A short list of my favorite coding music:
In the late 80’s and early 90’s as I was getting into hacker culture InSoc was a major influence for me and my friends. They have everything: songs inspired by William Gibson’s cyberpunk novels, love songs to Nikola Tesla and IBM, samples from Star Trek, and a sound that gave the impression it was made on an Amega at 3:00 am after they left a rave. Best of all they regularly encoded messages and hacker challenges into analog data-sound tracks at the end of their albums. The minute a band has you wiring your CD player into an old handset modem they’ve won.
Kraftwerk: The Mix
It may be cliche for a programmer to love Kraftwerk, but I don’t care. More than just a best-of “The Mix” is rare in the world of electronic re-mix albums in that it’s mostly better than the originals. I particularly find the version of “Computer Love” to be the best out there.
Robyn: Body Talk
Don’t chalk up Robyn as just another disposable dance club act. The electronic music she produces is impeccably produced and well crafted. It has numerous interesting patterns and layers that pay back on repeated plays. The Body Talk series is by far the best. For something even more abstract check out her work with Röyksopp.
Whenever I listen to Santigold I imagine this is the music the the rastafarian hackers from space station Zion are listening to in Neuromancer.
The Soundtrack to Conan the Barbarian
The soundtrack was made first, and then the movie was basically a giant music video for a remix of Carmina Burana. Perfect background music for epic coding.
A few others
- Gary Numan
- The KLF aka The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu aka The Timelords
- The Orb
- Aphex Twin
- Brian Eno
- Daivd Bowie’s Berlin trilogy (Low, Heroes, Lodger)