Black Sheep Vybik Jon on Mainland Orkney (Photo: Common Era)
Apologies to those who noticed my June silence, but a coupla things needed to be put severely in order, and twitterin’ right about then weren’t a particularly useful move, Methunk. Then the postponement of the Black Sheep’s Orkney Islands Busking Tour caused molto headache & heartache. In the end, the only coupla Black Sheep to invade the islands were Vybik Jon and Common Era, but the gentlemen obviously learned a great deal from their reconnaissance mission, as evidenced by Common’s highly revealing photograph (see above). In the meantime, Head Heritage’s colossal Album of the Month repository has finally been closed down after 10 years without interruption. On account of my darling daughter Avalon’s obsession with Kevin Ayers, I dedicated that final review #120 to her on her 16th birthday. But now the time has come to close down this institution, and I shall review only modern music in the Drudions for the foreseeable future. As I noted two years ago during Album of the Month #94: “… fuck Back In The Day, NOW is the fucking bollocks.”
VESPRADA by Qa’a
Okay, let’s commence this month’s Reviews Section with the latest epic offering from Barcelona’s rotating ensemble Qa’a. For VESPRADA, released on Màgia Roja Records (www.magiaroja.net
), is a 70-minute-plus masterpiece bulging with experimental missions, compelling grooves and exquisitely furious & fire-y musicianship. Indeed, from the moment that its mighty sonic Sun breaches the horizon, and scatters its horned Mithraic testosterone about the precincts of your branium’s brow-temple, VESPRADA declares itself intent on Drawing Down & Drawing In only those already searching for Advanced Barbarian Descent into the Underworld. Undistilled this music most serpently is. Starting as it means to go on, VESPRADA commences with a bizarre nine-minute creature by the name of ‘Perpetu’, a ritualistic piece of massed percussions & reeds somewhere in the same braying midrange as those Breton bombarde wielders Kevrenn Alré: this nine-minute head cleaner deploying blarting saxophones (definitely not saxes, note), massed concussions and apocalyptically Satanic belltone guitars, as analogue synthesizers fart and quibble, sawing and combing the nearground; elsewhere shamen gutteralize, chimp, primp & bark, chatter, screech, wail, whinny and groan/moan. Fuck me, this lot crack me up and this is the most breath-taking album opening I’ve encountered in a while. The full-on-ness of this opening escapade weren’t no accident, neither, as evidenced by the words of guitarist Victor Hurtado, the ensemble’s producer and editor, who comments:
“I always felt there was a secret musical genealogy of disparate records of religious qualities that had been interrupted for a while. I created Qa’a with the aim of continuing that genealogy.”
Well, brothers & sisters, VESPRADO continues that precise genealogy. Which genealogy? Well, I’ll tell ya, kiddies. VESPRADA’s ‘From the Off’ declaration of its own seething Worldview, nay, its own fierce Weltanshauung sets this record aside from still excellent others MORE PSYCHICALLY SLIGHT & less needy: imagine the Residents around FINGERPRINCE (during their Harry Partch PETALS FELL ON PETALUMA-styled massed commune percussion obsessions), the stentorian & brazen roar of ATEM-period T. Dream sprawling its orchestral percussion, Mellotron stabs’n’analogue candy across an even more rackety (and more otherly) EXILE ON MAIN STREET, over which has been ladled an evil smothering of Gris Gris Gumbo, a barbarian grind in the Sunburned Hand/Exuma tradition, an all pervasive groove of Faustian exultation. Truly, this music of Qa’a is rich; its greedy fingers – over fifty of them – reaching into those same sonic fountainheads as those inhabited by our most beloved Krautrockers.
