Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

March Drudion

March 2008ce

Hey all you Seers, Seethers & Fire-breathers,

While we’re still basking in the post-Blakean fallout, a little word on Vision States might be useful this month. I say this for two specific reasons: 1) many of us here in the West refuse to trust our own Visions simply because the fucking Christian Churchmen long ago outlawed interfacing with the so-called Divine, instead successfully promoting the entirely bogus Way of the Meek and, thereby, undermining our faith in our own Big Selves, and 2) because Altered States here in the post-war West tend to be associated with drug use, and are therefore often consigned to the dustbin as nothing more than Mental Aberrations. In truth, however, I believe wholeheartedly that modern City Dwellers are still quite capable of both receiving AND acting on their own visions, and that it is the duty of certain artists to aid this by explaining and itemizing every visionary possibility on the menu. For a Vision most certainly does NOT have to arrive in a blaze of heavenly glory or via the established religious route in order to be righteous and true. Indeed, many Visions are experienced in a slowburning and quite sedate state-of-mind… which means that the modern city dweller is – like any modern artist – capable of achieving heightened states through such humdrum activities as extremely repetitious behaviour, physical exhaustion, illness, even information overload. It’s how you choose to interface with that Vision and offload it that decides whether or not you’re a True Visionary. So, while coming home after a long day to watch ‘American Idol’ will guarantee your future alongside the other psychic trash of the human world, investing time with your good self in a quiet space may well help unleash the contents of your melted plastic brain, and bring forth some genuine insights. I’m sure that the kind of people who can even be bothered to read these Drudions will most likely be those of the open-minded variety, but it’s my guess that the majority will still be working too damn hard, and will be spending too little time engaged in pursuits that actively nourish their mental health. So, if you’ll accept the plea of one who has been fortunate enough to live a life of constantly active mental exploration: please, M’Luds, My Ladies, My Lovelies, do yourselves (and your own personal mental health) a big favour at any opportunity, and find time for the You in your life. I don’t mean surrounded by hubbub, sat in front of the TV, lost in a book or even among good company; I mean alone with your good self however briefly. Do it as often as you can, and feel how quickly the You will rise to the surface and shock yourself with the many insights you possess but did not know were so readily to hand. Your Inner Life is your own, brothers’n’sisters. They can never take that away from us! Right On!

GUITAR ARMY by John Sinclair

All right, let’s get to this month’s practical side of the trip: the summing-up of all the latest useful rock’n’roll with which to facilitate our vicious Inner Travel. First up, I’m commencing this month’s review section with an overdue gush about John Sinclair’s long-time-a-comin’ re-published classic rock’n’roll book GUITAR ARMY, back in print for the first time since ’72. Originally published while its author was still in gaol, John Sinclair’s book was a masterpiece in the original meaning of the word, a blueprint, a revolutionary manual, an (albeit failed but nevertheless) outstanding guide book to DIY insurrection that still seethes with practical truths, and has dominated the ‘how to’ section of our own HH library for almost two decades, sitting proudly alongside THE NORSE MYTHS, Robert Graves & Joshua Podro’s THE NAZARENE GOSPEL RESTORED, Rogan Taylor’s THE DEATH & RESURRECTION SHOW and Major H. Von Dach Bern’s legendary TOTAL RESISTANCE: SWISS ARMY GUIDE TO GUERRILLA WARFARE. At the time, Sinclair’s White Panthers were dismissed by many and/or ridiculed as the clowns of the counter culture… but how time flies and how times change. Looking back, the White Panthers were nothing less than the Lokis of their age, Promethean Spirits up there with the Ranters of the English Civil War, and John Sinclair was their prophet, his GUITAR ARMY proving to have been the equivalent of Abiezer Coppe’s legendary (and equally blasphemous) A FLYING FIERY ROLL (for which Coppe also served gaol time in the mid-17th century). Incoherent, bad-assed, poetic, demanding, horny, dysfunctional, visionary, beyond-the-pale, lawless, pious, you name it, John Sinclair was it. And GUITAR ARMY is still the It, motherfuckers. Everyone must buy a copy not because you need to read it from cover-to-cover (that’s the duty of the poet), but because you need to place this righteous tome next to your Korans and Bibles so as to diffuse their neg. rays. Please excuse my illustrating this review with my original copy, but the new artwork’s a bit too Dimebag Darrell for my tastes, AND this new edition has jettisoned its original rainbow coloured paper that inspired the whole look of my THE MODERN ANTIQUARIAN. Still, I won’t complain too loudly as the whole shmeer has been successfully updated with many extra contemporary texts. Add to that a sumptuous slew of period Detroit B&W photos (40 more in this new edition, kiddies), so yooz all in for a heaving and heathen treat. I shoulda guessed that Adam Parfrey’s Process Publishing would be behind this re-issue. Sir, you deserve a medal from the underground. Once again, I Salute ya!

