FAME Review: Copernicus - Cipher and Decipher
Copernicus - Cipher and Decipher

Cipher and Decipher


Nevermore Inc. - NCD2002

Available from Moonjune Records.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

The liner for Copernicus' latest frontal lobe phan(tasmagoria)dango does little to tell the potential listener what he or she is in for (cah-mon, C and Leonardo, mirror the magnitude of the music, f'gawdsakes!!), and that's a trifle disappointing, but since Copernicus is incapable of issuing anything but outrageous and absorbing work, it hardly matters...and this album is no less a tour de force than anything he's so far presented, from the very first track a ranting raving cyclotron of the poet-"singer"-keyboardist's arresting spirito-somatic insights, philosophy, and eccentric art.

Pierce Turner returns along with Larry Kirwan and other backing mainstays, and if Copernicus, in the last couple of CDs, seemed as though he might finally have been considering yielding to the somewhat mellower considerations of age, philosophy, and temperament, well, "Into the Subatomic", the opening storm, puts that firmly to rest. It's a sweltering hurricane of the guy's zen-compelling postulates (read his Immediate Eternity tome and have your mentality challenged) blended into spontaneous performance poetry and jazz/avant/free-form/noise/rock/kitchen-sink sounds—and mind you, o chela, that C refuses to acknowledge the sobriquet of 'musician', so don't go there. In truth, Copernicus is music's Richard Burton, forever embodying the great actor's two zeniths (Hamlet and Virginia Woolf) in lingual craftsmanship embracing a full range of the human voice, its endless emoto-stimulatory permutations and layers of meta-meaning.

The period Joseph Smallkowski (Copernicus' pre-conversion name) years ago spent with Los Nomados in Guayaquil, which signaled a more mindful turn to a fusion jazz somatic, persists and steps forward through Cipher, a cybernetic refinement of extemporary improv and spontaneously evolving structure, everything and everyone willing subjects to what the ranteur terms "the dangers of deliberate free-fall". Joining up with the MoonJune label was one of his best moves; though qualitative differences between one C release and the next are impossible to discern, there's nonetheless a renewal of élan in this partnership that's noticeable—and, so's ya knows, there is no such thing as 'best' with Copernicus, it's all the best. Cipher stands solidly amid a wild, moody, free-floating, anarchic, bioelectric, cerebellular, psychedelic mad Disneyland of chaos and transmorphing cellular rigor passing through a blazing sun and out into the furthest reaches of deepest space. Should you doubt, check out the waltz of in-studio performance videos on http://www.copernicusonline.net/video.html and see for yourself. Wear sunglasses.

Track List:

  • Into the Subatomic
  • Free at Last!
  • Mud Becomes Mind
  • I Don't Believe
  • Matter is Energy
  • Comprehensible
  • Infinite Strength
  • Where No ONe can Win
  • Step Out of your Body
  • The Cauldron
All lyrics "written" of the moment by Copernicus,
all music created in the zone by the accompanying musicians.

Edited by: David N. Pyles


Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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