Fifteen page papers getting you down? Or maybe an ominous bio-chem test looming on the horizon? No worries, we here at KJHK have banded together to consolidate our favorite music to study to. So hit the books.
Name: Cody Boston (DJ Boston)
Position: Content Director
Study Jam: Luv(sic) parts 1-6- Nujabes and Shing02
The beautifully composed saga that is Luv(sic) was started in 2000 as a collaboration between Japanese producer Nujabes and hip-hop artist Shing02. After the success of the first installment the pair decided to craft a saga. From then, parts 2-4 were written, recorded, and produced until in 2010 when Nujabes died in a tragic car accident. While the project seemed to have come to a halt, Shing02 found that Nujabes had written the last two parts of the Luv(sic) saga on his phone, of which Shing02 finished in memoriam of his friend. While the story of this collaboration is a tear jerker, the tracks themselves provide masterfully conscious bars over a soothing beat complete with hip-hop and jazz samples. This thirty minute saga is essential to getting my mind focused and head bobbing.
Position: Pro Wrestling Enthusiast and cinephile (also Station Manager)
Study Jam: Instrument Soundtrack by Fugazi
This 1999 soundtrack from the shrek movie is actually my favorite album from the group. This onion features several demos from two of the band’s previous albums, as well as previously unreleased tracks. The demos are slower and more experimental than a lot Fugazi’s earlier work, which is great for when you need something motivating in the background of your mind. However, the songs are short and heavy on rhythm, which energize the mind keep up with you desire. Mesmerizing tracks like “Pink Frosty,” “Lusty Scripps,” “Turksih Disco,” “All Star,” and “Floating Boy” are aggressive enough to keep you on track but open enough for you to attach to them in whatever way needed. Halfway through, the prize of the album, “I’m So Tired,” is a great breaking point for you to realize your exhaustion and relax.
Study Jam: The Mirror Conspiracy by Thievery Corporation
Thievery Corporation is a electronic dub/chill-out duo from Washington D.C. that have been active since 1995. Though their albums are all consistently excellent – pulling influence everywhere from Indian Classical to Middle Eastern and Latin Jazz. Their calm, bossa nova sound is conducive to any work that needs to be done whether that is balancing equations or typing a dissertation. This particular album is a favorite of mine because it perfectly captures the heart of early 00’s production. As you listen to this album the incredible Windows-era Brian Eno influence pours through each track with an unmatched groove. The flow of this album has landed its tracks in countless surf documentaries so that’s a noted plus.
Study Jam: Songs in the Key of Life, by Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder is one of the best singer/songwriters alive. This album came out forty years ago in 1976 and it has a mix of R&B, soul, funk, and jazz. The top singles Sir Duke and I Wish still receive some play on the radio today. The album is one of the few albums that I can listen from front to back without any slow songs. This is Stevie Wonder’s masterpiece and it continually is an album that I can listen to anytime. It has a mixture of easy listening songs and toe-tapping tunes that make it so much fun to work to. Stevie is my favorite artist and I constantly listen to the rest of his hits and albums, I would also recommend Innervisions and Talking Book. Talking Book has his most famous song Superstition, which is my favorite one. Almost everyone has heard a Stevie Wonder song in their life and they all are fantastic study jams.
Music and studying have always gone hand-in-hand. Especially music that is dramatic, invigorating, and inspiring. Without all the complexities that come with using lyrics in their songs, Explosions in the Sky portray stories solely with their instruments. Tracks like “The Birth and Death of a Day” begins with twinkling guitars and gradually rumbles into an off-the-rails explosive bomb track. Explosions in the Sky have music to match any mood or situation, and if you need to buckle down and study up, they’ll help you power through and enjoy doing it.
Name: Brooke Metz
Position: Content Staff member
Study Jam: Phantom Feelings by La Luz
The instruments in this song create an eerie and ghoulish feeling which glides you along the trek of your work. The song is multipurpose as can be easily set as background noise while intensely working on homework, but if a glimpse of inspiration or interest is needed in order to push along the work, tuning into the song itself will arise the perfect amount of persuasion as it does include a great amount of complexity. The lack of spoken word utilized by Phantom Feelings keeps the thoughts in your brain flowing fluently along with the beat of the song. The only negativity is the length of the song as it will only move you along for about two minutes. If you are looking for a well-enhanced trance of studiousness to keep you in the zone for six minutes that also resonates similarly with the La Luz instrumental, check out Futura by Battles.
Study Jam: Calculating Infinity by The Dillinger Escape Plan
It was really difficult to pick just one because it depends on my mood, but in the right frame of mind, nothing helps me concentrate more than Calculating Infinity by The Dillinger Escape Plan. It seems completely illogical that one of the most dizzyingly complex and cacophonic albums I’ve ever heard is my study jam. It has all the hallmarks of an album you would usually avoid at all costs if studying: odd time signatures, fretboard gymnastics, Morse Code rhythms, and no discernible sense of melody. Honestly, if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve listened to this album hundreds of times, I wouldn’t be able to listen to it while studying. Basically, what it comes down to is that the album’s complexities and dissonance prevents me from getting distracted, while being so familiar with it means I can still concentrate. It’s a successful balance. I’ve often listened to jazz, folk, or electronic music while studying, but there is not one album that allows me to concentrate better or study more efficiently.
