Last month, the Archdrude posed at Woodhenge for the FREE TIBET campaign. He asked that these words be allowed to accompany his photo: "Because we Westerners have such high expectations of America, we stamp with justified fury every time America bullies the rest of the world. We must also now make similar demands of China in order for that enormous nation to emerge from its long dark age into the twenty-first century. Free Tibet Now."
Photo: Janet Fereday
We’re already halfway through this washout of an English summer and it don’t seem like the sun has any current plans for gracing our hemisphere. Still, I was delighted to see so many of you turned out for the Latitude Festival performance for the debut of my all new Black Sheep ensemble, featuring two Mellotron 400 players, two acoustic guitarists, and mucho marching percussion. Despite our being shooed off at the end for over-running, I really dug the show and was impressed by the compassionate response. Truth is, with all the other acts being so ‘merely professional’, my decision to create a 40-foot curtain across the stage and counting down on the three marching bass drums before we even came on turned out to be the best move around. People really loved that shit … but then, who else brings an art installation to such Family Gatherings? Even better, this new BLACK SHEEP album appears to have been well received thus far, and do look out in the coming weeks for a large Cope article by Jon Savage in the Observer Music Monthly. I’m particularly proud of this release, as it was a bitch to complete on account of some wantonly un-disciplined behaviour from a technician, but BLACK SHEEP nevertheless features some of my most heftily orchestrated and most carefully worded songs in years. The record is clad in the red & black flag of the International Anarchists (or “Red, red, red & black” as my beloved Metal Urbain chanted back in ’77), which I painted on to canvas then photographed. I’m afraid I have no true talent for all that shit, but I ain’t half persistent! Anyway, as the Japanese release of BLACK SHEEP coincides with the approaching Tokyo publication of the Japanese language edition of JAPROCKSAMPLER, I asked my translator Ikuko Shiratori to Nipponize the new album’s song-titles. But she admitted it was impossible to translate the album title itself, as to be a ‘black sheep’ in her society means only total ostracism and holds none of the weird social kudos that our increasingly outsider-driven Western Consciousness lends it. But there’s the rub … the spewdo-intellectuals of the West yearn for the zen consciousness of Buddhism, little appreciating that the West has forever been propelled forwards by the Warrior Spirit of its Outsiders, those who have dared to peer over the edge of what is currently considered acceptable. As Winston Churchill once declared: “Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong”.
HALF BORN IN HALF LIGHT by Niko Skorpio
Okay, we’re gonna commence this month’s reviews with Niko Skorpio’s HALF BORN IN HALF LIGHT because it’s informed by the kind of Metaphysical & Meta-mysterious poetic spirit that I’ve been constantly searching out since the first time I heard the Doors’ ‘Horse Latitudes’ decades ago as a young teenager. Skorpio is a Finnish producer & synthesist who declaims his portentous poetry in a highly stylized Foreign-as-Fuck voice over the kind of swishy cosmick wind that puts me in the mind of Dr Fiorella Terenzi accompanying Todd Clark c. INTO THE VISION, or maybe a more cunted & extended version of John Cale’s ‘The Jeweller’, as orchestrated by black metallers on an electro trip. Elsewhere, bubbling pans of Jupiter-sized effluent steam & seethe endlessly, as though the still be-apron’d Creator has been caught in a millennium-long natter with the postman. Babies, Skorpio’s shit stinks so good, you just gotta lock your doors, seal up ye windows, don thy cosiest fake fur coat and kiss your brain cells bye-bye. And, of course, this funny farmer’s wyrd imagery spills over into the record sleeve itself, which photographically reproduces all kinds of obnoxious ugly kack filmed right up way too close; dead grandma’s abandoned false teeth, a powder compact colonized by slugs’n’snails, boxers with trouser tracks, all reminding me never to eat a salad off this guy’s table. Still, who wants their heroes to be decent human beings? Exactamundo, says I. So score this sucker from Some Place Else Records (www.someplaceelse.net
) or hop along to Herr Skorpio’s own site at www.nikoskorpio.net
. Fuck yeh!
