OWD003 Futile Exorcise – Paul Rooney


OWD003 (2017)

Transparent vinyl/digipak CD/digital album

Vinyl £12 including UK p+p

CD £8 including UK p+p

or buy digital files via BANDCAMP

We at Owd Scrat are very proud to present our first full length LP, in beautiful transparent ectoplasm coloured vinyl and CD digipack, which is also the first by Liverpool UK based musician/artist/writer Paul Rooney under his own (full) name. Following on (though ten years later) from his acclaimed 2007 single Lucy Over Lancashire – a dub folklore epic narrated by a Satanic Lancastrian sprite – this long awaited album delves even further into the demonically possessed everyday. It is an album of revenant songs, in which various dead people return from beyond the grave to visit their lover, play poker or haunt a toilet seat. The record features many collaborators including actor Gregory Cox, mesmerizing ethereal harmonisers Lutine, and artist Leo Fitzmaurice, whose image graces the cover.

The narrative song lyrics range from unjustly wronged music hall ghosts (Sunday Best, Father’s Grave), or lost souls stranded on tour buses (Lost High Street), or stuck inside trumpets (Spit Valve), to a child’s voice from a film soundtrack come to restless, spectral life (Black Ear). The album’s stories recall darkly comic absurdist writers like Barthelme or Beckett, married to a kind of lo-fi post-punk experimental-folk. The result is gloriously unique. How about Ivor Cutler collaborating with Xiu Xiu on the soundtrack to a low budget folk-horror about stoats? Robert Ashley creating a music hall song-cycle about breath condensation with This Heat? As these comparisons reveal, this album is both hard to describe, absolutely distinct, and bloody great. And thank the undead for that. Album credits here.

Side 1:
Sunday Best 02:36
Mackenzie (Smell of the Petrol) 03:25
Bay of Biscay 03:26
Lost High Street 11:00 video

Side 2:
Father’s Grave 03:51 video
Black Ear 06:47
The Cruel Mother (with Lutine) 02:34
Spit Valve 06:56

Futile Exorcise, the brilliant new album from Liverpudlian multimedia artist Rooney… a record to return to again and again.” Julian Cowley (The Wire magazine). June 2017.

Futile Exorcise… is arguably the Liverpool artist’s most accomplished collection to date… a richly layered sound that builds on the dubby spaciousness of Lucy… with a greater range of instrumentation, effects and, importantly, voices, both Paul’s own and guest vocalists.” Bryan Biggs (Bido Lito magazine). September 2017.

“I’m not terribly adept at unqualified outlandish statements of praise so forgive me if this sounds clumsy: this is the most extraordinary album I’ve heard in at least seven years, and probably for much longer than that… It’s a work to be absorbed, laughed at, unsettled by, but above all enjoyed, over and over again.” Mark Whitby (Unwashed Territories blog). 14/5/2017.

“…reimagining Flann O’Brien’s best work as wayward post-punk. Between the kitchen sink tragedy of a cuckolded ghost witnessing his wife’s new fellah wearing his very own ‘Sunday Best’ and his final metamorphosis into the contents of a trumpet’s ‘Spit Valve’, Rooney’s transmigration is a strange and beautiful journey through the bardo realms…” Stuart Marshall (The Sound Projector blog). 31/12/2017.

“Liverpool based artist Paul Rooney, with a track written from the perspective of a ghost, maybe a poltergeist, named James Christopher Benjamin Binns, who was ‘cut right down in the midst of his sins’.” Jennifer Lucy Allen, Late Junction (BBC Radio 3). 18/3/2022.

“Masterpiece [Lost High Street]” William Sheridan (The Last Great Record blog), 22/12/2018.

“The best album you will hear this year, which was released last year…” Slobodan Vujanovic (Mislite Mojom Glavom blog). Sept. 2018.

“For me, the only possible choice as best album of the year… Futile Exorcise… a truly great album.” Mark Whitby 2017 Review (Dandelion Radio). January 2018.

Dandelion Radio Festive Fifty of 2017 (Lost High Street reached number 1).

Stewart Lee‘s favourite records of 2017.

Tessa Jackson (Constructing Connections art project newspaper). 2017 essay referencing the Father’s Grave track.

“That was The Cruel Mother… and it’s fabulous. The whole LP is just amazing, as expected…” Ian Jay (Fat Latch (Radio) #101 on Mixcloud). 16/8/2017.

“Further evidence there of the greatness of Paul Rooney. That’s another track from his fantastic album Futile Exorcise… that was Bay of Biscay.” Pete Jackson (Dandelion Radio). June 2017.

“This record is truly extraordinary. Street poetry c/w highly sophisticated prose underpinned by amazing musical arrangements. A spectacular concoction indeed with Paul’s tales of lost souls, be they dead or undead. And there’s plenty more topics of interest to be going on with as well. Surely destined to be one of the albums of the year.Gavin Hellyer (Bandcamp website). June 2017.

“I’m really, really chuffed to be able to tell you that Paul Rooney has not only returned, he has returned with a full length album… There’s a lot of great stuff on there, the album’s called Futile Exorcise… That’s just amazing stuff, fantastic to have Paul Rooney back with us.” Pete Jackson (Dandelion Radio). May 2017.

Daisy Hyde (The Wire magazine). 22/3/2017 online preview.

“I think there is a slylistic integrity between [Lucy Over Lancashire] and that one. You can see. You listen to it and you say: that’s Paul Rooney that.” Steve Barker, On the Wire (BBC Radio Lancashire). 29/4/2017.

“It is a proper good album this, all round.” Michael Fenton (Fenny), On the Wire (BBC Radio Lancashire). 29/4/2017.

“Talking of acoustical experiences here is a very surreal idea, it’s by Liverpool’s Paul Rooney, it uses spoken word… from the point of view of a bit of spittle stuck inside the tube of a trombone.” Verity Sharp, Late Junction (BBC Radio 3). 18/4/2017.

“It’s a remarkable album actually, its called Futile Exorcise… very welcome indeed… Highly recommended.” Roger Hill, PMS (BBC Radio Merseyside). 3/4/2017.

“That’s Paul Rooney, excellent stuff, that’s called Spit Valve...” Rocker (Dandelion Radio). April 2017.

“[Lost High Street‘s] spindly punk theme song, ‘performed’ by tour guide Aileen, could be a kindred spirit of Lucy’s, and suggests a kind of Rooney-verse, parallel or not, in which all his characters eventually connect up to create some kind of six degrees of separation soap opera.” Neil Cooper (MAP magazine #15). Sept. 2008 review of the original gallery installation of Lost High Street.

“Rooney’s successful prose and ability to entertain are not merely incidental features of some more abstract critical engagement, but are integral to the force of [Lost High Street].” James Clegg (Art Review magazine). Sept. 2008 review of the original gallery installation of Lost High Street.

“…Lost High Street consists of the rather wayward observations and autobiographical musings of a loner sitting at the back of an open-top bus as it tours Edinburgh. Rooney empathises and charms us into feeling the subjectivity of his protagonists. Who else but him could achieve such deep pathos with such down-to-earth subjects, methods and materials?” Robert Clark (The Guardian). 14/6/2008 preview of the original gallery installation of Lost High Street.