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Music And Poetry Of The Kesh reissued on LP

Soundtrack to late US writer Ursula K Le Guin’s sci-fi work Always Coming Home released by Freedom To Spend

Todd Barton and Ursula K Le Guin's recording Music And Poetry Of The Kesh, originally released as a cassette accompanying Le Guin's 1985 book Always Coming Home, will receive a long awaited reissue next month via Freedom To Spend. Part novel, part lengthy textbook, the publication tells the story of an invented Pacific Coast people called The Kesh and a woman called Stone Telling, weaving an anthropological narrative of folklore and fantasy. For its soundtrack, words and lyrics were put together by the late novelist while the sound was composed by Barton, an Oregon based musician and Buchla synthesist with whom Le Guin had worked on public radio projects.

Both Barton and Le Guin has started work on the reissue before the novelist's death on 22 January of this year. Moe Bowstern, a writer and friend of Le Guin, wrote the sleevenotes for this new edition in which she explains that Barton had built and then taught himself to play several instruments of Le Guin’s design, among them “the seven-foot horn known to the Kesh as the Houmbúta and the Wéosai Medoud Teyahi bone flute.”

The Freedom To Spend label add “Both Barton and Le Guin are sensitive to the sovereignty of indigenous Californians and were careful not to trample the traditions of the Tolowa people who lived in the valley long before the Kesh.” As Barton puts it in notes accompanying the release, “You research deeply, and then you bring your own voice to the table.”

The LP will include a printed jacket with Le Guin’s illustrations from Always Coming Home, a facsimile of the original lyric sheet, sleevenotes by Moe Bowstern, download code and a bookmark. It's released in both physical and digital formats on 23 March.

Watch Ursula K Le Guin and Todd Barton’s “A Teaching Poem/Heron Dance” below.