Tonguing Meaning 4: Ageing, Young Rebel

  1. INSIDE OF IS... is a half real, half unreal bar called the Bubble where I've spent a lot of liquid, maybe you've been there, it's a place where forgiveness erases the awful things you said or did the night before.
  2. AGING YOUNG REBEL... is a shaggy doggerel.
  3. ZODIAC UPRISING... is an illogical extension of the astrological. I'm an Aries, damn rambunctious... what's your sign?
Ken Nordine—surely one of the most captivating raconteurs the world has ever heard, what with the almost psychedelically beatnik Kafka-for-children nightmare comedies conveyed in that deceptively soothing baritone of his—has always delivered. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of his accompanists, who've grown gradually worse since the '60s. From the tasteful, classic jazz flavourings of Fred Katz, deftly colouring and elevating Nordine's tales with altered consciousness cocktail lounge scores, Nordine has since let the cheesiest dilettantes, armed with '80s-sounding synthesizers attempting (but failing) to replicate guitars and pan flutes(!), distract from his still mesmerising, funny and almost frightening stories—the New Age easy listening accompaniment all but ruining the sensual experience that is hearing the voice of voices intimate existential nonsense, tickling your Wernicke's area silly.

Case in point is Nordine's currently out of print 1991 collab with David «Dawg» Grisman and gratefully dead Jerry Garcia, Devout Catalyst. The resulting musical backdrop consists of noodling acoustic string improv that's as random and unmotivated as the nowhere to which it goes, all interspersed with synthesizer impersonation of show-off session jazz vibraphones and the most offensively plastic harmonica sound this side of Stevie Wonder. Baby Boomer jazz folk… ugh. This whole enterprise is confirmation that skill and know-how do not soulful energy make.

So don't let the liner notes pull the wool over your third eye. In case you ever need proof that LSD should never be administered to fools, this producer's gibberish is it:
The recording philosophy was to create a time-aligned realm justifying all microphones in the stereo picture. When we mixed this we carefully brought forth the original time spectrum, the net effect yielding a holographic-like quality whereby in normal playback the sound exists not just in front of the speakers but as an image in the listening environment.
It's sad, really, because Nordine is on top, abstractly menacing form. Out of the twelve tracks, I've chosen the three best stories. They're all ruined by Garcia, Grisman and various other musos, but Nordine makes it all worthwhile, as always. Note that one of Toilet Guppies' all-time favourite tales of his—«The Ageing Young Rebel (Gentle Cruelty)»—can be found elsewhere, not only in better but also a properly swingin', wicked version, in collaboration with DJ Food on the still commercially available single «A Dub Plate of Food, vol. 2». While you're waiting for that CD to arrive in the post, enjoy these little word jazz gems…

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