Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

5. SwansCop

I was in London for a weekend, having travelled up from Weymouth with a friend. We didn’t know what to do for a show so we just looked in TimeOut, and show of the week was Swans at the ICA. We went to the show and the support band was a crew of bodybuilders. I was like, ‘What is this?!’ When they hit the stage, it was one of the most visceral attacks and deeply resonant music shows I’ve ever seen in my life. I’d say at least half the audience left within the first two songs. For me it felt like, post-punk blues. How much sufferation can you put into one show? It ended up becoming Public Castration Is a Good Idea.

I remember walking home from the show that night, my ears ringing like a nutter, going back to Weymouth and the first thing I could do was order the newest Swans album, which was Greed. When it came, I was so excited, but when I heard it, I was so disappointed because they’d made Greed as more of a studio exercise. I wanted that live hit again, but it was impossible without a sound system the size of the Empire State Building like they had in the ICA. I ended up having to find out what it could be, and it was Cop. It is just so brilliantly produced and Michael Gira’s vision is just so nihilistic. So much music that I loved for so long was all about nihilism.

Looking back, do you feel that moment, when you felt the power of a sound system as an instrument, has fed through into your own work?

Absolutely. The addiction to volume and intensity of sound. It takes you away from normality and you attain a different level of consciousness. When I first moved to London I saw a soundclash with Iration Steppas and Disciples, with two sound systems absurdly loud in a tiny venue. That just iced it for me. It made a connection with that Swans show, but also showed me that I wanted more than just to be bludgeoned. I wanted the soulfulness that I heard from the reggae tracks that were being played; the psychedelia and the constant evolution of tracks, as each version was played in a dub manner.

Selected in other Baker’s Dozens: Shane Embury, Regis, Jarboe
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