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 "Perfect" albums

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roughdraft_zero



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PostSubject: "Perfect" albums   Fri Dec 27, 2013 11:40 pm

This isn't so much to serve as a list-thread (though I'm curious about people's nominations), but instead a discussion, and a simple one that's been had by many people, from casual music listeners to hardcore critics, theorists and historians, and I bet everything's been said at one time or another, but everybody seems to vary in their opinion.

But what I'm wondering, is whether or not you think there can be such a thing as a "perfect" album or not? And if so, what is your criteria for judging and do you use careful, broad or vague classifications? Do you disagree with the phrasing of "perfect" but not the idea of it and instead choose to change your wording? For example, referring to it as triple-A or A+ albums? 100% or 10/10? Not perfect, but, "0.999..." or "I don't believe in true perfection but this is as close to perfect as what's possible"? Can it only exist within a person's personal opinion and it's always subjective, or are there truly, empirically, objectively perfect albums that maybe couldn't be argued but at least shouldn't be argued? What can make a perfect album possible, or what do you personally require for perfection--a concept album that takes you on a spiritual journey? An experimental and groundbreaking technical feat? A collection of front-to-back, non-stop balls to the wall bangin knockers? Tits on the album cover? That of course then leads to other qualifying parameters like whether or not live albums, splits, EPs, greatest hits, et al. can even be considered.

I've pondered this before, and it's always a result of listening to an album that makes me repeatedly think while listening to it, "Fuck, this fuckin shit right here is fuckin PERFECT" over and over. I always later second guess my own comment and say, "Wait, 'perfect'? That's not possible, is it?"

I still haven't decided if it can truly exist by either objective or subjective measure, but I came up with a short list of albums where I have this constant thought in the midst of listening to them, as well as an easy and immediate recollection while pondering the subject.


The Chameleons - Script of the Bridge


Comus - First Utterance


Jay Munly - Munly & The Lee Lewis Harlots


Portishead - Dummy


Worm Ouroboros - Worm Ouroboros

I could easily do write-ups for each individual album, but that would take up a lot of time to read and of course plenty more to write, so I'll just summarize as a group: all of these are albums that demand to be listened to as complete albums for one reason or another. They may tell a fascinating story, have a cohesive and consistent sound, conjure feelings of bliss and euphoria, just completely rock my balls off, have a personal event or feeling with fond memories that I associate them with, or any combination of those things as well as other unexplainables. And, long or short, they do those things for every single second of their playing time. I've listened to all of them at least dozens if not hundreds of times, and I'm in awe each time I do. Sometimes I find new things that I hadn't heard in the hundred listens from the past, sometimes I get it all on the first go-round, but I never find anything that I want to be replaced or taken out. I never find anything where I feel there was room for improvement. Of course, I'm no music expert. I have no musical background, I couldn't do a dissertation on music history and theory off the top of my head and I can't hear how many violins are off-time in the second row of the orchestra. These are just albums that click so well with me personally; I just sit and listen with my eyes closed, ball my fist and move it in a pumping motion and whisper, "Yesss" to myself.

Now, that is of course a short list, and I don't want to discredit any other personal favorites of my own. So the following are albums that I may hold to as high of a regard as the five from above, but they aren't the ones that come to mind so quickly and passionately, most of which probably because I have to be in a more particular mood or I've just plain had for a longer time and I'm into the style less, and they just plain don't get the same amount of spin time. These are the ones that I may, these days at least, go back to only once every other year or so, unlike the first few which are still on constant play somewhere between at least once weekly-monthly.


The Bears - ...Of Ember Forest


Deltron 3030 - Deltron 3030


The Doors - The Doors


The Doors - Morrison Hotel


Faces - Ooh La La


Funkadelic - Maggot Brain


The Gault - Even as All Before Us


Gris - Il était une forêt...


Makaveli - The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory


Mogwai - Rock Action


The Murder City Devils - In Name and Blood


Nas - Illmatic


Peste Noire - La Sanie des siècles – Panégyrique de la dégénérescence


The Rolling Stones - Exile on Main St.


