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Grey Windowpane, "Barnie Bewail: A Film Soundtrack"

Barnie Bewail: A Film SoundtrackThis is a weird one. Billed as a film soundtrack—although I cannot seem to find any evidence of the film actually existing—this tape from enigmatic UK artist Grey Windowpane is all over the place as far as styles go. Free improvisation electronics, bedroom pop numbers, and random interludes are all scattered about this cassette. The lo-fi sound and production serve as a unifying factor on these 11 songs, giving an slight sense of continuity within the chaos.

Half-a-Million Records

Loose, drifting noises are a constant from piece to piece: they underscore the crusty organ of "C.E. Last Hurry CUF," the precursor to the churning loops of "Manny Soaked My Arm in There," and as part of the open space and random voices of "Jubilee." There are other, more chaotic pieces, such as the clattering thumping collage of the aforementioned "Manny" feature hints of musical tones and melody, but never quite get there.

The biggest highlights on this tape for me are when Grey Windowpane makes overtures towards conventional music. The layered vocals and stiff beat of "Oh, Here's My Skull" is pure bedroom four-track aesthetics, but the chiming melody is infectious to say the least. "Barnie Bewail" is also straight-ahead synth pop demo track work, with an insistent drum machine and raw vocals extremely up front in the mix. Closing "In a Fantasy (Livin')" brings that feel back to end the tape, all overdrive keyboards and gauzy, processed guitar melodies fleshing things out.

Whether an actual or an imaginary soundtrack, Barnie Bewail is an enjoyable piece of strangeness. With little information available on the artist or their other works, the mystery just adds to the off-kilter vibe throughout here. Unpredictable, bizarre, but totally fun, the sprawling aversion to genre boundaries are what solidifies this tape as a great one.

Listen here.