Balmorhea is another gem of a band I stumbled upon thanks to that massive torrent of music made available by the South by Southwest folks. I like playing minimalist/ambient music when I’m working on other things. Unique harmonies can set a mood and simple melodies can enhance it; without too much to distract and especially without words, music can be one of the best mind-altering cognitive enhancers there is.
Often I fill this need with electronic music, provided the beat isn’t too heavy and the “instrumentation” too “experimental”. Orchestral stuff can work too—some of Phillip Glass’s less obtrusive stuff is brilliant. And of course keyboards. Glenn Gould playing Bach is about the most exquisite background music there is. But until now I’ve never found this same satisfaction from plucked and bowed strings. But this combination of sparely plucked banjos over haunting strings is brilliant.