The Rolling Stones - Some Girls


Aaron Ross - The Hallelujah Side


Aaron Ross - Beginner's Blood


Talking Heads - Little Creatures


Two Gallants - Two Gallants


Two Gallants - The Bloom and the Blight


Van Halen - Van Halen


War - The World Is a Ghetto


Wolves in the Throne Room - Two Hunters


I know, I have shitty stuff on there and none of your favorite albums, I'm sorry. The lack of rap is actually mostly due to fucking skits. The lack of blues, jazz and classical is my underexposure to the genres, and that is caused by just not loving what I have heard from them enough. Everything else that is there is self-explanatory, I think.


Last edited by roughdraft_zero on Sat Dec 28, 2013 5:16 am; edited 1 time in total
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Abnormal Freak
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PostSubject: Re: "Perfect" albums   Sat Dec 28, 2013 12:01 am

Perfection ain't possible, butt fuck it, I consider these perfect albums.







There are a lot of albums I highly revere, but these are perhaps the only three I consider perfect, or the closest to perfection as is humanly possible. And they all share a few key things:

– Layered sounds and production values running from high- to low-quality. These are well-produced, creatively pieced together albums that also use lo-fi sounds (intentionally or otherwise) for effect.

– There's a creatively consistent vision throughout each, or otherwise a "sound concept" even if there may not be a lyrically thematic concept. (Supposedly The Downward Spiral has both but I've never bothered to ascertain its story.) The albums just flow well and feel like each is its own self-contained little world and not just a collection of really cool songs—although they are this as well, where the songs also stand strongly on their own but are preferably heard within context.

– Going along with feeling like their own worlds (that take me away aurally, emotionally, imaginatively, etc.), each has a very distinct atmosphere that's thick and moody that's also consistent across each song, in both composition and production.

– All three of these albums use the studio as an instrument and not just technology to lay performances to tape. There are rich songs and performances coupled with it, so good production doesn't go far unless there's something else interesting going on, but solid production and new, creative ideas to record, program, and manipulate are definitely a near-must for me in the enjoyment of music. This is kind of like my first point but a lil' diff'rent, dag.

– The album covers and overall artwork/layouting play a huge role in defining the sounds. This is a correlation that I often don't really find in music; the covers to most albums, while cool, seem to be just something to slap on the front to make it legitimate.

I guess that's the gist of it.
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roughdraft_zero



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PostSubject: Re: "Perfect" albums   Sat Dec 28, 2013 5:40 am

I like The Downward Spiral a lot, and sometimes I'm really in the mood for it, but it's never been always awesome front to back for me. In fact, there's a few songs that have never clicked at all. But I do LOVE The Idiot. I wanted to include some Stooges, just because I find them to be so perfectly *agreeable* aesthetically, thinking about what they were doing, the people they were, the time they lived in and what they stood for, and what they were trying to achieve musically, and how I am in line with so much of it, but despite them making many songs I am in love with they never completely nailed it for a full album for me. The Idiot was definitely one of the closest ones to have ever done it for me, though.

To clarify: the rap shit on there, fuck. I dunno. I might like Nas' It Was Written more than Illmatic, but some of the lesser songs and the skits hold it back overall. I think it boils down to I like so many individual songs more, and if I were to take the average song rating it would win out over Illmatic, but Illmatic has no low points and minimal skits so it wins in the "overall big picture" category, which I don't know how to define or if it should always be the end-all be-all definer. But skits in hip-hop, man do they plague some otherwise excellent albums. If you'll notice, apart from Illmatic, the other three rap albums I have up there have lots of skits, but fortunately for them, those albums' skits fit in with the albums' sound and aesthetic. Like on 36 Chambers, everything that isn't music still sounds like it was miced and mixed at the same raw level as the music: chopped up, lo-fidelity experimenting with a clear vision of intent but not via proven method, and raw and vulgar, keeping with the rest of the album and sometimes even still with a musical quality. And on Deltron, well that is as pure as a concept can album can ever get in my opinion, and the skits fit right the fuck in with the music. They truly made themselves a part of the album that belonged. Compare that to, say, Aquemini by Outkast, an album that I actually enjoy more, and there's just too many awkward and out of place, annoying skits that take away from the concentration, aesthetic and enjoyment of the album.
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Electroretard



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PostSubject: Re: "Perfect" albums   Sat Dec 28, 2013 5:21 pm

I think there's always some tiny little thing that could be changed on every album to make it better. For example, one of my favorite albums ever is Master of Puppets, but I wish that Disposable Heroes was like a minute shorter. Nothing major and I still think that song is awesome, but it COULD be better, so it's not perfect.