In the past I was always really driven into focus by remarkably technical music. Similar to Josh above me, I would listen to complex songs and artists, which somehow seemed to center my state of mind during a variety of tasks. This is still the case on certain occasions. Lately, however, I’ve turned more often to monolithic, wall of sound forms of black metal. Notably, the sixth movement of Mgła’s Exercises in Futility has just enough melody mixed in above a constant barrage of blastbeats and intense rhythmic arrangements to put me in a generally productive and unalterable mental space. I have jammed the entire album on multiple occasions whilst needing to crank out lengthy papers or design documents. I think what bands like Mgła, Ahklys, Void Omnia, Wolves in the Throne Room, etc. do for me mentally is more about finding something that absorbs the mental energy required to stay sane within my schedule on a daily basis, and I really cherish having that kind of music available during study sessions and stressful times alike.
Study Jam: Haunt me, Haunt Me Do It Again by Tim Hecker
Many of my shows have been devoted to artists and genres tailored towards easy listening. I can safely say that half of my expansive library is composed of smooth trip hop, soft folk, and ambient electronic music. Though there are hundreds of songs I could have picked, I (sort of) settled upon a magnificent album to share.
Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again by Tim Hecker is an album filled with solemn, wistful ambiences that are capable of occupying any room with a steady stream of cold noise. Each track is tediously put together to form a pleasantly glitchy backdrop with deep droning basses and the occasional quiet crackles of a broken samples designed to massage the eardrums. In a broad sense, each song is simply laid out; A smooth chord ringing for minutes at a time. The details, however, are finely laid out and planned, giving the impression of a perfectly paced album. Just when one layer of broken bliss begins to stale a new layer rises, breathing life back into the track. No noises are ever intrusive and every song transition is seamless so to occupy a study space uninterrupted for 54 minutes. This album is perfect for heightening concentration by subtly interesting you while completing any task that requires intense attention.
Name: Definitely not Shane Blair again (DJShaneTrain)
Position: Definitely not The Host of Input Output again
Study Jam: In a Beautiful Place out in the Country by Boards of Canada
Boards of Canada is fantastic if you are looking for study music with more structure. In a Beautiful Place out in the Country is an EP filled with songs that accomplishes a similar subtly interesting effect as Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again but uses an entirely different format. Boards of Canada’s drum work is as addictive as it is unobtrusive, and the complex, repetitive rhythms accentuate the airy synthesizers strewn across every song. They inspired an entire genre of spacey, beat oriented music with their work, and this EP is a prime example of their mastery.
Study Jam: El Condor Pasa (If I Could) – Simon and Garfunkel
I personally can not focus without some background noise so music is a staple when trying to bust out some schoolwork. I also tend to listen to music that matches my mood, which while studying is usually quite somber. However, lately I have been trying to incorporate some happier tunes. I feel like this mash-up of exotic instrumentals and english lyrics is a good middle-ground, the umpah-like tempo and catchy beat of this song makes it perfect to zone out to while going hard on that 15 page paper. Simon adds his vocals to the old Peruvian folk melody (love that flute), El Condor Pasa. This dreamy track features the South American group Los Incas, which foreshadows Simon’s later work with world music.
Despite the entirely morbid song title, listening to When I Was Done Dying’s strange beat and soft vocals is perfect for the beginning of a study session. The lyrics seem to drift on and on underneath the more dominant rhythm, altogether leading to a pleasing, trance-like song. The best study music allows you to focus primarily on the books without feeling distracted, and this song perfectly fits the mold to help you focus on your work. Also, if you need a quick study break, the music video features ever-changing segments of abstract visual art by various artists, compiled into one of the strangest but most fascinating videos out there. This song will allow you to jump headfirst into concentration-mode in the best way.
Kenny Dorham’s album Quiet Kenny takes a moderately staid approach to his traditionally sophisticated and energetic pieces. Now take that with a grain of salt, because this iconically underrated artist never fails to push the boundaries of his genre; however, the tracks on this album don’t deviate much from it’s relatively mellow core, making it great for both focus and enjoyment. The warm tones of the horn, the complex chords on the keys, and the balance of playful and romantic melodies make an unrivaled recipe for academic success. Whether you’re in the late night cramming hours, or the smack-dab middle of Anshutz’s rush hour; Quiet Kenny is the perfect mind median, fitting nearly any studying scenario.
While Bitches Brew may be the famous younger brother, I maintain that In A Silent Way is Miles Davis’ best electric jazz work. Composed of only two lengthy songs, In A Silent Way is audible speed. When I need to put the nose to the grinding wheel, I always reach for the first track, “Shhh/Peaceful.” It starts out pushed by a hushed double-time hi-hat beat. The various electric instruments set the caged energy stage, just waiting for Davis to unleash his signature trumpet tone. Things then quiet down and it is time to begin. His solo starts slow over the bustling beat while the backing instruments provide hushed interplay. As the time slips by, Davis’ trumpet and the others’ spurts burst out more frantically until the end is so near that the head is reached and is born again. The gates of electric jazz heaven are opened revealing Davis’ glimpse of brass nirvana. I don’t think he had visions of research papers dancing in his head when he recorded this, but it’s hard to deny how fitting it is to the midterm mantra. The silent rush is all in the desperate student’s mind, repeating: Must. Write. More.