andy partridge Powers (CD, £7.50)
Long awaited reissue of much sought after Andy Partridge solo album of experimental music. Issued at mid-price with new interior art & sleeve notes. A Long time ago, in a library far away, (well, Swindon, actually), a shy schoolboy who loved books but was a slow reader, borrowed three science fiction books per week. He didn’t read them. Instead, mesmerised by the covers, he imagined his own stories to match the cover paintings which he stared at intently for hours. Invited to tell his classmates about the books he’d read, neither they nor the teachers spotted the invention. Few, if any, teachers read sci-fi and even though the early 1960s may have been a peak point for the excitement surrounding mankind’s initial steps beyond the Earth, teachers would sooner bore any potential interest in books out of children with Charles Dickens rather than risk capturing their imagination with Philip K Dick. Decades passed. The moon was reached and then, it seemed, forgotten. The faraway galaxies became the stuff of mainstream cinema and TV. Books celebrating the work and art of an earlier generation of sci-fi writers and illustrators appeared. The boy in the library of the early 1960s, now a man in a comic book/graphic novel shop at the end of the first decade of a new millennium, discovered a book about Richard M. Powers and became a time traveller, transported back to the smell of the paper, the plastic protective library book coverings and the universe laid out, jigsaw like, on his bed. Richard M. Powers had been the principal artist, illustrator among illustrators and guide to unleashing Andy Partridge’s imagination among the stars and galaxies. Andy’s response was to record a sort of soundtrack to the paintings which had been so inspirational to him. The resulting album conjures, via 12 enigmatic pieces - akin to a virtual musique concrete (with the computer/editing process replacing the more cumbersome scissors/tape method) - a musical accompaniment to the variety of alien landscapes which Powers illustrated so profusely. It also works as a standalone album of experimental music which, when issued as a limited edition in 2010, sold out immediately upon release. Now a much sought after album, the album is reissued as a mid-price jewel cased CD with 12 pages of sleeve notes and illustrations by long-time Ape House sleeve artist Andrew Swainson. Comic Actor Paul Putner, something of an XTC fan, recently identified Powers as “The album I adore…” and for all of its unusual origin & equally unusual execution, it’s easy to envisage this as precisely the sort of ‘non-mainstream’ album that just might gain a wider audience, just as it was once easy for a small boy to envisage entire worlds from paintings reproduced as small book covers.
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