(Photo: somewhere between Baker, Cali and Death Valley)
What road trip would be complete without music? Not just any music, but something that will transform the ride through the desert. I’ve been thinking about this for a little while, and came up with a list of some of my personal favorite albums that will fit right in any collection. This is by far an incomplete list, but it’s a good start. Pretty much all of this music is in the ambient/electronic music genre, and suitable for those long stretches of open highway.
Jon Jenkins – Beyond City Light: I discovered this album about a year ago or so, and wasn’t disappointed by what I heard. The one track that stands out is Zzyzx Rd, Jon’s nod to one of the strangest names anyone will see on a sign anywhere. From start to finish, this is one of the best albums I’ve heard in a long time.
Steve Roach and ErikWøllo – The Road Eternal: Long-time electronic master, and recent Grammy nominee Steve Roach teamed-up with Norwegian guitar and synth guru Erik Wøllo to put this well-orchestrated and timeless classic together, that screams “road trip” to my ears. This is one of those CDs that should be played through, from start to finish (“shuffle” mode will kill the whole mood). Day or night, this is one that’s a must-listen on any journey.
Steve Roach, Kevin Braheny, & Michael Stearns – Desert Solitaire: We’re going back nearly 30 years for this one. Three space music legends on one disc. Ethereal, serene, mysterious…yet familiar. These three gentlemen collaborated on another time-less classic that takes you through the vast, empty spaces of the desert southwest. Which brings us to the next desert classic:
Steve Roach, Kevin Braheny & Richard Burmer – Western Spaces: This is the original from 1987 on Fortuna Records. Each of these artists record solo pieces, as well as collaborate on most of the album. There are two different issues of this particular disc, the second one has a track that wasn’t released on the first pressing. If you can find both, I recommend getting them.
Tangerine Dream – White Eagle: TD’s 1982 release was one of the first albums I ever bought, and one I never heard, until the needle dropped. Mojave Plan, the album-side opener, is one of those songs that takes you straight into the middle of nowhere, and is a real trip. It opens with strange sounds that seem straight out of a modern-day western (no, not a harmonica…we’re talking about bad-ass electronic music). If you start buying these discs, make sure this is one of the first.
Steve Roach – Structure From Silence: I’m sure you’re starting to see a theme here. It’s for a good reason, Steve is one of those prolific artists that just zoned in on his creativity on this, his second release. This album set the standard for all electronic/ambient albums to come, and the quality or craftsmanship hasn’t been equaled or surpassed by anyone else, since then. This is the album that started it all.
Mark Dwane – The Euphonic Collection: Back in 1988, Mark Dwane released a CD titled The Monuments Of Mars. Using an electric guitar hooked up to rack-mounted MIDI synthesizer modules, he created an other-wordly soundscape that still defies my ears. Ever since then, he has gone on to create a rather large music catalog, and has also expanded his arsenal of gear. This release will give you a good idea of what his more recent output is like, and it’s a good place to start your collection.
There are a lot more albums to add to this list, but I don’t want to overload your senses with alien sounds. On that note (pun slightly intended), enjoy the ride and Happy Motoring!
Until next time, amigos y amigas!