Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

October Drudion

October 2009ce

Detail of the Black Sheep 10-piece ensemble performance on September 20th. Note Fido X and Common Era at far left.

Hey Drudion,

Good to see some of you at the Black Sheep’s first full ensemble performance, in Bristol a coupla weeks back. By all accounts, the audience – Cope watchers included – were entirely split by the goings-on onstage. Perhaps it was our choice of all new material, or the set’s fairly southwest-centric lyrical conceits. Hmm… perhaps some were offended by David Wrench’s spirited glockenspiel’n’vocal only version of the English Civil War song ‘The Raid’, with its rousing theme of Northerners attacking Bristol. Still, we found a rare opportunity to perform brand new material. For you Sheep groupie, the setlist was thus:

  1. Buy the Revolution (full ensemble)
  2. La Pasionaria (Acoustic Division w/ David Wrench)
  3. The Raid (David Wrench solo)
  4. Get Out of Bedminster (full ensemble)
  5. Cromwell (Electronic Division solo)
  6. Crazy Horse (Antronhy Ø solo/Sheep filming)
  7. More (full ensemble)

All Hail The Transcending Ghost

Okay, let’s quickly move on to this month’s review section. And first, I wanna clue y’all into the spectacular self-titled debut by Swedish underground supergroup All Hail The Transcending Ghost, who deal in scary music of the most twilight variety, music full of ambulant apocalyptics that traipse across your stereo like programmed robot scald crows dutifully removing the eyes of petrifying soldiers after some HG Wells-style meckanickal Ragnarok. Oo-er. This is hugely cinematic post-Industrial ritualistic ramalama of the highest quality, and should satisfy anyone whose tortured psyche craves nightly Baptisms, nay, Full Immersions within the fertile dewponds which collect at the psychic edges of Human Existence. Released on the always over-achieving Cold Spring Records and comprised of just Henrik Nordvargr (whose excellent album I reviewed back in August ’07), and guitarist Tim Bertillson (whose collaboration with Nadja I reviewed in June ’07), All Hail The Transcending Ghost pitches listeners into a hellish subterranean otherworld that works mightily so long as it don’t take you prisoner! Search out your new favourite gaolers via myspace.com/ahttg, and slip your moorings as effortlessly as a burning Viking funeral longboat. Lovverly.

WAYWARD SOULS by Splinterskin

Next up, we stay with those good people at Cold Spring Records), who score again with WAYWARD SOULS by Splinterskin, a transplanted Scando-Germanic Hillman who looks as though he should be sleeping atop one of the north Netherlands’ ancient hunebeds. With his woody, eerie music so thoroughly wedded to his woody, eerie image, Splinterskin yowls out his mossy tales over exquisite Spanish guitar and a violin accompaniment that approximates lonely Banshees wailing of their love for some long dead human beau across some permanently drenched Argyllshire valley. The result is a delightful union of trollishness and archaic minstrelry, something like Cadaverous Condition’s epic experimental 10” EP with North American duo Changes. In this genuinely psychedelic record, Splinterskin convinces us that he is not the born again Wodenist ex-leader singer of some dodgy Black Metal band gone feral – he’s not, I just made that up – but an authentic Forest Father of the old times, one of the Moss Minnikins that suffered decimation quite soon after Humanity discovered tree-felling. If you need a shot of hugely evocative and archaic Ur-Følk with demented but delightful sub-sub-Kelto-Viking stylings, then be sure to grab this mysterious disc. Bravo, Splinterskin.

SENTENCIA by Orthodox

In the meantime, what a plucky bunch of cunts Orthodox have turned out to be! Yup, these Seville doomsters proclaimed their proposed Mythological Road Map on their very first Press Release years ago (no shit, still gorrit!), and boy did they ever stick to the programme. I gots to say their second album was such a progression from the first that I could only address its raffish stirrings on a purely intellectual level; din’t play it none. Still, SENTENCIA strides even further into the Satanic Side-show, revealing an Orthodox entirely stripped of low register guitars, replaced only with some rather tasty post-Catholic sub-jazz piano and a Mithraic Bull-worshipping Sierra Nevada trumpet WTF! AND for 26 minutes! Who’d a-thunk Mediteranean Doom coulda taken such an obscure turning. Up its own strasse & all the better for it, I reckon so, me druids; cain’t worship B flat forever, no no. Like Khanate, Orthodox are a Lokian entity that operates on about umpteen different scales: Lionel, Hornby, OO gauge, call it what you will. Anyway, enough of my yacking; for those of you with a yen, you can score this fiery sucker from the-stone-circle.com/store

