Existential - never! A 'New Release from the exciting -
nae very exciting, Knives Forks And Spoons Press ( check out www.knivesforksandspoonspress.co.uk ): A
Music Box of Snakes from those two vipers
Peter Gillies and Rupert Loydell - with Ray Malone.
In this book Gillies and Loydell take a squint at the art world with
precision, insight and much needed humour ( who says poetry is all about
death - even though most of the artists looked at are indeed 'deed' - as we
say in Glasgow - God who writes
this stuff!) Anyway poor old post modernist purveyor of kitsch Andy Warhol
is first up to get it in the soup tin - who incidentally is parodied on the
front cover with our two vipers serving as drop dead soup tins:
is not your friend. I repeat
is not your friend. He knows
people, has too many friends.
He will put
you to work in a factory
film you asleep. //
is not your friend. He repeats
your expense, owns too many wigs.
You're not on
the guest list, don't have
although it was all your idea.
Put it down
to survival skills.
Then we are told 'Andy Warhol Could Be Your Cousin, if only you got the
nightshift to press the factory buttons. Be part of one big, happy extended
family of Andy's paint-crazed little helpers.' From here we are informed that
Don Judd might be a relation too - and so the scene is set for the tone of
this music box.
From melody the inclination is for understanding: what are these guys talking
about? Are they having a go at the art world - which could be a perception -
or are they having a poke at us
- the supporters and recipients of art. Although on the surface these poems
seem tongue in cheek, there is a sardonic revelation that somewhere there is
a speculative summation of repressed inclination. And that falsehood remains
contained in the actual substance of the music itself. Like a sombre violin
in corridor, the music becomes more intense with repetition - and repetition
is to soul often a warm childhood comfort.
The music goes on and on. We are affirmed that Francis Bacon is not your
friend. I'm beginning to feel lonely - a bit disconnected from my Bacon and
soup. But why is he not my friend I cry! 'Because he'd smudge your face and
pin you to the floor or bed, pull open wounds to admire their beauty, paint
them purple, red.' Here we are getting a more sinister kind of baroque. The
music turns dramatic: wounds are pulled open to 'admire their beauty'. This
is a great line. A whole orchestra booms on the downbeat of the wand, full of
blood and energy - like the colours caked on by Bacon himself with venom (
see the snake motif) you can almost taste the magenta hissing out - (no not
Next I'm told Francis could also be your cousin - and I laugh out loud. Are
the pair of vipers taking the piss here I'm saying to myself. I like it:
contrast of melody, pace and bludgeoning repetition: so much so that these
poems become inescapable mantras: ' Joe Bloggs is not your friend -
but Joe Bloggs could be your cousin' . Then I get it - I think what the art
world is serving up is almost like advertising - that all sorts of the well
deserved invariably become cliche, kitsch, controlled. Am I reading too much
But it is not just the art world that gets it: we are told television is not your friend: now I'm converted as I sit
nodding my head off being only able to stomach Thomas the Tank Engine in the
morning, as it's so much more my kind of reality - or dare I say 'truth'.
not your friend, it's just
in the corner, designed
to keep you
quiet. Look at the way it
your brain and tries to sell us
don't want or need...
The vipers could have added that 'it' rots yir brain and believes in only one
thing' itself'. And that every afternoon there are infact several million
Britons pronounced dead as 'Murder she Wrote' rolls it's credits. And that
the new mantra of truth is that conversation does indeed kill the art of
telly watching. Oh don't get me started ( stamps feet on the floor and scoffs
And there is much beauty in this box: consider friends and cousins:
one Place for Long Enough
a negative of itself
types of shadow
types of darkness
an infinite palette of blacks
fog's gentle filter
light sky dark water
pictures of memory and time
soft shallow difference
ambiguous spaces observed
absence filling the frame
I would recommend a listen to this Music Box and say that
you are in for a treat, and that as Rupert Loydell says of this press: 'a
star is rising'.
Check it out.
© James McLaughlin 2010