VARIOUS ARTISTS: FOUR STUDIES FOR A HUMAN PORTRAIT (TRIBUTE TO FRANCIS BACON)
CD: Vital 002 [2005]
Ltd x 1000


Henrik N. Björk: Portrait Of A Cardinal 1955
Contagious Orgasm: Fragment Of A Crucifixion 1950
Hentai: Painting 1946
Lasse Marhaug: Figure In Movement 1978

Of all the art forms out there the world of painting leaves me cold. Sure I know about all the famous artists, drummed into the skull at school, but looking at paintings, to me anyway, is dull, dull, dull. The only prints I have hanging on my walls are of the dogs playing pool and cards. Now… they are cool. So when I get a CD in to review dedicated to the modern (yuck word) painter Francis Bacon (1909 - 1992) I’m lost. Should I view his art before reviewing or just go for the musical content? The latter in this case…because I doubt if my insensitive soul will glean much from viewing his work… no matter how renowned he is in artistic fields. Thought it best you know this before reading the review. Wouldn’t want you to confuse me with a cultured man around town.

"Four Studies For A Human Portrait (Tribute To Francis Bacon)" is the second release on the fairly new Vital Records label. Featuring four artists, of some considerable critical repute, they have contributed one piece of music each dedicated to, and interpreting, one of the paintings from Francis Bacon. First up is the Swedish legend that is Henrik Nordvargr Björkk. His track ‘Portrait of a Cardinal’, running time 10+ minutes, features HNB in full experimental dark ambient mode. Starting quite quietly he gradually brings his piece to the boil with some excellent dynamic fluctuating effects that has become part of his trademark recently. Captivating and thrilling his piece sets the standards which the other artists have to follow.
Contagious Orgasm, whose far out body of work is second to none, takes up this challenge with the track ‘Fragment of a crucifixion’. Also with a run time of 10+ minutes this track typically encapsulates the Contagious Orgasm sound. Very trippy, with surreal elements thrown around in gay abandon, it’s a crazy fucked up work of genius that, although seemingly unfathomable, mixes the left field aspect of electronics to great effect. Third up is Mr Vital Records himself Jakob Nybo, who records here under the name Hentai. Anyone with a passing interest in where music can go when furbished with a fervent imagination should immediately check out the "Toy Factory" release by him [read review here]. Your views will be changed forever. His piece, ‘Painting’, is another 10+ minutes track that starts off with lo-fi (ish) looped sounds before degenerating into utter chaos with a righteous piece of white electronic noise and assorted vocal treatments. Mind blowing to say the least. Last up is the Norwegian artist Lasse Marhaug. One of the staples of the avant-garde / noise movement his work with Origami Replika and Jazkamer, amongst others, is what most people know him by. His track, the longest at 12+ minutes, ‘Figure in Movement’ starts electron ically subdued, with crackling, hiss and lightly stroked percussion, then taking in high frequencies and squiggles and a plethora of effects before returning to the starting point once more. A calming and fragile piece much to be admired.

And much has to be admired overall on this recording. You don’t necessarily need to be familiar with the work of Francis Bacon to get the utmost enjoyment from it. Although saying that, if you took the time to see the paintings in question whilst listening to the music then you may discover facets of it which I, the philistine, have overlooked. The music as it is did it enough for me… and that says it all really. A great recording from 4 excellent artists on top of their game. Limited to 1,000 copies the 6 panel digi-pack features a piece of pigs liver being forked left, right and centre. Artistic interpretation running wild. There’s not a lot to say about that. "Four Studies For A Human Portrait (tribute to Francis Bacon)" though proves you can make a silk purse from a sows ear.

ANM

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