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Baker's Dozen

No Music: A Baker’s Dozen with Alva Noto
Ollie Zhang , February 21st, 2018 10:30

From Laurie Anderson’s United States Live to Meredith Monk’s Dolmen Music, Carsten Nicolai tells Mollie Zhang about 13 records that shaped his musical backbone. Photo by Andrey Bold


SPK - Leichenschrei
There was a certain period in the early 80s where this record wasn’t so well known. There are a few other SPK records that I had all on tape. There was a group of people interested in them, and those who had one record would lend it to a friend, who could tape it. We had this little tape exchange system, you had to copy the record yourself.

I listened to this record a lot when I was working, at this time I was already making visual art, and this was on heavy rotation in the studio. It was my soundtrack to making work. I had an extreme fascination with all this extreme industrial music.

This was not only very dark and existential but at the same time, technology was involved. This was a period before techno. Electronic music at this period would mean Jean-Michel Jarre or Tangerine Dream; electronic music was soft. It was dreamy, and invoked images of a wonderful future. As a teenager, you cannot really relate with these idealistic visions of the future. Especially during the 80s. Experimentation was very important - everyone was experimenting with new ways of working, across artist groups, music theatre, etc. You didn’t want to hear music that was too beautiful. Maybe it’s part of being a teenager, when you’re questioning society, politics and what not. I think this record received a bigger response than a Klaus Schulze or Tangerine Dream one. For me, they were too elegant. They didn’t have tension, which was what I was looking for.