Music has always been an important part of my life, ever since I was a kid. And for me, the most favorite of musical “forms” has been the album.
An album is like one long song, and when there’s a unifying theme it really becomes an interesting journey within and without.
Welcome to this week’s article, where I talk about my 10 favorite music albums, laid out in chronological order.
#1 …And Justice For All
It was the early 2000s when I first discovered rock music. I was the angry, misunderstood kid back then, and this music seemed to fit like a glove to what I was going through.
There were a lot of other bands which I liked – some of them quite horrendous. And even if it’s been a long time since I’ve stopped listening, for the sake of historical accuracy, I decided to add one album – Metallica’s …And Justice For All.
With a very dry sound, progressive riffs, and socially charged lyrics, it was one of my favorite, back then.
By the time I was 18, I was through with rock music, and I discovered the world of electronic instruments, synths and pads. The first piece of music of this new stage, was Jean-Michel Jarre’s genius Equinoxe album.
Out in ’78, it still has a futuristic sound even to this day. I remember I felt like floating when I first heard the rainy synths of Part I play.
The fascinating cover, the French themed musical interludes, the iconic string synths with their winding analogue oscilator pitch, make this album amazing.
Yes, another Jarre album – the incredibly epic Rendez-vous. With it’s deep and piercing saw wave synthesizers, the music tells the story of an encounter of magnitude.
There is a kind of gravitas to the songs, a kind of big drama going on. But all of it gets resolved with Part IV (and it’s super cheesy strings and tune).
*By now, you probably figured out that the naming of my tracks was very much inspired by Jean-Michel Jarre :)
#4 Just Be
What followed after Equinoxe was a long period of electronic and new age music: Vangelis, Karunesh, Chris Spheeris. And eventually, some modern electronic music – in the form of trance. And although it’s super old-school right now – it was even back then, Tiesto’s Just be is still my favorite trance album.
The orchestral Forever Today intro, and epic anthems in Traffic, Nyana or Adagio For Strings, make the album a classic.
And you gotta love the heavy distorted synths – Tiesto’s answer to the electric guitar.
Soon after trance, I discovered classical music, after casually attending a Vivaldi concert. I was hooked.
And although I love a lot of what Beethoven did, Mozart’s Requiem is still my all time favorite opus. If for no other reason than including Lacrimosa – probably the most beautiful piece of music ever wrote.
And really, who listens to the second half and doesn’t start all over again?
Recorded in 2001, Vangelis’ Mythodea only popped up on my radar in about 2010, but it will certainly stay for a long time.
With lyrics written in the Katharevousa form of Modern Greek, it is an ode, a ritual even, dedicated to the great and almighty king of the Gods – Zeus.
In an interview with Vangelis, he said that the words don’t mean anything, but just a bit of copy and paste into Google Translate will paint a very different picture.
#7 The Dark Knight Trilogy
Hans Zimmer is a great inspiration to me. Last week’s article was about his music. So it’s natural that some of his works would make it on this list. And if we have to chose one, it must be The Dark Knight Trilogy Soundtrack.
Dark, beautiful, epic, emotional – it has it all.
Add to that the iconic synth sounds which go on for the entire length of the movies, cutting away through the mix, in an Aggressive Expansion.
#8 The Element Of Freedom
My time spent as a bass player inevitably got me to listen (and play) Alicia Keys. And although it’s a bit of a long way from Songs In A Minor, The Element Of Freedom has that kind of optimism and good vibes which is just contagious.
Mix that with a great production, inspired lyrics, and Alicia’s beautiful voice and you have #8 on this list :)
#9 Random Access Memories
Another one from my days playing the four string: Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories.
The first things that strikes you here is the unbelievable quality of the production. It’s said that the robots spent an entire week just tweaking about on the vocoder.
The second things that makes this album great is the line-up of great talent like Nile Rodgers, Georgio Moroder or Pharell Williams.
Oh, and Get Lucky is probably the best dance song ever created. Period :)
#10 The Da Vinci Code
And last, but not least, it’s Mr. Zimmer again. This time with a music which is pretty far from what we’re accustomed to: The Da Vinci Code Soundtrack.
This time it’s not about big percussion, and heavy synths – not even the staccato cellos we love so much.
This time it’s religion, and more than that, the “underground” Sacred Feminine which permeates so much of Western culture and spirituality. And the anthem for all of this must be Chevaliers de Sangreal.
*Pro tip: the triangle with the little 3 on top, at the right side of the nose, in the album cover, might have something to do with Rennes-le-Château.