Favourite albums week

One album a day, no other music inbetween. That was the rule for this weeks experiment.

Favourite albums week

One album a day, no other music inbetween, but why? Last week I was talking to a friend about our favourite albums. We agreed that it's just incredible when an album that you haven't listened to for a long time still inspires you as much as it did the first time - or differently for that matter. It's cumbersome how the return to favourite albums can happen by chance and be influenced by external events. Serendipity! We also talked about making a list of favourite albums is also a great way to search the past for the moments of discovery and remember them again. The challenge for listening pleasure though is to find the time and quiet to listen to an album in its entirety. With daily commitments, this can be tough, so I came up with the idea of listening to just the album in question every day when I wanted to listen to music. While it didn't work out every day, it sure gave me a different, new perspective on the works. What great artists, what incredibly good music!

PS: To have just 7 favourite albums is impossible, so this is not a complete list.

Monday, 4hero - Two Pages (Talkin' Loud 1998)

4hero - Escape That

In 1997, Sci-Clone appeared on Platinum Breakz II (FFRR) with Melt in a jazz fusion take on jungle drum and bass. The same year, Adam F released his Circle album (Positiva / Universal) with two dedicated funk tunes, Dirty Harry and F-Jam with MC Conrad (rest in peace). Roni Size & Reprazent brought their acclaimed New Forms (Talkin' Loud) to life with lots of vocal and live musician tracks on it. At this time, it was clear that jungle drum and bass could stretch out in every genre and add something fresh to it. In 1998, 4hero presented Two Pages, which was the pinnacle of new technology meets music with all its soul and passion. The message of Escape is still on point today, unfortunately. It is noteworthy that all of these albums were released on major labels.

Tuesday, Machinedrum - Room(s) (Planet Mu 2011)

The end of the 2010s was a time when my interest in "classic drum and bass" faded. Dbridge's Autonomic podcast paved the way to a new horizon. Marcus Intalex released electro on Martyn's 3024 label under the name Trevino and the whole postdub era protagonists Ikonika, Falty DL and Ital Tek brought me to Planet Mu. Mike Paradina's label as a whole showed me what was out there in terms of stylistic range. It was the Bangs & Works compilations that led me to Footwork. When I stumbled across Machinedrums Many Faces LP on LuckyMe, his "Lemme F_ck It" was the sensation, but then the big album came out in 2011 and his track "The Statue" was just... the perfect drama tune I would dance my ass off to. A year later I went to his show in my hometown and that nailed it: Footwork Jungle was the way forward.

Wednesday, Oriol - Night and Day (Planet Mu 2010)

In December last year, I caught Corona for the second time. My eldest son sent me a message saying, "There's a medicine for you that helps," when he attached the cover artwork for Night and Day. It was a lovely gesture, he just knew it would put me in a good mood. Oriol has never produced a follow-up album, which makes it almost a miracle that it exists. From the release page on Planet Mu: "Listening to ‘Night And Day’ is like being given an invite to an off-world utopia, and within time you’ll be grinning from ear to ear, as this is serious fun."

Thursday, Sonic Youth - Goo (Geffen Records 1990)

Sonic Youth - Titanium Expose

My best friend played bass in a punk band and when the drummer didn't appear on time for a gig he suggested I should give it a try and join the band. Finally my drumming on all things other than a real kit could have an end, yes! I learned quick the few things that were important in punk rock and boy did we have fun. My friend was a big fan of The Cure and together we went to the record shop to check out what was new. We discovered Goo because this sounded so much different of what we knew before, the noise was simply unheard of. I tried the groove of Titanium Expose and I couldn't do it for some time. When Sonic Youth toured Europe in 1991 they came to the neighbouring town and we wanted to go but had no money. I won two tickets in a prize draw on the radio which ment we were on the guest list and had no real tickets – thats my only gripe about that night. Sonic Youth gave an incredible, heartfelt performance. The show that was nothing short of breathtaking. The opening act was the previously unknown band Nirvana.

Sonic Youth tour poster 1991

Friday, DJ-Kicks Kemistry & Storm (K7 1999)

I know it's a mix compilation and not an album in the traditional sense. The impact of the selection of jungle drum and bass tracks both djs mixed together can't be denied though. I remember a lot of my friends who were not interested in the genre before were curious and came to their gig when Kemistry & Storm played in Leipzig for the first time - they were all won over at the end of the night. Nick Abadzis said it right: "Possibly one of the greatest and certainly most enjoyable D&B mixes of all time. It just never lets up and covers ground from doombass to feelgood with such incredible verve and dexterity that it always leaves you delighted after every listen. I don’t know how they did that, but its a testament to their talents."

Saturday, Photek - Modus Operandi (Virgin 1997)

Photek - 124

Jungle drum and bass as a genre was only a few years old when Photek made an album in the spirit of Japanese craftsmanship "shokunin kishitsu". On Modus Operandi he underlined his earlier work as an artist with a sense of beauty, care, simplicity and sharpness. He took the liberty of writing three non-dnb tracks for the album to emphasise that his aesthetic was not bound by a particular tempo range, as his first EP "Natural Born Killa" in 1994 on Metalheadz also featured a hip-hop instrumental. What I still admire in his music is the ability to constrain, to build and maintain tension in a track and not let it go. With Photek, there is never a dramatic intensification within a track, a cathartic moment, or on the contrary, a soothing breakdown with, say, a pad sound. Each track on the album is like a different level of a musical game for the listener to discover. Timeless music.

Sunday, The Future Sound of London - Lifeforms (Astralwerks 1994)

The Future Sound of London - Lifeforms (Original Complete Video)

I had heard the music of The Future Sound of London before, but it was the first time I had seen them on MTV with their single Papua New Guinea. The long intro, the gated pad (I didn't know it was called that at the time) and the breakbeats on a dub bass really spoke to me. I went straight to the record store the next day and bought one of their 12" records. A year later, I went to Amsterdam with friends and bought their first album, Accelerator. The album was released on Jumpin' & Pumpin', which released Jungle Tekno Volume One some time before. The Papua New Guinea video had shamanism and raves in the countryside written all over it, while Lifeforms was almost completely based in a 3D world with barely club or rave-friendly beats but a tropical sound design. Before the album came out, Future Sound of London released "Cascade," a 37-minute single which made the UK top 30. It was not ambient music, but a journey into a parallel universe with way richer colours. When asked whether Brian Eno was an influence, Cobain and Dougans said they were looking to the future, not the past.

What is your favourite album?