Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

June 008 Drudion

June 2008ce

The Archdrude delivering his lecture ‘Heathenism & Paganism Beyond Rome’ at Birmingham Town Hall; May 26th 2008CE
Hail ye Itinerants, ye Travellers all,

Praise to the Spring, fairest Season of All. And warm thanks to everyone who braved the storms of last May 26th Bank Holiday Monday to venture out to see my ‘Northern Heathenism & Paganism Beyond Rome’ lecture at Birmingham Town Hall. First, I gots to say what a splendid job the refurbishers did to the old place (only recently re-opened in the last six months after its closure back in ‘96), though I did get a bit dewy-eyed at the realisation that my last time in there was watching John Cale back in Autumn ’75. I was gonna commence the lecture from the exact same place I stood when Faust played there two years previously, but immoveable new council seating precluded my achieving the dream. Still, the 70-minute story I told at the Town Hall was extremely well received and I thank y’all for the multitude of positive responses. However, in answer to requests for me to post the lecture on Head Heritage, I have to refuse as it is intended to form the basis of my chapter on St. Paul, to be published in a future tome I’m currently researching, entitled THE LIVES OF THE PROPHETS. For those of you unable to attend the lecture, I should explain that the overall thrust of my argument explained how Jesus Christ’s words to his fellow Jews were hijacked by the Cilician tax collector Saul of Tarsus, who took those words out to the Uncircumcised, ie: the Greeks, the Romans and thenceforth up north to our Britannic Isles and Scando-Germanic climes, Saul in the process metamorphosing into St. Paul. Studying the changes that Nazarene Christianity endured in the hands of this pragmatic (and undoubtedly Mithraic) Johnny-Come-Lately Apostle, I attempted to show my audience how – with the coming of Pauline Christianity – we in the north have been forced for centuries to endure a kind of useless Modified Persian Sunworship Wrapped Up In Proto-Hippy Peace Love Dove Schlock-Buddhism, and all in the name of Christianity. That such tripe was accepted for centuries as a potentially useful lifestyle by horny Northern Males and their equally tough and belligerent spouses only shows how successful was the bullying mindset of the Men Only club run by the Roman Catholic priesthood. They waged both Physical AND Psychic War on us, brothers’n’sisters. And they still do so, though with daily decreasing force. And to those of you who counter my arguments with the reminder that even the pagan religions of the north had, by the time of the Roman Empire, fallen into Patriarchal ways almost as fierce as the southern death cults that became Christianity (and later Islam), I can only reply: “You are wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.” No, let’s make it more emphatic than that: “Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.” In the canny words of ‘Psychedelic Odin’, a song from my new album BLACK SHEEP:

“Up here in this far northern world, we bait the religious kind, Who genuflect and show respect to the pious and the Papal robe, From up here we scan the entire globe, To weed out every sexist and each vile homophobe.”

JEX THOTH by Jex Thoth

Anyway, I’m now gonna commence this month’s review section with a look at the hugely inspiring debut from Californian psycho-doomsters Jex Thoth, who take their name from their female lead singer and whose music inhabits as genuinely heathen and archaic a place as early Sabbath, Pentagram, SATORI-period Flower Travellin’ Band and Amon Düül 2. When I saw the record was released on Sweden’s I Hate Records, it was difficult at first to believe the band itself could be American, so Teutonic was their powerdrive. With vocal elements of Granicus’ Woody Leffel and that extraordinary female timbre that Ozzy’s voice reached during parts of SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH, Jex’s incredibly dark and richly Freyjan delivery places her up in the same league as Amon Düül’s Renate Knaup-Krotenschwanz and even Savage Rose’s Annissette during that band’s pagan masterwork ‘A Trial in Our Native Town’. Organist Zodiac foists upon the band’s sound a huge Reverend Bizarre quality that has them reaching into that northern forest cleanness, nothing urban whatsoever, a sheer blues-less Germanic Teutonism that conjures up not fjords, but the icy and perpetually sleet-driven coasts of the northern Danish coast of Skaggerak, strewn as they are with ridge-top burial mounds looking out onto the northern-west, always a symbol of death without rebirth to our Northern ancients. Much of Jex Thoth’s music echoes what my Utopian melting plastic brain imagines would have been thrown up by Grace Slick’n’Co had Jefferson Airplane not been hippies and dared to have followed their natural trajectory after CROWN OF CREATION into, not so much ‘Heavy’ as pure ‘Cumbersome’. The band even takes Bobb Trimble’s almost classic ‘When the Raven Calls’ and feed it through a John Philip Sousa 3/4 Doors/Clearlight filter somewhat akin to the latter’s ‘Mr Blue’ as played by Amon Düül 2 on their epically ‘5 to 1’-informed dual vocal’n’fuzz bass spectacular album closer ‘Ladies Mimickry’. Even elements of Todd Clark’s eloquent brutality crop up in the sheer insistence of Jex Thoth’s rifferama, whilst the haunting religious hymnal darkness of tones similar to those occasionally conjured up by the Yardbirds at their most Gothick. Produced by Zodiac Mountain’s head honcho Clay Ruby and sitting in a delightful sleeve painted by the aforemenched Rev. Bizarre’s vocalist Albert Witchfinder, you gotta cop one for your own library, kiddies. Utterly fucking Nessa, me dears.

