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Baker's Dozen

Sonic DNA: Natasha Khan Of Bat For Lashes’ Favourite Albums
Laurie Tuffrey , May 7th, 2013 08:50

As part of our series of articles previewing this year's Field Day Festival, Natasha Khan roots through her record collection to pick out her 13 top LPs


Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Works 85-92
I remember first hearing 'Xtal' - that is the sexiest ambient electronic song for me. I remember being in my first year of university in Brighton and moving away from home and being a bit lost and lonely in some ways, in this tiny little halls of residence room. This album, Ambient Works, was just constantly on my Walkman and I'd been exploring Björk, The Black Dog, Aphex Twin and Boards Of Canada, all this electronic music, this world that was opening up to me from the early to mid-nineties, which I was discovering it a bit later.

I'd actually at that point bought a QY-70, which is a Yamaha sequencer - I remember reading Björk had written Debut on it and Tricky had one. Listening to Ambient Works, for the first time it seemed possible that I understood how those things were layered up - beats and beautiful little melodies and there was no singing on it, which for me at the time was great because I was very shy about singing. I remember just hearing that and then going to my QY and hearing little synth sounds that sounded similar. Although Aphex Twin's synth sounds were, in hindsight, put through loads of pedals - I can hear that he's got field recordings layered on top of stuff and probably synths he's made himself - but it made sense to me and encouraged me to go and make my own ambient songs.

I remember meeting Aphex Twin around that time at a Björk Vespertine concert. I'd met him once before and I went up to him with my MiniDisc player, which I used to put things I'd produced on, and I played him a song at the bar. I kind of knew him at the time a little bit by face, I think we'd met at some nights he was doing at a warehouse in London and me and my boyfriend at the time liked dancing and going out, and I played it to him and he said: "I think it's really good. The production's quite good for a girl". [laughs] That's what he said to me! I didn't take it as a bad thing. I was just like, "cool". I mean, Aphex Twin liked my production skills, so whether I'm a girl or not, it's fine. But I just remember thinking how funny that was - but I took it like "that's a real stamp of approval for me".

I do think he's been a really pivotal figure and an important person in my life, because he does electronic music and it's really sexy and emotional. It wasn't cold like some of the other people, like Stockhausen, but I felt like he understood the dance movement and got the loved-up aspect to ambient music. There's a darkness to it, and a light, but a real twisted, disgustingness in what he does, like 'Come To Daddy' and 'Windowlicker', this rank Englishness, [adopts croaky drawl] "come to daddddyyyy!", all that weird shit. He's got a sense of humour and just seems to be one of the modern day composers of our time that understood emotionalism in electronic music. Dirty, disgustingness and kind of surreal, how to fuck with your mind, and his body of work is huge. So, yeah, I think he's a dude.