Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

Thirteen Masks: Jarboe’s Favourite Music

Jarboe guides Spyros Stasis through 13 favourites in this week's Baker's Dozen, taking in the likes of Arvo Pärt, Kendrick Lamar, Janis Joplin and her relationship with Swans

Jarboe has always been a mould-breaker. Many readers will no doubt be aware of her stint in Swans, where her presence acted as a catalyst in the band’s transformation from the raw, savage days of Filth and Cop into an unclassifiable avant-garde powerhouse. With Jarboe, Swans went on to create ambitious and adventurous records in Children of God and Soundtracks for the Blind. After Swans’ first break-up in 1997, Jarboe embarked on a solo journey while at the same time collaborating with some of most boundary-pushing groups around. In 2003 she worked with post-metal demigods Neurosis, went on to join Colin Marston and Kevin Hufnagel in the criminally overlooked Viscera, before joining forces with Godflesh mastermind Justin K. Broadrick in J2. Most recently she joined cellist extraordinaire Helen Money on an album released in 2015. In all these ventures, Jarboe has been able to balance between her unique style and adapting this within a different context. This raises the question on how Jarboe’s core musical identity came to be.

“I don’t have what you would call favourites, but I do know what has put me in a space that works for me on a very cellular level,” she says. Looking at Jarboe’s Baker’s Dozen picks there is a clear thread of spirituality that runs through them. “Certain music and sounds convey a journey into yourself and it can be a process like watering seeds," she explains. "They can somehow connect things deep inside you that result in a very fruitful expression inside yourself.”

Remembering her childhood years Jarboe speaks about her father’s record collection: “He had all the big band and jazz and all the classical stuff that he played and I can remember a vinyl record that my father owned. It caught my attention in a big way because it was Chinese music and it had all these unusual sounds on it.” Then there was also the music of the outside world: “I was exposed to the Mardi Gras and the enormous amount of street musicians in New Orleans, and that was when all the blues and jazz started to infiltrate. Street music was in kind of odds with the choral music I was hearing in church.”

From that point on Jarboe’s interests spread far and wide, be it “rock and heavy stuff, especially the ones coming out of England” or experimental music through “hearing stuff on this experimental show on the radio using all sound sources, musique-concrete and really avant-garde music”. When she was in college she says that 20th century classical music like Stockhausen "really opened the door". The selections in Jarboe’s Baker’s Dozen highlight her journey through all these different musical flavours and practices that also give a sense of how she managed through the years to become such a unique and uncompromising artist.

2003 collaborative album Neurosis & Jarboe has recently been reissued by Neurot, for more information go here. To begin reading Jarboe’s selection click the image below

First Record

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