Having run out of adjectives for Copernicus and his work, I think I'll resort to outrageous allusion…a very safe tactic, as I've no fear of being disproven in any of my beatifications. Joseph Smallkowski, Copernicus, is in many ways our times' Harry Partch blended with a beatnik Bertolt Brecht and an anxety-ridden Kenneth Patchen (well, in this release's period anyway; he's mellowed out a bit in later years). That is, there's no classifying the guy's mutant genius, but, once heard, he's never forgotten, the expostulating troubadour of the subconscious and a proletariat Swedenborgian. Victim of the Sky, the second entry in the Copernican catalogue, is here reissued by Leonardo Pavkovic and MoonJune Records, remastered and with a short essay by Martin Longley as well as a complete set of lyrics. It contains one of his most memorialized tracks, The Lament of Joe Apples, a combination of Stanley Kowalski, Tom Waits on a drunk, and John Steinbeck with Tourette syndrome.
Not only has the redoubtable Pierce Turner ever been an advocate of Copernicus' work as well as a reappearing crew member, but, as with the debut LP, Nothing Exists, Jimmy Zhivago, presently gaining new notice in latterday alliances, was a part of the surreal aggregate, playing keyboards and guitar alongside Larry Kirwan. Victim is also Copernicus at his funkiest, his salad days of bohemian guttersniping, feasting with panthers, remonstrating with the universe—blasted beyond Pluto in the next LP's Oh God!, still one of my favorite tracks—rampaging, weeping, and wandering starsmitten on this weird mudball, the sin eater of our times. I can well understand that C's often an acquired taste, though I and many were stunned from the very start, but, once exposed to this genre (if that's the right word) of existentially immediate but preternaturally timeless work, it becomes evident that the gritty realism of the Beats yet lives amid a Bukowskovian id crossed with Sartravian thought plateaus……and you just don't run across that very much at all anymore.
Should the above strike your curiosity, look here, here, here, and here as well. After all that, you'll either be frothing at the mouth to listen to the cat or else trundling over to the television to catch the latest re-runs of Lawrence Welk…or Bruce Springsteen. Hard to tell what's what in this society lately.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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