So you’re probably impressed by the sheer quantity of my bloggery (if not the quality), am I right? — “How does he do it?” I hear you whisper, “Is he a god that walks among men?” — No my children, I am but a man, a humble mortal with a keyboard, curiosity and time.

And headphones!

This mini-post is about a side of blogging that nobody mentions much. Music, and how it helps me get into the proper headspace for sustained writing.

I’d live in an aural vaccuum if possible, but it’s not. So I listen to music on noise-cancelling headphones connected to an amplifier. In my case, Bose QC35’s paired with a Beyerdynamic A20 headphone amp. Not a technically perfect pairing, but in noise-cancellation mode they mute out the world.

Music is great when you have roadworks happening outside (right now), a working-from-home son who plays trumpet, and a working-from-home wife who’s on the phone every other minute. Plus those noisy bloody cats! It’s a wonder I can concentrate to blog at all.

Hmm, maybe I am a god…

No, it’s the cans+amp and not divinity that makes my blog possible. That, and pagan music. Not hardcore Hurrian Hymn pagan music, more a modern take on what Norse tunes may have sounded like if they had electric guitars.

Viking beats help my beard grow, and make me want to invade something. Cut my sandwich with an axe. Makes me proud of my scars. It helps me think, but it also turns every second post into a declaration of WAR!

While there’s not too many jaw-harps or rebecs in the line-up, some bands are more faithful to traditional Viking instruments than others. Most of the popular bands are just symphonic metal fronted by women in tight bodices and warpaint, and guys strutting around with elkhorns and braided hair.

Nothing wrong with that. I don’t have enough hair to braid, but I do like a tight bodice. And Elkhorns! Who doesn’t want elkhorns!

I don’t have a favourite, but bands like Heilung have perfected the signature ‘neofolk’ sound. My interests are drifting to the martial-industrial end of the spectrum, towards ‘dark ambient’ music. Like Herknungr’s 62 hour looping playlist, it never interrupts my thoughts or gets old.

Discovering this music was like finding a door at the back of your wardrobe. Except this time Narnia is no didactic Christian allegory masquerading as a children’s fantasy novel. It’s filled with grim men and ethereal women, dark forests, ice-capped mountains. Wolves.

And the White Witch; she’s still there.

The music also makes Kaisson want to reboot Skyrim, and rewatch everything Mads Mikkelsen ever appeared in.

I’m not desperate enough for ‘Erik the Conqueror‘ (1961), and never again will I suffer ‘Erik the Viking‘ (1989) — not even Halfdan the Black could save that — but I’d give Vikings (2013-20) another chance, maybe. If only for Lagertha.

Of course, you can’t be Lagertha-ing about willy-nilly while blogging. Getting into the right headspace means music that doesn’t distract. Dark ambient for me. A sudden wolf-howl by some beardy Norseman ruins my train of thought. Stupid pagans!

So if my prose segues suddenly, it might be because I caught a glimpse of Ragnarök and wondered, vainly, whether I’d be one of the two that live. Or if every word I ever write will just disappear under the waves.

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