There is little that can be said to fully express what a dark day today is. Donald Trump is set to be the leader of the free world in two months time, and the horrors that will unfold are truly beyond the realms of imagination right now.
Hope is integral to our future but, right now, as the dust is still settling from this historic upset, a bit of escape is just as important. And where better to turn to than music. So to get you through this historic day of terror, here are 10 essential escapist albums designed to truly transport you out of this space and time.
Animal Collective–‘Merriweather Post Pavilion’ (2009)
If you couldn’t tell from the fact that the album cover is in an optical illusion in constant motion, we’re here to tell you that this is one of the trippiest records ever. Period. Animal Collective’s breakthrough to the mainstream is a dizzying array of call-and-response melodies, insane rhythmic time signatures and heart-on-their-sleeve pleas for domestic bliss, and peace with the natural world. It’s like the album equivalent of eating two tabs of acid and sitting in a field with your friends for a whole summer.
The B-52’s–‘The B-52’s’ (1979)
A lot of people are less than thrilled with the population of red-state Georgia right now, but they aren’t all bad. Take this plucky crew for instance, who emerged from the town of Athens in the late ’70s and shook the music world with their image of a bizarro, queer, thrift store-clothed alien utopia. On their debut album, The B-52’s delivered a hedonistic pleasure-land populated with gender-bending beach parties and love volcanoes; a feat that literally no one else could brag about or replicate.
Björk had already established herself as an odd bird by the time her breakthrough album Post had rocked the music community. But it was here with Homogenic that she transcended into a space-pop electro-priestess orbiting a planet entirely on her own. The lush synthesized instrumentation of tracks like “Hunter” and “Immature” still sound modern even by today’s standards, and there are few anthems as fitting for the darkness of today as the beat-less finale of “All Is Full of Love.”
Brian Eno–‘Ambient 1: Music for Airports’ (1978)
Eno is considered the father of ambient music as a genre, and this is where it all started. Leaving his glam-rock past behind him, he dove headfirst into a world built first and foremost with sonic textures. In four tracks, Eno created something that may not sound like an airport, but simultaneously sounds like the lost souls of purgatory, an intimate piano concert and the heavens opening up to accept you in a triumphant ray of light.
J Dilla–‘Donuts’ (2006)
The fact that Donuts was composed as producer J Dilla was literally lying on his death bed (passing mere days after the album was released) is inseparable from the experience of listening to it. Dilla was staring down the void of oblivion with eyes wide open, and it was his ultimate gift to the world to share what, in his mind, that sounded like. The result is colossal; a collection of innovative beats that are full of heart, longing and above all else, hope.
Jamie xx–‘In Colour’ (2015)
Listening to a track called “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” may seem like a slap on the face on a day like today, but bear with us. Few albums in recent memory can ride the line between melancholic calm and ecstatic release as well as Jamie xx’s solo debut, and it does so seamlessly. This is dancefloor music for people who need to be alone in their room, which is a feeling that many of us can relate to right about now.
M83–‘Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming’ (2011)
You want escapist? It doesn’t get more freeing than this sprawling double album from French electronic wizard M83. Here is a brief list of things you will find in its epic runtime: the chart-topping hit with a wordless chorus, “Midnight City,” more synthesizers than you’d find in a used electronics store and a monologue about magic shapeshifting frogs read aloud by a four-year-old.
MF DOOM–‘MM…FOOD’ (2004)
Sure, MF DOOM may be rapping about real world problems (the feeling of being stoned and needing potstickers is REAL), but rarely has the feeling of being blindingly stoned on the couch been captured as accurately as it is here. Of course, this is thanks in large part to the arsenal of samples from vintage cartoons that pop up without warning as various intros, outros and interludes to each of the tracks. The jarring effect is real, but not as real as the need to get your hands on a blunt as soon as this album is on.
St. Vincent–‘Strange Mercy’ (2011)
Technically, any St. Vincent album could hold a place on a list of escapist albums. But her third effort, Strange Mercy, is the one that continually lends itself to uncharted sonic exploration. History is riddled with talented guitarists, but has anyone ever made a guitar sound like a living alien creature before? Many people could make a melodic riff like the ones found on album highlights “Cruel” or “Cheerleader,” but only she can make them shred this god damn hard.
Vangelis–‘Blade Runner: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack’ (1982)
It may be an obvious choice to pick a dystopian film soundtrack in a list of escapist albums, but there are few albums of any kind as transportive as Vangelis’s work for the iconic sci-fi classic. There are moments of bravura synth that are pure ’80s cheese, but there are also astounding works of beauty that incorporate elements of jazz and world music in tracks like “Blade Runner Blues” and “Damask Rose.” We’d recommend the film for escapism, too, but at this point that may be a little too real.
In related news, NPR has created a list of 18 albums that turned 18 this year, and are just old enough to vote in the election. See their picks right here.