Under The Dark Cloth

Under the Dark Cloth

Under the Dark Cloth

I had never heard of Duke Special, let alone Under The Dark Cloth, until last week when I went to pick up a CD by By Duke Special at the West End Centre. A pity not a few days sooner, because if I had, I may have gone to see Duke Special, at least after listening to Under the Dark Cloth, but I had missed by a day.

Under the Dark Cloth is an amazing album. The songs are based on the photographs of Stieglitz, Steichen & Strand, first performed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

After performing at a small festival in New York in March 2010, Duke was asked by Spectrum, an initiative of the Museum, to visit them the following day. They wanted him to consider a collaboration with the Department of Photographs and an exhibition of the work of Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen and Paul Strand. The songs on this recording are the result of a year’s living with the images, reading about the photographers, their subjects, their equipment and the times in which they lived and worked. They were first performed in March 2011 in New York at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

When a new media come along, everyone treats it as what went before. It takes some time before its possibilities are explored.

Under The Dark Cloth is classic of not making use of what the new media has to offer. It is available on bandcamp as digital download. Why not embed the pictures, why not display for each song on bandcamp?

Its also perverse that Duke Special, having released Under The Dark Cloth on bandcamp, has failed to release anything else on bandcamp.

I picked up Oh Pioneer from the West End Centre. What it is like I have no idea as I have yet to find the time to listen. But let us assume, on the basis of Under The Dark Cloth it is worth listening to. If it is, unlike Under The Dark Cloth, I cannot share with others that listening experience.

West End Centre is a cultural oasis in the cultural wasteland that is Aldershot, located in what was a former school, a few minutes walk from the dead and dying town centre.

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