King Britt, the DJ, producer, composer and musician, has been a critical force for the Philadelphia music scene. He organized essential DJ nights that helped progressive, unknown music reach new ears, including young local muscians like Questlove, whose band the Roots (back when they were called the Square Roots) got their first paid gig through Britt.
Britt went on to DJ for Grammy-winning rap group Digable Planets and "Smooth Operator" singer Sade. He started a house music label called Ovum and has toured the world. He has collaborated with Madlib, De La Soul, Bedouin Soundclash and many others. He currently makes music under the name Fhloston Paradigm — the first album was released on Hyperdub, an EP was self-released last month and a new full-length drops in May.
On every second Monday of the month, King Britt has a show on Red Bull Music Academy Radio called Transmissions, where he plays a diverse mix of ambient music. To prep for his next show (Monday, Jan. 9, 6 p.m. EST), we asked him to make a list of his favorite ambient albums. The list includes Brian Eno, Tim Hecker, Aphex Twin and many more artists whose work has inspired and motivated Britt to keep reaching for new sounds. Check out his picks below and be sure to tune in to Transmissions.
5. Aphex Twin, "Selected Ambient Works 85–92" (Apollo, 1992)
"This was Wink and I's post-rave album, man. Really beautiful music and nice microtonal things here. My favorite, though not on this album, is 'Analog Bubblebath' on the Digeradoo 12-inch. One of the most important pieces of material by him. Gotta dig that up."
4. Tim Hecker and Daniel Lopatin, "Instrumental Tourist" (Software, 2012)
"I truly wouldn't have expected these two to collaborate, even though they are very similar. The sonic palette on this album is by far one of the best. It truly stretches my aural imagination in ways I didn't know. Opened up some portals for sure."
3. Brian Eno & Laraaji, "Ambient 3: Day of Radiance" (Editions EG, 1980)
"First, so proud to learn that Laraaji was originally from my neighborhood in Philly. This makes me truly happy. Anyhow, this album really places me in a state of ease and beauty. 'Meditation No. 1' is my favorite! The chemistry between these guys is great. Eno processing him brings to life many subtle overtones."
2. Ryuichi Sakamoto & Alva Noto, "The Glass House Performance" (2016)
"This is actually a very recent video release but has catapulted to my fave work by this duo. The whole process of using the house for sound just adds a whole other dimension to the already spaced out sonic palette. Truly a beautiful piece."
1. Manuel Göttsching, "E2/E4" (Inteam, 1984)
"One of the most important tracks (album length) of all time. The first time I heard this was at the Black Banana in Philadelphia. I was absolutely blown away. Was working at Tower Records at the time and ordered so many of these. Turned on a lot of heads to this. It teleports you to a magical space. I just saw the reissue and Manuel's story behind it — really divine intervention."