Friday, April 27, 2007

A Man, A Plan, A. Diagram

The label LTM recently reissued the sole album from the Diagram Brothers, Some Marvels of Modern Science. I have it on vinyl, and the sleeve contained a portfolio that you could assemble from die-cut posterboard, which housed a marvellous set of postcards with lyrics and credits for the songs.

I did some reading about Andy Diagram, the Diagram Brothers' trumpet player, and discovered a musical career that would be a challenge for Pete Frame to diagram. Andy's first band (in 1978) was Dislocation Dance, followed by the Diagram Brothers and the Pale Fountains. In 1988, Andy Diagram joined the band James. Since then, he has been a member of the duo Spaceheads (who have several albums on Merge Records), the Honkies, and Pere Ubu frontman David Thomas' Two Pale Boys. As one of the Two Pale Boys, Andy Diagram helped to remake Frank Black's songs for the Frank Black Francis album; and the Two Pale Boys performed onstage in the musical Shockheaded Peter after the Tiger Lillies left the show.

Andy Diagram has played with A Certain Ratio, the Durutti Column, and the Dog Faced Hermans; and he has collaborated with Nico, Peter Hammill, Jim Thirwell (Foetus), Stephen Thrower (Coil), and former Henry Cow members Chris Cutler and Tim Hodgkinson. Most recently, Andy Diagram has participated in the group Strings of Consciousness (listen to them on their myspace.)

As I jumped from link to link, reading about the range of musical projects that Andy Diagram and his treated trumpet have been part of, I began to think of him as a Jon Hassell for the blank generation. His musical career is comparable only to that of Terry Edwards, another horn player who started out playing with the Higsons and has been busy ever since (see Edwards' discography at Here are two tracks from the Diagram Brothers. The first is as pertinent as ever:

I'm Not Going to Fight for Oil
I Didn't Get Where I Am Today by Being a Right Git

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