On June 26th 2008CE, Sardinian prehistorian Mario Carta (far right in photo) took the Archdrude and three friends (L-R Thomas Fazi, Simone Caltabelotta, Paolo Vacca) to visit Sa Reina (‘the Queen’), a 2,000-year-old olive tree said to be the most ancient in the Mediterranean.
I just returned from more fieldwork on the Sulcis Peninsula, in southern Sardinia, and was gutted to discover that the cows in the field next to us have finally been taken away for slaughter. It’s amazing how close we grew in the weeks before my trip abroad, and my wife and daughters came home a coupla times to find me surrounded by them, as they would visit us en masse whenever we popped our heads out of the kitchen door. Their departure was particularly pertinent as Sulcis surnames still mostly reflect the names of the beasts that the Sulcitannos (Sulcis pastoralists) choose to keep. Indeed, the father of my Italian publisher Simone Caltabelotta had three best friends by the names of Paolo Vacca (Paul Cow), Marco Porcu (Mark Pig) and a third whose first name I forget, though his surname in English was ‘Dog’! Talking to Paolo Vacca last week (see photo above), I was shocked to discover that this ex-major of his local town, Villamassargia, rarely ate meat until he left home to get married, and did not even see the sea until he was 18 years old, despite living only fifteen miles from the coast; his life was just too ruled by looking after the animals. In a conversation with him at the local bar, Paolo said that throughout his childhood his family and other locals subsisted on their own pecorino (sheep’s cheese), bread, tomatoes, olives and eggs, though rarely the latter. At this declaration, Paolo’s friend Mario reminded him that they occasionally ate figs as well. That Paolo and Mario are both still only in their early ‘70s really struck home to me how much the world has changed, and how easily it could all change again … and soon. In the run-up to the new millennium, we had both cows and sheep in our neighbouring field, that is, until the 2001 Foot & Mouth cull took place. After that, Yatesbury became a bare old place, devoid of everything but small mammals, deer and birdlife. So the too-brief return of the cows and their ‘leaving’ while we were away – especially in the wake of my direct contact with Sulcis pastoralists named after their animals – has really struck home to me just how little control we have over the tragic fates of these beautiful beasts that light up our lives only to conclude their own on someone’s dinner plate. To those of you who find all these comments a bit too delicate and la-di-da, I just gotta remind y’all how easily we can all fall for old donkeys on a beach, or how wonderful the brief glimpse of a distant deer can be while out driving; so I’m sure you can imagine just how quickly the loving stares of those baleful bovines entered the collective hearts of my family.
TELESTRION by Telestrion
Okay, moving swiftly on to this month’s reviews, first I gotta hip y’all to the stunning self-titled debut album by Telestrion, a long-haired quartet from the American south. Utopian, apocalyptic and transcendental all at the same time, Telestrion’s songs dance on fire somewhere between the Satanic and Whirling Dervish gypsy psychedelia of SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH and FUTURAMA, the outrageously over-arranged second album by Bill Nelson’s Be Bop Deluxe, as played by the Todd Clark Group and/or the phased-out psychedelic fury of Neil Merryweather’s Space Rangers. Telestrion utilise a kind of ever-unfolding QUADROPHENIA approach that overwhelms and disorientates listeners to such a degree that there’s no possibility of knowing just which song they’re listening to. Imagine an LSD-soaked Montrose or a modern Flower Travellin’ Band and yooz getting close to the swirling catharsis this quartet has laid upon us. Classic Rock? Nope, for these druids have truly excavated a rock-cut tomb all their own, babies. With its crackling analogue synthesizers and perpetual FX, TELESTRION is what I thought Dwarr would sound like had they not suffered from such feeble ‘80s production. Score this jewel from the band’s own Electric Mind record label, or via amazon.com/TELESTRION-Telestrion
SVARTBAG by Svartbag
I’m also diamond dogging Danish experimental trio Svartbag, whose epic self-titled debut album came out last month on the Rump Recordings label. Catchy as a marauding bastard, this lot invaded my brainbox from the moment the CD landed, the ensemble cooking up five deep space meditations that corrode the listener’s living space with the kind of Asmus Tietchens SPAT EUROPA post-Krautrock sound that sets your room swirling. Named after a pragmatic black-backed scavenging seagull that steals and eats anything, Svartbag are similarly all-purpose in their magpie approach, pick-pocketing whole genres, gutting the contents, jettisoning the useless kack then hefting the e-mains into their general stew, all for the good of the final product and highly useful to the listener in these post-everything days. George Clinton once commented that “funk can sit and sit and never go sour”; well, if we apply the same analogy to Svartbag, it does truly sound as though this lot have been marinating their music for at least five years before pouring out these first five tall glass tumblers, and all the better it sounds for the extra effort they’ve made. Lovely. Svartbag is accessible at svartbag.dk
