Albums Like "Dark Side of the Moon" and "Kid A"
February 26, 2019 11:00 PM   Subscribe

Looking for more albums like Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" and Radiohead "Kid A", for melancholy self-comfort.

About three years ago there was an unexpected illness and death in my close family, which was followed up 18 months later by another illness and death. The last three years have been very difficult.

I've always had a tendency to immerse myself in music, often in the dark with no distractions, and I found in 2016 that doing this with "Dark Side of the Moon" and "Kid A", as well as (though not quite as frequently) "Wish You Were Here", "Amnesiac", "A Moon Shaped Pool", and Massive Attack's "Mezzanine" were immensely comforting and it's become a regular habit, especially before sleep. (Note: I'm very uninterested in listening to "The Wall".)

I'd thought this combination of those two primary albums (DTofM and KA) was peculiar, but a quick googling finds that other people have made the same connection while also asking for recommendations. I see that "Mezzanine" shows up among some recommendations and, indeed, if I could magically combine these three to generate similar music, that would be ideal.

I notice that Sufjan Stevens is sometimes mentioned -- I only have "Age of Adz" and while I initially was lukewarm to it, it grew on me quite a bit and I'll give it a try for this. I have DJ Shadow's "Entroducing", which I really like but hadn't thought to put it into my rotation before now. While I have almost all of Björk's albums, nothing particular comes to mind for this purpose -- if anyone very familiar with her work has one album above all the others to recommend, that might help. I saw someone mention AT's "Richard D. James", which I love, but it strikes me as too harsh for what I'm looking for.

Basically very moody and immersive but not aggressive. Concept albums are good because they are thematically unified, but I don't prefer them per se.

I normally listen to quite a few female artists, often singer-songwriters, and it strikes me as odd that there aren't more women on my list. I absolutely adore Torres's "Sprinter" and several tracks would be perfect for this but not, I think, the entire album. So any recommendations for works by women would be especially appreciated.

Thanks so much for any help!
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich to Media & Arts (43 answers total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
Not sure if Fever Ray's self-titled album would do the job, but it might be worth a try.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 11:11 PM on February 26, 2019 [4 favorites]

I think Can has made some very immersive records. I'd try Ege Bamyasi or Tago Mago.

In Pink Floyd, give Animals or Obscured By Clouds a listen.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 11:13 PM on February 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Mister Moofoo, I love Fever Ray (and The Knife) but I'd not thought of it or Plunge for this. My sense is that there's some stuff too up-tempo, but I'll check.

Rube R. Nekker, somehow I'd never before heard of Can. A quick skim of Ege Bamyasi sounds great and I'm going to get it, whether or not it works for my melancholy music thing. Thanks!
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:28 PM on February 26, 2019

Very sorry for your loss(es).

Do you do The Cure? I think Disintegration fits what you are describing.

Or maybe Liquid Skin by Gomez?

For females maybe White Chocolate Space Egg by Liz Phair although it does have a few upbeat songs
posted by OHenryPacey at 12:16 AM on February 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

if you liked massive attack then portishead 'dummy' might work out very well. try some early cat power too.
posted by lescour at 12:21 AM on February 27, 2019 [8 favorites]

Was going to recommend AMSP, but I see you have that covered. Another all-time favorite that fits your criteria is Alabama Shake's sophomore record, Sound & Color. Lead singer Brittany Howard is a generational talent, and the album expands the band's sound from the rather traditional roots rock they were famous for into a kaleidoscope of genres -- bluesy soul, psychedelic funk, garage rock, acoustic ballads, electrifying solos -- that fully explore her incredible range. It's also beautifully produced, accenting the guitar and vocals with spacious echoes, retro fuzz, tasteful strings, xylophones, handclaps, snapping fingers, ghostly backup vocals, and other subtle textures. And the lyrics resonate with darkly self-deprecating humor and a wise-beyond-years emotional maturity that fill each song with earnest power -- a deceptively beautiful opener about being lost in space after all you love is gone, likening emotional struggles with millennial financial precarity, a "no fucks to give" refrain that dissolves into chaos, "people say I look just like my daddy, cuz I dooo..." (which blooms into an orchestral plea for peace of mind), and a repeated longing for human connection that ranges from the lonely to the hopeful to the frightening to the finally, blissfully fulfilled -- albeit "here for now, but not for long." The whole thing's just wonderful.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:44 AM on February 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

