Murmurists
ithyphall.brel.gory is not the same as you
Discus 158CD
(2023)
Available formats: CD/DL

 

“It’s musical theatre, Jim, but not as we know it. Imagine a David Lynch-directed art house post-horror, produced by Andy Warhol, cut-up screenplay by William Burroughs and soundtracked by Nurse With Wound striving to channel the spirit of Eric Dolphy and you’re probably still not close.” – Ian Fraser, TERRASCOPE

Murmurists is a group of artists which convenes periodically to perform large-scale multi-media events using texts and graphic-scores composed and directed by Anthony Donovan. This CD, recorded over a significant span of time, draws upon such live and studio performances, channelling these years of diverse activity into a brand new work. Call it music theatre, sound design, documentary – as you will.

I like slow work. This is the third, and I think concluding, iteration in album form of an intense and sprawling project begun in 2005. Trinities always feel replete to me, and to add to that seems an extension. The Internet was young then, and I was wholly new to it, and the project started, equally, as a way to still make music after the displacement and practical exile of moving away to another part of the country and as a means of my using words and creating composed music with the improvisers and voice-artists I was then as now involved with. The album process itself was very much an improvisation in its own right. Its cast of characters, for all their wild variety, in some way speak from my own head, in an attempt to convey the intimate dissociation I felt in this new world of tenuous but meaningful online connections, often anonymous in the strict sense, but at the same time familiar and eliciting emotional responses. This became a way of working. I’ve left the flaws I hear in, wanting, for whatever reason, to show my workings-out, wanting to retain evidence of the stages of the learning-curve I was on.

During this period, Murmurists became primarily a live venture, building into a series of unique 100 performer-strong events. The whole thing widened out and exploded, as piece after piece was performed from my graphic-scores in strange places by amazing people. Before pandemic struck and silenced us all for a time, it was the realisation of the here-comes-everyone approach I had always wanted, and I hope something of that is captured here, too.

In the meantime, my mother Dorothy died, and the album again became introspective and my grief became its subject, including whether in grief and from grief I could even finish the thing, thus honouring the commitments and efforts of all the fine people who had lent me their time and talent in good faith. This third part had onus written all over it, therefore, and, to my ears, it was the best thing of the three, anyway, and made further sense of its predecessors. I couldn’t let it, too, become an orphan, tentatively approaching Martin at Discus Music, not even knowing if what I had put together made sense outside of my own feelings. It has Dorothy’s voice on it, you see, my beloved Mater Ort, and even listening hurt like Hell, whilst, at the same time, it cheered me on towards the profundity it would eventually assume for me, not least in being given final form here, and not least, in turn, with my offering being included amongst decidedly esteemed company at Discus. It was good to begin to feel normal again.

I humbly thank everyone who has made this with me from the bottom of my heart. It is what it is. And without you it wouldn’t be anything. Grief stalks ithyphall.brel.gory is not the same as you, for sure, but in the end, if it’s about any one thing, it is about liberation and the living with that by creating something meaningful from it and through it. My mother made me and I made this for her. – Anthony Donovan / East Lancashire / June 2023

The Cast: Rebecca Bogue as Vegetable Brecht, naybomber / Alex Botten as Ictus (nee Ghraib, now Gadarene) / Mark Browne as Tricky Wiki / Lawrence Casserley as Disney Gombrich / David Cunliffe as Nid Nod From Niflheim / AG Davis as Idio_Socratic (by accretion) / Annie Dee as Mandala Oort (seeks similar) / Anthony Donovan as Id Vicious (a Porno Adorno) / Dorothy Donovan as Mater Oort / Graham Dunning as Jape Clogger (a Crotch Potato) / Sharon Gal as Orphite Anon, Beguiler / Jeremy Gluck as Breathing Steven / Guy Harries as Isosceles Levant / Princess Haultaine III as [sic]_Gitmo Anschluss / Anton Mobin as INRI Matisse / Rosie Osborne as Admin (by mouth) / Pixyblink as Soprano Gory (a factual size) / Sean Reynard as Thigmotropist Undersing / Neal D. Retke as Narc Neutrino 911 / Bryan Lewis Saunders as Nibiru Haemosex (The King of Nigeria) / Walt Shaw as J.G. Power-Ballard

