Son Lux: 5 Vinyl Albums That Changed My Life

Son Lux: 5 Vinyl Albums That Changed My Life

In celebration of Record Store Day 2018, TIDAL enlisted a group of artists to tell us about some records, the vinyl kind, that changed their lives. Ryan Lott of Son Lux breaks down his picks below.

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Miles Davis, Bitches Brew

One day in early high school, I discovered a stash of my dad’s old records. In the collection were a bunch of old 45s and a handful of LPs. I distinctly remember the experience of realizing I didn’t know the person my dad was before I started logging memories. Weird feeling. I stole maybe five or six of the LPs.

We had an old record player somewhere in the house, but I don’t think I’d ever touched it. Now I had a reason. The first one I put on was the Miles record. Bitches Brew. I had heard about it, but until then I only knew the early stuff. I dropped the needle and had two vivid thoughts: 1) ‘this is unlistenable,’ and 2) ‘this is incredible.’

Bitches Brew confronted me with the concept that the artist can resurrect herself. She can make up new rules for herself as she goes. Evolve. And this thought, while intriguing, didn’t cause me to flinch until it evolved: the artist should resurrect herself. This revelation still summons me from beyond the grave.

 Isaac Hayes, Hot Buttered Soul

This was another record I that stole from my dad that day, so I always think of these together. I’m only now realizing as I write this that the collective sensibilities of these two records represent a large piece of my favorite musical pie.

This record taught me that deep soul could be cinematic. And it’s not just the extended chamber instrumentation. There’s something about this record that feels like you’re watching a movie. I remember having this thought the very first time I listened to it. Now, making soulful music that feels cinematic is my goal in life. At least one of the big ones.

The other awakening I had while listening to that record was that space and audio format mattered. I wondered to myself what the vinyl was telling me and not telling me, because the texture and atmosphere of the recording was so particular. I loved the way the resonant space I was hearing in the recording was a musical, not just an aural, device. The space is the music, it’s not just how the music is presented. Wow. This is an obsession of mine and it will be forever.

Béla Bartók Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Fritz Reiner cond., Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta

My piano teacher in high school let me borrow this record. I always tell people that experiencing this recording caused me to realize I had no path in life but composing music. I could write too much about this one, but really, that sums it up.

Unknown Drum Loops Record

After college, I lived for a while in Cleveland, where I began the Son Lux project. I was also collaborating extensively with a dear friend, Doc, who was a skilled turntablist. We created music together, and he taught me a lot about making hip-hop. As we created together, I learned to think differently, and envision music through the mechanics of the turntable. Recorded sound was the raw material, the musical DNA. And these ancient sounds, captured and recaptured, quaked with the vibrations of their own evolving histories.

Doc digitized one of his favorite beat records, and as he did, played a bit with the speed of playback, and chopped it up a bit as he walked in and out of the room. The resulting files proved to be an invaluable resource, not just for sample material, but also for shaping a foundation in my brain for the concept that recorded sound is clay.

Son Lux, At War with Walls and Mazes

OK, so I’m being literal here. This record did change my life. It started it all. For a good year, back in 2005 and even a bit before then, I was creating this album and didn’t know it. I was also creating a foundation for a creative trajectory that now extends beyond a decade.

I didn’t hear a test pressing, and I don’t listen to my records after I release them, so the first time I heard the vinyl was at a friend’s house years later. He put on ‘Betray’ and I remember thinking that it sounded a bit lethargic, like maybe his player’s motor was slow. I liked it, though, and wondered if I should’ve recorded it a click slower. I thought again about resurrection and heard an old ghost come alive, moving slowly.

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