An “antimacassar” is the doily placed over the back of a chair or on the ends of the armrests to prevent soiling, a practice that began in Victorian England with the popularity of Macassar oil, the contemporary hair grease. For his debut album, poet David Yates, aka Dolly Dolly, uses this out-dated piece of cloth as a metaphor for English life, upon which he comments in a series of twisted spoken-word pieces.
Essentially, Antimacassar plays like a Burroughsian meditation on English culture. Yates speaks his words with multiple personalities: an Anglican priest delivering a sermon, a demonic entity laughing at the priest or the psychotic parishioner trying to make sense of it all. Pieces like “Wattle and Daub,” “Lace” and “My Queen Is Dead” describe the English experience through imaginative wordplay, which continues even when things get dark, as in “Corptoepose,” a description of an autopsy that literally sounds like Jack the Ripper making a phone call. Death in general is very much prevalent, mused upon in “Fix Death” and “Horrible News” while coming alive in “GONE,” a tape cut-up assembled from the voices of two old men. Several tracks also contain background music from the likes of Position Normal, Regal Worm, Time Attendent, Moon Wiring Club, Steve Christie, Ekoplekz and Language, Timothy!, adding to the unsettling nature of the words.
Spoken-word can very easily devolve into self-indulgence and pretension. Fortunately, Dolly Dolly is just off enough to make it work. Listen toAntimacassar before a trip to England just to understand the country a little better. The lessons may not be abundantly clear, but they will make sense in the end.