There are some albums which defy description and in the case of Confound and Disturb, it doesn't disappoint. The perpetrator, Robert Ramsay, is best known as the shouter-in-chief and lyric writer with eccentric English prog rockers Tinyfish, appearing with them in an array of carelessly selected costumes to deliver a soliloquy or three. Ramsay is also the best mate of Tinyfish frontman Simon Godfrey, who also features alongside him here, together with guitar maestro Matt Stevens.
Ramsay is the Edward Lear of Prog, delivering much nonsense and mayhem in 15 totally head-scratchingly out there tracks, ranging in length from 16 seconds to nearly 12 minutes. He begins semi-sensibly with Living Will, recorded in an echo chamber- to give it that all-important other-worldly quality. He bequeaths the Ramsay estate, cerebrally, aesthetically, mentally, humorously and culturally, as well as materially, to carefully selected recipients, and leaves the rest of the album to the listener. Cheers pal.
There's music of a sort, reminiscent of Otway & Barrett (Really Free) on Open Up A Hole, which Ramsay half sings in a slightly rap style. Wizard Ramsay and Wizard Wilfred offers one side of a surreal conversation involving magic rituals carried out in the smallest room in the house.
Tramps In Their Purest Form is a wonderful piece of surreal art reportage, enhanced by a musical accompaniment reminiscent of the incidental music from The Third Man. Nurrr - or something equivalent - is the name of the artist under scrutiny. He has a few run-ins with Damian Hurst before he produces art pieces involving snails, sheep and a 25 minute music conceptual piece called “Up Yours, Jon Anderson” before coming to a grisly end when he is devoured by one of his works.
Footsteps and a spooky swirling effect provide the rhythm and backdrop of the poem-like Ego Power. Showing his versatility in moving seamlessly between musical genres is The Real Rap, full of every day sound effects, including teeth cleaning, which depicts the normality of life (I think) plus a heavy beat and ill-mannered harmonica provided by Ramsay.
Stevens makes an early spoken guest appearance in The Black Box Society, before he later launches into one of his guitar extravaganzas, employing his characteristic loop effects for good measure. Pagoda is another little tall tale full of “coffee filled zombies” living in Chinese boxes while Hawaii Fried Chicken defies description though it might change your perception of chickens.
In between these tracks are four “Lessons”, all brief pearls of wisdom from the Ramsay school of surreal philosophy.
Working up to a big finish, Ramsay tackles his own version of I Ruled The World, that benefits from a lush musical background and an increasingly megalomaniac edge. And please don't ask about the final track Urban Crusoe as I have not the faintest what is going on save from a great harmonica intro, which lurches into nothing........until the 7.06 when Ramsay re-emerges, firstly enunciating the names of Egyptian gods then a series of numbers right up until the end. I have since discovered from the “composer” that Urban Crusoe is just the harmonica part while the rest is called Numbers Station, a five minute scary silence linking them.
Well, draw your own conclusions, listeners. It gets four stars from me for the sheer lunacy of it all.
**** Alison Reijman
Where to buy?
All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2017