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Baker's Dozen

Thirteen Albums I Currently Like, From A To M. By Stephin Merritt
The Quietus , March 15th, 2017 10:42

As he releases new Magnetic Fields album 50 Song Memoir, Stephin Merritt doesn't delve into the past for his Baker's Dozen list but instead gives tQ an A-Z of some contemporary favourites, from Japan to Marc Almond, bawdy cockney songs and the BBC Radiophonic Workship. Pic by Marcelo Krasilcic


J: Japan - Tin Drum
Apparently someone is writing a 33 1/3 book about this 1981 album, which is universally regarded as Japan's masterpiece. It features electric guitar sounds previously possible only for Adrian Belew; the bass is so fretless it sounds like a moaning sea mammal, the gorgeous drums are so tonal they could be marimbas, the Prophet 5 synthesizer sits quietly in the mix making squiggly noises; and sometimes a violin plays, in a manner previously heard only in Chinese opera. The lyric and visual emphasis is on modern Chinese culture (like Eno's Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) without the spy-spoof parts) but not Chinoiserie – no pentatonic xylophones – and the implication that the future is Chinese is no more threatening than Kraftwerk implying the future is German. "We're young and strong in this party, building our visions of China."