Looking for unique albums.
February 17, 2008 3:18 PM   Subscribe

I really like albums that seem to exist in their own little world, devoid of obvious influences - some good examples being Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks"and Talk Talk's "Spirit of Eden". What else should I check out?
posted by davebush to Media & Arts (36 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Sebadoh III
posted by loiseau at 3:25 PM on February 17, 2008

Yonderboi - Splendid Isolation

I think a lot of people get turned off by techno/house/trip-hop because its way to eclectic/obscure... OR... overdone electronic samples and cliche bass thumping. This album is none of those things. Its hungarian trip-hop and even though its "foreign" sounding, its very accessible. (dont worry, the lyrics are english, but it has a definite other-worldly environment) Its rhythmic and catchy. Its dreamy and full of rich sonic layers. You dont have to force yourself to pay attention to it, but at the same time you notice little things here and there that make you smile. Its so good, I find it really hard to classify into a specific genre.

Course, music is subjective, and the above is just my opinion, but I've got a pretty huge collection of music and this album definitely stands out.
posted by jmnugent at 3:28 PM on February 17, 2008

Brian Eno's early solo stuff like "Here Come The Warm Jets" and "Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy" might fit the bill.
posted by waxboy at 3:32 PM on February 17, 2008

David Sylvian's Secret of the Beehive.
posted by vers at 3:41 PM on February 17, 2008

Jane Siberry's No Borders Here.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:52 PM on February 17, 2008

Destroyer - Streethawk: A Seduction
posted by Flashman at 3:56 PM on February 17, 2008

Coil - Horse Rotorvator
Mr. Bungle - Disco Volante
Foetus - Sink
NoMeansNo - Why Do They Call Me Mr. Happy?
Bruce Haack - The Electric Lucifer
Dead Voices On Air - Piss Frond
Daniel Johnston & Jack Medicine - Electric Ghosts
Trip Shakespeare - Are You Shakespearienced?
Skinny Puppy - Last Rights
King Crimson - In The Court Of The Crimson King
MC Skat Kat - The Adventures of MC Skat Kat and the Stray Mob
Björk - Debut
The Fine Arts Showcase - Radiola
Sparks - Lil' Beethoven
Tuxedomoon - Holy Wars
Eels - Electro-Shock Blues
Cop Shoot Cop - Release
The Unicorns - Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone?
Islands - Return To The Sea
Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Lift Your Fists Like Antennae to Heaven
Judee Sill - Judee Sill
The Legendary Pink Dots - Malachi (Shadow Weaver Part 2)
Love - Forever Changes
Nurse With Wound - Spiral Insana
Prick - Prick
Sand - Ultrasonic Seraphim
Circulatory System - Circulatory System
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:09 PM on February 17, 2008

These albums are unique in my opinion. I may be undereducated, however. Strong emphasis on recent stuff, as well:

Liars - They Were Wrong So We Drowned (chant/noise rock)

The Books - The Lemon of Pink (modernized musique concrete)

DAT Politics
- pretty much anything, although Wow Twist is pretty good. (more musique concrete-esque, but super super poppy)

Dirty Projectors - The Getty Address (very loose pop, almost jazz)

Enon - Believo (weirdo indie-pop)

Cardiacs - A Little Man and a House and the Whole Wide World (ever wonder where the Fiery Furnaces got all of their ideas?)

For Against - Echelons & December (basically invented dreampop with these two albums)

Halim El-Dabh - Crossing Into the Electric Magnetic (first electronic music ever?)

Hunting Lodge - Energy Czar (impossible to describe... everything about this album is sociopathic/psychotic)
posted by synaesthetichaze at 4:14 PM on February 17, 2008

Bob Dylan & The Band's The Basement Tapes is so much its own world that music journalist Greil Marcus wrote a book about the sessions that was originally titled Invisible Empire, for the way the music evoked a folk spirit of an America that didn't ever really exist.
posted by peacecorn at 4:20 PM on February 17, 2008

The National, "Boxer" or "Alligator." Best fucking records I have bought in years, and I continue to think that long, long after I first got hold of Alligator in 2005.
posted by autojack at 4:22 PM on February 17, 2008

Barry Adamson - Stranger on the Sofa (I'm sure it has influences, but it's such an eclectic mix that any sense of "contemporary musical scene" seems eradicated by its universe-within-an-album

Scott Walker - The Dirge (Crooner turns dischardant WTF. Possible link to Xiu Xiu but I highly doubt this dude has ever heard of them. A genuinely unpleasant listen but you've got to admire his spunk.)

I second the Bjork suggestion, although I'd argue that stuff like Homogenic/Vespertine/Medulla is more insular.
posted by man why you even got to do a thing at 5:05 PM on February 17, 2008

Shriekback: Oil & Gold
posted by humannaire at 5:13 PM on February 17, 2008

XTC - Nonsuch
Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream
REM - Murmur
The first four Bjork albums.
posted by littlerobothead at 5:44 PM on February 17, 2008

Sigur Rós doesn't sound like anything else I've ever heard.
posted by Who_Am_I at 5:59 PM on February 17, 2008

Slint: Spiderland.

