“Insolence Across The Nation” vamped Barney

Nazar Ali Khan writes:

We Dream Deep Dreams Of The Mystery

Nik Turner had shown Barney some of my graphics and suggested that I come down to meet him at Phoenix Studios in London, sometime in 1981. Barney’s Imperial Pompadours album “Ersatz” was being recorded at Phoenix. Trev Thoms and Dino Ferrari from Inner City Unit were there, along with Jamie Roberts, who was engineering the session. Barney had asked Trev to play the riff to “I Want To Come Back From The World Of LSD” backwards. We all went for lunch at a local cafe.

“Ersatz” was released in 1982. Along with its cut and paste rock’n’roll covers, the album also featured “Insolence Across The Nation”, Barney’s soundscape about Ludwig II of Bavaria, Wagner, and Hitler, which takes up the entire second side of the record (and that was the short version). Barney had produced the “We Dream Deep Dreams Of The Mystery” illustration to accompany “Insolence”. It was published in issue 5 of my ‘zine Cheesecake in 1981.

The “D” in “dream” was created by the crescent of the new moon viewed through a window. Ludwig was the Moon King.

A second Pompadours project was planned.

A simple cardboard model.

This was to be Jake’s house, commissioned by Jake Riviera for a site in London’s docklands. The model showed a jet plane that had crashed fully into a large concrete block. The jet was to be based on the McDonnell Douglas Phantom. Barney said that he liked the idea of a plane called the Phantom.

Wings and tail fin protruded through the concrete. A rippled roof represented the impact of the collision on the concrete and Barney’s ongoing interest in the malleability of matter. The “fuselage” of the plane would be hung through the length of the house. Services would be located here. “You can do the technical drawings Naz,” said Barney.

One afternoon at architectural school, I had taken one of my presentation drawings off the drawing board and over to his house. Barney looked at it. Hmm…have this bit in grey and have a white line here.

I had eschewed the usual lighter fluid, film, and razor blades of architectural drafting and was using white card for my presentations. At Barney’s, I would also see white card, fine pencil lines and Rotring pens.

“When I draw, I go into a state of grace,” he told me.

Barney’s views on architecture were, as always, readily available. Barney said that he didn’t like the International Style and preferred vernacular architecture. He also said that he liked the Baroque as much as he liked Modernism. On his bookshelf were two books that I also had, Rem Koolhaas’s Delirious New York and the big Thames and Hudson volume on El Lissitzky (although he thought that Lissitzky “was a hack”).

The windows to the bedroom in Jake’s house would be blackened out. Letters were to be cut out of the black. The headlights of passing cars would project these letters onto the bedroom walls as a concrete poem.

The second Pompadours project was to be a film featuring Jake’s house. This was the “Celtic Project”.

“When I say Celtic, I mean like a red flag on the coast,” said Barney.

The main protagonist of the film was to be the pilot of the crashed plane, cast as an archetypal Arthurian figure. The wings and tail fin of the plane protruding through the concrete block were, of course, the sword in the stone.

There were no drawings in the end. Jake’s house was shelved due to finances.

180px-a_prounen_by_el_lissitzky_c1925 A Proune by El Lissitzky


El Lisitzky’s ‘Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge,’ see comments below by Naz and RandM