Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

February Drudion

February 2009ce

Dressed as a Stormtrooper, Stooges guitarist - the late Ron Asheton - attempts to murder his half-Jewish singer, Iggy Pop.
Hey Drudion,

This year commenced with the death at sixty of one of our most beloved heroes, the rock’n’roll star Ron Asheton of the Stooges, tragically recalled from his Earthly Mission on January 6th. In recent decades, Ron had lived without fame or money until the recent Stooges re-union, so we can at least be happy that our hero had a coupla years of being appreciated before he quit. How much I personally owe to Ron is difficult to estimate, but his Vibration has surely got to inform the way my body chemistry works as least as much as that of other heroes of mine, such as CG Jung and Jim Morrison. Although I’d been a long time Stooges fan since my old cohort Bunnymac cajoled, nay, bullied me into taking them seriously during 1977, I’d been a bass player then and was at first most intoxicated by Ron’s extrovert bass playing, best captured on their infamous double bootleg METALLIC K.O. Later, I stole my own post-PEGGY SUICIDE wah guitar style (‘Pristeen’, ‘Upwards at 45’, ‘Cut My Friend Down’, ‘Soul Desert’, ‘Leper Skin’) from Ron’s highly-liquid method of chord playing on the first two Stooges LPs (especially ‘Anne’ and ‘Dirt’). I know that I’ve loudly derided the so-called Stooges re-union at all opportunities (and will continue to deride Iggy Stooge’s quest for the dollar and the free Saga holiday), but only because the Stooges’ myth has been so compromised. Gods don’t come down from the hilltops to collect social security. Well, Iggy’s proved that they do, but did we need to know? However, for everything the Stooges were to me I thank them. For everything they changed in me I thank them. And to Ron Asheton, I wish you a safe passage to the next stage, and big thanks for the undeclared monster riffs you brung us with The New Order and Destroy All Monsters… You Ruled, Sir!

AMID DEVONIA’S ALPS by Urthona

Okay, let’s cut to the chase and get this month’s reviewing business on the go… Firstly, Urthona is back with their devastating second album AMID DEVONIA’S ALPS, three incredible slabs of rural Luddite VU overload from the heart of Wessex. And, smarty-bootses that they are, this Taliban bunch just re-nailed their metaphor to the floor. Ya didn’t get it the first time? Well, here’s more of the same bile to prove we means it! There’s a holy beauty within the fiery soul of this Urthona music that transcends its many contemporaries, as colossal guitars intertwine around the base of listeners’ minds, lifting them skywards as though upon a magical beanstalk ride. Sumptuously packaged in the same fashion as last year’s Head Heritage album I REFUTE IT THUS, Urthona’s music is both the Ult in meditation AND a freight-train ride to oblivion. Useful? U-Betcha! Grab your copy from our Merchandiser today, kiddies!

FARO by Sorc'henn

These past two months, my personal choice for all night repetition, ie: the piece that helps me most easily access the Underworld, has been the Uber-haunting 22-minute track ‘Dødsdansen (Death’s Dance), Life of an Island Lad’, from the FARO album by Sorc’henn. Released on that tremendous Crucial Blast subsidiary Crucial Bliss (www.crucialblast.com), FARO is a fine fine Black Metal record and, except for the more obvious and more stylized final 26-minute ‘evil’ track ‘Enez Varv Faaro’, goes about its sinister business secretly, intoning plainsong in cloisters, invoking camp-fires, digital distortion and wolves, and dancing at the edge of total ambience, nay, ambulence! Then, two minutes from the end, some old French torch song comes in and really sealeth ye atmosphere. Su-fuckin’-perbe!

