Sunday, September 12, 2010

Episode 313

Songs To Learn And Sing - Episode 313

Dark Star - Twenty Twenty Sound (Harvest/EMI Records, 1999)

This episode featured three tracks from Dark Star's 1999 debut album, Twenty Twenty Sound. Dark Star were formed by Christian Hayes, David Francolini and Laurence O'Keefe after their previous band Levitation had disbanded. Terry Bickers had formed Levitation with the lads after leaving the House of Love. Gracedelica and I Am the Sun were both released as singles in 1998 and 1999 respectively and eventually charted upon rerelease in 2000.

Twenty Twenty Sound was produced by Steve Lillywhite and its effects laden guitars, manic drumming and heavily distorted vocals still sound great today, especially on the standout, I Am the Sun. The NME's review of the record got it spot on: "A fine excursion into the murkier reaches of obsession crawling from the wreckage, then. It's not always pretty and seldom comprehensible, but you have to admire a band who can yell lyrics like I am centrifugal as if they were the meaning of life. Although what it all means is anyone's guess. And they said Bickers was the mad one."

Tom Phillips designed Twenty Twenty Sound's beautiful package. The artist and collagist had previously designed album covers for King Crimson (Starless and Bible Black, 1974) and Brian Eno (Another Green World, 1975). His design for Twenty Twenty Sound is similiar to the technique he utilised in his work A HUMUMENT, but using Dark Star's lyrics as his source material.

A HUMUMENT is a treated book based on the Victorian novel 'A Human Document' by W.H. Mallock. (A Human Document. A Hum(an) (Doc)ument. A Humument.)

Inspired by William Burroughs's "cut-up" writing technique, Tom Phillips bought an obscure Victorian novel for three pence - W. H. Mallock's 1892 novel, A Human Document. Phillips drew, painted, and collaged over the pages of Mallock's original text, leaving some of the original text to show through. A Humument was first published in 1970.

Describing his technique Phillips said: "I plundered, mined, and undermined its text to make it yield the ghosts of other possible stories, scenes, poems, erotic incidents, and surrealist catastrophes which seemed to lurk within its wall of words. As I worked on it, I replaced the text I'd stripped away with visual images of all kinds. It began to tell and depict, among other memories, dreams, and reflections, the sad story of Bill Toge, one of love's casualties."

Revised editions appeared in 1986, 1998 and 2004. Each edition revises and replaces various pages. Phillips's stated goal is to eventually replace every page from the 1970 edition. A few of the pages from the 1970 edition can be viewed below and the whole book can be seen here.

Dark Star would record one more album for EMI, the unreleased Zurich and would eventually split up in 2001. Twenty Twenty Sound is definately worth tracking down and the Later performance below is still pretty breathtaking.

Dark Star - I Am the Sun (Later with Jools Holland, 1999)

Episode 313 - 09/09/2010

Peter Broderick - Robbie's Song
Peter Broderick - Human Eyeballs On Toast
Andrew Bird - A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left
Edwyn Collins - Losing Sleep
Eels - Spectacular Girl
Nancy Elizabeth - Please, Please, Please Let Me get What I Want
Seeland - Black Dot, White Spider (Kelpe Remix)
Women - Eyesore
James Blackshaw - Part 3 (playing with Swans, The Button Factory, 22 Oct)
Dark Star - I Am The Sun
Dark Star - Graceadelica (Black Star Liner Remix)
Dark Star - Verigo
Levitation - Nadine
Maps & Atlases - Pigeon (playing Whelan's, 23 Oct)
Kelley Stoltz - Ventriloquist
Kelley Stoltz - The Birmingham Eccentric
Madder Rose - The Love You Save
Madder Rose - Beautiful John
Sky Larkin - Anjelica Huston
Sky Larkin - ATM
The Vaselines - Overweight But Over You
Olaf Arnalds - Jonathan (playing Fringe Festival, 24 Sept)
Junip - Always
Tweak Bird - A Sun / Ahh Ahh
The xx - Night Time
The xx - Fantasy
Mice Parade - Couches & Carpets (playing Whelan's, 10 Oct)
Jefferson Airplane - Wooden Ships
Jefferson Airplane - Somebody to Love

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