A good spoken word album is well balanced. The music is like a deck chair for the voices. It must hold you comfortably and make you want to close your eyes, without nodding off. It's a tough assignment.
Recitement by Dutch composer and musician Stephen Emmer is one of those rare albums where music and vocals mix beautifully. With short stories and poems in English, French, Portugese, Spanish and Dutch it is easy to dismiss this collection as a highbrow ragbag album, especially when Emmer brings out the dead (Richard Burton and Allen Ginsberg) to deliver some of the stories. However, he steers clear of the pitfalls and all tracks can hold their own. Highlights are the Charles Baudelaire poem La Beauté narrated by Sylvia Kristel and Lou Reed in his distinctive deadpan for the Paul Theroux snippet Passengers. In hindsight the inclusion of the poem Soms bidden om een kwieke dood (to pray for a quick death sometimes) by the recently deceased Hugo Claus was a prophetic choice.
Emmer is a well-versed composer who has earned his chops. He can come up with seventies Bowie Disconnected, jazz (Gaan) and African rhythms (Soweto Sonata). The list of contributing musicians to Recitement is a long as your arm, with Tony Visconti as the mixing guru. Buy this for that condescending friend who is always bragging about having heard it all. It will make him listen and listen again (and shut up him as well).
Vocal performers on Recitement are Lou Reed, Allen Ginsberg, Sylvia Kristel, Kurt Schwitters, Jorge Luis Borges,
Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Michael Lonsdale, Sacha de Boer, Ken Nordine and Richard Burton.
Literary source texts are from Charles Baudelaire, Yoko Ono, Samuel Beckett, Alessandro Baricco, Christopher Fry, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Paul Theroux, Victoria Ocampo, Remco Campert, Hugo Claus and Thomas Hardy.
Watch the video for Passengers featuring Lou Reed.
Recitement is released in the UK April 7th on Supertracks Records.