The Survivors: Part Ten

Pain of Salvation
Remedy Lane

In high school I would try to get my friends into the same crazy music I was into. I was oddly successful at this. I’d bring wallets full of CDs to school, each envelope containing a choice disc and a handwritten intro. Pain of Salvation was one of the biggest hits, thanks to the extremely sexy voice of Daniel Gildenlöw. In retrospect, this is some of the tackiest music that I have ever liked. It’s got everything embarrassing about prog and everything embarrassing about musicals all rolled into one artist. I doubt I could make it through one of these nowadays. 
Measure of gratitude: Low. Thank you. 

Mike Patton
Mondo Cane

I wonder if I missed my window to become a true Mike Patton fan. One day I’ll check out the Mr. Bungle albums I haven’t heard, but there’s a hell of a lot more to his work than that, and I’m not sure I’m the kind of person who can hang with that stuff anymore. I do love this album of iconic Italian pop songs, though. I cannot for my life remember what inspired me to buy it. It’s a fun curio, and a really wonderful collection of vocal performances. 
Measure of gratitude: Moderate. Thank you. 

Pink Floyd
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (Three-disc edition)
A Saucerful of Secrets
Atom Heart Mother
Obscured by Clouds
The Dark Side of the Moon
The Division Bell
The Endless River (Deluxe edition)
Is There Anybody Out There? (The Wall Live)

I grew up in a house with a record collection that contained all of the Pink Floyd albums from Dark Side onwards. For the early stuff, I was on my own. Pink Floyd is the band that kickstarted my fascination with the narratives that a discography tells. I’m as beguiled as ever by the odd sounds on records like Ummagumma and Saucerful, partially because they tell me about the search that this band undertook after Syd Barrett wasn’t able to lead them anymore. I have a higher threshold for the post-Roger Waters material than most fans, because it explicitly tells the story of the band’s acrimonious split. The imperial phase Pink Floyd albums will always be important to me, because they were a massive part of life in the house I grew up in. But those classic records have become less important to me over time. Whereas, my opinion of the more minor records, especially the searching, inventive records of the late 60s, has remained completely stable. They aren’t one of my favourite bands, but the sheer volume of my Pink Floyd collection ought to show that they’re as big a part of my DNA as Jethro Tull. 
Measure of gratitude: Truly staggering. Thank you. 

Porcupine Tree
Fear of a Blank Planet

These days, Steven Wilson has become more of a Prog Rock Saviour than an artist in his own right. His remixes of classic albums by Jethro Tull, King Crimson, Caravan etc. are largely definitive. His solo career is probably the best-regarded body of work of the last couple decades among true nostalgics. I’ve never been able to get into that side of Wilson’s output. But back when he was an indie rock songwriter with a metal band behind him, I could get into it just fine. There are some dodgy lyrics across these two albums (and Lightbulb Sun, which is not among the Survivors despite being my favourite), and some of the music is a little generic. But I can still put on Deadwing and not feel embarrassed, which is more than I can say for some of the other prog from around this time. Wilson’s most valuable contribution to music will always be his production work with Opeth, but this era of Porcupine Tree is a solid second place. 
Measure of gratitude: Moderate. Thank you. 

The Quintet
Jazz at Massey Hall

This album was my first point of contact with all five of its musicians. There are better recorded performances by Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gilespie, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus and Max Roach individually. (Well, maybe not Powell.) But has there ever been a more stacked lineup on the same stage? In any genre? Arguably, jazz is the only genre where this many massive egos can coexist together and not be a musical catastrophe. I love this. 
Measure of gratitude: Large. Thank you.

Lester Quitzau
So Here We Are

Quitzau came to my hometown with his wife Mae Moore once when I was a kid. It was alright. We ended up buying a CD for some reason, and I am oddly fond of the version of “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” on this. 
Measure of gratitude: Small. Thank you. 

