Released in 1977 the songs on Kew. Rhone. engaged lyrically with three interrelated themes: Omen (the reading/interpretation of signs), Nomen (the power of names, the pros and cons of identity), and Numen (the spirit in matter, the numinous). This illustrated exegetical memoir likewise engages with those themes in an experimental reading and interpretation, an attempt to name and identify some of Kew. Rhone.’s sources, and to invest the material with something like a ‘spirit’.
Kew. Rhone. would never trouble the charts, it aspired to higher things, and yet, re-released in various formats over the decades, curiosity about this categorically elusive work has grown. Now its authors and some of its connoisseurs have broken silence to discuss the record and to reflect upon the times in which it and they themselves were forged. Peter Blegvad, Kew. Rhone. ’s lyricist and illustrator, excavates each song in turn, uncovering themes and sources. In the second part of the book, a consortium of writers and artists respond to the album in various ways, illuminating without dispelling the mystery of a work designed to resist interpretation even as it invites it. With contributions from: Amy Beal, Carla Bley, Franklin Bruno, Sheridan Coakley, Jonathan Coe, Jane Colling, Andrew Cyrille, François Ducat, John Greaves, Doug Harvey, Lisa Herman, Jeff Hoke, Dana Johnson, Andrew Joron, Glenn Kenny, Frank Key, Simon Lucas, Karen Mantler, Harry Mathews, Tanya Peixoto, Benjamin Piekut, Margit Rosen, Philip Tagney, Robert Wyatt, Rafi Zabor and Siegfried Zielinski.
Robert Wyatt: “They say that the term ‘very unique’ is an oxymoron, but I don’t think so. Everyone is unique, but a man with two heads is VERY unique. ‘Kew. Rhone.’ is a record with two heads. Two great minds, with a singular vision. Peter’s imagery is wonderful. John’s music is wonderful. There’s more real content on this record than any other I can think of. And, it’s perfectly executed. ‘Kew. Rhone.’ IS very unique.” Andrew Joron: “One of the few rock albums I’d consider genuinely surrealist in spirit and composition.”
Peter Blegvad is a musician, songwriter, graphic artist, writer, teacher and broadcaster. Born in New York, he lives in London with his wife, the painter Chloë Fremantle. He has been writing and recording music since the mid-1970s with Slapp Happy, Faust, Henry Cow, the Golden Palominos, John Zorn, Andy Partridge and others. He has supplied BBC Radio 3 with many dozens of ‘eartoons’ since 2002, winning a Sony award in 2003 and another in 2012 for one of his longer radio works (collaborations with sound designer, Iain Chambers). His weekly comic strip, Leviathan , ran in the Independent on Sunday from 1991 – 98 and The Book of Leviathan was published in 2000 by Sort of Books. A French translation was published by l’Apocalypse in 2013 and won a Prix Révélation at the Angoulême Festival. He is Senior Tutor in Visual Writing at the Royal College of Art and has taught at many other institutions in the UK and abroad. In 2000 he was Awarded the Ordre de la Grande Gidouille by the Collège de ’Pataphysique, Paris, and in 2011 was elected president of the London Institute of ’Pataphysics. He co-hosts the Amateur Enterprises website (www.amateur.org.uk) with Simon Lucas