1. The Velvet Underground | Heroin
Similar to The Clash, The Velvet Underground just kind of opened my mind when I first heard them as a teenager. What is this sound? John Cale’s viola was equal parts shrill and beautiful. A strange kind of itching, nagging but intoxicating sound. The Minimal combination of instruments and Lou Reed’s voice were just magic to my ears. It was unlike anything I had heard at the time and I couldn’t stop listening to it. The tension and angst, dynamics, drone and noise. I still turn to it now and then after all these years. Beyond seminal.
2. Sonic Youth | Candle
Sonic Youth in my young adult years really introduced me to this idea that Art Rock could be so much cooler than it sounds. The guitar could be something different - still catchy and accessible - but pushing the sound towards something arty and different. Daydream Nation really stands the test of Time unlike so much Music from the ‘80s.
3. My Bloody Valentine | Only Shallow
I could pick any song from Loveless as that record really changed everything for me. This idea that the guitar could provide this amazingly dense wash of Sound was so incredible to my ears. Like many others, I worshiped MBV and when I saw them live in Vancouver in the 90’s it was at the peak of this Love affair with their Music. It was likely the best live show I’ve ever been to in my life.
4. György Ligeti | Atmosphères (Performed by Vienna Philharmonic; Conductor: Claudio Abbado)
Although I probably would have unknowingly first heard this in 2001: A Space Odyssey, it wasn’t until going to University that I was officially exposed to this as a piece of Modern Music. In my opinion, this is one of the best pieces of Music written in the 20th Century. It truly epitomizes Texture and Density as Musical Forms and uses the orchestra in this truly interesting and deep way. All the while it is incredibly listenable, engaging and beautiful.
5. Brian Eno | 1/1 (From Ambient 1 (Music For Airports))
Eno. What else can you say really. Eno bridged that gap that had formed for me early in my adult life between Intellectual, Serious Music and Pop Culture. He found a way to have a foot in both worlds and make it sensible. I remember feeling so lost in either camp for a time. I had some Academic Music instructors who fully rejected the Pop world out of some kind of fear of illegitimacy and friends from the Indie Rock world who rejected the Avant-Garde for being too elitist or snobby. Eno was one of the first that bridged those worlds in a perfect way for me. Music For Airports might seem like an obvious influence for someone who makes a lot of Ambient Music, but it cannot go without mention for me. I spent many hours daydreaming to that record.
6. Steve Reich | Come Out
This piece just bent my mind when I first heard it. I mean, things happen in your head when you listen to this and many of Reich’s works. These kind of aural hallucinations. The Acoustic pieces like Piano Phase are like this too… Strange things happen when you submit to listening super intensely to those works. Come Out was one of the first pieces I ever remember listening to that blended Sound with Music in this interesting, thoughtful and political way. It definitely opened my mind to Sound as Music and the power of a simple idea.
7. Augustus Pablo | 555 Dub Street
I probably first heard Dub via The Clash in my teenage years, but have turned to King Tubby's Meets Rockers Uptown over and over through the years as a kind of palette cleanser. There is something magical about the sound of those records from the 70’s and 80’s and I think all the bass in my own Music is a pale imitation of that sound. So deep and rich and full.
8. Aphex Twin | Untitled (Track 3 on CD 1 of Selected Ambient Works Volume II, sometimes referred as Rhubarb)
Although I liked a lot of Aphex Twin in general, Selected Ambient Works Volume II really was the record of his I listened to the most. In fact, it could be argued it is the reason I started making Electronic Music as Loscil. There is something so insanely incredible about that record, it’s Simplicity, Texture, blending of subtle melody and rhythm with this kind of ambiguous Darkness.
9. Arvo Pärt | Für Alina (Performed by Alexander Malter)
This is probably the single most beautiful piece of Music ever written. I mean that. I don’t think Music can get much more beautiful than this. It’s so fragile, exposed, delicate and haunting. I don’t think Music this simple is easy to write or play either. I dare anyone to try to be this Minimal and record it and have it turn out as perfect as this piece. Listening to Pärt for the first time was akin to seeing my first sunrise.
10. Ornette Coleman | Lonely Woman
It might seem odd, but I listened to a lot of free Jazz for a period of my life and there’s none greater in my mind than Ornette Coleman. I think it was via John Zorn’s Music that I was exposed to Ornette Coleman. The Shape Of Jazz To Come and Tomorrow Is The Question! are just insanely embedded in my Musical Consciousness. I grew up playing tenor and baritone sax too, so there is a deep down affinity for the instrument. His film score collaboration with Howard Shore for Naked Lunch was really amazing too. Genius. He might seem to sit outside the scope of my influence, but it’s in there somewhere.