This is my playlist. I named it “Our Bodies Are Ingredients: Music that inspired the LP Our Bodies Are Machines“
John Adams – “Aria from the end of Act 1 of DOCTOR ATOMIC (sung by Gerald Finley)”
It's ridiculous this opera hasn't been recorded and released yet. The best few minutes of music composed in the 21st century so far, in my opinion. No one in electronic music can get the range of expression going on in this piece. Even Adams' “Doctor Atomic Symphony” can't get the same pathos as Finley does here. Proves that you can take religious art, in this case the poetry of William Blake, and improve upon it by placing it in a secular setting, the same way gospel music was secularized into R&B, soul and funk.
Four Tet – “My Angel Rocks Back And Forth”
My wife and I picked this to play while we were walking in during our wedding ceremony. As I'm about to take her to her seat, my mother leans over and says to me, “I can't believe your wedding song has Darth Vader breathing on it.” Four Tet, like Flying Lotus and a few others, can always bring humanity out of the software. Also, they're part of a small cadre of electronic musicians who know how to make albums and not just singles, sometime to which I would clearly aspire.
Scott Walker – “The Electrician”
It took me a long time to like Scott Walker. In fact, if there wasn't so much press about Drift that explained the process through which it was made, I might not have been able to listen to it at all. Eventually it led me to the Brel stuff, the ballads, The Walker Brothers. The new stuff is Difficult (with a capital D), but there's decade of greatness backing it up. “The Electrician” is the perfect distillation of Walker, using melodrama to frighten at one moment, then entertain in the next.
Pat Metheny Group – “Minuano 6/8”
Don't mistake Metheny Group for smooth jazz. Despite the corny sounds, this is rigorously-arranged, highly-complicated shit (plus the dude has played with Ornette Coleman and Steve Reich, so his cred is solid). No one writes a melody like Metheny. I've spent my life struggling with trying not to love it, but the melody that comes in about three minutes in has been stuck in my head for the last twenty years. I ripped off at least one Metheny lick on Our Bodies Are Machines, I'm sure there's more I haven't found yet.
D'Angelo – “The Line”
The music being made by The Soulquarians around the turn of the century is some of my favorite music, and produced at least three certified masterpieces, Common's Like Water for Chocolate, The Roots' Things Fall Apart, and D'Angelo's Voodoo. Voodoo shines brightest of these, and is still the farthest ahead of its time. The best of us, on our best day, only wish we could groove as hard as this record.
Louis Armstrong & His Hot Five – “Basin Street Blues”
There is no god but music, and Louis Armstrong is the messiah of western music, arriving right at the beginning of a century of blindingly fast changes in music from the slow evolution that had occurred over the previous millennia, spurred on by recording technology and African-American culture. Two minutes in to “Basin Street Blues” you have the purest example of someone who lives music. Even his wrong notes are perfect.