Startlingly inventive poetry&sound outing by two of the brightest boys in the class

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Spaced Odyssey

Those who consider Andy Partridge to be among the select few pop songwriters to possess an artistic spirit almost troubling in its creative rigour and intellectual irreverence have been frustrated over the years by the relative paucity of his output when compared to what they know to be his productivity. Just what does Andy get up to in that Swindon shed of his?

Thanks to his own label, Ape, we now know; loads of spanking good demos (appearing regularly as volumes of Fuzzy Warbles) and stuff like this, a fascinating poetry&sound recasting of the Orpheus fable, recorded piecemeal over a 13-year period in collaboration with academic, poet, musician and left-field legend Peter Blegvad.

Blegvad intones his fractured, elliptically resonant lines of sinister whimsy in fruity Americanese (whispered, cooed, hissed, barked) while Partridge constructs aural backdrops and scenescapes behind, around and within the spoken text. XTC heads may spot a little familiar material (themes from what became Nonsuch’s “Omnibus” float in and out of “The Blimp Poet”) but the sounds are mostly of the abstract expressionist variety. The effect recalls Godley & Creme’s sonic illustrations of Peter Cook’s apocalyptic playlet on their 1977 Consequences album, though the atmosphere and material here is darker and harder.

This noise-and-word orgy is initially such an onslaught on your attention resources, it’s hard to know what to concentrate on and tempting to dismiss it as the rarefied indulgence of artsy-for-artsy’s-sake eggheads. But live with it for a while, study the beautiful booklet and printed text, turn off the light, soak it up as an organic whole and sure enough?just as the creators would have it?your own movie unfolds in your imagination. Blegvad and Partridge haven’t just made a record?they’ve made a whole other world.