The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Baker's Dozen

Constant Companions: Matt Johnson's Favourite Albums
Jeremy Allen , October 27th, 2021 07:31

From a teenage encounter with Pere Ubu in a Wardour Street club, to the comforting effect of classic reggae and his love of Marc Bolan, The The’s Matt Johnson takes Jeremy Allen through his thirteen favourite records


Tony Scott – Music For Zen Meditation

This is probably the most heavily played album I've ever owned. Even more than the Beatles' White Album. I lived in New York for many years, and my partner at the time was a Swedish filmmaker, Johanna St Michaels, and she and I used to often go to this little Korean spa in midtown Manhattan. It was a very dimly-lit little spa, and we'd go down there for a couple of hours for hot baths, cold showers and people walking up and down on our backs - a wonderful little place, and we were there quite a lot. But there was always this strange music in the background. It was so calming and relaxing.

And one time I said to them, ‘can you tell what this music is?’ And they rustled around and found this sleeve, and I wrote it down. I managed to find one for myself, so I bought it. And then I found out a bit more about Scott: he was a top American jazz clarinettist, and he dropped out of the jazz thing and travelled around the world, and he did this series of albums and collaborations in different countries, in places like Japan and India. And those albums are now considered [the start of] World music, and he was one of the first people to collaborate with musicians from all around the world.

This collection is so beautiful, and I love the fact there is no real structure, just music improvised with a koto and these simple, beautiful arrangements. It's one of those records that you put on and you're not really anticipating anything. With normal structured songs and recordings, you are going to recognise when certain sections are going to happen, or here's the bridge now... With this, because it's so unstructured, it's almost like musical incense, which is really the only way I can describe it. it just floats around the room. This has been a constant companion for a couple of decades, especially when I’m stressed. I've bought many copies for people and I absolutely love it. It's my most played album.