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The Mass Media

Aural Pleasure: Beats for different occasions

Music+and+homework+go+hand-in-hand
Music and homework go hand-in-hand

What does a good beat do for you? Different beats serve different purposes. Some beats are for background noise. Others lead you by the hand into a Friday night. Some beats create space for thinking, or they can help us move. They’re extra pattern for sustaining a paper’s typing, exercising at the gym, or even just walking down the street.

The following are a curated assortment of hip-hop instrumentals, EDM jams, trip hop in-the-pocket grooves, and general head-nodders, almost all released in 2014. A suggestion for when to play (WTP), and a link to listen to the song accompanies each.

“Night 3,” “Night 12,” and “Night 17” by Ta-ku are off “25 Nights for Nu-Jabes,” a tribute to the late and great Japanese beat crafter. All of the songs on the album marry old school sensibilities, clean tones, and classically influenced melodies. The piano of “Night 3” is simultaneously ominous and warm. “Night 12” features quick interplay between the high-hat and snare hits. “Night 17” has a cinematic melody and a boom-bap beat. 

(WTP): As background music, and during homework or study.

Listen: http://bit.ly/1iEAKaT

“Coronus the Terminator” by Flying Lotus is a low-key track off the electronic/jazz innovator’s soon-to-be-released album, “You’re Dead!” Hand claps, maraca shakes, and a consistent bass drum results in a sturdy rhythm. The angelic gospel choir and spooky raspiness of the main vocals lend to an otherworldly atmosphere.

WTP: For de-stressing, thinking, and doing homework or studying.

Listen: http://bit.ly/Xoyxug
“Outside the Box” by 40 Winks has a very fast tempo. The centerpiece of the track is the snare work, played so rapidly as to sometimes make a rolling beat. Other song features include strings and vocal sampling. To note, this song is a bit older (2011).

WTP: Exercising, running, and going to the gym.

Listen: http://bit.ly/1wTmYef

“Four Walls and an Amplifier,” by Brock Berrigan, is off the album of the same name and released earlier this year. This is a medium-tempo, sample-heavy, feel-good song. The primary vocal sample evokes a dated, doo-wop vibe.

WTP: While in the sun.

Listen: http://bit.ly/1wTmYef

“Voices Ft. Rita J (Instrumetal)” is by artist 20 Syl, one-third of the French turntable trio, C2C. “Voices” has sufficient hip-hop bounce, deftly placed vocal samples, and frizzling synths, making for an all-around fun track.

WTP: Weekend, and when moving by car, bike, or foot.

Listen: http://bit.ly/XCb3lu

Lost and Found (ODEZSA Remix) is by Pretty Lights, and the original song is off the recent album, “A Color Map of the Sun,” which is emblematic of the Colorado region’s hip-hop and EDM crossbreed, but illustrated with physical instruments. Remixer ODEZSA enervates the original with sparkling synths and sugary trance. The fluctuating audio levels are there to dance to and to get tangled in.

(WTP): Beginning of a Saturday or Friday night.

Listen: http://bit.ly/1tGAzD1