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Baker's Dozen

No Limits: Jaakko Eino Kalevi's 13 Favourite Albums
Patrick Clarke , January 24th, 2020 11:59

Finland's finest selects a varied mix of metal, jazz, funk, prog and kraut for his Baker's Dozen

Jaakko Eino Kalevi’s Baker’s Dozen is among the most musically diverse we’ve ever featured on The Quietus. It takes in heavy metal, jazz, prog, new-wave, hip-hop, krautrock, moderately obscure funk, extremely obscure Finnish pop, the soundtrack to a surrealist movie masterpiece and the off-kilter piano music of a divisive Armenian mystic. I ask whether he thinks there might be anything that that all his thirteen favourite records have in common. “Hmmm….” He ponders for a full minute. “No, probably nothing!”

The one unifying theme throughout the 13 records we discuss is the joy and fondness with which Kalevi talks about them. Common themes do pop up, he has a love of funkiness, silliness and humour – “sometimes it’s there even if people didn’t mean it to be there. A chord change can be funny!” – and an admiration for bands who are unafraid to reach for the epic.

Kalevi’s first musical love was rock and metal – the likes of Iron Maiden, Metallica and Led Zeppelin – which inspired him to form his first band at 11 years old. “We were called Masterpiece!” he says with a bashful laugh. “We were pretty modest.” His childhood bandmate’s father then gave them some King Crimson to listen to, which immediately stretched his ambitions. ‘In The Court Of The Crimson King’ still features in his Baker’s Dozen today. If he had to pick only one, he says, it would be that.

His own father listened mainly to The Beatles, and his mother to the popular Schlager music being played on the radio. It was up to his older sister to help him with the next step. Just a year older than him, she was a key influence on his taste throughout their youth, not least when she returned from a school trip to Paris with a copy of the Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). It opened another musical avenue, with Kalevi exploring both hip-hop and its distant relatives, all the way back to Kraftwerk.

His Baker’s Dozen can perhaps be viewed as the treasures obtained on his journeys down these two paths, along with several diversions along the way. He talks often of lessons learned from his Baker’s Dozen, whether indirectly through an artist’s overreaching philosophy as evidenced on their music, or from direct encounters with his predecessors in the Finnish scene. “They taught me that you don’t have to limit yourself. It will always be you.”

Jaakko Eino Kalevi plays an Eat Your Own Ears gig at The Lexington in London on January 28 and MK Gallery in Milton Keynes on January 29 For info and tickets click here. To begin reading Kalevi’s Baker’s Dozen, click the picture of him below.