This is the radical debut of David Thomas and two pale boys, a band dedicated to creating songs out of nothing - not rambling improv but atmospheric, nuanced, structured songs that never existed before. Erewhon is an album about places that don't exist.
The two pale boys, Andy Diagram & Keith Moliné, are the latest in a series of daring musical groupings fronted by Mr Thomas since 1980. These groups have featured, in various combinations, Richard Thompson, Chris Cutler, Lindsay Cooper, Daved Hild, Ralph Carney, Ira Kaplan, Garo Yellin, George Cartwright, John Kirkpatrick and Alan Dunne, as well as members of Pere Ubu.
Originally released in 1996 as a digipak and in the CD Plus, or Enhanced CD, format. Cooking Vinyl re-issued it in 2006 in a standard jewel-case and as an audio only cd, i.e. without the multisession multimedia content. The reissue audio was remastered by David Thomas and Paul Hamann at Suma in 2005.
Produced by David Thomas.
Engineered by Paul Hamann at Suma, Painesville OH.
Portions recorded Chez Rolo (London).
Highway 61 Revisited mixed by Keith Moliné.
Paul Hamann played upright bass on Weird Cornfields. Jim Jones sang backing vocals on Obsession.
Art design by John Thompson.
Erewhon is an Enhanced CD. It plays like a music cd in any audio compact disk player. It will also function as a ROM disk in a suitable Apple or wintel computer. (For detailed information see the Avant Garage Tech Support Page.)
The ROM interface is based on a postcard of the Blue Hole of Castalia. The Blue Hole, located in the Firelands of Ohio, is a bottomless spring fed by an underground river. The Blue Hole is a tear in the fabric of the world, a secret scene. It had to close recently because the owners couldn't afford to make the site accessible to wheel chairs.
The rom content is programmed by David Thomas and Simon Lucas. Mr Lucas is a longtime Ubu fan and a lecturer at a university near Mr Thomas' home in London. Many artists release multimedia titles but fewer than a handful actually program the code themselves. This is the third Enhanced CD Mr Thomas has programmed in the last year.
The packaging is a digipak designed by John Thompson, the designer/promoter who's designed nearly every Pere Ubu release for the last 21 years.
Why we choose the digipak:
The jewelbox case for the cd paved the way for the internet. Both serve to devalue the object, smear rock with the greasy film of obsolescence, and promote Art as software. Both have alot to answer for. The digipak is the fight back. It tears, gets dirty and worn. Because it can be damaged and defaced it has intrinsic value. People love vinyl because the object must be valued else it is damaged beyond use. The value of the vinyl object emphasizes that the music contained therein has value. The jewelbox says, I am disposable, what I contain is disposable. It says, Dispose of me and choose another, we are all the same.
This is an album about places that don't exist and the people who live there. The interface is designed around a postcard of the Blue Hole of Castalia, a mysterious site closed to the public some years ago because the owners couldn't afford to make it wheelchair-accessible.
From the postcard you can choose:
Brunswick Parking Lot (2 versions). The song of the same title was written as the key to the album. Years ago four friends agreed to meet again in 10 years time at a place called the Blue Hole of Castalia. They never did. Since then the Blue Hole's been closed to the public and now they never will. A few years ago I ran into Deborah. That's all there is to the song but I couldn't get the vocals right so it never made it thru the mix stage. The rom version is a moody, memory fragmented slide show based on cycling cut-up phrases generated from a spoken version of the piece. One version requires user interference. One is self-running.
Ubu Wa Disco. The Ubu dancers rock n roll to the modern groove of... Uh, an attempt to crack some wintel multimedia speakers. On the Mac eight channels of sound. On the PC 4. Runs as a self-mixing remix or will accept user interference.
Solo Discography. Just what it says.
David Thomas Interview. Raw footage from last year's acclaimed NPR radio interview. Hear David mumble. Marvel at his jokes. Astound at the length of his sentences and sheer audacity of his leaps of logic and phraseology. Chart the syntax and verb tenses that only a mother could love.
Strange Times. Animation by David Thomas
Erewhon Atomizer. A lyricbook with randomly generated musical backing and spoken introductions.
Obsession. Runs as a self-mixing remix or will accept user interference. Autowigout feature randomly overloads the sound channel. Animations track the choices. On the Mac eight channels of sound. On the PC 4.
Not actually a flaw but... Neglected to implement a busy cursor (i.e. watch or sand dial, that sort of thing) as Brunswick Parking Lot loads. It takes some time to load in all the sound files. Wait patiently.
Not actually a flaw but... For the initial pressings the ROM was formatted in the Active Audio method. Later pressings have the ROM formatted in the multisession method. See the spec page for detail and solutions.
We've had reports that some audio cd players, possibly older models, cannot skip the ROM data on the Active Audio formatted releases and count down in silence before playing the first audio track. See the spec page for solutions. This behavior shouldn't occur when multisession formatted disks are played. Thanks to Mark Louttit, Australia, for the following:
Pioneer DEH840 (Car CD Stereo) has trouble finding Track 1. It takes about 15 seconds to locate the start on Track 1. After it starts, it works OK.
JVC XL-V250 starts at Track 1 (no sound) and counts down from -4:49 to 0:00, then counts down from -9:59 to 0:00. Then starts playing Track 1 and so on. This means that the start of Track 1 is almost 15 minutes from when the Play button is pressed.
"What [they] purvey is a gloriously garrulous, diffidently divine, pumping, wheezy, melodeon-driven, contemporised avant-folk. ... 'Erewhon' is a marvel, taking [David Thomas'] mighty, mutant melodica to sublime new levels of erudite sonic dynamism. Wild, screechy, twisted and inspired, it is like everything and nothing you've ever heard."
"'Erewhon' is red-blooded, haunted and literally fantastic. Keith Moliné's often vicious guitar, and trumpets from Andy Diagram..., meshes with Thomas's wheezy melodeon. It's raw, spontaneous and direct in a tangential sort of way."