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Baker's Dozen

Lifting A Veil: Kurt Wagner Of Lambchop's Favourite British LPs
Luke Cartledge , January 11th, 2017 08:54

Reflecting at length upon his intimate relationship with British music from his office in Nashville, Tennessee, the alt-country veteran at the heart of Lambchop discusses freedom, interpretation and the lasting effect on him of 1970s Sheffield with Luke Cartledge


Stereolab - Mars Audiac Quintet

So moving along, finally Lambchop is a thing, and our very first tour of the US was on Lollapalooza. We played as the local act in Nashville, following Tool. The guy was taken with us because we were so fucking crazy, and he asked us onto a leg of the actual Lollapalooza tour. We were on the second stage with Stereolab, and we became friends. Mars Zodiac Quintet was the record they were promoting on that tour, and suddenly here was this thing bringing it back to an instrumental and electronic aspect. We bonded over this guy Gil Trythall, who put out these switched-on Moog records, like switched-on country, switched-on whatever. He lived in Nashville – I dated his daughter for a while – and they were interested in that music, and fascinated by the fact that I even knew who he was. He was one of the original dudes of electronic music in the US. I would go and see these crazy performances where he'd inflate this giant plastic bubble, and all of his synthesisers would be inside the bubble, and it'd span the entire length of an orchestra pit. It'd be this crazy freeform electronic wildness. These were also going in the 70s and were part of what I was getting into then; I just didn't connect it all until I met Stereolab and they made me realise that this had been part of my life at some stage. But also, there was the energy and something very driving about the sound they make that I respond to in the same way that we've been talking about regarding other stuff. For me, a band like Fridge, and records like Happiness, are in the same area. In 2001, I started spending more time in the UK because [Lambchop album] Nixon had come out, and I remember running into a couple of the Fridge dudes in a bar and completely embarrassing myself in front of them. I was aware of their music prior to that, and I was taken with its starkness and its defiant move toward sound without words. I respected that, and I loved the sounds they were making as well as what later happened with Kieran as Four Tet. There's a whole area of music that I love that has nothing to do with these "song" things, although I do think that what they create is like a song but on a grander scale, encompassing a longer period of time so it becomes an immersion of a couple of hours so you can get the whole experience of what they do. It's a bit like what happens when you go to a club and hear a DJ set. It's fantastic and it takes you back to what people would do with orchestral music and how you'd invest a fair chunk of time into a single piece, with its different movements and different parts, and the way they'd intersect and flow together. I never experienced Fridge live - I just remember embarrassing myself at a bar, but hopefully they understood that I was sincere, rather than thinking, "who is this alt-country cracker who won't stop talking to us?"