As our community member Slobberchops pointed out a few days ago, already for weeks a challenge is going around Facebook. Although I've seen it passing by a few times - friends contributions - to my knowledge I was not yet invited.
The challenge: Post Influential Albums
When seeing friends posting one of their top 10 albums, my thought was again and again: "When they invite me; What then? How shall I select 10 most influential albums? I can't make a top 10. I probably end up with a top 100, or a top 1000! And a top without a preferred order, all entries number 1!"
Then I read the post by Slobberchops [post] and I knew I had to try and create a top 10. Easier said then done, since throughout my life I heard so many great albums! To make it even more difficult: my taste in music goes from classical, blues, jazz to pop and modern electronic music and everything in between.
Intermezzo : the occasion, surrounding, company, emotional state and 'wanted' atmosphere has great influence on the right selection of music. And for each of these I can make my top X. These top X's can't be compared, and I can't really mix them as well. In my honest opinion, there is no such thing as the best album, or the best 10 albums; Too much great music created and released!
published on Amazon (source)
Under my QSOUNDS brand, I wrote posts about more than 300 albums and set recordings of which many of them can take a position in my top 10. It's exactly this source I took as the baseline for the list of albums I share with you as part of the challenge to pick influential albums. From a list of 40 odd albums, it took something like 3 rounds to cut this list short to, not a top 10, but a top 14.
I decided to bring you a more off-the-beat list, therefor I excluded all kinda mainstream albums other than Kate Bush and Vangelis (although the album I included from Vangelis is for sure not mainstream). Otherwise you would've seen albums included from bands and singers like: Sade, Dire Straits, Genesis, Phil Collins, Pink Floyd, Talk Talk (the more known ones), Depeche Mode, Prince, Whitney Houston, Madonna, Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, Kraftwerk and many more.
Most of the albums are instrumental; The voice is an instrument to me; I never ever listen to the vocals, the words itself. When you are a poet and your work ends up as lyrics to a song, don't count on me to hear you story. Just get the right voice to sing it, and I'm happy! :)
My Top 14
As mentioned before, I was not able to cut my list down to 10: It become 14 albums altogether.
All albums in order of year, starting in the year of 1976 and ending in the year of 2015. Each entry has a direct link to play the album and it has a direct link to the post I've written before in support of the music; If you like you can read the stories and write-ups I did in last 4 years while listening the music :) Not all entries are albums, at least one is a recording of a performance.
This piece of music I discovered though some niche art TV show a decade or more ago. Immediately it grabbed my attention! Although the creator is a classical composer, this piece of music is quite unlike classical work and has everything that classifies the more modern rave music. The music that emerged in the 90s electronic underground scene embraced by people exploring different experiences to the normal Discotheque. A rave is all about drifting through the music for hours and hours with likeminded; A night of being together with friends and strangers with the feeling of being one, regardless of what position we have in society; The feeling it gives us if there is nothing else in the world then the here and now.
Although classical from creation and performance, this album can do similar things to our minds as rave music does. A special piece altogether, since Simeon left a lot open for the performer to do whatever he or she likes. Not all notes are laid out and ordered. It's a piece that can be played with a single instrument, but also with two or even four instruments. Originally written for piano, the recording I've included is one with a mix of two instruments: the piano and the marimbas (a kinda xylophone).
In my home country, every year a special performance is held in which the visitors do not standup, or sit on a chair, but lie down to listen and dream for a few hours. It's on my bucket list still!
She made such an impression when her "Wuthering Heights" stormed the charts. I was about 8 years of age back then. First time I heard her in our first and most famous music TV program (TopPop for the Dutchies reading this) and was intrigued by not only the song itself, but certainly her exceptional voice and the music video.
She was one of the first artists releasing a video with her song, a proper filmed short story as by now no music can do without, so it seems. Back then, most of the TV shows airing music, would show a video recording of the singer/band in some studio. Kate Bush was one of the first adapting to the new media by making music videos. I wanted to also share another album "Aerial" - a more recent work with which she delivered again a TOP performance - but my love for Kate began back in the 70s!
This French guy made such an amount of great albums! Have several of him in my collection. And heard almost all of them. I discovered him back in 1988 when I got a subscription to the first CD rental shop around the corner where I lived in Rotterdam. A brand new way of bringing music to the public and for me a great way to discover new artists without the need to spend time in some record shop. Every week I would rent a handful of CDs of artists I never heard of; Those I liked I would record to tape; Those I really liked I bought a brand new copy of from some of the shops around.
I've included the live album of mister Jarre; The one done in China. Back in 1982 not so many artists had shows in China, making this one quite special.
Who doesn't know Vangelis? This Greek producer of gazillion albums! In early 90s, the city of Rotterdam invited him to play open air; Not in a festival kinda setting; The location was in the middle of the city. As a matter of fact, his setup was build onto one of the bridges connecting the northern (where downtown is) with the southern part. Added to Vangelis music, was a most spectacular light show!
I'll never forget this event! Interesting enough, although many people showed up, I think such free to visit in-the-middle-of-a-city event would not be possible anymore; Too many people will show up. Today a festival setup is required, with licenses, gates, bars, food, toilets, security and all of that. Back then, nothing of that sort! Great days! :)
His "Antarctica" made the list; Definitely one I listened a whole LOT; This day and age maybe a little less, but I'm pretty sure I'll fire up my Spotify more often just for this one in the near future!
Dire Straits! Who doesn't know them? But the fact the lead singer of the Dire Straits "Mark Knopfler" started his career producing soundtracks and other solo projects and albums, is much less known. For this list I had to make the selection between Mark's first two albums: "Local Hero" (a soundtrack) and "Cal" (also a soundtrack). By random choice, it became "Cal".
