Historically, Factory Records was pretty much created to showcase Vini Reilly’s Durutti Column. Tony Wilson was completely enamoured of the madman Reilly’s unique sense of New Age guitar. The original band was short-lived, however, and quickly eclipsed by Factory’s “other band,” so much so, that pretty much every future incarnation of Reilly’s band has failed to get past the shadow of his former friend and pubmate Ian Curtis.
Short Stories for Pauline was supposed to be Durutti Column’s fourth LP. Therefore, it rests pretty well with their early catalog. Always intended to be their ‘classical’ album, Short Stories…, is a heavy showcase of Reilly’s fractured counterpoint. His playing is sharp and angular, yet forms smooth and forlorn landscapes. Sort of like a heavily faceted diamond, that at a distance shines smooth.
The majority of the album is comprised of material that pairs Reilly with Tuxedomoon’s Blaine L. Reininger and drummer Alain Lefebvre. Classical indeed, the album still rattles with the heavily effected beats that made the early Factory sound. The difference is that Reilly was always a bit of a nut within his own community. Obsessed with jazz form and the microtonalism of John Cage and Steve Reich, his music was always a little too mature to blend in well with Manchester’s industrial breed of post punk.
The main shortcomings of this album are pretty much a mantra as to why Durutti Column are something of a record collector’s oddity and not a household name. Due to the incidental and ambient nature of his music, as good as Reilly is (and he is damn good,) all his songs seem to blend together. This album, like all of his others, quickly falls into the background, creating an amazing environment to zone out to, but not necessarily a record one holds dear to their heart.