You see, dear reader, there are some things in life that money cannot buy. The smile of your first-born; the last rays of an autumn sunset; snow on distant hills; the company of good friends. May I add to this somewhat esoteric collection "getting the message across without sounding as if you're so far up your own rectum that all that is visible is your feet"?
I do like the oddball things in life – people, objects, humour, and music all throw up quirky examples that I somehow always gravitate towards. Not that I shy away from the mainstream of life completely, but the idiosyncratic things in this world always hold such appeal because they're far more interesting.
When I was twelve years old, I stumbled upon experimental jazz, some art-rock and left field music in general. At the same time, I grooved along quite nicely with the immaculate musical surfaces created by those giants of cool Steely Dan, embraced the all out carnage of the Sex Pistols and marvelled at the song writing talents of Mike McDonald. In my collection these days, the works of such warriors of weird as Sigur Ros, Explosions In The Sky, and Set Fire To Flames sit quite happily next to Jethro Tull's 1977 live album Bursting Out.
I like strange.
Therefore, it was with some happy anticipation, then, that I fondled the album Crossing Casco Bay when it arrived, as the liner notes foretold of a CD of avant-garde experimentation.
Lauded as the sister album to Poss's Distortion Is Truth, Crossing Casco Bay is an illustration of what can be achieved by appealing to the snob section of the listening public. "Hang on, Lawton," I hear you mutter, dear reader. "Isn't this a little harsh?"
No, my friends, I am being completely honest. Crossing Casco Bay is music to accompany the spectacle of paint drying. Let me expand on this.
The eponymous opening track consists of this…and you can join in at home, gentle Sponge addict, by following the guide below:
- Take one (1) analogue synthesiser.
- Attach it to the input of a multi-tracking recording device.
- Find the note of G.
- Now, hold down that G key for all you're worth or, as is Robert Poss's case on this track, for twenty minutes and fifty-three seconds.
- Stop the tape, fiddle with the oscillators on your synthesizer and get a slightly different sound.
- Ok, hit that G key again, you crazy rocker, rewind your tape, select another track and hold it for the same length of time.
- Repeat with other variations on your sound BUT NOT THE NOTE, you wicked freethinker.
- Play the result back to your friends and tell them that it's an "avant garde" expression of your being.
If this sounds just too outlandish, my friends, then get your hands on this album and marvel yourself at it's simplicity.
Track two, Drift, is a tour de force in orchestration. Just repeat the above instructions, but substitute the note D for G and shorten the piece to a mere eighteen minutes and twenty-two seconds. As an aesthetic guide, if the result of these two sound like the National Buzz Saw Orchestra playing Johnny One Note, you're not only in the ballpark, but you also have a popcorn concession stand there.
There are three further tracks on this album, but they are as equally tedious and mind-meltingly monotonous as the first two. My mind is too full of beauty to even contemplate describing them to you. This is the musical equivalent of Chinese water torture. I tell you, dear reader, that if I were strapped to a chair in some dank cellar while my interrogators played this album only twice, I would not only give up any and all state secrets I knew, but I would also sell my mother, your mother, and your mother's mother down the river just to get out of the room.
So….should you buy this album? Yes….but only if: a) you cannot afford or find a genuine Frisbee, b) you have some sort of parietal lobe problem which enables you to get off on tunes with one note, or c) you are Robert Poss.
"Avant Garde"? A journey through the imagination of a garden slug, more like.
Please do excuse me now. I must go and seek some higher form of enjoyment and there's a spike on a fence near me, which is just begging for me to impale my head upon it.