Chris MullanyCreative Technologist & Technical Director
Chris Mullany is a programmer who has spent the last fifteen years conceptualising and building interactive experiences for large-scale installations, head mounted displays, desktops and mobiles. He’s worked with leading interactive agencies like Universal Everything, Marshmallow Laser Feast and Hellicar & Lewis to deliver projects for The British Arts Council, The Science Museum, The V&A and The British Museum.
What role does music play in your day-to-day life as a creative?
I listen to music a lot. When I’m working I like to surround myself in a cocoon of music, to mute or soften the outside world. I think multitasking is overrated, unless it’s absolutely necessary. I prefer to be in the moment and concentrate as much as possible on the task in hand. Music helps me to achieve this. I listen mainly to ambient, drone and modern classical music. These types of music help my mind to settle, to drift in and out of focus without feeling distracted: music and work, foreground and background. I work best on complex problems when I’m calm. Maybe it’s to do with aging but there’s no way I could write good code to Slipknot now. When I’m working with something visual that hasn’t yet fully taken form, such as procedural/generative graphics or virtual environments I sometimes like to match the mood of the music to the visuals to help steer the direction. Sometimes on Friday afternoons I give myself a straightforward task and listen to really loud metal or hip hop.
At home I like to switch off screens as much as possible. I listen to records. Getting up every few minutes to turn them over is good exercise. And they mean I can help to support the artists who improve my quality of life by paying reasonable amounts of money for their music.
Tell us about your playlist:
I usually tend to listen to music in album format, in the order and pacing that the artist intended. When I make playlists they tend to be a way of summarising a particular theme or mood. This playlist is based around tracks that I love to work to. It’s music that helps to transport my mind to some abstract, higher place beyond the material world. It’s a glimpse of the sublime without the need for any mind altering substances. The genres span ambient, drone and classical plus the gaps in between. It’s often gentle and occasionally heavy, but I think there’s a consistent feeling throughout.
The opener, from Wolfgang Voigt’s ambient techno project Gas, is a perfect embodiment of the playlist. It’s repetitive but layered and nuanced enough to ensure repeat listens are always rewarding. And it’s so warm and natural where a lot of electronic music is cold and artificial. Stars of the Lid are another favourite: sometimes I just spend a whole day listening to their back catalogue. At first I didn’t really get them, they seemed minimal to the point of barely existing. But with time and patience they really blossom. There’s some fairly new stuff on here too, from people like Yves Tumor and Kara-Lis Coverdale who are pushing ambient music forwards and making things with real depth and soul instead of chillout compilation fodder.
Sorry that some of the tracks end abruptly. They’re designed to flow as part of an album but I felt that it was still worth including them.
And lastly, whilst this is certainly music to drift away or sublime to, it’s equally rewarding when you put it firmly in the foreground and soak up all the details. I hope you enjoy it!
- Pop 1 – GAS
- Perff – F.S. Blumm, Nils Frahm
- Requiem for Dying Mothers, Part 1 – Stars Of The Lid
- Circle – Visible Cloaks
- A Sparrow Alighted Upon Our Shoulder – Jóhann Jóhannsson, Air Lyndhurst String Orchestra, Anthony Weeden
- Stained Glass Body – Jefre Cantu-Ledesma
- Remember – Windy & Carl
- Describing Bodies – Oneohtrix Point Never
- Starlight and Black Echo – Chihei Hatakeyama
- Heavy Water/I’d Rather Be Sleeping – Grouper
- Metamorphosis: Metamorphosis Two – Philip Glass
- Steep Hills of Vicodin Tears – A Winged Victory for the Sullen
- Sleep My Brother, Sleep – Marsen Jules
- Limerence – Yves Tumor
- Disney – Kara-Lis Coverdale, LXV
- I’m Kin – Colleen
- The Piano Drop – Tim Hecker
- 46 4D 68 77 64 A0 43 B7 E9 A7 CB B4 BE 68 6B CB A0 5E 10 02 CC 96 EA 75 – TCF
- solari – Ryuichi Sakamoto
- Pop 4 – GAS
- Abandon Window – Jon Hopkins