AMPLICON by Runhild Gammelsaeter

What an extraordinary artist Runhild Gammelsaeter is. Even her position as singer in Thörshammer could never have prepared any of us for her mind-fucking debut album AMPLICON, on Milkwaukee’s Utech Records (www.utechrecords.com). Surely, even the mythical 10,000 names of Isis are only marginally more dizzying than the Uncountable Voices of Runhild. With this single stunning 38-minute display of shamanic virtuosity, on which she plays every-fucking-thing, La Gammelsaeter ker-plonks herself down stage centre as the one to watch. Besides Runhild’s regular assortment of Underworld vocal personalities, a new dark folk heroine emerges from the gloom, brave and clear-voiced even when being taunted from the margins by the other ‘evil’ Runhilds. Unfortunately, this immense record is criminally under-packaged, and lay at the bottom of my mountainous ‘to be listened to’ pile for two full months before I dutifully checked it out. Perhaps some forward-thinking motherfucker will release it on 12” vinyl: it’s the perfect length!

YER SU by Svarrogh

Ah, what troubled tales the folk songs of the Balkans are forced to tell! I’ve been steeping myself in Balkan history these past coupla months, so everything from that mysterious neck of the woods is all the more poignant right now. Austria’s Ahnstern Records should most serpently be congratulated for introducing us to the unearthly, witchy Bulgarian music of Svarrogh, whose latest album YER SU is even better than last year’s BALKAN RENAISSANCE. Replete with gadulkas (Balkan violas), clarinets, big mandolins, gaidas (Bulgarian bagpipes) and low droning male baritones, the music of Svarrogh can be as urgent as Woden’s Wild Hunt as they career through Windsor Forest, its tumult summoned up by the fury of Svarrogh’s players on their strange & tricky assortment of uncanny instruments. Catch this riotous ensemble at www.steinklang-records.at.

...AND HE TOLD US NOT TO TURN TO THE SUN by Father Murphy

On their debut album … AND HE TOLD US NOT TO TURN TO THE SUN, Italian trio Father Murphy break into the West’s musical basement and crack open a few vats of Bertold Brecht, a coupla crates of Gregorian chant, some French nun racket, L. Voag’s classic LP THE WAY OUT and a C90 of Strawberry Switchblade rehearsals, making off with them all for use as inspiration. Unfortunately, as they climb back to the Higher World, they spill some of this potent potion over the sleeping forms of the American late ‘60s band Kaleidoscope, and upon Wirral’s Of Arrowe Hill (infamous for their Faust-Plays-Oasis pastiche), the members of whom all leap into life and play, their enthusiasm rubbing off on the shocked musicians of Father Murphy. Truly, this Italian bunch inhabit an extravagant and rich musical landscape indeed, their Robert Wyatt keyboards, their Samla Mamas Manna vocals, their This Heat-meets-Canterbury drumming: all are rendered in such a spacious manner that you never feel Renaldo & the Loaf’ed into submission by their having punished too much their own highly singular metaphor. Besides, the final 10-minute lament ‘In Their Graves’ is a supreme death dirge worthy of everybody taking the time to search out. Father Murphy are released on Italy’s Boring Machines record label (www.boringmachines.it).

UNLEASH by Karkowski & Menche

The live electronic fury of Karkowski & Menche’s album UNLEASH spills rivers of sonic lava across listeners, showering them in a most spectacular manner, as shuddering and rubbery primitive rhythms, summoned up from twin ARP 2600s or something of the kind, ignite then propel this turbo-charged Solar System of Sound. At one-minute-and-two-seconds into track 2, Karkowski & Menche hit their stride, the Great Whole taking on a planetary shaking. It’s as though the God Thor had thrust his fingers deep into the Empire State Building’s walls and is now plucking the wires of its lift-shaft as though they were upon the neck of some enormous civic bass guitar. Big stuff this. Reach these demons at the always-excellent Alien8 Recordings (www.alien8recordings.com).

MULTIGONE by Aun

I’ve also found Aun’s cataclysmic MULTIGONE album highly useful these past two months, its vast showers of electronics blasting, nay, brutalizing listeners with a racket somewhat akin to the music of Fall of the Grey Winged One (AEONS OF DREAMS), Kabalist (‘Shaman 262’ from VERMICHTE DIE GÖTTER) or some of the more apocalyptic Israeli noise music (Pootchlatz, Barbara). However, I believe that those of you who choose to seek sanctuary within the chaos of the 15-minute burn-up of the synthetic brass-laden ‘Steel Skull Plain’, will gain considerable meditative comfort. Sitting fogbound under its 35,000 feet of Zero Visibility is just the kind of O.D. it’s difficult not to succumb to in these dark Winter days. Again, the motherfuckers at Crucial Bliss (www.crucialblast.com) have scored big-time with this truly epic release.

