[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
This had to have been something to see and be part of. Chris Petit and Baron Mordant have once again performed under the moniker of Petit’s Museum of Loneliness but this time instead of studio recordings they opted to take it into the live arena. A Parthenon for the populace, that lone signal coming out from underneath all the rubbish modern life excretes. What was done last October has only now come to light for the rest of us who weren’t there and the initial work which they did only hinted at the full resolution available when you take away the safety net. You who were there are a lucky bunch of bastards; the sort of critical analysis and comparative logic employed by the Museum is in direly short supply here in America.
Machines warm up for the first few minutes and I swear I can hear the sound of a projectionist changing out the reels as this album plays through; Petit lays out his agenda at the very start while The Baron corrals his sounds like misfit children. There is no audience to be heard the entire time Chris reads and no applause can be detected which only adds to the intensity of the proceedings. We are ushered into a world where the streetlights change according to the speed one drives while Kraftwerk chauffeurs among other, even odder detours down the cultural landscape. Robinson, the ever lovable degenerate makes his appearances as does the engaging espionage construct Angleton.
The Museum moves through decades, illustrating the bizarre confluence of events which led to the assassination of Kennedy; several theories are brought out and examined but in the end no conclusive evidence is discovered, the unifying account remains elusive. I suspect by design for the MoL never likes to be concrete with it’s findings; Burroughs gets his time in the sun as does T.S. Eliot; the nature of a spy’s life is unraveled and then wound up tightly again as if to say that this is all part and parcel. Par for the course, an exercise in deceit… or I don’t know. Petit feels no one says that more than himself so you may well just disregard it all… what does leave a permanent mark is the illicit sexual aspect this sort of life is riddled by. I therefore humbly submit a book for perusal by the MoL entitled ‘The Puzzle Palace’ which was written in the early 1980s documenting the workings of the NSA and contains many of the same predilections mentioned on this release.
Deviancy plays a large role in all of it, be it the woman on the bus who spotted Oswald or Kraftwerk’s assertion that they have created a machine which sounds more human than an actual human being. The music suits each mood wondrously, sometimes lurking in the background waiting for the opportune moment to pounce while also sometimes driving the entire narrative into the ground by way of hypnotic malevolence. Is it improvised? Was this all planned or did they just set up without any advanced warning to see who’d wander in. This enigma becomes more labyrinthine with each listen, I read through their catalog and come away with an inventory but no insight.
So here is one more entry with which to grapple now. Let this never end.
Museum of Loneliness – Kino in “Die Brucke”, Koln, 27-10-15
Mordant Music, MM084