Eugene S Robinson and Philippe Petit Ė The Crying of Lot 69 (CD Monotype Records)

My knowledge of Eugene S Robinson has been limited to his part in Oxbow and their music. I was completely unaware of his literary career. The collaboration between Eugene and Philippe sees Eugene reading a short story heís written with Philippe and a few guests providing the music.

Iím guessing here that The Crying of Lot 69 has some inspiration or a least a nod of approval in the direction of Thomas Pynchon who wrote The Crying of Lot 49. Different in subject matter but you have to assume that Eugene has read the Pynchon piece and has for some reason decided to perhaps title his piece as some type of homage to Pynchon.

The story that Eugene gives us concerns a man who visits people who owe another person money and either collects what they owe or kills them. Itís not quite that straightforward in this case but Iím not going to give the plot away. But the quality of the writing and the speed with which it absorbs you is quite astonishing. Add to that Eugeneís delivery (why is this man not in films?) and you have a really compelling vocal part.

If you add to that the musical accompaniment that Philippe Petit provides then you have a match made in heaven. The album itself is split in 6 pieces each starting and ending at an appropriate part of the text. For the accompanying music and feel of these sections Philippe has put together pieces based on field recordings, electronics, turntables and prepared guitar and managed to match the emotions the vocals are delivering. There are a few guests on the album Rhys Chatham provides trumpet on the first piece, Helena Espvall provides some cello and Herve  Vincenti adds some acoustic guitar and synths.

The text itself is quite intense and when you match it with some of the sounds that are used it is quite hard to listen to on your first play but ultimately the unity between these elements is what makes this work so well.

I canít really fault this album. A highly worthy addition to your collection. DB