Music in 2020

I hadn't really listened to music in years, but that changed in 2020 and I started actively listening again. I know you might expect it was because of the pandemic that I started listening again, but actually it was because of the soundtrack to The Leftovers by Max Richter. During my holiday break last year I finally decided to watch the HBO series some two years after it originally aired. I binged the whole series in less than two weeks and while I really like the show, I loved the soundtrack even more. Some of that music is still, according to Spotify, some of my most-listened-to music of the year.

From there I began to listen to minimalist classical music: more Max Richter as well as Johann Johannson, David Wenngren, Nils Frahm, Philip Glass (his soundtrack for The Hours is another favorite of mine), among others. When the pandemic arrived, Philip Glass, Michael Nyman, and Steve Reich released Work from Home with Minimalism, which introduced me to whole bunch of artists. According to Spotify's end-of-year review, I listened to 588 new artists this year and 175 new genres (I didn't know that many even existed), which are startling statistics for me as it really lays bare how much I spent this trying to discover new music.

Around the same time as the release of Work from Home with Minimalism, a post by Robin Rendle introduced me to the instrumental albums of Nine Inch Nails: Ghosts V–VI. Later in the summer, I started listening to ambient music after reading an issue of Jez Burrow's newsletter, Dept. of Enthusiasm: Window music. Somewhere along the way, I subscribed to the Flow State newsletter and discovered a bunch of new music that way. All throughout, 2020 was a year of discovering new genres and new artists and rediscovering the place music has in my life.

For 2021, I plan to keep listening and learning. The Flow State newsletter will continue to be important and I have added a few sites to follow: Ambient Music Guide and Ambientblog. Ambient is genre that I find very hit or miss. Most of the time, I'll see an ambient album recommended and I just can't stand it, but then occasionally I'll find one I really like, so that's why I intend to learn more.

To end, here are a few statistics from my 2020 wrap up from Spotify:

Top Genres

  1. Compositional Ambient
  2. Soundtrack
  3. Neo-Classical
  4. Fourth World
  5. Rock

Top Artists

  1. Max Richter
  2. Philip Glass
  3. Library Taps
  4. Lambert
  5. Paul Leonard-Morgan