A Slapstick Life is Moff Skellington’s 45th release and is a collection of tunes based around an early recording of his called “Remembering a Slapstick Life”. It is released digitally via German Shepherd Records on August 21st 2020.
The music on the new release is rooted in old jazz and ragtime recordings, described by Moff as a Hal Roach fever dream.
The track entitled ” Remembering a Slapstick Life ” is a montage of recordings from the original project from 1985-90. Moff took the Picasso/ Matisse path and used only what was irreducible, so it could be termed “Atomic”. The track has echoes of Viv Stanshall and the construction of the varying layers and elements is very good indeed – we were reminded of John Zorn’s “cut-up” music as evidenced on “The Big Gundown” and “Spillane” albums.
The recordings are full of jazz ghosts and narration is delivered by Babe Handy i.e. W C Handy meets Oliver ‘ Babe ‘ Hardy, thereby consummating the marriage between jazz and slapstick. Handy’s voice might be perceived as belonging to an overweight and seedy northern comic from the early seventies.
The listener is transported to Weimar Republic Berlin where Brecht and Weill might be constructing an entertainment for the theatre. And there’s a piece of synchronicity in that Chaplin’s “The Gold Rush” had a significant impact on Brecht. Slapstick is omnipresent.
The track “Fragile Comfort Seeker” is a particular favourite with a “wandering” sound underneath the narrative.
Moff has captured the music of the slapstick era wonderfully although it is heard through the prism of Eddodi – if indeed you can hear things through a prism.