Photo by Stephen S. Taylor
1. Meredith Monk | Fields/Clouds
Meredith Monk is one of the most creative people I've ever met. Her music is such an integral part of my life that it's hard to talk about. I listen to this piece and I am completely inside of it, completely swept away.
2. Tune-Yards | Hatari
I went to hear Tune-Yards last November, at the beginning of a brutal New York winter, and it transported me somewhere warmer and happier. It's sparse, lo-fi wonderfulness.
3. Dirty Projectors | Finches' Song At Oceanic Parking Lot
Dirty Projectors deserve every bit of attention they get, but I still have a soft spot in my heart for this early Dave Longstreth creation. When this album came out we were living down the street from each other in Connecticut. The band's lineup seemed to change week to week, and I myself was in a constant creative spaz. Dave got me to listen to lots of new bands, to have more fun with everything, and he had a bigger impact on me than he will ever know! Until now!
4. Gustav Mahler | Ich bin der Welt Abhanden Gekommen ('I Am Lost To The World' from Ruckert-Lieder, sung by Lorraine Hunt Lieberson)
Don't be scared by the German! The last verse translates to I am dead to the world's tumult/ And I rest in a quiet realm/ I live alone in my heaven/ In my love and in my song. I go to this song in my darker moments, when I want to turn away from the world. I love the idea that the singer is dead to the world, but she seems to be OK with it. And Lorraine Hunt Lieberson has the perfect voice for this track.
5. Beach House | Master Of None
Beach House has been the soundtrack to many of my long walks around the carnival at Coney Island. This track off their first album was the one that drew me in. There is something heartbreaking about Beach House, something that makes me feel completely submerged.
6. Pixies | Hey
Nothing is scarier, or more satisfying, than Frank Black shouting Hey! Been trying to meet you... This song is so raw, so naked. Kim Deal is one of my childhood idols, which helps.
7. Salem | Redlights
Not the Israeli metal band, not the UK metal band, not the disbanded post-hardcore band from Florida, but the Salem from Michigan/New York City. This music is overwhelming, in a good way. This band takes you to the edge of noise and surrounds you with warm fuzzy synths.
8. Philip Glass | Rubric
When I first moved to New York and had $0 in my bank account I would listen to Philip Glass and tell myself it was all going to be OK, without knowing quite how it was all going to be OK. I associate this music with those times in my life when I had to make inspiration out of nothing, when I had to trust in things that hadn't happened yet.
9. Glasser | Learn
Exotic-sounding percussion, surprising harmonies, beautiful textures... This music is like Steve Reich meets High Places meets Balinese monkey chant.
10. Mos Def | Casa Bey
This song goes through my head a lot when I'm surfing. Can't stop my go/ Been born to be where I am/ Bright light from a distant star - these lyrics are inspiring, and this album, The Ecstatic, is one of the best albums I heard in 2009. Mos Def seems to pile layer upon layer, but it never feels like too much.