THE SOFT MACHINE self-titled debut

Although it’s by now a coupla months old, I gotta give re-issue of the month to Soft Machine’s glorious self-titled debut, if only because it’s such an overlooked Psychedelic Classic. Unfortunately, for scores of years, this lost epic was only available as a part of those mid-price 2-for-1 sets, getting unfairly associated with its horribly jazz follow-up; besides, replacing bassist & singer sexbomb songwriter Kevin Ayers with balding fez roadie Hugh Hopper weren’t never gonna make this Commie cadre any more Revolutionary. However, this re-issue reminds us all just how replete with great songs was this debut: “Hope for Happiness’, ‘A Certain Kind’ and ‘Why Are We Sleeping?” are endowed with heartrending & Percy Sledgean amounts of Gnostic R&B, both Ayers AND Robert Wyatt barking forth a blue-eyed soul that kacks on the Zombies for heartful of soul. And all the while throughout the work, up spring mini-tracks, miniature freek-outs, space treks all so true to the spirit of the times, these on-one off-the-cuff momentary creations, splash like primitively printed pop art leaflets fluttering across the main programme. Yup, this debut contains the sound of Forward Thinking Motherfuckers letting rip, the first (and to my mind most Visionary and cohesive) statement by a Trotskyite ensemble that would – unfortunately for its audience – always be in the permanent process of Becoming.

DEER HUNTING WITH JESUS by Joe Bageant

I’ll conclude this month’s review section with a fascinating book about the current state of depressed Middle America. Entitled DEER HUNTING WITH JESUS, and written by Southern good ole boy and proud Virginian Joe Bageant, it’s chock full of details, facts and figures, reports, comparisons, analyses and explanations as to why the Midwest is full of people ‘dumber than owl shit’ who – because of the rise of Christian Fundamentalism – nowadays believe the world began in 4004 BCE. The book surveys why poor people are getting poorer and even stupider every day, and it’s authentic because the author comes from round Those There parts, right? Wrong! For, despite the entire success of a book such as DEER HUNTING WITH JESUS relying on our trusting the author, Joe Bageant offers neither footnotes nor appendices to back up his majestic (and oh, so endless) lists of facts’n’figures… not even such a thing as an index. Instead, he quotes “my online friend Billmon at www.billmon.com, who has made a study of the subject”. Sheesh, and I thought Bageant was just winging it! Who is this Joe Bageant who lives among rednecks that we City Dwellers might know how superior we are? Sheesh, even Darwin had kinder things to say about the primitives of Tierra del Fuego than Joe Bageant has to say about those of his own hometown. Why live there then, Jackass? Bageant appears to live by the rule: “I have the right to call them Cunts because I live amongst them.” Sure, he was born in Winchester, Virginia, but this kind of author don’t come from no place; don’t owe no allegiance to no one. He’s on no side but his own, and that side is a constantly shifting and treacherous mass/morass/more ass, somewhat akin to his sugar’n’alcohol-fueled bulk. Nevertheless, Bageant will at all times proclaim he’s just being ‘himself’, a remarkably fluid entity that hops wildly from ‘pretend Commie’ down at the local tavern to ‘pretend redneck’ down at the local hunt. On the cover, this self-described “cult hero among gonzo-journalism junkies” is compared to Hunter S. Thompson (fer Chrissake!), but he is in truth as spewdo-intellectual & agnostic & cynical as they’re made, truly the Chuck Eddy of Disinfotainment. Halfway through the book, we learn that Middle America’s current mindset was entirely fashioned by “a group of Celtic cattle thieves killing one another in the mud along Hadrian’s Wall”, thereby revealing Bageant’s own ‘worldview’ as barely more consistent that those redneck neighbours he mercilessly chastises. Yup, this solipsistic spewdo is barely a half inch further out of the gutter than the sad sacks he rages against. Ah, but that half inch, brothers’n’sisters, is precisely what makes this such an essential book to read, not because of the facts’n’fudges, but because it gives us a fascinating insight into what passes for an American Cult Personality nowadays.

Okay, those are my comments until next month, except finally, to those of you who feel short-changed by the mistakes in the booklet of the new PEGGY SUICIDE deluxe edition, I can only sympathise as I’ve not yet seen the packaging. Indeed, after the JEHOVAHKILL debacle of two years ago, I considered it the best future policy to keep my head down, ho hum. Unfortunately, the corporate world moves at such a great pace nowadays that even a great Declaration of Anti-Corporatism such as PEGGY SUICIDE still gets treated like just another project to sign off. It was two years a-coming and still it wasn’t right. Personally, I reckon you’d all be better off scoring a copy of FLOORED GENIUS 4 instead, and waiting until the misprinted PEGGY booklets have been rectified afore ye shell out more hard-earned. Still, even a misprinted PEGGY SUICIDE is a damn sight better than all those Beatles re-issue abortions I’ve been seeing in emails, sheesh! How many times can a consumer buy the same thing over and over and fucking over? Obviously fucking forever, as evidenced by the possés of overly upholstered and middle-aged Zombie Replicants, nay, Duplicunts that stalk the cyber-aisles of amazon.com in their XXL J. Lennon t-shirts. Hey, I ain’t naming names, kiddies, still I’d better piss off … see you next month.

Mucho Love (und macho hugs)

JULIAN (Lord Yatesbury)