Inspiration can come from just about anywhere, and in the case of Brit producer James Nichols, that “anywhere” happened to be a bookstore. Chamber Music is a collection of poems by Irish poet James Joyce, inspiring to the point of a media-crossing piece of work in Nichols’ eyes. He has put all 36 verses of Joyce’s work to music, in one handy-dandy compilation!
The album bears the same name as the book, and, naturally, there are a matching number of artists to “cover” those 36 verses, including Mercury Rev, Mike Watt, Virgin Passages, Flying Saucer Attack, and Sweet Trip, to name a few. The knockout punch comes from Peter Buck of R.E.M. and Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth, who add their expertise to the album, which definitely delivers in that vintage, 1907 Irish kind of way. Just ask Wired or NPR what they think about it, they’ll tell you.
Following in Joyce’s own wishes–he actually believed his poems were better suited for music–Nichols grants a gift that no other has attempted in full. Listen for a fusion of modern music and “songwriter” (never expected that title, did he?) Joyce’s lyrics and feel the steam it produces! Electronica versus folk versus pop/rock and whatever else you can imagine allows for a diversion from the norm that only a collision of literature and music can produce.
MP3: Virgin Passages – vi