Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

The Durutti Column - Enigma / Danny

The Durutti Column
Enigma / Danny

Released 1981 on Sordide Sentimental
Reviewed by dave clarkson, 26/09/2004ce

Side A: Enigma
Side B: Danny

Guitar: Vini Reilly, Drums: Bruce Mitchell.
Produced by Stuart Pickering at Graveyard Studios, Prestwich, Manchester. Sleeve photography by Philippe Carly. Text 'The Interest of the Useless' by Jean Pierre Turmel. Illustration 'Study of Gneiss Rock at Glenfinlas' by John Ruskin. Edition of 2730.

Based in Rouen, Sordide Sentimental was originally a magazine set up in summer 1977 by Jean Pierre Turmel and Yves Von Bontee. It quickly established itself as a small record label producing limited edition 7 inch singles housed in beautifully produced magazine type folders containing collages, illustrations, bilingual texts and release cards. Sleeves would often feature the photography of Philippe Carly and collages from notable artists; the ubiquitous Genesis P-Orridge being one.

Throughout the early 1980's, the label produced definitive works by Throbbing Gristle, Monte Cazazza, Joy Division ('Licht Und Blindheit' being the holy grail for collectors), Ludus and Tuxedomoon.

The Durutti Column (the duo of Vini Reilly and Bruce Mitchell for this release) took their name from a spanish anarchist, Buevoventuri Durutti. Also playing a part in their concept was Factory's interest in Situationalism (e.g. the rough sandpaper sleeve of the first LP containing, within it, music of a gentle persuasion).

The band came to the attention of Jean Pierre Turmel after Joy Division had recorded 'Dead Souls' and 'Atmosphere' for the label. Also instrumental was that he listened to the 'Return of the Durutti Column' LP a lot during the time a person close to him was dying.

The music of Durutti Column has, to this day, existed in a vacuum; genreless and individual. Many critics have tried and failed to describe the music as ambient, neo-classical, post punk, lo-fi, new folk and even acid house guitar (by his former manager Anthony H Wilson), but why bother and worry about where it lies?....what is important is that it just is the sound of the Durutti Column; a sound of echoplex and delayed guitar and unconventional drumming with occasional additional instrumentation.

Recorded in 1981 at Graveyard Studios, North Manchester, the two compositions reviewed here conjure up incredible atmospheric autumnal landscapes in pastoral settings. 'Enigma' starts with an echoed tomtom drum roll before the guitar begins a beautifully haunting chord sequence which alternates between major seventh and minor chords in a spiralling crescendo like pattern. All the while. the drums dancing and weaving improvised rolls between each guitar line. This piece reminds myself of the track 'Portrait For Frazer' on the LC album - possibly one of the finest of Vini's instrumental pieces in print today. 'Enigma' closes with the sound of the drums rolling into the distance like a thunder storm brewing up on the horizon. It's hard not to listen to this track over and over again.

The flipside of the disc contains a more structured (in the way of a defined chorus/verse) piece of music. 'Danny' is a briskier, brighter piece with Mitchell still playing in an improvised and jazz tinged way, without distracting the listener from the focal point of Reilly's delightful melody and sharp changes.

In the sleevenotes to the recent Durutti Column release, 'Tempus Fugit' (kookydisc), Reilly, in his incedibly modest way, writes...' one day I'll create a body of work worth your patience'. After 25 years and over 25 albums to date, the Durutti Column are still producing work that is way beyond Reilly's own opinion of it. 'Enigma' and 'Danny' are fine examples of this.

More information on:
Philippe Carly: www.newwavephotos.com
Sordide Sentimental: //membres.lycos.fr/sordide/
Durutti Column: www.thedurutticolumn.com

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