(Re-release Review) Philip Johnson- Youth in Mourning

Here is a forgotten gem from 1982 that was recently re-released on the superb archival label Superior Viaduct: Philip Johnson’s Youth in MourningFrom what I’ve been able to infer from digging around looking for information on Philip, Youth in Mourning was his only LP release among an impressive array of self-released cassette albums. Though not much is known of Johnson, he has left behind some singularly fascinating music from a strange and uncertain time in British music, the heyday of Throbbing Gristle and This Heat.

Youth in Mourning is a dismal and metallic album that makes abundant use of radio explorations and discordant synths. The images which are inevitably brought to mind are those of a grim tour through grey and broken streets. Much of the titular “youth” of the record is reflected in Philip’s acerbic monologues, the most compelling being that on the strange epic “The Karate Kicking Girl Of New Invention”. This sadly forgotten album in many ways delivers the artistic experience that elderly punks so often like to ascribe to Joy Division records: it is a very visceral snapshot of a hard-bitten time and place, seen through the eyes of the embittered young. And in fact, Johnson outright says on the album, “This record is for the disaffected, for those who can’t win”. This completely thrilling synthesis of disembodied radio voices, spoken word, and noise deserves more attention and I’m very glad that Johnson and Superior Viaduct came together to dust it off for those who may have never heard of it otherwise.

This release comes highly recommended to all fans of noise and musique concrète. I hope you check it out soon!

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