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Baker's Dozen

Ancient Rhythms, Global Rhythms: Pete Wareham's Favourite Records
Adam Quarshie , April 1st, 2020 09:28

Via his ensemble Melt Yourself Down, saxophonist Pete Wareham reimagines the rhythms and melodies of Nubia. Adam Quarshie caught up with him to discuss some of his influences, from the music of Egypt and Sudan to the music of East London.


PJ Harvey – White Chalk
Now that we're talking about it, I realise that a lot of these albums are trying to merge those two worlds: the classical or jazz aesthetic with the trashy, rock & roll, electric kind of thing. Obviously PJ Harvey would normally fall on that rock & roll/indie rock side of things but this album is different from all her other albums. It's a real step between those two worlds. It feels really ghostly. It's funny because I was obsessed with this album for a long time, and I didn't listen to it again for ages. Then I started listening to it again earlier this year and I've become obsessed with it again with the same intensity as before. It's just so incredibly evocative of colours and textures and sounds. It's just so delicate but heavy as well. She hasn't been explicit on the meanings of the song from this album but I know that the subject matter is extremely dark.

What do you think it refers to, this particular one?

I think it's about a woman who's been abused, whose partner or is either away or is a soldier in a war or something like that. Or it's domestic abuse. Or she's in a loveless relationship with someone. There's something up, she's just not happy. 'When Under Ether' - it conveys that feeling of being drugged up and unable to process what's really going on. The lyrics evoke this huge story in such a concise way. If you look at it closely, it's a bit heartbreaking. If I'm into an artist, I tend to just absorb as many interviews as I can about them. I want to find out how they do what they do. I want her to sit down and say, "right, I start like this and then I do this and then I do that". And they never do. Maybe because it's a bit of a mystery to them as well.