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Western Culture

by Kiran Leonard

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Jon Holden-Dye
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Jon Holden-Dye Cos it's truly triffic.
Pierre Conrad
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Pierre Conrad Despite this record being a bit more straightforward than previous ones, it took a second to click. This is Kiran's Swing Lo Magellan (a "songs" album, if that makes sense). The reworked version of "Working People", for instance, blows me away in a different manner than something like "Pink Fruit". To be straightforward, I greatly enjoy this album. Favorite track: Working People.
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proper LP of songs number three; the first one recorded properly and professionally in a recording studio (many thanks, again, brendan and jamie); first one recorded with the whole band, the one which first appears on #3. as someone describes q aptly in the comments on this page it is kind of like 'swing lo magellan'. i prefer to think of it as my 'death of a ladies' man'

regarding the album title and the lyrics (which i've added to read on this page, as well as included the booklet as a bonus item when you download), i wrote this press release:


I like the phrase “WESTERN CULTURE” very much because it is a resounding clang from a hollow vessel, connoting so much (grandeur; authority; hostility) without possessing a concrete meaning in of itself. What does ‘western culture’ consist of? This question changes shape depending on who is speaking: e.g., ’culture’ is constantly evolving and autonomous, rapidly reacting to and altering the present in which it unfolds, but is simultaneously regarded as something static and possessed, corresponding roughly to ‘tradition’ or ‘heritage’, something people can call on when the world seems precarious and alien and antagonistic. And so very often when we talk about culture, we reveal our personal conceptions of world events and of what is to be done.

“WESTERN CULTURE” — these heavy phrases without substance are of great importance because they are easily manipulatable agents with the potential to sustain great impact on the real world. Not every issue stems from language, and sometimes we allow our discourses to replace real things, which belittles violence and misunderstands the very real violence that phrases inflict. But I wanted to write about the relationship between the two, and show how a lot of very real brutality is distorted and justified by how we choose to depict it.

In part, then, it is a response to brutality. We seem inundated by a brutality beyond our comprehension: the kind of nationalisms and capital, and the brutality of not knowing. The latter is particularly damaging because it is so difficult to oppose what you can’t understand/articulate. I wrote this record about all this not because I wanted the real world to be eclipsed (that is; I didn’t want to self-absorbedly change a problem of violence into one of self-expression) but because I don’t understand any of this, and the struggle to depict the world and lived experience in a more truthful way is waged discursively.

Process of understanding; process of recognising perspectives beyond your own, and the historical, political forces of imbalance that engender them. I am interested in where songs might fit into all this; I think that it might be a valid means of approaching an articulation of violence, but I also suspect there is something totally absurd about the whole venture.


“E neste cheiro a podre milenário — vale a pena
Sequer dizer que são filhos da puta?”

(“And in this foul stench of millennia— is it even worthwhile
to say that they’re all fucking bastards?”)

-Jorge de Sena


released October 19, 2018

Kiran Leonard - acoustic guitar, chord organ, cymbals, electric guitars, frying pan, goat bells, harmonium, melodica, pianos (electric, upright), reed organ, sandpaper, synthesisers, tambourine, ukelele, violin, voice
Dan Bridgwood Hill - electric guitar, piano, synthesiser
Andrew Cheetham - drums, percussion
Dave Rowe - bass guitar

Prabjote Osahn - violin (2, 4, 5, 9)
Kath Ord - viola (2, 4, 5, 9)
Greg Morton - cello (2, 4, 5, 9)

Jon Collin - electric guitar (3)
Jenny Hollingworth - voice (5)
Laurie Hulme - voice (1, 2, 5)
Leo Robinson - voice (1, 5, 6, 9)
Elin Rossiter - voice (1, 5, 6, 9)
Rosa Walton - voice (5)

Produced, recorded and mixed by Jamie Birkett and Brendan Williams at Low Four Studios, Manchester. Mastered by Max Leonard, Jamie and Brendan. Front and back covers by Kelly Adams; illustrations by Matilda Agace.


all rights reserved



Kiran Leonard Manchester, UK


from saddleworth, uk ; songs writes

al albums put in chronological order w basic descriptions of their contents, #12-1

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Track Name: The Universe Out There Knows No Smile
It never came!
My eyes spent hours
focused on the open page,
but nothing arranged in me;
there was no imagery
to save our shrinking sun
from death.

“It’s not enough!”,
my patron yelled,
“It does not show or inspire,
renege or reach higher!”
I’d given up;
sick of allegories,
I conceded my uselessness
in the verse I recite.

