Sunday, 7 February 2010

AAAH... ! - Slip Away 7" (UK 1982) + ARTISTIC CONTROL - Dance With Me



Let's begin with a fantastic slice of home demo-style catchy-as-hell synthpop - but with a dark halo - from 1982, released on Flesh Logic Records.

As a synth-struck youth I was lucky enough to hear this on David 'Kid' Jensen's early-evening show on BBC Radio 1. I taped it, and poor non-FM signal notwithstanding, it sounded great - right up with the best of its 'professional' peers. The production is way better than the usual garage standard, and the track itself is a thing of beauty. I remember Jensen saying on air that it had been sent to him, and he knew nothing about its origins other than it was postmarked from St Austell, Cornwall.

After the coming of the internet I searched for it a few times without success, until one day last year I found a cover image on Minimal Wave (www.minimal-wave.org). The cover gave away almost no details, but one name stood out: Henry Kent.

The excellent Fantasmi Macchina blog finally provided a downloadable mp3 of the track and its B-side, the competent but less interesting Duty Calls - look for posts in May 2008 and you'll find it. That was a happy day I can tell you, and many heartfelt thanks to Fantasmi. A bunch of blogs have now cottoned onto the single, but last summer I think only he had uploaded it.

This discovery led to two things: an increased determination to complete my own cover version, which I'd held in abeyance until I could get a better quality copy to work from, and a search to try to track down the enigmatic Mr Kent somewhere in the global internet village. After much fruitless donkey work I came across one Dr Henry Kent, a research fellow working for International Paper in Sterling Forest, USA. The signs were just as unpromising as all the other blind alleys I'd been down. Surely this couldn't be the guy I was looking for?

I turned up a blog of Henry's that revealed some personal info: a 'mad scientist' with a Ph.D in Theoretical Physics living in Bloomingburg, New York. An Englishman whose favourite city was Venice and who could decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics. And... a man with an electronic music studio in his basement who released 'a couple of crappy 7" singles in the 80s with my weird-haired synthesizer band AAAH!'

Eureka!

Dr Henry J. Kent's stumbleupon blog pic

In a state of near-elation I began looking forward to contacting Dr. Kent to see what he would say about the band, the music, and getting to hear the other enigmatic single release he'd mentioned in his blog. I went straight to the website address he gave: www.flesh-logic.com - this would surely answer some of my questions and perhaps provide contact details.

When I typed in the url, the link was no longer active.

Puzzled, I read his blog to see if I could establish why. Lots of quirky posts, evidence of a crazy sense of humour with lashings of innuendo, but no real information. Then I noticed the most recent blog was dated June 27, 2006. I was reading it on August 9, 2009, over three years later. Curious.

More digging needed.

A few minutes later I found a stumbleupon blog by one Denise R. , one of Henry Kent's 'favourites'. The entry was dated August 31, 2006. This is what it read:

'Dr. Henry J. Kent, a research fellow for International Paper in Sterling Forest died Wednesday, August 9, 2006 at his home in Bloomingburg. He was 53.

The son of Fredrick Kent and Margaret Wurzinger Kent, he was born February 2, 1953 in Plymouth, England.

Henry was a Research Fellow at International Paper in Sterling Forest from 1986 until 2004. His research included mathematical modeling of coatings and led a group of scientists in the design of novel instrumentation to characterize fundamental properties of paper. His published works include three papers in the Royal Society in London England, as well as numerous other contributions to the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI) in the United States. He held numerous U.S. Patents for his instrumentation. Recently he had been consulting for a number of companies in the U.S. and Europe. He was actively involved in the Save the Children programs.

He is survived by his wife, Patricia A. Reitemeyer Kent, at home; his parents of Austria; a son, Gene Kent of England; a daughter, Candice Kent of England; two stepsons, Keith Durchanek of Greenwood Lake and Christopher Durchanek of Bel Air, Md.; and a granddaughter, Caitlyn.

A memorial service was held Monday evening at the VanInwegen-Kenny Funeral Home in Wurtsboro.

Interment will be made in the family plot in Kindberg, Austria at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Assoc, P.O. Box 628, Monticello, NY 12701 or to the American Diabetes Assoc., Lower Hudson Valley Chapter, 200 White Plains Road, Suite 523, Tarrytown, NY 10591.'


So that's the story of my abortive effort to track down Henry Kent, weird-haired synthpop genius. Note that, creepily, I found out about his life and death three years to the day after he passed away. The lyrics ('Oh I won't die, slip away...') now seem just a little too heavily laced with irony.

I wish I had tried harder, earlier. I wish - obviously - that I could have discussed a lot of things with him, and perhaps helped in some way to find a new audience for his work. For now though, I'll have to be satisfied that I got to hear Slip Away back in the day, and it remains one of my favourite synthpop tracks. I hope my cover version (which I'll post later when I can figure out more about embedding tracks on my blog) will stand as a suitable testament to my love of this piece of music.

This still feels like unfinished business, knowing that he used to have a website with other music on that I haven't heard. Titles like Input: Output and Rise Robots, Rise only serve to whet the appetite. If anyone has any further information about HK, or links to more tracks - especially that second single, Neon & Nylon - please post a comment and make my day.

To download both tracks, courtesy of the great Crispy Nuggets blog, follow this link:

Crispy Nuggets: Slip Away & Duty Calls 7" mp3 download



Lyrics:

Ther's one outside, there's one inside me
There's one in her eyes, and they used to be blue

Everything, everything, everything, every heart and mind
Oh I won't die, slip away
Oh I won't die, slip away

Cheer for the still, they sing in colours
Cherished and vain, she moves like a movie

We try, we fail, we die, every day
Oh I won't die, slip away
Oh I won't die, slip away

A young boy called science vanished one day
Invented hallucination, threw the rest away

Everything, everything, everything, every heart and mind
Oh I won't die, slip away
Oh I won't die, slip away
Oh I won't die, slip away yeah yeah
Oh I won't die, just slip away


Enjoy.

UPDATE: The wonders of the internet - here's another cool early 80s track by Artistic Control called Dance With Me. The singer is Kez Stone, who was the vocalist and co-writer of Slip Away.
Kez Stone in Henry Kent's studio, early 80s

Henry, Kez and Henry's ex-wife Barbie (who also played on Slip Away), Cornwall early 80s.

Kez's YT channel is kezstone1, and I'm indebted to him for pix, correspondence and enthusiastic co-operation. I hope to be able to further update soon to include an interview with Kez plus the second single by AAAH! and audio of Henry talking about the early 80s St Austell music scene. Happy days!

12 comments:

  1. Henry would've loved this

    ReplyDelete
  2. I remember henry from the early eighties. This all brings back so many crazy memories! I was only 16 and he was 28!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have all 15 AAAH!tracks downloaded before the website vanished, what is best way to send them to you? Also couple of images of HK from early seventies

    Dentonisland

    ReplyDelete
  4. Old HK letters from the early seventies and other items perhaps of interest may be found at dentonisland.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. Mr. Horse Badorties9 June 2011 at 06:56

    I was the one who sent the record to Kid Jensen. I sent it as a request as I was going to Canada for a holiday (Which was partly true) Kid Jensen is or was Canadian. I do remember Barbie saying he didn't play it. What a suprise

    ReplyDelete
  6. I used to go to school with the girl in AHHH she was called Lisa Acari.

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