Chillin' Out with Internet radio

By

Ken Nail

Ken Nail has written about car audio for Crutchfield since 2003, after four years as Crutchfield Sales Advisor, and 10 years as a music teacher. He's an avid music listener, whose favorites are classical and film music. When not chained to a desk, Ken spends most of his time training for triathlons and marathons, and likes getting outside for backpacking, downhill skiing, and bicycle touring. He attended West Virginia University, where he received a Master's Degree in Music Performance and a Bachelor's Degree in History.

More from Ken Nail

"Music hath charms to soothe a savage beast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak."

  - William Congreve

If you were to look through my CD rack at home (yes I'm one of those old-fashioned people who still have CDs), you'll find a variety of music. Classical, film scores, jazz, Sinatra (a lot of Frank), rock (old and new), bluegrass, and even some classic country (tell me to my face that Patsy Cline wasn't a great vocalist). Even a smattering of world music, celtic, and band music. But one thing you won't find are many examples of what gets loosely classified as "ambient."

Ambient is a pretty vague name for a pretty vaguely defined genre. Go to iTunes, look under Radio and then check out the Ambient streams. You'll find stations described as "chill," "New Age," "lounge," "trance," "downtempo," "nu jazz," and more. To me, they all have one thing in common — they're perfect for the times you need to close out the rest of the world and get some work done. I usually listen to around four to eight hours of ambient music a week, mostly when I'm at work and need to buckle down and avoid distractions. So off goes the email, extra web pages, and any other distractions, and on go the headphones. Yet despite the listening time, I'll admit that I can't name a single artist or song I've listened to during that time.

I am a lot more productive, though!

Working at Crutchfield, where we have many serious music listeners and audiophiles, I sometimes feel I should be going to Ambient Anonymous meetings. "My name is Ken, and I listen to chill." Yet, I don't really feel that guilty about it. Music is a lot of things to a lot of people, and if a little downtempo gets me through the day and keeps me productive, I think I'll just keep on listening.

Ready to zone out? Try these four streams — one of them usually has something that matches my mood.

Traxx Lounge — a little more vocally oriented and "loungy" than some, but a nice mix of downtempo tunes and chill.

Groove Salad on SomaFM — as the name suggests, very groove oriented. It's easy to get mesmerized listening to some of the tracks they play.

Audio Popsicle on Groovera.com — perfect listening on those days when the work-a-day world is a little overwhelming.

DroneZone on SomaFM — just the music you need when it's time for deep escape. Space music at its finest.

How To Listen:

Accessible through most wireless music players