Mark Harwood – A Perfect Punctual Paradise Under My Own Name LP


A Perfect Punctual Paradise Under My Own Name is a two part audio drama that charts the life of a middle-aged Australian man in the throes of an existential crisis, brought about through a series of unforeseen circumstances that collectively threaten to undermine the fundamentals of his existence. It’s a work that explores the sound of a mind collapsing under pressure, where lucidity is traded for mania, and eloquence reduced to a scattershot of primal rambling and abstract self-reflection. It’s man-as-animal, cowering in a cage, teeth exposed, as vulnerable as it is unpredictable. It’s the sad musings of a failed musician turned stand-up comic, left alone in his squalid flat to reflect on life’s undelivered promise with only the constant playback of his odd routines for distraction. It’s a palimpsest of derelict ideas and unloved skits, etched onto the tattered skin of Salmon Run and worn before an audience of no one. It’s a series of wrong turns and dead ends, a puzzle, a game, a confession, but above all else, A Perfect Punctual Paradise Under My Own Name is the greatest record Astor never made. – Graham Lambkin










Words from others: 

“So, I’ll start at the start, even if it’s not an intuitively comfortable place to start mentioning other work/artists by comparison. I very quickly thought of Artaud’s last work, To Have Done With The Judgment Of God. If you don’t know it, here’s the original recording, and here’s the English translation. It was for radio, though never broadcast. It’s really quite an insane performance/script. The similarity that I think caught me is that it starts with this stuff about schools in America, this weird thing about collecting sperm from children because America doesn’t need workers, it needs soldiers … and it all sort of winds into this bit about American products and the nature of preparing for war, some big plan, a goal. The content of your album does not feel all that dissimilar. You’ve got this frame about school/education, and you seem to end up in the ennui of trying work out what the nature of doing anything at all is about; perhaps, therefore, what learning is, training oneself, being active, being productive, and so on—trying to establish the ground on which one would ‘aim for something’. There’s the recurrent mention of coffee, the stimulant with productivity connotations. You’re dealing with parcels, too, if I make it out, so I’m presuming that’s work, it’s routine at least. There’s this total homogeneity that you’re suggesting with all the white noise that, to me, sounds like layers and layers of room recordings with little being picked up by the mic. (I could mention Lucier’s Sitting In a Room, too.) It’s a kind of psychotic focus on monotony, and the vacuousness of ‘activity,’ even progress, to kick it into that register. And like Artaud, there’s a glib picture of sexualisation going on: it’s the “sperm test,” not sperm collection, it’s a test. And you’ve got that one line about someone (presumably you) being called a faggot in school … I mean, they’re two sides of an extremely cruel coin about the nature of being processed out through life by others, institutions, the manifold of third parties that hold expectations, and oneself—it’s in keeping with ideas about structuralist film, too, in that the medium you’re in starts to arrange a relay between formal constraints and societal constraints by addressing the way meaning is coded into the work — but, to stop listing for a second, it’s crucially still incredibly funny the whole time. I could really probably go on, but that might be enough of an indulgence on my part, reading them against each other. I’m not provoking a response to Artaud from you, I just mean to account for how I’m making sense of the album. I’m definitely curious if there’s any particular influences for this work—which, I’ll also mention for no reason other than this is so so diff to the Astor work, from memory. The Artaud comparison is illustrative too of the fact that the work feels so ‘wordy’ but there’s really not a lot of vocalised sound in there that you could possibly make a transcript from. It’s a very peculiar thing to come out of the album. It’s performative, and inwardly so, as if there’s mostly only voices being repeated in the head, and they’re losing their ‘original’ fidelity and pitch. I suppose, too, I’m wondering what the madness really wants to be about, it’s got a wandering quality for sure, but I can’t tell if it has agency. The title of the record is as content as it is sarcastic—which is maybe a product of negotiating the fact that this album has the quality of a memoir from a certain angle? I love the idea of it as a memoir, at least” –  Notes from Patrick Quick leading to radio feature and interview which can be heard


Proper heavy-as-your-life blinder this; Penultimate Press caretaker Mark Harwood stages a midlife existential crisis on vinyl with a rawly penetrating mix of vulnerable candour and oblique mundanity riddled in its unpredictable transitions of field recordings and f*ck knows wot. It’s difficult, paranoid, but somehow deeply empathetic and uncannily also one of the most acute articulations of lockdown mindsets that we’ve heard. Don’t sleep. RIYL Graham Lambkin obvsBoomkat

A Perfect Punctual Paradise is incredible work — really tense and detailed and surprising and moving and frayed at the edges. A real accomplishment. – Steven Zultanski
Mark, just back from away and listened to this record – it is extraordinary, an absolutely fucking wonderful thing. Beautiful and terrible, scorched and ghastly funny and very sad and swallowing. – The Legendary Geoff Cox


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