That being said, I think The Jester Race by In Flames is the closest I've ever heard to a "perfect" album.
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Abnormal Freak
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PostSubject: Re: "Perfect" albums   Sat Dec 28, 2013 6:00 pm

Raw Power is one I might have liked to include, and it's a top ten favorite for sure, but it's just too disjointed feeling for me to consider it perfect because it doesn't fit that free-flowing criteria. It really does feel like "this is a radio single, this is a ballad, this is a noisy banger, this is a sleazy perverted track; flip to side B and repeat."

Fun House is a lot more of an "album" album with an overall sound concept and flow. It's also noisy as all hell and a little difficult to get into lol but I could possibly see it becoming my favorite Stooges album eventually.
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roughdraft_zero



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PostSubject: Re: "Perfect" albums   Sat Dec 28, 2013 6:04 pm

I love Fun House and Raw Power. Probably my two personal favorites.
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PostSubject: Re: "Perfect" albums   Sat Dec 28, 2013 6:06 pm

The songs on Raw Power—that's what really moves me. Every one of 'em is great, and I love Iggy's totally incompetent style of engineering and Bowie's cracked-out salvage mix. I hate the Iggy remix of this album, by the way—neat in concept, pushing all the levels to the red, but I don't think he understood the problem of digital clipping. Remix it again anal-log-ally making everything as noisy as possible but do a smart digital mastering of it to retain integrity, and that would be an interesting thing to hear.

Kind of strange that I would consider it my favorite Stooges album when it's not exactly The Stooges lolz.
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Shrike



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PostSubject: Re: "Perfect" albums   Sun Dec 29, 2013 9:43 am

Didn't we have a thread more or less exactly like this? About "classic albums"?
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PostSubject: Re: "Perfect" albums   Sun Dec 29, 2013 3:20 pm

Classic albums aren't necessarily perfect.
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roughdraft_zero



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PostSubject: Re: "Perfect" albums   Sun Dec 29, 2013 3:42 pm

I think that one was also more about questioning the validity of an album being considered classic and whether that was deserved or not, as in a collective agreement to an album's status and worth. This is more purely personal.
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Shrike



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PostSubject: Re: "Perfect" albums   Wed Jan 01, 2014 2:17 pm

roughdraft_zero wrote:
I think that one was also more about questioning the validity of an album being considered classic and whether that was deserved or not, as in a collective agreement to an album's status and worth. This is more purely personal.

Fair enough.

In my case, I'd say I have a very select few albums that I consider perfect.

Shadows of the Sun is flawless in my opinion. There's nothing on it that I don't consider sublime. Everything goes together very well, and it just oozes atmosphere. Same goes for Nattens Madrigal and maybe, maybe, The Shape of Punk to Come.

Interestingly though, Amesoeurs, which is by far my favorite album (its playcount is almost twice that of Shadows, which comes in second) is not one I'd consider perfect. The weird hidden industrial techno track at the end is so out of place. Had you cut that out, it'd have been perfect. But now it rears its ugly head just around the time I realize "wait, hasn't it been quiet for a few minutes since the last song. Has it pau… oh, it's this shit again".
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PostSubject: Re: "Perfect" albums   Wed Jan 01, 2014 4:33 pm



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PostSubject: Re: "Perfect" albums   Wed Jan 01, 2014 8:22 pm

I haven't really been able to reply to this because I don't have much free time... but I think Hell's II and Asunder's Works Will Come Undone (aside from the noise at the end that goes on for several minutes) are pretty much perfect albums for me. They have a great flow and consistency to them. It's dark, slow, heavy, melodic, etc... Both albums are pretty much exactly what I look for in music. And maybe I'm blinded by my love for the artists, but I think the song structures are perfect (Aside from the end of WWCU like I said). Just, yeah... albums I could have on repeat forever and have no issues with.