Pink Floyd: Meddle, especially "Echoes". For acoustic English folkies (with some strings): Nick Drake's "Bryter Later". Perhaps too gloomy but Johnny Cash's "The man comes around" is sublime.
posted by epo at 12:55 AM on February 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

Arvo Pärt - this is not 'commercial' music but for me, it nursed the jones in a very profound way. Tabula Rasa is a good starting point. Also just started listening to "Spirit of Eden" by Talk Talk, feel cheated I'd not heard it before. (and seconding Fever Ray)

Lastly - take heart! The days only get longer from here.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:21 AM on February 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

Flaming Lips, "At War With The Mystics"
posted by thelonius at 2:36 AM on February 27, 2019

King Crimson, "In The Court Of The Crimson King"
Alan Parsons Project, "I Robot"
Vangelis, "Chariots Of Fire Soundtrack"
Moody Blues, "Days Of Future Passed"
Supertramp, "Even In The Quietest Moments"
Kate Bush, "Hounds Of Love"
posted by fairmettle at 3:34 AM on February 27, 2019

For women artists, I'd go with FKA Twigs' LP1
posted by Dressed to Kill at 4:07 AM on February 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Most of Godspeed You! Black Emperor's stuff might fit the bill, if you don't particularly need vocals. Among their albums, my personal fave is "Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven".
posted by Johnny Assay at 4:33 AM on February 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

Sorry but vis-a-vis Pärt I mean this specific ‘album/cd’
posted by From Bklyn at 4:41 AM on February 27, 2019

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith EARS

Khrurangbin Con Todo El Mundo

Massive Attack Protection
posted by STFUDonnie at 4:51 AM on February 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

Sigur Ros is good for this. Agaetis Byrjun, (), Takk... are all good, and I can't really keep track of which one is which.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:18 AM on February 27, 2019 [5 favorites]

Spiritualized: Ladies and Gentleman We are Floating in Space

Mogwai: The Hawk is Howling

Seconding Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Sleep, off Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven mentioned above is great

Hermelin: Hermelin is instrumental, but may tick the box.
posted by Faff at 5:43 AM on February 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

Gary Numan, Dead Sun Rising
Gary Numan, Scarred: Live at Brixton Academy (yes, really - it's gorgeously atmospheric and flows perfectly)
Sigur Ros, ()

If you like Portishead and Massive Attack, check out Tricky.
posted by bile and syntax at 6:00 AM on February 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

Broken Bells - self-titled debut album

States by The Paper Kites

Innocents by Moby

Morning Phase by Beck

And finally a more outside-the-box suggestion:
U2's Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience.
Although released three years apart, they are really one piece. The later album repises musical themes and lyrics from the earlier one. Listening to both albums as one piece is quite an experience.
posted by The Deej at 6:05 AM on February 27, 2019

Young Team by Mogwai? I think any album by them would likely fit the bill, including their soundtrack work.

The Red Thread by Arab Strap might work too.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 6:31 AM on February 27, 2019

I love this question, and totally agree with your choices and several of the answers here. In addition to all of those great suggestions, I'd also add:

Aphex Twin - drukqs
Hoover - The Lurid Traversal of Route 7
Nick Drake - Five Leaves Left
Eleven Eleven - Star City
Slint - Spiderland
Modest Mouse - This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About
Three Mile Pilot - Another Desert, Another Sea AND ALSO Chief Assassin to the Sinister

Sebadoh's "Bakesale" could work too, it's mostly pretty glum with a couple of bouncier songs interspersed. Might still be worth checking out.
posted by saladin at 6:43 AM on February 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

Burial - Untrue (previous recent MeFi thread)
posted by Spathe Cadet at 6:59 AM on February 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

I recommend Owen by Owen. Definitely the whole album and it definitely needs to be listened to in order.
posted by LizBoBiz at 7:19 AM on February 27, 2019

OK, I'm not sure if this record will work, because it f'ckn kills it with rawk, but try giving Black Mountain, IV a listen. The lyrics are amazing, they flow through a myriad of moods, tempos and genres, the band has a male and a female vocalist trading off. They leave you off in a 9 minute space jam like you were just washed ashore, gasping and dazed, from some dramatic maritime disaster with lightning, aliens and sharks. Can I mention again the lyrics? They may make you cry ... Cemetery Breeding still gets under my skin in unexpected ways. Could be cathartic. Best.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 7:32 AM on February 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

The Good, The Bad and The Queen
posted by rodlymight at 7:48 AM on February 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Natalie Merchant's Tigerlily may work for you (aside from "Wonder" maybe). I haven't listened to all of the recent 20th anniversary reworking, Paradise Is There.
posted by wellred at 8:35 AM on February 27, 2019

