ANTHONY MOORE Secrets Of The Blue Bag (Blueprint)

Anthony Moore is a member of the eccentric Hamburg-based combo Slapp Happy, and also contributed lyrics to Pink Floyd's dreary post-Roger Waters comeback album "A Momentary Lapse Of Reason". Prior to Slapp Happy, Moore recorded a series of solo albums (dismissed by "Rock The Rough Guide" as "frankly tedious") of which "Secrets Of The Blue Bag" (the Blue Bag being an early Chinese expression for the sky, or universe) appears to be the second. It has now been released on CD for the first time outside Japan, apparently due to pressure from Moore's loyal fanbase.

Technically, according to the sleevenotes, "Secrets Of The Blue Bag" is "the one hundred and twenty five notes of the diatonic scale…combined and recombined". Unsurprisingly, this makes for an album that sounds not dissimilar to the kind of systems music championed by Brian Eno, Michael Nyman and Phillip Glass, among others. If you can imagine Steve Reich rearranging Ravel's "Bolero" for a voice and string quartet then you're close to the sound captured here. Brief fragments of looped melody drift in and out of phase with each other over yawning stretches of time and space, floating gradually from moments of quiet beauty to outbreaks of frantic bowing, scratching and scraping. Most composers would prefer to accomplish this kind of experimentation with tape effects, and it's a credit to the stamina of the uncredited performers that they were able to negotiate this slippery, tortuous music live. I can appreciate the "Rough Guide" opinion - most listeners would probably beg for mercy after a few bars of "Secrets Of The Blue Bag", let alone withstand the whole 45 minute experience - but there's something fresh, nave and charming about this album that makes me glad I've heard it, even if I can't see myself returning to it much in the future.