The Players: Ron Anderson: electric guitar / Martin Archer: bass clarinet / Matthias Boss: violin / Mark Browne: percussion, objects, electric motors / Paulo Chagas: bamboo flute, oboe / Annie Dee: field recording / Anthony Donovan: electric and acoustic guitars and basses, vocals, keyboards, field recordings, percussion, zither, trumpet, live electronics, processing / Michael Durek: electric piano, theremin / Thomas Fernier: sampler / Philippe Gerber: electric guitar / Fred Lonberg-Holm: cello / Robert Pepper: violin / Sonia Paço-Rocchia: bassoon / Jaan Patterson: sampler / Kris Reeder: trombone / Walt Shaw: percussion

Reviews

Anthony Donovan‘s Murmurists is a real labour of love; composing, scripting and then surrounding himself with suitable collaborators to do justice to his dystopian, disorientating visions. This final section of a possible trilogy also coincided with his mother’s passing and her spirit looms large over the proceedings, her recorded voice appearing at points, warmly recalling past events and putting the future into some perspective. Live, Murmurists can number as many as 100; but here for ithyphall.brel.gory is not the same as you, the players either cast as orators or musicians number into the thirties with some doubling up in both roles. There are many names familiar to regular Discus listeners and a few like Fred Longberg-Holm and Jeremy Gluck (what, that Jeremy Gluck?) familiar to a wider group of listeners. With an incredible array of voices as well as a veritable army of instruments acoustic and electronic, the three pieces presented here are awash with dizzying and disparate musical palettes, moving surreptitiously to internal rhythms that are not immediately obvious but guided by the streams of consciousness delivered in varying degrees of lucidity by the orators. Anthony Donovan‘s Murmurists is a real labour of love; composing, scripting and then surrounding himself with suitable collaborators to do justice to his dystopian, disorientating visions. This final section of a possible trilogy also coincided with his mother’s passing and her spirit looms large over the proceedings, her recorded voice appearing at points, warmly recalling past events and putting the future into some perspective. Live, Murmurists can number as many as 100; but here for ithyphall.brel.gory is not the same as you, the players either cast as orators or musicians number into the thirties with some doubling up in both roles. There are many names familiar to regular Discus listeners and a few like Fred Longberg-Holm and Jeremy Gluck (what, that Jeremy Gluck?) familiar to a wider group of listeners. With an incredible array of voices as well as a veritable army of instruments acoustic and electronic, the three pieces presented here are awash with dizzying and disparate musical palettes, moving surreptitiously to internal rhythms that are not immediately obvious but guided by the streams of consciousness delivered in varying degrees of lucidity by the orators. The scoured soundscape is awkward and uncomfortable yet strangely compelling, its progress constant and restless, at points upset by the screams of children and surprising mechanoid beats that echo against the unfolding cataclysm. Shimmering double bass does a little to smooth things; but it is a difficult pill to sweeten. A creeping dread propels the second piece that feels like a travellator from which you can’t escape. There are voices in your ear, wordless, sinister and subliminal, and the aura creates more confusion, while a mellow American voice tells us: “Your broken neck was always an overworked superlative”. What can we make of this and why is it so freely delivered? There is more motion here and a sense of recycled angst, with repetitive voices enmeshed in circling guitars, growling horns and a piano dreaming of yesterday. A stiff wind across an abandoned settlement introduces the final piece, shorter and more succinct yet more abrasive, horns clamouring, letting loose while voices trade lines, upping the ante with the vibrancy of vision and hoards of tired beasts shift and shuffle in the background. Things turn gradually more urgent, until a final flourish and this extraordinary journey comes to an end. The death of Anthony’s mother was the crux of this album, but the work completed by the assembled cast is an amazing legacy, a time-travelling epic that sounds like nothing else. – Mr Olivetti, FREQ https://freq.org.uk/reviews/murmurists-ithyphall-brel-gory-is-not-the-same-as-you/

