Celebrating Headphone Commute’s many years of content, I am highlighting albums that I covered 20, 15, 10, and 5 years ago. I do this by going back through my archives and selecting a favourite for the current month. But I’m not just copying and pasting the words here; I’m also refreshing these write-ups a bit to bring them up to date, and, of course, I’m listening to all this music! And so should you!



Before his signing on Planet Mu, the man behind the Jega moniker, Dylan Nathan, has already released material on none other than Skam Records. There, with his two EPs, Phlax (1996) and Card Hore (1997), Nathan fit along perfectly with such contemporary abstract and experimental IDM artists as Bola, Lego Feet, Boards of Canada, and of course, Gescom. On his debut release for Mike Paradinas’ label, Spectrum (1998), Nathan ripped through the melodic breakbeats with newly perfected IDM elements, fitting right at home with Paradinas’ µ-Ziq. Glitched-out percussion drew influences from Aphex Twin and even some leftfield downtempo beats ala Amon Tobin. Two years later, and a few EPs in between, Nathan released his sophomore album, Geometry. This album is very different in tone and immediately made an impression on me. It’s a lot darker, with machine-like chopped-up percussion jittering its way through the cold corridors of the sonic spectrum towards that experimental Autechre sound. Although a few atmospheric melodies remain throughout the album, the deep electrobeats and metallic effects hold their solid ground. The title track remains a favourite!

2024 UPDATE: We haven’t heard from Nathan in a while. His last full-length, titled 1995, released on Skam and appearing on these pages in 2016, was well received by the community. That was a collection of previously unreleased tracks from a DAT archive (not that it’s a bad thing, mind you). You can read more about it in my Interview with Jega. I’m not exactly sure what’s next for Jega and his music, but you can follow him along on his active X accountUPDATE 2: Nathan has messaged me to say that he’s finalising his latest album, tentatively titled Spectrum 2,  currently with no specific release date set,  but I’m super excited!



It’s raining. I drag myself out of bed onto the wet pavement for a daily headphone commute. The raindrops typewrite poems on my umbrella — time to put on Yagya. After a certain point, I can’t tell if the sound of the rain is coming from the outside or directly from my headphones. And does it matter anyway? The subdued dubbed-out bass patterns and swelling pads-weeps gently guide me towards the slothful train against my will. And I trot on, splashing in the water with the beat. On the train, the sleepy commuters fog up the windows with their silent morning sighs. I wipe away their misery from the glass and stare at the rotation of the city life outside. The bus picks up its passengers. The lights change from yellow to red. People follow predetermined routes. People don’t look at each other. Yagya carries humanity forward. One beat at a time. Yagya carries me with rain. Rigning, which, of course, is “rain” in Icelandic, is one of the most beautiful ambient dub-techno compositions to date. From beginning to end, the album is a complete conceptual piece wrapped around variations on the main theme, from careful selection of atmospheric elements to delayed dub minor chords. It is an album you must hear in its entirety. Over and over.

2024 UPDATE: Originally released in 2009 on Sending Orbs (which has also put out Aðalsteinn Guðmundsson‘s Will I Dream During the Process?), the album was remastered and reissued on 3×12″ in 2018 via Delsin. This is the version I recommend you pick up if you can still find it. Guðmundsson is still active in the music scene, and last year, he released Faded Photographs via Small Plastic Animals. The album still has that magic Yagya touch, featuring plenty of vocals, which is why it [sadly] hasn’t appeared on my instrumental rotations.

Nils Frahm


Compiled from over thirty live concerts recorded during 2012-2013, Nils Frahm selects eleven pieces for this Erased Tapes release. Spaces is essentially a collection of Frahm’s favourite and best performances, featuring a variety of room textures, acoustic ambiences, and instruments. The recording also captures a unique experience shared between the performer and his audience, no doubt adding a little something to this exchange existing in one single rare moment. There is an immediate difference between a live recording and a studio-crafted album. Even now, as I close my eyes and the music fills my living room, I can picture Frahm hunched over the instrument, a drop of sweat glistening at the tip of his nose, fingers effortlessly gliding over the ivory keys, making love to the audience through his music. Finally, unable to restrain himself any longer, Frahm hums along with the melody. If, by chance, Spaces is the first record you pick up by Frahm, I must proclaim to be highly jealous – you have a beautiful and enriching journey ahead of you. Among the many favourites, I recommend that you travel through Wintermusik (2009), The Bells (2010), Felt (2011), and Screws (2012).

2024 UPDATE: Frahm’s latest record, Day, was released in March 2024 via his LEITER imprint, which he founded with his manager Felix Grimm. On Day, Frahm returns to his solo piano works, which, throughout the last decade, I began to appreciate slightly more than the elaborate celebratory concerts, even as Spaces remains an all-time favourite. Perhaps it captures a very special memory from a very special time. For more, be sure to pick up All Encores (2019).

Thom Yorke


Suspiria is Thom Yorke’s first film score, with all original music composed for the same-titled film by Luca Guadagnino. While it prominently features what sounds like a trademark sound already familiar to all the fans, it is the atmospheric and dark textured passages that really call to my attention. This work for a film is an entirely different beast. Although most albums tend to paint a sonic picture, encased in concept mostly known through words expressed in notes, the soundtracks are very much constrained to stories portrayed through visual and acting means. We also learned that Yorke was out of his comfort zone when asked to create a piece for a particular scene. This, in turn, challenged and also freed him because he was able to become someone else besides “Thom Yorke” and was simply left to create. “It was more like drawing or painting than songwriting,” he said in an interview with Mary Anne Hobbs, which allowed him to disassociate from the storytelling structure of his songs and instead make “just noises”, which is exactly what I adore about this work. If you connect with the above words, be sure to grab the double CD or the double LP directly from XL Recordings.

2024 UPDATE: I wasn’t going to revisit this particular album in this column because, let’s face it, Yorke doesn’t need my praise and recognition on these pages. Right? But, I recently heard his latest soundtrack for Daniele Luchietti‘s film Confidenza, and, once again, was reassured that Yorke possesses something very special. I’m glad that he did not stop with Suspiria, and I’m looking forward to more amazing music from this artist!