2. Mali Music (2002): Albarn's Honest Jon's has been one of the world's most consistently excellent and interesting labels for the past decade, but its inaugural release is still probably its best. For Mali Music, Albarn traveled throughout the African country, jamming on melodica with Malian musicians on streets and in bars, and recording the results. Albarn went home with some 40 hours of music, which he edited down in the studio, adding instrumentation, vocals and electronic effects as he worked. The result is one of the brightest jewels in Albarn's crown. Mali Music is so throughly manipulated by its curator that it would seem to belong to no culture, yet the music is plainly authentically African. (Albarn's voice leads only one track: the exquisite "Sunset Coming On," which would have fit comfortably on Blur's Think Tank). Shimmering, sad, gorgeous, bright and impossible to pin down, Mali Music is a gorgeous chill-out experience.