Meet Murmurists, a group of artists which convenes periodically to perform large-scale (often 100 performer-strong) multi-media events using texts and scores composed and directed by Anthony Donovan. This release, recorded over an extended period draws upon live and studio performances. The subject matter is partly influenced by the death of Donovan’s mother, who is recorded here intermittently narrating some memories of little Anthony who was, it seems, a bit of a handful. He certainly has his hands full here but whatever slipped through the digits and onto the digital you sense if was for a purpose, although quite what the purpose is defies categorisation or for that matter comprehension. Comprised of three long tracks, the longest and most striking of which is the 35 minute ‘i,m [sic], We’, which announces itself with a distinct absence of foreplay, a screeching blast of wind instrument ushering in a suitably ominous overture before subsiding beneath spoken word narrative, while all the time bubbling and hissing away before periodically (and dramatically) breaking the surface. It’s musical theatre, Jim, but not as we know it. Imagine a David Lynch-directed art house post-horror, produced by Andy Warhol, cut-up screenplay by William Burroughs and soundtracked by Nurse With Wound striving to channel the spirit of Eric Dolphy and you’re probably still not close. It’s like trying to make sense of ‘200 Motels’ or ‘Head’, multiplied by a factor of four; a collage of ideas, sounds and apparently disjointed monologue that beguiles and defiles in good measure. Cast characters delight in such names as Idio Socratic, Id Vicious and J G Power-Ballad, implying that a playful or perverse punster is at play (look it takes one to know one). And is that Ann Magnuson about one third of the way through track 1? Doubtful, but it has me reaching for the Bongwater. Intense, bewildering, disturbing, compelling. This requires and indeed is deserving of several spins in order to unpeel more and more narrative and musical layers while still stubbornly refusing to cough up much more than name, rank (there’s plenty of that) and serial number (Discus Music 158 CD if you must know). Nerves duly shredded, it’s time I took up new hobbies or ramped up existing ones as a means of distraction. Like drinking or freebasing, or something. Recommended, then. – Ian Fraser, TERRASCOPE https://terrascope.co.uk/Reviews/Reviews_October23.xhtml

 

MURMURISTS. Als Chaim Sou­tine-dicke Spur auf „Alrealon Musique & Bad Alchemy Present: Trace Elements“ und Kopfgeburt von Anthony Donovan, der, Jg. 1963, als multimedialer Künstler, Poet und Prog-punk/Improv-Bassist, unorthodox und in surrealer Brainac-Komik ein Lebenswerk entfaltet: Mit Murmurists, Classwar Karaoke (seit 2008 auch als Label, zusammen mit Jaan Patterson von suRRism-Phonoethics), Vultures Quartet, the.clinamen, Familiars, Anthony and Substanshall, Sound Inspectors, Spidey Agutter, Kurouzu – mehrfach willkommen in Schiphorst, vielfach vernetzt mit PAS, Philippe Petit, John 3:16, Some Some Unicorn &&&. Fast hätte er der schwankenden, von „jude.us turd-up ohowlaugh“ (Noise Joy), „Pax Ithy­phallic“ & „Against Asthenophilia“ (Dadaist Audio), „Dandruff Of The Orator“ (Surrism Phonoethics) umflackerten Zweibeinigkeit von „I Cannot Tell You Where I Am Until I Love You“ (Alrealon, 2013) und „I Am You, Dragging Halo“ (Zoharum, 2016) mit ithyphall.brel. gory is not the same as you (DISCUS 158CD) einen festeren Stand gegeben, wenn ihn nicht der Tod seiner Mutter auf die Knie gezwungen hätte. So lässt er nun Vegetable Brecht, Ictus, Tricky Wiki, Disney Gombrich, Nid Nod From Niflheim, AG Davis als Idio_So­cratic, Mandala Oort, Jape Clogger (a Crotch Potato), Orphite Anon, Beguiler, Breathing Steven, Isosceles Levant, [sic]_Gitmo Anschluss, INRI Matisse, Admin (by mouth), Soprano Gory, Thigmotropist Undersing, Narc Neutrino 911, Nibiru Haemosex (The King of Nigeria) und J.G. Power-Ballard sprechen, neben ihm selber als Id Vicious (a Porno Adorno) und Dorothy Donovan as Mater Oort. In den drei Akten ‘i,m [sic], W/e’, ‘Son Quixote’ und ‘Then, Tiresias, finally in pieces’. Teiresias, der Seher auch noch in T.S. Eliots „The Waste Land“, der die Sprache der Vögel verstehen konnte, der nach seinem Tod in der Unterwelt sein Bewusstsein behielt. I cannot, I am, I love, I am you, i,m [sic]…, sag keiner, dass Id Vicious nicht als Sohn einer Mutter im Zentrum steht, und mit seinem ‘here-comes-everyone ap­proach’, wie HCE (Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker / Here Comes Everybody) in „Finne­gans Wake“, als Mensch per se leidet und spricht. Und diese als Hör- und Traumspiel, Hadesgang und Bacchanalie inszenierte ‘Hilaro-tragedia’ im elektroakustischen Freistil und nach Graphic Scores beschallt mit den virtuell verschmolzenenithyphall.brel.gory-Players Ron Anderson: electric guitar / Martin Archer: bass clarinet / Matthias Boss: violin / Mark Browne: percussion, objects, electric motors / Paulo Chagas: bamboo flute, oboe / Annie Dee: field recording / Michael Durek: electric piano, theremin / Thomas Fernier: sampler / Philippe Gerber: electric guitar / Fred Lonberg-Holm: cello / Robert Pepper: violin / Sonia Paço-Rocchia: bassoon / Jaan Patterson: sampler / Kris Reeder: trombone / Walt Shaw: percussion und selber mit electric and acoustic guitars and basses, vocals, keyboards, field recordings, percussion, zither, trumpet, live electronics, processing. Man kann an Walter & Sabrina denken, an Meson, an Luc Ferrari, und wird sich doch verlieren in einem eigenen Mahlstrom des Schreckens und der Trauer, geraunter Dichter-Philo­sophie, lärmender und an den Fesseln zerrender Lebendigkeit, einem Manifest eigen­sinniger Kreativität. – Rigobert Dittmann, BAD ALCHEMY [BA 121 rbd]

