Monday, December 22, 2014

New, free (legal!) download of ‘The Dream World of Dion McGregor’

I noted in my last blog entry on the strange phenomenon that was, and is, Dion McGregor that it is surprising (and welcome) to find that there is new material available from the renowned “sleep talker.” Now the friendly folks at Torpor Vigil Records have made the long out-of-print 1964 LP by McGregor, The Dream World of Dion McGregor — yes, the one with the Edward Gorey cover — available as a high-quality, totally remastered, legal download. For free, even!

Many audio and video rereleases use the phrase “remastered,” but in this case the folks at TV went back to the original tapes of McGregor’s monologues made by his roommate Michael Barr back in the Sixties to obtain better-sounding versions of the material on the LP. So this isn’t just a digital rendering of the original record, this is a clearer version of the material (specific notes about the process are available at the download page).

McGregor, for those who are unaware, was a songwriter (now deceased) who has acquired a cult not for any of his music, but for the bizarre and dark monologues he delivered in his sleep. The situations he would craft are disturbing (the best example is the piece about people in a swimming pool that is slowly getting hotter and hotter) but his “concerned observer” narration is what sells the pieces.

I discussed in my last post how I had a problem with the notion that McGregor was fully asleep; arguments to shore up that position, provided by Torpor Vigil founder Steve Venright, are in that blog entry. In the time since, I came across a very interesting NPR discussion about McGregor’s monologues, in which two experts on sleep discussed what state he might have been in — one of the two maintains he was “sleep talking from a sort of atypical REM stage.”

Whatever the hell he was doing, McGregor produced surreal and grimly funny material that was not his forte in the waking world (it’s even more bizarre to consider the fact that he had this stuff locked up inside his mind and never became a humor writer of any kind). The first LP was a distillation of the “best” (at that point) of McGregor’s monologues, replete with the traffic sounds of midtown Manhattan in the background.

Dion in a 1972 de Rome film.
There definitely would seem to be a documentary in all this, and yet there may never be one, due to the fact that most people who knew McGregor have died. The most recent was his roommate before Barr, the pioneering experimental gay porn filmmaker Peter de Rome, who is the subject of the new documentary Peter de Rome: Grandfather of Gay Porn — which I can heartily recommend for those interested in experimental filmmaking, gay porn, portraits of eccentric and endearing artists, and those who love seeing vintage footage of NYC in the Sixties.

In any case, although I don’t think there is a McGregor monologue that directly concerns the Yuletide season, this free, vastly improved digital version is a very nice Xmas gift for the listener who likes strange and dark humor. There is ample information on the download page concerning the other McGregor albums, which are all available on CD. As for explaining what it was that McGregor was doing, nothing beats just sampling the monologues, which can be done directly on the page.

Sweet Dreams!

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