My Very Favourite Records

By SynthpopAnarchist SynthpopAnarchist
updated 24 days ago

Delving into any era there is always good music to be found, and this list reflects my research and listening habits over the years. Also, I would like to point out that Discogs' database is badly lacking in Bollywood Soundtracks and VGM. Just saying.

  1. Cabaret Voltaire - Drinking Gasoline

    8 For Sale from $6.95

    This is my favourite album of all time, and it's a sound I've explored and analyzed countless numbers of times for several years. CV were one of the greatest electronic music pioneers of the late 1970s and early 1980s, and along with Human League they shaped what had come to be defined as 'the sound of Sheffield', influencing artists around the globe. Though this record is some of their later fare, it's an absolute pinnacle. Just four tracks, each one roughly 8:00 minutes long, hard sound, sketchy (in the right way), lo-fi, lots of sounds coming into the mix from elsewhere and reverberating out, dark, desperate, funky, evolving. Absolutely perfect.

    It's the conceptually heavy and evolving / devolving / revolving sound structure that really makes this such a masterpiece for me, though. The album begins with 'Kino', what I would describe thematically and in terms of it's overall sound as an overt, intellectual rejection of humanity, eventuating the following three pieces, which become ever-more mechanical. 'Sleepwalking' takes it a step further... it is like being under a spell, hypnotized; the body now moves without conscious effort. 'Big Funk', my favourite track on the EP, is like a convulsion, jilted polyrhythms and stabs of bass, then toward the end it is as though everything breaks down, every trace of human biorhythm has left. 'Ghosttalk' is almost wholly mechanical feeling, very staccato.

  2. Cabaret Voltaire - The Covenant, The Sword And The Arm Of The Lord

    23 For Sale from $4.55

    ... in fact, let's just get Cabaret Voltaire squared away right now. According to about two people I know personally (well, the only two people I know who I have been known to talk about Cabaret Voltaire with), this is the best thing the Cabs ever came out with. Warranted view, in my opinion. First, there's the sound and production quality. It is impeccable here. Worth a mention, this is one of CV's most DETAILED albums... there is a lot of rigourous sample-work, flourishes of sound and noise, sound-manipulation, and the music generally is top notch in terms of it's feel... it's also, in my opinion, one of the darkest, seediest records they ever put out, so the case for owning this album is therefore very strong. However...

  3. Cabaret Voltaire - The Crackdown

    11 For Sale from $4.97

    ... this is, I believe, a superior album. Granted, the sound quality and loudness of this record is no comparison to 'The Covenant...', but the track selection here is wonderful, many of my favourite Cabs classics are culled from this album. While not as dark and personal as 'The Covenant...', the material here is still pretty bleak in places and much of it is more politically charged. So, in effect, this suffers from much the same stigma as A Certain Ratio's 'To Each...', having been not as well produced as their later work although featuring many of their greatest cuts. I think there is a better case to be made for the owning of this album than there is for 'The Covenant...' -- though, preferably, you'll just own them both!

  4. Cabaret Voltaire - Mix-Up

    37 For Sale from $14.74

    So let's talk about this album, being as it is ANOTHER one of CV's assumed best albums ever. I have no argument against such a premise, since this is probably their greatest historical legacy within the context of industrial music, even electronic music as a whole. The sound is top-notch, as well. All I can really site as my preference for some of their later work is pure aesthetics, but even that at times fails me... as I put this on, it's hard not to feel as though it is the single greatest album of all time. It may very well be.