MASTER OF INFINITE WISDOM by Rise to Thunder

Next, and seemingly out of nowhere this month comes the debut EP from Stoke’s mighty Rise to Thunder, a quartet who’ve undertaken the heroic task of driving the horned riffing of SLEEP’S HOLY MOUNTAIN up an entirely different road to the one that Al, Chris & Matt chose for themselves. The 13-minute ‘Bulbous Trichome/Summoning’ is as epic and grudgeful as a wounded giant straight out of the Norse Myths, manifesting the kind of vast eternity of sound that fulfils its covenant with the listener fairly early on, then just sustains its ritual intensity way beyond what’s necessary (always the best kind of high magic I reckon) in a burning comet tailout worthy of Neil Young at his most obstinately electric and C. Horse-y. Find this monster on Future Noise Recordings or look ‘em up on www.myspace.com/risetothunder.

LONG RANGE AUDIO DEVICE by L-RAD

I’ve also been digging the bizarre sounds of LONG RANGE AUDIO DEVICE by L-RAD, a duo comprised of American Steve Defoe and former Van Der Graaf Generator singer/drummer Judge Smith. If – like me – you adored the Judge’s fucking savagely irritating vocal on Van Der Graaf’s 1968 debut 45 ‘Firebrand’, well, the Judge is back, kiddies. And, luckily for us, he’s discovered the kind of anally-obsessive cohort that can take them both into precisely the kind of MEET THE RESIDENTS-style Zappaesque soundscapes that I ain’t heard since back in the days of RAUDELUNAS PATEPHYSICAL REVUE by Ron Pate’s Debonairs (now, weez really talking). If only progressive rock had pursued this slow swan dive trajectory, I’d have been down with it to this day. But as the only thing I’ve heard in the past 18 months that ploughs this solitary vein was that first Benbenek LP from a year or so back, I ain’t holding my breath for this musical style to become the new trend. Indeed, this L-RAD project sure is irritating as fuck, but I love its solipsistic post-LUMPY GRAVY and advise you to check out their site at www.myspace.com/lradproject, or score your own copy at www.mondellomusic.com.

YOU WERE A SHAMAN by Blakk Sweat

Also informed by some of that same obsessively Indoor muse is YOU WERE A SHAMAN by Baltimore’s free ensemble Blakk Sweat. What do I say? Created by persistent people with too much pot, mucho acoustic guitars, a brass section and (too much?) time on their hands, this is a right classy hand-on down home weird-out that fits right in with such Old Timer free moves as Japan’s Brast Burn/Karuna Khyal commune sounds, Germany’s Faust and Zippo Zetterlink, maybe the first Negativland LP and the Residents’ FINGER PRINCE … oh yeah, and some of that US post-Sunburned Hand stuff. This is all-purpose, does-what-it-says-on-the-tin slightly bluesy weirdness. I dunno, these Blakk Sweat meanderings are like heroin to a Krautrocker: they’re just so cosy, so alienating, so lacking in regard for authenticity, everything I love about rock’n’roll. Cop their motherlode from www.mtgrecords.com.

ILL INNOCENCE by Gallhammer

Hey, for those of you who’ve ever caught a noxious blast of black metal and been attracted to its sounds, but been put off by its corpse-painted Nordic purveyors (and the wrathful-but-stodgy misogynists that follow the scene), ILL INNOCENCE by Japan’s female trio Gallhammer may be just the record for you. In my opinion, these ladies sure as hell ain’t Black Metal, but they do possess enough of its miscreant potion to mung up everything they record, turning the somewhat Post Punk and No Wave stylings of this new album, on Peaceville Records, into a glorious festival of sludge trudge and sonic dissatisfaction (the eight minutes of ‘Slog’ is a joy to endure). In true punk fashion, all three band members – Vivian Slaughter, Mika Penetrator and Risa Reaper – picked up their instruments only a coupla years ago, which gives their music a genuinely loping dissonance somewhat akin to very early Banshees. The band is on tour in the UK between March 13th-18th, or check them out at peaceville.com/gallhammer/illinnocence.

