Sunday, 18 November 2018

Log #112 - A Fantastic Voyage To The Centre Of The Ear

Eddy Bamyasi

Some very surreal titles this week. We have Jesus Life For Children Under 12 Inches, followed by The Ear That Was Sold To A Fish, and a Journey To The Centre Of The Eye before A Flock Descends Into The Pentagonal Garden. Now how to make a blog post title out of that lot?

Kid Loco - Presents Jesus Life For Children Under 12 Inches
Talvin Singh - OK
Keith Berry - The Ear That Was Sold To A Fish
Nektar - Journey To The Centre Of The Eye
Hidden Orchestra - Archipelago
Takemitsu - Quatrain / A Flock Descends Into The Pentagonal Garden

I wonder if Journey To The Centre Of The Eye was inspired by the classic 1966 Sci-Fi film Fantastic Voyage? The movie, starring Raquel Welch and Donald Pleasence, has a submarine crew being miniaturised and injected into a man's body in order to seek out and destroy a brain tumour.

I remember seeing this film as a young boy and thinking it was one of the most fantastic things I'd ever seen. Today, obviously, the special effects are, let's say, dated, to be kind. In fact it was on TV recently and I did record it but the only bit I've bothered watching so far is the key scene where the submarine and crew are reduced before injection into the man's body:

I should watch the end too. I remember they were plucked out of the patient's eye before being restored to proper life size. A good idea for a sci-fi plot in any case, and one that's been returned to a few times since I believe.

The Nektar album is a concept album (of course) by German prog rockers Nektar. I say German but I think they were actually a British band but were formed and based in Germany. The members' names would certainly suggest this:

Roye Albrighton - guitars, lead vocals
Mick Brockett - special effects
Allan "Taff" Freeman - keyboards, synthesisers, backing vocals
Ron Howden - drums, percussion, backing vocals
Derek "Mo" Moore - bass, keyboards, backing vocals
Keith Walters - special effects

The album is dated but has a great musical theme running throughout and features some lovely raw guitar and Hammond organ. I get the feeling the musicianship is not up to the standards of other contemporary prog rock bands of the time such as Yes or King Crimson for instance but that's not necessarily a bad thing. They are more akin to psychedelic era early Floyd (think Astronomy Domine, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Interstellar Overdrive). The clip below features the beginning of the album:

From eyes to ears. I found The Ear That Was Sold To A Fish by London sound-artist Keith Berry by accident. I was actually searching on ebay for William Basinski (a New York minimalist musician most famous for his The Disintegration Loops series in homage to 9/11) and this album popped up under the search. It was good value with a classy cover (a carefully crafted cardboard gatefold with beautiful artwork), rave reviews and intriguing song titles (I didn't even notice that the ebay seller was Keith Berry himself!). Furthermore there was a bonus CD offered too.

I loved the album - a record of atmospheric otherworldly drones and classical minimalism with lush sustained synth chords augmented by distant rumbles and crackles that echo around your speakers like gunfire in a deserted urban street or walls of sheared off ice sliding into rising seas. It's a dense foreboding sound that suggests wide open barren landscapes scarred by war or ecological disaster, and death.

A barren desolate landscape - from Ken Russell's The Devils

At the start of Can You Elevate Yourself When Surrounded By Dark Waters?... there are loud tears in the fabric of the music that literally sounds like an earth scarring fire has taken hold.

Yet paradoxically there is also birdsong and insect sounds, and running water and the heavy rainfall of an Amazonian rain forest, full of life (Berry himself likens his music to like "closing one's eyes while drifting down a nighttime river"). Or is this just the stirrings of post apocalyptic life only: cockroaches and cicadas emerging tentatively from the ash?

A sonic ecosystem to be experienced, cherished and immersed within.
Bryon Hayes

The sounds are synthetically produced on the whole yet half way through the album the listener's consciousness is jolted by a guitar or koto adding a more stark texture in Knelt Over the Water... It is so surprising it seems out of place at first but like the whole experience actually serves to add further interest to this meticulously constructed album.

