The fact that there is no sound in deep space has never stopped musicians from drawing limitless inspiration from the great black beyond. (Mozart's Jupiter Symphony, anyone?) For "Cosmic Wonder"—the summer 2013 space odyssey opening May 17 at the Grainger Theatre, the Adler Planetarium's domed projection room—Chicago composer and IDM artist Benn Jordan approximates the sensations of soaring past billions of stars in the far reaches of the universe, into the Crab Nebula, past neutron stars and zooming into a tiny patch of sky containing 1,000 galaxies. The score floats weightlessly between the styles of Tangerine Dream and the theme to PBS's NOVA. I asked the 34-year-old, who also wrote the music for the Adler's "Welcome to the Universe" show and runs the Bridgeport-based Alphabasic Music Center, about his favorite space jams.
Space Just Blue (1978) "The cover of French disco band Space's Just Blue features an illustration of a futuristic space shuttle surfing in the ocean. I don't think I need to say much more. Warning: space + funk = cheese, so make sure you close the windows if you’re blasting this one."
Secede Tryshasla (2005) "A great album to listen to while floating orbiting the earth. Secede, in my mind, starts where the Future Sound of London left off: Stunning textures and soundscapes compliment his excellent composition. It’s airy, cinematic, never boring."
Boards Of Canada In a Beautiful Place Out in the Country (2000) "The title is misleadingly rootsy, but one can’t listen to this album without imagining celestial objects glimmering to the simple and gentle melodies in tracks like 'Zoetrope.' "
Aphex Twin Select Ambient Works Volume II (1994) "I believe it's is the most influential ambient album of all time, but by definition, I’m not even sure if it's ambient. It is consistently warm and docile and beautiful. I can’t imagine life without this album."
Brian Eno Thursday Afternoon (1985) "I picked up this CD as a teenager in the library simply because it was a Thursday afternoon when I found it, and it pretty much changed everything I thought about music. The composition is roughly 60 minutes long, which is just enough time for you to be reduced to a bunch of disconnected atoms."