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"The Fruit of the Original Sin"

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Another reissue from the Les Disques du Crepuscule back catalog, The Fruit of the Original Sin is a two-disc compilation appropriately subtitled "A Collection of After Hours Preoccupations." While there isn't anything overt that these tracks have in common, many of them share a tinge of melancholy and beauty in equal measure, qualities that are especially noticeable late at night.

 

LTM

Although I was initially attracted by such recognizable names as The Durutti Column, DNA, William S. Burroughs, Arthur Russell, and Paul Haig of Josef K, I was even more impressed with those I hadn't heard before. Wim Mertens' "Multiple 12" is mesmerizing, and equally breathtaking are the tracks in which Cecile Bruynoghe takes on French composers Debussy and Ravel in "Clair de Lune" and "Gymnopedie No. 1," respectively. Marine's "A Man and a Woman" is endearingly eerie with its soft vocals over minimal instrumentation. Although I don't know much French, the interview with Marguerite Duras works well because of Virginia Astley's pretty piano composition played in the background, giving Duras' voice an abstract textural quality. Similarly, Tuxedomoon provides the backing music for Winston Tong's chilling reading of "The Next Best Thing to Death," here taken from a live recording.

The austere rhythm of Paul Haig's "Mad Horses" doesn't disappoint, nor does the DNA triptych offered here, beginning with "Taking Kid to School," one of my favorites by them. Haig shows up again on two excellent tracks, "Summertime" and "Soon," both recorded for a one-off single with friend Stephen Harrison under the name Rhythm of Life. Arthur Russell's "Sketch for 'Face of Helen,'" which later appeared elsewhere, is captivating. He also teams up with Ikue Mori, among others, as Thick Pigeon for a hypnotic song entitled "Sudan." The only track that disappointed me, surprisingly, was Burroughs' reading of his story with Kells Elvins, "Twilight's Last Gleaming." The reading itself is fine, but the rest of the track has lengthy applause and nearly inaudible banter from the dressing room that saps some of the strength from the reading. If anything, this track, which previously ended the compilation, now serves as an adequate buffer between it and the four tracks appended to the end of the second disc.

The songs on this compilation complement each other's moods extremely well, and the result is an embarrassment of riches. Fully remastered and with eight additional tracks not found on the original release, LTM has again done a superb job in returning an excellent Crepuscule title to print.

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