Daniel Patrick Quinn
, May 21st, 2016 09:16
Ah another Daniel Patrick Quinn record. And just in time, too. At time of writing we have two ex-London mayors slugging it out in the quoting-Hitler stakes, a Eurovision winner that could very probably start World War Three, and the promise that Gary Lineker will present the first of next season’s Match of the Day in his grits. All at the tax payer’s expense!
But luckily we wallflowers have Daniel Patrick Quinn. The new release I, Sun follows in the grand tradition of his work; regardless as to whether it’s one of his solo efforts, one beamed in from Indonesia, or one from his supergroup, One More Grain. To wit, it is chock full of antediluvian riddles, goggle-eyed bridle-shakings and invigorating inner-space drones that emit a deep non-wisdom.
Dullards who like to categorise things and stick them in an excel sheet as proof of whatever they need to quantify would say that the title of the second track on the album, ‘I Followed My Imagination’ is a “key phrase” for Quinn. A man forever in search of a periphery that affords the best view of a centre, his world can often seem obtuse, maybe too imaginary. He seems more interested in laying down a drowsy mist of non-memory that continually refreshes, triggering reflections on places we’ve not yet visited.
But as well as providing a release from the idiocies of modern life, Quinn’s music is a clear sighted rejoinder to a lot what passes for alt-folk these days. Over recent years there has been a musical trend to indulge in a fantasies of a rural arcadian past, especially drawing on reheats of British folklore and offshoots and tributaries of what is known as psychogeography. It’s fair to say that fantasising along these lines can often - and cruelly - expose a lack of fantasy. A queasy take on John Clare using found sounds, ‘Nuts in May’ remastered on ProTools; and with the funny bits taken out. A dead end, a creative blueprint that needs a kick up the arse.
Daniel Patrick Quinn takes this wet lettuce scene to the cleaners with a sharpness that (to these ears) draws equally on Fried, Bug Day, Father Ted and Der Jesuspilz. In the opener ‘Put On The Grass Skirt’, he orders his tribe about with aplomb, ordering the perfect view, reminiscent of a rogue Pardoner leading a bunch of hoodwinked desperates to a knees up at Canterbury cathedral, or the eccentric William Beckford importing a flock of English sheep to his Portuguese lodgings to “improve the view” or, more “prosaically”, Robyn Hitchcock’s yelpings in ‘It’s a Mystic Trip’ (“Trevor, come and shave your playmates!”). The brilliant ‘Life Vines’ is what The Fall would have been if they hadn’t kicked Ashley Hutchings out of the band. ‘Tarbert Palms’ tries to climb back into the womb, courtesy of a lot of whistling and cricket noises, and the weirdo lullaby ‘Look and Find’ belies its title, encouraging the listener to do the total opposite. In short, a brilliant headfuck.
But not unexpected. This is a man, after all, who likes to draw on and play games with riddles conjured up by Hieronymus Bosch. What, for instance, do we actually know about space and time? If DPQ is to be believed, it can be invoked in recording his deadpan musings over the rattling of some cutlery. We take a leaf out of his book and say the record sounds like a psychicke field trip organised by Uncle Mort. Or a Vauxhall Viva dragged out of Morecambe Sands, its cassette player still playing Blockbuster on a loop. Whether any of this makes any sense - from Quinn or the reviewer in response to Quinn - is bye the bye. Quinn understands that there can’t be an answer to everything, but lots of attention can be lavished on all the wrong details. Daft, yes, but if we do live in a multiverse, then the one Quinn’s currently recording sounds pretty damned hot.