How he cursed and he trembled,
said: “It teaches us nothing!” 
(and he was right),
“How does it bring us closer:
the dismissal of meaning
before the freezing pyre?

It is a vast sea of blackness
—no stories are told,
the stars don’t wink or fall
beyond your beside—
and my personal canvas,
no vain presumption
to speak for someone,
resolve or deny.

Is it not enough
to bury conclusions
and embrace unknowing?
For those with fixed sights,
to whom all else is lies,
the conflict of visions
is a means to an end.

Mistaken, we are tempted
to draw running water
from an unknown.


The system is greying;
Master rallies and wails
—clutching, weeping—
I sigh.
Track Name: Paralysed Force
I regret everything;
immunise (or attempt to evade)
a doubt born of vicious thoughts
with untenable respite.
Forgoing insight
to fill a void that enraptures shame;
to repress or push aside
a weight terrible and precise.
And though it's not the same
as keeping true to an endgame,
the wild relief
of a voice smiling softly
comes to eclipse everything else
and gifts a version of myself
that it feels good to be.

Strength and happiness
are not ideals that dilate and glow with ease;
it is not a casual act
to sustain them on the inside.
To look for an exit,
a quiet gaze that can help you float,
serene and bright, is still detached,
incapable and confined.
And yet I close my eyes,
extending to a vague light,
and I'll wallow and rave
in that sound another day,
when reason has not worn so thin
and the joy that I'm measuring
is a noise I alone can emanate.

To wait for another
to lead the way and to take control
of a soul against itself
and bring clarity for a while
is woeful and reckless,
for there are faults you only fix alone–
(the extolled and missing phrase
an embrace will not define)–
and though it can't be alright
to neglect and disguise (seams misplaced),
to whisper a name
conducts reverence through shame
and a spirit unseen grabs my hand
and absurd intolerance
sees me follow, and disseminate blame.
Track Name: Working People
He was too proud
to ask for food, could not speak up.
On allowance;
to nurse his mother, he'd left his job.
Working people, we hear you:
the lazy and the feckless
will pay for their wrongdoing.

They cut his power;
the insulin in the fridge was spoiled.
His sister found him
near a pile of CVs, with an empty stomach.
Working people, we hear you
while those who are voiceless
make no sound.

Working people:
Are we not
our brothers' and sisters' keepers?
Track Name: An Easel
Ambition is strange:
In ditches and silver cups,
a barrier comes unstuck;
the noise excites in surprise
like a bumbling child
that'll make you smile
in spite of all unexplained
and dismembered and muddled up,
where strength of will is not enough
to let respire
the good corrective or parable.
And who will express
from a mount underwater
with serpents in their eyes
that it's hard to believe in anything,
to assess or analyse?
Too much attention
feeding out to a visible pulp
who spoke of marrying
the non-essential
with uncritical ascension,
and as the venom sinks into your back,
the gene expires;
the canine looks into your eyes
and says: “Well, it's quite alright!”
They built an easel for you;
the one role you never played
was that of draughtsman unassuaged,
the pencil not an incentive
to hold a crown
and it's not enough
to misattribute and lie,
small like a laughing dog,
when the moon's oh so full:
Are moons outright
hard for you to believe in?
With victories over,
with cemeteries swollen,
the woods like an ocean:
Feel this elation with me!
Cherish this absurdity!
The crucial irrelevance!
The infinite knife's edge!
Track Name: Legacy of Neglect
Two flat eyes
frame a thin smile
borne in a statue;
the pale marble lines
trace figments
of an unchanging agent;
the majesty of its form
evokes the soaring infinite.

Cased in rock,
the ancient God
by which all is measured
is falling apart, is vapour;
ceaseless, shifting events
cloud from view the face
of a ‘was’ that was not.
The work that brought you life,
how did it end up like this?

But charitably, those
in civil prairie homes
bawl down, enlightening
the dumb recipients
of systems that must lie
over their heads!


There is no choice of answer
when you're desperate, when you're kept
from setting the agenda.

“I've had it to here!”
sounds the terrified cry of the white cis male,
but it is not up to him(?):

“Ideas of sheer bile that
fester over genuine pillory”;

the subject is left boxed in
with the wrong question,
you then condemn.

