Henry Flynt :: Graduation

HenryFlyntReading about Henry Flynt can be a little intimidating. The guy is described as an “avant garde minimalist” and “anti-art activist,” and is often mentioned in the same breath as LaMonte Young, Tony Conrad and the Fluxus movement. Flynt himself says: “”I aspire to a beauty which is ecstatic and perpetual, while at the same time being concretely human and emotionally profound.” None of this should scare you off. Flynt’s music is very, very fun, as demonstrated fully by his chooglin’ avant-hillbilly double LP Graduation, freshly reissued on wax by Superior Viaduct.

Recorded between 1975 and 1980, this is an eccentric, singular piece of work, to be sure, but it’s also infectious as hell. Over the course of eight loose-limbed tracks, Flynt re-imagines wide swathes of American music, blending Appalachian folk, Nashville countrypolitan, Lower East Side folk rock, experimental classical music and deep disco grooves. The end result is well-nigh impossible to pin down, but you can slot Graduation next to Arthur Russell’s similarly adventurous genre hops from around the same period. The nonstop boogie of “Lonesome Train Dreams” and the mutant disco hoedown of “No Rights” are highlights, but the whole thing is worth your time. Things reach the outer regions of the cosmos during the shimmering 19-minute “Celestial Music,” but, as Flynt notes in the liners “a bluesy-country sound still comes through.” t wilcox

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