“… and other tales of transfiguration”
Simon Jackson, playwright and novelist, is known around the Edinburgh music scene as Torpedo Buoy. This is his ‘greatest un-hits’ – a collection of thoroughly wacky but intriguing songs and poems-with-music.
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Ideas are flying all over the place here – even the first track has gone through about five genres, time signatures and themes before giving way to the second track. If there’s a masterplan here, it’s not obvious. The overall impression is of playfulness, fun and first-take spontaneity. Musically there’s a predominance of trumpet and latin rhythms on the first few tracks, but the rest skipping between cabaret and folk with a sudden lunge at metal guitar.
The lyrics are always interesting, from the megalomaniac fantasies of the title track to the rocking-chair folk ballad of A Silkie’s Tale, all delivered in Simon’s sometimes strained Yorkshire/Mancunian (?); a striking exception is Liz Longden’s delivery of the scathing Prometheus ‘You bastard, you lit a fire in me …’
At times I wished he’d spent more time on the production and mixing as the rather haphazard sound can obscure the good stuff going on, but then I’ve thought the same about the Incredible String Band and it didn’t do them any harm.
If you like the String Band, or any of the ‘art-rock’ bands from the 70’s – Slapp Happy, Henry Cow, Kevin Ayers, this album could be your friend. He’s selling it for £5.99, with profits going to Kavunyalalo School Project, ensuring young people can gain a secondary school education in Kenya.
A personal interest is that Simon’s included Civic Architecture of the Heart, a surreal tale of an obsessive architect, for which I created the backing track some years ago.