Basil Kirchin - Primitive London (Trunk)

A re-discovered gem from a man, who the phrase 'unappreciated in his own time' is all too relevant.

Released Jan 10th, 2011 via Trunk / By Norman Miller
Basil Kirchin - Primitive London (Trunk) Largely unheralded during his prime between the late 1950s and early 70s, it's great to see drummer Basil Kirchin gradually getting the recognition he deserves as a supremely talented composer whose open-minded jazz-infused works influenced people as diverse as Eno and Coil.

Despite the avant-garde name-checks, Kirchin's music often showed off its beauty by ploughing in some low-brow furrows – here, a couple of trashy B-movie soundtracks that might sound kitsch until you start listening to the invention and quality of playing (this is a guy who had Jimmy Page doing session stuff on some of his 60s work).

Primitive London has a key place in British film history as the UK's first 'Mondo' movie (think a Brit take on Russ Meyer) – a world that culled its imagery from strip joints, drinking dens, beatnik hangouts and the general underside of society. How Kirchin came to do the soundtrack remains a mystery but the result is like a bastard offspring of prog meets cool jazz in a louche 60s cocktail bar.

The vibe is jazzy but the content draws on drones, jerky rhythms and quirky diversions – at once groovy and unsettling. The sharp-eared may also note a similarity between early tracks and Bernard Herrmann's score for Taxi Drive a decade later...

Accompanying the Primitive London soundtrack is another Kirchin wrote six years later for a tough Brit crime flick called The Freelance (an early appearance for a young Ian McShane). If the earlier work was crazily groovy, by contrast this smacks more of fine progressive jazz whose insistent percussion and gorgeous brass echoes Miles in a Bitches Brew-meets-Sketches of Spain way.

A very welcome release, and for those keen to hear more of Kirchin and see how he inspired everything from prog to ambient drone check out Abstractions Of The Industrial North and Quantum.