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Baker's Dozen

Not Pastel Colours: Boris Blank Of Yello's Favourite Albums
Rob Heath , October 21st, 2014 12:31

With a new box set of his soundtrack work just released, the composer and Yello man takes Rob Heath from Sun Ra to The xx in his all-time top LPs

Boris Blank, one half of Swiss duo Yello, is well aware of the importance of humour. In music and in life, the importance of being able to laugh at oneself, of having, as Blank puts it, a certain "self irony", should not be understated. For myself, as someone mired within the frequently po-faced world of underground electronic music, the absence of such a sense of humour in those circles is keenly felt (cf. the techno DJ's moody monochrome press shot). Couldn't we all be a bit more like Yello? The path that Yello laid out for electronic music is one imbued with humour, warmth and soul, in contrast to say, the cold, indifferent, mechanical nature of a genre like techno. While both these paths blur the distinction between man and machine, Yello do so in favour of the former, teasing out the human qualities in machines, rather than attempting to do the opposite and reduce the human to its functional, mechanistic side.

Speaking over the phone from his home in Zurich, Blank is affable and full of interesting stories. He is now in his seventh decade, and his wonderfully varied choices reflect his long life in music, with early electronic music composer Raymond Scott sandwiched between The Stooges and M.I.A., for example. Blank's rich musical experiences range from being a long-haired teenager smoking dope and listening to Pink Floyd and Miles Davis to developing contemporary electronic music software such as his Yellofier app. As such the breadth of his selection, and the vast disparity in fame between his choices (the aforementioned Miles Davis is included on the same list as relatively unknown Swiss duo Tim and Puma Mimi), does not feel calculated, but feels like an honest overview of a discerning musician's particular tastes and history.

Boris Blank's Electrified, a compilation collecting together his soundtrack work alongside unreleased pieces, is out now via Blank Media. Click on his image below to begin scrolling through Boris' choices