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Baker's Dozen

Beautiful Colours Everywhere: Dan Snaith Of Caribou's Favourite LPs
Joe Clay , October 30th, 2014 12:08

Deep in the middle of a worldwide tour to promote his new album Our Love, Dan Snaith takes some time to pore over his favourite albums and tells Joe Clay about "the music that I grew up with"

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Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou - Éthiopiques 21: Piano Solo
Those Éthiopiques reissues were so amazing. This was the 21st one of those - it was a collection of some of her recordings. She was known as "The Singing Nun". The reissues introduced me to Ethiopian music. I'd never heard any before then, and I think that's probably true for most people. I was so bewitched by it. When I heard the Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou album I was totally blown away. The first thing I thought of when I heard it was Thelonious Monk. He was an obsession of mine when I was a piano-playing teenager. It also made me think of Debussy and Satie and stuff - the way the harmony just hangs there in suspension. Her playing - the manual element of it, like the way you can hear her fingers moving around the keyboard, reminds me of Monk and Mingus and those more idiosyncratic jazz musicians. It's so beautiful. This was the beginning of me thinking that Ethiopia was a really interesting culture that I knew absolutely nothing about.

My wife and I moved to London into a little flat on Caledonian Road and there were lots of Ethiopian restaurants around there - it was a little hub for the Ethiopian community. Getenesh, the owner of this restaurant Kokeb, we were there so much that she took us in and adopted us. We still get phone calls from her if we haven't been there for a long time. I think it was the music and that, and right before Swim came out, my wife and I were basically not going to see each other for a year because I was going to be away so much, so we decided to go on a trip and do something special together. So we went to Ethiopia and I fell in love with this record all over again. It's such a distinctive place with a distinctive musical culture. When you're there all you hear is Ethiopian music. There's no Bieber or Western music. I thought the album was a totally undiscovered gem, a rare thing, but I heard two people that had my favourite track on the record as their ringtone! That blew me away. Imagine if somebody over here had Benjamin Britten on their phone. It gave me a sense of what a deep-rooted and proud musical culture it is.


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