Reporter's Notebook

The Best Songs to Work To
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A collection from readers of the songs they most enjoy listening to while reading and writing for work (typically sans lyrics).

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Track of the Day: 'First Sleep' by Cliff Martinez

Reader David recommends a popular soundtrack whose movie—a George Clooney vehicle directed by Steven Soderbergh—got a mediocre Rotten rating:

Hello! I listen to a lot of ambient and film music while I work, and one of my all-time favorites is the soundtrack to the 2002 sci-fi film Solaris, composed by Cliff Martinez. Ambient beds of synthesizers and the occasional swell of strings (real? electronic?) mingle with steel drum sounds—yes, steel drums!— to create an otherworldly soundscape that’s simultaneously free-floating and grounded in pulsating rhythm.

You can hear the whole album here on YouTube.

One of its most popular tracks is embedded above, and the bouncing audio visualizer adds a nice touch.

(Submit a song via hello@. Track of the Day archive here. Pre-Notes archive here.)

Reader Doug keeps alive our series of “songs to work to” with a score by Nick Cave set to an enchanting timelapse of scenes from San Francisco:

Pretty sure I picked this one up from the Dish, but it’s a phenomenal instrumental song that tends toward the more relaxing, if that’s what you’re craving.

You may recognize it from the 2007 film The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

(Submit a song via hello@. Track of the Day archive here. Pre-Notes archive here.)

It’s rare to see something end well on the internet. Most ongoing projects—whether blogs, podcasts, or novelty Tumblrs—don’t really ever formally end; instead, their creator loses interest in them over time, and then they have a busy couple months at work, and then maybe they have a new kid on the way, and obligations stack up until eventually an unpaid server bill takes the long-fallow page out of its misery.

So I want to congratulate and also thank Hoverbird (also known as Patrick Ewing) for formally and lovingly ending his tremendous online radio show, Warm Focus, this Wednesday. You can listen to the final episode on’s website.

For the past 18 months or so, Warm Focus has run early on Wednesday afternoons on, capturing a nameless but very weekday-in-autumn vibe: the popping-synapses, bright-but-background, happy-and-humming, in-the-flow feeling that characterizes music for good work getting done well. Hoverbird himself says the genre walks the line “between mellow & energetic, digital & analog, high & low BPM.”