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Baker's Dozen

13 Reasons Why I Can't Pick My 13 Favourite Records, By Drew Daniel
The Quietus , September 25th, 2014 06:41

When we asked Drew Daniel of Matmos and The Soft Pink Truth for his Baker's Dozen, he refused - and with good reasons. Thirteen of them, to be precise. Here Daniel presents them in an essay titled A Rant Against The Quantification Of Aesthetics. All photographs courtesy of Drew Daniel

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A few weeks ago, I was asked to write a Baker's Dozen for the Quietus, a breezy exercise in which I would pick my 13 favourite recordings, write a short paragraph about each one and, voila, the job would be done. I've done plenty of things like that in the past, so why not once more? I started to do it, mentally flicking through some records that have mattered to me, typing out some names. Then I just stopped. I couldn't go on. My mind kept rejecting the assignment, spitting it out like a mouthful of rotten food. It felt wrong to contribute to the mountain of spurious listicles that our online music culture now gorges upon. It felt wrong to play favourites about something as complicated as my feelings about music, to single out a virtuous few, to imply that these 13 recordings were somehow the "best". Best at what? To what end? I asked if I could write about my cranky refusal to do this and was told that that would be okay. So, with that in mind, here are 13 reasons why I cannot pick my 13 favourite records.

Why Do The Heathen Rage? is out now on Thrill Jockey. Click on his image below to begin scrolling through Drew's reasons

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ad hominem
Sep 25, 2014 10:50am

paaaaaarrrrrttttyyyyy!!!!!!

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LW
Sep 25, 2014 10:51am

Jeez lighten up and don't take it so seriously. Favourite doesn't necessarily imply imposing those choices on others, just as a white male listing mainly white male guitar music doesn't necessarily make them racist or sexist. And as for boring, it may well be, but so is expending hundreds of words about making a list.

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Sep 25, 2014 11:07am

Mr Daniel it's quite straight forward, simply list 13 records that include Bowie, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop etc and submit.

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Steven
Sep 25, 2014 11:18am

I usually come look at Baker's Dozen when I'm at work and stuck for what to listen next to on Spotify. Well today I am still stuck.

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Ed Bast
Sep 25, 2014 11:20am

I made it to Reason 5 then gave up.

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kevindubrow
Sep 25, 2014 11:31am

preeetentious.... needs to take a chill pill

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John
Sep 25, 2014 11:32am

He should stop thinking so much/self-conscious/burdened by white mans guilt and just list the records he likes the most. Another victim of pc'ness. Yuk.

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phil
Sep 25, 2014 11:42am

Great to finally see someone who appreciates 'Grace' by Jeff Buckley..

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John
Sep 25, 2014 11:54am

His one big mistake is that the whole article is one big vanity project i.e. 'hey, look how intelligent I am and I make death metal too! I would have respected him more if he listed a load of obnoxiously dumb metal records - including Guns n Roses.

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Listicles Arfur Fooles
Sep 25, 2014 11:58am

Thanks Quietus. A thoroughly readable and funny piece by a very smart and amusing chap. (Never heard of him before but will definately check out his music as a direct result of reading this)

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tony
Sep 25, 2014 12:09pm

I wonder if he likes music at all or he's simply emotionally cripled...if you can't say anything about the record or author that motivated you for specific genre or emotionally meant to you in certain period of your life, it's creepy...maybe too much records on the shelf and little or none attachment to them...

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Asunderground
Sep 25, 2014 12:25pm

How is it racist to like music made by people of the same race as you? I'm white, I like industrial, black metal and sound art. Shit... I'm a racist?!?!? If you really can't think of thirteen albums you like that much then suggest thirteen that we the readers may never have heard of. For me, that is the strength of the often excellent Bakers Dozen column. Asides from that, Daniel's book on 20 Jazz Funk Greats was excellent so I'll let him off.

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Aaron C
Sep 25, 2014 12:29pm

Really enjoyed reading this, he offers a considered position and cogent arguments. Listicle culture *has* gotten out of control, a deafening chorus of reductive opinion and pointless hierarchies.

But not every music list has to fall into the kinds of traps that Daniel details. The most interesting Baker's Dozens here offer a point-in-time, unabashedly subjective window into how their interviewees' lives have been changed and steered by music. No arguments about "best-ever-greatest", no self-aggrandising revisionism to score extra cool points - just (seemingly) genuine attempts to come to terms with art that begat more art, through the lens of a single life. Like Haxan Cloak on his unfashionable heavy metal influences, or the cassette tapes that helped Jennifer Herrima survive rehab.

