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[1966 / November 1972 - spring 1990]

xxx Personnel xxx
Andy Bell: voc
Herbert Grönemeyer: voc
Sarah-Jane Morris: voc
Lene Lovich: voc
Chris Judge Smith: libretto
Peter Hammill: music, voc, gtr,
 kbds, perc, bass

David Luckhurst: voc (demo version)
Fish: voc
The Modern Beats
The K Group
Peter Hammill IV
Peter Hammill IV
  • Peter Hammill: as Roderick Usher & The Voices Of The House
  • Andy Bell: as Montresor
  • Lene Lovich: as Madeline Usher
  • Sarah-Jane Morris: as The Chorus (married to David Coulter, see Peter Hammill solo IV)
  • Herbert Grönemeyer: as The Herbalist
  • Fish: as Montresor (was tried out, but his voice was too similar to Hammill's)
  • David Luckhurst: as Montresor in demo version
  • Chris Judge Smith: as The Herbalist in demo version
xxx Discography xxx
The Fall Of The House Of Usher
The Fall Of The House Of Usher
Some Bizzare
2lp / cd

xxx History xxx

A very special work that needs a page of its own! Judge wrote his first version of the libretto (opera lyrics you ignoramus!) at school. He mentioned the thing to Hammill while discussing future projects in 1972, and they decided to give it a go. Rewritten, composed, changed and adapted at intervals throughout the 70s and recorded (and "nearly finished") throughout the 80s. Lots of troubles, tos & fros, finally released by Some Bizarre in November 1991. No full blown stage performance (yet?), but PH has played excerpts - called The Usher Suite - at solo gigs. Parts of the work scream for real strings and brass!

Judge: "Usher is a wonderful story. It's one of the best short stories in the world. It's very frightening, it's very creepy, it's very short. And there's something about it that touches all sorts of very dark and murky depths in most people; it touches certain very deep taboos and deep anxieties and so on. The story makes no sense at all. The actual story as written is totally mad, which adds to its appeal." (Pilgrims no. 15)

PH: "The first stage of the work was about six to eight years long where I'd be writing odd bits in the gaps between live work and recording. There seemed to be many more in those days. Whenever I had four weeks, I'd do another bit, because it would take a week to get into the mentality of it, to remember where I was and to find the old cassettes, then two or tree weeks writing and a week sorting it out into some kind of form. Probably at that stage it would have been about four hours long. At that time, I wasn't so disciplined and it was very long and rambling." (Pilgrims no. 14)

Judge: "Obviously, it was a little strange writing lyrics for someone who's a very fine lyricist and very famous for it. But he's a good person to collaborate with in that he's always respected my contribution. All collaborations are based on elaborate professional courtesy and this one was no exception. I didn't interfere with the music to any great extent, and he didn't interfere with my areas (fnarr, fnarr), and yet I influenced the musical structures by the words I was writing. He influenced the plot and made several very important contributions to the actual structure and development of the piece as a dramatic work. It was a very good collaboration like that, also helped by the fact that it was stretched out over such a very long period of time." (Pilgrims no. 14)

PH: "One of the reasons for my deciding to get involved with sequencers, and deciding to learn and experiment with them, was that it was the only way that Usher could possibly be done. The original concept had been to have the kind of instrumentation that's more or less there - strings, wind, a bit of kit, some organ, piano, guitar. It was a ludicrous idea from the outset because it would have taken a band of forty to fifty people; some of them would only play a few notes. I would have to have been sincerely successful to even contemplate this being put on, let alone recorded." (Pilgrims no. 14)

Judge: "Gradually without realising, the piece came to be finished. It went through lots of changes, but quite a bit of the original music still survives, and about half a dozen lines from the first libretto." (Pilgrims no. 14)

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