SH | Anthony Reynolds, along with key sidemen, including the very great Martin Carr, have backtracked this album of conversational snippets from Colin Wilson.
Wilson was held aloft as the hip British autodidact of the 60s, tracking edgy ‘outsider’ geniuses, and via this, seeming to become one, before being cast down as an autodidact again, by the same cultural elites who raised him aloft in the first place. He then went on to cut a very individual furrow, writing about the occult and other subjects. But Wilson continued to track edge-states throughout his work, whatever the topic at hand.
This record seems to match those states well. The aesthetic is often fuzzy, indistinct, before bursting through. It reminds me of Hans Joachim Irmler’s work, particularly his Lifelike album, and Richard Pinhas and Jerome Schmidt’s Tranzition, which collages a tape of another cult writer, Philip K. Dick, into its layered atmosphere.
A burst of free jazz comes in, like a window has been opened, only to be met with a rude blast from outside, and it could be from ’67 Beatles, or their direct negative image, Faust. Then Wilson breaks off from a monologue on ‘why life fails us’, to shout to his wife Joy to close the door, irritated, mirroring the initial snatch of sound. I can’t help but snap right back to Wilson’s key idea of ‘peak experience’ here, which led to decades in which Wilson wrote ‘real murder’ books. His, I think related, concept of the ‘St. Neots Margin’ – coined as he passed St. Neots hitching so he would remember it – means that ‘peaking’ like this has to be countered with a kind of meditative, but intellectual, acceptance.
This album matches these descriptions well. We hardly hear Wilson’s voice, and what we hear is fragmented. The real is not what counts here, only a painting of the arcane landscape on which things really occur. This record, then, is not some infantile audiobook, it really does try to present ‘the world of Colin Wilson’, because it seems to try to formally reach its object by using representational strategies, right down to the jazz cameos. Such a rare quality.