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Baker's Dozen

Arcane Lore: Alasdair Roberts' Favourite Albums
Neil Macdonald , April 2nd, 2013 07:59

The Scottish folk artist picks out his top LPs, going from Bach to Kraftwerk by way of Bahamian field recordings and 14th-century French polyphonic classical music


Various Artists - The Real Bahamas In Music And Song
I'm not even sure how I came to this. It might even have been through the Incredible String Band, because on 'A Very Cellular Song' there's that bit of the song, "I bid you goodnight", that comes in, and that's taken from the Pinder Family who are one of the families from the Bahamas who are on this album. I think about half the record is singers, and then there are guitarists like Joseph Spence. I think Joseph Spence is one of the most interesting, idiosyncratic guitarists that I've heard. Because this is what you'd call field recordings, a lot of it's quite raw and rough sounding. You can picture it, two good microphones and a big reel-to-reel. It must have been a huge reel-to-reel back then, and you can just see them pointing it at these people and getting the raw performance, and that appeals to me. It seems very un-self-conscious to me, the way that it comes to the tape and comes to your ears. It's really beautiful, untutored, unfussy and raw. A lot of this record is family music, but it's also church music - a lot of the songs are spiritual music, they're hymns. I listen to all kinds of things, so there's so much I could have chosen, but I don't really buy much music any more - at the moment anyway. I feel like a take a lot more of a Cagean approach to music, there's so much good stuff being made and you don't really know where to begin, so you just enjoy what comes to you and not necessarily feel you have to own it. Apparently John Cage didn't really own any records, he took what he heard around him as sound, as music, so I just do that. I'll just enjoy what I hear every day. You can find beauty in a lot of sound without worrying about where it has come from.