phonux is: Harald Dessl
From: Tyrol, Austria
Genre: Guitar Soundscapes
Sounds like: Aidan Baker, Robert Fripp, Shinobu Nemoto, Sunn O))), System Morgue, taqsim, Welcome Black
The following list of records is a solid snapshot. Some positions may change over the years, not so much the protagonists. I tried to choose one record per artist (except Thin Lizzy, where a decision wasn’t possible). Queensrÿche, for example, would also include The Warning, Rage For Order and Empire. Others, like Annihilator / Jeff Waters or Mr. Bungle are kinda out of competition and shall herewith be honoured for their complete works. Also to mention, my favourite album by The Beatles is Revolver.
Nowadays I listen to these maybe once a year or even less often, but if I do, I realize how many memories and emotions from the deepest past can be stored in and evoked with music.
You may ask: What has all that to do with my actual sound? I can say that the following artists—among others—had and still have a conscious or subconscious influence on my music. There’s some Gilmour here and there (e.g., on Chamber Music). Or I use the Brian May pedal with signature Queen sounds at times (e.g., on room test red).
1. Pink Floyd – Animals
In 1977, when Animals came out, the Punk movement also got on its way. So even Pink Floyd, especially David Gilmour, went for a rawer sound after the high-grade, sonically ahead Wish You Were Here, which is my second favourite Pink Floyd album. Animals is a bit like George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” in music, with partly depressive and cynical lyrics, in this regard a harbinger of the—to my taste—overblown The Wall (nonetheless, the guitar sound on The Wall was groundbreaking and stunning).
Animals reminds me of personal stuff and problems I had when I was around 20. This album can still cause shivers to me and bring back deep emotions—in a therapeutic sense. It might be like the record of my life.
2. Thin Lizzy – Renegade & 3. Thin Lizzy – Chinatown
To me Chinatown and Renegade are the ultimate in blues-flavoured progressive hard rock—musically somehow reflecting on Phil Lynott’s alcohol and drug problems and foreseeing his death a few years later. Both albums are inwardly melancholic and externally varied and heavy. This man was a genius. Period. And… not to forget, another solid constant in Thin Lizzy: the fabulous drummer Brian Downey.
4. Queen – Sheer Heart Attack
The second to fifth Queen album (II, Sheer Heart Attack, A Night At The Opera, A Day At The Races) cannot be compared to any other records of any other artists. They had a completely unique sound, and the production methods of the mid 70’s were stretched and layered to the very limit. Many highlights on each of these early works, impossible to decide which one is the best. Sheer Heart Attack (not to be confused with the song on News Of The World) is a good representative here. A varied album which brought their commercial breakthrough, and also contained some of their heaviest, speediest songs. I was a very big Queen fan from age 13 to 19.
5. The Doors – Waiting For The Sun
Of course, the first Doors record is just hits and classics, with a load of powerful lyrics. However, I prefer the second and third album, Strange Days and Waiting For The Sun, also because I’ve always been more into Jim’s calm, partly Sinatra-like singing. The sound of his voice on Waiting For The Sun here and there reflects the increasingly self-destructive life style of that time. Nonetheless, all band members were in best form despite troubled recording conditions—the whole personal situation and an overly perfectionist producer. I listened to The Doors mainly from age 21 to 29.
6. Blue Öyster Cult – Extraterrestrial Live
Extraterrestrial Live stands here as a representative for all BÖC records. I have an ambivalent relation to this band. Some of their songs don’t mean anything to me, others are on top of the list and fascinating. I would kick their butts out the door together with this noodle cover of Roadhouse Blues, on the other hand great live versions of the classics Don’t Fear The Reaper and Godzilla here. Also Veteran of the Psychic Wars, one of my favourite songs. On their Mirrors album The Vigil is completely stunning, for example, or Then Came The Last Days Of May from the debut album. I also love Heaven Forbid from 1998 (featuring three original BÖC members), actually the whole album in this case. Buck Dharma (Donald Roeser) is the man. Without him this band wouldn’t have been nearly that great. Sorry, that’s my opinion.
7. Yes – Fragile
In an ’80s music magazine, a reviewer called this the best prog rock record of all time. That made me curious and… yes. Let’s say “one of the best” and most influential up to this day.
