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Forms and Follies by The Lonesome Organist

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Reviewed on 1st July 2003.


Forms and Follies

By The Lonesome Organist

Thrill Jockey are good to us. In a bad week, the poetic grace and certifiable madness of the Lonesome Organist drops through the letter box with a muffled thud that bears no more relation to the CD case inside than any of the 14 tracks do to each other. Variety? You want Variety? You got it.

What else do want? A guide book, safety nets, food for a week, a perverse sense of fun, a deep love of New York Doo Wap, French accordion, Steve Reich and Reginald Dixon would all help. An ear for twentieth century music of all kinds and every decade would do nicely.

If you know of Lonesome, fair enough. I have spoken to people who have seen his astonishing conjuring trick of a live show. So I know he isn't faking. He really means all this stuff. It's deadly serious, charmingly musical, intensely emotional and deliriously nutty all at once. It's ... steady now, don't be shy ... jazz.

What's it about? Most of the tunes are about two minutes. Dislocated nostalgia for the world of your grandparents and fairground memories of your own are stirred up. Each piece could be the theme music for a Czech animated film from 1958. Many would sound right in Edward Scissorhands or Wallace and Grommit. There are twenty almost forgotten musics here, teasing and provoking and mystifying by turn.

But, all said and done Mr Lonesome, deep respect and many thanks for the huge and cheerful bundle of beautifully created pieces. Especially the Bach-like piano of "Robot Fugue" and the folklorique dreamstate of "The Victory of Sheila's Nap". It's timeless and mysterious and absolutely wonderful. Lonesome seems to play guitars, keyboards, drums, marimbas, accordion, bells ... whatever he can lay his five hands on. The album opens with a delightful tuned steel band drum thing and closes with the Reich-like piano variations of "Postlude to a Happy Ending". In between there's gypsy accordion, Modern Jazz Quartet groove and hardcore guitar wigout.

The one thing better than playing music your parents will hate is playing music your kids will hate. Fantastic.



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