A lot have bands since have been heavily influenced by this album, so it doesn't sound quite so unique anymore. But when it came out - man, it created its own entire universe of sound.
posted by googly at 6:18 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

william shatner - has been: if you've ever heard any of his spoken word versions of classic pop/rock tunes of the 60's and 70's (ie. "tambourine man", "lucy in the sky with diamonds" etc) you'll have an idea of shatners spoken word style. however, "has been", rather than being so-cheesey-and-awful-it's-funny, is actually a damn good album, best i've heard in a while. it helps that the music is by ben folds, who also helped with the lyrics... basically it's this incredibly honest and personal album with very moving spoken word stuff, well suited to shatners ham-actor stylings, that really works much much better than anyone could ever have expected! and i can''t think of anything else out there remotely like it.

second the sigur ros suggestion as well, that stuff is beautiful, otherwordly, and quite unique.

and how about my bloody valentine's glider ep?
posted by messiahwannabe at 7:29 PM on February 17, 2008

Response by poster: All these suggestions are much appreciated. I'm familiar with a fair percentage of them but some are completely new to me and have really got me intrigued. I have some exploring to do - thanks again to all.
posted by davebush at 7:44 PM on February 17, 2008

Some of Veda Hille's work is quite unique.
posted by Rumple at 8:17 PM on February 17, 2008

Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band: Trout Mask Replica
Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band: Meets King Pennett
King Crimson: Larks' Tongues in Aspic

Some things that don't fit the stereotype of "Classical Music":
Karlheinz Stockhausen: Gesang der Junglinge (Song of the Youths)
Steve Reich: Tehillim
Morton Subotnick: Silver Apples of the Moon
George Crumb: Black Angels
posted by euphotic at 8:26 PM on February 17, 2008

Pretty much anything by Jandek.

Anyone who pretends that he's some sort of musical genius is generally a pretentious hipster twit, but there's a lot of stuff he's done that's just amazing, and seemingly influence-free.
posted by melorama at 8:39 PM on February 17, 2008

"Songs in the Key of Z" vol 1 & 2 is a compilation of strange music that is so far out, that nobody's ever heard of the represented artists. It's even debatable whether many of the songs are in fact "music"--i.e. Jandek.

Happy hunting!
posted by archae at 8:53 PM on February 17, 2008

Can't believe I'm the first to suggest this:

Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane, Over the Sea

I think it is the very definition of an album that lives in its own little world. More on the blue.
posted by bobot at 9:11 PM on February 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

Mozart -- Don Giovanni
Beethoven -- 3rd symphony
Stravinsky -- The Rite of Spring
posted by neuron at 9:11 PM on February 17, 2008

I am going to have to strongly disagree with archae's comments regarding both "Songs in the Key of Z" and Jandek.

Irwin Chusid compiled a great collection of odd "outsider" music for both "Key of Z" comps. It does not follow, however, that these songs are "unique" or "without influence". They are unquestionably weird, but I don't think that's what the OP was asking for. I'd dare say that most of the "artists" on those compilations were trying desperately to emulate pre-existing musical styles that they wanted to perform themselves, but were earnestly dreadful in doing so.

Jandek is unquestionably "music". To claim otherwise sort of betrays a superficial understanding of his recordings that doesn't go much deeper than a cursory reading of a "Top 10 strangest musicians in America"-esque post on an amateur music blog.

It's not *great* music, in the sense that you find yourself wanting to listen to it over and over again like the first 3 Ramones albums, but it does fit the OPs criteria of living in its own "little world" devoid of obvious influences.
posted by melorama at 9:38 PM on February 17, 2008

Half-Handed Cloud - Thy is a World and Feet Need Lamps
Henry Cow - In Praise of Learning
Mu - Out of Breach
anything by Mr. Quintron
Robery Ashley - Foreign Experiences
posted by Falconetti at 12:01 AM on February 18, 2008

Either of Joanna Newsom's CDs.
posted by bricoleur at 3:56 AM on February 18, 2008

Captain Beefheart
Half the songs on Violent Femmes' Hallowed Ground (you'll know which half)
TV On The Radio
Lou Reed Metal Machine Music
Sigur Ros
posted by Rykey at 8:13 AM on February 18, 2008

To those above name-dropping GY!BE and Sigur Ros, might I suggest a listen to the albums in the OP's question? Those two bands were almost certainly influenced by "Spirit of Eden."

Einstürzende Neubauten: any of their albums, really.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:19 PM on February 18, 2008

(Oh, and I'll second Sparks. Has anyone mentioned Frank Zappa? Because, um, yeah, Frank Zappa. Oh, and Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti.)
posted by Sys Rq at 12:23 PM on February 18, 2008

My "unclassifiable" genre in ITunes includes the following:

Air - Barrico
Captain Beefheart - Safe As Milk
David Sylvian - Blemish
Fennesz - Venice
Kayo Dot - Choirs Of The Eye
Lee Hazlewood - Cowboy In Sweden & Trouble Is A Lonesome Town
Magical Power Mako - Lo Pop Diamonds
Nobukazu Takemura - Milano (For Issey Miyake)
Nuno Canavarro - Plux Quba
Talk Talk - Laughing Stock (same period as Spirit Of Eden, also check Mark Hollis' solo album from 1998)
World Standard - Country Gazette
posted by rhizome at 2:36 PM on February 18, 2008

Bark Psychosis - Hex
posted by anthom at 5:49 PM on February 18, 2008

I Often Dream of Trains by Robyn Hitchcock.

Rain Dogs by Tom Waits.
posted by Flunkie at 6:15 PM on February 18, 2008

Definitely Joanna Newsom's Ys. My god, it feels like it comes out of nowhere.

Though I wasn't around when it first came out, Arthur Russell's work—especially his vocals—always feels like some next level shit, like he was channeling something not of our world.
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:10 PM on February 18, 2008

Cocteau Twins.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:18 AM on February 19, 2008

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