By Eyal Hareuveni
The Parisian Lenka Lente Editions specializes in publishing collections of poetic texts matched with experimental-improvised music, sometimes by jazz musicians such as sax players Jackie McLean and Daunik Lazro and more often by alternative musicians like Nurse with Wound (aka Steven Stapleton) or Bill Nace.
Lenka Lente latest edition feature writer, poet and editor Charles Plymell (born in 1935), who was nicknamed as the ‘original hipster’ and is one of the legendary figures of the Beat Generation. In 1963 he shared a house in San Francisco with poet Allen Ginsberg and Neal Cassady, the protagonist of Jack Kerouac's On the Road. There and at that time he wrote his most famous poem “Apocalypse Rose”, published in 1966 by the City Lights Journal and later that year in his first book of poetry with an introduction by Ginsberg.
Fifty years later this electric poem is presented in a French translation, along the original English version, with a CDR that features music by guitarist Bill Nace, inspired by the poem. Nace, who runs the Open Mouth label, is also a visual artist, plays in the Body/Head duo with Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and collaborates frequently with free-spirited improvisers as sax legend Joe McPhee, cellist Okkyung Lee, and drummer Chris Corsano.
Nace's 16-minutes instrumental abstraction of this free-associative poem mirrors beautifully its dense, hallucinogenic images. Nace arranged a slow, hypnotic drone, first played on a distant, Far Eastern-tinged acoustic guitar, that later morphs into a quiet, and even quieter claustrophobic-electric rustle, that fits the closing lines of the poem:
The blood that fell on each new tomorrow
And you saw this as I was watching you.
Under the influence of all your stars,
In mirrors of your galaxies of blue,
The hero and his love became your scars
But this rose picked could not be picked anew.
To measure you and me in full disguise
I lay beside our rose of paradise.