Music » In Rotation

Victor Nwankwo of DJ duo We Theory on his Nigerian parents' old records

Plus: Rob Garmer (the other half of We Theory) on David Bowie's new single, the Reader's Tal Rosenberg on revisiting Tears for Fears, and more

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Tal Rosenberg, Reader digital content editor

Tears for Fears, Songs From the Big Chair I'd heard this album many times, but when a recent reissue prompted me to revisit it, the music connected with me in a huge way. Part of the reason is that "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" is just a massive song, probably one of my 25 favorites. But there isn't a bum track here (at least not on the original release), and you can hear the influence of Songs From the Big Chair on virtually every big synth-pop album that followed it—Depeche Mode, INXS, the Cure, the Blue Nile. The four-CD "Super Deluxe" edition is excessive, but the standard deluxe version is worth purchasing for two necessary bonus tracks: "Pharaohs," which sounds like Keith Jarrett produced by the Art of Noise, and a deeply moving cover of Robert Wyatt's immortal "Sea Song."

The Promontory What's not to like about this venue? The sound is great, the room is nice, and the bookings have been ace so far. Someone complained to me about the cabaret-­style seating that takes up all the space at the front of the house, but it doesn't bother me that much—plus I think it lends an intimacy to the room that's absent from many venues in town.

Chad Taylor Speaking of the Promontory, I was fortunate enough to see Chad Taylor drum there with Chicago Underground Duo, who were playing with none other than Pharoah Sanders. It was an incredible show, and I was blown away by Taylor's drumming—crisp and bold and quick and totally distinctive.

Tal is curious what's in the rotation of . . .

David Bowie in a Kansai Yamamoto jumpsuit from the Aladdin Sane tour - MASAYOSHI SUKITA / COURTESY DAVID BOWIE ARCHIVE
  • Masayoshi Sukita / Courtesy David Bowie Archive
  • David Bowie in a Kansai Yamamoto jumpsuit from the Aladdin Sane tour

Rob Garmer, half of DJ duo We Theory

David Bowie David Bowie is everywhere: there's the "David Bowie Is" exhibit at the MCA and a box-set anthology coming in November, and he's recently put out a new song entitled "'Tis a Pity She Was a Whore" (he says the title is a play on the title of a play). We all listen to Bowie, but it's still exciting to anticipate the new box set, Nothing Has Changed, which his website describes as "covering fifty years of recorded works from his 1964 debut, 'Liza Jane,' through to a brand new recording made this year." The new material sounds a bit like "I'm Deranged," Bowie's song on the Lost Highway soundtrack—both tunes feature his ghostly vocals paired with contemporary beats.

Nat King Cole, The Greatest of Nat King Cole Winter is coming, and this double album has all the loss, longing, and hope you'll need to make it through the increasingly cold, dark nights (thanks, Nat). It's not on Spotify (it came out in 1972), but you can get it on eBay.

A metronome A friend mentioned that practicing an instrument (for instance, playing scales on a guitar or piano) is more efficient and rigorous with some form of rhythmic accompaniment. And so we dusted off our old metro­nome and replaced its nine-volt battery, and now we play the living-room piano with the aid of a steady tick.

Rob is curious what's in the rotation of . . .

An Elliot Bergman kalimba - BORJA RUIZ
  • Borja Ruiz
  • An Elliot Bergman kalimba

Victor Nwankwo, the other half of We Theory

Aphex Twin's Soundcloud Is it fair to put Aphex Twin in the same league as David Bowie? Consider that he's been around for nearly three decades and is still the very definition of respectable electronic music. First he puts out Syro, his first studio album in 13 years, and now he's posting unreleased tracks. We can all agree that Aphex Twin is a savant with a unique mastery of proto-­electronic music, right? Well, whether you're on board with that or not, his Soundcloud proves it. Have a listen. It's all there: the ambient, the acid, the angelic, the damaged, and the familiar favorites.

West African highlife music West Africa exports much more than Internet scams and Ebola virus. Since the 1960s it's been home to a genre of music called highlife, which stands apart from the familiar Afrobeat and Fela Kuti family records. We had a vinyl night at a friend's house a while back, and old Nigerian records were the theme for the evening. Have a listen—notable artists include Sir Warrior & His Oriental Brothers International, Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey & His Miliki Sound, and Chief Dr. Oliver de Coque & His Expo '76.

Elliot Bergman's kalimbas Not to overdo it on African stuff, but thumb pianos are also very much in our rotation. Elliot Bergman (of Nomo and Wild Belle) makes handcrafted kalimbas that come with quarter-inch outputs so you can plug 'em into any mixer or guitar amp.

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