123CD - Meson - The Tao Of Cwmdonkin Drive - CD plus downloadTweet
Having witnessed with awe his sagacious feline-managerial skills with music and musical psyches of many a stripe (including *cough* my own), I was certain that Andy McAuley was the right person to orchestrally illuminate my semi-inchoate ego-laced narrative. Zooming in and out of rainbow-hued classical fractal frequencies like an electronic-inculcated dervish and weaving keyboard themes (one composed by Saichairí McAuley), Udu-fronted percussion and vibraphone from the Terpsichorean Martin Pyne and Martin Archer's finely filtered organ work into his structure, the stage was set and the floor picked clean to inspire a set of moods that we hope will float your mind on an ocean of your preferred potion.
Dylan Thomas, who always struggled sandy and baby-faced on the verge of experience like some ancient bardic curse - a regressive, infantile personality and overblown neo-romantic apocalyptic word-chimer, is unassailably part of our consciousness of the poetic landscape.
Thomas's outrageously bejewelled manner of startlingly foreshortened perspectives and abrupt cuts is breakneck in its idiosyncrasy ‘a blockage against intelligence’ showing that the whole business of life, for him and those he engulfed, was repetitively sad rather than wonderfully awful - ‘the mangle of winter-fall before just the owl-black, pine marten world began’ as he put it.
Seamus Heaney found a memorable set of metaphors for Thomas’s poetic procedures: he ‘plunged into the sump of his teenage self, filling his notebooks with druggy, bewildering lines that would be a kind of fossil fuel to him for years to come ...” Most of his life's work comes from notes written between the ages of 15½ and 19 in Cwmdonkin Drive - endlessly reworked for the better in light of his pantheistic creed - in Coleridge’s phrase, ‘the latency of all in each’. .
He suffered a wild publicity which has had little enough to do with his work - rather his attitudes to drink and money - the Dylan Thomas of the Fitzroy and the Yorkshire; his boast before dying - ‘I’ve just had 18 straight whiskies, I think that’s the record’. “... After the first death,’ he had written, ‘there is no other.’
But he died, perhaps fortunately for him - less so for us?, on the verge of success; wanting distance from his early style and with several apparently mature projects (with some very serious, eg Stravinsky, collaborators) in process - TAO is an attempt to recast his work in the spirit of the life he could never endure using cabaret and a woozy waltz.
- Bo Meson
Andy McAuley: composition, electronica, mixing & mastering
Bo Meson: cover art, electronica, text arrangements & vox
Martin Archer: composition, organ & filters
Martin Pyne: percussion & vibraphone
Saichairí McAuley: composition & cover art
It is difficult to know what to make of this release- the phrase encouraging the listener to be inspired by “a set of moods that we hope will float your mind in an ocean of your preferred potion” may be helpful. Basically, Cwmdonkin Drive was where a young Dylan Thomas wrote his early poems. Bo Meson narrates to an accompaniment of piano, atmospheric, fluttering organ by Martin Archer, Andy McAuley’s electronics and imaginative percussion, sometimes with a crash/ bang approach, at others the subtle touches of a cymbalist and vibraphonist in Martin Pyne. This album is not for everyone but anyone fascinated by the life of Dylan Thomas, like me, will appreciate the thought and effort that has gone into this most unique and unusual work. - Phil Jackson, ACID DRAGON
Bo is the storyteller here and he has the right voice to do so. It concerns here a sorta tribute to a poet from the 20th century, the Welsh DYLAN THOMAS..... He died way too young, but it’s good to see his spirit still lives on in the music industry about 70 years later. The CD is not an easy one, but we’re used to that when checking out a new DISCUS MUSIC release, and that’s not a problem at all. It’s a spoken-word album, and a really good one, because the haunting instrumental background makes it feel like a movie or documentary that you want to listen to until the very end. - Strutter'zine.
