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Baker's Dozen

Curiosity, Community, Cacophony: Helm's Baker's Dozen
Mat Colegate , November 17th, 2021 12:56

Helm, aka Luke Younger, takes us through the 13 records that shaped his prolific career, from a teenage love of Manic Street Preachers and Therapy? to chance encounters with Bob Tilton and John Luther Adams


John Luther Adams – Become Ocean

This completely took me by surprise. I had Radio 3 on - which is a very man-in-his-late-30s-who’s-just-moved-in-with-his-girlfriend thing to say - and this came on in the afternoon and I was like ‘Wow, this doesn’t sound like something you’d normally hear on the radio’.

Contemporary classical music isn’t something I’ve ever been hugely bothered about checking out, but I’ve always been intrigued as to whether there’s something in that world of music that will appeal to me. It feels to me like if I were ever to try and make something resembling classical music it would probably end up sounding something similar to this. There’s so much nuance with regards to the different pieces of the instrumentation that he’s working with. The whole piece is meant to resemble the movement of the ocean, and it does that really well without being cringe-y and without having an insufferable new age angle on it, which it very easily could do. It just does it in a really nice way.

Is that sense of evoking environmental space something that you try and do with your music?

I think so yeah. I’m not trying to evoke anything specific, but I think you’re always going to get it in music that’s instrumental and experimental in nature. Whether it’s a Helm piece or a Kevin Drumm piece or John Luther Adams or whatever. I think there’s something about the form of that music that is always going to make you think in a way that considers environment or space. I think when you’re presented with a piece of music that’s as vast as this one is, and as deep in terms of instrumentation, even if this wasn’t so literal in terms of its reference to environmental space your brain would still naturally go to that idea.”

Do you want that kind of immersion on the part of your listeners when they listen to the Helm stuff?

I would say that’s the way I would want people to listen to my music. It’s definitely how I’m listening to it when I’m making it. Even when I’m working in the studio there’s never anyone around. You can get pretty immersive in those kinds of situations. You create your own sort of bubble for the process to occur in. It all feeds back into each other. It’s like an endless loop in that respect.