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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


Ali Farka Toure - Ali Farka Toure 'The Red Album'
I love his guitar playing. The two first albums, 'The Red Album' and 'The Green Album', were both re-issued recently on World Circuit but the red one is probably my favourite one overall. I was first introduced to his music by a friend of mine, Jason Molina of Songs: Ohia, probably about fourteen or fifteen years ago. The first thing was a record called Radio Mali, which included radio sessions from the early seventies. That was my first introduction to his music, and as a guitar player his style really appeals to me. His way of playing, it's supernaturally deft, and very nimble. There was an interesting story in the sleeve notes of Radio Mali about him having some sort of 'vision', where he goes into the desert and meets this snake, and when he wakes up afterwards he's been given this gift of music. He just seems like a guy who was born to play like that. Like Jimi Hendrix or Miles Davis, it's almost like he was born to channel this music. I like the rawness of it, and the simplicity. His guitar and vocal are really keyed-in and there's this synergy between them and the drummer, the calabash player. In my teens a lot of the music I was interested in was from what you might call that 'lo-fi' movement, if it even was a movement. Bands the label I work with now was putting out, like the early records of Pavement and Royal Trux and stuff like that. Will Oldham's early stuff - Palace Brothers were a big influence on me. I was into the idea of just being able to record at home. I had a tape four-track, and a lot of my early music was made on four-track, and I've always liked things that sound a bit raw. Not too slick and they don't sound like they cost a fortune to record.