeing Clark was star struck, while Clark’s kids were star struck over Hamill. So while a washed up alcoholic in the twilight of his career at the time, he was the dad who got Luke Skywalker to hang out with them, bumping up his kudos considerably.

Doug Dillard was a bluegrass hero in his ex band the Dillards. He was just the kind of hard living rebel to match wits with the erratic Clard.

Bernie Leadon was to gain fame as a founder member of the Eagles. A killer song writer he co-wrote and filled out this band of future country rock royalty.

Chris Hillman and Sneaky Pete Kleinhow were both to gain fame as part of Gram Parsons, Flying Burrito Brothers. They wrote a lot of timeless songs.

Michael Clark and Chris Hillman were also famous ex members of the Byrds.

Featured artists on The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard & Clark

•    Gene Clark – guitar, harmonica, vocals
•    Doug Dillard – banjo, fiddle, guitar
•    Bernie Leadon – banjo, bass, guitar, vocals
•    Chris Hillman – mandolin
•    Sneaky Pete Kleinhow – pedal steel guitar
•    Jon Corneal – drums
•    Michael Clarke – drums
•    David Jackson – bass, piano, cello, vocals
•    Byron Berline – fiddle
•    Donna Washburn – guitar, tambourine, vocals
•    Donald Beck – mandolin, fretted dobro
•    Andy Belling – harpsichord

•    Producer: Larry Marks

Other works
In terms of a famous band going off in a hundred different directions  this is the one you’d start with. Take your pick Leadon went off to the Eagles. You can go back in time to the Byrds and their extensive back catalogue. You can head for the Flying Burrito Brothers Gram Parsons famous country rock band. If you want to delight in Bluegrass then head in the direction of the Dillards.

For mine although not neccessarily the best for writing I would mine the extensive Gene Clark back catalogue. He recorded extensively and has some fantastic albums such as the classic “No Other.”

Where Can I buy it, and in what formats
You can get this anywhere (online) digitally and on disc, although it’s a bit harder to find on vinyl.

The Verdict
For me this is a staple of any collection. Especially for any collector of country rock or Bluegrass. It’s great music that is both cheeky and fun.

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.

Chemical Brothers – Further

This is an album to listen to when you need to produce words quickly. I would not normally recommend a chemical brothers album to work to, but this album is an exception. The beats per minute get me working like a metronome. It was also nominated for Best Electronic/Dance Album Grammy in 2011.

When I first bought this album on vinyl, I laid out cushions in the middle of my lounge room for the all important first listen. I got myself myself a cup of tea, a good book, and plugged the headphones in so I wouldn’t disturb my lady friend who was writing an essay in the next room. She is easily influenced by music and usually only plays very chilled kind of stuff when writing. The music played and I was loving this little relaxation treat even though I had to keep turning the sides, 2 discs and sides a,b,c, and d with a lot of newer vinyl releases like this one. As I was changing records for side C she came in and said, “You do realise that those headphones don’t work and I can hear everything.” Luckily I had been lying between the speakers so had been enjoying the full blast of the tunes oblivious to this fact. Without the headphones it sounded even better, and it’s steady beats were perfect for her to work to as well.

I can put my hand up and say that this review may well be influenced by my abiding love of the Chemical Brothers. However, I would probably not want to work to most of their albums.  Perhaps not having any ‘break out singles’ on this album, that enables it to work on you differently to the rest of their output.

The album starts slowly with Snow, then kicks in with Escape Velocity which really gets the heart racing. My fingers hit the keyboard at much greater speed when I listen to this album than with any other artist. Look at me I’m gushing like a virgin. With trademark crescendos, peaks and troughs the Chemical Brothers deliver again.  Yeah, I like it.


Yes some, and the odd horse sample or two. None of the lyrics are powerful enough to put you off your stride, just enjoy the ride.

Upbeat, with fast beats. Samples are used throughout and they love using the whole sonic palate. Some of the samples may appear abrasive at first listen, but all of the songs can be taken as thematic pieces.

Good to work to
A great album to lift the heart rate. It’s study motifs aren’t too jerky, so if you’re feeling tired this is a great album to put on to lift the tempo. You might not think that you can write to the Chemical Brothers, but all I can say is if you’re in a hurry and need to deliver the goods, it’s the album.

I don’t really listen to enough dance styled music to really know what it sounds like, but if it were a movie it might be a cinematic movie soundtrack. It is an altogether even album, that did not produce the hits of the earlier albums. If you like the big Chemical Brothers hits you might find this album somewhat of a comedown.

The Artist/s
Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons are the Chemical Brothers. They have been making groundbreaking electronic dance music since 1989. They have had an incredible amount of hits and collaborations, but most of them more suited to the dance floor than the writing room, from Block’ rocking beats’, ‘Out of control,’ ‘Hey Boy,’ and countless others.

Other works
I can think of nothing of a similar nature that you will be able to work to. It has more energy than other Krautrock albums I discuss like Kraftwerk, or Lemon Jelly. If you really like the sound of this I can recommend several other of their seminal albums like Surrender, but don’t think they are going to be the same aid to writing.

Where Can I buy it, and in what formats
You can buy this any which way you want. I would recommend buying the vinyl.

The Verdict
This album has got me to work on a fair few deadlines where I needed to pump out the words. I would have a listen first if you don’t usually like electronic music, but listen to a full song or two before making your mind up as it may grow on you.