8. Queensryche – Operation: Mindcrime
Back then I had never listened to this album in a sober condition. Therefore, I haven’t heard it for many years now. Yet it’s burnt into my brain, and if I only think of Suite Sister Mary, it’s the most Gänsehaut (goosebumps) ever. Enough said.
9. Van Halen – I
Meanwhile I’ve listened to a part of the demo (later called Zero) to this record. I won’t comment on that one. Van Halen is one perfect example of how much influence the record producer can have on the overall image and success of a band – very positive influence in this case. Without Ted Templeman VH probably would have remained another part of insignificance. They are talented guys, sure, but talent is not enough in this world. I also won’t comment on the personal issues in VH, what do I know? Artists do not have to be kind and fair-minded characters necessarily, this might be an obstacle. Don’t worry, brothers. Hail to Ted Templeman and the others who filtered and developed the best out of musicians …and who have been able to bear all their ‘artistical’ habits and antics. Those were different times in ways of music production.
10. Faith No More – Angel Dust
Take a look at the album back cover to understand the irony.
Faith No More is irony. Jim Martin opened the entrance door for Mike Patton, Mike Patton opened the exit door for Jim Martin. Jim (after one great Milk and Blood record) became a beardless, short-haired, healthy farmer. Mike became an con. Each to their own. To sum this up: The Real Thing and Angel Dust are quite different by on the same level. I also love King For A Day and Album Of the Year – yet the earlier ones had a rawer, more magical overall sound. Maybe this is partly my imagination as I had been more magicalized myself in the early 1990s.
11. VAST – Music For People
A huge album (featuring New Bombay Recording Orchestra), but it had poor sales and disappointed record bosses. So that was the beginning and at the same time the end of highly talented Jon Crosby’s “big career”. Maybe in his case a modest career was better and healthier. Crosby is great nonetheless.
12. The Police – Reggatta De Blanc
One of the musical idols for my first band, also a trio. Soon we realized how skilled beyond reach these guys were.
13. Lou Reed – Transformer
At first I wanted to choose Berlin, Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal, The Blue Mask or Magic and Loss, but… Satellite Of Love was one song that I really loved to sing myself back then. There were one or two open mouths in the audience because of our keyboarder playing the 100% original album version piano Now shut up ‘n put on some Lou Reed record.
14. Manic Street Preachers – This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours
This album contains some—by far not all—of their best songs, mastered a bit too edgy for my taste though. I have all Manics albums until Journal For Plague Lovers (which has a more pleasant overall sound—thanks to Steve Albini).
15. Marillion – The Thieving Magpie (Live)
All the best from the fantastic Fish era in juicy, warm, perfect live sound, completely unlike some other ’80s audio crimes.
16. Crimson Glory – Strange And Beautiful
Originally a progressive metal band, they went tribal Zeppelin classic rock here. Singer Midnight’s final album with his band. After the release in 1991 he disappeared from public for many years… and left this world in 2009—having released a couple of not so much noticed, but quite unique, soulful solo albums.
17. Hansi Lang – Ich Oder Du
A unique, striking voice; from mellow to gritty, and always intense. Austria’s most memorable real-life twilight poet.
18. The Clash – Sandinista!
This record (3 LPs in my case) is a crazy, fascinating, delirious trip, and groovy like f**k. The Clash was a punk band? One of the 36 tracks is punk style.
19. Type O Negative – October Rust
The best band ever in slow, deep, dark, melodic (and ironic) Metal.
20. Ozzy Osbourne – The Ultimate Sin
Featuring my favourite Ozzy Guitarist and Songwriter, Jake E. Lee. Killer Of Giants is one of the most moving Ozzy songs. The album has the right balance between “progressive” and at the same time “concentrated on the essentials”.
No offence. Randy Rhoads was great without a doubt. Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman are untouchable classics. Finally, the main reason why The Ultimate Sin–despite the questionable cover art–entered my Top 20: A friend had it on LP. He was a lovable rebel, and at the same time a bit like a child at heart–even at the age of 37, when he passed away. That was in 1993, and this record reminds me of him and the intense, crazy and funny times we had with that whole bunch. Peace.