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Wendy Carlos's Sonic Seasonings.

Top Albums of the 1970s, Cohort #6

By Mark Abraham · Jun 26, 2013

50. Colette Magny & Free Jazz Workshop:
Transit

(Le Chant Du Monde; 1975)

Henry Braymore Blake: “The hardest part of free anything to explain is the gut. What I mean is the human impulse that pushes it. People describe good improv as a conversation, but I don’t think that metaphor quite works because there aren’t words so there are ideas, I guess, but no debate. Things are floated and fluttered; ideas are snapshots that immediately dissolve. Everything is contradictory but everything sounds perfect. Which is why when Magny’s voice breathes on top of this foundation I swear I can see the notes as smiles and architectural embellishments: everything in history is up for grabs in a world with no language.”

49. Culture:
Two Sevens Clash

(Joe Gibbs; 1977)

Jeff Bennett: “This makes the stuff described in the Book of Revelation sound so gorgeous! It’s an album that focuses on death and destruction in this weirdly expansive way. Like, Culture saw a darkness, gave it CPR, mouth to mouth, brought it back to life as this reggae gem that seethes internally but flows and ebbs externally. Waves are lapping at the shore; maybe crab civilizations are being destroyed underneath. Who knows? The apocalypse didn’t come in 1977, but this album was convincing enough that people believed it might. That makes Culture like the Mayans, which is pretty cool company.”

48. Chi-Lites:
(For God's Sake) Give More Power To The People

(Brunswick; 1971)

Esther Anderson: “I have a theory that all of the songs on this album were written about me and my six sisters. ‘Have You See Her?’ is obviously about me, ‘cause have you seen me? Ha! Oh…the album’s pretty great R&B too, I guess.”

47. Wendy Carlos:
Sonic Seasonings

(Columbia; 1972)

Barbara Cooper: “More like one season at a time, amirite? Carlos is still the gold standard for this kind of inquisitive, non-disruptive soundscape. This is maybe what our deepest dreams sound like. Or, better, what is possibly possible in human art to capture glacial, iterative concepts like ‘seasons.’ Hell—this is maybe the only macro look you’ll ever get at our Phanerozoic existence. It shows us the breath of an eon is just like our breath—fleeting, but utterly crucial.”

46. Masayuki Takayanagi & Kaoru Abe:
解体的交感

(Sound Creators Inc.; 1970)

Cindy Brady: “This album sounds like anatomy. Like your bones connecting, or your face and neck turning to try and see your back, or your arthritis, or your fingernails growing, or your big toe being stubbed and it hurts like a motherfucker, or your aching knee and your good knee, or your back cracking, or your stupid brothers and sisters playing Twister, or how every time your heart beats your entire body reverberates. It’s all moments, all flesh, all things growing out of other things.”

45. P-Model:
In a Model Room

(Warner-Pioneer; 1979)

Murray Slaughter: “I, too, have always wanted to make music from a junk heap. The problem is that I could never make the metal warm enough, or good enough. It always sounded like wreckage, and not whispers. In a Model Room carries its own sparkle, listing melodies careening over schisms of noise and insertions. As a writer, I can see that this is music made out of punctuation: it is grammar in its purest, most evocative form.”

44. Nine Days' Wonder:
Only the Dancers

( Bacillus; 1974)

Big Rosie Greenbaum: “My husband spends a lot of his time with his hands up other people’s asses, but he does it so I can lord my social status over others. The other way I do that is by only listening to rock ‘n’ roll that sounds like it was made in some otherworldly magic studio on the moon where music always sounds like a novel and everything spins for just slightly too long. Plus there are dancing toothbrushes on the cover! This album has got to be a joke, right? Then why does it sound so obvious, like this bent take on music would have been a different timeline’s Van Halen if only a different butterfly had flapped its wings?”

43. Kate & Anna McGarrigle:
Kate & Anna McGarrigle

(Warner Brothers; 1974)

Helen Roper: “By the time Kate McGarrigle joyously asserts that she wants ‘to kiss you till my mouth gets numb’ on that delicious opening track, the joy at the center of this album is blown wide open. Sure, there are sadder songs, but all in all this album is about the simple joy of making music. It’s too pop for folk music and too inflected to be pop, which is why Stanley can’t hang with it, but why I revel in it. It’s so simple and effective and efficient and so complex at the same time. It’s an album that sounds like all of the weird paths of other acoustic music in the 1970s at once, boiled down to something precious and full of depth.”

42. Pere Ubu:
The Modern Dance

(Blank; 1978)

Chaci Arcola: “It was probably the wrong choice to play ‘Non-Alignment Pact’ when I proposed to Joanie, but I kind of don’t care. Everything about that song, and about this album, is just nerve energy laid out in the air, firing directly at you, driving submarines through your veins, tying your shoes with electric lines, and replacing your bones with charged metal. It will explode your body on contact, which is exactly why it sounds like love.”

41. Igor Wakhévitch:
Docteur Faust

(Pathé Marconi EMI; 1971)

Walter Eugene “Radar” O’Reilly: “When an album sounds like everything at once I get excited because it sounds like picking up weird radio transmissions from other countries and planets and galaxies. Calling this album a ‘collage’ is the most accurate thing to say, probably, but then I might be underselling how this album sounds like much broader concepts like ‘history’ or ‘emotion.’ Or a lobotomy. It’s pretty weird, but also possibly divine.”

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