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Alan Moore & Tim Perkins - Snakes and Ladders (RE:)

After the slight disappointment of "Angel Passage", Messrs Moore and Perkins return to the template of "Highbury Working" with a work that manages to surpass the majesty of that work. As with "Highbury Working", this work, again mixing Moore's soft-spoken words with a selection of atmospheric soundscapes by Perkins, takes a place as a starting point. They move closer to the centre of London this time, from Highbury to the environs of Gray's Inn Road.

The stories that form the rich tapestry of tales and verbal pictures range from the construction of Red Lion Square and the posthumous execution of Oliver Cromwell to the origins of the universe and life itself. History, art, magic and science twist around each other in Moore's words, provoking thought and visualisations in the listener, all threaded through with a light touch of humour. Synchronicities are drawn out of reality, the meanings of prehistoric snake myths, DNA and the Garden of Eden explored and theories expounded, but done in a way that's hypnotically listenable. The stories go back and forward, references come and go, as all life from the very beginning becomes a whole, one canvas where time ceases to exist and everything is linked.

The music is sedate, a perfect backing for Moore's speech, helping to dictate the mood, but never overextending itself. It's slow and moody for the most part, but it picks up on the last track, 'Synon', as the piece builds towards the end, a lighter, more celebratory feel comes in as a resolution is found - "it's only snakes and ladders, one wrong throw and down we go..." But then, it goes beyond that resolution and ends without a true end, a few simple piano notes and it's over, unresolved like life.

Moore, already regarded as a genius in the world of comics, is increasingly proving himself to be a genius when it comes to spoken prose and a lyrical magician who can weave an irresistible spell. Highly recommended.

Donnacha DeLong

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