This music constitutes the last recording session Derek Bailey undertook before he succumbed to motor neurone disease, the illness that was to eventually take his life on Christmas day last year. The eight pieces are unaccompanied works, specially recorded for David Sylvian for the singer’s 2004 album, Blemish. Incorporated into that context, Bailey’s work served to bend and twist its surroundings into forms starker than Sylvian had hitherto achieved. Heard as it was originally recorded, this music becomes even more searing in its clarity and refusal to cohere into melody or repetition. Each piece is like the budding forth of a spiky dream flower, distinct from its siblings, but of a whole. A snatch of Bailey’s irascible voice is included at the end of the second piece and proves profoundly moving in its very ordinariness: “… a fortunate ending, I’ll just pick my plectrum up… I’ll
carry on a bit, okay?” I can’t help but associate this music with Samuel Beckett’s short prose works, similarly hard-won and pared-down but full of possibility; bleak, but strikingly beautiful and alive with playfulness.
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