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Basil Kirchin
Déjà Vu Nick Roseblade , October 24th, 2019 08:43

From intricate jazz to proto-ambient, this compilation of old Basil Kirchin cuts is number one, finds Nick Roseblade

Basil Kirchin is a name that is very rarely spoken but whose influence is often felt. He was a jazz drummer who got into scoring films and released one of the first ambient albums (an influence on Brian Eno). His original albums can change hands for huge sums of money at record fairs and on Discogs, but thanks to people like Johnny Trunk, and his Trunk Records, his work is slowly being released and getting some of the acclaim it deserves.

Hull’s Freetownway studio was a place where Kirchin felt comfortable to experiment and record from 1965 until his death in 2005. Their Déjà Vu compilation tries to show firstly how his music evolved over the years, how ahead of the pack he truly was, and finally to show how enjoyable and brilliant his music is.

There are classic Kirchin tracks on Déjà Vu, the tracks when Kirchin delivers a killer hook and then goes somewhere that you don’t expect. Opening track ‘Four Season’ and ‘Masked Angels’ are prime examples of this. Those melodies instantly get lodged in your head and stay there. But the real standout moments are when Kirchin just goes off-piste and delivers something truly ground-breaking, ‘Worlds within Worlds’, ‘Dream #1’ and ‘Silicon Chip’ exemplify this perfectly. ‘Worlds within Worlds’ is an ambient wonder, showing what could be done with a little imagination and some portable microphones. After the piano-backed spoken word on ‘Last Testament’, the last thing you expect are bagpipes and the sound of wind gently swirling about them. But this is exactly what Kirchin does. And what’s more remarkable is that it works fantastically well – so well in fact that you wonder why more people don’t use the instrument. And then you remember that they aren’t Basil Kirchin.

After the album finishes you sit and ponder what you’ve heard. Kirchin’s music lodges in your memory. What Déjà Vu shows is that he was capable of making the intricate jazz of ‘Pourquoi’, the bouncy pop of ‘Silicon Chip’ as well as the proto-ambient ‘Worlds within Worlds’. They are all infused with a love of music and delicate touch that is hard to ignore. Kirchin was a true visionary and is still greatly missed. In his own words “Déjà Vu is gonna be number one man!”