The best music to pair with No Man's Sky

Don’t get us wrong, No Man’s Sky has a lovely soundtrack. 65daysofstatic was a perfect choice for encapsulating cosmic wonder in well-timed doses of ambient electronic soundscapes and post-rock celebrations—but with 18 quintillion planets to explore, the music is guaranteed to get monotonous at some point. To ever-so-slightly fill in the gaps, we’ve assembled a playlist of our favorite space-pioneering tunes to make your adventures feel as fresh and dramatic as day one. 

Be sure to read our individual picks below, but when you're done, pop on our Spotify playlist, boot up No Man's Sky, and give it a test ride.

Here's the link to the playlist, in case you'd like to save it.

Oneohtrix Point Never / Rifts 

On his early records, Oneohtrix Point Never’s Daniel Lopatin evokes the ruins of former utopias and the strangeness of antiquated machines. That’s why when I first encountered a Monolith in No Man’s Sky, this song from Rifts, ‘Betrayed In The Octagon’, came to mind. Composed using long forgotten modular synthesizers, it shares the same foreboding mystery as the Monoliths, but also a vague sense of techno-utopian optimism. —Shaun Prescott 

Gas / Konigsforst 

German artist Wolfgang Voigt initially conceived Konigsforst as a tribute to his country’s forests, but its dense textures and submerged 4/4 beats sound like any mysterious and impenetrable frontier. Track 5 (all the songs are untitled) is among the most spacious and enveloping techno songs ever created, and it’s the perfect soundtrack to gliding slowly above one of No Man’s Sky’s barren planets. —Shaun Prescott

Boards of Canada / Tomorrow’s Harvest

No Man’s Sky is at its best when it makes me feel small and alone. Boards of Canada does the same in Tomorrow’s Harvest. They wrap you in sparse electronic noise that builds and warps in subtle ways. It’s a sightseeing tour through a rocky desert, somewhere familiar that you’ve never been. And the music video for one of my favorite tracks, Reach for the Dead, includes shots that look exactly the same as flying low over a planet in No Man’s Sky. Coincidence? Well, yes. —James Davenport 

Emeralds / Does It Look Like I’m Here? 

Nearly every track on Does It Look Like I’m here is a dazzling cosmic arrangement of analog sounds that recall classic science-fiction with a heaping of optimism. —James Davenport 

Fuck Buttons / Tarot Sport  

I once heard Fuck Button songs described as tours of big, intricate machines. You start somewhere inside and slowly pan out, revealing the moving, interconnected pieces as their logic starts to take shape. Eventually, the entire machine is revealed and no longer looks like assembled parts, but like a singular entity. The same mechanism applies to No Man’s Sky as you take off from a planet for the first time. A mountainous landscape and it’s wacky flora and fauna all melt into a single sphere. The implied intricacy of something that looks so simple and small is enough to make a grown man cry. Not saying it has (or hasn’t), but just *sniff* putting it out there. —James Davenport 

65daysofstatic / Wild Light 

If you’re simply looking for more of the No Man’s Sky soundtrack, we have good news. It’s composed by 65daysofstatic, a group out of Sheffield, England, and they’ve been making post- and electronic rock since 2001. There’s a lot to dig through and most of its great, but the latest album, Wild Light, is probably the most NMS-esque. My favorite track ‘Safe Passage’ begins with a light piano arrangement before exploding into a celebratory wall of distorted guitar and synth—like hitting warp for the first time. —James Davenport

Wolves in the Throne Room / Celestite 

Typically known for pagan metal with heavy black metal influences, Wolves in the Throne Room’s latest is a significant conceptual departure. Celestite is an ambient electronic exploration of the cosmos with rare instances of drone metal. Deep, wide-reaching synths invoke massive spaces where wild electronic melodies twinkle in and out without warning. —James Davenport 

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard / Nonagon Infinity

For when you want to do barrel rolls with reckless abandon, the space pirates won’t let up their chase, or can’t break eye contact with a mushroom man, Nonagon Infinity has you covered. Psychedelic rock suits No Man’s 70’s sci-fi book cover rendition of the universe, and King Gizzard’s tunes are as twisted and bright as any tie-dyed horizon and two-legged goat head creature named Brad. The album was also designed to loop infinitely, so it’s a great way to spice up the monotony of visiting 18 quintillion planets in a row. —James Davenport 

Stars of the Lid / And Their Refinement of the Decline

None-more-ambient duo from Austin, Texas whose band name is intended to invoke the idea of “your own personal cinema, located between your eye and eyelid”. The music comes in great swashes of melancholy electronic drone, perfect for those lonely moments trudging across a barren magenta rock or floating in space wondering where the hell you’re meant to go next and whether there’ll just be another shitty 7-11 space base when you get there.  —Tim Clark

Explosions in the Sky / The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place 

I dunno what the government is putting in the water in Austin, but the result seems to be insanely grandiose band names (see also: And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead) and super emotive rock. Explosions in the Sky are best known for soundtracking the Friday Night Lights movie, but most of those tunes were derived from this, which is by far their best record. If the name wasn’t already perfect for space exploration, the chiming guitar arpeggios and kiss the face of god wonder certainly are. Man, I am this close to calling it a cathedral of sound. —Tim Clark

Do Make Say Think / & Yet & Yet 

Canada’s Constellation records is home to two amazing collectives that specialise in long, largely lyricless, multi-part songs built around repetition and giant surging crescendos. Do Make Say Think are probably better suited to intergalactic shenanigans than the more doomy and overtly political Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The songs on this, their second LP, fizz with invention. A bit like how 65daysofstatic might sound if there a dozen people in the band and some of them had trumpets. —Tim Clark 

Sunn 0))) / Monoliths & Dimensions 

Assuming you can get over the fact that Hungarian black metaller Attila Csihar chants menacing stuff about “the riddle of the clouds” over most of the record, then experimental drone overlords Sunn 0))) work perfectly with the menace that lurks under No Man’s Sky kaleidoscopically coloured surface. The closing track, ‘Alice’, is a 16-Minute tidal wave that arrives in slow motion and ends with the sound of fading brass and plucked harps. Or in other words, perfect background listening while reading a datalog from some long dead traveller who succumbed to an unknowable alien threat centuries ago. —Tim Clark 

Cowboy Bebop OST / What planet is this? 

Because anime. 

James Davenport

James is stuck in an endless loop, playing the Dark Souls games on repeat until Elden Ring and Silksong set him free. He's a truffle pig for indie horror and weird FPS games too, seeking out games that actively hurt to play. Otherwise he's wandering Austin, identifying mushrooms and doodling grackles.