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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.
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.
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.
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
Vinyl Community update on Youtube (skip to 20 minutes to watch the
For the moment we still have no clue about the whereabouts of reel
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.
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 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.
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...
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
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.
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?
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
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
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
There are traces of early and vintage Floyd (from Ummagumma to Obscured
By Clouds), haunting rhythms that stay remnant in your mind like those
Seer), seventies porn flick lounge tunes, Tarantinesque
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,
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
Many thanks to Mr. Anonymous for sending us this package. Spanishgrass
can be downloaded at Bandcamp. ♥
Iggy ♥ Libby ♥ Babylemonade Aleph ♥