[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
Now this is a treat indeed, it is also something I haven’t seen done before. Paul Kendall has re-envisioned his 2011 album ‘Angleterror’ in physical form, he’s given us a series of stymieing images to contend with and also has seen fit to have ‘Angleterror’ given an extra layer of sheen thanks to it’s being put on compact disc. If you missed what he offered the first time around here’s your chance to take home the director’s cut.
I wouldn’t presume to know why he chose to do this, I can’t say that I am surprised though. Did anybody really think he was done with these? When I covered this one a few years back I thought I’d plumbed the depths to the last note but upon hearing what this sounds like now… not even close. There’s a lot which has been pulled out that simply was not audible before, I’d hesitate to say it is a radical departure but there’s been enough of a shift to render any previous insights of their time. No one pushes his sound designs harder or combines elements in a more demanding manner than Kendall. Or Mr. PK to those of us who’ve followed him for a while.
The music is just the start of what is going on, those images I mentioned before don’t have an order to them. There’s a guide which suggests the proper viewing angle (get it, get it?) but it is by no means definitive. They’re not just print outs, either; PK has obviously been enjoying himself experimenting with the visual side of things which isn’t where he’s operated before. I’d call these graphics glyphs myself, when placed next to one another and yet again depending on the angle they can be made to form equations, incantations, formulas and even language itself. Perception becomes a nemesis, absolutes are given a thrashing and the expectations you came into this with don’t even know where they are anymore.
Let us jump back to the sounds now and view them through the lens of totality. I tried every conceivable combination of analysis to crack the code PK has encrypted his pieces with; for some hours I’d stare at the cards hoping they’d let me in, I chose specific tracks set against the guide and reached out for insight but in the end I was not able to move beyond the numerous layers of interlocking composition encountered. Then again, the running order of ‘Angleterror’ has been altered from it’s original release; I played the 2011 versions after each one on ‘From the Penman Press’ in precise combinations and was able to discern the minutiae which separated them from one another but beyond that I drew a blank.
Having now spent some weeks working on this enigma (and it is one, have no doubts) and probably longer than I should going on and on about all this, I can say that ‘From the Penman Press’ is an extremely difficult piece of work to understand. There’s an undertone of technological misanthropy to Paul Kendall’s revised version which won’t get out of my head and compels me to play the thing repeatedly, seriously I’ve been binging on this for hours each day since getting it. That there are only 100 copies is par for the course, you didn’t think he’d make any aspect of this easy… did you?