Wednesday 9 August 2017

Francis Monkman's missing album Dweller on the Threshold from 1981 [temporary only]

I guess I wasn't as complete as I thought in the Monkman catalogue, suddenly there appeared this release from 1981.  And as you know we here believe in completeness, given that there can be such surprises when you follow like an ant the scent trail of these wonderfully inventive artists who had such progressive potential within them from the very start, think my favourite, Orexis and Georg Lawall...

It's a bit shocking to see the level of star involvement in the musicians' list here, with (on some tracks) Ironton, Darryl Way on violin, Andy Latimer on bass, Bryan Ferry, Michael Giles (originally in KC of course) on drums.

A far-too positive review appears on progressor (first paragraph):

A solo album of the well-known multi-instrumentalist (Curved Air, 801, Sky), one of those underestimated works of the early 80s, the darkest time in the whole history of progressive, a time of the reign of the punk and disco stuff. The contributors also include such famous people as Andy Latimer of Camel and Julia Rathbone - a permanent female singer for Monkman's solo. Also, on Monkman's latest album of 1998 the lead vocals are from the two of them (by the way, their voices haven't changed for all those years: a kind of severe vocal from Maestro himself and a light, dramatic Julia's voice). As it is the case with the most progressive performers at the time, Monkman did add the modern electric sound. However, contrary to the prog musicians that turned to that path, the bright, fashionable synth flashes and accentuated rhythm guitar riffs here don't disappoint, quite conversely, they bring forward openly progressive themes and arrangements.

Best track is b3's The Glamour Of Magnetic Attraction Pulu Pshu with its really oddball melody, though the background 'throbbing' (to use the mandatory word in music reviews) rhythm section is a little too derivative (80s copycat) for my tastes.

I was really puzzled over the overall theme which makes this evidently a concept album, I thought maybe commissioned for a ballet or something, until I noticed some scans of liner notes on ebay and realized there is an insert here, on the record cover, which explains the thought processes.
Odd then that it ends with the christian psalm 23 (The Lord is my Shepherd).

From 'Ponder on This' a compilation from the writings of Alex Bailey and the Tibetan Master Djuchal Khul, reproduced by kind permission of the Lucas Trust.

Humanity is the Disciple-- the Time is Now

The Dalai Lama joins Duran Duran-- interesting.


  1. Hello, Dalai. Nice LP, Julian, many thanks!

  2. It doesn't quite work as an album but there is actually some great music here, beyond that mentioned in this cursory review

  3. This album exists in digital format...In fact in an interview Monkman states that this was the world's first digitally recorded album. Unfortunately the system used was not the one eventually taken up by the music industry, - Monkman's pioneering work becoming the 'Betamax' of digital recording if you like. He has resisted producing this album on CD because of the extra work involved in conversion as well as remastering etc.

    1. wow, that's interesting.
      We need to somehow put pressure on him to get the original digital recording and make a fresh CD from those-- the music is truly worth it.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. The 'Brian F' on the sleeve notes does not as stated refer to Brian Ferry, but to Brian 'Herbie' Flowers.

  7. Possible for brief retrieval?