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Baker's Dozen

Moments In The Sun: Nite Jewel's Favourite Albums
The Quietus , November 24th, 2021 12:07

Nite Jewel takes us through the albums that inspired her latest record No Sun, from Miles Davis to Cluster, via digressions on the importance of bad karaoke and Nietzschean philosophy


Kraftwerk – Computer World

Can you explain to me, as a musicologist, why Computer World is so good? I know there is something about the rippling repetitive notes that really do it for me, but why?

For me, what makes it really intoxicating is the number of things going on: first, the songs are constructed harmonically in very satisfying ways. It’s written within the context of something that is super minimal and angular. In a format that we’re not quite expecting. Then the lyrics are super-ironic, humorous, so it’s not just straightforward pop music. Then on top of that, the super funkiness, being syncopated together, being played in a sequenced pattern that’s not super rigid. There’s live playing but also sequences, a really funky interplay and syncopation. And then also all of the drum sounds were homemade - so they made all their percussion! It feels very organic, the sounds themselves, and that’s also very satisfying. It’s all those things together, and the cohesiveness as a concept album that really just makes it the perfect record. And the melodies are just super strong! They’re elementary kind of nursery rhyme melodies but that’s what makes them so appealing - they speak to some kind of childish feeling in the listener.

I feel like even if you’re a very bad dancer this is a very easy record to dance to…

Are you speaking from personal experience?

I would not want to disclose that. For all you know I’m a very good dancer! I’ve seen footage of dancers dancing to Kraftwerk at a dance contest in Detroit in the 80’s, it’s amazing.

Holy shit, I have to see that. I gotta see that. That’s the kind of thing that’s so impressive about this record, that example of trans-cultural exchange, Kraftwerk probably being influenced by the rhythms of rock and roll from the US, and Detroit being influenced by some of the sequenced music coming out of Germany, everybody is exchanging ideas and coming up with this new kind of dance music that is at once rigid but so incredibly syncopated that you can’t help but dance to it.

I did these songs as part of a cover band with Peanut Butter Wolf, from Stones Throw records, he and I and my ex at the time went on tour as a Kraftwerk cover band, so I actually played all the bass lines, the synth lines, chords, melodies, and I got really deep into the music. The interplay between the melody and the bassline is so catchy, everything is just interlocking in this way that playing it was like another access point for how well it had been written. And audiences were going insane at this cover band. We were in Poland playing for like 4000 people, and when we started playing ‘Computer Love’ people were just screaming and falling over themselves, like wow, the power of this music is insane.