Picture: © Chris Lanaway, 2010.
In 2018 the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit celebrated its tenth anniversary.
Picture: © Chris Lanaway, 2010.

September 2014

This page contains all the articles that were uploaded in September 2014, chronologically sorted, from old to new.
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2014-09-06

Spanishgrass, or the Duran Durán mystery...

Spanishgrass Redux 2014
Spanishgrass Polaroid cover
Spanishgrass Polaroid cover.

Last week, dear fanoraks, we wrote how a mysterious package arrived at Atagong mansion: Spanishgrass, the myth continues... 

It contained, next to a CD and several goodies, a tape reel, marked 'reel four'. An undated letter from High Fidelity GCA Sound, Purveyors of Fine Audio Equipment, explains how the four reels have been transferred to CD.

GCA Sound letter
GCA Sound letter.
Mastering Report:

Project instructions: Leopoldo Duran (customer) provided four reel to reel tapes. Customer stated reels have been left unprotected in a drafty room. Customer would like archive copies made from whatever is on tapes. No alterations to the sound are to be made. Please deliver transferred files on to a compact disc.

Project Engineer Notes:

Minor water damage to tapes. Main concern is tape quality. Tape age is estimated to be mid 1970s. Due to the age of the tape, the tape is oxidizing and showing wear. In order to achieve the most optimum archival copy, the reel to reel machine heads were cleaned and aligned before each reel. Tapes were baked to achieve optimum quality from source. While a digital copy has been created from the reels provided, certain audio defects remain present. Even with adequate preventative measures, tape transfer achieved was not optimal. Listener should expect audio imperfections. This is most noticeable as minor distortions, speed inconsistencies, and subtle drop outs.
Reel 1, courtesy Rick Barnes
Reel 1, courtesy Rick Barnes.

And then there were three

Our assumption that four tapes, each containing different tracks, have been anonymously 'delivered' to people around the world seems right.

Last week boxes arrived in Spain at the Solo En Las Nubes webmaster Antonio Jesús (reel 2) and in the USA at Birdie Hop administrator and music collector (and professional) Rick Barnes (reel 1). As a matter of fact the Spanishgrass set made it onto Rick Barnes' VC Vinyl Community update on Youtube (skip to 20 minutes to watch the Spanishgrass bit.)

For the moment we still have no clue about the whereabouts of reel number 3.

Next to the music on tape and CD there are some Polaroids from the Oseira monastery that further immerse the listener into the Spanishgrass set. These will be published on a daily base at the Spanishgrass section of our Holy Church Tumblr page.

The question that troubles most anoraks though is: do the tapes (and CD) really contain lost Syd Barrett tunes that have been recorded during his alleged stay at the Oseira monastery, somewhere in the seventies? We will only publish a review of the record next week, but this is what we can already divulge.

Reel 2, courtesy Antonio Jesus
Reel 2, courtesy Antonio Jesus.

Save a prayer

Leopoldo Durán, professor of (English) literature, philosophy and theology, lived for three decades in Great Britain where he was contacted by Graham Greene after Durán's doctoral dissertation about priesthood. The two men became friends for life and the author annually visited the priest at the Oseira monastery. Greene's humorous and satirical novel Monsignor Quixote was a direct result of the long religious and political conversations both friends had, more triggered by visits to local vineyards than for the need of philosophical discours. Graham Greene died in 1991, after his final confession was taken by his Spanish friend. Durán would still correspond with Greene's widow and family until his dead in 2008 and published several biographical books about the author.

The Durán archives, 48 boxes in total, containing letters, manuscripts, pictures from Durán, Greene and others are archived at the Georgetown University Library Special Collections Research Center, Washington, D.C., but nowhere there is a trace of a certain Roger Keith Barrett staying at Oseira.

Leopoldo Durán died in 2008, but the alleged Spanishgrass tapes were only posted six years later to four Syd Barrett scholars, after the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit and Solo En Las Nubes articles about the 1986 hoax (and its follow-up, by the original author, Jose Ángel González, in 2003). See: Spanishgrass or Syd Barrett's lost Spanish record, Spanishgrass, one year later and subsequent articles on this blog.

Where did the tapes stay between 2008 and 2014? Surely, if Leopoldo Durán would have had the Spanishgrass tapes, they would logically be in his archive, but they are not.

Leopoldo Duran signature
Leopoldo Duran signature.

Last but not least. In the letter that can be found in the four Spanishgrass Immersion boxes (with one box still missing), Leopoldo Durán misspells his own name consequently as Leopoldo Duran, without an accent on the last a. On top of that Durán was a professor of English literature, so it is weird that the letter, destined for an English speaking audience, has been written in Galician.

Sometimes a hoax can be too elaborated...

So who or what is this Spanishgrass band or artist and what is on the album? Be patient, sistren and brethren, all will be revealed in due time...

(This is part two of the Spanishgrass, the myth continues... series. For part one press: Spanishgrass, the myth continues... Hi-def scans and pictures will be revealed, on an irregular basis, at our Spanishgrass Tumblr gallery.)


Many thanks to Mr. Anonymous for sending us this package.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥ Babylemonade Aleph ♥

The Anchor is the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit's satirical division, intended for people with a good heart, but a rather bad character.
More info: The Anchor.
Read our legal stuff: Legal Stuff.


2014-09-12

Spanishgrass by Spanishgrass, a review of the 2014 album

Spanisgrass reel 3, courtesy Stanislav
Spanisgrass reel 3, courtesy Stanislav.

