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100 Albums Every Science Fiction and Fantasy Fan Should Listen To: 71-100

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Science fiction and fantasy have colonized every corner of pop culture — especially the world of music. From awesome movie soundtracks to science fiction-inspired rock operas, genre stories have always gone along with sonic landscapes. You can't really know science fiction and fantasy without knowing the music these genres have inspired.

So we've compiled the ultimate list of the 100 music albums that every self-respecting science fiction and fantasy fan should know about. We asked our followers on io9's Facebook page, and got a whopping 423 suggestions. And then we debated amongst ourselves, until we felt certain we'd compiled the most rock-solid list of essential albums we could possibly hit on. Because there was so much to choose from, each artist only gets to be on the list once. (So we don't have ten David Bowie albums on the list.)


Today, we'll post numbers 71-100, and we'll do 20 a day after that. And then on Monday, we'll post the top 10.

100. Mastodon - Crack the Skye (2009)
The "sludge metal" band goes prog rock with this album about a paraplegic kid who experiments with astral travel and then goes through a wormhole and meets Rasputin, after which Rasputin enters the kid's body to escape assassination. These long, midtempo guitar-heavy songs explore a universe of dark matter. Nominated by Tal Wallace and Andrew Keeton. - Charlie Jane Anders

99. Alain Goraguer - The Fantastic Planet soundtrack (1973)
For the trippy Franco-Czech animated classic La Planète Sauvage, jazz pianist Goraguer whipped up an ethereal (albeit funky) score that whisks you away to the Slap Bass Nebula, where you can barely see the warbling chanteuses behind that nearby gas giant. Also, this hypnotic score was a favorite of hip-hop producers like J Dilla and Madlib. - Cyriaque Lamar

98. Yellow Magic Orchestra - Solid State Survivor (1979)
Composer Ryuichi Sakamoto got his start with this band of Japanese synthpop pioneers, whose candy-colored futurism has influenced nearly every form of bleep-bloop music currently out there. Hell, Solid State Survivor, the group's crowning album, remains better than 99% of the bleep-bloop music out there. Also, Yellow Magic Orchestra's music videos were like a rager in an Intellivision. - CL

97. Add N To (X) - Avant Hard (1999)
This defunct British synthesizer outfit had the capacity to make songs about sexbots and Buckminster Fuller sound downright grimy, like a singles bar where they serve Valvoline and the bar band is a broken washing machine. Also, the video for "Metal Fingers In My Body" (NSFW) is required viewing. - CL

96. Ayreon - Into the Electric Castle (1998)
The Dutch prog rock artist delivers one of his most ambitious concepts, a 100-minute double CD about sterotypical characters from throughout history being pulled into another dimension by an alien experiment. It's peppered with Hammond organs and wailing guitars as we fly into space with Roman Centurions and ancient barbarians. Nominated by Joe King and Espen Von Hirsch Kummeneje, among others. - CJA

95. The Residents - The Commercial Album (1980)
A staple of Dr. Demento's radio show, this quirky band also pioneered electronic music, and help blaze the trail that every synth-heavy pop band and electronica artist follows today. Their Commercial Album consists of 40 one-minute songs, each with its own assortment of jangling synth hooks. It "goes well with LSD," says Jym. - CJA

94. Front Line Assembly - Tactical Neural Implant (1992)
An electro-industrial album that samples the hell out of Robocop II — not Robocop, as most other people would. Lines from the Robocop sequel like "Jesus had days like this" and "a unique combination of software and organic systems" are interspersed with aggressive electronic noises, for a uniquely cyberpunk soundscape. Suggested by Matt. - CJA

93. Eon - The Void Dweller (1992)
Speaking of albums from 1992 with random samples — this one is full of samples from David Lynch's Dune, plus an Outer Limits episode. Legendary rave producer Ian Loveday made a huge impact on the acid-house club scene with this ground-breaking full-length rave album. Picture swarms of kids with glowsticks dancing to "The Spice Must Flow." Suggested by Kathryn. - CJA

92.) Joe Hisaishi - Princess Mononoke Soundtrack (1999)
There are many beautiful science fiction and fantasy soundtracks. Similarly, there are many phenomenal scores to Studio Ghibli films by composer Joe Hisaishi — we're looking at you Nausicaä and Castle In The Sky — but only one gives us Stendhal syndrome. - CL

91. Space - Space (1990)
This spin-off project by Jim Cauty of the KLF — the band gleefully responsible for this Time Lord trainwreck — is a psychonautical ambient house journey out of our Solar System. Turn off all the lights in your house, take a few deep breaths, and pretend you're a NASA probe discovering its sentience somewhere past Titan. - CL