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Chris Don
Sep 25, 2014 12:54pm

Listing a few records is possibly less posturing than the pretentious position taken in this piece.

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Chris Don
Sep 25, 2014 1:00pm

Nice shout out to Womack and Womack though

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tony
Sep 25, 2014 1:05pm

"...What if these totemic, beloved "stuffed animals" within my record collection aren't really helping me to be a better listener or a better artist, but are instead a kind of carapace, an obstruction?"

Exactly, if other artists and their work did not enriched his life, art, aesthetic, philosophical, political or any other view, such approach is not surprising...very haughtily quote.

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"What if these totemic, beloved "stuffed animals" within my record collection aren't really helping me to be a better listener or a better artist, but are instead a kind of carapace, an obstruction?"
Sep 25, 2014 1:08pm

I would wager that a lot of people reading this list listen to music for very different reasons to Drew Daniel. The entire joy of music can be that we don't have to worry about being better at anything for 3.5 minutes. Sure, I understand that stagnation can be dangerous, but it doesn't always have to be...

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Mark F
Sep 25, 2014 1:30pm

It would seem he wasn't present at the birth of his youth. The list isn't 'just' about a list of records, I thought that was obvious.

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formerwriter
Sep 25, 2014 1:33pm

Spot on, and why I stopped music writing (back in the days of print and (small) payment.)

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formerwriter
Sep 25, 2014 1:33pm

Spot on, and why I stopped music writing (back in the days of print and (small) payment.)

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formerwriter
Sep 25, 2014 1:33pm

Spot on, and why I stopped music writing (back in the days of print and (small) payment.)

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Mathieu R
Sep 25, 2014 1:50pm

Overthinking lists is thinking about them just enough.

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R
Sep 25, 2014 2:25pm

This indicts most writing about music - the vast majority of it. Well played.

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G
Sep 25, 2014 3:00pm

You pretentiously criticize and capitalize Public Displays of Taste while showing us photos of your record collection. Eee-ya. Who's a precious boy then?

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JC
Sep 25, 2014 3:15pm

8.2/10

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Chuck D
Sep 25, 2014 3:17pm

Sure are a lot of white artists in those pics. Are you racist Drew?

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Ned Raggett
Sep 25, 2014 3:20pm

Based on many of the comments here, a lot of y'all are really terrified at the prospect of actually sitting down with what makes your own taste and why. You should try it sometime.

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Louder
Sep 25, 2014 4:10pm

"Straight up, as a musician, I don't like the placement of quantifiable numbers onto the experience of art."..what like chart placings and that?

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M
Sep 25, 2014 4:35pm

This is the third best listicle I've read this week.

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Sep 25, 2014 4:35pm

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Drew Daniel Top 13 (As It Should Have Been)

1. Edgard Varese 2-lp on Columbia
2. David Tudor/John Cage "Indeterminacy" on Folkways
3. Giuseppe Verdi "La Forza Del Destino" cond. Lamberto Gardelli on EMI
4. Frank Zappa "Lumpy Gravy"
5. Delia Derbyshire "BBC Radiophonic Music"
6. Ennio Morricone "Once Upon A Time In The West" sdtrk
7. Miles Davis "On The Corner"
8. William S. Burroughs/Brion Gysin "Breathrough In Grey Room"
9. Eric B. & Rakim "Follow The Leader"
10. The Fall "Unutterable"
11. Conlon Nancarrow Complete Studies For Player Piano (Wergo)

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Sep 25, 2014 4:37pm

In reply to :

12. Roscoe Mitchell "Sound" (Delmark)
13. Prokofiev "Alexander Nevsky" cond. Yablonsky (Naxos)

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aw shut up
Sep 25, 2014 5:14pm

I am unique! I am special! Look at me in corpse paint and eyeglasses, can you tell how ironic this all is???

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Apop
Sep 25, 2014 7:22pm

In other words, you have white guilt, don't have the huevos to admit that you like Beck, are afraid your friends might not like you if you don't list their records (you must have some lame friends), and think that because you create art you get to tell dictate to consumers exactly how they should consume it (it shouldn't be ranked, you shouldn't say it's great 'cos that might imply something else isn't great).

