Armed with a 17th-century violin and 21st-century Macbook Pro, Todd Reynolds creates mind-blowing acoustic-electronica as only a true hybrid musician can (making him perfect Playlister to feature right around Earth Day). Take a listen at his thoughtful song list, then check out his new double CD set, Outerborough.
What do you listen to while you work? Well, I tend to be listening to my own music while I work, mainly because most of my work is composing and producing and recording. However, when I’m doing paperwork, answering email, doing research, I’ll often have some ambient electronica going on in the background, or some very contemporary “classical’”music (though I really don’t know what that means anymore).
How do you listen? Mostly I’m in front of my studio monitors, which sound killer; but whenever I’m away from them, you’ll find me with some nice Grado headphones attached to my iPhone, or some high-quality in-ear monitors (Etymotic being my favorites).
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? I really love Pandora, and a little while ago Tubeify came to be. Imagine if Last.fm and YouTube were to have a baby—it’s a really useful interface. For buying music, I’m an iTunes guy, but occasionally will buy directly off the Warp website, or wherever I find myself (Bandcamp, etc.).
Does music influence your work? Absolutely. I’m a real fan of The Books, for example, and though I don’t make music in the same way, their use of organic, found material inspires me to use as much organic sound from my own fiddle as possible. They make percussion sounds from bouncing balls, for instance, and though I haven’t brought that particular rigor to my own work yet, it inspires me to go deeper.
Where do you find music recommendations? Who influences your musical taste? I find recommendations from my colleagues, mostly, who range from performers and composers to music supervisors and venue curators. I also keep my eyes on certain record labels and websites like Pitchfork as well, but I find my brightest “finds” to be connected to one personal relationship or another.
Goye Kur, Ali Farka Touré
I forget who introduced me to the music of Mali and Cameroon, but this is the absolutely first track I ever heard from the region. Ali Farka Touré remains one of my favorite musicians, the sound of that “fiddle,” the soft rolling groove and melody. Some think of him as the African “John Lee Hooker.”
Hungarian Rock, György Ligeti
While listening to tons of hardore avant-garde music in college, including Xenakis, Babbitt, Carter, and of course Ligeti, I already began to starve for some organic rhythmic music. My buddy Jim found it for me in Hungarian Rock.
The Dance of Maya, Mahavishnu Orchestra
About 10 years ago, Greg Bendian, Kermit Driscoll, Steve Hunt, Miki Navazio and I banded together to cover the music of the Mahavishnu Orchestra. It was truly a passion of Greg’s, who organized the whole thing, which continues to this day as The Mahavishnu Project. I was already an Indian Classical Music head, (both north and south) but I didn’t know this music. In preparation for the first rehearsal, this stuff changed the way I listened to and thought about music, as everything on this list did.
Double Fiesta, Meredith Monk
Meredith Monk represents for me the embodiment of the composer/performer. Long before anyone else, her site-specific performance art and interdisciplinary aesthetic existed. With a musical and physical language completely grown out of her own heart, mind and soul, seemingly without influence of the work around her, she is a true original, and this tune, “Double Fiesta”, is my absolute favorite. Just Meredith, voice, and two pianos, herself on one of them.
Crossroads Blues, Robert Johnson
When I first stuck my toe in the Jazz pool, the first thing to do was to go straight to the beginning of it all, or as close to it as I could get. I think this is pretty close. Not to mention the fact that this is the same story as Stravinsky used in L’Histoire du Soldat.
Another look at Indian classical music brought into the future, John McLaughlin created Shakti as his first project after the Mahavishnu days. I wore out this record.
Music For 18 Musicians (8. Section 6), Steve Reich
What can I say about Steve Reich? Without him, a lot of music we listen to today just doesn’t exist. Another game-changer in my life. It was this music that sent me down the road of all the African and Gamelan music I love, and I’m fortunate to have been a member of his band for these last twenty years. This is my favorite section of Music for 18 Musicians, where everything starts to turn a little.
That Ain’t Right Shit, The Books
Szerencsétlen, Venetian Snares
Aaron Funk (aka Venetian Snares), along with Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, and many others, are my line to electronic music. Yes, I enjoyed the Babbitt pieces from the big RCA computer, but these guys inspire me in a visceral, non-academic way. Big surprise. I’m not as big a drum-programmer and synth-programmer as I may be in my next life, in fact, I enjoy performing too much on the violin, but I listen to this music a lot just for inspiration and energy.
Pelimanni’s Revenge, JPP
I don’t remember how I came across JPP, a Finnish-based fiddle band, but I loved ‘em. This was my very favorite tune for close to seven years during the ETHEL era. I’m not a “fiddlehead” per se, but some Irish music, some bluegrass, can really do me good. Sometimes I just love a chorus of fiddles. This tune was standard in the quartet’s rep book for years, arranged by our violist, Ralph Farris.
Images: Todd Reynolds