The Church of John Coltrane

A decade after the events of Heaven, Robert Marling has finally blown it all. Numbed by loss, he ducks his creditors and retreats into the apartment that belonged to his late father. Alone with the dead man's jazz collection, Marling seems to have achieved nothingness. But the silence of the maze-like building is interrupted by the music from a cool, forgotten world. The Church of John Coltrane is a mystery about art, graffiti, endings, repetition, jazz, punk, west coast surfing and Shanghai lounge divas.

Excerpt

I still remembered picking up. It felt like yesterday. My cell whirring in my pocket and New Caller and the pause.

'I'm not well,' Lewis said. 'I think the wheels are coming off.'

I wanted to erupt. The wheels had never been on.

'How are my records?' he said. 'Is someone looking after my records?'

'They'll be fine.'

'Everything is there, you know. All my tapes. My notes.'

'You were taping people?'

'I tape things. I type them up.'

'For interviews?'

'For any reason. Talking to people. Conversations.'

'Like you're bugging people?'

'It's just something I do,' Lewis said. 'When I was working on the magazines I would tape interviews, and then sometimes I'd go out to a gig and tape that. And I never threw the tapes out. And I kept taping, I guess. It became my method of working. Now it's something I can't stop.'

'It's a compunction?'

'Pretty much.'

'How many years have you been doing this?'

'A lot of them. Maybe, the last twenty years. Maybe more, on and off.'

'That's a lot of work, Lewis.'

'When I started out I knew jazz as a critic, not a fan. I knew the numbers, dates. And that what I was doing wrong. Later, I realised my mistake, and that's when I started to listen. That's when life got good. And that's why I carried round the recorder. I didn't want to get caught out again. I wanted a record of everything. I didn't want to miss any of it.'

'So you taped everything.'

'Everything.'

'I have to say, Lewis, I respect your energy.'

'People never stop talking. I'm never going to stop having things to transcribe. I've ended up writing and writing and not finishing anything. But one has to indulge. You have to trust the process.'

'So what were these conversations about? Were they important?'

'You don't think conversation are important? This is what we do. We're humans. City life is verbal communication. It's cerebral.'

'How many hours do you think you have on tape, Lewis?'

'Oh, man.' He chuckled. 'There are some hours in there. There are some hours.'

'And you carry the tape recorder with you the whole time?'

'The whole time. In my satchel, my jacket. There were no micro-cassettes when I started. I had this little reel to reel thing that I rigged up with a lapel mic. The quality wasn't great but it got what I needed. I bought one of the first Walkmen, and then I got the little micro-cassette but those things, man, the tapes are so short. At night when I got home I'd type it up and hole-punch it and put it in a folder. At first there was no method to it. I just liked the process of recording and typing it out what had been said. The rhythm was relaxing. It felt like the work I was doing for the magazines, but better. I liked listening to the sounds in the background of the recordings: the traffic and the sounds of people. And then, I stopped typing. I just kept the sounds.'

Excerpt from The Church of John Coltrane by Chad Taylor.

Reviews

"Ballade langoureuse [à nouveau situé dans la ville d'Auckland] qui s'interroge au passage sur les nouvelles mÏurs musicales, le nouvel opus de Chad Taylor dégage une atmosphère assez unique. Pas de doute, le Néo-Zélandais possède un son bien à lui." – Alexandre Fillon / Livres Hebdo - 08/05/2009

"Chad Taylor excelle à décrire l'espace urbain (Auckland), ses lieux confidentiels et arty, tenus à l'écart de la ville moderne. […] L'écriture visuelle de Taylor, ses ruelles nocturnes et ses voies sans issue, renvoyant au monde underground des films de Cassavetes. […] Errance urbaine/humaine aux faux airs de palimpseste, ce dernier né de Chad Taylor distille un goût d'inachevé, d'imperfection affirmée, qui renvoie aux heures anciennes de la contre-culture, à son charme fou." – Emily Barnett / Les Inrockuptibles - 19/05/2009

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