Postal Service: Give Up
The Notwist: Neon Golden
American Music Club: San Francisco

Re: Sufjan Stevens, I've never found the love in Age of Adz, but Come On Feel the Illin' Noise really takes me to that place.
posted by slogger at 8:41 AM on February 27, 2019

You may want to look further into the Alan Parsons Project, since Alan Parsons was the sound engineer for Dark Side of the Moon, and the sound is definitely similar. I'd try:

Vulture Culture
Eye in the Sky
posted by McCoy Pauley at 9:19 AM on February 27, 2019

My go-to for this is Nightmares on Wax - In a Space Outta Sound. It's a classic for a reason.
posted by capricorn at 9:41 AM on February 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Have you heard of Anathema? Essentially very high grade prog with lyrics about adult relationships rather than elves or being performatively sad about an ex band mate.

Thin Air - a heartfelt love song that turns nasty
Untouchable I - guy gets dumped and, as the song builds, goes from super reasonable to incandescent rage
Untouchable II - his exes' devastating response
posted by thatwhichfalls at 10:22 AM on February 27, 2019

Sorry I don't have any links but there is a lot of instrumental music that you can find on Spotify that scratch the same itch for me. A few examples are artists named Slow Dancing Society , Darshan Ambiant , All India Radio, The Album Leaf and Lower Case Noises. If you enjoy them Spotify can send you down a pretty deep rabbit hole of similar music.
posted by Justin Case at 12:11 PM on February 27, 2019

Talk Talk - Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock
My Bloody Valentine - Loveless
Bjork - Homogenic
David Bowie - Low
Miles Davis - In A Silent Way
posted by TrialByMedia at 12:41 PM on February 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I'm grateful for all the suggestions! It's going to take a little while to check them all out.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:44 PM on February 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Possibly more spare than you are looking for, but Songs:Ohia's "Ghost Tropic" might scratch that dark itch.

Also maybe Pedro the Lion's "It's Hard to Find a Friend" record, which is less dark, but nonetheless contemplative and melancholy.
posted by baseballpajamas at 3:32 PM on February 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Lisa Germano's Lullaby for Liquid Pig got me through some rough times. From A Shell
posted by bananana at 7:57 PM on February 27, 2019

Ray LaMontagne - Ouroboros
posted by imitura at 9:00 PM on February 27, 2019

James Vincent McMorrow’s stuff is good for this.
posted by Middlemarch at 10:23 PM on February 27, 2019

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Skeleton Tree

Bonus: One More Time With Feeling, the (haunting, gorgeous, gut-wrenching) documentary about the making of the album.
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 11:40 PM on February 27, 2019

Excellent suggestions here, can I just add the Massive Attack/Mad Professor remix album No Protection and also Vangelis' Bladerunner soundtrack?
posted by Chairboy at 1:22 AM on February 28, 2019

I'd recommend The Cure's Pornography, even more than Disintegration, if you want a good wallow.

Also Depeche Mode's Black Celebration is nice and moody, and still my favorite work of theirs.

If you want moody and immersive instrumental, lots of Bill Laswell stuff fits this bill. My starting suggestion would be Material's Hallucination Engine, maybe skip "Words of Advice" on that album (William Burroughs' spoken word over music), though it's also fairly melancholy.

Leonard Cohen's final album, You Want It Darker is majestic and grim, facing mortality but with grace and a touch of defiance. Musically it's lighter than the others, but it's substantive.
posted by jzb at 7:06 AM on February 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have Air's 10 000 Hz Legend in this category.
posted by arrjay at 5:42 PM on March 1, 2019

I feel this way about Beck's Sea Change... though IIRC, the other albums you mention have a more experimental/found-sounds flavor, for lack of a better phrasing. This is more of a standard rock album. But the drum line in some songs has a Nick Masony feel to me. Track 4, "Lonesome Tears," is the standout for me (and from a music nerd perspective it's also got an ending that's basically like one long Shepard tone so that's kind of great) -- but it's definitely an album I tend to immerse myself in from start to finish rather than skipping around.

I notice you specifically ask about female artists too. School of Seven Bells has one song, "Half Asleep," that I take to be about depression, and for a while when I felt down I'd put it on a loop. I'm not sure whether any of their full albums would fit the bill for immersive listening, though (I haven't tried).

I'm sorry for your loss.
posted by eirias at 6:13 AM on March 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

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