Talkhouse Playlist: No Folks Given with Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker

A classically trained folk guitarist gives us a playlist with (almost) no guitars.

Today’s playlist comes from Ben Walker, one half of the English folk duo Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker. While their music is known for beautifully sparse arrangements, haunting lyrics and vocal performances, and an extension of 1970s AM folk-rock radio, Ben put together a playlist today that highlights their non-folk influences. Listen to what inspires these two, and make sure to check out their new record, Overnight, out October 14 via Rough Trade.
–Dave Lucas, Talkhouse Marketing Manager

Nonkeen – “The Invention Mother”

The Nonkeen album was playing in the Rough Trade office during one of  Josienne and my first visits. I’m a fan of Nils Frahm anyway, and finding that Nonkeen was a side project of his sealed the deal. The opener from The Gamble is a great starting track, full of possibilities and potential, and it felt natural to include it as the first track here.

The Knife – “Pass This On”

The Knife made one of the most important albums of the 2000s with Silent Shout, however, just to be different, I’ve gone for a track off its predecessor, Deep Cuts, that isn’t “Heartbeats”! Trademark pitch-shifted vocals, weird story, Swedish drum machines and steel drums…

Jamie XX – “Sleep Sound”

.. did someone mention steel drums? Here’s Jamie XX. I’ll admit I wasn’t much of a fan of the XX’s minimal 2 a.m. indie, but Jamie’s solo stuff of warped vocals and stuttering garage drums is awesome. “Sleep Sound,” taken from the equally great In Colour, epitomises that aesthetic.

Sylvan Esso – “Hey Mami”

I can’t remember when I first heard Sylvan Esso, but it left an impact. Quirky folk vocals paired with unpredictable synths make the whole thing fantastic. “Hey Mami” starts with something that lulls you into a false sense of bluesy gospel work song before hitting you in the face with a bass. Can’t wait for the new album.

Portishead – “The Rip”

The only exception on this list is this track with a bit of guitar on it. My favourite track off Portishead’s Third album: like Nico mixed with a ’60s detective theme tune produced by Giorgio Moroder. Great, great song.

Julianna Barwick  – “Heading Home”

A friend of mine introduced me to Julianna’s music, and watching her on KEXP I was hooked. She’s got a great gift for sonic textures and some really interesting musical ideas: well worth discovering.

James Blake – “Timeless”

James Blake I always find really interesting. There’s something going on beneath the surface in almost all of his tracks and sometimes it takes a bit more effort to get into it, but the reward is worth it.

Fuck Buttons – “Surf Solar”

Speaking of tracks that sometimes take a bit of effort to get into, here’s Fuck Buttons. I love the idea of having a track that’s so layered, so dense in its sonic footprint, that you can’t quite make out what’s going on. FBs are masters of that; there’s the stuttering sample, layer upon layer of synths. Magic.

SOHN – “Tremors”

SOHN came about from a Spotify “You Might Like” radio thing. Vocally he’s a bit neo-soul, James Blake-esque, but production-wise I feel he’s far more pop, and so acted a bit like the missing link between the post-dubstep and the alternative pop of, say, BANKS.

Luke Abbott – “Amphis (reprise)”

There’s a mood at the moment where contemporary classical music borders on electronica, and electronica almost borders on modern classical music. Luke’s a great example of that, I think, along with the Erased Tapes community. “Amphis” has this great almost jazzy sequence that evolves and, in my mind, brings up pastoral imagery of Englishness.