Written by: Aiden Pass
I know among some people it is a faux pas to listen to music while you are reading. Even more so when you are writing. However, you can’t always read literature for pleasure. Any English major can firmly tell you that sometimes what you are assigned to read doesn’t mesh with your tastes. In those situations, music can be a necessary enhancement that dials in your attention. But I would also argue that, even during a good read, music can be used to enhance the scenes within a novel. As an ever-wondering musical-listener, I have found a few places where the music might enhance the literature, or help you survive it.
The cool Raccoon of Chillhop music is an icon among college students pulling all-nighters. Chillhop was one of the leading content publishers during the rise of lo-fi hip-hop, a form of downtempo music that combined hip hop beats, chill-out music melodies, and background noise to induce relaxation during stressful cramming sessions. It just so happens that Chillhop also publishes music great to listen to while you read. If your current novel of choice (or of assignment) explores urban life, or has one too many dinner party scenes, then the studio apartment aesthetic of Chillhop is perfect for you. In addition, Chillhop has a curation of jazz lo-fi from their “Endless Sunday” series more suited for the self-reflective or existential literature out there.
A sub-label of Chillhop, Memoir Music, to quote its self-definition, is a “melancholic train ride through memory lane. Transcending genres with organic and image-inducing music, the pleasant tracks are meditative and tranquil. Like a soothing slumber. Like a therapeutic escape… A nature-driven comfort zone. Something to play with headphones when you’re all alone, drifting away into a different world.” There is nothing more that I can add besides the fact that they really are the perfect publisher to listen to when reading nature prose and poetry. In addition, I have found myself meandering back through their music whenever I am reading fantasy that transports me to a wondrous world such Sarah Beth Durst’s The Stone Girl’s Story.
Where romantic comedies and fantasy novels are most people’s literary comfort food, mine has always been horror. I mostly read science fiction and fantasy, but when I feel like I am drowning in the gutter, the adrenaline-releasing prose of horror is always there to help pull me out. Yes, I know it’s a weird way of dealing with stress, but it’s my way of dealing with stress. Cryo Chamber is by far the best publisher of music for readers of any variety of horror novels. Cryo Chamber publishes ambient soundtracks that can transport you to scenes of derelict space ships, temples, cosmic horrors, and rusting metropolises under a red sun. A perfect pairing with any horror reading, or any literature that covers the depraved.