I’ve always enjoyed music playlists, especially when it offers an opportunity to enter in the world and minds of other artists you’ve long admired. What DO they listen to at home, in the car or whilst washing up? Does the minimal electronica musician exclusively only listen to reductionist bleeps and bloops in their white-washed futuristic living room, or do they hammer out Beyonce tunes for pleasure?
With the recent publication of David Stubbs Mars by 1980: The Story of Electronic Music I was honoured to join in a collective invitation to choose three tunes that resonated with the themes of the book. Stubbs charts the history of electronic music from early avant-garde forms of Futurism and musique concrète to present-day innovators of house and techno, touching on so many key aspects of modern listening, and I’d thoroughly recommend picking up a copy to open yourself up to new connections and sounds. That’s 464 pages of rethinking ways forward with sound!
Patterns and Trails
Any book that attempts to capture the atmosphere and history of such a key period of music-making leaves themselves open to attack from the now popular trolls that orbit our world, but Stubbs nobly protects himself in the Preface by confirming that this is a “personal and selective account that is more about aspects and angles, patterns and trails.” And patterns and trails brilliantly sums up how the dots have been connected between genres, styles, environments and personal histories over time.
So in celebration of the publication Faber Social offered me this chance to share three pieces of music that had real meaning for me. Spoiler alert – I chose Virgin Prunes, Carl Stone and Robert Ashley, three disparate figures that have continued to inspire my own work over the years, and frequently return to listen to in my white-washed minimalist living room (just kidding on the room. It’s painted grey). However, I recommend you take a read and of course listen to all the links that follow in the feature, and learn what key figures such as Bobby Gillespie (Primal Scream), Cosey Fanni Tutti (Throbbing Gristle), Stephen Mallinder (Cabaret Voltaire), Simon Reynolds, Chris Frantz (Talking Heads), Jon Savage and my very own stylish missus Lady Modular (that’s her shiny legs above), listen to whilst doing the housework and travelling in their flying cars. And of course, just as importantly, what three tunes would YOU choose?