  5. Cabaret Voltaire - The Voice Of America

    32 For Sale from $17.95

    ... just thinking of Mix-Up leads me fondly to their sophomore album, 'The Voice of America'... this record is kind of abysmal to most, being popularly derided as their worst (even in the face of the late 1980s and early 1990s house material they released!), but it has always maintained a special place in my heart. This was, at a time, one of my only two Cabaret Voltaire albums, the other being 'Code'. I would often listen to the mp3s on walks to places in my youth, grew very fond of several of the tracks. This is not a danceable record, unless you're some kind of freaky weirdo like I am. No, this is more the kind of album that makes for a perfect accompaniment to any surreal chapter of your life and is to be felt in a more sublimated way for complete understanding of how perfect it is. That it depends on such subjective evaluation is not even a strike against it... keep it close to you and wait for the perfect time to put it on, when you feel an occult mood to be catching. This is ritual music, of a high caliber, particularly if you're doing cut-up projects.

  6. Cabaret Voltaire - Micro-Phonies

    3 For Sale from $10.00

    This is, in my opinion, somehow both one of the Cabs WORST albums and yet one of their best. To qualify that statement, the material featured here is some of their best and the production value is very high... but this is also home to one of the Cabs most proliferated tracks, 'Sensoria'. It's not an altogether horrible track, but sustaining so much undeserved replay has done some work toward making it nearly unlistenable. Every once in awhile I can throw it on, but it gets a lot of undue attention. Still, this is another perfect record in my opinion, and to the uninitiated, this is one of the better starting places for those hoping to get into CV.

  7. Cabaret Voltaire - Code

    19 For Sale from $7.69

    This is the last Cabs album I'll mention. Chances are, if you're in the market for Cabaret Voltaire and you're not already heavily invested in accumulating any of their records, this is going to be your introduction to their sound. This is because it is still the easiest record of theirs to acquire... or at least as far as the compact disc copies go... though that's not to say for the average person that it will be EASY to acquire. This was my introduction to the Cabs, though, and while I personally love this record it is far away from being their finest album and is not a passable introduction to their sound. It is rather kind of lackluster in production compared to their earlier work. One of it's major problems is how glossed up and weak it sounds to most people. That's not to say that there isn't a lot going on in the mix or, more accurately, that there isn't a lot TRYING to happen in the mix, but the whole thing has this discernable late-1980s sheen to it that puts a muzzle on whatever bite the album could have had. This is why I feel a lot of people mistakenly believe the material here isn't as cutting or acid-tinged as with their previous work. The lyrics are still pretty sharp, especially on tracks like 'Thank You America' and 'Here To Go', hearkening back to 'The Crackdown' in their shadowy, paranoia-fueled politicization... and the seediness of tracks like 'Sex, Money, Freaks' and 'Code' are on par with anything from 'The Covenant...'. It's just unfortunate that the production gloss rendered these facets to their sound on this album inept, and it is duly unfortunate that this is still the most widely available Cabs record on the market. Still, all this aside, and again because this was the first Cabs album I was able to expose myself to, I will always love 'Code' and continue to this day to put it on... even though my copy is almost completely fucked!

  8. A Certain Ratio - Sextet

    6 For Sale from $16.93

    It's hard not to want to turn this record up.. and up, and up, and up! So funky, so cold. Another seminal Sheffield act, released by Factory and a band whose formation was inspired rightfully by the masterful Cabaret Voltaire, but is not altogether a clone of that sound but a different (and still very Sheffieldian) beast. What separates this from 'To Each...' is the quality of production, for sure. And those dual basslines! A perfect record.

  9. A Certain Ratio - To Each...

    33 For Sale from $12.00

    What could have been A Certain Ratio's masterpiece, KILLED... by poor production values. Sad. Still, damned as it were, a must-own record. The feel of the record is still very in keeping with what A Certain Ratio did best: purvey a sound so bleak and cold, but with power to make you move. It's really only that last part that feels lacking on this record, if you were to compare it to the production of 'Sextet'. Oh, what could have been...

  10. Mark Stewart - As The Veneer Of Democracy Starts To Fade

    34 For Sale from $13.03

    What's this? Disjointed breakbeats? Some bloke shouting? Soft mixing with sudden harsh noises? Fucking. Perfect... Album... Just listen to Hypnotized if you don't believe me. I would even go so far as to say... don't get this on vinyl. Get it on cassette! Then buy a shitty old boombox. Industrial b-boy!

