Under a name (Trip Shrubb) taken from a gravestone in Northamptonshire, Michael Beckett presents a cool subterranean selection from his own 84-track transformation of one of the best records ever released: the Anthology of American Folk Music originally compiled by Harry Smith in 1952. Smith, a painter, filmmaker, and obsessive collector of everything from paper airplanes and string figures, to quilts and Ukrainian Easter eggs, curated the Anthology from thousands of 78 RPM records. Trewwer, Leud un Danz is an appropriate companion piece, which matches the obsessive nature of Smith‚Äôs vision, serves as a bizarre reminder that a lot of "old, weird, America" comes from older, weirder, Europe, and could also pass for a great soundtrack to Harry Smith‚Äôs simply wild experimental films such as Heaven and Earth Magic.
I am reminded of Eric Cantona, the footballer who faced criminal charges and widespread moral outrage for leaping into a hostile crowd and kung-fu kicking then thumping a particularly obnoxious fan. Asked if he wished to express regret, Cantona replied "I have one regret, I would have loved to have kicked him even harder." ¬†Well, no one is going to accuse Beckett of half-measures. In fact, I suggest that the reason he has sampled and "effected" the living blood, skin, and bone (plus marrow) daylights out of the¬†original source¬†material is because he loves it so much. Either way, he has given it an absolute shellacking. This is no pale¬†representation of the real thing. Nor is it a smug¬†authentication by an¬†earnest arty type in exchange for them basking in reflected glory. The icing on this¬†sauerkraut is that Beckett has even further disguised the material by translating song titles into the "Low German" dialect. Harry Smith himself would not recognize them in a blind hearing. I gave up trying to work out track titles after, possibly, cracking a couple. The psycho jet-lagged juju-dub rendition of "Wake up, Jacob" (originally by Prince Albert Hunt‚Äôs Texas Ramblers) lurches and swings so strangely that it could get away with being retitled "Jackie Mittoo‚Äôs Shoes In a Tumble Dryer (dub)".