To celebrate the launch of P5 Series 2, we asked synth legend and Heaven 17 founder Martyn Ware to choose his top ten electronic albums for headphone listening.
He was unable to keep it to ten, so here are 21 exemplary albums which we highly recommend you check out.
Forbidden Planets – Music from the Pioneers of Electronic Sound – Various
An amazing introduction to the abstract world of electronic music, featuring some of my all time heroes.
Snowflakes Are Dancing – Tomita
Tomita was a true pioneer and a fantastic arranger – his perception of tone colour and its relationship to electronic expression was a great influence on the early Human League
An Electric Storm – White Noise
David Vorhaus is a genius – there I’ve said it – I don’t use this word lightly – possibly my favourite all time electronic album – fantastic work with his collaborators including Delia Derbyshire. I’m proud to say that I’m working with him on new material currently.
Music for A Clockwork Orange – Wendy Carlos
What can I say – the album that made me want to do purely electronic music.
WC never really got the credit he deserved for his soundtrack work – a lot of our compositions were heavily influenced by OSTs. He was one of the best ‘futurist’ composers
Trans Europe Express – Kraftwerk
The album that made me realise that experimental electronic music could also signpost the future of electronic dance
Low – David Bowie
I’ll never forget hearing this for the first time with Ian Craig Marsh, Adi Newton and Phil Oakey – it literally changed our world – Eno’s synthetic colourist work on this is unsurpassed.
The Best Of Fad Gadget – Fad Gadget
There at the birth of raw, untamed post punk synth – we really admired this stuff and felt a genuine empathy with the approach.
OST Blade Runner – Vangelis
The film simply would not have worked without this exquisite example of lush electronic orchestration. My son Gabriel has become obsessed with electronic soundtracks, to the extent that we are making some together currently…
Before And After Science – Brian Eno
No list of this kind would be complete without Eno – it could have been any of his albums to be honest – but this album showed the way forward for hybridizing real and electronic instruments in a pop/rock format.
Number One In Heaven – Sparks/Giorgio Moroder
Giorgio Moroder was very popular with the early League, especially when everyone discarded Disco – we loved pretty much anything he did. This album is beautifully produced and sounds amazing on headphones.
Big Science – Laurie Anderson
O Superman is still a timeless and unique piece of sonic art – and her cross-disciplinary, multimedia live shows are the stuff of legend.
Travelogue – The Human League
I’m still very proud of this album to this day – we put a huge amount of effort into the production, and the remastered version still sounds fresh to me – especially on headphones…
Tin Drum – Japan
Much underrated at the time – I listen to this album a lot – the synth arrangements work and the production is pristine.
Metamatic – John Foxx
John has been at the forefront of pure electronic pop music as long as we have – this is his masterwork I think, although I equally like his more recent ambient work.
Penthouse & Pavement – Heaven 17
I had to include this, if only for ‘We Don’t Need This Fascist Groove Thang’ – one of the fastest dance records made at that time!
I say I say I say – Erasure
Vince is a true craftsman and artist – he designs his work to appeal hugely to the public in general – and of course he (together with Andy Bell) is a consummate songwriter. As producer of this album, I put a huge amount of effort into moulding the sonic soundscape, which I hope you agree works exceptionally on your lovely Bowers &Wilkins headphones (you do have some, don’t you?)
Collected – Massive Attack
The tracks on this compilation are fantastically produced and will most definitely reward detailed listening on headphones – Teardrop in particular gives me shivers…
Melody AM – Royksopp
The album that launched a thousand adverts is also sonically detailed and lush.
Quaristice – Autechre
Autechre are a great example of experimental dance music which constantly challenges the listener.
Channel Orange – Frank Ocean
Beautiful soundscape-based electronic songs which transport the listener to another world. I love this album
Cut 4 Me – Kelela
My daughter Elena turned me onto this really exciting and daring young electronic artist – please check it out, you’ll be impressed…