Some people like to drift off to the soporific sounds of ocean waves lapping on a shoreline. Other people like the electrified hum of a futuristic spacecraft right before an alien bursts out of someone’s chest. If you count yourself in group B, you might want to check out the above clip, in which YouTube user Crysknife00 (a.k.a. Arkansas software engineer and musician Spike Snell) mines Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi classic Alien for a mesmerizing 12-hour ambient audio loop.
Snell’s creation samples the faintly heard (and faintly pleasing) pulse from the medical bay of the Nostromo, the claustrophobic towing craft where Sigourney Weaver’s battle with the title creature takes place. It’s the latest movie-minded project from Snell, 27, who’s the one-man band behind the “harsh noise” music project Cheesy Nirvosa. Snell’s been releasing these long-form, sci-fi themed loops since 2011, when he put up a 24-hour loop of the engine noise from Star Trek: The Next Generation; the clip has gone on to collect over 1.6 million page views and was name-checked as one of the most famous examples of ambient sound loops in Red Bull Music’s June examination of the thriving online subculture.
"After that initial success, it slowly began dawning on me that there was a distinct demand for this," Snell told Yahoo Movies via email. "Most of the comments I get are positive and have to do with helping get people to sleep, or helping them focus at work."
Since then, Snell — a serious TV and movie sci-fi fan — has added many movie-themed clips to his channel, including multiple examples from Star Wars, such as the Millennium Falcon’s engine noise, the crunching metal thump of an AT-AT, and Yoda’s unnerving laugh. He’s also crafted several clips inspired by one of his favorite movies, 1982’s Blade Runner, like the sound of noir-ish rain falling from inside the Bradbury Building.
Snell says that choosing the sound is often the hardest part — it needs to be “nostalgic but subdued, and constant enough to fade into the background.” Creating the loops themselves isn't technically difficult, though the half-day Alien clip probably took two and a half hours to stitch together and render, and overnight to upload. “I personally don’t like ambient sounds that have that much going on in them,” he writes. “I see these sounds primarily as all natural geek sleep aids.” If you’re geek enough to want the dulcet tones of the Nostromo ushering you off to dreamland, then you’ve found your sandman.