  11. The Pop Group - Y

    13 For Sale from $32.05

    So, yeah... Mark Stewart... here's another reason this guy's a genius! Some bizarre amalgamation of funk, jazz, post-punk... 100% FEROCIOUS! This album is for when you don't care you're going to look like a fool, you just want to explode! Somehow... this record just encapsulates that feeling, the music is pure chaos without losing it's form.

  12. Scritti Politti - Cupid & Psyche 85

    72 For Sale from $1.23

    Ok, so this is NOT the record most people would choose as their favourite out of Scritti's discography... a lot of people can't even seem to admit liking it, period! Well, they're probably not lying. It gets read too often as an irritatingly saccharine sweet bubble gum birthday cake synthpop album. I would also like to stress that it is NOT in any way an appeal to some stupid sense of "irony" that I enjoy this album... I am serious! I love just about every single track here. A large part of the appeal for me is just how cleanly it was produced, how glossy, how strained and restrained. It's as if some horrible, dirty beast might crawl out at any moment to rape and devour us all, but no, it's safe, that beast is behind locked doors, we can dance. I mean, there's just this trace of grit beneath the surface charms of the album, and it can be hard to detect, but it's to be found in the sound and the thematic content of the lyrics... hidden behind layers of frosting.

    The more I listen to this record, certain things come out that may or may not have been intended. The album begins with 'The Word Girl', which I have almost convinced myself is about a succubus. Or succubi. Possibly some kind of feminine servitor. In fact, the whole album might be. Throughout the record, you'll hear The Word and Girl repeated. What is the word? Is it a sigil? The girl, as is said repeatedly, IS the word, that her flesh and blood became the word. Very strange. :P

  13. Colourbox - Colourbox

    27 For Sale from $2.56

    Impossible to overstate the greatness of this record! Very tongue-in-cheek, but the music is seriously good. 'Punch' and 'Manic' are gorgeous high energy dance tracks. On the added mini-LP (which really is absolutely necessary to get) 'Hipnition' is just amazing, a bit of Reggae inspiration but with an awesome sequenced synth bassline underneath. 'Edit the Dragon' is mind-blowing, edited with an intensity you'll just have to hear to understand. Huge record... from the 4AD label, strangely enough! If only THIS sort of thing had been the 4AD sound...

  14. Colourbox - Colourbox

    85 For Sale from $1.47

    No less necessary, Colourbox's earlier self-titled EP is a classic. 'Shotgun' is probably the best track, but 'Keep On Pushing' nearly manages to top it. Colourbox were making some of the best music ever in their time.

  15. Colour Box* - Breakdown

    7 For Sale from $15.00

    This... is a synthpop masterpiece, and a record that was unjustly forgotten. Both tracks are perfect, the b-side being a little more downtempo than the first. It's an essential find.

  16. Chakk - Out Of The Flesh

    27 For Sale from $2.27

    REALLY good Chakk single, recorded with Richard H. Kirk! Like Hula, these guys were also not as big as previous Sheffield acts, but really deserve more attention than they got. Just listen to it... and then track down all their other singles.

  17. Chakk - 10 Days In An Elevator

    31 For Sale from $2.54

    Very Sheffieldesque, unsung classic. It's easy to discern a Cabs and Human League vibe in some tracks, others (i.e. 'Lovetrip') feel almost like precursors to the type of sound later explored by drug-a-delic rave groups, like The Shamen. This is one of those albums that I think of as basically a bridge between those two moments in music... burned by history, but unforgotten by those of us who love and collect this type of thing.

  18. Royal Family And The Poor - Art - Dream - Dominion

    9 For Sale from $18.00

    One of my favourite Factory records... short and sweet, and strangely very similar to much of Psychic TV's later work, in that it is very Thelemic and occult, and also very emotionally charged in places. Great for when you would wish to reflect upon life and it's meaning, and get out of the house for a bit afterward.

