Music From the West Cornwall Museum of Mechanical Music (SDLB-248) (1973)


Ignoring the No Trespassing signs, two teenage boys furtively climb the fence surrounding the abandoned grounds of the Lynde Fun Fair on Mount Vernon, Ohio’s north  side, adjacent Route 3. They need a private place to smoke marijuana and proceed to a dilapidated bandstand in the center of the grounds. The wood on the gazebo is rotting and shifts slightly as the high school seniors take the weight off their feet.

“It’s just some old Haystacks Calhoun fartdust,” says Shaun dismissively of his stash as he slides the swivel-lid across the bowl, replaces a resin encrusted screen and begins loading Dan’s brass Proto-Pipe™ with some homegrown. The bowl packed, he lights the weed, takes a deep hit and holds the smoke in his lungs for a full 30 seconds, exhaling a virtual cumulus cloud of pungent smoke and involuntarily coughing. His friend follows.

As the two pass the pipe back and forth, reloading several times, the pleasant effects of the herbs take on a mild hallucinatory quality.

“Dude,” says Dan, all at once. “I hear the unmistakable strains of Grieg’s ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’ as if played by a Merry-Go-Round pipe organ.”

Shaun, who’d been lost an erotic reverie involving the  Mount Vernon Senior High School girls’ shower room and cheerleading squad, comes round and listens intently.

“It’s faint, but it sounds more like ‘Gay Parisienne’ by Offenbach,” he replies. “Played in a very stilted way and ever so slightly off-key.”

“The effect, especially in this context and under the influence of pot, is quite creepy,” he adds, his now reddened eyes darting this way and that, scanning the disused amusement park for signs of any company.

“Yes, it’s turned very Scooby-Doo-‘If-it-wasn’t-for-those-darn-kids’ around here,” says Dan, making to leave.

The music changes. A piano boogie by Irving Berlin wafts among the half-fallen stalls. How odd. They listen, unable to move.

“Jesus, what’s that,” calls Dan suddenly. “It’s almost as if I hear an early sampling keyboard like a Mellotron.”

“It’s reproducing a violin sound in the most uncanny way,” agrees Shaun. “Come on, let’s go, I’ve had enough of these phantom automatic musical instruments.”

As the pair clamber over the fence and on to Dan’s basement bedroom to play Dungeons & Dragons, they are watched by the unseen eyes of the Fun Fair’s old caretaker, Mr. Gillespie, standing by a Garrard turntable, just flipping over his Music From the West Cornwall Museum of Mechanical Music Lp. He is alone in the fair’s workshop where he comes to escape Mrs. Gillespie who abuses him, sometimes even striking him with coffee mugs if she’s been drinking.

Published in: on May 9, 2012 at 11:05 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. a most entertaining review, but also a record i should like to hear just from the point of view of being interested in pioneering musical sounds and inventions… talking of which, i have just stumbled across a couple of guys from the 1950’s called tom dissevelt and kid baltan who unlike their peers that only ever seemed to produce random blips and beeps and whooshes, actually made rhythmic electronically-generated music… thus pre-dating kraftwerk by at least 10 years!

    ps – another thing of interest about this record (and its era) is that the reviewer uses the word “gay” in neither a non-heterosexual or postmodern-ironic way!

  2. Thanks for the Dissevelt/Baltan tip. I checked it on Youtube. What cool stuff.

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