I could have sworn, by the intro, the pics in the article, that you were a grown man. Apparently i was mistaken.

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Apop
Sep 25, 2014 7:25pm

By the way, thanks for correcting me - I'll now not say that i think that Johnny Marr's the greatest guitarist 'cos i could be overlooking some obscure gentleman from deep in the Himalayas who happened upon an ancient guitar in the late 17th century and if i ignore him (tho i've never heard of him... yet, i'm still looking) i'm racist.

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Bernard
Sep 25, 2014 7:28pm

I feel sorry for Mr. Daniel.
Obviously no music has ever been able to elicit the emotional response in him that makes it so important to the rest of us.
Either that or he's just a pretentious wanker.

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Mauro
Sep 25, 2014 7:35pm

who cares if he's pretentious as long as he makes good points? don't attack the person, attack the arguments

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Lou Valentine
Sep 25, 2014 7:59pm

Yawn.

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Hotfryingpan
Sep 25, 2014 8:47pm

... it's egregious posturing, with artists writing their own ticket by modelling for the reader....cough...

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PW
Sep 25, 2014 9:36pm

Wow. It might be well written, but the arguments are ridiculous. Making lists of favourite things and talking about them isn't new - we've been doing it for hundreds of years; it's got nothing to do with the internet. It's fun. It's how some people relax. It's a way of making sense of things. It says absolutely nothing about a person's tendencies towards race or gender bias and to suggest it does is cod-psychology of the classroom teenager. You can over-analyse - it's about passion and love and changing your mind when you feel like it and when a piece of music sweeps you off your feet. Hiding behind make-up and persuading the Quietus to give you 14 pages of self-promotion might feel like clever, but it really isn't.

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Aaron C
Sep 25, 2014 10:22pm

13 Questions for Those of You Who are Rudely Slagging Drew Daniels Off

1) Did you actually read the artice?
2) Are you telling the truth to yourself about whether you actually read the article in full, rather than skipping chunks of text?
3) Isn't it obvious that Daniel spent more time and worked harder on writing this than if he'd just cobbled a list of LPs together?
4) Don't you think that an essay that tries to get to grips with what Daniel thinks are negative aspects of our culture is more important than just another list of records?
5) Why do you think that a piece that so transparently strives to address the author's honest concerns in a full and detailed way is 'pretending' to be something else?
6) Aren't most music lists the equivalent of buying cool but unread books and leaving them on the bedside table to impress prospective conquests, and isn't that more pretentious?
7) Why are so many of you outraged about his accurate take on the inherent racism of rock culture? Haven't you ever wondered why Elvis is worshipped more than James Brown, the Ramones more than the Bad Brains, Led Zeppelin more than every blues artist they copped a riff or lyric from?
8) Why do you this racism thing so personally anyway, why do you think he's talking about you individually rather than the culture we live in? Who is the one with white guilt here?
9) Why is having different opinions so confrontational for some of you?
10) Aren't you all tired of seeing comments sections filled with shallow insults instead of debate?
11) Don't you find most lists a really boring way to engage with art?
12) When was the last time you found a record on a list that changed your life?
13) And how many lists did you have to read to find it?

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Sep 25, 2014 10:24pm

This is brilliant. Best of lists are always full of shit.

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Nik
Sep 25, 2014 10:36pm

I love some of the thoughts here but IMO this is way more a condemnation of RYM culture than anything on the site. I often find the Bazer's Dozen feature to be fun and insightful and I think most artists admit up front, "I can't just pick 13, so here's what's on my mind now". Don't get me wrong, I like this piece as well. I don't know how much it applies to this particular feature.

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Spacious
Sep 25, 2014 10:54pm

Love you, Mr. Daniels. And I love Matmos. I expect nothing less from you than a deconstructed Baker's Dozen. Quite frankly, I read the feature as fodder for later crate-digging. Judging from how many folks have an aneurysm every time Bowie/Reed gets trotted out, I suspect I'm not the only one. So, as you surmised here, the whole operation is just fluff. You failed to write fluff, Drew! For shame. I hope you knew better than to read these ridiculous comments.

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Apop
Sep 25, 2014 11:59pm

Aaron C - i read the entire article, and i enjoyed the hell out of it. I also enjoy tossin' a bit o' shite back in his direction - apparently i'm not as refined/progressive/modern as he 'cos i think some art is better than others. Have you been to any 'local' galleries and/or music shows in your neighborhood? There's a lot of really bad art out there, and if i'm uncouth for saying so, so be it. i guess i won't be invited to his dinner parties (or yours). I'll get over it.

