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Baker's Dozen

Kernow Calling: Mark Jenkin’s Favourite Albums
Sean McGeady , January 18th, 2023 09:12

Cornish bard Mark Jenkin talks Sean McGeady through the soundtracks to his teenage summers, long drives to the hospital, and lonely afternoons hand-processing celluloid, from Junior Wells to Joni Mitchell


Brian Eno – Discreet Music

I got into this when I was hand-processing the negative for Bait through the autumn of 2017. I’d come in every day, arrive when it was practically dark and be in here on my own processing. Then I’d finish and go home in the dark. It was a pretty bleak time. Nobody was waiting for the film. Nobody’d heard of me or the film or any of us. I had a lot of moments when I was thinking, ‘What the fuck am I doing, hand-processing this negative for three months?’ It’s not that I had a breakdown or anything. I just happened to hear or read this interview with David Bowie saying that this album brought him total peace, so I listened to it.

Then what happened was, I needed a distraction from the film. I was chatting to Gwenno one day. Le Kov was already out. I think I saw a picture of her with a little synthesiser. I said, “Oh, I’m thinking of getting a little analogue synth, so that I can do something that’s a distraction from making the film”. I’m not a musician or anything. I bought a little Volca Keys and tried to copy the tape diagram that Eno published [on the rear of the record sleeve] of how he created the endless tape loop, the Frippertronic theory of tape delay.

I was obsessed with the record but then started making these little drone sounds. I was trying to play melody but ended up just playing simple chords and creating this drone. I finished processing Bait and then started editing it. Because I shoot silently, I then needed to foley everything – a real endless task on that film. While I was doing that, I was also making these sounds on the synth and they would inevitably end up playing over some of the pictures. And I thought, ‘I could just put some drones over this rather than doing all that foley’. I dropped them in and they ended up staying, because I really liked them and the producers really liked them. Then it got released as a record through Invada, which was pretty insane. But it all started with this diagram and speaking to Gwenno about which synthesiser to get.

I didn’t really know what ambient music was [before I discovered Discreet Music]. I ended up learning more about it afterwards and realising that I had been listening to ambient. The two early Aphex Twin albums, I’d listened to Volume I a lot and then I got Volume II and I was like, ‘Oh wow, II’s even better’. This record stands for Aphex Twin too, and the Robert Fripp stuff, and even some of Radiohead’s stuff. Thom Yorke’s talked about being influenced by Aphex Twin post-OK Computer. He came to Cornwall and hid out down here for a time, just driving around the lanes listening to Aphex Twin. I shot a music video with him in February [The Smile’s ‘Skirting The Surface’]. I was like, “Yeah, that’s a lot of people’s experience growing up down here. Especially in the winter, when there’s not a lot to do.”