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Treatise On the Steppenwolf (Soundtrack)

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Album Review

This release is comprised of studio recordings of pieces performed as live accompaniment for Treatise on the Steppenwolf, a 2003 theatrical adaptation of Hermann Hesse's 1927 novel, Steppenwolf. The production was staged by Twelve Stars, a Glasgow-based company, whose work often explores the experimental intersections of music and theater. Twelve Stars' interest in the dramatic possibilities of music, like their connection with Vini Reilly, was not coincidental: the project's artistic directors, Gerard McInulty and Carolyn Allen, were members of the Wake, erstwhile Factory labelmates of the Durutti Column. Reilly's soundtrack displays his familiar eclecticism, as unaccompanied ethereal guitar kaleidoscopes ("The Title on the Cover") sit comfortably alongside more percussion-driven material, occasionally infused with electronic dance beats ("A Wolf of the Steppes"). Although Reilly sings on one track (something his late manager, Tony Wilson, always discouraged), the most compelling numbers integrate others' vocals sampled from pop and opera, sometimes blending the two within the same track: "Interlude," "Magic Theatre," and "Divided" are sublime examples. Two live segments are also included. One of these ("Lullaby") incorporates a monologue spoken by Carolyn Allen, giving some insight into the way music and the dramatic text worked together in the original theatrical context. Durutti Column fans will recognize many of these tracks: "Mello" was first heard on 2001's Rebellion; versions of "Stupid Steppenwolf" and "A Beautiful Thought" feature on Someone Else's Party (2003) as "Woman" and "Drinking Time," respectively (the latter also appearing on 1998's Time Was Gigantic...When We Were Kids as "Drinking Song"); and "Harry Dreams the Dream" was reincarnated as "Lullaby 4 Nina" on Tempus Fugit (2004). Given this crossover with Reilly's other releases and given that this music was intended as one component of a broader artistic spectacle, Treatise on the Steppenwolf isn't a stand-alone Durutti Column album. However, that's not to deny the quality of the material presented here.


Formed: 1978 in Manchester, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The Durutti Column was primarily the vehicle of Vini Reilly, a guitarist born in Manchester, England, in 1953. As a child, Reilly first took up the piano, drawing inspiration from greats like Art Tatum and Fats Waller, before learning to play guitar at the age of ten. Despite an early affection for folk and jazz, Reilly ultimately became swept up by the punk movement, and in 1977 he joined the group Ed Banger & the Nosebleeds. In 1978, Factory Records founder Tony Wilson invited Reilly to join a...
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