AL HURVOT HaAVIV by Quetev Meriri
Next up, for those of you with a yen for schoolroom performances from a War Zone, please lend yer lugholes a quick listen to the oft-ambulent/always excellent audio verité of AL HURVOT HaAVIV, the superb new album by Israeli quartet Quetev Meriri. Released on Gush Punk Records (www.quetevmeriri.bandcamp.com
), there’s a radically beautiful DIY shabbiness pervading this wonderful record, a glorious intrusion of brutal technology and rudimentary school piano that makes AL HURVOT HaAVIV sound as though the Ur-ancestors were informing this band’s every step of the way. Which ur-Ancestors? Well, Quetev Meriri plough those same profoundly catchy & musically unmusical anarcho-refusenik grooves as Wümme-period Faust, early Magical Power Mako, L. Voag’s legendary THE WAY OUT, even poor old Michio Kadotani’s ROTTING TELEPATHIES gets a look in with this seemingly cassette-obsessed bunch. I pity these poor sods’ domestic situation, but it evidently don’t half make for glorious music. Yowzah!
SEVEN BLOODIED RAMPARTS by The Bretwardas of Heathen Doom
The real rock album of this month must be SEVEN BLOODIED RAMPARTS by Mercia’s greatest Danelaw duo The Bretwardas of Heathen Doom. Finer even than their previous epic BATTLESTAFFS IN THE MUSHROOM WOODS, this new record is a righteously brief collection of just seven compelling pieces, but all so brutally intense, so lyrically enigmatic, so vocally commanding that you just gotta give in to its Dark Age intensity. Submit or switch off. Bretwaldas’ lyricist Wartooth brusquely declaims his Odinist messages like a Danelaw Lemmy squarking printed orders to his feisty charges; yet the magisterial chords & heroic moods within each song conjure up genuine ancestral sorrow and Sense of Loss, all raised up in that appropriately Cumbersome & Flailing J. Division/B. Sabbath manner. Stoned at a Jutland motorway services once during Danish research for THE MEGALITHIC EUROPEAN, I overheard locals apparently speaking in Brummie accents, until I sussed that our Midland accent is just that of the transplanted and industrialized Dane, those who still prefer the Danish ‘ta’ to the English ‘thanks’. Even today, all Brummies call the street the ‘straight’ because it began as their ancestors’ way of describing Roman roads. Listen to this Bretwardas album and you might find yourselves similarly slipping between the world of Now and the world of Then. Accept their Mercian metaphor or die, Motherfuckers! Uncanny but true. Catch the sterling work of these Mercian poet-ruffians via King Penda Records (www.kingpenda.com
) and prepare for some warrior self-sacrifice. Ja, mein hairies!
BLACK DUST by Korperschwache
Okay, perpetuating the same dark Wodenist duo metaphor comes the (musically but not culturally) even heavier (though even MORE medically useful, kiddies) BLACK DUST, the robust (I’ll say) new album by Texas Neo-Black Metal duo Korperschwache. Released on the always excellent Colony Records (www.colonyrecords.com
), and comprised of just guitarist RKF and concussionist Dr. Omega, this singular unit are practitioners of a highly pragmatic, almost production-line music, an austere brand of Soviet Bloc concept rock, or a bottom-of-the-line Ford, untreated Black Metal applied to ambulant Duane Eddy as though shoved through some vast Swans-ian worldview. Make your ‘Return of Django’ Michael Gira-sized! That‘s it, Korperschwache take stark’n’obvious musical monoliths and feed them through International Harvester-sized machines. Imagine slowing down Teenage Jesus & the Jerks’ ‘The Closet’ to kerbcrawl speed then applied a locked groove in the middle. Imagine someone having a detailed re-gander at J. Division’s flexi-freebie instrumental ‘Komakino’, decelerated from 45rpm to 33rpm and applies molto tithe barn-sized reverb. Korperschwache does that kind of useful monotonous stuff in your face upfront like. Just like George Clinton’s funk this stuff ‘could sit and sit and never go sour’. Buy three and keep a couple in the WW3 provisions box under the stairs. Nice packaging, too. Please locate this bastard for purchase at www.korperschwache.com
ELECTRIC MOURNING BLUES by the Scrapes
Next, the Scrapes are back with another fucking downer delight to suit your every suicide. Just one year after reviewing their self-titled debut album (see Drudion June 2009CE), violinist Adam Cadell and guitarist Ryan Potter have returned with nine brand new meditations for our delectation; nine ripe-to-the-point of overcast medications for e. guitar & violin, all collected together under the name of ELECTRIC MOURNING BLUES, stuff to drench the listeners’ synapses with a veritable virus of sadness and doom weepage. Far better than last year’s excellent debut, ELECTRIC MOURNING BLUES still sounds like Overhang Party playing the downer bits of the Doctors of Madness, but even more so. And that’s a fucking Useful thing to be hefting our way. Thanks may be sent to these druids at (www.myspace.com/planetofthescrapes
), and score your own copy of this suck-u-lent work for the excellent artwork also.
