By Robert Eustace - Avant Sacred Artist www.myspace.com/roberteustace
THE DURUTTI COLUMN, Manchester, UK, 1978 -to- present
'Post-Punk' and 'beyond definition'! Factory Records (now defunct) / Kooky Disc / LTM/ other labels
[VINI REILLY: guitarist, keyboards, composer, with BRUCE MITCHELL: drums, management, production, and KEIR STEWART, POPPY MORGAN, JOHN METCALFE, TIM KELLET, LAURIE LAPTOP and others]
My lifelong obsessional love affair with the music of THE DURUTTI COLUMN, began one day in 1984 with one of my frequent visits to 'the IMPORT LP bins' at the old downtown TOWER RECORDS @ 4th and Broadway, NYC. It was my studied devotion of the paintings of HENRI MATISSE (1869-1954), that drew me to make my first purchase of the 1984 LP, "WITHOUT MERCY" (Factory Records, Fact 84). On the cover, was a fabulous Matisse painting that I was then seeing for the first time - from the high-point of his 'experimental period' called: 'TRIVAUX POND' (1916/17), Oil on Canvas, The Tate Gallery, London. The painting is an absolute gem. Here Matisse, at his essential best, painted a tree with graceful swaying branches that predominate in the foreground. The tree faces an intimate setting of a pond, which is surrounded by formations of field, rock, distant trees and clouds. The overall image (painted in varied tones of blue, green, white) is reduced to simplified, highly abstracted shapes and conveys a sense of playful spontaneity (though Matisse was known to toil and labor over his work), overcast rainy coolness and repose. The front and back cover design was executed by [8vo - the design team of Mark Holt and Simon Johnston]. The Matisse image was 'tipped' on to a fine light gray granite pulp board - in the same manner as found in the finest old books on art. The letter pressed typography twists and curls - reminiscent of the flowing lines found in the poetry of Guillaume Apollinaire. A glimpse of the back cover design reveals a white tipped plate containing: the name THE DURUTTI COLUMN, the 8 participating musicians names and instruments, album credits and other information - all sensitively and astutely echoing 'the major compositional lines' found in the Matisse painting. For myself, the prospective buyer, it was immediately apparent that based on by the infinite painstaking care and quality of such packaging - that it was certain the music within had to be just as good. I was not disappointed. Sometimes one REALLY CAN judge a book (or a record) by its cover! From that day on, I proceeded to purchase anything and everything by THE DURUTTI COLUMN and the other Factory artists that I could find. Each item that was produced by FACTORY RECORDS (1978-1992) was given its own unique number - simply to keep track of things and maintain a semblance of order, due to the sheer volume of 'in-house creativity' during those heady days. This included: LP's, EP's, singles, fancy stationary, posters, year end Christmas card gifts given to the Factory staff and family - even the Factory HQ and Factory performers club (The Hacienda Club)!.... Each item was produced in strictly limited editions and with the highest possible quality in design and selected materials - often overriding budgetary constraints and smart business acumen. It was all about the music, about the art, and about what became an important time in history. Today, these leftover fragments are rare and sought after 'collector's items' - each a work of art that pays special homage to a great period in music making.
FACTORY RECORDS was the brainchild of Anthony H. Wilson (Tony Wilson) and Alan Erasmus. Tony's background included being a music talk show host on Granada TV, an entrepreneur of restaurants and catalyst in the general arts/ cultural life of Manchester. Due largely to his efforts, Tony Wilson, helped to transform a post-industrial wasteland into the vital cultural oasis that it still remains. Sadly, Tony Wilson, died unexpectedly in 2007, at the age of 57. Thus, began a steady outpouring of city wide tributes, that continue to assess and honor the contributions of Tony Wilson, aka 'Mr. Manchester'.
The music journalist, Simon Reynolds, in his seminal groundbreaking book, entitled: "BLISSED OUT" - THE RAPTURES OF ROCK, (1987, Serpent's Tail, publishing) once described VINI REILLY as "a space" or [one possessing this sense of being absent from the body or being slightly removed from life].... This defining quality: was largely set in motion due to complications stemming from a lifelong eating disorder that has in turn served "to grant him access to visions normally reserved for holy men". VINI REILLY could never be mistaken for a particularly religious person, yet the music of VR / THE DURUTTI COLUMN will forever remain for me - "a Sacred Music". One has only to listen to his scattered series of 'Requiems', beginning with "Requiem for a Father" from the LP/CD: "THE RETURN OF THE DC" (1979) - "Requiem Again" from the self-titled: "VR/DC" (1989) - or "Requiem for My Mother" and "Goodbye" from: "SOMEONE ELSE'S PARTY" (2003).
