Donal Dineen’s Sunken Treasure: The Music of Norma Lyon

Brian Eno would love the evocative sounds on this mysterious, self-released 1967 LP

Norma Lyon: The Oregon pianist is accompanied by her friend Marie Celia Dunn on organ

Norma Lyon: The Oregon pianist is accompanied by her friend Marie Celia Dunn on organ

 

It’s a funny time for vinyl. There is despair. Save for the heroic efforts of a few independent soldiers on the ground, the practise of stocking independently released and distributed records has all but died out.

The major labels may include a vinyl edition of a new LP release in their roster, but few new artists can afford the risk of an expensive vinyl press. Savvy independent labels have survived and thrived but the majority have bowed out.

There are notable and significant exceptions. Meltybrains and Katie Kim have prioritised good pressings and a splendid aesthetic for their new vinyl releases. Fans of these great reords will treasure their tactile editions. Likewise, the labels All City and Major Problems have released top-quality compilations.

But retail space on terra firma is almost gone. That was my domain. Searching for music on foot, not surfing. That’s what I desperately don’t want to see disappearing.

Secondhand market

There are countless differences between perusing records in a store and cruising the web. The real thing still prevails. The “see, hear and feel” that the former offers has me firmly hooked, I must admit. I hit a rich vein of form last week.

It started with this mysterious LP by Norma Lyon, self-released on her own Century Records label out of Oregon in 1967. The Light in the Attic label re-released a limited edition, but this was one of the originals.

I would have spent the soft dollar to have the photograph on the cover alone. It’s one for the wall. The moody blue hue extends to the titles: Fantasy of The Winds, Romance of Spirit Lake, Blue Grotto.

The music is heaven-sent. Lyon is accompanied by her friend Marie Celia Dunn on the organ. There are eight cuts on each side. Eight “dune sketches” and the same again of the sea. All are divine. The unhurried pace is disarming. It’s contemplative and sad and evocative. Brian Eno would love this.

I will not bury this treasure. There is always hope.

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