Joy Division – Closer (1980)
Along with Nine Inch Nails, Joy Division is my all-time favourite band. I’ve read so many books about them and Factory Records that I might be considered slightly obsessed. I identify strongly with Ian Curtis and I know that I’m not the only one who does. It occurred to me the other week that I live up the road from where they performed in London and where they recorded Closer. Few records make me as emotional as Closer does so it simply had to be included.
Bright Eyes – Letting Off the Happiness (1998)
When I’m really, really down this is what I listen to. It’s like therapy and I’m not saying that lightly. After a listen through, I feel better every time. It’s a sad but soothing record. There’s a marvellous 15 minute drone between the last two tracks and there are literary references to The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera among others.
Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral (1994)
Trent Reznor is my favourite living person. Well, it’s a tie between him and Dylan Moran really. Nine Inch Nails have been with me through thick and thin for 16 years. To me music is something very personal and when I talk about Nine Inch Nails I feel like I should just stop talking because I’m revealing things that are too intimate. So I’ll stop right there.
Antony and The Johnsons – I Am a Bird Now (2005)
I fell in love with Antony when I saw him in a music documentary on telly around a decade ago. He played his adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem The Lake on an old piano in an empty old theatre in Stockholm and his haunting voice sent shivers down my spine. This record doesn’t sound like anything else. It’s soothing, passionate and absolutely heartbreaking. Antony is a musical genius.
The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
This experimental record symbolises happiness to me. It’s an upbeat album that was clearly before its time and yet it doesn’t age. It’s another nihilistic record with literary references and I do have a weakness for those. I tend to listen to it more in the summer (Who Loves the Sun) but it never fails to brighten my mood.
Silver Apples – Contact (1969)
I’m gutted that I was so late in discovering this fantastic psychedelic electronic New York duo. The first tune I heard was Oscillations when Nick Frost played it on the radio a couple of years ago and it blew me away. This is another happy record that instantly puts a smile on my face.
David Bowie – Low (1977)
It’s so very difficult to pick just one Bowie record. I’ve been raised on his music and all his albums signify different periods of my life. In the end I had to pick Low because it’s such a beautifully put together album but Hunky Dory and The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars are close runners-up. Bowie will always be my muse, my inexhaustible source of inspiration.
Iggy Pop – The Idiot (1977)
Good old Iggy. How can you not love him with his nihilistic attitude and his great sense of humour? The Idiot is not much fun though and Iggy sings with a tired voice on it. It was recorded by Bowie in Berlin and the drone of the synthesizers is distinctively krautrock. I would even go as far as to call this marvellous record bitingly cold. Adding to this coldness it has to be mentioned that allegedly, Ian Curtis listened to The Idiot right before he hanged himself.
The Horrors – Primary Colours (2009)
This record was my motivational soundtrack leading up to my move to London in 2010. I’ve listened to The Horrors right from the very start and their music never fails to make me feel completely ecstatic. Every track on this record is pure perfection but Sea Within a Sea is my favourite tune, first echoing Joy Division and then krautrock.
How about you? What records define you?