2004: Terrestre, Secondary Inspection [runner up: The Soft Pink Truth, Do You Want New Wave Or Do You Want The Soft Pink Truth?]
For me, the perfect soundtrack for cruising Orange County in a white rental car. Wonderful, atmospheric, mellow.
2003: Venetian Snares, The Chocolate Wheelchair Album
Aaron Funk, aka Venetian Snares, is, well, insane. I doubt there's any music this irritatingly complicated out there.
2002: Max Tundra, Mastered by Guy at the Exchange
The best so far; Max discovers vocals.
2001: Flanger, Outer Space/Inner Space
Jazz, but fake-ish. Amazing what you can do with a G4.
2000: Hellfish & Producer, Constant Mutation
Finally, electronic music gets angry and turntablist at the same time. Begs to be rocked out to.
1999: lb, Pop Artificielle
Software arrives allowing anyone to completely blow a song apart and play it back using only tiny shards of samples. The start of a new age of DSP software. Again.
1998: Air, Moon Safari
Finally, someone remembers there's a place for beauty and nostalgia. Boards of Canada, too.
1997: Squarepusher, Big Loada
Something was always lacking in his music - at least until he discovered the secret of impossibly fast snare rushes.
1996: Aphex Twin, Richard D. James Album [runner up: Beck, Odelay]
Beck's album is a masterpiece, but the first time I heard Girl/Boy Song, I suddenly knew that there were worlds as yet previously unvisited that were now all possible for the first time. Marks the beginning of melody nearly obliterated through technology, yet still barely present enough to fill you with wonder.
1995: Sandoz, Every Man Got Dreaming
Slow, mesmerizing, beautiful. The kind of thing you'd like to to hear just before the sun comes up.
1994: Ween, Chocolate and Cheese
More pastiche than parody, but sometimes it's hard to tell. Still sounds great a decade later. I have wonderful memories of sending drawings representing songs on this album via PowerTalk.
1993: Steel Pole Bath Tub, The Miracle of Sound in Motion
Finally, a "grunge" album that sounded original - it took some guys from Bozeman to do it. It was pretty clear it was all starting to end at this point, though.
1992: Melvins, Lysol
One track, thirty minutes. I had a revelation at a Melvins show with Charlie, and this is what they played. I never knew music could be played for physical effect alone.
1991: Pearl Jam, Ten
I really, really hate this album but I couldn't go anywhere and not hear it in 1991. All the lodgers really liked Jeremy.
1990: Pop Will Eat Itself, The Pop Will Eat Itself Cure for Sanity
This was the year I met Mark. Psychosexual was as close to an "our song" as I'll ever get.
1989: Severed Heads, Rotund For Success
Ah, the year in Germany. I nearly wore out that CD.
1988: Foetus Interruptus, Thaw
Don't Hide It, Provide It was strangely out of place in 1988. I think it was too early for aggressive male sexuality to be "cool."
1987: Cabaret Voltaire, Code
Cabaret Voltaire sell out, kind of, thanks to Adrian Sherwood; what you get is a CV album that finally rocks. Not better, just more fun.
1986: Severed Heads, Come Visit the Big Bigot
More Severed Heads? Yeah, I loved them an awful lot in high school. Still do.
1985: The Dukes of Stratosphear, 25 O'Clock
I begin my fascination with totally fake authenticity. Er, totally authentic fakery.
1984: Psychic TV: A Pagan Day
I thought the record looked cool. Didn't sound THAT bad. Marked the start of listening to a lot of PTV.
1983: Depeche Mode, Construction Time Again
I used to like DM a lot, starting in 7th grade. Now, not so much, but this album still holds up pretty well.
1982: Marc Almond, Untitled
Here begins my fascination with Marc's off-key voice and OTT Jacques Brel covers.
1981: Kraftwerk, Computer World
I can safely say things started here for me. This was the first album I heard in summer camp that really, really got me interested in music.