Peter Blegvad / Andy Partridge

Orpheus the Lowdown

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Orpheus the Lowdown is a sound and word project between avant-songster Peter Blegvad and XTC's Andy Partidge. It's a charming collection of prose pieces and poetry with wild sonics. There's everything here from radio noise to big percussion, dramatic reading by Blegvad, who phrases a lot like either Kenneth Patchen or Ken Nordine depending on the piece. There isn't anything here that isn't engaging, thought-provoking or downright funny. Sure, it's arty, and even pretentious, and thank God for that! This said, it's also true that the entire work is accessible, inviting and engaging. Blegvad is certainly the lesser known name here, particular as a poet and prose writer, but his part of these compositions is full of warmth, mystery and an absurd sense of the surreal that de-academifies conceptual art (especially sound art). Partidge must have had a ball with this. His sense of sculpting sound around the various narratives has a keen sense of drama as well as the strange, the beautiful and the eccentric. It's focused, taut, and -- for his part and the kinds of excess he is so well known for -- sparse. The best pieces here, "Noun Verb," "The Blimp Poet," "Eurydice (After Rilke)," and "Beetle," are simply remarkable for their strangeness and beauty. Recommended for anyone interested in spoken word, myth, sound sculpture or conceptual art.

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