  19. Royal Family And The Poor - The Project Phase 1 - The Temple Of The 13th Tribe

    14 For Sale from $8.96

    Not a "perfect" album, but on the strength of at least one of it's tracks, deserves special mention. That track is 'I Love You (Restrained In A Moment)', next to Throbbing Gristle's 'United' it is my favourite simple "love" song ever written. The rest of the album has it's lows and it's highs -- none of the latter can quite reach the heights of the aforementioned track, but the album is not bad and definitely stands worthy of a spin in it's entirety.

  20. Hula (2) - Voice

    46 For Sale from $3.78

    Largely unsung act whose sound on this record is arguably everything late-1980s industrial OUGHT to be, and squarely in the 'cyberpunk' Clock DVA-esque class of industrial musics. This album HITS a lot harder than a lot of Clock DVA's later albums do, though. If you're coming to industrial from the Ministry/NIN perspective, this is a worthy place to begin a search into older artists of the genre. Very solid record, and my favourite on the basis of tracks like 'Cut Me Loose' and 'Poison'...

  21. Hula (2) - 1000 Hours

    26 For Sale from $3.82

    ... this is likely the best Hula record, though. It's a live album, but it's very well mastered. This will give you a better impression of how great these guys were in their day. Highly recommended!

  22. Nocturnal Emissions - Viral Shedding

    8 For Sale from $20.45

    An acquired taste... once developed, you'll crave it time after time. When that time comes, you'll ask yourself, "Why is it I don't put this record on more often?" I just love how this feels more than anything, and how fractured it sometimes comes across in it's maniacism. Sample here, sample there, doesn't matter what it is. Doesn't matter if the whole thing fits. But... it works, and the album inspires joy in me. Can't say it's perfect, but it isn't meant to be. Perfect, perhaps, by virtue of it's imperfections!

  23. Psychic TV - A Pagan Day (Pages From A Notebook)

    18 For Sale from $28.41

    Worth a special mention here, as this is probably my favourite PTV album. It's an almost FORCIBLY naive record, nearly excessive in it's poor production and execution... but determined, nonetheless, to shine through, as silver would if covered in shit. A lot of the tracks are just simple and beautiful, so it's worth it if you can find and procure a copy.

  24. Genesis P-Orridge And Psychic TV Featuring Larry Thrasher - A Hollow Cost

    26 For Sale from $4.53

    Another compact disc-only release, but one well worth owning. It is a precursor to another album that I consider Genesis P-Orridge's crowning achievement, but I'll get to that shortly. This is one big, long spoken word session. There are fleeting bits of music, by Alex Fergusson mostly, done in a sort of way that moves with the subject matter of the speech and continues to absorb you while you verge on the edge of consciousness. Was at one time my favourite PTV album, but eventually was outshone by it's spiritual successor...

  25. Genesis P-Orridge And Splinter Test - Thee Fractured Garden

    1 For Sale from $25.64

    ... this. A perfect masterpiece. I view it as the culmination of Genesis P-Orridge's art, his magnum opus. Not only are his spoken sections spot on, but the music works so well in synergy with the lyrical content that it is hard to help feeling completely and utterly under a spell while listening to it. The album is broken into sections, the first of which are many 'Discourses', followed by material that feels like a spiritual vortex of meaning, a semblance of the split between mind and body is achieved by the listener, provided he/she has not allowed the medium (compact disc only, I'm sad to report) to distract him or her, skipping around through tracks and such. No, this is meant to be listened in full playthrough. I can't recommend this album enough, but recognize it is most certainly not for everyone... only those attuned to the magick of every day life, to a persistent form of spiritual negation and nihilism, those who feel a cosmic intelligence radiating into them from the starry skies. Otherwise, you're just not going to get it.