Abandoned water tank reverb? Samples from live surgery? Here’s a list of 10 albums recorded in truly weird locations

We’ve heard all about classic albums cut in secluded cabins, basements, abandoned factories, gothic castles and Tudor homes. Yet there exist even more exotic spaces where artists have captured their work. While some of these albums may have fallen a little short of iconic, here are 10 albums recorded in truly weird places.

albums recorded in truly weird places

Space, abandoned bank vaults and giant, emptied water tanks. Here are 10 albums recorded in truly weird places.

Matmos’ A Chance to Cut Is a Chance to Cure (2001)

Location: Various Medical Surgeries

Before teaming up with Bjork to work on Vespertine and Medulla, Matmos were known for putting together some seriously experimental techno. The duo’s fourth studio LP comprises entirely of sampled recordings of medical procedures.

Field recordings of plastic surgery, liposuction, hearing tests and bone-sawing all sit within what are, for the most part, unsettlingly upbeat tracks. The one exception is fifth track For Felix (And All the Rats), a posthumous track recorded with the pair’s pet rat Felix.

Regurgitator’s Mish Mash (2004)

Location: Biodome

As part of MTV’s Band in A Bubble reality series in 2004, Brisbane locals Regurgitator spent the better part of a month living in a self-contained enclosure. Looking to make the most of the situation the group also cut an album titled Mish Mash while sequestered. The album may not have been the groups finest, but the Band in A Bubble project was so successful it inspired a number of imitations world over.  

Sigur Ros’ ( ) (The Bracket Album) (2002)

Location: Deep End of a Swimming Pool

After the original idea to record in a NATO base proved too impractical, these post-rockers decamped to a small rural town outside of Reykjavík, Iceland. The majority of the album’s sounds were captured in an abandoned pool.

So set on utilising this space were the group that they acquired the surrounding properties, took the roof off an adjacent house and even brought in a crane. But far from going of off the deep end, these results speak for themselves.  

Einsturzende Neubaten’s Stahlmusik (1980)

Location: A Pillar of West Berlin’s Stadtautobahn Bridge

Blixa Bargeld may be better known to some as a member of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, but it’s with influential noise outfit Einsturzende Neubaten that the German artist has created some of his finest work.

Accessing a pillar of the Stadtautobahn Bridge via a crawlspace, the band had to employ candles to monitor the oxygen levels of their cramped surroundings. So tight were the confines that the lanky Bargeld was forced to sing the entire album keeled over.

Stuart Dempster’s Underground Overlays From The Cistern Chapel (1994)

Location: A 2 Million Litre Water Tank

Contrary to what the name might suggest this album was not recorded in a repurposed religious space. Looking to create some one-of-a-kind reverberations, Dempster recorded inside of a disused water cistern at Fort Worden, outside of Seattle. These sessions resulted in some truly cavernous production, something which would later inspire collaborations with drone metal luminaries Sunn O))).

Marilyn Manson’s Holy Wood (2000)

Location: Death Valley

In the 90s Manson built a reputation on taking music to extremes. In which case it may not come as too much of a surprise that he decided to apply this extremism to recording sessions for 2000’s Holy Wood.

Under the auspices of super-producer Rick Rubin, Manson recorded a good part of the album in Death Valley, California. Not the most hospitable locale, the region is known for reaching temperatures of 134 °F. The remainder of the recording took place at Rubin’s Laurel Canyon mansion due to the fact that it was reportedly haunted.

Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral (1992)

Location: The “Tate House”

Industrial artists are known for incorporating their urban surrounds into sound. But for his breakthrough album Renzor decided to explore some darker thematics, repurposing the site where Sharon Tate was murdered by members of the Manson Family in 1969 into his own studio.

The house was later demolished in 1994, but not before Renzor liberated the front door to be used at his own Nothing Records’ HQ.   

Paul Horns Inside (1968)

Location: The Taj Mahal

Jazz flutist Paul Horn was always seeking to push his pioneer at recording practices to the limit. Having recorded in daring slew of unconventional sites, Horn has made albums in everything from canyons to pyramids. His best known album Inside, was recorded in the Taj Mahal while he accompanied The Beatles on the ill-fated Indian journey which preceded the White Album.  

Varg Vikernes Dauði Baldrs (1997)

Location: Prison

Johnny Cash may have dropped into Folsom State Prison and plenty of hip hop artists have phoned in performances from behind bars, but few can lay claim to have created a self-contained album during incarceration.

While serving 15 of a 21-year sentence for stabbing bandmate Øystein Aarseth to death and burning down churches, Varg Vikernes continued his solo project Burzum. As guitars, amps and drums were prohibited in his cell, the twisted Norwegian made do with synthesised sounds. Dauði Baldrs and 1999 follow-up Hliðskjálf mark some truly disturbing results.

Chirs Hadfields Space Sessions: Songs from a Tin Can (2015)

Location: An International Space Station

Admittedly Space Sessions: Songs from a Tin Can might be fairly standard fair, but did we mention that it was recorded in outer space? Zero gravity conditions wreaked havoc with traditional musical performance, everything from picking guitar strings to Hadfield’s Cat Stevens-like vocal delivery had to be adapted for the orbital environment.

There may not be a single album in existence which comes close to evoking the unique conditions of this otherworldly dynamic.

Honourable Mention

Aphex Twin Various (1990s onwards)

Location: Bank Vault

When he’s not driving his tank, Aphex Twin’s Richard D. James can often be found kicking back in a former bank he purchased in the mid-‘90s. Keeping his equipment in the bank’s disused vault, it is said that James has recorded more than a few tracks in the location.

This said given James’ mastery of misinformation, it’s unknown precisely what material from Aphex Twin or other pseudonymous projects have been laid down within the safe.

Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments.

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