Wink (Asphodel)

Ken Nordine 

Wink (Asphodel)

Originator of the obscure word-jazz genre, Ken Nordine possesses the greatest speaking voice in the history of the larynx. How great? I'd pay good money to hear him slander my entire family. Nordine's resonant baritone articulates whimsy with stoic profundity. On Wink (which originally came out in 1967 as Twink), he reads from the 1957 Robert Shure literary oddity of the same name, a collection of charmingly ridiculous internal dialogues set to equally quirky music. Shure presents absurd premises ("My windshield wipers have fallen in love"; "My shoehorn has freckles"), then unspools them to wry, logical conclusions. Nordine imbues Shure's words with just the right balance of deadpan gravity and winking levity. The uncredited musicians execute sparse, mostly jazzy miniatures that prickle with bizarre textures and creep and slither idiosyncratically, all sotto voce. These oblique scenarios appear and vanish like fever dreams and always leave you grinning. Wink is, to use Shure's phrase, "great like Romanian swimming parties."

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