Tunesday: Ambient tracks to boil pasta to

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Well, November is upon us, and that can only mean one thing: pasta. We’re all boiling pasta this holiday season. With all the different pastas out there, who knows how many nights we have available to boil different kinds of pasta? November is the only month out of the year that we’ve been allotted time to properly boil our pastas.

Don’t let yourself run out of pre-boiled pasta mid-August because you didn’t take enough time now to stock up in time! So get out your medium-sized Cuisinart pots and get ready with your strainers, because it’s about to get both hot and wet.

“Rue the Whirl” by Boards of Canada

Boards of Canada was nostalgic loser cool before nostalgic loser cool was cool. The Scottish duo’s ambient analogue downtempo and scratchy repetitive hooks in this fresh 1998 chillscape are the perfect companions to pouring the correct amount of water into your pot, setting it on the stove and turning on the burner on. Lose yourself in the recurrent motion of this song, just as you’ve witlessly lost yourself in the monotony of your humdrum November, which itself is already 15 days in. (Where did the pasta-boiling time go?)

“Replica” by Oneohtrix Point Never

Alas, you’ve overcooked this batch of pasta. “Rest in peace,” you sigh, as you spoon the last of your lost gnocchi into the compost bin. Thankfully, the bleak minimalist drone stylings of Oneohtrix Point Never can accompany you as you live out this hell of your own design. “Replica,” Lopatin’s most tragic track, brings your guilt to the fore. The droning piano wails, the spliced horns moan. If only you’d paid more attention. If only you’d stirred a little more diligently.

“Pyramid Lake” by Airhead

Did somebody say linguini vibes? One of the busiest, most complicated tracks from a busy, complicated artist, Airhead’s “Pyramid Lake” is the perfect song to boil this fettuccini-adjacent pasta to. Perhaps a white clam sauce would go well with this dish? Or maybe you could make a shrimp scampi out of this in the spring! This elliptical pasta mirrors the elliptical nature of Airhead’s production beautifully.

“Epoch” by Tycho

There is no better blending of long-form post-rock and celestial ambient production than that of Bay area-native band Tycho. These 21st century space rockers evoke an elegant sense of time and place outside the bounds of what’s possible. “Epoch,” the band’s darling minimalist atmospheric experiment, is a song that at once conjures divine longing and prepares one to delve into the sophisticated world of angel hair pasta. Time to prepare that thin wispy spaghetti for date nights on those summery August nights next year!

“Break Well” by Mount Kimble

Do you know what tune is perfectly built for bowtie pasta? Mount Kimble’s slow build track Break Well, of course! From the crawling, swirling eddies of cinematic ambience, to the inverted drop that drowns the build and finally to the triumphant drum, bass and horns on the aft end of the break’s unintelligible vocals, Break Well takes the exact shape and form of the bowtie pasta that you’re currently setting on low heat. You should wait about seven to eight minutes, but don’t forget to stir from time to time to keep it from sticking to the bottom!

“Deep Blue Day” by Brian Eno

With a long day of pasta boiling come and gone, it’s time to prepare for the day ahead, which will be filled with more of the same. As you slip on your chukkas and head to the door, set out to go to the store to buy more pasta, what better song could you play but a track from the father of ambient music, Brian Eno himself? Some say it was Eno that first invoked the One Month to Boil edict, adding a layer of history and pride to your already sensational listening experience. “Deep Blue Day, “off of his Apollo album collaboration with his brother Roger and his friend Daniel Lanois, is the perfect beacon of hope as you look to the rest of this pasta-filled month. Here’s hoping it’ll last the year!

Justin Knight writes the Monday arts & entertainment column on building identity by consuming culture. Contact him at [email protected]. Tweet him at @jknightlion.