Prolific punk pioneers Penny Rimbaud and Youth proudly present their collaboration album ‘Corpus Mei’, out November 19th via One Little Independent Records, with limited edition vinyl available from January.
In a conjoining of creative spirits, ‘Corpus Mei’ is a proclamation and, indeed, the re-establishment of a dream – “the romanticist vision of the one that is the all” as it’s described by Penny, “I once said that physicists are mystics armed with facts. This album plays with that truth wherein passion is expressed as an undeniable material force, and love, equally material, its raison d’etre: an old voice in a new setting.”
In a series of epic, cinematic soundscapes, Penny spits tales of the grotesque and absurd. Gargantuan sermons delivered in counter to swelling, emotive orchestration where he and former bandmate Eve Libertine deliver a slew of anti-capitalist weaponised poetry. With their carefully constructed verse they arm the listener against corrupt institutional powers as well as the abstract. High concept and highly descriptive, these vivid and dramatic pictures are painted with artful, honest passion against a monstrous, post-apocalyptic backdrop.
Recorded and mixed over the year 2011 and then remixed in 2019 (it took all that time to see the depths), ‘Corpus Mei’ brings together two disparate elements and makes them as one – Penny Rimbaud and Youth. Rimbaud is perhaps best known as a founder member, drummer and lyricist of the seminal anarchist punk band Crass. Since those times, he has dedicated his life to the headier pursuits of poetics and philosophy. Youth, whose post punk band, Killing Joke, remains a vibrant musical force, has at the same time become one of the most sought-after record producers of today. Realising from the outset that they shared an interest in the creation and promotion of “matters spiritual”, these two now legendary characters set out to recreate and externalize the dream that it might further become a living reality.
But this was not to be a piece of self-conscious preciousness (both Rimbaud and Youth are far too abrupt for that). So, no questions were asked, no plans laid down, no agenda fixed – the album would create itself, or no album would be made. Youth had a wealth of compositions, many already recorded and waiting for a home, and Rimbaud had volumes of poetry to bring into the fold. The process was this: Youth would present the track and Rimbaud would finger his way through the pages looking for the right words, at which point the vocal recording was made, on all occasions on first take. In each and every case the results
were absurdly precise, falling together in a natural, organic manner as if the tracks had been composed specifically for the chosen lyric. For example, Youth had composed a track whilst sitting on Mount Sinai. Without knowing its history, it was to this track Rimbaud chose to add his landscape poem, ‘You Brave Old Land’, written whilst travelling through Wordsworth’s treasured Lake District – a psychic knot was tied. On another occasion, Youth played a track which to Rimbaud’s ears was clearly, unintentionally, an arrangement of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’. Again, the result proved the point – leave art to get on with its alchemic self and that is precisely what it will do: the magick being that it is no magick at all – it’s a simple fact.
Having completed the vocal additions to nine tracks, Rimbaud suggested calling in Libertine, one of Crass’ lead vocalists with whom he has continued to work since they disbanded in 1984. She laid down one new track and then further lyrics and backing vocals to the existing ones. Finally, improvisational overdubs were added by three musicians with whom Rimbaud had worked extensively – Louise Elliott on flute and tenor sax, Kate Shortt on cello, Tony Barber on electric bass, plus the sixteen-year-old violinist, Isabella Kolaczynska, whose playing had caught Rimbaud’s ear earlier that year.
“Recording and writing this album was an intense and wonderful experience” Youth tells us, “Penny is one of the great visionary poets of our generation. A seer and prophet… crying to the universe, alone up on the mountain. Part Blake, Part John the Baptist and part Buddha. His is the limb nailed to the cross of our cultural banality. Such a narrative demands a suitably epic backdrop. Composing and producing this music, as a foil to Penny’s beautiful and terrifying, almost biblical monologues, has been one of my greatest achievements in over 40 years of making music. The themes reveal Penny’s almost psychic pre-cognition of today’s dystopia and the sudden slo-mo apocalypse were all living through now. Nevertheless, it leaves you with a feeling of hope, inspiration and many positive possibilities. This was a great challenge and a deep channeling in itself. Despite the serious nature of the work we were mostly laughing and really enjoying each other’s company, the sessions were filled with joy and love.”
“Throughout the recording of ‘Corpus Mei’” Penny says, “the symbiosis was proved – we are as one, above as below. Trust that wisdom, and creative love will prevail: the very core before the apple”.
About Penny Rimbaud
In 1977, alongside Steve Ignorant, Penny Rimbaud co-founded seminal anarchist punk band Crass, who disbanded in 1984. Up until 2000, he devoted himself almost entirely to writing, returning to the public platform in 2001 as a performance poet working alongside a wide variety of jazz musicians. In 2003, together with Crass vocalist Eve Libertine, he founded what was at first known as ‘The Crass Collective’, then ‘The Crass Agenda’, then ‘The Last Amendment’ and finally ‘L’Académie des Vanités’ – a loose collective of jazz musicians, artists and filmmakers who shared Rimbaud’s lifelong interest in progressive, improvisational art. Rimbaud, a veteran of avant-garde performance art groups such as EXIT and Ceres Confusion, not only co-founded Stonehenge Free Festival, but he also founded and, along with Gee Vaucher, to this day runs the legendary anarchist/pacifist open house Dial House in Essex.
Youth is a highly respected and versatile producer and remixer, plus the former bass player from seminal post-punk band Killing Joke. He has produced or remixed for a diverse range of artists, including The Verve, Embrace, Crowded House, Pink Floyd, U2, the Orb, INXS, James, The Charlatans, Texas, and Tom Jones. He’s also a member of The Fireman, along with Paul McCartney.
Born Martin Glover in 1960, he began producing while still with Killing Joke and left the band in 1982 to pursue solo projects, the first of which was the band Brilliant (including contributions from Jimmy Cauty, later of the KLF). He then worked with the successful dance act Blue Pearl before producing and helping to write the Orb’s first two albums. More dance-oriented productions followed in the form of work with Transglobal Underground and P.M. Dawn. In 1991, he also formed Butterfly and Dragonfly Records, ground-breaking labels for ambient and trance recordings. In 1994, Youth resumed work with Killing Joke, appearing on their well-received ‘Pandemonium’ and ‘Democracy’ collections. One of his most significant production credits was on The Verve’s hugely successful ‘Urban Hymns’, which topped the British album charts for several weeks and included the U.K. number one single ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’ and the Top Ten hits ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ and ‘Lucky Man’. The album won the U.K.’s 1998 BRIT Award for Best Album, while Youth won the Producer of the Year award. He announced a new record label in December 2020, The Youth Sounds imprint will unleash an innovative, exciting and varied array of artists.