20 Icons of Echoes: John’s Picks

We’ve been asking you to submit your 20 Icons and Top 10 Echoes CDs for our 20th Anniversary. If you haven’t yet, go to The Echoes 20th Anniversary Listener Poll and enter for you chance to win an iPod Touch. Here’s my 2o Icons.


The Icons are always difficult. The tendency is to select artists who are at the root or our sound and that tends to be musicians who started 25-40 years ago. Newer artists are always difficult to place on these lists. They haven’t yet generated the volume of material, or shown the possibility of timelessness simply because they haven’t been around long enough. That explains why there isn’t as much electronica on here, even though that’s a big part of our sound now. Keeping that in mind however, I did look to signature artists of more recent vintage and musicians who have altered the soundscape of Echoes through their presence and influence. It’s safe to say that after the top 5 or so, there’s a dozen different artists I could’ve swapped out for any other artists on the list. Will Ackerman or Tommy Emmanuel in place of Michael Hedges? I could argue that. Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schulze in place of Steve Roach or Robert Rich? There’s an argument there. Where is Sheila Chandra, a signpost of Echoes in the 1990s? I have answers for all those and more, but for now, here are the 20 I went with along with an album that best represents what I love about each of them.

31X3pdmaJPL._SL500_AA240_1 BRIAN ENO
We probably played Eno’s music less than anybody else on this list. But the breadth of his influence across the Echoes soundscape is undeniable and profound. And music like Another Green World, Music for Airports, and more recently Drawn From Life and Another Day on Earth contain some of the most evocative music of our generation. Essential Album: Another Green World


The voice of Dead Can Dance, several solo albums and film scores, Lisa Gerrard sings in a glossolalia vocalese that sound like ancient voices from the middle ages, the Middle East and parts unknown. None of Lisa’s albums are perfect, but they all contain perfection within them. Essential Album: Duality

R. Carlos Nakai brought the Native American flute to its widest audience but he’s an artist who defies expectations. He could’ve done the solo flute thing of his debut, Changes, still favored by spas, but he’s taken his instrument into world fusion, orchestral, electronica and chamber music settings, all to brilliant effect. He’s appeared on Echoes more than any other artist. Essential Album: Feather Stone & Light

There are guitarists. There are finger-style guitarists. Then there’s Michael Hedges who reinvented the acoustic guitar and revealed himself as a composer as much as a player. He didn’t invent two-handed tapping, but he brought it to its highest state. He passed in 1997, but every guitarist and most other musicians who come to Echoes still cite him. Essential Album: Oracle

412iPwZ00UL._SL500_AA240_5 JON HASSELL
The godfather of techno tribal music, the doyen of world fusion, the avatar of electro-illusionism, Jon Hassell has influenced music from Brian Eno to Mark IshamPeter Gabriel to Steve Roach.
Those  and many more owe much of their sound to Hassell’s darkly seductive trumpet driven soundscapes. Essential Album: Power Spot

While Steve Reich and Terry Riley are the other arms of the holy trinity of minimalism, only Philip Glass has continued putting out CDs that we actually play on Echoes. Glass’s motoric form of minimalism, with rich melodies spun in symetrical motion have contined to be a major part of Echoes and he remains a significant influence. Essential Album: Koyanisqaatsi

Patrick O’Hearn has been one of the defining voices of modern electronic music. Until the rise of Yanni, he was the signature artists of the Private Music label. Since his debut album, Ancient Dreams in 1985, he’s continued releasing finely crafted, deeply textured music on CDs like Eldorado and So Flows the Current. Essential Album: Eldorado

4134S9R7W1L._SL500_AA240_8 MIKE OLDFIELD
Mike Oldfield perfected the one-man orchestral band paradigm that so many other artists have perfected. Expansive compositions, explosive, lyrical guitar work and a sense of musical adventure have marked this artist. Even though his signature work came out in the 1970s, Oldfield has created wonderful works throughout the 90s and 2000s. Essential Album: Ommadawn

An artist of unique and personal vision, Roach has cast his influence across purveyors of techno-tribal, space and deep drone zone music for 30 years. Possibly too prolific, making music that tests endurance like a Thomas Pynchon novel and has the landmark free opacity of a Mark Rothko painting, Roach always rewards patient and intense listening. Essential Album: Dreamtime Return

Roach-Rich, Rich-Roach, these two musicians are always one and two, two and one in my mind. Rich also shaped techno tribal music in the early 90s and has taken his music in exotic, melodically arresting directions. Unlike Roach, Rich is probably the most underrated artist here, amazing a catalog that is expansive and varied.  Essential Album: Propagation

