A Music Box of Snakes,
Peter Gillies & Rupert Loydell with Ray Malone
(53pp, 5.00, Knives Forks And Spoons Press)

Existential - never! A 'New Release from the exciting - nae very exciting, Knives Forks And Spoons Press ( check out ): A Music Box of Snakes from those two vipers Peter Gillies and Rupert Loydell - with Ray Malone.

In this book Gillies and Loydell take a squint at the art world with precision, insight and much needed humour ( who says poetry is all about death - even though most of the artists looked at are indeed 'deed' - as we say  in Glasgow - God who writes this stuff!) Anyway poor old post modernist purveyor of kitsch Andy Warhol is first up to get it in the soup tin - who incidentally is parodied on the front cover with our two vipers serving as drop dead soup tins:

     Andy Warhol is not your friend. I repeat
     Andy Warhol is not your friend. He knows
     too many people, has too many friends.
     He will put you to work in a factory
     And secretly film you asleep. //

     Andy Warhol is not your friend. He repeats
     himself at your expense, owns too many wigs.
     You're not on the guest list, don't have
     a credit although it was all your idea.
     Put it down to survival skills.

Then we are told 'Andy Warhol Could Be Your Cousin, if only you got the nightshift to press the factory buttons. Be part of one big, happy extended family of Andy's paint-crazed little helpers.' From here we are informed that Don Judd might be a relation too - and so the scene is set for the tone of this music box.

From melody the inclination is for understanding: what are these guys talking about? Are they having a go at the art world - which could be a perception - or are they having a poke at
us - the supporters and recipients of art. Although on the surface these poems seem tongue in cheek, there is a sardonic revelation that somewhere there is a speculative summation of repressed inclination. And that falsehood remains contained in the actual substance of the music itself. Like a sombre violin in corridor, the music becomes more intense with repetition - and repetition is to soul often a warm childhood comfort.

The music goes on and on. We are affirmed that Francis Bacon is not your friend. I'm beginning to feel lonely - a bit disconnected from my Bacon and soup. But why is he not my friend I cry! 'Because he'd smudge your face and pin you to the floor or bed, pull open wounds to admire their beauty, paint them purple, red.' Here we are getting a more sinister kind of baroque. The music turns dramatic: wounds are pulled open to 'admire their beauty'. This is a great line. A whole orchestra booms on the downbeat of the wand, full of blood and energy - like the colours caked on by Bacon himself with venom ( see the snake motif) you can almost taste the magenta hissing out - (no not pissing).

Next I'm told Francis could also be your cousin - and I laugh out loud. Are the pair of vipers taking the piss here I'm saying to myself. I like it: contrast of melody, pace and bludgeoning repetition: so much so that these poems become inescapable mantras: ' Joe Bloggs is not your friend - but Joe Bloggs could be your cousin' . Then I get it - I think what the art world is serving up is almost like advertising - that all sorts of the well deserved invariably become cliche, kitsch, controlled. Am I reading too much into this?

But it is not just the art world that gets it: we are told
television is not your friend: now I'm converted as I sit nodding my head off being only able to stomach Thomas the Tank Engine in the morning, as it's so much more my kind of reality - or dare I say 'truth'.

     Television is not your friend, it's just
     an entertainer in the corner, designed
     to keep you quiet. Look at the way it
     messes with your brain and tries to sell us
     stuff we don't want or need...

The vipers could have added that 'it' rots yir brain and believes in only one thing' itself'. And that every afternoon there are infact several million Britons pronounced dead as 'Murder she Wrote' rolls it's credits. And that the new mantra of truth is that conversation does indeed kill the art of telly watching. Oh don't get me started ( stamps feet on the floor and scoffs hob nob)

And there is much beauty in this box: consider friends and cousins:

Staying in one Place for Long Enough

torqued spiral
blurred triangle
a negative of itself

types of shadow
types of darkness
an infinite palette of blacks

fog's gentle filter
light sky   dark water
pictures of memory and time

indistinct emptiness
soft shallow difference
ambiguous spaces observed

seascape theatre
exposure compensation
absence filling the frame

I would recommend a listen to this Music Box and say that @ you are in for a treat, and that as Rupert Loydell says of this press: 'a star is rising'.

Check it out.
                   James McLaughlin 2010