Maps’ new album Vicissitude, all skittering electronics and dreamy pop songs, is this month’s featured album on Society of Sound. We asked the man behind the album, James Chapman, which tracks make for the best headphone listening.
“Whenever I put my headphones on, the tracks I enjoy the most are the ones which take me on some kind of journey. Listening through headphones is the best way to truly immerse yourself in the music, and I’ve chosen some tracks which I especially enjoy listening to in that way.”
1. Old Apparatus & Paper Dollshouse – Sunday Service
This is an incredible track. It starts out very dark and menacing with the distorted bass, but mixed with the female vocal it turns into something very beautiful. I love the atmosphere. The whole effect is quite creepy, best listened to at 3am with all the lights out.
2. John Talabot – Depak Ine
This is one of those tracks which you know is going to be on repeat from the first time you hear it. There is so much going on in the music; it’s definitely one to escape to. When the chords change halfway through it’s an amazing moment, it changes the whole vibe of the track and ends up being really euphoric.
3. Bibio – Carosello Ellitico
One of my favourite tracks by Bibio. I love the way the guitars are panned from left to right. It opens the music out and gives the whole thing a widescreen feeling. It’s a very simple idea but sounds great in headphones.
4. Phosphorescent – A New Anhedonia
Another song that’s best listened to late at night. He has a way of making the music seem to swell – it’s very dynamic. The vocals are fantastic. The whole mix is very open and spacious, and seems to envelope you if you listen through headphones.
5. Heathered Pearls – Raising Our Ashes
This track is amazing. The build throughout is so gradual, but by the end it has become a huge wall of sound. It is so hypnotic; it almost sends you into a kind of trance. The music seems to get into your brain and for five minutes you become completely transported somewhere else.
6. Boards Of Canada – Aquarius
I couldn’t do a list of favourite headphone tracks without including these guys! They are the undisputed kings of the headphone mix. It sounds like a cliché but you really do hear something different every time you listen to their songs through headphones. This one is another hypnotic track. The change at the three minute mark is one of the best key changes in the history of key changes!
7. Luke Abbott – Modern Driveway
I’m loving this guy right now. This track sounds really warm and has the habit of making everything feel ok whenever I listen to it. It’s very minimal but still sounds massive. I love the reverb on the second synth that comes in, it sounds huge!
8. Low – Nothing But Heart
This is one of those songs where Low really ‘rock out’, quite different to most of their other stuff. I just love the way it builds. And it sounds great in headphones because of the way all the parts are panned. Everything has its own space in the mix. I’m not usually a fan of guitar solos, but Low manage to pull everything off in true majestic style. Still one of my favourite bands of all time.
9. Godspeed You, Black Emperor! – Providence
One of the first bands that truly blew my mind when I first heard them all those years ago. Their use of samples and loops was what I always loved the most about them. There is a moment around the 17 minute mark which I love. Just a looped sampled vocal, which turns into this creepy static noise which washes over the whole mix. Definitely one for the headphones!
10. Academy Of St. Martin’s In The Fields & Sir Neville Marriner – Vaughan Williams’ ‘Fantasia On A Theme By Thomas Tallis’
I probably sound a bit pretentious putting this on my list, but I felt it was a necessary addition! It’s a piece that never fails to transport you and is so emotional. I bought this performance on CD many years ago, and I still play it regularly. For a performance recorded in the 70s it sounds incredible. 15 minutes of pure perfection!