Starting with a bizarre spoken word last will and testament where Mr Ramsay leaves his appreciation of art, sanity, and competence to the Government, because “by God they need it”, and ending with a fractured recitation of a script from a short wave numbers station, bookending general silliness and freakery of a winningly surreal nature, I’ll get the inevitable comparison out of the way to begin with. Is Robert Ramsay a 21st Century Viv Stanshall? Or was he Robert Calvert to Simon Godfrey’s Dave Brock in minuscule prog band, the appropriately named Tinyfish? Perhaps he is just a random collection of atoms, that much like the proverbial tree in the forest, only exists if you actually witness him falling over?
Let’s open up a hole and let it all out, falling away from us like a mudslide in a tropical forest the day after a particularly feisty chicken madras. Where is the downstairs toilet? You may well ask, as this alien thing splurges and unfolds like a Radio 4 play written by Edward Lear arm wrestling with Lewis Carroll, each trying to outdo each other in splendiferous hallucinogenic insanity, all washed down by several nice cups of tea. It turns out that Wilfred – I think we know who that refers to, eh? – is a crap wizard* who draws “the summoning circle…around the toilet”. This may explain a lot.
Hammers and pliers represent an ultimate truth, as “Nnnnnnn”, born Peter Undertrousers in the Yorkshire town of Long Division, disseminates on art and his painting “Come on you fuckers, I’ll take you all on”, while giving Damien Hirst his most intense sexual experience. “Nnnnnnn” also wrote the unforgettable conceptual piece “Up yours, Jon Anderson”. That’s Jon “You’ll never take me alive, copper” Anderson, Accrington’s answer to Ted Nugent. Some of that and much, much more took place during Tramps In Their Purest Form, possibly the best story on the record. These are the alternative facts we need.
We’re only up to track five, and it would seem that Ramsay’s world is bizarre and very English eccentric, yet far more appealing than our own at this time of much wailing and gnashing of teeth, so I think I will hang around for a bit…
“Words of terror, word of hate. Transform yourself, rotate. And don’t forget to masturbate”. OK Bob, got any tissues? Can you imagine E L Whisty rapping? It’s the real rap, it is…or not. This album is perverted by language in a fabulous manner and the rather Hammillesque (in content not presentation) The Black Box Society ends in a squall of layered fuzzed psychotic guitars. I’ll bet that was Matt Stevens.
Lessons 1 to 4 are short bursts of intellectual observations on the meaning of time, consciousness and magic. We all live on the top floor of our infinite pagodas. And if Ann Magnusson had been English and male, Chicken Pussy would probably have come out sounding like Hawaii Fried Chicken…possibly.
A cover version appears like the Clapham Omnibus making an appearance in an episode of Star Trek. If I Ruled The World features our very own William Shatner narrating rather than singing the song in his inimitable oh so English fashion before being carted away in a straightjacket, jabbering and drooling.
The first minute of Urban Crusoe is a lonesome harmonica to the sound of lapping waves on a beach, followed by six minutes of silence, before we end with The Archers answer to Captain Lockheed broadcasting from the ether, incanting the names of Osiris, Anubis, and Horus, Egyptian gods of the underworld, and then reciting that numbers station script I mentioned at the beginning before I got carried away, haha, heehee, hoho…nursey are you ready for me now?
What the fuck was that all about? Damned if I know, but frankly, who cares? Did I say this record is fucking marvellous? No? It’s fucking marvellous this is, and if it doesn’t make you smile it’s probably only because you’ve had far too many Botox injections. Or you’re the Supreme Leader.
[*A ‘crap wizard’ is one that is not very good, not one who is made out of poo. I thought I should make that clear.
PS – If Tinyfish were anything like as bizarre as this box of hallucinatory amphibians leads me to believe, then I must check them out!]
01. Living Will
02. Open Up A Hole
03. Wizard Ramsay and Wizard Wilfred
04. LESSON 1
05. Tramps In Their Purest Form
06. Ego Power
07. LESSON 2
08. The Real Rap
09. The Black Box Society
10. LESSON 3
12. Hawaii Fried Chicken
13. LESSON 4
14. If I Ruled The World
15. Urban Crusoe
Total time – The sum total of all the time that has passed while listening to this album
Robert Ramsay – Vocals, Prescription Medicines, Communion with Osiris
Matt Stevens – Guitar (it was him, wasn’t it?)
Frogs on drugs, a few sheep, and a horse on a unicycle reciting Kierkegaard – Banjo and comb, crumhorn (on track 7)
…I may have made some of that up. And guessed the rest.
Record Label: Bad Elephant Music
Catalogue#: 15, 7, 4, 12, 23
Date of Release: 23rd June 1407