Finally the fourth copy of Spanishgrass has been found. It is somewhere in that immense country that is Russia, in the hands of the slightly dadaist artist Stanislav, whom we happen to have met this summer in Brussels, the territory of Manneken Pis, Hergé and Magritte. If this was an episode of Crime Scene Investigation, where the actors have the uncanny habit of talking way too fast, we would say that the net closes around the Syd Barrett Facebook group Birdie Hop as all people who have received a copy are linked, one way or another, to that gang. On the other hand, as Birdie Hop undoubtedly is the best Syd Barrett group around on Facebook this is not really earth-shattering news either.

Oseira

The great grey edifice of the Osera monastery stretches out almost alone within a trough of the Galician hills. A small shop and a bar at the very entrance of the monastery grounds make up the whole village of Osera. The carved exterior which dates from the sixteenth century hides the twelfth-century interior – an imposing stairway, perhaps twenty metres wide, up which a platoon could march shoulder to shoulder, leads to long passages lined with guest rooms above the central courtyard and the cloisters. Almost the only sound during the day is the ring of hammers where half a dozen workmen are struggling to repair the ravages of seven centuries. (Graham Greene, Monsignor Quixote)

Let's cut the crap, once and for all. Of course the 2014 Spanishgrass (Twenty Songs About Space And Siesta) 'immersion' set, that has only been issued in four copies, isn't Syd Barrett's lost Oseira record. Syd has never visited that monastery. The Spanish blog Sole En Las Nubes has dedicated some valuable webspace to investigate the Spanishgrass hoax and managed to trace it back to a Spanish journalist and photographer who decided to have some fun in a satirical underground magazine of the mid-eighties. (Thanks to Antonio Jesús for allowing us to publish his articles in English: Spanishgrass.) If you call yourself a decent Barrett-fan you should know that by now, so don't feel insulted.

But this doesn't mean that there isn't a 'Spanishgrass' record by a 'Spanishgrass' band. The numbered and limited deluxe sets have been sent to four extremely lucky people on 3 different continents. There also seems to be a regular CD release, but it is pretty limited as well, and probably you will have to ask for one if you want to receive it, but of course you need to puzzle out who is behind the record first. Luckily the set has been released this week on Bandcamp where you can listen to it, track per track, or download the album in its entirety on a 'name your own price' basis (0.00$ is an option as well).

Why don't you listen to the Spanishgrass album on Bandcamp while reading this review?

Direct link: Spanishgrass: Twenty Songs of Space and Siesta by Spanishgrass

Spanishgrass (CD), courtesy Antonio Jesus
Spanishgrass (CD), courtesy Antonio Jesus.

Spanishgrass (Twenty Songs About Space And Siesta)

Spanishgrass 2014 is a re-imagination of a record that never was in the first place. Its maker had to explore the unexplored, like those medieval cartographers who wrote hic sunt dracones (here are dragons) on uncharted regions of their maps and who drew mythological creatures, dragons and sea serpents on the empty spaces.

The record, 57 minutes in total, has 23 tracks (3 more than on the 'original' Spanisgrass), divided into 4 blocks and closely following the track-listing and the lyrics that have been published by the Solo En Las Nubes and Holy Church blogs (Spanishgrass, the hoax revealed). Supplemental lyrics have been taken from The White Goddess (Robert Graves, 1948) and Imaginary Lives (Marcel Schwob, 1896).

Like in Eduardo Galeano's Book of Embraces where every anecdote stands on its own but interactively forms a complete chapter, each track has its own merits but unites with the others. The record has been made to listen to in its entirety, or at least part by part, 4 in total, each separated by a 'division' Bells track (#1, 2 and 3). An interesting experiment would be to play the record on shuffle and see what new auditive interactions are created.

The music consists of evocative instrumentals and up-tempo tunes, with a spacey, early Floydian, guitar sorrowing in the background, psychedelic keyboards, fragile percussion and spoken word, whispered mostly in English and sometimes Galician (Na Outra Banda). Soundscapes and musique concrète are omnipresent: babbling brooks, chirping birds, whistling teapots (Breakwater and Tea), a lawnmower (Waste Deep) and some excited monks.

Do not expect an easy parcours, the music can be annoying, harrowing, exhausting, cathartic, transcendental, repetitive. It is impossible to fit the tracks into a single category other than that melting pot that is avant-garde or art-rock. There are traces of early and vintage Floyd (from Ummagumma to Obscured By Clouds), haunting rhythms that stay remnant in your mind like those irritating Swans drones (The Seer), seventies porn flick lounge tunes, Tarantinesque exotica, Michael Nyman's repetitiveness and even (cough, cough)... Spanish bluegrass rockabilly (Grey Trees).

Either you find this record utterly irritating or utterly brilliant and the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit seems to fall in the second category. A masterpiece for non easy listeners, but we have never been easy, haven't we?

Reel three (by Stanislav)
Reel three (by Stanislav).

Tracklisting

Part One: Manantial (Spring) / Reverential Mourners / Black Maid / Plastic Gunpowder / Bells 1 (approx. 14 minutes)

Part Two: Mouse after a fête / Breakwater and tea / Grey trees / Two bangers + mash / Whining at the moon / Bells 2 (approx. 15 minutes)

Part Three: Greenland / Eu son Dhaga (I am Dhaga) / Na outra banda (On the other hand) / Un poeta esquece os días de chuvia (A poet forgets the rainy days) / Saturnalia / Bells 3 (approx. 16 minutes)

Part Four: William Phips / Stede Bonnet / Gabriel Spenser / Gospel at Noon / Waste Deep / Frog (approx. 13 minutes).

(This is part three of the the Spanishgrass, the myth continues... series. Hi-def scans and pictures will be revealed, on an irregular basis, at our Spanishgrass Tumblr gallery.)


Many thanks to Mr. Anonymous for sending us this package. Spanishgrass can be downloaded at Bandcamp.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥ Babylemonade Aleph ♥