and also through rump.nu
HEDORAH by Hedorah
Next up, I fucking love the self-titled debut album by Hedorah, a slab of doom that sounds some of the time like the soundtrack from some TV advert for an open cast mining company slowed down to half speed, whilst elsewhere there is so much macho droolplodd that you soon become monobrow as your IQ defenestrates through a previously unknown back window in your brain and slides down your back into the crack in your psychic buttcheeks. Cunted music for cunts. Hapless and tortured Lokian souls manacled to kilometre-high futuristic stainless steel obelisks now long rusty shriek in the burning sun of noonday, their blistered feet endlessly dancing so as to keep them off their scorching perches. Elsewhere, vast eternities of distant post-punk guitar, massive and insufferable microphonic feedback (absolutely love it) and battlements full of medieval drummers tantrum along as some forgotten and only partly-working ‘70s kitchen appliance is trotted out and given a showcase (and in stereo, natch). Released by Crucial Blast’s limited edition Crucial Bliss imprint, and dressed up in their typically singular 3-panel packaging, this self-titled debut is the Ur-bollocks and readers should treat themselves to its simultaneous aural and psychic salvation. Gain entrance to its mysteries via crucialblast.net/hedorah_collections.html
A BODY THROUGH THE DAY by The Agrarians
From the ridiculously sublime, let’s now move on to the sublimely ridiculous, as I have - these past few months - been enthralled by the bucolic haze of A BODY THROUGH THE DAY, another drifting and ever-unfolding work by Baltimore’s excellent (and most appropriately-named) The Agrarians. This ensemble is led by songwriter Matt Perzinski, whose uncannily feminine overdubbed twin harmony vocals shimmer and whinny their message like matronly middle-aged Siamese twin librarians delicately alerting patrons that the place is about to close. Yes, there’s something truly ‘coming through the rye’ about this netherworldly outfit, as though their songs had been caught accidentally on a CCTV camera placed at an ancient crossroads where singular modern wayfarers pass each other cautiously, each resentful of the other’s decision to tread such abandoned territory. Catch the Agrarians at mt6records.com
or visit the band at myspacecom/theagrarians
COIN UNDER TONGUE E.P. by Coin Under Tongue
Two vinyl releases have caught my attention this month, the first being the debut 12” EP by post-everything teen rockers Coin Under Tongue, whose six-track rides an electrifying third rail power trip something like the Scars doing ‘Killing an Arab’-period Cure AND attempting Zeppelin riffola in an overly Undertones-like exuberant post At The Drive-In stylee. I don’t mean there’s any buddy Feargal Sharkey among the band’s ranks, just a pure and unadulterated youth vision that rarely gets heard today, except in a gauchely manufactured and archly-corporate manner. Those of you who remember the Washdown’s excellent album a coupla years back will most serpently wanna grab a copy. Locate this sucker at coinundertongue.com
FROM OUR MOUTHS A PERPETUAL LIGHT by Barn Owl
But Vinyl of the Month must surely go to yet another release from America’s superb Not Not Fun label, this time in the form of FROM OUR MOUTHS A PERPETUAL LIGHT from the amorphous trio Barn Owl. Clothed in a fine art sleeve that depicts a four-armed shaman clad in stags horn and wolf-skin, this record is an Ur-howl from the ancestral underworld, a canyon deep Gnostic trip that appears to conjure up not the lost spirits of Native Americans, but of the first white settlers themselves. It’s as though the first layer of European settlers has been re-activated through the music and Barn Owl are transmitters rather than the originators. As the late-19th century Ohio poet Vachel Lindsay intuitively grasped, and as Prof. Carl Jung once commented whilst watching the workers during his guided tour of a Detroit automobile factory in the 1930s, the enormously vast North American continental landmass is never enslaved by its new occupiers, rather it makes natives of all those who settle upon it, and for everyone it is always sooner rather than later. This Barn Owl is as ancient as the Gods themselves, as vital as the heroes who ape them and bait them, and as fertile as the Muses from whom they dine and sup. Grab this essential slab from Not Not Fun Records at notnotfun.com
Okay, that concludes this month’s review section so, finally, I’d just like to mention that my forthcoming album BLACK SHEEP will feature a front cover hand-painted by myself on canvas, and bears a quote from one of my all-time heroes Carl Jung, while my performance at the Latitude Festival will most certainly echo both the musical themes AND metaphor of the new album. Please look out for the record on our merchandiser in the coming weeks. Furthermore, a beautiful gatefold double-vinyl edition will also be available in record shops sometime in mid-August. Until then, enjoy the summer and get yourselves out & about as much as your busy lives allow.
Until then, mucho love to y’all,
JULIAN (Lord Yatesbury)