Trois longs morceaux (de 14 à 35 minutes) qu’on pourrait qualifier de théâtre radiophonique. Expérimental, mais attachant. Abstrait et concret à la fois. Un bien curieux album. – Guy Stuckens, RADIO AIR LIBRE

This ambitious and strange disc was composed by Anthony Donovan. The vast cast of characters (spoken word artists) includes a few musicians whose names I recognize like Lawrence Casserley (electronics for Evan Parker) & Jeremy Gluck (duo with Nikki Sudden). The musicians include an odd gathering of odd players: Ron Anderson on guitar, Martin Archer on bass clarinet, Fred Lonberg-Holm on cello and Robert Pepper on violin plus another dozen musicians whose name I don’t recognize. This disc was recorded between 2015 & 2023 in nine countries. This is their fourth release starting in 2008. “Murmurists is a group of artists which convenes periodically to perform large-scale multi-media events using texts and graphic-scores composed and directed by Anthony Donovan. This CD, recorded over a significant span of time, draws upon such live and studio performances, channelling these years of diverse activity into a brand new work. Call it music theatre, sound design, documentary – as you will.” – from Anthony Donovan. There are three long pieces here. The first piece begins with layers of feedback, reverb-laden sounds of unknown originals and several spoken word artists, talking softly. Each voice seems to come from a different place in one large room. I hear the words but I am unsure of how the characters are connected. The music is often disorienting with bursts of noise or sounds hard to figure out what they are doing. Each voice and each instrument seem to evoke a different character or fragment of a larger idea/force. Some of the voices are like lost ghosts floating through our minds. This is more like a radio play with several layers of sounds occurring simultaneously and ever-evolving. The music flows seamlessly as different voices and instruments flow through this stream. Throbbing bass, layers of disembodied voices, laughing, electric crickets, samples of an organ, crowds, too many sounds hard to figure what they are although it does feel as if we are within an avant-garde existential play. What’s interesting is that this actually works and is most captivating. Some of the spoke words are in different languages, I do recognize the words in Hebrew. Sometimes the stream gets a bit too dense and it is a bit harrowing for a short while. I only hear bits and pieces of words or conversations so I hear a fragment and try to figure what it comes from or is trying to say. What I do notice is this: although I can’t make out certain words, the overall effect is still throttling. There are certain moments which ring true like in the last section where a man talks about losing his individuality and becoming a machine. There is quite a bit to consider during the 63 minutes I’ve/we’ve spent listening. – Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG NYC

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