By the way, a lot of his arguments could be used to pretty much talk yourself out of doing/saying/thinking just about anything. If I do X, this person might think this. If I do Y, that person might think that. Yikes.

It's ok he doesn't want to discuss who the best punk rock band is, the Ramones woulda kicked his ass.

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Superior Ibis
Sep 26, 2014 12:04am

Started off strong on the first page- but then it became apparent that he's drunk the po-mo politically correct kool-aid whilst puffing on his pipe in a white ivory tower.

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Apop
Sep 26, 2014 12:11am

In reply to Apop:

Lest i be called to the carpet for comparing art, my Ramones comment was not that their music is better than his - haven't heard any of his music, tho i'll certainly be checking it out. I just merely meant they'd probably drag his ass outside the club for a whoopin' is all.

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ee
Sep 26, 2014 12:42am

Clever way of listing waaaaaaay more than 13... via photographs. Well played, sir. I bought it.

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matt
Sep 26, 2014 1:49am

In reply to Bernard:

the end of pretentious wanking simply leads to Noel Gallagher stamping on your face forever

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epi
Sep 26, 2014 1:52am

I'm so glad to read this. felt like he articulated a lot of things that have been bubbling in the back of my brain for ages and in doing so, helped me finally see through the false tribal bullshit of favourite bands and scenes that made me a convenient sap for record companies for many years. I'm not afraid to admit that i take music very seriously, possibly too seriously but i feel its appropriate given how much music has helped me in difficult times and how its one of the few things left in this fake age that i can connect to with any sincerity and just feel instead of trying to fit myself into confines of 'good manners and taste', irony or fear of not being part of the herd.

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Jack Daniel
Sep 26, 2014 2:29am

Mmmm interesting but questionable. The author obviously confused the concepts of "itself" & "oneself"(see Hegel and... Sartre for instance). Racism is also questionable especially when one turns its sentence like "i'm a white male" ! Drew, you can be blue, red or yellow you're still a human being ... so the same race. I bet, you thought "ethnocentrism". Technicaly, racism must be use only if, for instance, you don't like cats or dogs (2 different races there)... but like being ethnocentrism oriented, it doesn't make you a very nice person if you do not like them... but of course, this is another story !

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Jonny C
Sep 26, 2014 5:58am

This was an interesting read compared to most Bakers dozens, where I listlessly skim through looking for a record that will blow my mind in some new (or old) way.

I don't agree with every point, and in fact ended up enjoying peering voyeuristically at the guys record collection - future column there I think, take 13 pics of your record collection and let the readers get what they want from that.

As for all the "this is pretentious wank"-type comments, erudite and articulate expression is always gunna come across as pretentious to the inarticulate.

If your reaction to someone who knows longer words than you and how to use them to express subtle points is to get angry - perhaps you should direct that rage inwards and improve yourself before playing the simple is best prole position - again! So tired of seeing guys pissed off if someone forces them to reach for a dictionary - are you so narcissistic / lazy you think you don't need to keep learning, even from people you disagree with? Pah.

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underlander
Sep 26, 2014 8:12am

Now, this is bold. Which isn't a bad thing if you ask me. Thouhgt provoking? You bet it is!

On the other hand, this is an illustrative example of what I'd call "How to write an essay when you're not really asked to write one".

"So lighten up, Morrissey!"

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Sep 26, 2014 9:15am

You could, y'know, unclench

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Richard
Sep 26, 2014 10:10am

I wonder if the pictures in this article make up his baker's dozen. Great article. More of this

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Sep 26, 2014 10:12am

As has been said elsewhere in the comments, I think the Bakers Dozen feature is at its best when it charges the participant to select 13 records that had a distinct effect on them and describe how that impacted on their life. I don't see it as a 'BEST 13 ALBUMS IN THE WORLD EVER' construct. Mr. Daniels does have some interesting points and some of them I agree with, but at the end of the day I would rather take enjoyment from listening to someone talk about music they like, detailing the reasons why it has meaning for them, than dropping a 1 ton bag of mope of the entire concept, claiming that we're all in some way fooling ourselves or participating in some morally corrosive practice by taking enjoyment from these articles.