A WILDE ZEIT by Sturmpercht

Re-Issue of the Month goes to A WILDE ZEIT, Steinklang Records’ new version of Sturmpercht’s riotous 2005CE album. It’s strange seeing these gentlemen unmasked on the album cover, indeed, still very much in the pre-garb stage of their careers. But Sturmpercht’s music has always been a compelling and mysterious mix of chanted Germanic male voices, orchestral and hand percussion, and sundry Alpen instruments: a mix with its own in-built Wind Chill Factor. But then, any Germanic music is off-putting to many; an associate shocked me recently when he declared that all German voices on record ‘still sound like Adolph Hitler’ to him! Dude, you gotta listen a bit more widely, or risk writing off half of Northern Europe as un-PC! Back at the Sturmpercht log cabin, they’re breaking out the marching drums, accordions and Scott Walker loops, and praising the ancestors with overflowing cups of lethal liquor. Hurry to www.sturmpercht.at, or find this class act at www.steinklang-records.at.

SMOKE SIGNALS by Heavy Hands

On the fine Language of Stone (www.languageofstone.com) vinyl LP SMOKE SIGNALS, the late-60s inspired power trio Heavy Hands comes across as a younger sibling of Highway Robbery, Dragonfly or one of those generic turn-of-the-60s/70s Detroit proto-metal bands. However, this storming recording burns with the intensity of most live recordings and that’s the whole difference. Strangely, Heavy Hands’ musicians exhibit so few signs of any post-punk influences that it gives the LP a fetishistic nature, somewhat like hanging out with a lost airman from WW2 who never found out the war was over. Hey, that’s it; these druids sound like early ‘70s German or Danish rockers. No Grunge, no Stoner, nuthin’! Now, anything that spooky is worthy of investigation!

Self-titled by GR & Full Blown Expansion

Hey, hot on the heels of Gunslingers’ Album of the Month for August 2008CE, their dearly beloved leader Gregory Raimo is back with a new white vinyl-only LP entitled GR & FULL BLOWN EXPANSION. Unlike Gunslingers’ hellishly paced skidpan sound, side one of this solo disc is a highly Underground Beast that, at times, drives along like a Snakefinger solo LP or even Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band attempting to play Creedence material. Side two reaches Gunslingers intensity at times. But it’s mainly a captivating home-brew of the archaic variety, that ultimately aligns itself (in both spirit of performance and lo-fi attitude) with such endearing catchy-but-unhinged sonic monuments as Todd Clark’s INTO THE VISION, Oliver’s STANDING STONE, Anthony Moore’s FLYING DOESN’T HELP and Zippo Zetterlink’s IN THE POOR SUN, as well as the more ‘down-home’ space rock sides of such bands as Faust (THE FAUST TAPES), Flower Travellin’ Band (MADE IN JAPAN) and early Amon Düül 2. Released on GR’s own Les Disques Blasphematoires Du Palatin record label, you can search it out at www.myspace.com/bossyaya.

Finally, I’m delighted to be able to lay this new Brain Donor WASTED FUZZ EXCESSIVE upon y’all. I know it’s been such a dog’s age a-comin’ that most of you will have forgotten about it, but the results are most definitely worth the long wait. Indeed, I’d go as far as to say that this is my favourite Donor album thus far, and we’re planning an even more dramatic follow-up for the near future. In the meantime, delight in the poetry, the riffing, the bass solos and the incredible, well, wastedness of WASTED FUZZ EXCESSIVE. I hope the winter winds and all-purpose bad weather don’t sap your spirits too too much!

May Love Reign Upon Y’All,

JULIAN (Lord Yatesbury)