Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Dora Suarez - Derek Raymond / James Johnston / Terry Edwards

 Dora Suarez (Clawfist 1993)

I came to this cassette in 1993 via my love of Londoners Gallon Drunk - I'm sure I'm not alone in being introduced to the writing of English crime novelist Derek Raymond via this treasure. Dora Suarez was released by Clawfist Records in 1993, the same year as Gallon Drunk's opus In the Heart of Town. Dora Suarez is a recording of Raymond reading extracts from his 1990 novel I Was Dora Suarez soundtracked by Gallon Drunk's James Johnston and Terry Edwards. Its possibly the most unsettling record I've ever heard.


Robin Cook was better known by his pen name, Derek Raymond and I Was Dora Suarez (1990) is the fourth novel in his Factory series. The Factory series are police procedurals narrated by an unnamed detective in London's Metropolitan Police who works in the most despised branch of "the Factory": the Department of Unexplained Deaths. 


I Was Dora Suarez is an extremely shocking read, as the novel opens a serial killer brutally murders a prostitute, Dora Suarez. We then follow the detective as he obsesses over the young woman whose murder he investigates. Raymond has been described as the father of British Noir but according to A. L. Kennedy, "he's far beyond noir. There probably isn't even a word for his kind of darkness." 

 Dora Saurez (Sartorial Records, 2008)

The soundtrack produced by Johnston (guitar, organ, piano, percussion) and Edwards (saxophone, organ, piano percussion) is full of "Haunting melodies, sound effects and menacing soundscapes which underpin Raymond’s unlikely Etonian accent."

Their industrial drones are dense, dark and incredibly eerie. The album clocks in at over an hour and is a really intense, claustrophobic listen - which is certainly not for the faint-hearted. The idea for the Dora Suarez project came from Geoff Cox. Cox was a collaborator of Nurse With Wound and Current '93 and brought Raymond and Gallon Drunk together. He also acted as editor with Raymond to pick which texts from the novel should be included in the recording. Raymond recorded his reading and Johnston and Edwards recorded their soundtrack to his voice. When the album was released in 1993 Raymond performed a sell out live reading with Johnston and Edwards in London's South Bank. Raymond died in 1994, he was 63.


Sartorial Records reissued Dora Saurez in 2008. I picked up the reissue simply because I didn't have a cassette player to play my original tape at the time. I'm glad I did though because it's a beautuful package with liner notes from Johnston, Edwards and English novelist Cathi Unsworth. Unsworth has previously written about how Raymond had influenced her writing. The reissue is still available from Sartorial here. An extract from the album can be heard below.



Gallon Drunk released their latest new album in March 2014 on Cloud Hills Records entitled The Soul of the Hour and the band have a free download of an amazing 25 minute live version of that album's closer The Speed of Fear available here. The album follows 2012's The Road gets Darker From Here and its business as usual from the band with another epic release. In 2012 James Johnston also released a solo album entitled Hassan Falls to His Death available on Trestle Records. The album can be purchased on Trestle's bandcamp page.

 Gallon Drunk - The Soul of the Hour (Cloud Hills, 2014)

  James Johnston - Hassan Falls to His Death (Trestle Records, 2012)


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