A World of Colin Wilson – review

Colin Wilson’s voice has appeared on disc before – on his own “Essential Colin Wilson” CD (of readings from the same book), on the Julian Cope offshoot The Sons of TC Lethbridge, and on The Orb’s UFOrb amongst others. Anthony Reynolds’ A World of Colin Wilson is a welcome addition to the above.
Beginning with a Zappa-esque blast of static, jazz tootling & speech, Why Life Fails Us is the opening track on this album. It drifts into an Eno ambience of lazy bass strings and synth which compliment the Wilsonian speech riffs drifting in and out – Eliot, Shaw and Maslow – familiar to all his readers. A circular sample of “Why does life fail?” sounds a little like later Throbbing Gristle, who once threw a Wilson sample (before there were samplers!) into the mix of one of their chaotic live gigs. There can’t be very many albums out there which have a mention of Japanese Maslow editions, as this track does! The ambience has a sonic break when Colin shouts “Joy, close that door!” as jazz trumpet – vintage “Outsider” sound – fades it out. The next track is an industrial soundscape of distorted voices. Whose voices, I’m not sure (Anthony Reynolds?) Colin’s seems to be buried in there somewhere. Intentional or not, the ghost of the first wave of Industrial Music rears its head. Apt, as some of the artists in that scene would reference Colin now and again.
‘Why we make it difficult on ourselves’ is self explanatory – Colin discusses why over acoustic guitar and occasional tape distortion. What is interesting about the use of sounds and samples is that they work together to create a receptive mood to engage with Wilson’s ideas, rather than just overlaid on top of each other. Satie piano is laid over voice on the next track.
The Hill is similar to another Wilson recording – Anatomy of a Poet by In The Nursery. Colin reads the Rupert Brooke poem over strings and noise, and it’s brilliant – if too brief (someone once said that Colin had the most comforting voice in the world).
A phenomenological epoche is the driving force of New York Ozone Memory: the observation about New York being as real as the here and now is reprised. The original Faculty X concept, from The Occult. Again, the music works with the philosophy and doesn’t either become mere background or foreground.
“We’re not sitting in an execution chamber”, he says on ‘Life is all there is’. His philosophy in a nutshell.
Distortion crackles over track 8, ‘Cornwall’. A challenge to discern what is being said, but a good one. Sonically, it’s radio waves and tape slippages of the Stockhausen/Cage variety. What sounds like a heartbeat appears near the end.
A bit of a lighter tone on acoustic guitar and voice works well with Colin’s clear voice on ‘The colour and light around me’ as he describes his pre-Outsider ‘tramp’ days. A delight. The loop of laughter sounds like the end of Dark Side of the Moon (did the Floyd get that title from The Occult, one wonders?) A vaguely dubby melodica and a female backing vocals drift in and out as drums start the first rhythm of the album. That laughter sample floats about the song. Makes me smile.
The final track, ‘Keats…Shelley…Eliot…’ reminds me of late seventies indie legends Young Marble Giants. Drum machine clacking away and the cheapest keyboard sound. More Colin in the mix, repeating the phrase “over and over and over again”.
Anthony Reynolds has made a very interesting addition to Wilsonia with this album. It works musically – and it illustrates his philosophy very well with unusual textures and editing. Colin’s ideas of “the reality of other times and places” come through strongly on the disc. Nice retro packaging too.
A World of Colin Wilson is out now on Rocket Girl. Thanks to Vinita at the label.

Anthony Reynolds spoken word release featuring CW

Rocket Girl presents:​
Anthony Reynolds​
‘A World of Colin Wilson’​

LABEL:​ ​ Rocket Girl
CAT NO:​ rgirl86
BARCODE:​ CD 5016266108621
FORMAT:​ Ltd Edition CD with vinyl effect CD / download
RELEASE DATE: 20th August 2012

Colin Henry Wilson (born 26 June 1931) is a prolific English writer who first came to prominence as a philosopher and novelist. Wilson has since written widely on true crime, mysticism and other topics. He prefers calling his philosophy new existentialism or phenomenological existentialism. His most famous book is probably ‘The Outsider’, published in 1956. It was then that Wilson became associated with the “Angry Young Men” of British literature, alongside Kingsley Amis and John Braine. He contributed to Declaration; an anthology of manifestos by writers associated with the movement, and wrote a popular paperback sampler, Protest: The Beat Generation and the Angry Young Men.

He has had a particular impact upon musicians. David Bowie, Robert Fripp and Julian Cope have all acknowledged their interest in his work.

Anthony Reynolds was born in South Wales in the early seventies. Between 1993 and 2004 he was founding member of the groups Jack and Jacques, releasing five albums. Since 2004 he has released three solo albums and also worked as a writer, publishing three biographies and two volumes of poetry.

‘A world of Colin Wilson’ features Texts by Colin Wilson recorded by Anthony Reynolds at Colin’s home in St Austell in 2003/4. Music and noise was added later by A.R, Martin Carr and the Spanish group La Muneca De sal.

On the making of ‘A World of Colin Wilson’ Anthony Reynolds said…

‘I’ve long enjoyed spoken word albums, in particular the old Caedmon and Argo labels. I always thought Colin Wilson should have made one, and although this album is far from just pure vocalised text, it has some of the spirit of those records’.

‘I think Colin Wilson is important because he appealed to non academic types…like myself…or auto didactic types like myself… Also, there was an aura of ‘cool’ around him, a rock and roll vibe almost. He looked great too, at his peak. Not unimportant. For me he embodied the belief that you could access magic and/or your potential from a sitting room in a terraced house in Salford on a rainy wet Wednesday….whatever the perceived failings of some of his books…Colin Wilson stands for something ultimately hopeful, joyous, positive – he allowed us access to heaven without needing to be on God’s guest list…’

… from an interview by Colin Stanley, a Colin Wilson Scholar and head of the Colin Wilson Archives at Nottingham University. For full script please ask.
Anthony is available for further conversations on the making of this record.

To be released on 20th August 2012.