51s4pB5qCfL._SL500_AA240_11 Afro Celt Sound System
Afro-Celt Sound system may have been the highwater mark of world fusion. As their name suggests, they combined Celtic, African and electronica along with Middle Eastern and Indian elements to create an exuberant but darkly driving sound, tinged with soul both Celtic and African. Essential Album: Volume 3: Further in Time

Before Afro Celts and Jon Hassell, there was The Paul Winter Consort, merging classical, world music and jazz. Just look at the musicians who have come out of this band, David Darling, Oregon, Glen Velez and more and you can hear the impact of this now 70 year old artist. Essential Album: Icarus

51ZnOtkI+pL._SL500_AA240_13 GEORGE WINSTON
We still get dozens of solo piano albums in each month, and it’s all because of George Winston. He brought atmosphere to the solo piano and has stretched his sound with influences from minimalism, blues and psychedelia. Essential Album: Autumn

Despite the world music influence in his music, guitarist Steve Tibbetts is a  uniquely American maverick.  ALong with percussionist Marc Anderson, he’s been orchestrating challenging journeys for multiple guitars, percussion and in recent years, the voice of Choying Drolma. Essential Album: YR

31ZHlmtwEKL._SL500_AA240_15 JAN GARBAREK
We play a lot of music from the ECM label, but probably none more than saxophonist Jan Garbarek who took Coltrane style jazz and turned it into his own, uniquely spiritual sound that has explored Gregorian chants, ancient Norwegian folk music and intuitive improvisation. Essential Album: Twelve Moons

She started as a harp-playing Celtic folkie and has evolved into a world fusionist with Middle Eastern grooves and her soaring vocals. Hurdy-Gurdies and ouds sit next to cellos and violins in a music that tells epic tales. Essential Album: The Mask & the Mirror

One of the truly modern musicians on this list, Schnauss orchestrates surging rhythms, heroic electronic melodies and jangly shoe-gazer guitar effects to make an electronica that goes directly to the soul. Essential Album: A Strangely Isolated Place

61v7Gy0SeZL._SL500_AA240_18 OTTMAR LIEBERT
He created a sound that never existed before, Nouveau Flamenco and instead of riding that to infinity, he’s stretched and expanded it in a uniquely understated style for the entire existence of Echoes. Essential Album: The Hours Between Night & Day.

41SY43Q3X4L._SL500_AA240_19 RASA
The emergence of mantric chant cross-over albums parallels the existence of Echoes, and no on has done it better than Rasa, the duo of cellist/indian string player Hans Christian and singer Kim Waters. Prayers to Krishna have never sounded as serene and sensual as they do with Rasa’s richly layered pan-global arrangements and Kim Waters’ serene voice. The gates of heaven beckon. Essential Album: Devotion

41T2Q82ACCL._SL500_AA240_20 VANGELIS
Nobody does orchestral synthesis better than Vangelis, combining modernity, experimentation and a somewhat nostalgic melodic sensibility. From vintage space albums like Albedo 0.39 to orchestral scores like 1492: the Conquest of Paradise. Essential Album: Albedo 0.39

Those are my 20 Icons of Echoes. What are yours? If you haven’t voted yet, go to The Echoes 20th Anniversary Listener Poll and vote and while you’re at it, be  entered into our drawing to win an iPod Touch.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

  9 comments for “20 Icons of Echoes: John’s Picks

  1. Selecting the top 20 icons to Echoes was a challenging endeavour. Going through my library, I quickly realised that the top 50 would have been easier. I considered many of the artists featured in John’s listing but selected artists that exhibited as much creativity, imagination and brilliance in their compositions from many of these pioneering artists of their given style of sound, music and technology. These artists are the new icons for future musicians to admire and expand beyond. It is this fractal evolution of music featured by Echoes that makes John’s shows continuously fresh and interesting (not too mention hearing some old time favourites in the mix from time to time). Thanks for the poll. It was a lot of fun.

  2. Definitetly agree with the choice of Ottmar Liebert! I discovered Michael Hedges a few years back and what a talent The first time I heard Autumn by George Winston, I was blown away! Loreena McKennitt is equally as talented in her own right. Others I have not heard of but will definitely have to give them a listen. BTW, can I pick up Echoes in Houston,Texas?

  3. John,

    You have chosen some wonderful music, and it brings back found youthful memories of my early ethereal listening. I Love Carlos Nakai, and as well I enjoy Robert Mirabal (Warrior Magician), lets Consider Medwyn Goodall (Sacred Medicine). I agree with the choice of Ottmar Liebert! Michael Hedges is definitely a plus. Where was Tangerine Dream in the mix? Alex De Grassi, Andreas Vollenweider, Buedi Siebert, Deuter, Jean-Michel Jarre, Kitaro, I do enjoy the Choice of Loreena McKennitt, to many to mention and I like your Choices, and last but not least Patrick O Hearn Great!

    Thank you for a Job well done.

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