Tuesday, 29 April 2008

µ-ZIQ: Roy Castle

His 1995 album …In Pine Effect, complete with cover illustration of a woodcarved record player, did not remain on catalogue for long, and is generally regarded as a moderately mischievous postscript to 1994’s Bluff Limbo, though in view of its dedication to his then newborn son Damon, Mike Paradinas was in a noticeably more playful mood throughout.

Roy Castle was almost the last of that once widespread breed, the all-round entertainer; actor, comedian, singer, dancer, multi-instrumentalist (although the trumpet was his primary instrument), and for many years the intrepid, try anything star of the BBC children’s series Record Breakers; he never quite made it to superstardom – he once said that he felt he lacked some essential quality to become a megastar but didn’t particularly regret not having it. Decades of blowing his trumpet in smoky clubs, however, left him with lung cancer through extreme passive smoking, and he passed on in 1994, aged just 62 and not without a long and typically sporting fight.

Almost uniquely for its time, µ-ziq’s “Roy Castle” was a non-ironic tribute to the man and Paradinas’ own childhood memories; it steadily builds up through a sternly and rather solemnly descending three-chord line as the beats come in, element by element. At 2:10 a jaunty, massed synth trumpet melody enters and the rhythm becomes progressively more excitable until at 3:15 it explodes with Paradinas’ typical Scrapheap Challenge cut-and-paste corrugated sheets of beats.

The tribute is a highly danceable and graceful one; solos on synth trumpet and trombone follow, and the beat matrix really does feel like heavy duty, yet curiously light, tap dancing. Eventually all of the elements coalesce in a hazy kaleidoscope of recalled haze for a final climactic celebration before everything disappears into an extended echo of melancholy remembrance. The lad from Holmfirth would certainly have approved.