Robert Ashley - Private Parts (1978)

'Private Parts' is a hypnotic masterpiece. Its two long sides feature Ashley's nonchalant reciting of observations and maxims whose meaning and coherence always remains just out of reach (in that inimitable voice of his, which also graced Eliane Radigue's 'Songs of Milarepa') and music by "Blue" Gene Tyranny (piano, polymoog and clavinet) - plus some guy named simply Kris on tablas. If that doesn't sound like the most appealing set-up imaginable at first glance, think again. This is truly mesmerizing listening. I believe Ashley was on the Nurse With Wound list because of 'Automatic Writing', but if you ask me this album too has all the one-off oddball genius required to make it into any such list. Released in 1978 on Ashley's own Lovely Music (and reissued on CD in 1990 with different, truly atrocious cover artwork), it seems to have been a bit of a hype in New York those days, with people learning large chunks of the lyrics by heart. The two pieces were later used as the opening and closing segments of the TV-opera 'Perfect Lives', while the original cover (pictured above) inspired the one for Graham Lambkin & Jason Lescalleet's 'The Breadwinner' (2008 Erstwhile). Check out Ashley's label and listen here.

1 comment:

  1. This is in my top ten of all time. I too think this album is a "one-off" masterpiece, far and away ahead of Ashley's other works.