Basil Kirchin

Abstractions of the Industrial North

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For the third release in Truck Records' archival series unearthing the unjustly obscure work of British jazz bandleader and experimental composer Basil Kirchin, label head Jonny Trunk went back to the company's roots. Trunk Records was founded in the mid-'90s to reissue music from the then little-known subgenre known as library music. Library music consists of instrumental cues and moods written and produced by staff composer/arrangers as works for hire that could then be used in television and movie soundtracks without having to pay separate royalties to the composer. In between his days as one of the most sought-after big-band players in British jazz and his later career as an avant-garde composer, Basil Kirchin spent some time working for the De Wolfe Music library, then the largest in England, and 1966's Abstractions of the Industrial North is one of his finest efforts for the company. Originally recorded in 1966, the 11 evocatively titled pieces on Abstractions of the Industrial North are mostly minor-key and melodic, with arrangements that favor flutes, vibes, and electric piano. Languid and jazzy, with an air of wistful melancholy, these pieces would have been ideal for a black-and-white kitchen-sink drama of the period starring Terence Stamp and/or Julie Christie. The Trunk reissue -- which as always with this label features absolutely gorgeous graphic design and interesting liner notes -- fills out the brief running time of the original LP with eight previously uncollected music cues by Kirchin from the De Wolfe Music library, the most interesting of which are "Viva Tamla Motown" (exactly the sort of not-quite-right imitation of real rock music that many music libraries specialized in), and a fun curiosity dubbed "Pageing Sullivan," which features an electric guitar battle between Jimmy Page and Big Jim Sullivan, at that time two of the highest profile session musicians in London. The earliest material covered in Trunk's extensive Basil Kirchin reissue campaign, Abstractions of the Industrial North is the most conventional easy listening release of the lot, but it's an excellent example of the library music genre.

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