Pictured in Yatesbury taking some time out from recording his new album SPADES & HOES & PLOWS, David Wrench – dressed in all white leather – is here joined (L-R) by fellow Black Sheep Michael O’Sullivan, Fat Paul and the Archdrude (Photograph: Common)
Happy December 1st! Raise your Advent Calendars and affix them to the wall, it’s that time of the year again when Heathens everywhere use the so-called ‘Commercialisation of Christmas’ as their excuse for indulging in a month-long Winter Festival! So let the festivities commence! Regarding all that old Christian bollocks, I’m like the barbarian Germanic tribes who, on conquering Rome, showed their lack of respect by setting up camp within the actual precincts of all the best Roman temples. Oh, to park up in the Vatican, nay, at Mecca, right there next to the great meteorite stone where they used to worship Jesus and before that the Goddess Diana. Yeah, we could skin one up for Lady Di! Now that would confuse the Sky Gods! Still, ‘if you want to defeat your enemy, sing his song’ so they say, so I’m in the process of writing a whole new album of devotional tunes so beautiful and so religious-sounding that your average knobhound wouldn’t even notice that the words they’re singing are actually the instructions for a church-burning, or for an imam’s abduction. ‘Imam, schmimmam, I want me mam!’ as the song goes. Come on! Regarding the rest of the Black Sheep’s output this year, I’m delighted to report that we’re almost up to schedule and moving forwards splendidly. And while Acoustika’s debut has been temporarily held up, the Christophe F. album HEATHEN FRONTIERS IN SOUND surfaced about three months earlier than anticipated. Bravo again, F! New from Invada Records for the New Year will be David Wrench/Black Sheep’s excellent set of arcane Revolutionary songs SPADES & HOES & PLOWS, on which David sings and performs – mainly on distorted Wurlitzer piano – four epic pieces from the period of the English Civil War right up to the mid-1800s. David is joined on vocals, percussion and FX by Michael O’Sullivan, Fat Paul and myself.
RETURN INTO EARTH by Sri Aurobindo
Okay, that’s all the news until the New Year; so let’s now move on to my monthly Reviews Section, commencing with the unstoppable sounds of RETURN INTO EARTH by Baltimore band Sri Aurobindo. I gots to say I really didn’t rate their last record and was all set to consign this new one to oblivion when that flute first reared its ugly head. Coupla minutes in, though, these truly Pastoral Motherfuckers unleash their Fenris Wolf in one hell of a righteous manner, uniting their multiple acoustic guitars, analogue synthesizers, banjos and hand percussion with that damned flute in such a righteous manner that we are carried up in Sri Aurobindo’s skirts and delivered with haste to that same higher plane formerly inhabited by Ancients such as Kalacakra, Friendsound and the two Amon Düüls at their most Kommun Ein. Gentlemen, how about a 4-sided vinyl LP next time? Access these fully loaded Motherfuckers via www.myspace.com/sriaurobindo
and make sure you consider the purchase of this record a seasonal must …
GOD IS BUSY... SAVE YOURSELF
… as must Doom fans everywhere obtain their own copy of Wicked King Wicker’s new record, their first for Northampton’s excellent Cold Spring Records (www.coldspring.co.uk
). Catchily entitled GOD IS BUSY… SAVE YOURSELF, this is the most useful slab o’monolithic Doom I’ve heard in a long time, sounding like somebody suspended Khanate’s James Plotkin in a diving bell at 100 fathoms and asked him to master the sounds of Moby Dick’s latest bowel movement. Fans of Skullflower, Kabalist, Lotus Eaters (not that one!) and Sunn0)))’s ancient FLIGHT OF THE BEHEMOTH really should rush to book their own personal copy because, fuck me, this is the most keep-you-awake Meditation a boy could wish for, as churning combine harvester, microphonic feedback and human screams collide to create a veritable Cresta Run for Malcontents. Tell these upstate New Yorkers they’re boss at www.myspace.com/wickedkingwicker
ITCHY GRUMBLE by Paul Vickers &the Leg
Now, the next record up is a real attractively thorny problem, being either a product of in-breeding or just too much cooking speed in the communal stew; ITCHY GRUMBLE is precisely the kind of overly-written avant-opera that Alex Harvey woulda tried to coax out of his proggy boys if only he’d survived beyond Punk long enough to convince Zal’n’Co that following the Way of The Tubes and Todd R.’s Utopia weren’t gonna keep the post-Pistolian hordes happy. So I’m not talking Vambo here, Brothers’n’Sisters, more ‘The Tale of the Giant Stone Eater’ as performed by Blurt! Indeed, like later punk anachronisms such as Brain of Morbius and HAIRY MONSTERLAND-period Whiteberg before them, Paul Vickers & the Leg summon up a primal jet of barely-directional noise that careers along like a 50s scientist on a flying bedstead (where’s this fucker going next?), then collapses exhausted before the finish line. Check out myspace.com/paulvickersandtheleg
and open your mind to the sound of the grandly calamitous.
