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Baker's Dozen

Strength In Strangeness: The Anchoress' Favourite Albums
Elizabeth Aubrey , May 17th, 2023 09:12

Ahead of a show this Saturday at London's Southbank Centre, Catherine Anne Davies takes us through the 13 albums that have defined her life and work as The Anchoress, from childhood memories soundtracked by The Carpenters and lifechanging encounters with the Manics and PJ Harvey as a teen, to newfound infatuations with SZA and The 1975,


Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells

This is one of those albums I remember seeing before hearing. My parents always had their vinyl stacked up at floor level in the lounge. As a child, I was always fascinated by all the sleeves, the spines, the covers, and I’d look at the records before I could listen. Of course, the album has that fantastic artwork on the front, which for a kid seemed so futuristic and space age.

I don’t remember the first time I heard it, but I do remember inhabiting that record a lot during my toddler years. I think it is a record you can kind of live inside of just because of its repetitive nature: it’s quite hypnotic and has so many repeating motifs. I think it’s probably the perfect record to encapsulate the way that my musical influences are at this cross-juncture between the classical, the progressive and the ambient – it sits neatly at the joining-point of all those influences I think.

I also love that story about Mike Oldfield having massive anxiety about playing it live and Richard Branson kind of bribing him with something like a Rolls Royce if he made it to the gig! Just that kind of perfectionism and anxiety around replicating something that is capturable in a studio environment but very difficult to replicate live, and that’s something I can empathise with. I really struggled with something similar when thinking about The Art Of Losing and how to perform it live with all the vintage synthesisers – which are very temperamental beasts – and thinking ‘how the hell can I do this?’

The record also influenced my love of Talk Talk and my interest in neo-classical. I went on to play in orchestras and started to see the way I could bring that into the alternative, progressive rock world as well. It became a really important record for me and a good example of not really understanding how important it would become at the time]. The serendipitous nature of it just happening to be there in my Dad’s record collection. I am really the product of that family tree of music that my parents love – the Motown of my Mum’s side and then the progressive rock of Yes and Mike Oldfield from my Dad’s side. It’s quite funny that I ended up making music that is the perfect hybrid of those two things.