This post is part of Hard Refresh, a soothing weekly column where we try to cleanse your brain of whatever terrible thing you just witnessed on Twitter.
After hours looking at a screen and dealing with whatever trash the internet has to throw at me, my brain is frazzled.
When I need to stitch my mind back together, there’s a panacea I often rely on: The oddly calming combination of police radio and ambient music.
youarelistening.to blends never-ending streams from police scanners around the world, airport traffic control, spooky numbers stations, or even speeches from John F. Kennedy, with a playlist of ambient music from SoundCloud.
It started as fluke, according to its creator Eric Eberhardt, telling FACT he was listening to police radio in San Francisco after the Giants had won the World Series in 2010, before getting bored and switching on some music.
“I started playing some electronic music from my iTunes, and that combination of the police scanner audio and the ambient electronic music that I was playing worked really, really well together,” he told the publication. “It sounded like the soundtrack to a film or something.”
Indeed, listening to the indistinguishable murmurs of humans talking over the soft atmospherics of ambient music has a cinematic quality to it.
It might just be an LAPD officer reporting a narcotics spot over the radio, or a pilot requesting to land at Sydney Airport, but the addition of gently rising strings behind their voices makes it so much more compelling. Don’t knock it until you get immersed in it.
Certainly the concept of interspersing field recordings and music is nothing new.
Musicians have immortalized recordings in albums like the seminal “Chill Out,” by British group the KLF, or in the works of Scottish duo Boards of Canada, who heavily sample public broadcasting TV of the ’70s.
But the mostly improvised nature of youarelistening.to makes for a fascinating experience, and one that my mind appreciates getting lost in after a long day.