Checkout these track titles:

The Sun Rays of Another Pale Afternoon Gently Caress My Hatless Head, Sparkling an Imperceptible Combustion of Illusory Comfort. Your Luminescent Mantle Allures; My Reasons Are First Redeployed, the Disappear Completely While the Glowing Orange of Your Scales Are Convincing Me To Quicken My Decision

Cars Keep Passing By; I Feel Like Rebelling To My Immobile Legs. I Always Dreamed of Translating a Tangible Apprehensiveness Into the Negation of the Present. Suddenly, Everything Seems Futile, Except Our Intense Look To Each Other.

To Me, It's Just an Oddness, For I Listen Through Fingers and Heart. Even If I Can't Hold You In My Hands, I'd Surely Wish You Had It Instead of Me. Do You See Me Now? What Form Do I Have? What Colour, Then?

My Backward Voyage To the Spring: Memories Are Smashed To Smithereens. I Never Thought Much About My Schoolmates, Always Had To Enter That Door Much Earlier Than the Others. Little Did I Know I Would Have Met You There.

Can You Elevate Yourself When Surrounded By Dark Waters? I Wish I Knew - I Couldn't Find the Courage To Jump, That November Evening. I'm Paddling To No Avail, Trying To Find You. Your New Condition Put a Distance That We Need To Shorten.

Fuscous Presages Don't Help Remaining Cool. Numberless Reproaches Have Blocked My Escapes and No One Ever Will Give Me a Ride To Your Place. No One Will Miss My Silences, Too. It's Not Really Inestimable - Still It Has a Value To Me. You Just Seem Not To Care; an Eternity Awaits For You To Understand.

Knelt Over the Water, My Whole Being is a Perfect Zero If Looked From Above. My Devoutness To Intuition Will Deliver Me From Sorrow.

Tomorrow I'll Become Adult: Still I Don't Know Why Should I. Levigating New Angles of Harsh Realities is Not What I Am Supposed To Learn.

You Left Me Behind - But I Can Swim.

Brilliant. There is an interesting mind working here that's got to be worth investigating, agree? I will investigate further, not only other Keith Berry music but also other titles from his home, the Infraction label which seems to specialise in beautifully presented ambience and sound artistry.

Two more very classy albums in the list above this week, both different. Hidden Orchestra play powerful jazz instrumentals with big beats. Their closest contemporary I can think of would be The Cinematic Orchestra who I believe are yet to make an appearance on the blog. I'd say The Hidden Orchestra are slightly heavier. The album certainly sounds best at loud volume. No more time to analyse this week but it's a goody and one I'll return to.

The Kid Loco album is also very classy at what it does. It's a compilation of remixes but holds together very well as a whole album. Very enjoyable and sure it's made a few appearances in my blog before. It certainly feels like one I return to quite often. Tracks are:

The Pastels The Viaduct (On The Right Banke Of The River Mix)
Uriel You Who Are Reading Me Now (Love Experience Mix)
Saint Etienne 4-35 In The Morning (Talkin' Blues Mix)
Talvin Singh Traveller (Once Upon A Time In The East Mix)
Kat Onoma La Chambre (Where Were You Mix)
The High Llamas Homespin Rerun (The Space Raid Mix)
Pulp A Little Soul (Lafayette Velvet Revisited Mix)
Gak Sato Penetrare (Belleville B-Boy Mix)
Badmarsh & Shri The Air I Breathe (Land Of 1000 Strings Mix)
Mogwai Tracy (Playing With The Young Team Mix)
Cornu Youpi (Space Spaghetti Mix)
Tommy Hools Les Réprouvés

See the Talvin Singh number doubles up on his OK album too.

About The Author

Eddy Bamyasi

Eddy is a music writer from Brighton, England, named after a Can record. Each Sunday he logs and reviews the albums that happen to be in his vintage Pioneer 6-CD magazine changer, amongst other things.


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