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Baker's Dozen

Found In Translation: Gwenno's Baker's Dozen
Ronnie Angel Pope , June 8th, 2022 11:00

Covering all things psychogeography and domesticity, Gwenno talks Ronnie Angel Pope through the albums that capture the atmosphere of the places and communities that matter to her


Miles Davis - Kind of Blue

I actually really got into this album during the pandemic. We were spending a lot of time at home and so our living environment had to become lots of different things. Whenever I put this album on, it transformed the space in a way that was so striking. I was walking through Grangetown the other day, past a lane with a load of rubbish in it, and someone was blasting this record, and immediately, the space was elevated. It has the genius of transforming a space so as to create a state of equilibrium in which everything makes sense. I can’t get over how it manages to translate chaos into order.

I have always been aware of how my environment affects my songwriting. For example, I lived in London for years, but I just couldn’t translate that experience. I admire artists like M.I.A. who absorb it all and can then translate the feeling of the tower block or the street. But I can’t think of many other artists who manage to transform the chaos of the city experience, or of human beings trying to coexist in a space, as well as Miles Davies does with this album. Jazz hasn’t been a genre that I naturally gravitate towards, but this album opens a door, and trans-cends the genre because it’s a work of genius.

Honestly, it was a toss up between this and the Minecraft soundtrack, because my little boy loves the Minecraft soundtrack. Once, we were playing Brian Eno and he said, “this sounds just like the Minecraft soundtrack.” It’s the best ambient record ever because it also has that gift of (literally) transforming space whilst being something that parents don’t get annoyed at. It’s the soundtrack to turning everything magical.

Particularly with Tresor, we were thinking a lot about transforming space. Tresor is a living room album — it was made in a living room, and it sounds best in the living room. And the Miles Davies album is like the pinnacle of music of this kind, because even without a great stereo, it creates such a particular atmosphere almost without you real-ising it. It elevates a room without imposing itself. It’s like aural furniture of the best kind, à la Bauhaus. It’s how it should be. It’s nutritious and it doesn’t need my praise.