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Baker's Dozen

Burn Again: Lawrence English's Favourite Albums
Kate Hennessy , November 19th, 2015 10:52

After celebrating Room40's 15th birthday, the label head and ambient composer pauses in his hometown of Brisbane to go from Swans to Japanese court music in taking Kate Hennessy through his 13 "foundational" records


Xiu Xiu - Women As Lovers
There have been long periods where I have struggled with songs as a format for listening to music. There are many reasons for this but, in essence, once a voice is added to a piece of music its nature is changed forever and the capacity for listeners to engage with it falls into a particular mode which is not always where I like to place myself. Voice becomes the focus and we forego our attentiveness to other elements of song in favour of it, and that seems a shame.

After a long period of not connecting to song-music, I heard Women As Lovers and it pulled me back to the art of songwriting. It's an incredibly 'astructural' record - a new word? The way the songs on this record are built and collapse is really extraordinary. Jamie Stewart is an original and powerful voice who creates incredibly uncomfortable and intimate song worlds where the voice and song structure are in a constant state of fierce intercourse. Nothing is ever set or fixed; there is constant flux and disproportion as one element erupts over the other. I love that. 

The production is also a masterstroke - it creates a wonderful tension at the intersection of pop songs and experimental electronics. It's unpredictable at times, but very cushioning and considered. And there's a killer cover of 'Under Pressure' which features Michael Gira.