When I was much younger, my mother ran a talent agency. Pretty small time, but one of the things that set her apart was her willingness to accept new talent. We got reams of submissions, and I grew up reading the TV and movie scripts of aspiring writers from all over the world, bringing the best of it to her attention.
Although it was a strictly literary agency, sometimes people failed to read the fine print and sent us their demo CDs. Most of them were about as awful as you'd expect - but one of them stood out.
Richard Applegate's Urban Primitive
is one of my favorite albums of all time. It was released under the label Media Orphan, which had to be his own. It is dense, haunting, cinematic modern jazz, featuring electric pianos and synthesizers. It is by turns raucous and discordant, or wily and playful. There's a tango, there's a piece that sounds like something from Rugrats - there's even a little baroque-style minuet (on the synthesizer - pretty).
One song features a broken-calliope sound, and makes me think of wandering around a carnival midway at 1 am, poking around in places I shouldn't be, quietly so as not to wake the buskers. I kind of want to give it to my circus friends, so they can use it in a project. Then if he finds out and sues, at least we would know where to find him.
See, so far as I can tell, Richard Applegate has fallen off the planet. A couple ebay sellers are offering Urban Primitive
("Rare!"). Also, it seems he released another album (his sophomore effort?) in 1996. Both discs are available via a library in South Carolina. I don't know what I have to do to get a membership, but I'm going to start making calls - possibly as soon as tomorrow. I would be over-fucking-joyed to get my hands on more of his music.
Seriously. It is now almost 2009. I received this album in the mail in 1993 or 1994, making it a part of my steady rotation for 15 years. My relationship with this music is almost old enough to drive. It's not lyrical - it's one of those things that's great to throw on while painting (as I often did in high school) or in the morning after a long party fraught with psychedellics, when you want something atmospheric and *just weird enough*. I realize it's a little odd and not for everybody (as evidenced by Mr. Applegate's near-total absence from any music scene I can find), but it's an indelible part of me. When I found my missing CD case at my family home today, i was relieved to find Urban Primitive
tucked in there. Thankful, even.
Richard Applegate, if you ever Google yourself and find this page, I want you to know that I am probably your biggest fan. Leave a comment. If you are on the west coast, we are totally getting coffee.