XTC Reel by Real: A.J. Partridge: Powers
Last update: 26 March 2017
Powers
Order from APE House Records
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Limited edition CD of 500 copies packaged in a trompe l'oeil library book style, featuring 12 pieces of music written by Andy Partridge and inspired by the Science Fiction artist Richard M Powers.

Be warned, these are not songs, but sound pieces inspired by the works of artist Richard M Powers who in the 1950's was one of the most important Science Fiction artists of his time. Prolific to the point of producing more than 1500 cover and interior illustrations, the world of the SF paperback had been truly conquered by "the Powers style".

Over the last year Andy has been sculpting and squeezing sounds in his shed to put together a collection of pieces linked to his experiences as a child where he would literally disappear into the book jacket art of Mr Powers.

Every week or so, a young Andy would go to his local library and loan out three books, sometimes the same ones, sometimes different ones. He wouldn't read them, but instead stare intensely at the jacket illustrations and drift into these fearful future worlds, hearing unusual soundscapes and noises. In the last couple of years Andy found out that the vast majority of illustrations he liked were done by the same artist, one Richard M powers. Finally he had a name to link with his experience.

The pieces that he has recorded are an attempt to capture the sounds that played in his schoolboy head when he would stare at the cover paintings. Thus these are not songs, or even what the majority of people would call 'music', but are aural sculptures if you will, that are meant to marry in your head with the fluid and often frightening vistas that Powers would portray in paint.

Due to the difficult and completely uncommercial nature of these pieces the CD will be available only in a strictly numbered limited edition of 500, and available only from the APE store. When they have sold there will be download versions only, no further pressings.

[Ape House promotional material]


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A long time ago, in a library far away, (well, Swindon, actually), a shy schoolboy who loved books but was a slow reader, borrowed three science fiction books per week. He didn't read them. Instead, mesmerised by the covers, he imagined his own stories to match the cover paintings which he stared at intently for hours.

Invited to tell his classmates about the books he'd read, neither they nor the teachers spotted the invention. Few, if any, teachers read sci-fi and even though the early 1960s may have been a peak point for the excitement surrounding mankind's initial steps beyond the Earth, teachers would sooner bore any potential interest in books out of children with Charles Dickens rather than risk capturing their imagination with Philip K Dick.

Decades passed. The moon was reached and then, it seemed, forgotten. The faraway galaxies became the stuff of mainstream cinema and TV. Books celebrating the work and art of an earlier generation of sci-fi writers and illustrators appeared. The boy in the library of the early 1960s, now a man in a comic book/graphic novel shop at the end of the first decade of a new millennium, discovered a book about Richard M. Powers and became a time traveller, transported back to the smell of the paper, the plastic protective library book coverings and the universe laid out, jigsaw like, on his bed. Richard M. Powers had been the principal artist, illustrator among illustrators and guide to unleashing Andy Partridge's imagination among the stars and galaxies.

Andy's response was to record a sort of soundtrack to the paintings which had been so inspirational to him. The resulting album conjures, via 12 enigmatic pieces - akin to a virtual Musique concrete (with the computer/editing process replacing the more cumbersome scissors/tape method) - a musical accompaniment to the variety of alien landscapes which Powers illustrated so profusely.

It also works as a standalone album of experimental music which, when issued as a limited edition in 2010, sold out immediately upon release.

Now a much sought after album, the album is reissued as a mid-price jewel cased CD with 12 pages of sleeve notes and illustrations by long-time Ape House sleeve artist Andrew Swainson.

Comic Actor Paul Putner, something of an XTC fan, recently identified Powers as, "The album I adore," and for all of its unusual origin and equally unusual execution, it's easy to envisage this as precisely the sort of 'non-mainstream' album that just might gain a wider audience, just as it was once easy for a small boy to envisage entire worlds from paintings reproduced as small book covers.

[Ape House 2016 promotional material]


Lyrics, Charts and More

Andrew Swainson: “I think initially they were going to have 'proper' titles (hence 'Transmitter' on the Haiti compilation) but then it was decided to change the tracks to just have numbers as titles. It then seemed kind of pointless doing a tracklist of numbers - especially in the context of the packaging looking like a book...”
Andy: “I thought, ‘Shit, I'm going to have to title these,’ because one of them was going on the APE Loves Haiti recording . . . and I thought, ‘Shit! They're not titled. They're just #1, #2, and so on in my computer. What am I going to title them?’ I looked at as much of Powers' work as I could find, both in the book I've got and online. The titles of the stories might be something like ‘Forbidden Star.’ So, I'd just take one of the words from them, rather than using the whole title. But it was a pointless exercise, because to me, they were more like a feeling than working from a title. So that's why, when I came to put them on an album I thought, ‘This is stupid, because these aren't the real titles — this is just something I did in a panic.’ I knew them as track #1, track #2, track #3 and so on, so I thought that's what the public should know them as, too.”
  1. Track 1 (Earthlight) (pics)
  2. Track 2 (Dissolver) (pics)
  3. Track 3 (Outpost) (pics)
  4. Track 4 (Pebble) (pics)
  5. Track 5 (Transmitter) (pics)
  6. Track 6 (Hothouse) (pics)
  7. Track 7 (Star) (pics)
  8. Track 8 (Palace) (pics)
  9. Track 9 (Monitors) (pics)
  10. Track 10 (Rogue) (pics)
  11. Track 11 (Needle) (pics)
  12. Track 12 (Darkness) (pics)

Recording Information

Recorded in the shed, 2009-2010.
Performed by A.J. Partridge.
Released on 19 July 2010 in the U.K.


Art

#\#a href="http://www.ape.uk.net/podcast/2010/07/sample-andys-powers/" target="churl"#/#promotional video for the Andy Partridge album #\#i#/#Powers#\#/i#/##\#/a#/#

promotional video for the Andy Partridge album Powers

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