Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists determined by our favorite artists. This week: Premier sound artist Chris Watson and synth revivalist Seth Haley.
Listed: Chris Watson + Com Truise
Chris Watson is a founding member of historic post-punk act Cabaret Voltaire and Andrew McKenzie’s avant-garde all-stars The Hafler Trio. Since the early 1980s, Watson’s main focus has become field recordings, specifically those of natural history. In 2006, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Technology degree by the University of the West of England “in recognition of his outstanding contribution to sound recording technology, especially in the field of natural history and documentary location sound." In between freelance work for film, TV and radio, Watson releases his finest recordings on Jon Wozencroft and Mike Harding’s Touch record label. His latest, Cross-Pollination, a collaborative effort with British composer Marcus Davidson, uses Watson’s field recordings from the Kalahari Desert and British beehives as source material. For this week’s Listed, Watson gives us 10 tracks, albums or recordings that have inspired and delighted him, in roughly chronological order.
1. Pierre Schaeffer - " Étude aux Chemins de Fer”
As a teenager back in the 1970s, 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.
2. Otis Redding - “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”
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.
3. Velvet Underground - 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.
4. Charles Parker and Ewan MacColl - “The Ballad of John Axon”
The growing realization 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.
5. Neu! - 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 that 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.
6. William S. Burroughs - “Nothing Here Now But The Recordings”
A powerful and disturbing dramatic realization of the written word carved into sound-art by the author. The cut-up and collage manifesto presented here extracts an alternative consciousness from within the technology, conveying the message that there have always been other messages intrinsically embedded within the medium.
7. Blackbeard (a.k.a. Dennis Bovell) - I Wah Dub
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.
8. Russell Haswall - “Falling Snow”
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 that encapsulates an event that happens all around us, yet one we hardly ever hear.
9. Biosphere (a.k.a. Geir Jenssen) - Cho Oyu 8201m
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. Phillip Jeck - “An Ark for the Listener”
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.
Squarely entrenched in the nascent synth revivalism, New Jersey designer/musician Seth Haley, a.k.a. Com Truise, stands out among his peers. His songs harken back to the dystopian vision of the early ’80s when minimal, synthesizers burbled deep in the musical underground. It’s a style he calls "mid-fi synth-wave, slow-motion funk.” His music has quickly gained traction and netted him the honor of remixing electronic Godfathers Daft Punk. Nostalgia runs deep on Haley’s full-length, Galactic Melt, which evokes the strong influence of Joy Division, Howard Shore, and arguably Chris Watson’s Cabaret Voltaire.
1. Boards Of Canada - Music Has The Right To Children
I tend to revisit this quite often. There is such a depth to the production in this album. You can really hear the time they spent on every little detail. It’s my escape music.
2. Oneohtrix Point Never - Rifts
An amazing collection of tracks, a solid journey. Daniel Lopatin is a master of arpeggios. I can’t get enough of these sounds.
3. New Order - Power, Corruption & Lies
One of those albums I only listen to from beginning to end, no skipping around. The
vintage drum machines, Hook’s signature bass sound…it’s all so perfect.
4. David Frank
Everything this guy touches is gold, not to mention he is an Oberheim master. Anything from his work with The System to Phil Collins’s “Sussudio” is worth investigation.
Big fan. He always seems to capture a certain “fatness” in his production like no other. His sound is so thick and smoky.
6. Bibio - fi
This album never gets old. The tonal quality and distressed sounds in Bibio’s recordings make me feel like I’m sitting in the English countryside.
7. Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures
What production. Martin Hannett is amazing. Really love his use of the AMS DMX 15-80. The drum work and overall sound on this record blows my mind.
One of my favorite contemporary producers. His bass sound and sequencing techniques are some of the best in electronic music. Not to mention he’s a library head.
9. The Chemical Brothers - Dig Your Own Hole
One of my early electronic loves. The music contained on this record is something special. The production is amazing, the samples are amazing. This record holds a special place in my life.
10. Vangelis - Blade Runner
This is, by far, my favorite film score. I like this so much that I often drive around listening to it. The world of Vangelis on the CS-80 is remarkable, and should be studied by all.
By Dusted Magazine