Great CD for the Holidays: Alan Moore’s SNAKES & LADDERS

“Within only fifty million years of this, life makes its debut. Eden was white-hot and radioactive. Eve and Adam were both anaerobic, breathed formaldehyde and cyanide.”
— Alan Moore. Snakes and Ladders

“Snakes and Ladders is currently available as a CD and comic. What’s it about? Well, it’s about Oliver Cromwell, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, the dawn of time and the information explosion, magic , the DNA double helix, and author Arthur Machen’s breakdown after the death of his wife, all in or around the Red Lion Square area of London.
Snakes and Ladders is a board game, here usually called Chutes and Ladders, where you can advance if you land on a ladder, or fall back if you land on a snake/chute. Moore uses the game as a metaphor for how life can be random. He also explores snakes in creation myths and as a metaphor for DNA.
It’s not for everybody, and you may have to listen to it several times to follow and enjoy, but if you have an appreciation of Alan Moore’s language and an interest in sometimes obscure English history, give it a try.”

— by Stephen Bitsoli @ http://bitsolisbibliofiles.blogspot.com/2011/07/snakes-and-ladders.html

Of the 6 or 7 CDs of Spoken Word by Alan Moore, this (along with MOON & SERPENT, recorded at the same time in 1999) is Moore’s finest hour, and one of the most haunting, insightful, and mind blowing CDs of all time. A+.

Today’s recommended Items!

“We have trampled on the backs of apes… to clutch the muddied hems of Angels.”

—Only Alan Moore could have written a line like that. I’ve been listening to one of his best CDs, the incendiary and game changing SNAKES AND LADDERS, 2nd only to Moore’s own excellent MOON AND SERPENT THEATRE OF MARVELS.

SNAKES AND LADDERS
SNAKES AND LADDERS

Moon & Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels
Moon & Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels

Other Recommended items:

Brought to Light – Gary Lloyd ; Audio CD -Essential Alan moore spoken word audio book
Brought to Light

Dead Man’s Shoes – Paddy Considine ; DVD – Essential British Crime Thriller
Dead Man’s Shoes

Enjoy!

CD of the Day Review! Alan Moore’s MOON AND SERPENT!

Review Alan Moore’s MOON AND SERPENT: It starts off with roller-coasters and rain, and there’s something fitting about that. That Moore’s finest, most all-encompassing work should start off with roller coasters and rain. Highlighted tracks are highly recommended listening.

Track 1 roller-coaster/carnival barker-“tell all your friends, tell all your enemies, tell all the people you do not know.” Goes to about the 5:30 mark. From the start, his most sonically, and stereoscopically mesmerizing CD.

Track 2 rain, a tour of London- Moore’s voice at once longing and hungry and haunted and stark. A dreamer two days dead, speaking of dreams. Speaking of London, all Londons. “hallucinated rain in a mirage of gutter… a phantom, speculated city, somewhere else… where do the Yarmouth breakers detonate, a distant semtex when we are away from yarmouth… these are the towns of light, built from remembered brick… where thought is form…locations we shall never visit that yet have their hearsay substance in our lives, and so are never far from us… metropolis erected out of nothing, only metaphor, and ringed with slums of dreams… a shadow London, our idea of London” Goes to about the 8:44 mark. 9/10.

Track3 a tour of London- “Move on to the city hypothetical… his Tesla grid of terror and magnificence…streets filthy with mythology… “ till about 13:20 mark

Track 4 Cray Twins/Double trouble – Brilliant use of stereo! Love listening to this. “two sides to every story, two doors to every cell” till 15:31 10/10

Track 5 St.Pauls/Diana -The heart of the City – Let us pay attention to St. Paul himself, a Proto-Mason , there in 1st Corinthians 3:10 he states “As a Master-builder I have laid foundations and another builds there on.” , “here is Diana chained, the soul of woman-kind bound in a web of ancient signs that women might abandon useless dreams of liberty” “be careful here” till 19:45

Track 6 Fleet and Bride Street –“they are the engineers of our exhaustion” “If this room is mirrored in idea space, what of we?” “…monologues we have mistaken for the world” “stay close together, these are stairways beyond substance, things get slippery here.” Till 24:50

Track 7 Into the Abyss – “Theory and belief are all we have to walk upon” A walk through idea spaces, through landscapes/mythologies… eclectic. Till 32:15.

Track 8 Spectre Garden- Angel Baeletic- “I am the daughter of fortitude, and ravished every hour of my youth” Haunting and beautiful. Till 35:24

Track 9 Demon Asmodeus- Sumptuous, disturbing use of sound. Till 40:02

Track 10 Deity/Glycon last created of the roman gods- “Proceed with caution, this is old power. And the idea of a god, a real idea” Till 44:10

Track 11 Tundra Absolute/The Final wasteland- “if we observe it, we affect it” He is dropping knowledge, no, not knowledge… wisdom… wisdom beyond the paltry dreams of science. Brilliance! Brilliance! Reaches a stunning conclusion, with a truly compelling performance by Alan Moore. A+. till 59:35

Track 12 End Music/Denouement- Don’t care for this folksy/wood nymph song, or the delivery. But not enough to mar this excellent CD. Till 63.07.

Overall grade: A+. Best of breed. Essential CD.

