In an ongoing effort to better understand the musical influences behind new music, we’re asking artists to tell us about their be-all-end-all essential albums of all time ever forever. This week we’re sharing picks from art rock savants Hundred Waters, whose excellent debut self-titled LP is out now.
Steve Reich – Music for Eighteen Musicians (1978)
Nicole Miglis: This was a unanimous decision. It’s an hour-long piece of music – not really an album, but about the length of an album. It’s based on eleven chords and moves through pulses, so every musician will take a breath and play their instrument like ta ta ta ta ta ta ta ta ta, sort of like a pulse or a heartbeat. And the whole composition consists of only these eleven chords. It’s also really based on psychoacoustics, so it sounds like it was manipulated on a computer, like ambient music, but it’s all done through actual musicians, and just sounds really foreign and really incredible.
Listen: Full performance in Tokyo, 2008
Songs in the Key of Z compilation (2000)
Trayor Tryon: I found this eight or nine years ago. It’s a compilation of really unique, one-of-a-kind, bizarre recordings by people that are not necessarily musicians – they’re kind of what are described as “outsider musicians.” The songs are so outlandish you don’t know whether to laugh or if they’re amazing. One of the songs on it is called “Heart of the Heartland,” the last song on their, and it’s this radio recording from Iowa of a guy singing that he grew up in the heart of the heartland. It’s just the most obnoxious thing you’ll ever hear. Typically we use that song to torture people that we just meet.
Radiohead – Hail to the Thief (2003)
Nicole: We’re all huge Radiohead fans. Especially on the road – we listen to them a lot in the car, because they’re just really great albums to drive to, especially when you’re driving at night. We chose Hail to the Thief because the song structures are so different and you never expect what turn is going to come, what chord is going to come next. The songs are really bizarre sometimes and really angry and really powerful. I wanted to choose In Rainbows personally, but I think as a group we find Hail to the Thief completely solid from start to finish.
Listen: Hail to The Thief, full album
Mars Volta – De-Loused in the Comatorium (2003)
Trayor: It’s this really intense, almost psychotic, complicated guitar music that kinda makes you feel really anxious, and really spoke to us when we were sixteen, seventeen years old. We don’t really use the same instruments, and our music isn’t really aggressive or masculine-feeling, but the reach for something foreign to our own ears, we share that in common with Mars Volta.
Joni Mitchell – Blue (1971)
Nicole: I think I heard this record when I was like seventeen or eighteen. I remember someone showed it to me in a car, and I was blown away by the melodies that she chose, and her voice obviously, but her melodies were so striking to me. Then I looked up the record, and the songs spoke to me a lot. Really personal, and really honest – the honesty was the biggest thing to me. I felt like she had no barriers in her songwriting, and she’s really upfront, and that’s something I really admire about her. She just puts everything on the table.
Listen: Blue, full album