Peter Blegvad and Andy Partridge: Gonwards
I am really enjoying this! This collection is a strange mixture of sounds, textures and words that really defies definition. Blegvad sounds as authoritative as Ivor Cutler as he declaims oblique sense (as opposed to nonsense) although his material is much more accessible: perhaps a scallop to Cutler's oyster.
A shambling, almost swamp-rock attitude to strictness of tempo is an illusion; what we have here is 'feel' extraordinaire, for Blegvad and Partridge have assembled a group of musicians who effortlessly swim through the arrangements and the production is little short of delicious. Sacred Objects has a mystique that makes me feel woeful for no reason; St Augustine Says is a hangover song par excellence. What a Car You Are... well, I've just registered a complaint with the BBC about its ad for Top Gear. This car-love song shoves misogynistic bluster out of the way and replaces it with perviness, which is a much more palatable dish.
Here and there, there are shades of Kurt Weill, but not in Tom Waits way although Tom Waits fans will love this (I have tried to like him but he sounds SO like an actor, and Blegvad sounds real, especially since he never chops his prose to suit a musical phrase).
There is a puzzle in this music, and I'll have to listen to it until I have solved it.
As far as I can work out, it's on a New York label called Ape House. I'll try to find out how you can get hold of a copy.
Jill Hepburn: The Lantern Has Fallen
I had the pleasure of playing a gig with Jill last summer at Stirling Tollbooth, both of us supporting Martin Stephenson and the Daintees. She has a wonderfully clear and high voice, and accompanies herself with lively banjo playing; this was produced by Jill and Martin, and includes contributions by ex-Fall fiddle player Kenny Brady, and Martin Stephenson and Jill's partner, Mark Lough on guitar (amongst others).
The first track, Footprints, is my favourite of the bunch because it showcases Jill's voice so well and it's got a great hook which I wish I'd invented! It bowls along with a polka rhythm that would melt the most frozen of hearts.The minimalism of Fire in a Flame has a subtle power. Farewell My Friend is a pensive and lovely song, and the CD finishes with a spirited song called No Rhyme No Reason that left me feeling uplifted in spite of the gloomy post-snowfall night outside, with Kenny providing subtle fiddle and vocal accompaniment. Lovely, all of it.