Release Date: Feb 24, 2012
Record label: Ghost Box
I wol with lusty herte fressh and greneSeyn yow a song, to glade yow, I wene,And lat us stynte of ernestful matere.Herkneth my song, that seith in this manere. (Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales) I’ve had The Belbury Tales, Jim Jupp’s fourth LP as Belbury Poly, a good couple of months now. I’ve listened to it more often and enjoyed it more completely than any other release so far in 2012.
Jim Jupp is the founder of Ghost Box records, and as Belbury Poly sits on the poppier side of his label’s retro library music. Weird analogue synths? Rural symbolism? Artwork like a John Wyndham paperback? If you’re into all three then The Belbury Tales is Christmas; the label’s first full-length since their spree of double A-sides. Once again Jupp’s masquerading as the vicar of Belbury: an imaginary parish somewhere in the sticks where technology stopped with the first Speak & Spell.
In the days and weeks following his death, there were a substantial number of column inches and hours of television devoted to the work of animator and writer Oliver Postgate. Talking heads and cultural commentators were summoned, and those of a certain age were quick to acknowledge their gratitude to Postgate for shaping parts of their childhood with his creations. Even for someone not of the appropriate vintage to have grown up with Bagpuss, Noggin the Nog, The Clangers and more besides, just small snatches of film are sufficient to grasp the Postgate aesthetic.
At the beginning of the fourth track on this fourth album from Belbury Poly, an erudite professor type proffers a few words that feel central to its core: "The geography of peace. " The sound of The Belbury Tales lies equidistant between those two poles, with the familiar smell of dusty old textbooks and public information films mixed in with a loose, quietly psychedelic feeling. This opening up of the Belbury Poly sound can partly be attributed to founder Jim Jupp welcoming in a couple of guest players on a number of tracks-- Jim Musgrave on drums and Christopher Budd on bass and electric guitar.
Jim Jupp’s latest LP rends the veil to the supernatural. Spencer Grady 2012 Welsh author and mystic Arthur Machen is probably best known for his short story, The Great God Pan. This eerie narrative of abysmal medical experimentation and occult visitations has the scribe relating a series of unnerving happenings taking place at the peripheries of mainstream Victorian society.