Pass the Distance
||"Where's Your Master Gone"
I can't tell you how many people have unsuccessfully come into
Other Music in search of this album, which until now has only
turned up every once in a great while in our used bin, and even
then in a non-official version. Durtro, the label run by Current
93's David Tibet, is responsible for the first-ever legitimate
CD reissue of Simon Finn's incredibly rare and sought-after 1970
album Pass The Distance. This is psychedelic folk at its
finest: Intuitive, immediate, vulnerable, emotional, chaotic,
dark, lonely, world-weary, naive, incredibly human.
While recording the album, Finn was joined in the studio by several
accompanying musicians, one of whom was a very young David Toop.
Toop was given free reign to play an incredible number of instruments
including guitar, mandolin, flute, harmonium, accordion, and violin.
The fact that he admittedly didn't know how to play many of them
explains for the strange bare-bones arrangements. As with some
of the best works of art, the so-called mistakes make the work
all the more fascinating. Parts of the record are beautiful and
idyllic, but there's an unsettling and sometimes terrifying undercurrent
to some of the music that reminds me of Comus. There are several
moments when Finn sounds like he's on the verge of a total breakdown,
and it's a miracle that the songs don't ever fall completely apart
Finn's legacy looms large over the music of contemporary folk
revivalists and experimenters like Richard Youngs and Devendra
Banhart. Pass The Distance has been remastered from the
original tapes, and it sounds a whole lot richer than any of the
old bootlegs. It includes liner notes by Simon Finn, David Toop,
David Tibet, and Mushroom Records owner Vic Keary, plus some great
shambolic Donovanesque folk-pop bonus tracks (one of which Finn
wrote at age 12), and photos of the enigmatic singer-songwriter
himself (he actually looks a lot like Devendra). Simon Finn is
still around, living in Canada and apparently working on a new
album, and best of all he's supposed to play in Brooklyn in August.
Rumor has it that this disc might not remain in print for long,
so don't hesitate if you're interested in picking this up. One
of the year's most essential psych reissues. [RH]