Adam Bohman - Music and Words 2
Paradigm Discs. PD30. CD
There’s a guy walks around Cleckheaton covered in huge Kylie Minogue badges who mutters to himself. He’s never without a carrier bag the contents of which are numerous holiday photographs which he’ll gladly show you. He stands at the bar drinking out of his Leeds United pint glass and with typical unimaginative provincial humour gets called Stevie Strange.
The first time I saw Adam Bohman at a gig I thought of Stevie Strange. Bohman arrived at the gig and wandered about with numerous carrier bags in hand looking like a lost soul in search of the Mission. His carrier bags contained not photographs [well ... you never know] but various items of detritus with which he and the rest of Morphogenesis used to produce some rather wonderful electro-acoustic improv.
On ‘Music and Words 2’ we find Bohman capturing his every waking moment on a dictaphone. An accumulation of thoughts and observations. I doubt he can move around without it in his hand. Here we have his observations recorded in London, Southend and Wiesbaden, ‘The time is just after 9 a.m. and I’m in the Acre Lane Coffee House egg bacon sausage and fried slice tipping down with rain outside then I’ll walk down to the tube station and then to Heathrow for the flight to Frankfurt airport’ all recited in Bohman’s own splendidly lugubrious tone. At times he becomes more animated, adopting a Cockney accent to regale us with the delights of Southend sea front, ‘Rockettes, Thursday night laser disco karaoke …’ he edits as he goes along utilising his pause button with gay abandon ensuring that what you get comes in a seemingly random fashion with words disappearing mid sentence whilst others appear in similar fashion.
Humour is his greatest asset. I can’t think of any other artist working in the avant-garde who can reduce a listener to laughter. On ‘Barry on the Blower’ Bohman rings up the chart phone line [this was the early 80’s] ‘I wanna hear Barry Manilow’ he says in a childish voice before Barry appears down the crackly line. On ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’ Bohman joins in a traditional rendition of the song with what sounds like a rubber car horn. ‘Hectomaneous Masturbation’ is a punk influenced affair, an off his tits Viv Stanshall thrashing away at a Desperate Bicycles b-side. ‘Ordnance Survey’ sounds like the music from Trumpton with Bohman coughing his guts up [‘Ordnance Survey, yuk, yuk, yuk’]. ‘The Unfortunate Demise of Sammy Slug’ is a one minute drama recounting the demise of Sammy the Slug. Perhaps the most mirth inducing moments come during ‘The Lost Islands’ where Bohman uses his TV set as sparring partner making animal noises to a wildlife programme and farting noises to a musical box. ‘Is there anyone there’ says a TV character ‘NO!’ shouts Bohman at his television set. He joins in with dialogue and accompanies a theme tune as would a drunk Derek Bailey on a guitar with only two strings left on it, both out of tune. ‘When a Man’ finds Bohman [along with someone called Kenny] sparring words at each other in gruffer and gruffer voices.
And then theres the tape compositions, ‘Screams of the Undead Earthworms’ where tapes go to and fro over abused capstans as Bohman groans and gurgles into the mic like a deranged Michael Bentine. ‘Among the Twinkling Stars’ is a series of cut ups and edits culled from TV programmes replete with squished edits and more heavy duty use of the pause button. 'Galactic Radio Storm' appears to be short wave radio recordings given the pause/play treatment. ‘Music for Metal Pipe and Guitar’ is just that.
His greatest achievement is in making the mundane appear remarkable. His is a world where everything is remarkable, from a restaurant menu, to the contents of his fridge, to the synopsis of a TV programme, to the noise that a spring makes. Entering Adam Bohman’s world has all the benefits of a week in a remote cottage without contact to the outside world. He will realign your chakra [whatever that is], he will ying your yang. He will remind you that the world you live in is indeed a very special one. The man moves amongst us like no other. The recent exhibition of his art at London’s Cafe Oto has lead a step nearer to his beatification.
Twenty eight tracks and almost eighty minutes that span the early eighties right up until 2010 all expertly compiled by Clive Graham and culled from Bohman’s own cassette masters.
All this comes in a rather spiffing fold out digipak, one picture of which disturbed me no end; the picture of Bohamn with that toilet in the background. Is he in the same room as the toilet or was the door to the toilet left open? Did he and his three friends [I can see three plates, nothing gets past me] think not to shut the door? And the toilet lid has one of those hideous 70's fluffy covers. Very strange.