Kraftwerk's 'Tour De France'. Since acquiring a mountain bike in 2011, three nights a week I can be found plugged into such tunes, thinking about the previous teaching day, or using the pastoral surroundings to think anew; often I am listening to ‘spoken word’, lectures on astronomy (which help my interest in interdisciplinary learning) or technology podcasts. You can almost feel the chords - taste the keyboards: a somewhat synaesthetic experience from what may be a surprising choice from such a back-catalogue; I first heard 'Model' and it still fills me close to tears, the juxtaposition of human frailty against cold, uncaring machine melody. I remember watching the needle touch down upon the 'Man Machine' album. They provide a blueprint for many modern artists.
M.A.R.R.S. 'Pump up the Volume': For me this marks a turning point. Such as Punk cleared the detritus that was Prog, ballad, and you-had-to-own-a-mansion-and-drive-around-in-a-Bentley-Rock-And-Roll-Lifestyle. This ENDED the banality of The Eighties: Goodbye Mr McKenzie, Numan flailing between Top 30 and 40. Just like Sigue Sigue Sputnik shortly before, this uses samples from a variety of media, but it includes ‘cuts’ from the emerging Hip Hop and Rap – there’s even an Indian section. This was - and still is for me – the song that marked a change. Resist the current - seek the new.
John Lydon’s 'No Fun' (Peel Session featuring The Orb (The House Generation's 'Floyd'): We salute you, caustic, sneering, irreverent, antagonist, obstinate! Challenge! Use the energy of anger to change - create anew! Transcend hierarchies! I admire the Punk Phoenix rising from the ashes that was social, political and musical Britain 1976, paving the way for the 'ordinary' musician, but also providing a vehicle for Numan, the Ska and 2-Tone movement; ‘blends’ like The Police, The Jam - Reggae and Mod-influenced, respectively. Yes, 'No Fun' is a clarion call to ME as an educator that every child - every learner is a fresh new mind that will seed the future. Rage against the bland - change, abhor inertia and laziness - innovate or stagnate. Arise, Sir John!
D Kay & Rawfull – ‘Directions’: Born from Electronica and the jazz and funk upon which Rap and Hip-Hop were nurtured and allowed to fly the nest, this is - for me - the music that suits any endeavour that aims at pushing boundaries: Drum and Bass - aka Jungle. There's often a sadness that underpins such tracks (especially this one) and I think that this is a reminder of mankind's lot, against which many barriers - physical, emotion and intellectually - we as a genus are trying to forever break. When I listen to this music I feel positive; I feel positive for mankind, I relish the blood-pumping reality of our part in this immense 'grand plan'. I am positive. This music evinces our achievements, our desires to integrate cultures and races, to push technology to the limits - to use it for good.
Aphex Twin, ‘Tha’ (track 2 from 'Selected Ambient Works 85-92'): This was our 'Floyd'; the anti-thesis to the emerging dance and techno which was fast augmenting and replacing the Acid House ... We played it originally at 45rpm, but when I popped the tape into the E-Reg Ford Escort … well, somewhat slower. Beautiful, haunting atmosphere, soundscapes and eerie backgrounds that seem to stretch far into Richard D James' imagination: a pioneer at the time; creator of music that … unnerves through dissonance.
‘Call Me’, Blondie (Moroder 7” instrumental mix): I still remember watching Blondie's 'Heart of Glass' on Top of The Pops, and I seem to remember Donna Summer's 'I Feel Love'. Just as the Nexus-6s grasp their photographs that represent their memories, these tracks remind a once 7-year-old about his past and how far he has progressed. 'Beat the Clock' by Sparks was another masterpiece from Giorgio Moroder... This track returns to minimalist beginnings, the guitar licks wrapping around the un-relenting synth. …
But we must return to Themes from Vaporspace, which – to me – creates the image of both Pioneer and Voyager probes silently slipping out of our solar system, never to return; mankind’s only creations to have ventured so far; a culmination of the evolution from fire, tools and language – the result of innate learning.
And the image uploaded with my mix? This is where my young mind ran free, tasted the world, and began…
Hugh O'Donnell is a high school teacher of English and graduate of the MSc in E-Learning