Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity. -- Charles Mingus

Music

Best album ever made.

Sorry to be obvious, but its the classic Miles Davis album Kind of Blue.

"Experimental" Music
  • Nick Didkovsky and Doctor Nerve. Check out Armed Observation/Out To Bomb Fresh Kings, the best album you've never heard.
  • Robert Ashley. I saw a production of Ashley's minimalist opera Improvement at the Annenberg Center in Philadelphia. Suffice to say that its not a spectator-oriented event. However, I bought the album, and it has become one of my favourite pieces over the years. There's something hypnotic about the music, and the lyrics are hilarious at times. I also enjoy El Aficionado.
  • Steve Reich. Different Trains is one of the most moving pieces of "experimental" music I have ever heard. The Four Sections and Proverb (one of the few pieces of non-pop music with vocals that I like).
  • The Kronos Quartet have recorded an amazing corpus of music over a span of more than thirty years. I particularly love their recording of George Crumb's Black Angels. The recorded Different Trains mentioned above, also a setting of Allen Ginsberg's Howl, and the great Terry Riley's Salome Dances for Peace.
  • Michael Nyman. Long time collaborator with the great filmmaker Peter Greenaway, I'm not sure whether I love this music in its own right, or because it puts me in mind of the movies. The soundtrack from The Draughtsman's Contract (one of the greatest movies) includes pieces such as The Garden is Becoming a Robe Room and Chasing Sheep is Best Left To Shepherds
  • Meredith Monk. Her great "opera with few words" Atlas.
  • A favourite album is Reich Remixed. This is an album of music by Reich, the founder of the sampling movement, resampled and remixed by modern artists. Here I discovered Andrea Parker whose album Kiss My Arp is well worth a listen, and DJ Spooky.
Heretical Music
It takes guts to mess with Bach, but Jacques Loussier has made a career of reinterpreting Bach for jazz trio. His album of The Goldberg Variations is a masterpiece. In a similar vein William Orbit's Music in a Modern Style is an interesting take on some modern composers using synthetic instruments.
Classical Music
I'm generally of the opinion that nothing interesting happened in music between Bach and Schoenberg. Bach's Goldberg Variations is the pinnacle of baroque music. I love Keith Jarrett's interpretation. The exception that proves the rule though, is Schuberts Death and the Maiden.
Jazz Music
  • I have been listening to Barbara Thompson's Paraphernalia since the late 70s and never tire of hearing some of these great compositions.
Pop Music
  • Joni Mitchell is the worlds greatest songwriter (ever). Don't even begin to think about contemplating proposing any one who might come close to almost matching her awesome greatness.
  • Jane Siberry can almost be mentioned in the same breath as Joni Mitchell. Her quirky, whimsical, atmospheric songs are distinctively her own. No-one could ever confuse her with anyone else.
  • Stereolab. So many great albums stretching from 1991 to 2005 (only two of those years without an album) Dots and Loops, Mars Audiac Quintet, and how could you not love an album titled Emperor Tomato Ketchup?
  • Prefab Sprout produced what is close to the perfect pop album ever made with Jordan: The Comeback. The very funny Electric Guitars from the Andromeda Heights album, and Cars and Girls from the album From Langley Park To Memphis make their respective albums worth buying for those tracks alone. I may be one of the few people on the planet who have heard and like Paddy MacAloon's album I Trawl the Megahertz. It puts me in mind of a stage play called Twisted Pairs that I saw in San Francisco at the George Coates Performance Works.
  • I love contemporary pop music such as that produced by The Chemical Brothers (Come With Us is a masterpiece), Underworld (Pearl's Girl --- play it loud), recently discovered 808 State and the great album Newbuild. Orbital, not to be confused with The Orb, but don't worry if you do, they both make great music.
  • The Bristol axis: Massive Attack, Portishead and Everything but the Girl. Each amazing in their own way. I think that Portishead's Dummy has to be one of the best debut albums ever, although Massive Attack's Blue Lines is not far behind. Everything But The Girl was introduced to me by a friend who referred to them as his "guilty secret". I'm not sure why I like them either, but they definitely do something right.

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