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academic-unstyle
Sep 26, 2014 11:27am

Never mind imagined scarcity, it's infuriating when people call 500 records their favourite and their desert island selections run to the size of a continent.

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Marcus
Sep 26, 2014 12:21pm

Preferred Charlotte Churche's list myself.

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J Travington Biggleston II
Sep 26, 2014 1:29pm

Wow, a lot of words in this article. So anyway, what are his favorite 13 records? Because we all know he's got them, even if he's not admitting it to himself or simply can't answer a straightforward question. OTOH, not sure his list would interest me much, so maybe this article was a good idea after all.

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Richard Johns
Sep 26, 2014 1:47pm

what an utter bellend

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L. Jagger
Sep 26, 2014 1:52pm

some of you need to shut the fuck up and listen to the last Matmos record

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Matt S
Sep 26, 2014 2:34pm

It's ok Drew, you can buy the crunchy spinach at the grocery. By doing so you're not relegating the wilted spinach to 2nd class vegetable.

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KindIntenetStranger
Sep 26, 2014 3:46pm

How brave.

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brando
Sep 26, 2014 4:22pm

Thanks, Drew, this was an excellent piece. This comments section is embarrassing, though. A real den of intractable prejudice.

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Sep 26, 2014 9:55pm

cornball bullshit; Drew needs to 1) get laid and 2) read Mann "Doctor Faustus" before trying to prance in public again. douche.

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Public School Whitey
Sep 27, 2014 12:16am

this guy's a genius. the end.

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TheIntl
Sep 27, 2014 6:48am

It was a simple question. If he didn't want to participate, just shut up & decline. His reasons are stupid.

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Badgerfodder
Sep 27, 2014 11:48am

It's great that the Quietus printed this, you probably wouldn't see it anywhere else. And certainly some food for thought. That said, it's still a bunch of patronising, contrarian, sanctimonious bollocks. I don't really care for lists at all, but I do like to hear other peoples opinions on music that they love. That's one of the best ways of finding new music. That's why I read Baker's Dozen. He should be grateful anyone even bothered to ask him in the first place.

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Sep 27, 2014 2:15pm

Wow.....academic anxiety to the nth. How about not answering a question ("What are your 13?") with a thousand questions? Did it ever occur to you to be objective about, say, Nurse With Wound's Soliloquy for Lilith (one of your favorites, hidden with the rest of your 130 favorites, in the 13 pages) in any one of the "8 ways" (your choice) provided by another proleptic academic (and why is that academic's view of objectivity the one you chose? Why did you not think of Julia Kristeva that day?) Imagine: choose a record, explain that it's your favorite THAT DAY, tell us why "Johnny's Gonna Die" is your favorite track because you like the messy guitar, and you're done! No anaesthetic necessary! And you've left us with our imaginations and the pleasure of reconciling the distance between Matmos records and Midnite Vultures....

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art damij
Sep 27, 2014 5:59pm

'the mid-day sun makes me want to kill'

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art damij
Sep 27, 2014 5:59pm

'the mid-day sun makes me want to kill'

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Sep 28, 2014 11:46pm

Congrats
You've just made my list of 13 biggest wankers of all time

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Barney
Sep 29, 2014 1:07am

I support this article.

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filtig
Sep 30, 2014 10:48am

the comments below show how shitty the large body of music listeners is: they wanna have idols, they wanna have gods. they dont want introspection, they dont want deconstruction, so dont ruin this for them daniel! very brave attempt from the Quietus to include this here, even if it feels a little like a philosopher screaming alone in a football stadium surrounded by hooligans

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Adam
Oct 2, 2014 2:48pm

HOW DARE HE QUESTION THE VALUE OF LISTING FAVOURITES!?!?!?!?! BLLAAAAARGGHGHGHGHGHG I'M AN OUTRAGED FACELESS COMMENTATOR!!!!!!!

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Jen Bosley
Oct 7, 2014 7:48pm

Way to be intolerant.

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teddydogs
Nov 8, 2014 7:59pm

If we're brutally brutally brutally brutally brutally honest with ourselves, Bakers Dozen is the main reason we all read Quietus. Yes?

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amine
Jul 16, 2015 12:41pm

I really loved reading your blog. It was very well authored and easy to understand. new year 2016 happy new year 2016

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amine
Jul 16, 2015 12:44pm

I really loved reading your blog. new year 2016 happy new year 2016

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