Essential Albums unveils the records that have helped influence the work and creative growth of today's independent artists. This week: BRAIDS percussionist Austin Tufts (above, centre) reveals five albums he holds dear both musically and personally. BRAIDS' second LP Flourish // Perish is out now on Arbutus Records.
Steve Reich – Music For 18 Musicians (1978)
This record was mine and Taylor’s first foray into the world of serial composition and, to be honest, minimalism in general. About six years ago, my dad sat us down in my living room and was like, “Okay, I think you guys really need to hear this,” and put on the vinyl. It was one of the most intriguing sounding albums I had ever heard. We lost ourselves in that record that night, and the impact it has had on our music still runs strong today. It is a completely immersive experience, that is simultaneously emotional and totally heady. I feel like much of BRAIDS’ music treads that very fine line as well.
Baths – Obsidian (2013)
Will Wiesenfeld, aka Baths, brought us on tour in the dead of winter 2011. We really enjoyed the record that he was supporting, Cerulean, but what was more interesting was the music he made us listen to during those six weeks on the road together. I knew that we were in for a treat with his follow up far before it was even conceived, but when he finally sent it to me two years later, I wasn’t prepared for its glacial beauty. It's hands-down the best record I've heard in years. It's gorgeous and evocative and sonically flawless. If you're reading this, go buy it!
Azeda Booth – In Flesh Tones (2008)
Coming up in Calgary, I rarely felt that I was missing out on some kind of bigger city music scene. That is most thanks to the wonderful people behind the bands Azeda Booth, and Women. Azeda Booth created such inspiring and distinct music that played a huge part in shaping the way I hear and play music. There is no feeling quite the same as being just floored by the music that your friends make and for me In Flesh Tones is the epitome of that sentiment. This record in particular introduced us to the blend of electronic and acoustic sounds. It opened the door into the world of Aphex Twin and many other hugely influential musicians — Bjork for example. For me, this record is like a rite of passage for musicians to just follow their creative intuition and be honest with what they hear in their heads, no matter how unexpected it might be.
Buena Vista Social Club – Buena Vista Social Club (1997)
I grew up in a very musical house and there was always a record for every occasion. This is my Sunday morning brunch record. The songs are beautiful, fun, and playful. The playing is deep and grounded in the long tradition of afro-cuban music. And the vibe that Ry Cooder was able to capture on this recording of the Buena Vista Social Club is as vivid as a trip down to cuba in person. This record is important to me in many ways but first and foremost it is a reminder that music can lift the spirit. Any time I am sad or lonely, if I put this record on, it brings me right back to the brunch table at my parent's place in Calgary.
The Talking Heads – Remain in Light (1980)
About three years ago I was searching restlessly for a specific sound, specific musical aesthetic. I had heard Deerhoof play at a Sled Island that year and they sort of touched on the sound I was looking for – really funky drums, palm muted guitars – in general, very short precise sounds that come together to form a big groove. Then at Christmas I was given a bunch of Talking Heads records, again by my father, and I was like, “holy crap this is that sound!” Remain in Light was the one that most spoke to me. They were such an artful and intriguing group of musicians with a very strong vision – Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz create this hot-bed of rhythm for all the playful guitars and synth melodies to wind in and out of, and all these sounds intertwine to create a totally synergistic whole. I am getting the chance to see David Byrne tonight in England and I am freakin’ excited!