90. Black Sabbath - Master of Reality (1971)
The ultimate album about escaping from a dark reality, and an amazing collection of guitar riffs. It ends with "Into the Void," about leaving a dystopian Earth for a new world. The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle wrote a book about this album, and he told us in an interview: "Ozzy has the courage to dream, to talk about leaving the world and going someplace where everything's cool, and he sneaks in "the world is screwed" tropes while he's at it." - CJA


89. Intergalactic Touring Band - Intergalactic Touring Band (1977)
This is like a joyous relic of a wonderfully dorky time in pop culture, especially in Britain. It sounds like the Goodies and the Wombles and the Electric Light Orchestra and Rocky Horror and a million mirrors worth of cocaine. And it has the most amazing looking fan page ever. Sort of an all-star concept album featuring people like Ben E. King and Meat Loaf. Sample lyric: "Don't you remember the wars on Mars? Well, I've still got the scars... we'll keep our eyes on the horizon/If there's trouble, we'll vaporize 'em." - CJA

88. The Mountain Goats and John Vanderslice - Moon Colony Bloodbath (2009)
Released only on vinyl as a tour EP, this album about the guardian of an organ-harvesting farm on the Moon is well worth tracking down. It starts with a gorgeously melancholy song with the lyric "Let me die surrounded by machines," and ends with the singer left alive after the Satanic massacre on the Moon, wearing a suit that keeps him warm but starving. Totally intense, and as bleak as the Moon itself. - CJA

87. Frank Zappa and the Ensemble Modern - Yellow Shark (1993)
The weird composer was a science fictional figure in his own right, and his final album is both his most serious and his trippiest, comprising awesome orchestral performances of his music. As Doctor Demento told a rapt audience at WorldCon, this was Frank Zappa finally approaching a sound like that of his idol, Igor Stravinsky. And it's like the soundtrack to the weirdest science fiction epic ever. - CJA


86. Muse - Black Holes and Revelations (2006)
The first single off this album was called "Supermassive Black Hole," and that pretty much tells you what to expect. As NME says, it's full of thundering piano chords that signal the destruction of the universe, which then turn into the hoofprints of the horses of the apocalypse. There are lasers, explosions, sirens and battles on Cydonia, the area on Mars where all the pyramids are. It's all deadly serious and kind of nuts, in a good way. - CJA

85. King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King (1969)
The debut album from prog rock group King Crimson, this is more proof that prog rock is the music of science fiction. There's a grandeur and earnestness to this album that still comes through even as it feels dated, from the tranquility of "Mirrors" to the thunder of "21st Century Schizoid Man." Sample lyrics: "The rusted chains of prison moons/Are shattered by the sun." - CJA


84. Goblin - Suspiria Original Soundtrack (1977)
Dario Argento's creepiest horror film, about a scary ballet school, gets a totally insane soundtrack by Italian rock band Goblin. It's some of the darkest, creepiest, most earwormiest horror movie music ever recorded, from the jewelbox opening to the drums and howls of "Witch" and the weird synthesizer hooks of "Markos." -CJA

83. Bo Hansson - Music Inspired by Lord of the Rings (1970)
Swedish multi-instrumentalist Hansson recorded a whole album paying tribute to J.R.R. Tolkien's masterpiece, long before there were proper movies to have their own soundtrack. It's all moody, twinkly, sparkly instrumentals, dominated by jazzy keyboards and some edgy guitar work. It gets downright jumpy and nervy with the danceable "Black Riders." - CJA

82. Clint Mansell - Moon Soundtrack (2009)
As stark and beautiful as Duncan Jones' Moon was, Mansell's melancholy and intense soundtrack was just as memorable and haunting. Put it on in the background while you work, and you'll feel like you're a lonely mining worker in a desolate lunar outpost. - CJA

81. X-Ray Spex - Germ-Free Adolescents (1978)
Buoyed by the late, great Poly Styrene (and some saxophones who had probably been drinking) this seminal punk LP was a hale and hearty go-fuck-yourself to the consumerism-obsessed dystopia of the late 1970s. Rife with themes of commercial sapiens, vacuum-packaged youth, and bondage (can't forget the bondage), Germ-Free Adolescents remains ridiculously salient three decades later. - CL

80. The Chemical Bros. - Dig Your Own Hole (1997)
In the late 1990s, this consciousness-expanding freakout was so populist they would play it between Pearl Jam and Chumbawamba on the radio. The skittering soundscapes of this album were evidence that abstruse machine music — which, in this case, often sounded like the interior of a space whale's intestines — had the ability to go mainstream. - CL