KTL2 by KTL

Good to see that Messrs. Stephen O’Malley and Peter Renberg’s KTL has even surpassed its superb debut with KTL2. Released on Editions Mego, this new album commences with what sounds like a dwarf in a tiny space-copter buzzing around in the mind of QE2-period Thighpaulsandra, all zoned-out Kurweil synthesizers and Cretan Antron-sized reverb. Walls of distant apocalyptic guitars, a rollercoaster-rink string section in there from time to time (especially on the 27-minute whale hunt of ‘Theme’), robot heartbeats and then total stasis. Heck, this all conspires to create something vast; vast in the same manner that Mickael Checkhalin was summoning forth during his 12LP mega-release back in the late ‘80s (all you Audion fans, imagine the harsh tinnitus of CONCERTO GROSSE-gone-furious-drone). This killer is available on Editions Mego, and can be accessed via ideologic.org.

SPLIT 12" by Hey Colussus/Dot

My current vinyl fave is the incredible split release between London sextet Hey Colossus and Japanese trio Dot. Motherfuckers, this is the shit no two ways about it, and does the same job for me as Tony Conrad’s OUTSIDE THE DREAM SYNDICATE, only played by axe wielders. Both sides just kinda start and then proceed to mung up everything in your bedroom. I lay cunted and cursing after side one finished. Like, what, now I gotta get up and change the thing? Let’s start with the Hey Colossus track. ‘Kittens’ is sixteen minutes of Russky–styled riffage as played by Die Krupps or one of those other heavy heavy latecomer-Kraut outfits. Imagine ‘The Song of the Volga Boatmen’ with the ‘Ey-ooch-nyem’ chant replaced by multiple fuzz guitars, and yooz approaching the Colossus pleasure centres. Now add mind-bending ‘30 Seconds Over Tokyo’ top-end whiddly-wee and you nailed that sucker! On the other side, Dot’s ‘Black Acid Ley’ is twenty-four minutes of monotonous single-riff troll dirge, a Wolfmangler funeral march across an ancient Cornish spirit path driven by an obstinate hunchback drummer in possession of mallets the size of Big Ben’s hammer. Aw shucks, kiddies, you gots to have this on your shelves if only for the sake of your mental health. To order this essential motherfucker, you just gotta punch in this address: www.jonsonfamily.com/ records/recordInformation.aspx?rid=jfr024, and the deed is done.

MAXIMUM MONEY MONSTER by Zeni Geva

Finally, I wanna conclude this reviews section with some praise for the re-issued MAXIMUM MONEY MONSTER, the 1990 debut by Japan’s power trio Zeni Geva, now superbly re-issued by Northampton’s wonderful Cold Spring record label. First released on the now defunct Pathological label, this monolithic slab of post No Wave ploughed that same Uber-cunted furrow as Von LMO at his most savage and uncompromising. Indeed, the album’s incredible opening 16-minuter ‘Slam King’ could’ve been the ultimate meditation if it was anywhere near as long as Von’s ‘X+Y=0’. Still, this opening track so bombards listeners with its granite hewn riffarama and singer KK Null’s nuts-in-a-vice vocal delivery that the rest of the album seems fairly acceptable in comparison. In truth, however, this is one horribly more-ish Nihonese motherfucker whose grooves sustain from beginning to end. Score this beautifully (re-)packaged son-of-a-bitch from www.coldspring.co.uk, and cop three bonus live tracks to boot!

Right, I’ll now conclude this Drudion with a brief discussion of my own next album release, because time moves at quite a pace and Spring is already in the air. As I’ve already noted previously, this next record will bear the title BLACK SHEEP and will feature songs and poems relating to the essential role of the outsider in society. As I noted on the sleeve of my compilation album FLOORED GENIUS 3, my Uncle Neil Todd had always been the black sheep of our family until I came along, and – around 10 years ago – he actually gifted me an old model of a black sheep as his method of passing the baton to the next generation. Thus far, BLACK SHEEP appears to be shaping up musically as a more bombastic but fairly natural sequel to YOU GOTTA PROBLEM WITH ME, with some really beautiful songs driven mostly by mucho Mellotron 400, wa-acoustic guitars and marching bass drums. The titles of the songs so far confirmed are: ‘I Can Remember This Life’, ‘Psychedelic Odin’ and ‘Blood Sacrifice’. Of course, I shall keep y’all abreast of recorded events as they progress, but the record appears to be bubbling away quite nicely at the moment. And with that, I shall quit once again, but not before wishing you all the best of health as the dying embers of winter recede from our chilly horizons.

Love Be Upon You,

JULIAN (M’Lud Yatesbury)