January 10, 2010

A memory on Glen Sweeney (and some opinions about "Macbeth" album) by great guitarist Gary Lucas in his blog.

On November 8th, 2005, Gary Lucas, funambolist American guitarist of, among the others, Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band, left this recollection in his blog (http://www.garylucas.com/www/blog/blogframe.shtml)...

"(...) Special mention should be made of the excellent new live throwdown in preparation in south London organized by my good mate Garry Cobain of Future Sound of London, who has assembled a band (of which I'm part of, along with the masterful blind sitar player Baluji Shrivastav, multi-instrumentalist Stuart Rowe, and an intense young singer and brand new drummer who incidentally is the son of Yes guitarist Steve Howe) to realize live in Australia soon the prismatic vision of Garry and Brian Dougans' ever-so-many-years-in-the-making new double album "Alice in Ultraland" which is out now on EMI Harvest under the group name Amorphous Androgynous - EMI reactivated the original Harvest label for this album, which is a wonderful thing indeed, as the new album is very much in the mind-manifesting shape-shifting tradition of the classic output of that venerated label, and definitely of the same high sonic quality. Many of my most pristine musical memories of the late 60's coalesce under the yellow and green banner of the Harvest imprint which to me, always signified something rare and beautiful and hypnagogic in the form of myriad albums by folks like Kevin Ayers, post-Syd Pink Floyd, and the fantastic Third Ear Band (digression: their percussionist Glen Sweeney gave me a gift of the actual shooting script for Roman Polanski's "Macbeth" on my first trip to London in '73, when I had arrived there en route from playing electric guitar in the European premiere of Leonard Bernstein's "Mass" in Vienna...I remember making my way as a young fledgling music writer for Zoo World Magazine to Blackhill Enterprises off Portobello Road, meeting Peter Jenner, and then spending a long afternoon visiting with Glen and his wife in their flat in Ladbroke Grove) - the Third Ear Band's "Music from Macbeth" soundtrack album, which contains eerie haunted music that ploughs the ancient/modern instrumental nexus like a UK forerunner of Popol Vuh, gives me chills to this day and includes contributions from British arranger/instrumentalist Paul Buckmaster, whom Miles Davis later drafted into working on "On the Corner", plus a lovely sung version of Chaucer's poem "Merciless Beauty" (uncredited unfortunately to the great poet in both the film and the soundtrack), performed in the film by the also, alas, uncredited youth who plays Fleance, Banquo's young son--here he sings this song at Duncan's final feasting before Macbeth screws his courage to the you know where and doth murders sleep - and of course, Duncan. This album, perfect music for dark mornings, rainy afternoons, or midnight visitations, was unfairly castigated some years ago as one of the worst albums of all time in MOJO-- like Polanski's film itself, it is in fact one of my favorites, a perfect marriage of powerful, evocative music to the funereal vision of Shakespeare's blackest play (well, blackest maybe after "Titus Andronicus") - and if you dig my stuff, very much worthy of your attention.  
Speaking of Polanski, I snagged a copy of his fantastic "Cul De Sac" on DVD while over in London for these Amorphous rehearsals. I last saw this blackest of comedies about 25 years ago, and as it will most probably never see the light of day in this country I urge all my US readers not to stand still but rather run, jump, and go directly to amazon.co.uk to seek it out (but first make sure you have an all-region player that plays PAL, of course, check my blog of Jan. 11th for a real bargain in that department), as it is one of the darkest, most Nabokovian themed films ever, with searing performances by the luscious Francoise Dorleac (Catherine Deneuve's soeur), Donald Pleasance, and the venerable Lionel Stander as a hitman on the run, heavy Freudian kinky hijinx abound and with a screenplay by Polanski and Gerard Brach the film compels in the tradition of erotic 60's psychodramas by the likes of Joseph Losey, Ken Russell, Nicholas Roeg, and Donald Cammell...".

no©2010 Luca Ferrari

1 comment:

  1. Polanski's Cul-de-Sac was filmed on location at Holy Island (AKA Lindisfarne) in Northumberland, UK. The main set is, of course, the castle, which also features in Macbeth, albeit added to in post-production giving the look of Camelot in Monty Python and the Holy Grail ("It's only a model!").