Billy Sprague, artist

April 3, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Posted in art, no audience underground, not bloody music | 1 Comment
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Yes, I know that just yesterday I was saying that blog postings would be less frequent for a while but, goddamit, this needs documenting.  I have just had one of those remarkable moments when someone else’s creative endeavour chimed so perfectly with me that it was like the artist had reached into my head and re-presented me with my own thoughts.  Being sensitive souls, I’m sure you lot know what I mean.  This can be liberating, as when I heard Stars of the Lid and knew I’d been out-midwiched, or desperately unnerving, as when Al Columbia dragged my nightmares into the light.  Sometimes it can be an odd amalgam of the two, as Roberta Flack explains here.

Billy Sprague has been mentioned previously on this blog – see the post about his tape label Sanity Muffin and the trip to California that he organised for Matt randomNumber and me back in the day.  We are in correspondence again and last night I decided to follow a link that he’d nonchalantly tagged onto the end of an email.  When I discovered this catalogue of his visual art my mind was blown.

You don’t need my waffling, you should go see for yourself, but, for the record, here is a summary of my take.  Billy’s stuff has the playful confidence of post-skate-punk, post-b-boy street art and graphic design.  It has the clean-lined focus of illustration.  It has the compulsive attention to detail and visceral Freudian imagery of outsider art.  I can see the temptation to use the word ‘surreal’ but, as there is nothing arch or painterly about this work, I prefer the word that Billy himself uses: psychedelic.  So Californian…  But that isn’t all: like it a bit more scratchy and outsider?  Then check out the collaboration with Rich Jacobs and covet the drool-inducing book that you would buy in a second if all your money wasn’t tied up in nuptials.  Like it a bit more comic-book and characterdesigny?  Then go see the awesome Yubisumo! a recent collaboration with Japanese artist Hideyuki Katsumata.

Billy’s work is, in short, made for me.  I always knew that Billy was an innovative and conscientious packager of his musical releases but I had no idea about the rest of it.  I should note that he did not call my attention to these accomplishments, thus showing an admirable reticence that a big-mouth like me would not be capable of.  The fact that he seemed genuinely stoked that I offered to review his tapes on this meagre blog has left me humbled.

Speaking of which: musings on the resurgence of the cassette, reviews of Sanity Muffin tapes, teasers about their coming attractions, and praise for the awesome battery life of my new Sony Walkman will all come in due course.

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  1. wow rob! this is so nice to read… i dont know what to say, i feel appreciated… sure feels good to have someone else moved by what i have been up to and understand the effort and non-effort behind it. i cant believe you put the time into looking around my site and this here review of your experience… thanks so much!
    hope some others find their way in via your portal…
    big love,

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