Ten tracks, albums or recordings that have inspired and delighted me in roughly chronological order
01: Étude aux Chemins de Fer by Pierre Schaeffer
As a teenager back in the 1970’s this was my introduction to musique concrete and the revolutionary idea that one could arrange and compose sounds via a tape recorder. The track is full of dynamics, rhythm and the most wonderful displaced timbres. The potential for creating such a work was a fabulous and exciting prospect and guided me towards a new world of artistic expression.
02: (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding
Deep emotional expression, a fabulous voice and great production really opened my ears to this man and his soul music. There are many tracks to choose from but this one in particular speaks of a universal feeling richly cut into the vinyl grooves.
03: The Velvet Underground and Nico
Pop art and unpopular music just worked so well and encapsulated most of my energies and interests during this period. Excitement, experimentation, technology, drugs, danger, parties, lights, film, music and writing. The creative collaboration of any or all of these
elements was a stimulating educational process and the soundtrack was usually this album.
04: The Ballad of John Axon by Charles Parker and Ewan MacColl
The growing realisation for the creative potential of reel to reel tape recorders led me
to the producer Charles Parker and his fabulous radio ballads. Location sounds, real voices, Ewan MacColl’s music and above all a powerful and compelling story makes for
a piece that transcends the sum of the parts and becomes radio that rocks.
05: Neu! by Neu
A blurring of the distinctions between musicians and producers began here for me with
this great album produced by Conrad Plank. Sounds with a conceptual groove which were also interesting and danceable. I also felt an empathy for most of the German bands
of this period such as Can and Kraftwerk who were busy in their studios creating music for an international audience.
06: Nothing Here Now But The Recordings by William S. Burroughs
A powerful and disturbing dramatic realisation of the written word into sound by the author. The cut up and collage manifesto presented as an alternative spirit of the technology used
to convey the message that there were other messages embedded within the medium.
07: I Wah Dub by Blackbeard aka Dennis Bovell
I still don’t know how you get such powerful music onto a record. I was fascinated, delighted and overwhelmed by every track.
Olympic-standard rhythm and sound.
A drummer friend of mine at the time played this record on a big system and said it made him want to give up.
08: Falling Snow by Russell Haswall
A single album length recording of falling snow recorded with a pair of hydrophones
in the Suffolk countryside. Compelling and immersive with a strange narrative element. This is a very quiet recording of stunning clarity which encapsulates an event that happens all around us yet we hardly ever hear.
09: Cho Oyu 8201m by Geir Jenssen aka Biosphere
A celebration of a trek to and ascent of this Tibetan mountain and featuring a series of original and unprocessed tracks together with some re-worked material. The result is a powerful, challenging and emotionally complex journey into a place where most of us will never visit.
10: An ark for the listener by Philip Jeck
Philip’s work is quite simply a beautiful evocation of music as it exudes out from what is trapped beneath the surface. The reconstructions and subsequent textures reveal what has been lost, passed out of our sight, yet buried deep within our own imagination.
Chris Watson, August 2011