Inspired by the Welsh environs of his late 80s & 90s tenure in the region, Stan Tracey’s quartet, and Dylan Thomas’s thanatopic metaphors, textualist Bo Meson drew Discus proprietor Martin Archer, percussionist Martin Pyne, and composer Andy McAuley into his orbit to create this thirty-seven minute tale of mortal fidelity that effectively drips with the whimper of whipped dogs. Archer forsakes his trusty sax on this outing for organ and ‘filters’, and abets in its overall composition, as does McCauley, who works with various electronic interfaces along with Meson. Pyne’s vibraphone achieves a diaphanous luster throughout “Celebration Decelerated” that allows it to effectively vie with his compatriot’s hushed atmospherics and percolating effects, but it’s Meson’s modulated narration that arrives fully-formed in the mix, front and center, in your face, properly chilled. On the final piece, “The Waves Lament His Death”, Archer’s organ trills come to the fore, patiently simmering in the background with a decidedly sepulchral air, while electronic paradoodles wheeze and burr, and pianos play tones of cemeterial despair. Hardly a walk in the park under a summer sun, but Meson’s whole embrace of Thomas’s immaterial worldview is drawn across big bold lines, stripped bare for the ear to reckon. One might come away from this theatrical recording sensing Meson’s fellow musicians act as ornamentation, mere adornment to his anxious literary allusions; in reality, were it not for Archer, Pyne, and McCauley, whose combined portraiture render a physicality and tonal grit to the proceedings, Meson’s poetic licenses might court expiration dates. Instead, the latent power of this work is all the more effective because of the collective thought processes behind it all. Elusive at points, and perhaps an acquired taste for some, but there’s no denying this music’s extraordinary import. - Darren Bergstein, Downtown Music Gallery NYC
The latest eclectic release from Bo Meson finds him teaming up with other Discus luminaries to re-imagine the life and possible success of Dylan Thomas through words and soundscapes, using the opportunity to shine a light on what might have been in an alternate universe. Spread across three long pieces, I find myself thinking that not enough poetry is set to music; Bo has an interesting delivery that varies across the three selections and starts as a flat but clearly enunciated drawl, assured and with thought expressed in each syllable. “Tonight Shall Find No Dying” we hear as a lucid dream of piano, chattering and dusty flirts with a frisson of cymbal, a distant rumble drawing breath in the background. Later, music hall ghosts ransack the back room, percussives interjecting but making space for themselves so that nobody is cramped. Bo thankfully has the confidence to step back at moments and let Andy and Saichairí McCauly and the two Martins, Archer and Pyne, unfold elemental soundscapes and ancient analogies as Bo intones “My youth is bent by water from the rocks”; a fine moment. There is more structure in the second section, a romantic drum-driven track of sturdy prog-folk-leaning delights. The voice is a little more relaxed here and dissipates into space at points. There is something about this distended realm, finely textured, leaking into the backdrop, that frames the voice and its carefully produced words perfectly. There is no rush, no need for speed as the thoughts are all in place, their half-remembered meanings are laid out for the listener on the most delicate of backings. When the voice vanishes, the vibraphone brings a sleepy jazz dream to fill the aching void; “The doors of his death glided wide” is the sort of line that aches with emotion and there is a darkness, but it isn’t dragged down by it as the vibes prevent that possible descent. Finally, there is a touch of the lugubrious robot about the last piece, the delivery made as if consumed by a mechanism. It is all unsettled, disturbing alarm calls. When Bo tells us “The photograph is married to the eye”, it doesn’t necessarily sound like a good thing. The imagery is striking, highlighted by stark electronic tones, uneasy throbs and harsh drones. A distant groan off organ rears up off stage, “hopping, hot-leaved and feathered”. The feeling of descent is more palpable as we approach the finale and the voice appears to lose its power. There is a nice similarity with some of the dystopian settings of Map 71 and there are further voiceless gaps that leave the soundscape artists plenty of time to construct the gallows. This meeting of minds accomplishes something pretty remarkable; the poetry is fine and delivered seamlessly, but with plenty of space and opportunity for the backdrops to be fleshed out and made three-dimensional. A one-off, I am sure, but something essential for these long winter’s nights and to extend the Thomas cult for a little longer. - Mr Olivetti, FREQ
Ist bei Discus der Teufel los? Ein Dammbruch? Panikblüte? Mir kann das nur recht sein, denn wo Martin Archer die Finger oder sonstwas im Spiel hat, heißt es: Ohren auf. Bei The Tao of Cwmdonkin Drive (DISCUS 123CD) finden wir ihn an Orgel, neben Martin Pyne an Percussion & Vibraphon und Saichairí McAuley an Piano. Die Hauptrollen bei MESON spielen freilich Andy McAuley & Bo Meson, mit Electronics und Vox, um die Dichtkunst von Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) zu feiern. Meson ist einer, der als Dichter & Performer mit Archer schon “Echoic Entertainment” (2015), “5C4L3” (2016) & “288/Babel” (2020) realisiert und dabei den wortkargen Jason Bourne mit Nietzsche, Goethe mit Rasputin, Maggie Pollitt mit Oskar Matzerath, Boney M mit Freud verzahnt und dann noch den Turmbau von Babel obendrauf getürmt hat. Hier nun werfen Vogelgesang in Zeitlupe, Elgars 'DreamChildren', Händels Largo 'Ombra mai fu' und Stan Tracey musikalische Wellen zu Mesons Erinnerungen an Chris Torrance (1941-2021), dem Hüter von 'Magic Doors' unter den 'Conductors of Chaos' (Ian Sinclair) in Albions poetischem Underground. Und natürlich an den promille- und metaphernstarken Geist von Dylan Dogs in № 5 Cwmdonkin Drive in Swansea aufgewachsem Paten. In dem wiederum Dylan Eil Ton nachhallt, der erschlagene 'Sohn der Wellen' aus dem “Mabinogion” - and the waves lament his death. Bo Meson spricht dazu Dylan-Ton, arrangiert aus Gedichten wie 'The hand that signed the paper', 'The seed-atzero', 'A Grief Ago', 'And death shall have no dominion' & 'Our Eunuch Dreams', die sein T, A & O buchstabieren. Let the hero seed find harbour, / Seaports by a drunken shore / Have their thirsty sailors hide him.Zum Zungenschlag der lappenden und spritzenden Wellen, den Piano oder Pynes Besenstriche suggerieren. Zum fein dröhnenden und feierlich orgelnden Summsang und Jazz der Zeit, zu zwischen barock und romantisch pendelnder Klimperei, dem Beat der Poetry, Pynes verträumter Metallophonie, the twelve triangles of the cherub wind... This is the world. Have faith. / For we shall be a shouter like the cock, / Blowing the old dead back... Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again; With the man in the wind and the west moon; When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone, They shall have stars at elbow and foot... - BAD ALCHEMY