“This is Ponderous, man. Really. Ponderous,” begins the opening title track of this classic obscure album that I listened to in Grade 8. I bought it for two dollars, on cassette, from the bargain bin of a discount store on Queen Mary, I think.
I listened to this tape a lot, partly because it wasn’t what everyone else was listening to. In a true spoken-word narrative, this Seattle based band 2nu, so named on the air when a DJ said this band was “Too New” to even have a name. Later I discovered the word-jazz of Ken Nordine, the sound poetry of the Tone Poets and many others on the scene at the time. H.P.Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, George Orwell, Skyclad and Donovan were other strong influences.
This was one of my early influences in spoken word, as I acquired it shortly before I emerged on Montreal’s spoken word scene. I often employed this technique, using local folk musicians playing guitars, drums and flutes, It was spoken word type narrative with a good background musical dimension.
This album has a loose through-line involving the character of Nardo Polo, which isn’t his real name. He goes on quite a few adventures through this album, beginning with a dream where he takes the day off work because nobody remembers who he is.
He likes that and goes through several scenarios. He goes on a cheap vacation to Clive Dinkies, then his girlfriend breaks it off, he has a Spaz Attack, travels unconsciously into Africa, ending up in a cabin in Montana, meets a mysterious woman who leads him into a murderous situation and his world is altered in a way that he can’t understand.
At this point, he narrates his own way through a cover of Eric Burdon’s “Spill the Wine” making it very much his own, without showing any disrespect for the original version. He ends up singing the blues at the dentist’s office at the end of the album.
If you haven’t heard this album or spoken word, give it a try… it’s not 2nu.