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mo' fidelity | November 15, 2018

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Raya’s Top 10 Desert Island Albums

Raya's top 10 desert island albums
Raya Raycheva

I’m gonna go ahead and do the unthinkable – choose 10, only 10, records that I would take with me in the highly unlikely event of ending up on a desert island but somehow having the opportunity to take 10 albums with me and having a listening device for said albums on the aforementioned, imaginary island.

Lots of conditions but don’t let that stop you.

I’m also aware of the seriousness of what I’m about to do. Real music nerds aren’t supposed to be able to pick favourites, they’re supposed to get downright offended when presented with such plebe questions.

But, oh, let’s bring on the revolution. Let’s admit that as much as we live for all of the music ever, we all have our record darlings. The ones that we play often and never get tired of, the ones that we remember hearing for the first time, the ones that taught us something, the ones that literally changed our lives, many of them not even remotely connected to the type of music that people usually associate us with. Aka opening up your personality for everyone to see and doing it though the best medium ever – music.

Let’s make this a series! Let’s hear your 10 picks, whether you’re an artist, DJ, writer, fan! Click on my profile picture for all of the ways you can contact me if you want to get in on the desert island game.

Now time for my confession. In no particular order, these are my Top 10 Desert Island Albums.

1. Stan Getz and João Gilberto – ‘Getz/Gilberto’ (1964)

The first time I heard the name João Gilberto was in my English class, probably around the age of 8 or 9. Every lesson revolved around an article and the one we were reading that day was about bossa nova and ‘The Girl From Ipanema’.

Later on, I found a cassette tape  of ‘Getz/Gilberto’ that I couldn’t stop playing over and over again. I used to imagine Stan Getz, João Gilberto, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Astrud Gilberto in the most glamorous yet somehow casual and beach-y settings and dream of joining them one day.

‘Isto é Bossa Nova, isto é muito natural…’

2. Mos Def – ‘Black on Both Sides’ (1999)

Mos Def set the standard for me not only for for hip hop in general but also for a creative mind’s social consciousness and the lyrical capacity of expressing it poignantly as fuck.

No wonder I’ve never been able to enjoy misogynistic tirades about ‘bitches’ and ‘hoes’ and their materialistic ‘chains’ and ‘bling’ equivalents.

Because as Andrew Goldman pointed out, ‘When was the last time you heard an MC drop a line like, “Mind over matter and soul before flesh”? When was the last time you heard somebody rap about the global economic and environmental consequences of first-world corporate waste and subsequent aquatic pollution? When was the last time you heard a hip-hopper sing competently over a phat-ass beat about the white appropriation of black art forms?’


3. Kraftwerk – ‘Tour De France Soundtracks’ (2003)

As an avid little illegal downloader during my childhood and teenagehood in Eastern Europe, I often ended up with bundles of songs that weren’t my original intention. Discovering Kraftwerk was one of those ugh-that’s-not-what-I-was-looking-for-but-oh-wait-what-is-this-and-why-do-my-ears-feel-so-excited-replay-replay-replay-oh-my-god situations. Actually, the only such situation.

Way before I knew anything about electronic music and way, way before that topic became my life’s raison d’etre, there was that night in front of the computer, on the crappy dial-up connection, that caught me completely off guard and made me curious about a genre that I’d never even considered before.


4. Harry Nilsson – ‘Nilsson Schmillson’ (1971)

Perhaps the most unexpected entry in my selection but one that would be essential on the island that, I have to admit, doesn’t sound that bad at all. As long as I have whiskey and books on it as well.

In fact, the decision to go ahead and finally write this post that I’ve been meaning to do for months came from stumbling across a £2 vinyl of ‘A Touch of Schmilsson in the Night’ on a riverboat vinyl shop today.

‘Nilsson Schmillson’ is the album I put on every time I feel just a tiny little bit weird or sad or down or confused, and even if I don’t necessarily stop feeling weird or sad or down or confused, I always end up feeling somehow better.

5. Artful Dodger – ‘It’s All About The Stragglers’ (2000)

That’s right, I’m taking Artful Dodger with me. That album is the definition of ‘good times’ and you and I and everyone else in the world starts moving when a tune – any tune! – from it gets played on the radio in the off licence.

When I’m chilling on my increasingly more and more tempting remote whiskey island, I’d ‘Bo’ Selecta’ as much as I want.

6. DJ Rashad – ‘Double Cup’ (2013)

DJ Rashad left us with a true gem of electronic music before his untimely passing – an album, which I can imagine future producers (current 7-8-year-olds, for example) will inevitably quote as an inspiration and reference.

Uncompromisingly raw yet meticulously precise in every second of its production, ‘Double Cup’ is a record I’ve played too many times to count and I’d happily keep playing it for the rest of my life.


7. Leftfield – ‘Leftism’ (1995)

An album which continues to sound relevant to this day, 20 years after it was released. Genre-bending and showing that electronic music can make for perfectly coherent LPs, ‘Leftism’ still makes me go ‘daaymn’ when I listen to it (on a very regular basis).


8. Radiohead – ‘OK Computer’ (1997)

Without getting into too much detail, ‘OK Computer’ was the soundtrack to some of my most miserable times of existence. And while I’ll always associate it with the memory of being completely and utterly unhappy, it was the music’s ability to keep my head just above water throughout that gloomy period that I will always remember with a smile.

If I’m choosing 10 albums I’d listen to forever and ever, I’d choose one which reminds me that I’m strong enough to pick myself up and change my own life any way I want to.


9. Talking Heads – ‘Once in a Lifetime: The Best of Talking Heads’ (1992)

Because I may find myself living in a shotgun shack, and I may find myself in another part of the world, and I may find myself behind the wheel of a large automobile, and I may find myself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife, and I may ask myself: Well…How did I get here?


10. The Very Best of Chopin (Naxos, 2005)

Chopin will always be my bae. I may be listening to the filthiest Dance Mania tracks one moment and to Fantaisie-Impromptu in C sharp minor the next. It is what it is.

This particular compilation is one I’ve had and listened to for many, many years and I’d stick to it on stormy nights on my beautiful whiskey island.


Now it’s your turn. Feeling musically confessional? Tweet me @rayaiam or email me at and let’s make your Top 10 Desert Island Albums post happen on here.

Best therapy ever and it’s free of charge.


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