The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Baker's Dozen

Angel On My Shoulder: Serafina Steer’s Baker’s Dozen
Stephanie Phillips , January 26th, 2022 14:38

From a song so good she almost forgot her shopping, to the iconoclastic brilliance of Alice Coltrane, Bas Jan’s Serafina Steer guides Stephanie Phillips through thirteen songs and albums that have inspired her


Robert Ashley – Private Parts

Here's another one that is an empowering figure to me. Someone gave me the book of the script to Perfect Lives [the seven-part television opera for which Private Parts was the soundtrack]. There are some essays in the back where he talks about how at college he wanted to acquire all these things he thought he needed to become the composer he wanted to be, and then he realised it was more a process of uncovering what he already had.

His vocal delivery is just is so distinctive and amazing. The character portraits from that, with the piano endlessly improvising is just really evocative. Even if you're not watching the visual side of it, which is also amazingly original and brilliant. It’s got this partial vibe of a soap opera character kind of coming apart or coming together sitting in a room, but then there's something of David Byrne.

I don't know why I heard about him. Probably, it was through someone like Leo Chadburn, Simon Bookish, I nearly put one of his records on this list because he's been really influential in loads of ways to me. What stood out to me was the long form composition. It's mini because of TV formats – they were actually on Channel Four – but if you're just listening to the audio its these long segments and you don't know what they are. Is it a meditation CD? Is it a TV opera? It manages to challenge everything. It's not complex, like contemporary classical music or anything and yet there's a way in which it keeps your interest and is really avant garde.