AU CONTRAIRE by Pas Chic Chic

I’ve also been hugely impressed by AU CONTRAIRE, the debut album by Montreal’s Pas Chic Chic, whose urgent, disorientating and eloquent experimental psychedelic pop inhabits a bizarre hinterland somewhere between Alan Gill’s beautiful early Dalek I Love You COMPASS KUMPAS sound, The Teardrop Explodes circa ‘When I Dream’ and ‘Thief of Baghdad’, and Dave Balfe and Bill Drummond’s Lori & the Chameleons project as played by Stereolab. Whirling ice-rink string synths, uppity toy soldier snare drummers and clamorous tragic male’n’female French language vocals conspire to create a sound of huge tragedy and loss. Fucking eh… Several of the band members previously appeared in well-respected bands that I personally never rated much, but this new ensemble is really something to watch out for. Check them out at paschichchic.com, or via Semprini Records.

MIGHTY HIGH IN DRUG CITY by Mighty High

What with Sir Lord Baltimore unexpectedly returning as a Christian band (Gor Lummie) and the Stooges manifesting as a Madonna-bumming post-Hives power pop combo for their comeback, it’s good to see that Brooklyn’s Mighty High is still flying the flag for sheer adrenalin’n’drug-fuelled hard rock. Their debut album MIGHTY HIGH IN DRUG CITY effortlessly surfs the tsunami thrown up by DC’s LET THERE BE ROCK-period as though redirected through Grand Funk’s scorching (and remedial) version of ‘Gimmie Shelter’; the bass fuzzing everything up without resorting to High Rise-style all-pervading filth. Released on Mighty High’s own Mint Deluxe Tapes, these guys have battened down their metaphor so tight, you cain’t slide a razor blade between their concepts. Clothed in a mega-tripped-out jacket rendered by the legendary Wayne Bjerke, and replete with such songs as ‘Hooked On Drugs’, ‘Albert Hoffman’, ‘Buy The Pound’, ‘Dusted’, ‘Breakin’ Shit’ and ‘TS Eliot’ (I shit you not), could there be an erudite barbarian trip more obstinate and thorough? Me neither, C’mon!

LESSONS IN LAMENTATION by Fistula

Seemingly out of nowhere, Ohio sextet Fistula barf forth two epic albums simultaneously this month, with their debut album for Crucial Blast’s special projects label Crucial Bliss, entitled LESSONS IN LAMENTATION (BLISS 30), accompanied by its apocalyptic and a-rhythmic sibling INVERTED BLACK STAR (BLISS 31). The first is a single one-hour stentorian forced march somewhat akin to Cadaver in Drag and Marzuraan together jamming the more rudimentary parts of Sleep’s DOPESMOKER, as the ghosts of Edgy 59 and Alan Dubin stalk its sonic corridors. I’ve applied a heavy rotation policy to this disc and watched the outside world sling its hook entirely. As though that weren’t enough, the other kiddie in question is another triumph of the Inner Troll over the intellect, a one-hour-plus Cunted Stumble across an unlit Khanate soundcheck, armed with a broken metal detector and a battery-powered VCS3 synth. As both of these babies are delightfully packed in Crucial Bliss’ patent A5 hi-kwoll glossy 3-panel sleeves, I suggest you rush to score both from crucialblast.net, or at the very least take a quick pitstop at myspace.com/fistula666. If Fistula are really the Pragmatic Motherfuckers that these two volumes imply they are, I suggest this ensemble should next release their own limited edition black curtained 4-poster bed replete with in-built quadraphonic Matamp PA, and nail the entire Lifestyle market in one fell swoop! Nice.

THE SUN SPLITS FOR THE BLIND SUMMER by King Darves

Speaking of lifestyles, while the so-called Acid Campfire of my SKELLINGTON period did more for my songwriting than any horde of high power producers could have, I still gots to say I’m jealous as hell that the Underground has come so far that there’s a long-term career awaiting such groaners as New Jersey’s 25-year-old astral beardo King Darves. Released on De Stijl Records, I was convinced for at least the first coupla spins of his stuporific album THE SUN SPLITS FOR THE BLIND SUMMER that he had to at least be Danish or Swedish, recorded in the flat farmland of Zealand or Skåne, and be as old as Povl Dissing himself. Not so, however. This young punk’s clearly been smoking Woodbines since age 7 and necking huge quantities of fine malt from even earlier. And so, armed only with a Spanish guitar and two or three mates with barely an autoharp to their names (though sucking in some sweet sweet lungfulls of backing vocal to be sure), His Madge has yawn'ed forth a veritable micro-Cinemascope epic and all of barely a half-an-hour’s duration. Say it and fuck off, or watt? Crooning wantonly, oft-atonally and always as craggily as Kan Mikami without the self-conscious need to be only himself (much like Iggy wished he could have on AMERICAN CAESAR, but failed Los Miserably), King Darves’ debut is a must for all of those who need to feel life is truly being lived to the full, but don’t have the time to do it themselves. Shockingly, Darves’ earlier stuff was apparently a bit free electronic (what the?), which is something of a surprise to me, as he here sounds pre-Eddisonian to say the least. Lahve it.

