Clive Bell’s review of Belbury Poly’s Belbury Tales (Soundcheck, The Wire 336) was reasonably positive and he liked it – I think. I would like to pick up on a few points, however. First of all was the typo that rendered “Goat Foot” as “Goat Fort”. Then there was the suggestion that my music was “knowingly metropolitan” and annoying to “people who live in small towns”. In fact I live in a small town myself, a place called Godalming, which, it might be worth pointing out to non-UK residents, is a kind of comedic byword for southern English small town attitudes. Ironically, it looks like the music may be more annoying to knowing metropolitan types.
Next I’d like to challenge the criticism that my music is “stupid” and the tunes “thin”. I wholeheartedly accept Mr Bell’s description “faux-naif” and I can’t argue with “artificiality”, and as for “light”, that I’d accept as a compliment any day of the week. In fact Belbury Poly is nothing but light music. I’ve been inspired by some obscure
TV soundtracks but also by many talented composers of Library and light music such as Ron Grainer, Alan Hawkshaw, Eric Coates and Basil Kirchin. I don’t mean to compare myself to these composers, but this album came together over three years and for me at least the musical content was complex and challenging in many places. Granted, in other places, as required, things clunk together with childish simplicity. What I’m trying to say without being too hysterically defensive is that I don’t think light music is the same as stupid music, and that such a view of a generation of media composers that I admire so much does them a disservice.
Finally I have to defend myself from the vile accusation of “cleverness”. It’s been flattering that so many intelligent journalists, bloggers and academics have wanted to engage my label colleague Julian House and I in discussions about hauntology and its various manifestations and implications. But despite having weighed in with my own half baked opinions on many occasions, I’d like to make it plain that I don’t really have much of a clue what it’s all about, never read a word of Derrida. Wire readers may be able to tell for themselves in our recent Invisible Jukebox appearance (issue 337) that Julian’s probably better equipped for this conversation than me (and I don’t think he’s all that bright really). I just spin out a bit of fantasy and play the keyboards, quite well, mind you, and with a great lightness of touch. You can judge for yourself on my new album. Clive Bell loved it. I think. Jim Jupp (Belbury Poly) via email
In response to a reader’s plea for a Primer on George Gurdjieff (Letters, The Wire 336), the list of composers influenced by his teachings should also include the devout Catholic Pierre Schaeffer, who first met him in occupied Paris and frequently attended his group sessions along with assorted members of the city’s beau monde. In her authoritative history of the GRM, Évelyne Gayou makes a convincing case for seeing the musique concrète studio’s “hands-on experimentation, emphasis on the gestural aspects of musical practice and the materiality of sound” as bearing the hallmarks of Gurdjieff’s doctrine. More problematically, it seems the spiritual teacher may also have inspired his pupil’s notoriously prickly managerial style and guru-like tendencies. Then again, some of Schaeffer’s contemporaries didn’t need spiritual guidance in this particular area. Jerome Hansen via email
Corrections Issue 337 In Soundcheck, the photo on page 59 was of Bruno Chevillon, not George Graewe. Issue 336 In the feature on Keith Fullerton Whitman, NLP refers to Natural Language Processing, not Neuro Linguistic Programming.
Write to: Letters, The Wire, 23 Jack’s Place, 6 Corbet Place, London E1 6NN, UK, fax: +44 (0)20 7422 5011, firstname.lastname@example.org Letters may be edited for space or clarity
Trip Or Squeek By Savage Pencil
Next month in the May 2012 issue of The Wire
8 | The Wire | Letters
Ian Penman on Scott Walker Philip Clark on Improv workshops Julian Cowley on sound poetry
On sale from 12 April
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