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Headphone Music - Motorik

I work in an open office, so headphones and a few great playlists are absolutely necessary to get through the day. I’ll sometimes rely on robot-selected playlists from Pandora or similar, but always end up wishing I’d spent that time getting more familiar with an artist or album - an activity that, as time goes on, is becoming more and more difficult to do. My old fallbacks for music discovery, like college radio (have to rep my alma mater, KJHK) and MP3 blogs (RIP), either don’t exist are are more difficult to access. How, then, to avoid burning out your favorite tracks?

These days, my strategy is primarily to stalk people on Spotify, but there’s one pursuit I’ve found particularly rewarding - building a collaborative Spotify playlist of songs featuring the Motorik beat, a 4/4 drumbeat popularized by Krautrock bands like Can, Neu! and Kraftwerk. The basic beat:

Beat 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
Hi-Hat x x x x x x x x
Snare     x       x  
Kick x x   x x x   x

Neu! - Hallogallo, quintessential motorik

I find the beat’s simultaneously driving and droning character is particularly well-suited to headphone time at work. It also helps that a good portion of Motorik songs either have no lyrics or lyrics in German.

Once I started pulling together a list of Krautrock-era Motorik songs, the beat seemed to appear all over the place and I wanted to see how songs from different eras would fit together in one big playlist. It can be difficult to find songs based on something as exoteric as a drumbeat, but I found a few great lists around the web that I’ve been able to pull from. Each includes a handful of songs that, while interesting examples of the Motorik style, miss the mark for my purposes with distracting lyrics, lots of dissonance or distracting instrumentation. Regardless, they’re all worth checking out:

Without further ado, here’s the Spotify playlist. If you would like to contribute, please feel free. I just ask that you do your best to match the vibe of the songs and keep the original intent (focusing while using headphones) in mind.

Motorik Playlist