Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

January Drudion 008

January 2008ce

For an explanation of this scene, please see main text (Photo: Stephanie Sinclair)
Hey Drudion,

Please excuse the belated Happy New Year greetings, but our server has been down these past few days. It did, however, give me an excuse to extend the festivities a coupla days longer, which is always delightful. However, spare a thought for the young girl shown above in Stephanie Sinclair’s UNICEF Photo of the Year. The old arsehole on the left is not smiling because he’s sitting next to his 11-year-old grand daughter. No indeed, this reprobate is smiling because his is the kind of society where girls of primary school age can be taken as wives, to be sexually assaulted again and again, totally legally and without dishonour to this bigamist. Yes, this is an Afghani wedding photo. So however bad each and every one of our 2008’s turn out, I highly doubt that it’ll match the life of torture that this poor pre-teen is about to endure. Moving swiftly along, even I was shocked by the pre-X-mass news of Blair’s conversion to Catholicism. In the first place, appointing Blair as peace envoy to the Middle East is somewhat akin to asking the head of the Ku Klux Klan to oversee the trial of Martin Luther King’s murderer. But did Blair have to rub everyone’s faces further into the shit with such displays of piety to the Papa? Dammit Blair, you unctuous Do-Godder, your shameless misrepresentation of the British people to the international community was bad enough when you were in office. But you don’t even have the good grace to duck out of the so-called Holy Land even if it means you might get bombed, bummed and kidnapped. Which I hope you do. Fuck Blair and his God. Like Patti Smith, my life’s work has always been propelled not by any so-called Gods, but by a rich and varied host of heroes. Why? For no one God is enough in this 21st century; no single God can hope to speak for all the citizens of this vast planet without excluding whole swathes of humanity. As world history attests, whatever is devilish here in the West is divine there in the East. Heroes are useful but the Gods just confuse us. The BBC’s coverage of George Best’s state funeral a coupla years back still resounds powerfully enough in my mind’s eye to act as a constant reminder of the power of the Hero. And so Godless shall I remain, still fuelled by William Blake’s plea: “Thine own humanity learn to adore”.

