Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

Curiosity, Community, Cacophony: Helm’s Baker’s Dozen

Helm, aka Luke Younger, takes us through the 13 records that shaped his prolific career, from a teenage love of Manic Street Preachers and Therapy? to chance encounters with Bob Tilton and John Luther Adams

Luke Younger is one of those musicians who’s covered a lot of ground without ever looking like he’s moved too far at all. Retaining his grounding in the UK’s DIY punk scene – playing rock solid hardcore with The Lowest Form and recently joining Oi!-infused scoundrels The Chisel, along with attending countless loud shows in countless low-ceilinged rooms over the last 20-odd years – as well as managing to shape an impressive separate musical career with his less aggro–more-abstract electronic solo project, Helm, whose new album, Axis, has recently been released by Dais records. And on top of all that he’s maintained stewardship of his label, Alter, which has released records by such underground lifers as Alexander Tucker, Hey Colossus and the Pheremoans, as well as more mercurial figures like Christoph De Babylon and Cremation Lily. It’s a lot, but the spirit uniting it all is the same: curiosity, community and cacophony, in all their varied, matted together permutations.

His commitment to the scuzzy and undernourished established, it still seems fair to say that Axis is definitely his heaviest album under the Helm moniker. At points crushingly airless and under-lit, the record has a glower that’s slightly at odds with previous Helm records; a crackling dark energy perfectly summed up by the solar eclipse on its cover.

“There was a bit of an intention to push it in that direction.” Luke says when we catch up via Zoom for this Baker’s Dozen. “A lot of it was started because I was working on a soundtrack for a dance performance and the choreographer wanted sounds that were quite physical. He wanted some of those noisy, more metallic, distorted sounds. Then the soundtrack got canned because of covid and I decided to turn everything I had into the new record, so it went in that route of being a heavier, more physical sounding record.”

tQ: Heaviness is something that unites a lot of your choices as well. There’s a lot of extremity in there. In subject matter, volume, depth…

Luke Younger: The album’s definitely been influenced by a lot of the stuff I’ve picked; stuff that I’ve been getting into and revisiting over the course of the pandemic. It’s kind of a mix between formative records and new discoveries. But also the new discoveries I feel have been particularly significant in terms of influencing me in the same way that the formative stuff was, if that makes any sense.

How does that influence reveal itself? Is it conscious or more something you don’t have any control over?

LY: I think it’s a mix of both actually. People will say ‘This thing you’ve done here reminds me of so-and-so’, and it’ll be something that has played an important part in my own musical journey. But also things that I’d never have picked up on, that have had some subconscious influence. Then there are other times where I’ve thought ‘I really like this and I want to try and do something like this’, or I’ll be inspired by the way a particular instrument has been recorded and I might do something kind of the same. Whenever I’ve done that it’s never come out the way I thought it would, but I don’t see that as a bad thing necessarily. It’s probably for the best.

Helm’s new album Axis is out now via Dais Records. To begin reading his Baker’s Dozen, click the image of him below

First Record

The Quietus Digest

Sign up for our free Friday email newsletter.

Support The Quietus

Our journalism is funded by our readers. Become a subscriber today to help champion our writing, plus enjoy bonus essays, podcasts, playlists and music downloads.

Support & Subscribe Today