Thogdin Ripley Top Ten (Part 2)
This weeks Top Ten is from Thogdin Ripley
Thogdin’s one half of Hexus Press, who’ve just released Oliver Zarandi’s book of ‘tender body horror’ Soft Fruit in the Sun. When not squinting at books he co-runs Norwich’s finest (also: only) krautrock, prog and experimental disco night, Long Swords.
1. O Thanatos Tis Baby Jane — Giorgos Hatzinasios
Nikos Nikolaidis’ 1987 sci-fi film Morning Patrol sits somewhere between the soul-crushing ennui of Stalker and the greasy neon of the original Bladerunner. The soundtrack takes a sort of a sub-Hovis commercial refrain and repeats it, bleeding through its pastoral suggestiveness into — perhaps unsurprisingly —territory that’s firmly Vangelis. By the time this wonderfully titled track appears, everything in the film is doomed (but of course), and the original refrain has been reduced to little more than a mournful electronic wash over some spidery synths. The perfect soundtrack for simply trying to survive in a crumbling and ruined city ruled over by a totalitarian state.
2. Bei Mir — Turo
Starting just as grimly as Thanatos & Baby Jane left us, Turo’s post-Krautrock track develops slowly into something warmer and beautifully avant-pop. In my mind this is the wonky, slightly queasy background music to the best sleep it’s possible to have.
3. Etude No.3 — Henry Warwick
Originally released on cassette in in 1987, Canadian soundscapist Warwick’s collection of evocative instrumental tracks are available as pay-as-you-feel through his bandcamp page, and amazingly hasn’t ever seen a vinyl issue. Of them, Etude No.3 is my favourite, with its quietly sighing Korg and deeply meditative structure, reminiscent of the slow and resonant formation of crystals. It’s only a shame it doesn’t last for another 40 minutes or so.
4. Selig Die Barmherzigen, Denn Sie Werden Erbarmen Finden — Hubert Bognermayr & Harald Zuschrader
Ex-Eela Craig, Bognermayr and Zuschrader’s extraordinary Bergpredigt is a concept album based around Christ’s sermon on the mount. And why not? Praised at the time by Wendy Carlos for their veracity, I came across this LP earlier this year, and it’s been driving my better half mental ever since. This is perhaps the ‘easiest’ track from it, but the whole thing hangs together as a sort of a rambling, episodic and repetitive descent into a kind of a Christian computer music that I didn’t know I loved ‘til discovering it. My copy has a promotional sticker declaiming it “1. Preis des Internationalen Christlichen Radiofestivals”, which can’t be said for any of the other LPs in my care. Is their really any higher praise?
5. Go — Kashmir
What better than the sound of heavy steps through cold rain on these sodden October days? Kashmir’s late (1979) entry to the annals of French prog is a pretty solid LP, containing at least three (!) good tracks. Go encapsulates everything I like about their sound — combining as it does a certain cheesiness in the keyboards with an otherworldly vocal, which manages to suggest that they really do take the whole thing very seriously. Expansive and, on record (and maybe most importantly), still relatively inexpensive.
6. Ressurector — Bernard Szajner
Szajner’s perhaps most famous for inventing the Syeringe — the laser harp that Jean Michel Jarre grandly postured at for his stage shows — but is also well known in recordmen circles for releasing that ‘is-it-terrible-or-not?’ Visions of Dune LP under the simple moniker of Zed. This, from his excellently titled Some Deaths Take Forever, sounds like it could almost be a harsher outtake from Eno’s Before and After Science, and deals with a prisoner’s dream of escape from his cell.
7. Mass — Mass
A good friend turned me on to this earlier this year, and it’s been a soundtrack to my singe-handedly renovating a house for the last few months. DIY is not my forte, alas, so the yelped refrain of “Heeeeeelp… is on it’s… waaaaaay”, when it *so clearly isn’t*, has become an ironic rallying cry for me as I saw through a water pipe, or electrocute myself, or accidentally knock down a load-bearing wall.
8. Music to Kill Your Parents By — B.E.F.
Did I mention that it’s my childhood home I’m renovating? My dreams have been filled to brimming with a certain Oedipal sizzle, naturally, and what better than this sparse and spooky bit of electro from two of The Human League to really drive in that nail?
9. Rhapsody in Druz — Robbie Basho
I’ve been revisiting this a lot of late. Basho, who sounds like nothing else, excels even himself on his Persian-inspired LP, Zarthus. The whole LP is utterly transporting — and sounds like he’s reinventing music from some distant star — but it’s this closing, twenty-minute long epic that really blows me away. Merging religious iconography with tales of high romanticism, Basho showcases a deliberately ham-fisted, muddy piano playing that’s a counterpoint to his more familiar guitar style, and which perfectly suits his booming, unapologetically operatic delivery. It’s overblown, in some ways kitsch as all hell and strikingly bizarre, yet when he sings “If you break my heart… I will die”, Basho leaves the listener with no recourse but to believe him absolutely. Utterly astonishing from start to finish.
10. Un Jour… La Mort — Catherine Ribeiro + Alpes
Another totally deep-fried epic, as close to the sound of ecstasy itself as the agit-punk-hippies Ribeiro + Alpes ever got. Un Jour… La Mort deals, as the title suggests, with an everyday expiration — but subverts it. The narrator, stalked by that “great demonic woman”, death, manages to seduce her would-be captor by poetically describing the wretched state of the world, resulting in the closing, whirling passage that makes up the last five minutes of the song: the sounds of new birth, and the terrible crow-calls of death, defeated. Dear listener, If you actually manage to sit through the last two songs on this playlist uninterrupted, and without being reduced to tears — or indeed rubble — then I can only salute you.