SIX by Wildildlife

SNYB/HSDOM

THE BIRTH OF TRAGEDY by Blood Moon

3rd GATEKEEPER by Skullflower

MORE DEEPER by Vincent Black Shadow

DOUBLE INFINITY by Plants

Okay, let’s cut to the chase and jump straight into the reviews with Wildildlife’s album SIX, a fabulously mysterious aural assault that places them midway between the retarded late-60s apocalyptic blues trudge of such post-Doors obsessives as Josephus, and the euphorically doomy post grunge of Harvey Milk. With certain tracks clocking in at the quarter-hour mark, the centre-piece must surely be the 18 minutes of ‘Magic Jordan’, which starts life suggesting nothing more than a cover of the Stooges’ ballad ‘Anne’, before morphing into a vast and panoramic post-American Civil War soundtrack. Even better, these mud’n’paint daubed refuseniks have presented their album clad in a hi-kwoll digipak depicting that strange mosaic skull that the Aztec emperor Moctezuma presented to his nemesis – the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortés – back in the 16th century: Fabulous indeed. Score this major league psyche-shagger from Crucial Blast Records (www.crucialblast.net) and kiss the known world good-bye! Next, all you fans of Anal should please check out Phaserprone Records’ wonderful split CD by SYNB and HSDOM, the former being one of the many obscure projects by Rhode Island’s Matt Brinkman, the latter being a solo project of Brooklyn-based musician Jochen Hartmann. Herein, both artists have re-worked the other’s music to create a totally coherent mash of weather formations-meets- heavy industry. Enormous cranes teeter in the wind, massive radio antennae fizz in the rain, and girders crash unnoticed from massively high gantries, the overall experience being somewhat like taking mushrooms and shivering at the great North Walean Neolithic temple of Tal-y-Fan just at the spot where the National Electricity grid cuts right across the valley (though without the threat of death that such an act would entail). Better still, and like all of Phaserprone’s exquisitely packaged releases, SYNB/HSDOM arrives in what their press dept calls ‘a self-assembled, razor-scored, letter-pressed silver on black, blind embossed, gatefold with insert’. Cop this sucker from www.phaserprone.com, but do make sure you check out their entire catalogue while yooz at it. I’ve also scored a whole multitude of Yuletide kicks from THE BIRTH OF TRAGEDY, a seven-track album by Manchester noiseniks Blood Moon. Although there’s little point in trying to describe their racket other than to say it’s wholly unneighbourly, the overall effect created by these Manny morons is similar to Israeli outfits such as Poochlatz and Barbara, though considerably more tuneful due to Blood Moon’s compassionate (though too occasional) use of sax and piano (albeit ring-modulated to fuck). Check out Blood Moon at www.myspace.com/bloodmoonmusic, but make sure you crank up the bass bins for maximum defect! Be sure also to keep ‘em cranked for the return of 3rd GATEKEEPER, the long-awaited Crucial Blast reissue of Skullflower’s 1992CE masterpiece (www.crucialblast.net). You know I rarely review reissues, but this warhorse really warrants the attention. Back then, Skullflower was a tumultuous roar of early Glenn Branca guitar overload replete with vast cathedral reverb and early Jesus & Mary Chain drums. Of course, their sound’s been equalled and transcended by many bands since back then, but even now 3rd GATEKEEPER remains still a vast statement of shamanic otherness. Oh, and while yooz at it, those of a rock persuasion should deffo leave some space for MORE DEEPER, the head-scrambling pre-literate new offering from Baltimore quintet Vincent Black Shadow. Nine songs buzz by in just over a half hour, and you barely notice. Then, after repeated listens, the thing starts to obtain its hold and the murk gradually yields up scruffy unkempt flourishes of grunge that pose as guitar riffs and leave sonic oil stains all over your speaker cloth. What with signing to, then being dropped by Alan McGee’s Poptones label and getting thrown out of the venerable South By Southwest conference, not much of note seems to have happened for Vincent Black Shadow since my Album of the Month #73 review, back in June 2006CE. So it’s good to know their brief brush with The Man has only increased their shit-fi obsessions. Oh yeah, and you can cop this travesty from www.heartbreakbeatrecords.com. I’ll conclude with some words about DOUBLE INFINITY, an exquisitely beautiful album by Oregon band Plants that I’ve had for months, but only been able to access occasionally due to a fault on my copy. Plants’ music is acoustic based and full of trippy Harmonium and ‘Wümme’ piano epiphanies, and doesn’t really remind me of anything other than Popol Vuh’s most devotional period around the LPs HOSIANNA MANTRA and SELIGPREISUNGEN, a feeling backed up by such song titles as ‘The Sky Above You Seek Below’ and ‘Gnostic Flame’. That said, Plants’ sound is far more glacial and motionless than Popol Vuh, its keyboards and acoustic guitar summoning up a clean Nordic clarity that makes me wanna wear an overcoat even in a warm bedroom. DOUBLE INFINITY is available via London’s Paradigm recordings, or you can peruse the entire Plants’ oeuvre at www.plantsmusic.com.

Finally, I’d like to send a tidal wave of love to my dear friend Alex AKA Mrs Ahab, whose son Oscar was born on New Year’s Eve to the strains of my own song ‘Highway To The Sun’. Congratulations to you and Lee, me darling. These past few years, many stage highlights at Cope shows have resulted from Ahab’s particularly singular behaviour down the front row, so I just have to hope her old man is up for babysitting sooner rather than later, or I shall be forced to foist my uninvited affections on any and all unfortunate ladies who happen to stray there unwittingly! Oh, and another fucking thing finally finally, I’d just like to take issue with an American reader who complained recently that my Drudions are becoming so riddled with British slang that they’ve become unreadable to those across the pond. Sir, I’ve been married to an American woman for over twenty years and I’m often accused by both English friends and fans of having becoming a little too Transatlantic, so don’t come it with me. As a rock’n’roller and poet, I use words not just for their meaning but also for their ability to take readers into an alternative head-space, ie: I want my Drudions to make you feel as though I’m talking to you directly, speaking in my slang-strewn everyday voice. Are you as an American just so used to being catered for that any display of ‘differentness’ on the part of another English speaker has become irksome to you? Or do you genuinely not know just how much the world is forced to kowtow daily to America’s increasingly Romanizing culture? In the words of one of your own: “The way I talk is just the way I talk.” And with that little tirade over, I think it’s time to cast off even further into the 21st century.

Love Fucking Peace,

JULIAN (Lord Yatesbury)