At Stonehenge, on Thursday 20th November 2008CE, the Archdrude presented Head Heritage writer The Seth Man with the first annual Black Sheep award, here witnessed and photographed by Mrs Ahab.
In the wake of November’s Royal Festival Hall cancellation, I wish to send huge thanks to all of you for the kind words sent to me via email and Get Well Soon cards. It was a tragic loss to all of us here at Head Heritage, as well as to my many musicians, all of whom had agreed to endure a very extreme rehearsal schedule in order to achieve the punishing 3-hour-long show that I had proposed. Unfortunately, re-scheduling the event is proving problematic, most especially as the RFH is already booked up long into the New Year, but also because of the widely differing schedules of all the musicians involved. At the moment, I’m still in discussion with the South Bank Centre directors as to how we should achieve our aims, but the situation is unlikely to be resolved until after the New Year. The show’s cancellation also meant that my decision to present the Seth Man with the First Annual Black Sheep Award on the RFH stage had to be radically re-thunk, so I chose instead to take Seth to Stonehenge and present him with the award right there within the sanctuary itself. Of course, access to the Stonehenge trilithons is severely restricted without a formal application, but I felt that this ‘official’ method would be far too la-de-da for any Black Sheep business, so we just barged right in there and I made the presentation with the gorgeous Mrs Ahab as our witness (and photographer, see above), while clucking, chapped-lipped English Heritage officials hastily called the police, thereafter escorting us from the site in a wonderfully-over-the-top manner. The Seth Man was bemused, to say the least, having last stood within the trilithons during childhood back in 1974. However, the whole episode lent this first award ceremony the kind of bathetic gravitas that all future Black Sheep ceremonies will need to contain. I should also say a very belated thanks to everyone who turned up for our Joe Strummer Memorial Busking Tour at the end of last month. The original plan had been for myself and my musicians to celebrate some of the most important lost, or ‘Too Unsung’ social centres in these islands, but – just one week before the tour commenced – the film-makers of LOVE STORY (the excellent new Arthur Lee documentary) asked my permission to film each action as it unfolded. Having already viewed much of their footage, I have to declare that there’s a superb story waiting to be excavated from the many hours of material.
SANTA ELENA by Ala Muerte
Okay, let’s move on to the reviews section of this December Drudion. Unfortunately, the impact of last month’s re-scheduling means that there are initially less reviews than is normal. However, as there is much to report I fully intend to add more in the next week or so, so please keep an eye out. I’d first like to alert/warn you about SANTA ELENA, an extraordinarily mysterious album by Ala Muerte, the project name of New York singer Bianca Bibloni. Chock full of such song titles as ‘Loki’, ‘Grim’, ‘Demeter’, ‘All is Gone’ and ‘She’, and released on the consistently excellent Public Guilt label, SANTA ELENA is a funereally oppressive vocal-heavy collection of devotional songs of loss and despair, minimally (but masterfully) orchestrated by Bianca herself on viola, double bass, guitars, recorders and a peculiar 10-string cuatro from Puerto Rica. Indeed, this is one of the few records I’ve heard in years that at times approaches the desperation and doldrums conjured up by Nico herself. Throughout this album, Bianca is accompanied by ethereal and visceral female harmonies and noises that counterpoint and buffet her performances, as though some sidereal wind were blowing through her soul. This superb offering should be accessible via www.publicguilt.com
or via the artist herself at www.alamuerte.com
EVERY FALLEN LEAF AN ANGEL'S WING by TiMOTHy
Next up, drop in at the Hand/Eye website (www.SomeDarkHoller.com
), and claim yourself a copy of EVERY FALLEN LEAF AN ANGEL’S WING by the proprietor TiMOTHy Revelator, who’s already been lauded here as leader of Crow Tongue on Head Heritage’s Album of the Month #95
(April 2008CE). TiMOTHy is a shaman, a speaker of the wyrd, and a true practitioner in the doorway traditions that I believe myself to straddle. As the leader of Stone Breath, he has successfully peddled his unique form of Gnostic Christianity for over half a decade in a manner that is extraordinary and entirely essential. Only those who need need need will ever truly understand the depth to which this artist reaches into the Underworld (‘Black Walnut Tree’ and ‘Holy Spring’ are truly divine emanations of the Godhead). But those of you who yearn should seek out this wonderfuel compilation of recent unreleased material, for it’s both a useful psychic poultice in these troubled times AND a key device for our own inner exploration. Dig deep into your pockets for TiMOTHy, mein children; magi of his stature don’t surface often enough and his time here is limited.