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Electroretard



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PostSubject: Re: "Perfect" albums   Fri Jan 03, 2014 12:27 am

Shrike wrote:

Interestingly though, Amesoeurs, which is by far my favorite album (its playcount is almost twice that of Shadows, which comes in second) is not one I'd consider perfect. The weird hidden industrial techno track at the end is so out of place. Had you cut that out, it'd have been perfect. But now it rears its ugly head just around the time I realize "wait, hasn't it been quiet for a few minutes since the last song. Has it pau… oh, it's this shit again".

It's funny, because I think the members wanted to take the band in a more electro direction before they broke up. I remember reading an interview with Neige and Audrey that they said they wanted people to dance to Amesoeurs in clubs or some shit lol.
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PostSubject: Re: "Perfect" albums   Fri Jan 03, 2014 2:19 pm

I take issue with describing anything as perfect, but the two albums that come to mind as the perfect length for what they are and are pretty damn good from start to finish without any clear drops in quality are
Walknut - Graveforests and Their Shadows
Drudkh - Forgotten Legends

Neither are my favorite album, but they would both make my top 10.
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Shrike



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PostSubject: Re: "Perfect" albums   Sat Jan 04, 2014 8:43 am

Electroretard wrote:
Shrike wrote:

Interestingly though, Amesoeurs, which is by far my favorite album (its playcount is almost twice that of Shadows, which comes in second) is not one I'd consider perfect. The weird hidden industrial techno track at the end is so out of place. Had you cut that out, it'd have been perfect. But now it rears its ugly head just around the time I realize "wait, hasn't it been quiet for a few minutes since the last song. Has it pau… oh, it's this shit again".

It's funny, because I think the members wanted to take the band in a more electro direction before they broke up.  I remember reading an interview with Neige and Audrey that they said they wanted people to dance to Amesoeurs in clubs or some shit lol.

It really is a fairly dance-friendly album anyways. And I wouldn't have minded some electro stuff in there, half of it is essentially just a pop/post-punk album anyways. But the tone of the ending track is weird. Doesn't fit with the rest at all.

That said, I'd rather have that stuff than the new Alcest.
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Electroretard



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PostSubject: Re: "Perfect" albums   Sat Jan 04, 2014 6:29 pm

Yeah, the new Alcest just sounds completely sterile and boring.  I don't understand why we need another run of the mill shoegaze band.

Speaking of albums, I think that Amesoeurs album is pretty interesting to think about as a concept.  A lot of people hate how disjointed and unfocused it is, with a straight up black metal track coming out of nowhere halfway through the album.  BUT, that was done intentionally, so is it really a valid criticism?  The idea behind the album was to have each song be a "snapshot" of a different aspect of city life, as indicated by the album's subtitle: A kaleidoscopic soundtrack for the modern era.  So basically, it's disjointed on purpose.  Is that bad?  I don't know.  It makes listening to the album as a whole pretty disorienting, but it's meant to be disorienting... WHAT DO.
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PostSubject: Re: "Perfect" albums   Sat Jan 04, 2014 7:23 pm

People actually didn't like that? Probably another reason why I don't care what people think.  Tongue 
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Electroretard



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PostSubject: Re: "Perfect" albums   Sat Jan 04, 2014 7:54 pm

Yeah that album get a lot of shit, actually. Even hardcore Neige fanboys hate it. I think it's great.
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Shrike



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PostSubject: Re: "Perfect" albums   Sat Jan 04, 2014 8:04 pm

I've actually never come across that criticism, but I can see where they'd be coming from. To me that's part of the charm though. Intent is everything. I didn't know that it was unpopular even amongst Neige fan boys though. I always thought peste noire and amesoeurs were his real big wins, with alcest and mortifera being secondary.
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Electroretard



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PostSubject: Re: "Perfect" albums   Sat Jan 04, 2014 8:13 pm

I don't think those bands really count considering he only ever wrote two songs for Mortifera and one for Peste Noire.
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