WORLD CLASS by Caltrop
I’m also molto-zoned by Caltrop’s epic and vast debut LP WORLD CLASS, 48-minutes of bizarre harmonies served over a bed of ever-shifting, ever-smoking gasoline riffery from the ripped backsides of Hell. Those of you who remember my review of their first EP a year or so back will be delighted to learn that WORLD CLASS (complete with a brand new recording of their vast epic ‘Slice-o-lator’) kicks even that Highly Achieving sucker’s dick into the dust! Ja, mein hairies, this filth & fury demands to be played at maximum vol and has virtually refused to leave my disc player, especially my personal favourite ‘Junn Horde’ which – uncannily – quotes ‘Beethoven’s 5th’ in much the same manner that my own ‘Vampire State Building’ did on last year’s YOU GOTTA PROBLEM WITH ME. Caltrop navigate between Harvey Milk and the Melvins, via Viaje A800 and power trio-period Grand Funk Railroad to fascinating effect. Cop this motherlode from Holidays For Quince Records (www.holidaysforquince.com
) or check them out at www.caltropnc.com
MUTILATION NATION by CPC Gangbangs
Now, I got no idea where CPC Gangbangs are coming from, but their debut album MUTILATION NATION is the kind of All Purpose Punk Venom that everyone should have around for those moments when the neighbours are blasting Robbie Williams. Those riffs, kiddies, they might sound like other people … but they’re not! Nope, CPC Gangbangs’ sound is the kind of thoroughly mindless but genuinely unhinged Garage R&B racket that Tight Bros From Way Back When used to barf out, forever informed by brutal Detroit guitar heroics and epic riffola, plenny o’relentless concussion and mucho het-up chorale vocals that appear to be about long forgotten TV shows they dug as kids. Titles such as ‘Jeff Starship’, ‘I Want It All, ‘Suicide Ride’ and ‘Coke Blues’ say it all, really, though my favourite has to be the post-Handsome Dick Manitoba wretchedness of ‘I Want Blood’, surely the Ult of its genre. So, if sick-sick-cyclical guitars and Uber Distorto emotions realised in under 40-minutes is your bag, get your sorry asses down to cduniverse.com
, or grab the vinyl versh from Alien 8 Records (www.alien8recordings.com
SELF-TITLED by Lords of Bastard
For those whose psyches are at their happiest whilst wading through soup, make sure you stumble across the self-titled debut by the wonderfully-named Scottish power trio Lords of Bastard, whose entire oeuvre coulda fitted right into any of the slots on offer on my NEFARIOUS ARTISTS compilation (see Album of the Month #94, March 2008CE
). Musically, Lords of Bastard trudge through that same rough-as-fuck territory as Tiger B. Smith and B. Sabbath occupied (imagine the latter during MASTER OF REALITY at its most ‘Into the Void’), but (and it’s a big hairy ‘but’) these Bastards clearly smoke more pot than most and allow it to cloud, nay, fog their already very woolly vision. Magnificent. Again like Harvey Milk, it’s all achieved in a highly post-SLEEP’S HOLY MOUNTAIN manner that occasionally conjures up memories of pure 1970 dark prog of the English variety, whilst elsewhere echoing the dark dirges of Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine.
I by Ulaan Khol
Those of you Urthona/Nadja/To Blacken The Pages fans in need of still more ecstatic guitar abuse should most serpently seek out Steven R. Smith’s latest project I, which goes under the band name Ulaan Khol. Brother Smith’s other guitar records have always appeared a might more traditionally ordered than this mythical beast, but I gots to declare Ulaan Khol to be one hell of a useful sack of kack. Released on the Soft Abuse label (www.softabuse.com
), Ulaan Khol’s eternal noise occupies lofty and arid uplands of early and burned-out Ash Ra Tempel sounds, burning across the listener like searing winds across the parched Armenian soil. It’s Smith’s divine union of wah guitar and Amon Düülian keyboards that drive this enormous post-catastrophe sound, as subtle shifts from minor chords to major chords tear the listeners heart strings just like Rainer Bauer’s heart-rending vocals on Amon Düül 1’s ‘Paramechanical World’ and Amon Düül 2’s ‘Sandoz in the Rain’. I reckon we should petition Mr Smith and demand more more more of this essential stuff… hell, brother, this is W A Y useful, nay, E S S E N T I A L to we poetic souls lost, adrift and cosmically lonely for real company here in this ‘Desart of Vast Eternitie’. We NEEEEEEEEEDDDD!!!!
VISTA POINT by Yawning Man
Finally, Compilation of the Month award has to go to the guys at Lexicon Devil Records, who’ve been percipient enough to give us VISTA POINT, which is basically a re-issue of Yawning Man’s incredible (but now criminally unavailable) 2006CE album ROCK FORMATIONS with the songs from their equally formidable POTHEAD 10” tacked on to the end. Brothers’n’sisters, this wailing desert trio is truly the shit, and has been aiding my most recumbent and stonedest late night thunks since it first landed two years ago. Throughout the landscape music of Yawning Man, the post-Ventures, post-Shadows melodies of guitarist Gary Arce are constantly being undermined, up-ended and sent deep into a dark Joy Division territory, by weird chords and bass channels that create the kind of brooding and thunderous atmosphere that gives even the most easy-going a real fear of flying. Grab this essential sucker from Red Eye Distribution (www.redeye.com
) or check out Yawning Man themselves at www.myspace.com/theyawningman
And as that little list would appear to sum up the state of my current listening pleasures for another month, I’d just like to say that I do hope the weather bucks up in the next coupla weeks for y’all. Me? I’m a bit of a rainy dude really, and dig the drizzle bigtime. But I gots to admit that even I enjoy a crack in the rain clouds now’n’again. Okay, with that I shall sod off for another month.
Until then, let love deliver us from the Cunts that seek to control us,
JULIAN (Lord Yatesbury)