KISSING THE CONTEMPORARY BLISS by Dredd Foole
If Dredd Foole’s bracing new album KISSING THE CONTEMPORARY BLISS is anything less than Avant In-Bred, then I shall eat my hat, because there’s obviously a few brother’n’sister products out there in Dredd’s neck-of-the-woods, fucking all night and going to church to play twin-neck and vocal harmonizing in the daytime. From the sounds of this new album, Family Vineyard Records (www.family-vineyard.com
) is clearly the place to go if you’re a schizo-artiste such as Dredd, someone who intended to record material inspired by the first Dino Valenti LP but came out the studio with the most lo-fi Martian Field Holler since Oliver’s STANDING STONE and then some. Even better, this double-CD is a collection of what were originally highly limited edition recordings originally available three years ago (only 99 of each), on the tiny Child of Microtones Terran record label. Praise must go to Family Vineyard for getting this reissue together. I love love love the sheer sonic unbalance contained herein, its degraded-offspring-of-the-Greek Gods-sitting-purposelessly-amidst-the-ruins-of-the-abandoned-mother-culture vibe summing up the zeitgeist of right now (motherfuckers)… or watt?
I KNEW HER by Alex Tiuniaev
Those seeking an escape route into extreme meditative bliss should grab a copy of Alex Tiuniaev’s exhilarating and mind-tingling album I KNEW HER. Released on the ever-excellent Northamptonshire-based Cold Spring Records (www.coldspring.co.uk
), I KNEW HER contains just one 40-minute-long piece that unfolds around a single chord sequence and entangles listeners’ hearts with its tumultuous symphonic ambience. Tiuniaev – a young Russian pianist and electronic composer from Moscow – builds his track up and ever upwards until the scorched mind of the listener is so bombarded that sleep is the only exit left. Check this guy out at his own www.alextiuniaev.com
or via www.myspace.com/alextiuniaev
ESCAPERS TWO by Parts & Labour
Okay, let’s conclude this review section with a real palette cleanser, the demented ESCAPERS TWO by the Power Tool Trio known as Parts & Labour. With its close harmony vocals and cataclysmic Summer of ‘78 No New York musicianship, the trio comes across like This Heat on a Red Bull’n’Sudafed bender. In just 29 minutes, the ensemble spews forth 51 ‘songs’ in the style of Monoshock playing ‘Feeling, Reeling, Squealing’-period Soft Machine à la Mars or DNA, or peak period Chrome slamming out endless covers of Hawkwind’s nostril-flaring and anthemic cheese-a-thon ‘Kings of Speed’. Kiddies, If Von LMO’s ‘X+Y=0’ made him the Immam of Long, then Parts & Labour’s ESCAPER PART TWO makes them the Taliban of Brief. Score your copy from Ace Fu Records (www.partsandlabor.net
) and move next door to an Enya fan.
And while that concludes the album reviews section, I should just like to mention that the release of my forthcoming 2nd Black Sheep companion EP DIGGERS, RANTERS, LEVELLERS will also be put off until the New Year, as the Black Sheep ensemble – myself, Holy McGrail, Acoustika, Michael O’Sullivan, Christophe F., Big Nige, Vybik Jon, Common Era – will ourselves be releasing our own double-LP on January 24th 2009CE. Chock full of long instrumental trip-outs and meditational Mung Worship, this double red vinyl 12" affair will be contained in an anarchist red’n’black Protest-style poster cover replete with nine prints from Black Sheep artist Mark Hebblewhite’s ‘Alternative Icons’ series. For me, the notion of the Black Sheep as a protest/action group in the style of those late ‘60s outfits such as Tokyo’s Hi-Red Centre is a highly appealing (and highly useful) one. In the meantime, I wish all of ye a very Merry X-Mass!
Mucho Love (and Macho Hugs)
JULIAN (Lord Yatesbury)