MYSTIC INDUCTION by Eternal Tapestry

In the meantime, HH’s Vinyl of the Month award falls effortlessly into the eight sh-sh-shaking hands of Eternal Tapestry, a quartet of inner space cadets from America’s northwest coast. Released on the excellent Not Not Fun label and featuring just two side-long epics, Eternal Tapestry’s debut LP is a truly munted spectacular that trawls the furthest reaches of so-called Psychedelic Guitar rock, no, make that Euphorically Revelatory Psychedelic Avant-Guitar FX Rock. For this sour/sweet stuff is as biblical as the parting as the Red Sea, delicate in places as Ash Ra Tempel’s SCHWINGUNGEN, yet ecstatic as THE FAUST TAPES’ highest moments as fed through Amon Düül’s finest YETI filter; this is a record to love and to cherish and something to place right in there among your all-time favourites. Furthermore, Not Not Fun Records have surpassed themselves with the tough card sleeve, which features an extraordinary hand-woven tapestry. Yup kiddies, in its execution, its sonic mystery, its thoroughness of metaphor, Eternal Tapestry serves to remind us that the supposedly hoary genre Psychedelic Rock may yet be still in its infancy! Score yon personal copy from notnotfun.com, und pronto, Tonteau!

BLIND BABY HAS ITS MOTHER'S EYES by Les Rallizes Denudés

Finally, re-issue of this month has to go to Les Rallizes Denudés’ epic BLIND BABY HAS ITS MOTHER’S EYES, which makes a welcome comeback after a dog’s age of unavailability. Worth the price just for the epic (and highly-rearranged) near-20-minute meditative proto-dubby versh of opening track ‘Flames of Ice’ (here re-named ‘Honno no Rallizes and featuring enough wide screen guitar wreckage to live for), this album also features the inchoate and linear ‘Tales of Cruel Love’, a dawdling haphazard 20-minute affair as emotionally remote as Allah, Jehovah and Whitney Houston, and as devoid of feeling as a suburban smack addict on a day trip aboard Thomas the Tank Engine. As usual, these are high quality printed and well-packaged CD-R editions, but they are infinitely better than all the stuff I’ve seen recently on eBay, and they sport the same front sleeve as the original cover depicted in my JAPROCKSAMPLER. Score one of these sonic snowploughs from our own Head Heritage merchandiser simply by clicking here.

Okay, that concludes my reviews, so it just remains for me to make a more detailed mention of BLACK SHEEP, the next Julian Cope album. Firstly, I have to say this record undoubtedly contains the best and most arduously crafted set of lyrics I’ve ever completed, their themes being at all times a meditation on what it is to be a cultural outsider, and the manner in which the Corporate world of the Greedheads has subtly turned even the naturally gregarious and socially accepting of us into reluctant Black Sheep. Both musically and sonically, the eleven songs have more in common with JEHOVAHKILL, AUTOGEDDON and FRIED than many of my current albums, inhabiting a strangely bucolic-but-abandoned landscape. Oboes, Mellotron 400s, marching bass drums, multiple male vocals and mucho acoustic guitars give BLACK SHEEP a real ancient feel midway between Apocalyptic Folk and Ragnarok’n’roll. As usual, the songs will appear across two discs:

Disc One

  1. Come the Revolution
  2. It’s Too Late to Turn Back Now
  3. These Things I Know
  4. Psychedelic Odin
  5. Blood Sacrifice
  6. The Shipwreck of St. Paul
Disc Two
  1. All the Blowing Themselves Up Motherfuckers (Will Realise the Minute They Die That They Were Suckers)
  2. Feed My Rock’n’roll
  3. Dhimmi is Blue
  4. The Black Sheep’s Song
  5. I Can Remember This Life

Okay, I shall quit now and hope to coerce the sun into revealing a bit more of herself over Yatesbury over the next weeks. They’re currently thatching the 18th century granary next to our house, so – each breakfast time - we got a right old-fashioned heritage project to watch from our doorstep. Anyway, until next time, brothers’n’sisters, Happy Solstice and hope y’all get to see the sea soon.

Love reign on,

JULIAN (Lord Yatesbury)