The Bends
OK Computer
Kid A
Amnesiac (Limited Edition)
Hail to the Thief
In Rainbows

They’re arguably the most important band of my adolescence, at least for everybody else. For me, they didn’t have a patch on the Decemberists. Or the Mars Volta. Or Opeth. But Radiohead was the first band that I truly loved who were at the center of the zeitgeist. Even so, I was arguably late to the party. In Rainbows is the period album for me, and I was slightly late even to that, because I insisted on waiting for the physical copies to come out. In the meantime I bought OK Computer. The slope steepened from there. Radiohead remains one of the strangest bands ever to become massively successful. An inspiration to us all. 
Measure of gratitude: Very large. Thank you. 

Einojuhani Rautavaara
Sacred Choral Works (Latvian Radio Choir, Sigvards Kļava) 

Certainly one of my favourite albums I ever liberated from work. Rautavaara ought to be more of a household name: I can’t imagine many people disliking his music. The mass that begins this recording is one of my all-time favourite choral pieces. Really lovely stuff, beautifully sung. 
Measure of gratitude: Substantial. Thank you. 

Lou Reed

A classic album by an artist I admire enormously, produced by an artist I admire even more, which is nevertheless a “like, don’t love” situation for me. “Satellite of Love” is a jam, though. 
Measure of gratitude: Middling. Thank you. 

Steve Reich
Music for 18 Musicians (Ensemble Modern)
Piano Counterpoint (Vicky Chow, unreleased)

Steve Reich makes truly generous and sunny music in the most pointy-headed way possible. I love it all, and he is without a doubt one of my favourite composers. As a music student, you inevitably encounter his early conceptual pieces: It’s Gonna Rain, Piano Phase, etc. All of that stuff is great, but my real entry point was New York Counterpoint, on a Naxos compilation that I long ago lost track of. The two discs of Reich’s music that made it through to the Survivors are tied to two different facets of my student experience. The underrated Ensemble Modern recording of Music for 18 Musicians is something I bought at the classical record shop closest to the University of Alberta campus. One autumn day in my first year, I uploaded it to my iPod and walked around campus listening to it. Every time the wind swept the leaves into the air, they seemed to be dancing to the music. Four years later, I was in Vancouver, trying to be an arts journalist, making a mini-documentary about the pianist Vicky Chow, whose performance of Piano Counterpoint will always be definitive to me. I’m not even supposed to have this unreleased recording. It was made by my current employer, before I worked for them. They’ll never get it back. 
Measure of gratitude: Enormous. Thank you. 

Fritz Reiner
Rimsky-Korsakov/Stravinsky (with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra)
Respighi/Debussy (with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra) 

When you’re studying the classical trumpet, you inevitably get really into vintage CSO recordings for a while. Their brass section sounds like nothing else. These days I prefer a subtler brass sound in my symphonic recordings, but there’s something thrilling about these performances, even now.
Measure of gratitude: Substantial. Thank you. 

The Residents
The Third Reich ‘N Roll

I was excited to become a Residents person at the age of 14, but this is a) not fun, and b) kind of a facile comment on pop music. There’s probably something in their catalogue that would appeal to me, but this wasn’t a good first impression and there’s a good chance I’ll go to my grave without hearing another Residents album. 
Measure of gratitude: Negligible. Thank you. 

The RH Factor
Strength EP

Roy Hargrove was one of the most important trumpet players of his generation, and if he’d lived longer I feel like he would have been a natural fit for the meme funk scene. Imagine this guy guesting on a Vulfpeck track. In any case, this EP by Hargrove’s funk outfit is slightly tacky, but “Bop Drop” is seared into my head forever, thanks to being in a university jazz band.
Measure of gratitude: Moderate. Thank you. 

Snakes & Arrows
Rush in Rio

One of the reasons I was so attracted to prog rock as a teenager is because it’s the sound of effort. On some level, you want to identify with the musicians you listen to. And when I was a kid, I was a very hard worker with very big ambitions. There’s no band that fits that mould better than Rush. When Neil Peart died a couple years ago, the story I kept thinking of was how he started taking drum lessons, well into the part of his career where he was widely thought of as the GOAT of rock drummers. We should all be so humble. The late 70s and early 80s albums are what’s dearest to me, closely followed by the synth-heavy albums of the mid 80s. But the two albums among the Survivors date from the time I first got into the band, and they are old and treasured friends. 
Measure of gratitude: Massive. Thank you. 

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