No 15 - September 2001
(Extracts from an Article)
Hermiston is the dead
Victorian villa on the edges
of the wood,
the last house on the lane.
Church bells do not sound this far
and ivy will not climb the brick;
dwale grows amongst the fallen slates.
Leering from above the door,
the first owner’s face in carving
reminds one of the bust of Hawksmoor -
a cruel, demonic Caesar
with a hint of Punch;
a household god.
In 1969, a record was recorded here:
Meths Sinclair and the members of his band
rented Hermiston, spent the summer. Mike stands,
amps and candles on the floor,
a Revox in the corner
capturing the acoustic of the hall
and cables leading to the well
used as a reverb; untrimmed wicks,
a shadow forest on the walls.
There were rumours also -
drink and drugs,
missing village girls
and the bluesman’s interest in the Devil.
It’s a classic album, almost unavailable.
Accident or contract dogs the re-release,
so it’s sixty-six pounds from a dealer, then,
in a yellowed sleeve that smells of sweat,
thirty years of atmosphere collected in the grooves:
Track one still sends the shivers,
a drifting mellotron impression,
with Meths’ own licks and lyrics,
of the ancient ‘Earl of Salisbury’ pavane;
the music Morris died to.
Track two is the Robert Johnson
by this time a standard
yet Meths sings it and he means
Something happened in that house,
amidst the AC-30s and the cables.
You can hear it in the reverb tails
and the crackles in between the tracks.
The third track, ‘Grabstein’,
begins with echoed bass guitar
and backwards sounds -
an unsure, uncertain laugh
or scream and then the vocal enters,
you can smell the smoke and spirit as he sings:
the lyrics so well crafted
that their meaning is difficult to grasp.
A break and then the band begin to chant
over rolling drums and mellotron;
the bass returns, a crescendo
of guitars, the lyrics growled
towards the fade,
the black moon turns:
the atmosphere remains
long after the last rumble
as the needle lifts.
From the wood,
chainsaws hack in dentistry
slowed down on a Revox.
amongst much other junk,
old Edison machines lie unwound
in the attic. Each, in silhouette,
a spent and silent Punch.
Dust the weight of several dead men
has long since settled in the white noise
of the empty house,
its windows blind with iron.
The second side
plays outwards from the label;
just one track, a sixteen minute jam,
fades out of slowly swirling Hammond
as Meths’ guitar licks around
the folk-tune ‘Lonely Waters’,
drawn out in an Eastern key
There is so much incidental sound -
the fret-squeak and the creak of chairs,
the accidental kicking of an amp,
its crashing springs - that the record is no longer
in the listener’s room:
the listener is in the house with the performers.
A workman clearing scrub turns up
an LP cover, smeared with mud.
From the photograph, a man stares out:
there are no highlights in his eyes.
Then Meths holds a long note
up against the amp, feeding back
into itself, an iron sound. A signal:
The bass and drums kick in,
the rhythm and the lead guitars begin
a steady building of momentum
until there seem to be
more players than are present.
At this point, Meths begins
his half-heard lyrics - something like
‘a ship on lonely waters - blackness all around -
a full eclipse at sea - depths above and depths below -
the stars surrounding - caught
between two hemispheres of preternatural sky -
moving towards the darkness of a fallen star’.
One imagines forwards to the demolition,
a hollow lane is forming
where the road will go;
There are a few bricks left of Hermiston
and the cavity of cellar and the well.
Then, a JCB is halted, the police are called.
It is a wet day in the distance,
the air half filled up with water;
fluorescent yellow vests are blurred,
forensic overalls crouch down.
Bored officers stand around,
their radios squawk like Punch.
- 10th Muse
- Angel Exhaust
- Blithe Spirit
- Brando's hat
- Brittle Star
- Cannon's Mouth, The
- Coffee House, The
- Dream Catcher
- Floating Bear, The
- French Literary Review, The
- Frogmore Papers, The
- Global Tapestry
- Grosseteste Review
- Homeless Diamonds
- Interpreter's House, The
- Journal, The
- Lamport Court
- London Magazine, The
- Modern Poetry in Translation
- Monkey Kettle
- Neon Highway
- New Welsh Review
- North, The
- Obsessed with pipework
- Oxford Poetry
- Painted, spoken
- Paper, The
- Pen Pusher Magazine
- Poetry Cornwall
- Poetry London
- Poetry London (1951)
- Poetry Nation
- Poetry Review, The
- Poetry Salzburg Review
- Poetry Scotland
- Poetry Wales
- Private Tutor
- Purple Patch
- Rain Dog
- Reach Poetry
- Review, The
- Rialto, The
- Second Aeon
- Seventh Quarry, The
- Smiths Knoll
- Strange Faeces
- Tabla Book of New Verse, The
- Tolling Elves
- Ugly Tree, The
- Wolf, The
- Yellow Crane, The