OK Computer (Radiohead)

OK Computer (released on 21 May 1997) is an album by Radiohead that still inspires and takes my breath away. It’s a masterpiece, arguably the most significant album of the 1990s.

OK Computer has received widespread critical acclaim and has been cited by listeners, critics, and musicians as one of the greatest albums of all time. You could describe it as Radiohead’s Sgt. Pepper, released 30 years preciously in May 1967.

It’s their third studio album, and one in which they distanced themselves from their previous work, laying the groundwork for future, more experimental albums.

The album’s lyrics depict a world fraught with rampant consumerism, social alienation, emotional isolation and political malaise; in this capacity, OK Computer has been said to have prescient insight into the mood of 21st-century life. Source

If you’re not familiar with this influential album, do yourself a big favour and give it a listen today.

The Antikythera Mechanism (1902)

On this day (17 May) in 1902, a small piece of bronze caught the eye of archaeologist Valerios Stais.. He was examining artefacts from a wrecked Roman cargo ship off the island of Antikythera in Greece.

It looked like a small wheel or cog, in fact he had just discovered what has come to be known as the Antikythera Mechanism, the world’s first analogical computer.

This extraordinary two-thousand-year-old computer system was used by the ancient Greeks as an astronomical calculator, able to chart the planets and make predictions. The extraordinary device is believed to have been made on the island of Rhodes around 150 BC, and classical literature of the time does allude to mechanisms similar to this one, meaning this was unlikely to be the only one of its kind. Well over a hundred years after its discovery, the Antikythera mechanism is still being extensively researched, in an attempt to fully unlock an ancient piece of human ingenuity. Source

The Antikythera Mechanism is also a 2020 album by my friend Jack Hertz.

Kind of Blue (Miles Davis)

For International Jazz Day I give you this classic album.

Kind of Blue (1959) is the top jazz album on most ‘best-of’ lists and is cited as jazz’s biggest-seller. The Miles Davis classic has reached the kind of mainstream popularity that sees it included in the record collections of non-jazz fans as their token jazz record. But its legendary status is very much warranted: Kind of Blue is surely some of the greatest, most atmospheric and influential music every recorded.

Davis was a relentless innovator who refused to stand still: his music would change drastically over the following years, taking in freer forms and jazz fusion, but Kind of Blue, for many, remains his definitive artistic statement and certainly a great starting point when it comes to jazz for beginners. Source

RIP Sir Harrison Birtwistle

The death (18 April 2022) has been announced of Sir Harrison Birtwistle, one of my musical heroes. I’ve always admired composers and musicians who push the boundaries of what is acceptable and possible, who are uncompromising in their musical output. In the realm of rock music, you have The Fall and Radiohead for example, in orchestral music you have Harrison Birtwistle.

My favourite memory, apart from the music obviously, is when I attended a premiere of one of his pieces at the Royal Festival Hall (London) in the 1970s. The orchestra were dressed in their formal attire, Birtwistle came onto the stage to acknowledge the applause in a scruffy t-shirt, jeans, and trainers. A composer who moved from the edge to the centre of the musical establishment.

People’s Songs (Stuart Maconie)

This exceptional book, The People’s Songs: The Story of Modern Britain in 50 Records by Stuart Maconie, combines modern British history with an in-depth knowledge of popular music. Here is the story of Britain since World War 2 outlined through fifty significant songs, with others mentioned along the way.

It was an absolute joy to read; with its wealth of information and knowledge, it appealed to my love of history, politics, culture, and music. It’s a book I’m sure to read again.

I’ve compiled a Spotify playlist of the fifty songs in the book, you can find it here.

You can find me on Goodreads (click the link) and see all my 2021 books here.

Immigrants (Nitin Sawhney)

When a nation flounders under the yolk of a morally bereft government more bothered about igniting the flames of a phony culture war to cover up its own jingoistic ineptitude than dealing with racial inequities and massive unearned financial disparities, we’re forced to look elsewhere for guidance. 

Here, on his twelfth album, Nitin Sawhney adds his voice to the fray and adds layer upon layer of ruminations on identity, life as a migrant and belonging. Source

The challenging album Immigrants by Nitin Sawhney is one of my favourites of 2021. You can see all my favourite albums of 2021 by clicking here, or the ones that missed out here.

More Signals, More Dreams

This album by Puppy Bordiga is one of my favourites of 2021. You can see all my favourite albums of 2021 by clicking here, or the ones that missed out here.

Let me share with you the album notes: This is an album inspired on the work of those who capture the signals from the skies… Somehow continuing the line of my previous album Visiting our Neighborhood.

This new work started as an almost all guitars and sound processing thing, but evolves exponentially with the addition of the keyboards. I’ve tried to balance the different moods, it is for moments ambient, experimental, symphonic, and even alien-alike music (if that exists). A reflection on macrocosmic genesis and life.

As we are made from interstellar material up to the very single atom, putting the eyes on the skies, remembering our connection with the Cosmos could be a healthy breath in the difficult times we’re facing these days.

Volume levels recommended, as all the works of this kind are from medium to low, although you’re free to do what you want. Enjoy!

Flat White Moon (Field Music)

Since forming in 2004, this Sunderland band may have gone through many iterations and phases, but brothers David and Peter Brewis have always been at its core. Over the years they have gained themselves a loyal following and famous fans including Prince, and their ninth album is rooted around tracks inspired by their early influences – The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Fleetwood Mac. Source Unknown.

This excellent album by Field Music is one of my favourites of 2021. You can see all my favourite albums of 2021 by clicking here, or the ones that missed out here.