Hi, my name is Dave Bowes and, alongside being a physicist and numerous things over the past ten years, I have also been (and still am) a music journalist. Starting out with the sadly-departed Rock-A-Rolla Magazine back in 2009, I’ve since written for The Skinny and The List and now split my work between Music&Riots Magazine and Echoes & Dust. I struggle to come up with a top 20 albums for any given year so picking three that changed my life is a doozy, but I think these picks give a good impression of the stuff that shaped me. Also, Pink by Boris and Osc-Dis by Mad Capsule Markets deserve honorary mentions as they’re pretty much perfect albums.
Neurosis – A Sun That Never Sets (Relapse, 2001)
A little disclaimer – I don’t maintain by any stretch that this is Neurosis’ finest moment, nor even my own go-to, but they have always been one of those bands where that first record you ever heard sticks with you. For me, I had discovered Neurosis through a Relapse Records sampler, one which featured ‘The Tide’ somewhere near the beginning, and I found myself constantly coming back to it. The strings, the power, beauty and restraint, Steve Von Till’s vocals that sounded like he woke up each gargling sandpaper and whisky – everything seemed geared towards creating as much impact with as little perceptible effort as possible. After tracking down the album, and more importantly the associated DVD, it opened me up to the idea of music as art and as experiment, something that can shake you to your core but provoke thoughts that swallow hours and days whole. The discovery of Times Of Grace, and even similar bands like ISIS, all helped build up this effect in my sort-of-youth, but any listen to ‘Stones From The Sky’ still kicks my arse.
MONO – Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined (Temporary Residence, 2004)
I encountered MONO for the first time way back in 2004 (supporting The Dillinger Escape Plan, of all people) and the set was so damn gorgeous, so unlike anything I was expecting to encounter that night, that I picked up this album at random from the merch stall. That began a ritual of me listening to it almost nightly, just lying in the dark and listening to Taka Goto and Yoda utterly annihilate guitars that didn’t even sound like guitars any more, to compositions that had more in common with Strauss than with Slint, and to drumming that almost (but not quite) captured the power that I saw on that night in the Cathouse. I’ve caught them numerous times since then, and they’ve had almost as many records, but every one has captured that feeling of being stranded alone in the middle of a blizzard, a weirdly comforting sensation when you mainly listen to records that are more akin to a grenade in a fireworks factory.
The Axis of Perdition – Deleted Scenes from the Transition Hospital (Code666, 2005)
It’s a toss-up between this and Blut Aus Nord’s The Work Which Transforms God for my definitive oh-God-what’s-happening-everything-is-melting record, but BAN get plenty of love as it is and the Axis always felt criminally underlooked. Plus, this record had a lot more of what appealed to me at the time, and still does – Silent Hill, oddball black metal, genre manipulation, Lovecraft and a healthy dosing of nightmare juice. It’s such a bizarre album that, even amongst like-minded entities, it doesn’t quite sound like anything else. You can almost smell the rust and decay in these recordings, the mutters, chants and howls speak of true desperation, and it has a personality – not a pretty one, or a kind one for that matter, but it’s definitely there, crouching in the corridor. This is the album that my horror-loving self, the one that read Stephen King and Clive Barker throughout school, always wanted to hear and the weirdo still loves it.