[2 January 2007]
From instrumental themes of 1960s British kiddie shows to charming little ditties about elves and trolls, this loopy, endearing collection has been lovingly assembled by Trunk Records head Jonny Trunk under the loose organizing principle that dusty children’s music of the past carries mildly ominous undertones that add subtle emotional heft when heard in a fresh context. Indeed, haunting opening track “I Start Counting”, by electronic music innovator Basil Kirchin, served as the theme song of the spooky (and regrettably forgotten) 1969 film of the same title, and several other tracks could easily portend dark undercurrents if played over grainy opening scenes of children at play. Many of the tracks reflect proto-twee sensibilities, anticipating the later C86 movement, but with deeper folk roots. Singer Orriel Smith brings a fragile innocence to the ultra-obscure single “Tiffany Glass”, while Christopher Casson infuses a thirty-second “Twinkle Twinkle” with more yearning than seemed possible. True to Trunk’s theme, both sound ready to topple at the slightest exposure to worldly corruption, and yet both sound secretly braced for just that. Trunk packs much diversity into fifteen tracks; instrumentation includes flutes, various contraptions involving mallets, and even raging kazoos, as well as the hypnotic “Folk Guitar” of Claude Vasori. If the collection is guilty of an undeniable kitsch-reification, it nonetheless does it with pluck and aplomb.