Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Albums as tall stories

My favourite release from a batch of LPs just reviewed for Uncut is this oddity from The Endless House Foundation.

Not necessarily because the content is any more accomplished or exciting than anything else from the current pile – although there’s some beautiful music here that will strike the right note for lovers of early 70s kosmische – but because of its brilliantly audacious proposition.

At a time when albums need desperately to be more than anonymous files at the end of a pipe, Endless House offers a scenario in which they take on a fictional existence, inviting listeners into the imaginative landscape in which they were conceived. It sets out a Ballardian tale of a futuristic club in the Bialowieska Forest where Europe’s avant-garde gathered for six weeks in 1973 and compiles the work of these imagined characters, presenting it as if it were an archive discovery of a lost musical history.

In the velco-sealed envelope in which it arrives (like a file from the worst kind of East German library) there are a number of postcards each depicting the album’s fictional auteurs – from Bauhaus drop-out Klaus Pinter to club-founder Jiri Kantor whose ill-fated vision was to create a space that would act as “the cradle of a new European sonic community... a multimedia discotheque.”

Of course, this sort of thing has been done before and it has been done on the scale of Gorillaz. But scale is what makes this project most endearing. The music here couldn’t possibly hope to appeal beyond its already well-defined sub-audience of electronica and kosmische lovers. But its creator (creators?) has lavished such attention to the stories behind the music that it becomes something to cherish.

The story doesn’t end here. There is even an interview with club survivor, Walter Schnaffs and a mix by Jiri Kantor himself.

A lovely project that is knowing enough about the plight of the album to find a solution but sufficiently heartfelt to avoid cold marketing theory.

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