room with but one piece of furniture in it. The sparsity is used to heighten the effect of the lyrics on the listener.
“The Sinking Spell” opens this collection of odd ditties, and sets the tone of the whole album as it tells the tale of something that descends on a house—and keeps going, right on down into the preserves in the basement. What is it? Who knows, but would you want anything living with your preserves? It’s a case of the familiar breeding the strange; the music calls to mind Robert Wyatt’s first album as it follows a subtly downward spiral into the basement at the end of the song. Each number treads on similar ground; occasionally, the lyrics seem to obscure, but the music generally rescues it.
‘The Hapless Child . . .’ is another attempt at creating a new synthesis of’ musics, evolving into a structure that is neither jazz, nor rock, nor avant-garde; it’s practically impossible to gauge the success of such an experiment in terms of . known entities. This album needs to be taken on its own terms, but it’s not unreasonable; there are enough melodies to hold the attention of the listener. The stories may be inscrutable, but the quality is clear.
TOP STORIES: “The Sinking Spell. “The Insect God,” “The Remembered Visit”
TIMELESS TRACKS: “Red Is A Mean Mean Colour,” “White White Dove, “Understand,” “Black or White (And Step On It)”
AMPLITUDE PEAKS (Synergy): Icarus, (Sequence) 14
TIDAL WAVES (Shadowfax): The Shape of a Word, A Song for my Brother, The Watercourse Way
Virgin Records V2037
What a natty record album this is! I will not tell you to run out and get five copies, though. For one thing, it is an import and may be hard to locate, and for another. I could easily imagine you becoming inordinately vicious toward me if you bought this one and did not like it. Should you run across it, it should give you much cause to ponder and consider. I will describe it to you, and let you take your chances.
In essence, Ivor is an unholy hybrid of the Incredible String Band and Monty Python, embellished by a most charming Scottish accent. He retains the unique Celtic feel for the absurd that has inspired the greatest comic epics and myths in Western civilization. On top of which, he has Python’s penchant for transforming domestic situations into utter horrors while preserving their homeliness. Some of the selections are poems, and still others are ditties accompanied by concertina or piano (which he plays himself) or by viola (by Fred Frith, who is better known as a genius guitarist, where he is known at all). With equal whimsy he versifies fatal highway accidents, kitchen cutlery, and being cursed by a faerie into smelling like something very bad (I will not tell you what it is. though. You will just have to hear the album.) Oh yes, it is very “weird” stuff.
But this is not to discourage you in the least! I like this album very much. I drag many friends off the street and make them give it a listen. They look at me askance, but generally they like it. They generally admit it is quaint and very funny, after a good coaxing. One could say this album has everything, which is not to exclude the kitchen sink. (Again, if you want to know what I mean, you will have to hear the record.)