"Nick Pynn is an exceptionally talented singer and musician who’s quite a big splash on the Edinburgh Fringe and has appeared on the telly with Stewart Lee. We’ve had his talktapes (ROUNDHILL MUSIC RHLCD011) record here since December 2011 – just six songs in 14 minutes, and a splendid wee gem it be. Nick plays everything in an unusual one-man band set-up which includes guitars, violin, banjo, harmonium, theremin, and bass pedals, and I’d like to think all these songs were recorded live in one take, though that might be wishful thinking – there have to be some vocal overdubs in places. On top of these crisp, mostly-acoustic, inventive and dynamic folk-inflected tunes, Pynn sings in an endearing warm and muttery voice that induces almost instant trust in the listener – his uncontrived singing manner is reminiscent of Robert Wyatt or Kevin Ayers. An added dimension is the “cryptical” subtext that has bene packed into all six of these exquisite little miniatures – the subtitle for the album is “a small album of secrets”, one song deals with a “secret obsession”, and the dense lyrics deliver resemble crossword clues. I expect all this is Nick Pynn’s way of telling us that his poetic subject matter is just too personal to explain, which is as it should be. I like crossword puzzles, but even I do not expect to make much headway in decoding this tapestry of delights, especially considering Pynn’s studio technique on the last song ‘The Secret World’ which deliberately obscures certain keywords through backwards-masking or slowed down tapes. In some ways this man might turn out to be the Kit Williams of music, and although there is no prize of a golden hare for listening to the album, in another decade (the 1970s) Pynn would have released a gatefold double LP for Island Records with a sumptuous, clue-laden cover illustration by Alan Cracknell. Very nice; along with all the refs above, I can also recommend this to fans of the literate and witty songs of Slapp Happy.
Nick Pynn is one who knows how to make his notes “stand out” – it’s to do with simplicity and economy, instead of showing off or indulging one’s technique."
Ed Pinsent The Sound Projector
ALBUM NO. 5
a small album of secrets
notes on lyrics
Here Comes Everybody
Sometimes people boarding and disembarking from busy trains form an overwhelming river. The title of course comes from James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, as does the name of the album.
Tearjerkers/ 3.142 (8)
A crossword style clue: O(pi)nions
A sample of the Balinese Kecak Monkey Chant features on the chorus here.
Friends in Comedy
I did 15 Edinburgh Fringes. I would often guest with comedy performers during the run, often at the yellow-walled Stand comedy club. The ‘credit card for a right hand’ was something I was too discreet to take a closer look at- such a strange choice of prosthetic I thought. In 2010 my dad’s dementia was bringing about some quite surreal behaviour. He was getting visual distortions and told me ‘faces look more ugly through my left eye than my right’. I extended my remit of ‘comedy’ to include the unlikely contributers in my life, and in quite dark areas. The song has two middle eights. It took a long time to write.
Friends in Comedy...I've got Friends in Comedy
Some rail, some fail, some tear the ground and brave the eyes of spite
Stage words that carry weight, and travel light
Thrust aprons into laughing stocks and share the darker aisles
This could take a long time to write
Last night I met a man
He had a credit card for a right hand
I gave him wine but somehow he could cut the time in two
Whereas another has distortions in his eyesight
He says faces look more ugly through his left eye than his right
I see them as the silhouettes of people I know, who
Can say they're friends in comedy- it's true
Some race ahead of angels as fools so often do
Some walk on wire, some play with fire or paint the yellow blue
And maybe everybody dies more than one time in their lives
And one day it could happen to me or you
Some turn up as predicted, some wear their best disguise
in unexpected places they come out in surprise
Chance, as always, found me silver in the lining
When I found my Friends in Comedy- it was all down to timing
This could take a long time...
Dual the Rose
A Girl in Crimson sharing her zest
Tell me again- encoded is best
Dual the Rose-head of a state
Dual the Rose-hip breaks under weight
Dualling the rosebuds-keep it discreet
Feeding the dirt keeps the rose in its seat
Dual the Rose and its fire tongued petals
Dual the Rose on its bed of grey metal
A flower in a diptych, grail in a cryptic
puzzle and praise
Sing for our supper
Dual the Rose
A tribute to cryptic crosswords, and an indictment of the Vatican.
‘A Girl in Crimson’ is Susana Maiolo who knocked Pope Benedict XVI to the floor in 2009, an event that simultaneously broke the hip of the pope’s aid, French Cardinal Roger Etchegary, apparently in a bid to ask the pope to help the poorest people in the world.
‘Dual the Rose’ is a predictive text interpretation of ‘F^^k the P**e’.
‘Dualling the rosebuds’ refers to the multitude of cases of priests molesting, abusing and traumatising children in their care.
‘…on its bed of grey metal’ refers to allegations of Vatican investments in firearms.
In 2004 a book by Sandy Balfour called ‘Pretty Girl in Crimson Rose (8):A Memoir of Love, Exile, and Crosswords’ conveyed a cryptic clue in its title, the answer to it being: ‘REBELLED’…RE(BELLE)D
The Secret Word
In an early hallucinogenic experience I had received a word that was not to be repeated. Having held onto it for 30 years, I used the opportunity of writing a song about it as a cathartic means of letting it go.
So- it's all a bit of inspired madness I suppose, but I'm retrospectively reassured by the David Bowie quote in his advice to artists: :
"Always go a little further into the water than you feel you are capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. When you don't feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you're just about in the right place to do something exciting.”