We live in a multimedia world. By that, I don’t just mean the way your professor shares their Powerpoint slides while speaking over a Zoom call, I’m talking about the versatility and adaptability of all the music and entertainment around us. Quarantine is a pretty terrible time for most things, but it can be an opportune time to bust out some music you haven’t discovered yet while you socially isolate and do a complementary activity. Here are some immersive combinations that should give you as close to a transcendent experience as you can have sans hallucogenic narcotics. Think of it as a soundtrack for the way life might be for some time.
“The Suburbs” + walking in your neighborhood
If you are one of the seeming majority of University students, you probably live somewhere in Northern Virginia or adjacent suburbs. Regardless, as long as you are legally able to go outside for recreation in your state and it's safe to do so, you could do a lot worse for music companions than Arcade Fire’s critically-acclaimed 2010 album “The Suburbs.” With its nostalgic mood and cinematic production quality, it truly will make your neighborhood walk feel like a postmodern reflection on existence in an oppressive status-quo. Plus, its double album length will provide plenty of audio fuel should you decide to walk some extended distance to get a break from family for that much longer.
“This is Happening” + looking through photo albums
LCD Soundsystem’s “This is Happening” is a phenomenal album that manages to combine danceable party anthems with midlife-crisis-oriented subject matter. If you want a soundtrack to scrolling through Instagram feeds and photos you’ve taken or been a part of over your college career, this is prime material for just that. Album opener “Dance Yrself Clean” will set an energetic mood to begin remembering, while mid-album track “I Can Change” will complement your tears by the time you realize all the experiences you miss and wish you could relive. I never said this would be a happy experience.
“Ghosts V-VI” + “INSIDE”
If you’re not a well-versed gamer, think of “INSIDE” as edgy Mario Bros. with grayscale graphics instead of colorful pixels. Besides being appropriately named for our times, the game “INSIDE” features moody industrial environments in which a silhouetted boy, controlled by you, wanders through challenges and obstacles. Turn on Nine Inch Nails’ recently released ambient albums “Ghosts V” and “Ghosts VI” while playing for an atmospheric treat. The albums — released 12 years after the instrumental collection “Ghosts I-IV” in 2008 — are a free collection of vocalless tracks that sound like leftovers from a fuller release. “Ghosts V” is peaceful and mournful, while “VI” is angrier and is the aural equivalent of a heart attack. Alternate between them depending on which part of the game you are at. If you want to feel like the world is ending virtually to complement your real-life anxieties, this is the way to do it.
“Syro” + not focusing
Focusing on comprehending anything — particularly if what you’re trying to read is dry academic material — can be difficult. You could probably turn on some classical music or some pleasing jazz to aid your mind, but why not embrace the chaos? Aphex Twin’s “Syro” is one of the most insane electronic albums ever made and it’s impossible to feel much other than confusion while listening to it. If noise was an artform, Aphex Twin is Michelangelo. From the distorted track names to indecipherable lyrics, the only meaning derived from this album is what your mind comes up with. “Syro” is not a good aid for actual productivity, but if you want to go full distraction and get your head in a space ready to do anything other than stare at words on a page, this will do just fine.
“Bon Iver” + waking up
You passed out the night before and have treated yourself to copious amounts of sleep to recover from a never ending monotony that can’t be escaped. How do you get out of bed again? Bon Iver’s 2011 self-titled album “Bon Iver” is a peaceful and genuinely enjoyable collection of songs that evolve nicely and might take your mind on a journey as you prepare to make the real journey to the bathroom from your sheets. Defining the genre of “Bon Iver” is difficult as its styles are varied, ranging from folk tunes to something resembling chill alternative rock. Defining the process of waking up is similarly hard to do. Meet your new morning partner.