TERRITORIES OF DISSENT by Nick Hudson
On his excellent debut album TERRITORIES OF DISSENT, Nick Hudson sounds occasionally like Bill Nelson singing Scott’s ‘Angels of Ashes’, elsewhere glimpsing the same solitary late summer glows of Robert Martin’s mythical cassette-to-vinyl LP THE LONG GOODBYE. If Richey ‘Twelve Steps’ Manic hadn’t got quite so tragically Jason Pierced at that evangelistic St. Pauline saviour machine they call the Priory (Burn THAT fucker down!), you could almost imagine His Edwardsness having turned something like this out once he’d come back from the Living Dead. It’s Gay in the old sense, highly fucking beautiful in a ‘gazing together into Biba mirrors with smeared lippy’ kind of manner, archly male in a La Düsseldorf stylee, exquisitely bed-sit in a rather schooled and possibly seaside manner … oh, and full of short, near Classical instrumentals that always fuck off way too quickly to destroy Nick’s metaphor. Search out TERRITORIES OF DISSENT by accessing www.myspace.com/nickjackhudson
. Oh yeah, and next time do put yourself on the front cover, Mr. H.; there’s far too many ugly cunts pushing their septic imageless phizzogs in the media, we need a few pretty men with their own IQs to lively those homophobic cunts up. Yow-fucking-Tsar!
GOOD NEWS by Withered Hand
Up in Edinburgh, on their debut album GOOD NEWS, Withered Hand present their distorted post-everything C&W with the same glorious Keltic inauthenticity as John Cale’s VINTAGE VIOLENCE and Bill Drummond’s unfeasibly Scotch THE MAN. Replete with cascading Caledonian harmonies, overly knowing lyrics and awkward in-grown melodies, Withered Hand’s appeal lies in the self-obsessions of the wimp singer, who – in whatever the real world is – really needs a damned good slapping for sounding so like Yes’ Jon Anderson! What the fuck? Thankfully, as that slapping route appears to have thus far been unforthcoming, the alternative presented herein is to listen to the catchy bastard and thank the Gods we ain’t like him! The Chills play N. Young… I mean THAT squeaky! Now if such equivocal behaviour isn’t heroic and essential role-playing in this Me Me Me Celeb World, then what is? Released on SL Records (www.slrecords.com/witheredhand
), this whole Withered Hand album is a refreshing lager beer of a record, unpretentious to the point of being a right old pose, but dammit, I accept their metaphor!
NIHON NIHILIST by Various Artists
Back in the world of bizarre compilations; search out NIHON NIHILIST if you need a good braining, as 77 minutes of distorted sub-sub-Detroit and Gothic ritualistic eeriness barf forth from Japan’s obscure ‘70s and early ‘80s. Lining up alongside such Underground heroes as Les Rallizes Denudes, Psychedelic Speed Freaks, Magical Power Mako and J.A. Caesar, by far the greatest track on this compilation is – to my mind – the 24-minute fuzz onslaught by Asahito Nanjo’s lost studio band Kohsokuya, whose power trio guise is actually, I suspect, just a cover-up for their clandestine Fender & Gibson Waste Disposal Company. Score this sucker by pressing this button
, but be prepared to wait as we haven’t been able to get many copies and are still trying to build up some proper stocks.
CANCELLI DI FUMO by Francesco Bussalai
Finally, this month I wanna draw your attention to CANCELLI DI FUMO, an excellent and highly stylised documentary by Sardinian director Francesco Bussalai, whose latest offering is a study, a meditation on the impact of the immediate population after the closure of the local cigarette factory back in 2001CE. Bussalai expertly weaves the history of the factory into the tale of what happened to several of those made redundant, uniting the two aspects in the character of Beppe, formerly the factory’s health officer and now totally blind. Brilliantly, Bussalai portrays the long-haired Beppe as having been nothing less than the health-bringing Shaman of the factory who, in his snazzy white suit, even now continues to haunt the deserted factory day and night, the director capturing his white caned figure from umpteen heroic angles: from atop the water tower, from behind the black iron gates, crossing the windblown courtyard, etc. Rough cutting these eerie Visions with aged monochrome factory videos from the 80s and ‘90s, plus contemporary reports of the chaos caused by the factory closure, Bussalai from the very start binds we viewers to all of those involved in the tragic closure. Search out this film if you can: it’s compelling.
I believe that’s almost all I need to mention for this month, except to wish you all a magnificent rest over the X-Mass period, and hope you don’t put on too much weight over-feasting on festival food, as we’re all wont to do here in the West.
Take care on the roads and in the city,
Love in evidence,