Tom is one of the newer additions to Spoke’s growing roster of talented writers. I first encountered Tom when wondering “who is that guy riding a singlespeed nude?” at a 6 hour race; I then discovered his Musings of a Gadabout blog and realised this guy is a maestro of the keyboard, with a uniquely verbose style that I could only dream of possessing. Not only that, he’s a great foil for any inappropriate or controversial statements or actions I might make at Friday drinks at Jonty’s shop, or elsewhere. And he would be a good desert island companion with his choice of tunes… you’d just have to be on constant alert for impending nudity, though.
Discovery – Daft Punk
For me this is the musical equivalent of Marquez’s 100 Years of Solitude. My affections for both come not from their form as a whole, but from the incidental pleasures that they provide. Thomas Bangalter said himself of the philosophy underlying the album: “You’re not concerned with whether it’s cool or not. Sometimes you might relate to just one thing in a song, such as the guitar sound.” While the album (like Marquez’s novel) is a masterpiece in its own right, I return to it each time because I know some hitherto unappreciated detail is going to enchant me.
Plastic Beach – Gorillaz
I’ve been toiling with whether this would make life stuck on an island better or worse. Ultimately, I think it would probably convince you that the world you left behind was pretty shitty. That’s gotta be good, right? Either way, this album is incredibly diverse in its directions, depth and character. Move from fun, shameless pop to hanging melancholy. Spin from Arabic orchestral, through hip hop, to a quaint, endearing Lou Reed. It’s got a little bit for every corner of the island.
Heligoland – Massive Attack
What’s not to love? Fittingly named after an archipelago, this album is haunting, stunning, creepy, velvety and sublime in its composition. Every track has me aching in a new and special place. Put on Paradise Circus and feel her pull your guts out through the bottom of your chair. An album for laying up in strange parts of the island and watching thick, grey clouds roll by.
Mechanical Animals – Marilyn Manson
I’m forever pushing this album uphill when recommending it to others. Whether it’s the kiwi male’s inability to assign an interest to some androgynous goth-creature, or a perception that the music is reserved for dark bedrooms and bloodletting, my advice falls on deaf ears. It’s their loss. This is a rich and textured concept album, beautifully executed. It tells the alternating story of a glam rocker embroiled in the hollow life of stardom, and an alien-cum-rock star plainly derived from Ziggy Stardust. The aesthetic of the album is glossy, smooth, dark, deep and purple – like liquefied galaxies distilled into audible syrup. I’ve been listening to it, and loving it, for 13 years now.
Louder than Love – Soundgarden
Are there women on this island? If there are, then we need a slow, grinding album full of Cornell’s wailing to send shivers into their flesh and provide some weird metronome for our motions. Find a quiet spot and peel back the greasy skin of humanity with this album. It might seem disgusting at first, but there is beauty in there – even if you’re a little ashamed afterward.