79. Uriah Heep - Demons & Wizards (1972)
Remember when rock music was fantastical and fanciful, and layered guitar tracks were in the service of songs about the loneliness of time travelers and wizards? This album is like the perfect emblem of fantasy rock. It starts with twangy acoustic guitar as we meet "The Wizard," and then it just builds into an orgy of wah wah guitar and organ, in songs like "The Time Traveler." Dance your way into the space between worlds, with the bouncy "Easy Livin'." - CJA

78. Blue Öyster Cult - Fire of Unknown Origin (1981)
Featuring lyrics by Michael Moorcock, much of this album was intended for the soundtrack to Heavy Metal, but in the end only one song was on there (see below.) And the whole album still feels like the soundtrack to a great space epic, with quirky/catchy songs like "Joan Crawford (Has Risen From The Grave.") Plus the hit single "Burnin'," which recalls "Don't Fear The Reaper." Sample lyrics: "Riding her bird/High in the saddle/She gets her chance to fulfil the pact now/As their leader/Swoops from the clouds/She sticks him with her sword/Then she throws him down/The enemy shrivel and die/The enemy shrivel and die." It's epic in the absolute best way. - CJA

77. Alan Parsons Project - I Robot (1977)
After a debut based on Edgar Allan Poe's stories, Alan Parsons and friends moved on to Isaac Asimov's robot stories, with a thundering album full of songs about the rise of artificial intelligence and the inevitable fall of humanity to the robot menace. It's like 1970s Pink Floyd doing an album about robots, only with more synth and more heavy drama. Just check out this music video set to Maizinger, Gundam and other anime robot series. - CJA

76. Praxis - Transmutation (Mutatis Mutandis) (1993)
In the 1970s, Parliament-Funkadelic brought space opera to new heights — and then in the 1990s, alumni Bernie Worrell and Bootsy Collins became part of a cyberpunk, hard-edged "supergroup," the ambient-industrial Praxis, also featuring Buckethead, Brain and founder Bill Laswell. The songs veer from hip hop to dub to heavy metal, but what unites them is Collins' popping bass, Worrell's trademark crazy synth and Buckethead's jarring guitar sound. This is the music you'll be left listening to after the world is reduced to a junkyard populated by deadly cyborgs and chaos magicians. - CJA

75. Electric Light Orchestra - Time (1981)
The trippiest, twinkliest, synth-heavy band bring you a concept album about a man who travels forward in time more than 100 years and has to adjust to the weirdness of the future. If Xanadu wasn't mystical enough for you, this is the ticket. - CJA

74. Fela Kuti - Zombie (1977)
The legendary Nigerian musician probably reaches his greatest creative height with this hypnotic James Brown-influenced jam, full of repetitive hooks and call-and-response vocals. People who are used to thinking of zombies as post-apocalyptic berserkers will be startled by Fela's use of them as metaphors for soldiers and their blind obedience to the Nigerian military. "Zombie won't move unless you tell him to move. Zombie won't think unless you tell him to think." It's the most danceable dystopian protest you'll ever hear, and totally addictive. - CJA

73. GWAR - Lust in Space (2009)
The only active heavy metal band who are actually from outer space release their eleventh album, with tons of fast and freaky songs and screeching guitar riffs. Lead vocalist Oderus is at his most evil and menacing singing "We don't have to hide our genocide," and the Scumdogs convey a sense of thundering insanity — the perfect soundtrack for a Dragon*con bondage orgy at three in the morning. - CJA

72. The Heavy Metal Soundtrack (1981)
"Who wants to go on a pterodactyl ride? You want to go on a pterodactyl ride, mon frere. I'll grab the keys to my dad's van, we'll hit the liquor store, and find that pterodactyl down by the quarry. I hear Fiona will be there. Yeah! Girl's got eyes like a goddamn sorceress." - CL

71. Voivod - The Outer Limits (1993)
Canadian metal band Voivod goes slightly more glossy and accessible with this release, ditching the DIY sound and frequent tempo changes for a more digestible collection of riffs. But that doesn't keep the explorations of science fiction themes from being intense — including the 17-minute "Jack Luminous," about a friendly alien who comes to Earth to prevent a takeover by the evil alien dicatator, President X-D. It's a guitar-heavy epic that keeps throwing out new musical ideas as it teaches us how to save the world, metal-style. - CJA



- Albums #51-70