VINI REILLY creates exquisite somber and spacious 'poetic sound worlds' that at once embody qualities such as 'the eternal feminine' and 'the nature of the oceanic' (or simultaneously the possibility of a real and imminent danger, coupled with bodily sensations of a limitless infinity). VINI REILLY is a master storyteller, first and foremost in sound - adding occasional cryptic word poem / fragments that seem 'barely audible to the listening ear', more spoken breathe than actually sung - always fittingly uttered with a sense of economy. The fusion of his lyrics bouncing off of his sound worlds often make for 'tragicomic effect' - pointing out a veritable 'Pandora's Box' worth on the folly of mankind - all the while making light of his own personal shortcomings and folly. As the nursery rhyme: "RING AROUND THE ROSEY" states, ...."ashes, ashes, we all fall down". But, then the trick is to get up, dust ourselves off again, and continue on our way through life.... In his music, VINI REILLY utilizes a series of gradually descending favorite intervals with minor chords / scales, that evolve and spill over with subtle organic precision. His classically derived tender poetic notes and reverberating guitar playing is like none other - paying particular attention to capturing all of the subtle nuances of a fleeting 'heavenly moment that one can truly live inside of': THE MOMENT or ('slice of life'),... hangs precariously by a thread, while only something akin to 'divine grace' keeps the music from either falling apart or from imploding from within - this before the music eventually decays, comes to an end and slips away into memory.
For one scenario: the listener is transported to the dawning of an early modernist utopian world a la the mammoth novel: "In Search Of Lost Time" by Marcel Proust (roughly the period in Europe, between 1880 to 1910 - with emphasis to developments in France, Italy, Germany and Russia). Note: [I still feel that the music of the early DURUTTI COLUMN (1979-1983) is still most clearly defined by 'the Proustian aesthetic' - that of conjuring up subjective, romantic, amorphous states of being]. It was a time of cultural awakening - of tremendous artistic and literary invention and promise. Unfortunately, mixed within the seeds of such vast and dynamic creativity lingered the seeds of a greater mass destruction(*) that culminated with 'The Great War' (or The War To End All Wars, 1914-1918). (*)One need only to study the written manifesto's and creative outpouring of 'The Italian Futurists' - with their love of the impersonal forces of mechanization and pure speed to trace a direct line to destruction. By 1920, the 'old world' infrastructure was forever destroyed and the great forward thrust of modernist ideology and cultural development - SIMPLY CAME TO A TIRED AND ABRUPT HALT! Out of the ashes, "A new reconfigured world" began to appear. Since then: We find ourselves living in a time of 'continuous reassessment' - sifting through the leftover spiritual - cultural shards - making new discoveries, connections, movements,....
"FACTORY RECORDS" - THE COMPLETE GRAPHIC ALBUM [FAC 461], by Matthew Robertson, Thames & Hudson, UK, 2006 -and- Chronicle Books, San Francisco, US, 2007
The film: "24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE" - featuring the actor, Steve Coogan as Tony Wilson. An interesting glimpse into life of the 'Post-Punk' happenings beginning in the late '70's in and around Manchester and the formation of Factory Records.
The DVD Documentary film: "SHADOWPLAYERS" : FACTORY RCORDS & MANCHESTER POST-PUNK 1978-81, By James Nice (LTMDVD 2391)
"WITHOUT MERCY", THE DURUTTI COLUMN, Factory Records (Fact 84), 1984 original and reissues.
"A PAEAN TO WILSON", THE DURUTTI COLUMN, Kookydisc (29/1 & 29/2), 2009 - a musical tribute in honor of Tony Wilson
"Zero - a martin hannett story" (1977-1991, Big Beat (CD WIKD 270), 2006 - the collected work of legendary experimental UK music producer Martin Hannett is forever synonomous with the cool minimalist and stripped down aesthetic of 'the Post-Punk sound'.