Moon & Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels

CD Review: Alan Moore’s THE BIRTH CAUL

This week’s recommended Album/CD:

THE BIRTH CAUL is the first of the six Alan Moore spoken word collaborations (typically with Bauhaus front man David J and/or Tim Perkins). As a whole the six albums are odd, dark recordings; mixing new wave, gothic, spoken word and the type of mourning, stream of consciousness litany, dissection of our human landscape… that has made Alan Moore, in the graphic medium, unparalleled. All his albums from the best (THE MOON AND SERPENT THEATRE OF MARVELS) to the worst (V FOR VENDETTA, worst is not fair, let’s just say… the least) should be listened to with headphones, or with good speakers in a dark room, holding on tightly to someone you love, while the world around you… darkly turns.

THE BIRTH CAUL is from 1996 and is arguably as a whole, one of the weaker of the six albums, but is just as arguably Moore’s most personal album, dealing as it does with Moore’s generational ruminations, both his eulogy and his diary of his travels from embryonic seas. There are, however, one or two tracks that stand out as pretty darn masterful.

The first track, the eponymous THE BIRTH CAUL is an endlessly haunting ode to Moore’s discovery of his birth caul, among his mother’s belongings. And the affect such a find has on him. “a map of lost interiors, first continents, upon its parchment breath the log of older tides”. The language makes this track… brilliant.

The next notable track, and the one that makes this album a must have is the absolutely addictive THE WORLD’S BLUNT ENGINE. Much love must go to David J for the sound-scape on this one, but the words… the words. What makes Alan Moore (I consider) the Shakespeare of his age is his ability to work in denigrated mediums, yet create insightful, cutting masterpieces and critiques of his age that will reverberate beyond him. It is his ability to use language like a scalpel and to employ it not in the slicing of flesh, but in the revealing of that strange common thing we might call… our humanity.

“We talk of work and films; and of the hurricane make not the least acknowledgement…Have sex each Friday. Screaming rows (fights) each Saturday. We Work and sleep. We work and sleep.”

A hard CD to find, long out of print, but worth the hunting down.

Birth Caul

Alan Moore UNEARTHING CD, LP, Spoken Word Review Pt 2 of 2

UNEARTHING The Review!

Now getting past the packaging and into the audio itself, it consists of 2 cds that comprise the audio book/audio odyssey proper and one CD filled with instrumental tracks (pretty catchy, a trance, hypno vibe, definitely of the school of sound created by the Dynamite Brothers. It works better as stand-alone ep, than as an accompaniment to Moore’s lyrics. More on this in a bit).

Ostensibly a biography on Steve Moore, supposedly a friend of Alan Moore for 40 years who taught him to write, am I the only one who has figured out Steven Moore is just a pseudonym for Alan Moore? What Stephen King would refer to as his Dark Half, his Richard Bachman, and UNEARTHING is him putting to rest, finally, this old friend of the id.

What’s that you say? “Steve Moore is a real person, has a page on the Internet and everything”. Well then he has to be real, hasn’t he?

UNEARTHING is Moore at what Poitier would call “The Summing up place” in his life, and it’s him putting his house in order. Using a pseudo biography to speak on larger themes of loneliness, loss, creation, mortality and magic. It takes a few listens to make out his journey, and when Moore deals most clearly with battles of the id the work is compelling.

However, unlike his collaboration with Bauhaus front man David J, here the music works against Moore’s monologue rather than with it. Quiet when it should be loud, and loud when it should be quiet.

So we’re left primarily with Moore’s voice to carry us through. And while Moore has an astounding voice, the subject matter is not as engaging.

It’s an interesting listen but ultimately one that tends to wear out its welcome relatively quickly.

So while I love the audacity of the packing, the actual content fails to live up to it. For those interested in seeing Moore’s
“A+” game when it comes to spoken word, try the brilliant MOON AND SERPENT, followed relatively closely by the almost as brilliant SNAKES AND LADDERS. I would also recommend BIRTH CAUL, HIGHBURY WORKING, and ANGEL PASSAGE, all before I would recommend UNEARTHING.

But for Alan Moore Completionists like myself, it will look pretty on your shelf. B+ for the packaging, B- for the content, earns it an average grade of B.

Alan Moore UNEARTHING CD, LP, Spoken Word Review Pt 1 of 2


UNEARTHING is Alan Moore’s 6th Spoken Word Album (not counting those he just lends his voice to, but only those that are him in mass), Aural Odyssey, and is easily his most lavishly packaged.

Arriving on one’s doorstep in a box big enough to bludgeon the unsuspecting, UNEARTHING is an elaborate slipcase that includes a more elaborate jacket, beautifully adorned with photographs by Mitch Jenkins of Alan Moore and company. The jacket includes a poster, a transcript of the lyrics, a photograph, 3 lps, and 3 cds.

Feel free to gasp, I did upon receiving it.

It is just an amazing tome, and hearkens back to old world concepts of form as part and parcel of function, and the packaging as part of the experience. An idea that is being lost, or buried, in today’s download, digitization, miniaturization age. But a download can’t grasp the child-like joy of receiving a package like this and the experience of leafing through its lavish contents. Nothing like having that CD or LP staring up at you, and that anticipation of voices from the ether, that you are about to discover.

Moore’s UNEARTHING in packaging alone dazzles and ingratiates and seduces and tells a story, and is art in and of itself. Like LPs of old,

And I am of that not yet extinct clan, who appreciates the journey, who appreciates a thing as a work of art onto itself, and as the first, inaudible part, of the process of embracing the world the artist is crafting.

To be continued