Standing at the northernmost menhir in the northeast quadrant of Avebury henge, Holy McGrail takes advantage of the recent tree felling to experience directly the inter-relationship of this – the world’s largest stone circle – with its Ur-monument on nearby Windmill Hill, less than a mile to the northwest.
As the weeks and the months have suddenly found us in May, and many of you will have already learned from Faber & Faber’s Twitter site that I have signed a book deal with that venerable company, I thought now was probably the time to make mention of the first book intended to be forthcoming from this liaison. Entitled LIVES OF THE PROPHETS: A NEW PERSPECTIVE, this book will address the lives and missions of all the ancient World Prophets, placing the work of each into a historical context in order to allow us to judge whether any Moderns (or Fairly Moderns) could also fit the title of World Prophet. It’s going to be a long hard slog no doubt, but I do believe a wholly worthwhile effort in these dramatic times. I was invited into the Faber & Faber archives recently, and shown T.S. Eliot’s correspondence with Robert Graves concerning the company’s commissioning of Graves’ THE WHITE GODDESS. Overlooked by a cadaverous Jacob Epstein bust of Eliot, I sat at the great hexagonal table where – back in the pre WW2 days – Louis Faber and Eliot decided which new books were to be commissioned. Sitting there amidst all that history, I recognised that LIVES OF THE PROPHETS: A NEW PERSPECTIVE will play a crucial role in changing Western Culture from its present precarious state … if I do my job right.
DIRTY POOL by Chris Forsyth and Shawn Edward Hansen
Okay, now let’s move on to this month’s Vinyl-Only Reviews Section, starting with the molto meditative ice dramas of DIRTY POOL by guitarist Chris Forsyth and organist Shawn Edward Hansen. Released on Germany’s excellent Ultramarine Records (www.ultramarinerecords.com
), DIRTY POOL delights in liberating hackneyed blues guitar flourishes by rendering them not as the accompaniment for some journeyman singer but re-contextualized as glorious epiphanies ringing out across Terry Rileyan organ drones. Like Henry Flynt’s glorious (and gloriously inauthentic) backporch blues, DIRTY POOL is a horribly more-ish hybrid, one that confidently unites the amphetamine over-reaching gymnastics of unaccompanied early T. Verlaine with the conservatory sedateness of Overhang Party, elsewhere imposing the droning starkness of Nico’s ‘It Was a Pleasure Then’ with Ry Cooder’s PARIS TEXAS soundtrack. Neither rural nor urban – yet defiantly unsuburban – DIRTY POOL occupies a highly useful between-time hinterland that has me spinning this vinyl again and again.
NEW SKY DRAGON by Moon Unit
I can also highly recommend NEW SKY DRAGON by Glasgow’s bassless psychedelic trio Moon Unit, whose two gloriously burning Mithraic meditations each take up an entire side of this their debut LP. Although side one’s “Internal Future’ commences hesitantly and somewhat homage-like with massed sitars, the ensemble soon settle upon a highly useful guitar-heavy course simultaneously re-treading AND re-visioning those venerable paths set down long ago by Neu’s Michael Rother, but in a far more violently and rageful manner, as guitarist Ruaraidh Sanachan unleashes every lick in the Wah Wah Canon, confident that Andreas Jönsson’s limited arsenal – a simple Selmer Omnichord from the sound of it – will never allow his screamings to descend into mere Prognosis. However, side two’s side-long epic ‘No Money, No Nothing’ is on an entirely different level of achievement being a stand alone work on the same level as Washington’s dazzling quartet Nudity. Yup, ‘No Money, No Nothing’ may still locate its pleasure centres within the burning Krautrock brain of early Klaus Schulze-period Ash Ra Tempel and Gunter Schickert/Axel Struck’s colossal (and colossally unappreciated) GAM, but Moon Unit herein locate the very Ur-hearth of their Muse, and dance - all three of them – like desperate shamen trying to prevent the sunset. Released on Krayon Recordings, you can cop this vinyl motherlode via www.southern.com
, or congratulate the gentlemen of the ensemble by contacting them via www.myspace.com/wearemoonunit
LONESOME BERLIN by CCCandy
I’m currently also a sucker for LONESOME BERLIN by German solo artist CCCandy, whose raucous drum-machines, shocked vocal declarations and muffled keyboard excursions remind me of early home-produced electro 45s – Robert Rental, Nigel Simpkins, Gaz Chambers, Thomas Leer come to mind – or maybe some late sibling of Pyrolator, Der Plan or something off the old Ata Tak label. Released on Avanti Records (www.avantrecords.bigcartel.com
), LONESOME BERLIN is full of low-res musical scans, fuzzy snapshots, ½ bit samples and (wait for it, the ultimate late 70s credit) ‘found sounds’. By heck, it’s like being back at Checkpoint Charlie again during the ‘80s, but with a catchy bastard catchall soundtrack to keep you company. Yowzah! We ain’t had one of them for a long while!
