For either undertaking, Loscil's new album Sea Island is as close to an ideal background music as I've come across. Sublime, but with enough evolving structure to stimulate. An ambient equivalent of good espresso.
Along with "Bleeding Ink" other favorite tracks are:
Strangely enough, I do find myself favoring different musical genres depending on if it's applied or literary art that I'm working on. I seem to listen to more bebop, jazz-electronica, and classical while engaged in the various tasks of technical writing: editing text, illustrating, editing photos, consolidating interview notes, reviewing wiring diagrams for lines of functionality, and so on. Science fiction and fantasy are more frequently accompanied by pure electronica, ambient, and film or series soundtracks.
Though not quite so much when it comes to actually writing new text. For creation in either field, silence is best.
"More often than not," he mumbled, listening to "Angel of Loll" for the fourth time as he wrote this post.