Poet, madcap, artist, comedian, composer - take your pick.
Colin Buttimer 2008
Ron Geesin's brush with fame came early in his career when he joined forces with Pink Floyd's Roger Waters. Initially collaborating on Ummagumma's hilariously-titled Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict, they then completed the frankly scatalogical Music For The Body album before co-writing the Floyd's Atom Heart Mother suite. Poet, madcap, artist, comedian, composer - take your pick. There's material to support any and all such perspectives on Biting The Hand. The list of influences cited on Geesin's website indicates his own view: "Victor Borge, The Goons, Chic Murray (Scottish comedian, deceased) and Surrealism''.
Biting The Hand hoovers up a number of radio sessions Geesin recorded for BBC radio between 1969 and 1972 and crams them onto two CDs. Annotated and compiled by the artist himself, Geesin has chosen to retain the bemused commentary of the DJs that bookended many of the tracks at the time of their broadcast. Thus, we get the droll tones of the late-lamented John Peel as well as Wally Whyton and Bob Harris. This has the effect both of making these recordings an intimate time capsule and, perhaps more interestingly, providing a taste of the public reception that Geesin's compositions provoked. This is illustrated both by the DJs' own responses and by Peel's reading of an irate listener's letter.
John's Title - so-called because Geesin frequently refused to apply titles to his work - features an address to the DJ thus: ''Oh Mr Ravenscroft Peel here is a grand wooden piano solo played with all of my nine fingers and a bit of brain, brain, brain''. An energetic piano solo follows that begins and ends in eerily sustained harmonics and Peel's amused attempt to find a name for the piece. Out Of Your Tune, featuring a de-tuned banjo, is somewhat reminiscent of a crazed Penguin Cafe Orchestra. Other pieces, such as No. 8 Scalpel Incision Foxtrot, mix vaudeville and biscuit tin radio effects to energetic effect. The nature of the humour may be too much for some, but fans of Monty Python or possibly BBC Radio 4's I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue may find much to enjoy.