Feel in this moment
the roofs over our heads glitch;
the hours evaporate


There are holes in our villages that knell a curse,
that cast shadows; there are voids in the crust of the earth
where sons and husbands were sent and they found their work.
We are saddled with a mission all our days:
Find purpose through emptiness.
When the pits of our hearts go unfilled,
(it) breeds terror and ire, and their aims (are) fulfilled.


It is a human desire
Fill nothing with fire
It is human desire
Build something with fire
It is the God/man tier
Set the other on fire
Be the taker of power
Set the rest on fire

It is the human desire
Fill the nothing with fire
The God rises higher
Kill something with fire
He is a crook and a liar
It is the God/man tier
Fill the nothing with fire
Set the rest on fire
Track Name: Unreflective Life
(the) switch steams, the circuit’s dead;
his head is a silhouette
idling, a study robbed of speech.
He slowly unfolds; vapour moon
approaching wide, quiet release,
banishing dark plumes
(the damaging that he can’t describe)

The deluge of wrong events
gave way to a reticence;
the fugal chaos
of voices saying ‘no’
ravaging souls thought to have found hope
in vocal light, words of ease…
Wholly immersed, escaping like a cloud to our eyes,
his waking embers derealised, he suddenly let go.

It is too much for him;
reflective life makes him feel pathetic,
like a veil (ad)dressing a storm,
or a teething dramatic, without recourse
(to run away… accept malaise…)
Is it not enough to sigh and separate yourself
from each wire ringing with blame?
Assume it’s you; don’t exhume
(you’ll be happier)

And gentlemen
of rage and terror, I know
there’s fear in change;
in fading image, I know,
but stem duress,
your greedy enemy ghosts;
let gentleness
surround and soften (I know);
let spires of light
impress your vanishing sight,
as fellows, through smoke,
approach your weathering eyes.
We are tethered and spent,
spinning into the arms,
of a quiet inside,
or a screaming antidote.

To all terrible creatures armed with your steak knives:
do you think that you know what we are?
To all famines dressed as teachers, conjuring respite:
do you think we don’t know what you are?

But then again,
the crooks’ deafening blow;
the cracks within
the mirror joining our lives;
the broken pane
reflects innumerable lines,
we become overwhelmed.
Track Name: Shuddering Instance
End scene; the course I crave:
an absence bathed in ocean white!
The orbits in suspense;
no years to shape – I’d feel alright!
(No objectives feigned...)

Take the trip
if you need it,
your one last choice to make

And I see a crack in the distance!
I am falling out of the place
I am tethered, from the line I must crawl,
to land that is not space.
And in this shuddering instance,
I will vault about the sea and never seek the ground,
and make my pure escape from here
Track Name: Exactitude and Science
Last night I went to a lecture
by two human rights lawyers
venerated at distance.
Everybody was cloaked, knowingly,
in bearing what they knew:
nothing, and reflecting
on that map of great distinction
that overtook the countries it described,
rendering homes as ink unto a page
in fiction and in leverage.

They killed civilian policeman
as they stood outside
at a ceremonial occasion,
as covert figures in the air
struck hospitals and elementary schools
and made tombs in bedrooms.
We were sat still but lost our moorings
in images we could not understand,
wincing through fog and all stumbling blind,
“Nothing to be done”

And in the dearth of the west,
before a mother shot to death,
the throat of a piano
unknowingly stifles and empties.

Are we so impossibly unable, limited and limbless?
Like a vassal to my eye,
a hastening silt envelops earth and sky
and redacts even the maps,
as history in idle orbit
strengthens it with centuries of tide:
No head to cut off, or negotiate with, or bribe,
is response all theory?

Are we so impossibly unable?
I see it now;
are words as ink not without equal?
I feel it now:
What need has poetry
in capturing a lengthening shroud,
when deeds and oratory
must struggle with apertures shrinking and proud?
As minor victories, must we
measure all droll condemnations of power;
with hopeless pedantry and brief
comforts our illustrations endow us,
when superior fantasists cast
fictions as infallible science;
when ulterior lyricists paint honesty
as violence.
Track Name: Suspension
The way Adris Hoyos plays the drums
in a video of a Harry Pussy show in Georgia
inspires and moves me;
the way she calls that loud meathead a motherfucker,
then ascends in a spaceship of noise
to just defend
to feel on fire
any which way

The way we must live our own fictions
and put to bed all the doubt that you can’t describe
terrifies and soothes me;
the way a suspension lifts your heart,
the reverie of a screaming voice
to just pretend
to glimpse a map
to grasp at life
any which way

To ask yourself what you are
a breath at a time.

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