'Aquarian Darkness' b/w 'Limbus of Spiritual Decay' by Haare
Now I don’t often review 7” singles here, but two particularly took my fancy this month. The first – ‘Aquarian Darkness’ b/w ‘Limbus of Spiritual Decay’ – comes from Ilkka Vekka’s superb one-man Finnish project Haare, whose CD THE TEMPLE made Head Heritage Album of the Month #87, way back in August 2004CE. Released on the German label Hellville, both sides of this disc sound like roughcut monitor mixes of Ragnarok itself, wrestled from the manicured mitts of Loki then pressed up on to vinyl in some ex-blacksmith’s shop. An 8CD box of this stuff would probably be of the most use to we subterranean voyagers but, until Ilkka Vekka’s new album is forthcoming, then these two bizarre snapshots will have to do us. And what snapshots! Grab your own copy from www.crucialblast.net
'Black Lotus' b/w 'Witches Limbo' by Glitter Wizard
Next up, all you freaks with a Jones for unashamedly glamorous hard rock should search out Glitter Wizard’s debut 7” single. Hailing from Oakland, California and led by the inimitably monikered Wendy Stonehenge, the A-side ‘Black Lotus’ is about as subtle as a flying mallet and thrice as catchy, while B-side ‘Witches Limbo’ deploys so many strutting rock moves you just gots to believe its parody glimpses paradis! Add some Jon Lord organ to ‘Electric Funeral’, structure in mucho gratuitous Sir Lord Baltimore tempo changes, factor in Hawkind’s Dik Mik on synthesizer, then add an early Budgie intro and you’ze catching my drift. Too much of this could cloud your melted plastic mind, but small vinyl party doses squeezed in between ‘Crash Course in Brain Surgery’ and ‘Woman from Tokyo’? Just the job. Score this pronto, Tonto, by getting down to: www.insound.com/Glitter_Wizard_Black_Lotus_7inch/productmain/p/INS71646/
EUROGRUMBLE VOLUME 1 by Hey Colussus & the Van Halen Time Capsule
Okay, next we come to the magnificence of EUROGRUMBLE VOLUME ONE by Hey Colossus & the Van Halen Time Capsule, a London six-piece whose transcendental form of Mung Worship proves you don’t even have to mean it to bring forth great rock’n’roll; you just have to keep turning up to rehearsals, keep turning up the volume and always make sure you deploy one axe wielder – Crass-stylee – whose sole role it is to bind the whole schmeer together with molto molten feedback. Yup, despite being (apparently) comprised of Fred Perry-clad supply teachers and ex-paras in rubgy shirts, the overtly-macho and miserablist Hey Colossus rarely fail in their quest for locating thee most bilious riffs and cumbersome rhythms in Christendom, heck, it often sounds like three bands at once and three great ones at that! Released on the rarely inoffensive Riot Season label (www.riotseason.com
), even Hey Colossus’ self-admiring and overly middle-aged sleevenotes (Stance? ‘Don’t play this to your kids because we’re unhealthy bad boys’, Sheesh) shouldn’t phase prospective buyers because EUROGRUMBLE VOLUME ONE is, without doubt, this month’s most useful and essential sonic bargain. Good grumpy value, chaps.
A LU LA LU by Amolvacy
Final vinyl of this month has to go to those three unsane practitioners known as Amolvacy, whose sensational new album A LU LA LU is out now on Ultramarine Records (www.ultramarinerecords.com
). I raved about their debut in my Drudion for May 2008CE, but this newbie nails the Amolvacy metaphor even more firmly to the mast. Imagine Dagmar Krause’s Art Bears attempting Longfellow’s ‘Hiawatha’ with just tuned percussion and traps; imagine sparsely orchestrating Jaki Leibezeit’s most overt drum-a-thons with ESG vocal escapades; imagine the tragic childlike ‘Loud Loud Loud’ monologue of 666-period Aphrodite’s Child interspersed with Muslim Gauzean drones; imagine all of this and you’ll maybe glimpse just one miniscule aspect of Amolvacy’s hefty and rigorous worldview. But then, I believe superb shamanic vocalist/priestess Sheila 16 could make a catchy chorus out of anything and soon have the world singing along. Kiddies, Amolvacy is one hell of an original proposition, and their new clear vinyl 12” record comes replete with that same beautiful die-cut packaging as their first offering. If you have limited funds with which to deploy sonic weaponry against your neighbours, make sure you pick A LU LA LU by Amolvacy!
Finally, I’d like to congratulate the Black Sheep’s David Wrench on winning Radio Cymru’s prestigious Producer of the Year award, and apologise again to him for the hold up with his fabulous new album SPADES & HOES & PLOWS. Unfortunately, this delay has nothing to do with everyone who’s worked so hard on this record – Michael O’Sullivan, Fat Paul, Holy McGrail, Common Era and myself – but seems to be a distribution problem. Yup kiddies, those discs have been sitting in the warehouse for weeks: we just can’t access those suckers! Now, how frustrating is that? Sheesh! Still, those of you who attend my June 2nd show at Brighton Komedia will be able to catch David’s support slot - his first performance of SPADES & HOES & PLOWS - ably aided by Fat Paul on drums and FX, and Christophe F playing keyboards. No support has yet been decided for the Bristol show, but Urthona will be supplying axe-wielding mayhem at Windsor, on May 29th, while Acoustika will be performing songs from his debut album at Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms, on June 9th. And with all of that explained, I shall get back to the Underworld and continue my book writing.
Onwards & Sideways, Kiddies!
JULIAN (Lord Yatesbury)