THE HAUNTING TRIPTYCH by K11
Briefly, I’ve also been under the spell of THE HAUNTING TRIPTYCH by K11, the collaborative name of Pietro Riparbelli & Philippe Petit, whose three enormous soundtracks conjure up vast David Lean-size images and spectral armies of past generations. Imagine early Queen Elizabeth playing Roedelius’ magnificent LA NORDICA, and you’ve nailed these suckers’ pleasure centres. Released on Italy’s excellent Boring Machines (www.boringmachines.it
), this is a motherfucking ginormous sound, brothers and sisters.
OFFICIUM NOCTURNUM by Wicked Messenger
Finally, being yet a Utopian cunt of epic proportions, I’ll conclude these reviews with a look at OFFICIUM NOCTURNUM, the brilliant new double-CD by Germany’s Wicked Messenger, a certified Must Buy for all of those requiring wild shamanic flight accompanied by Woden’s Wild Hunt. Released on Belgium’s Plague Recordings (www.plaguerecordings.com
), this vast work is comprised of just three vast sonic flights, and is a highly useful release that may even justify taking a coupla midweek days off work. The 52-minute opening track ‘Movement I’ immediately engages us in a psychic Cresta Run, tenderising our fleshy outer selves, preparing us for an audience with Titans, nay, the Ur-Cow herself! On the second CD, the equally epic and vast ‘Movement II’ concludes with the ominous intoning of some solo imam/priest basso profundo à la Klaus Schultz’s BLACKDANCE, followed by the glorious opening quackfest of the 27-minute ‘Movement II’. I say quackfest because the opening minutes feature a wonderful under-his-breath declaration by some uncredited Duck Whisperer whose religious words are constantly undermined by some Disneyesque vocal FX, thereafter yer typical “Whose driving this hurricane?” Wicked Messenger sound re-engages, simultaneously orchestrated seemingly by an outwardly belligerent/inwardly benign spectral army of be-parachuted warrior angels, each harmonizing sacredly & perfectly from the moment General Jehovah ejects them from the rear cargo doors of his 400-foot-long WW2 wood-and-melamine Messerschmitt glider. Descending earthwards improbably slowly, their dulcet collective intoning melds together each & every earthbound atom harmonizing the leaves to the trees, the hooves of cattle to the ground itself, like Allah’s grill forcing the melting cheese to conform to the nachos below it. Shite, brothers’n’sisters, dontcha thunk ye need a record whose music sounds like an ambulant bootleg recording of some ultra repetitive chorale from CARMINA BURANA, as caught by some stage door Johnny with a Revox? Yup, me three! So get your sweet butts to www.myspace.com/wickedmessengermusic
and thank these gentlefolk for all the trouble they’ve gone to!
Okay, that concludes this month’s reviews section. But biggest news for a long while is the August 1st return of Dorian’s ON THIS DEITY blog, which closed down temporarily last year due to her many other commitments. This is going to be a turbocharged version with added va-va-voom. So, er, Look Out!
Right, leaving y’all with that little lot to digest, I shall wish you a fabulous July and sod off. But first, many thanks to all of you who came to the June shows; there are more coming up in September, but my writing must take precedence over everything else for the time being, so I’m heading back underground. Show me a snorer & I’ll show you an explorer.
PEACE of the Action (& DEATH to Rightists),
JULIAN (Lord Yatesbury)