Far after its initial release, I came across this album by master Göttsching. With E2-E4 he created an early form of the modern electronic music of today. I think this was for him a side project, since most of his work is 'classic' band material. But as quite a few artists back then when the first drum computers emerged; Also he started to experiment with the new technology.
By chance I discovered this album sometime in the mid 10s (something like 2003/4). When listening the album, you shall remember that the album was created in one take, without any practising and/or editing. Göttsching came into his studio; Started to create sounds; Pressed the record button; And only stopped after an hour or so. It was never intended to be released, but eventually the recording was taken as is and pressed on vinyl.
The first movie I've seen from the great Luc Besson; The French movie director known for movies like The Fifth Element, Nikita, Lucy and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. With "Le Grande Blue" (The Big Blue), music composer Éric Serra made his introduction. Some really cool works he made; Most - if not all - soundtracks. That time, both Luc and Éric where at the start of their careers, not well known by the public. By now, they are more or less mainstream; Well, at least Luc is.
Many of my friends don't know Éric Serra, but they recognise some of his music. Guess soundtrack makers have a difficult time to be recognised. Maybe because we skip the credits at the end of the movie? Maybe because many of us don't take too much notice of the music while watching? Fortunately I don't belong to 'many of us' :)
Maybe my most favourite band of all times! Short lived as a band, unfortunately! Though Talk Talk had a few songs in the top X in various countries around the world, this band is in my opinion totally undervalued and underrated!
"It's My Life" is one of their hits, and indeed a fantastic song. But what really blew me away was when they decided to go totally experimental and underground. The result: Two albums, "Spirit of Eden" and "Laughing Stock". Both Super Albums! The winner for this list: "Spirit of Eden". Such a Beauty! Goosebumps every time I listen it!
It must have been the same first generation online distribution platforms through which I discovered master Göttsching, I discovered Ryoji Ikeda. An exceptional experimental sound recording! Many will not think this is music at all. And indeed, the tracks doesn't have too much melody or rhythm :) That said, it has many facets of what music is about: it attracts attention of the mind and it somehow manages to create harmony albeit in a very abstract way. Through this album, I started to explore the electronic experimental genre and become a huge fan! Though I don't listen Ikeda's work - and the genre as whole - too often; I do very much like the abstract extremes in music.
Most of my friends working in the electronic music business know Massive Attack, but I'm not too sure how well known Massive Attack is by the general public. To me, it's a band that can't not be listed in a top X!
Some say they are linked to Banksy. Well, not just linked: Quite a few people think Massive Attack is Banksy. They base this on the fact that wherever Massive Attack had a show, Bansky art appeared. I learned this 'conspiracy' theory only way after I discovered their music.
"Mezzanine" is the album I listened by far the most. Good to know is this could have something to do with the fact the CD was in my car - with a bunch of others - while generally, I was a bit lazy to refresh the selection for months, sometimes even years. And at that time, I had a great sound system in the car. A system I moved from car to car, until the modern dashboards emerged taking away the ability to build in our own receivers without destroying the car itself.
Sounds a little strange to write, but Hooverphonic is maybe the last concert I've been to when they toured my little country promoting "The Magnificent Tree" album. I was never too much into going to concerts. My way of enjoying music is at a festival with multiple stages and a programming of an entire day, or two, three, four or more :) That said, back then in 2000/2001 a friend asked me to join her and I did. WOW. I was amazed by this band with 7 to 8 members. All sort of normal instruments and added to that electrical violins and some other instruments I don't know the english words for. Deep dark melodic and pop-ish. A genre I really really like!
"Mondo Madrid" is a live recording and was a supplement to their first album "23 seconds". Three artist producers all having their solo projects, from time to time come together and create and foremost play music. Live created on the spot: Keyboards, drum computers, modular systems; A whole truckload of it!
Although quite a few electronic producer/artists are playing live acts, not so many can actually make a real interesting one. Most are boring; No dynamics; No swung! Cobblestone Jazz - and also Mathew Johnson solo - are different! Every time I hear them in some club or at some festival, they are pleasing my ears and mind big time!
Two guys from Sweden jointly created two notable electronic albums in the genre of minimal ambient techno: "Animals" and "Blomma"; Both jewels in my honest opinion. As with many other albums in this article, goosebumps every time I listen them.
"Blomma" is the first choice for the list. But the other one is great as well. Although I do like the works of "Sebastian Mullaert" after his Minilogue era, I wished for these guys - born and raised in the country of many top quality electronic music producer/artists - to have released more material! Ok ok, everything has a start and an end; I know. But their end should've been a little later than it effectively was.
The last and most recent album in my list: "Trialog" by Austrian's HVOB. They played the closing hour on the main stage at Fusion Festival; A multi day (almost a week) music and art festival in northeast Germany. By far the Best festival I've encountered in my whole life! And I've experienced quite a few festivals throughout the last two/three decades! :)
Usually I go to other stages then the main for closing time, but we were advised to go and see HVOB. So we did! Their melancholic electronic sound struck me by lightning and I could only leave for the after party, after the last sounds faded away. Since then, they made a few albums more, but their recent work I hardly listen; Too much of the same. But their first two albums "HVOB" and "Trialog" are regulars for my ears.
When I started to collect the material for this article, I thought: "Ok, lets make a selection, write the article and then next topic!". I probably don't write about music in the next posts, but I do think I'll come back to talk about other top X albums.
The whole process to come to this result made me go back in time to wonderful moments in my life. So much positivity this gave me! So much pleasure and happiness I got from this mini project! It turned my so so day into a great one! I wish, I wish I could go to some small and cozy music festival tonight! I want to hear good music while surrounded by likeminded, positive and happy people, trying our best to create the all-is-one atmosphere!