The Haring is best described as a spoken word release. However, as one might expect from Bruce Gilbert, this is far from a traditional offering and is to spoken word what Dome is to pop music.
The CD contains two works that clock in at just over half an hour. The Haring is a 27-minute-long piece that combines sound, images, words and textures into what might be described as a sound painting. At times abstract and at times structures, one hears snatches of stories—disconcerting, mundane and historical—in amongst eerie whistles, harsh watery gales and pulsating atmospherics.
Children is an older piece from 1983 that features Bruce's parents each telling disconcerting stories from their childhoods. Bruce's mother tells us how she saw a big dog turned into a man as she walked to the fish & chip shop. His father tells a sad story of a boy who was electrocuted by live train track rails and the people who tried to stop the train running over the dead body. The audio accompaniment is kitsch (straight out of the 'Tales from the Crypt Book of Eerie Noises') but the stories are engaging.
It might all seem pretentious but it is fairly obvious this release is not supposed to be taken too seriously. Gilbert has a wry sense of humour that is as apparent in the dead-pan readings of The Haring as it is in the totally superfluous 'spooky' noises that accompany Children. The nature of the release means you'll be more amused and intrigued than entertained, but so long as you know what you're in for that shouldn't be a problem. Whether you'll listen to it more than a few times though is another matter all together.
Craig Grannell (1998)