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Baker's Dozen

True Pairings: Tom Fleming's 13 Favourite Albums
Ben Hewitt , September 25th, 2019 12:16

Former Wild Beast Tom Fleming, who's just released his excellent debut album as One True Pairing, picks the 13 records that shaped him, from Tool and Def Leppard to Scott Walker and Joanna Newsom


Japan – Tin Drum

You’ve probably heard this record all over Wild Beasts’ work, especially the later synthier stuff. I think I first discovered it on one of those late-night Top of the Pops 2 shows, and subsequently a lot of people I’ve worked with – engineers, producers – have said, ‘Yeah, that record sounds incredible.’ It’s that apex 80s hifi sound, a lot of FM synths and fretless bass. Around the time of making Smother and Present Tense we listened to a lot of Blue Nile and Talk Talk, and Japan is just infinitely weirder: the sound is all over the place, and David Sylvian is being ultra-serious. This one is probably a little un-PC now! There’s a lot of stuff conflating China and Japan, and bits about being “in the heart of the bushland” when you get the bongos [on ‘Talking Drum’]. But I like all that 80s world-music influence. Also, I joined Wild Beasts as a bassist, and the bass playing here is insane; it’s the lead instrument.

It’s quite a familiar record now, but if you listen to it next to other stuff of that time like Duran Duran, you think ‘What the hell is this?’ You can tell they obviously took the stick that Bowie had and ran with it, and ended up over there. In terms of records made in Britain in the 80s, it’s right up there: one of the best, one of the most interesting, and one of the most influential. A lot of the weirder end of the 90s stuff is very much influenced by this. And I like the way they finished with this record; finishing with a middle finger is cool.