Sunday, 10 February 2013

paul constance of the open hand presents the baglama masters of the bazaar

Elektron records, October 1969

PMR E55 6300 (mono)
PSR E55 6300  (stereo)

Original sleeve notes:

These are the days of THE OPEN HAND. And through the fickle fingers of fate Mr Paul Constance, open guitarist extraordinaire and all round citizen of the world found himself a stranger in a strange land. Stumbling from the steely gaze of the border patrols he was rescued by the siren song of MUSIC flowing across the hostile plains from the local trading post, MUSIC of the people. Welcomed with THE OPEN HAND of the true musician, Paul took his fill in ears and heart and tape recorder and now he asks you to OPEN your soul to the baglama masters of the bazaar.

"When Paul Constance came to the bazaar my brother ran to the border and shouted "There is a guy here with a recording machine that works, come see!". My father and I did not believe him but we left our post and took our instruments. That night we marvelled at the miracle of a tape spool running and our own sound echoing back over the desert, the first time we had heard ourselves in many years. We had a big party, with Paul and his blonde girl dancing and singing, and then it was morning and they were gone." - Abdul Hadi Fazi, The Borderline Bazaar, September 1969.

Track Listing:
  1.   Border song  - 5.58 ( أغنية الحدود )  
  2.   People dancing forever and long forgotten – 2:22
  3.   Which side of the mountain can you trust – 8:06
  4.   Your Eyes Are Like The Blacked Out Sky – 10:35
  5.   What cannot be heard – 5:55
  6. "Your Eyes Are Like The Blacked Out Sky" (reprise with flute) – 18:04
Reviews and critical response:

New Musical Express, 29 October 1969:  "The most exciting aspect of this unusual album is not so much that it contains the first solo recordings ever by any member of The Open Hand to date, but that Paul Constance himself hardly appears on his own LP, the music being supplied by the virtuoso musicians who entertain the weary travellers at a remote desert trading post. If this is an example of what the travels of Constance can lead him to then long may his experiments continue to push out past the accepted frontiers of pop.

It would be hard to pick a stand-out track but the cumulative effect is like being ship wrecked in a sandstorm, as thousands of individual pin sharp notes rise and crash like the waves against your senses.

The latter part of the album is one long freakout, and makes for more challenging listening, especially midway through the the reprise of "Your eyes are like the blacked out sky" where a lone female vocalist becomes increasingly prominent, moving through a series of modular melodies and chants before ending with something which, to these unaccustomed western ears at least, rather resembles agonised screaming.

All in all though, a brave step forward and a nice stop gap before the back to basics Hand album we have been promised by Christmas."

Rolling Stone, November 1969:   "...Jesus Christ someone bazooka these baglamas..."

Total Music Guide (2005):  "A forgotten footnote in the history of rock, this poorly recorded series of five cheesy tourist friendly folk tunes and one nightmarish jam was put together by Open Hand guitarist Paul Constance from tapes made, presumably, whilst stoned out of his head in some hookah den somewhere. The final track briefly gained notoriety through the suggestion that the un-named female vocalist on side two of the album was in fact Samantha Moon, which would make the rather disturbing content of "Your eyes are like the blacked out sky (reprise)" her last known recording prior to her disappearance. Never available after the original pressing, this is one footnote which deserves to stay at the bottom of the page"  NO STARS.

Your eyes are like the blacked out sky (reprise) link temporarily unavailable.

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