Stumbling out of the blackness of Stoney Littleton’s hundred-foot-long Neolithic chamber, Black Sheep VC’s Vybik Jon and Common Era pose under the lintel with their delightful muse Mrs Alexandra Ahab.
What with my recent shows and the bizarre Black Sheep VC tour of the Cotswolds that immediately preceded them, I’ve seen more people in the past coupla weeks than the rest of the year put together. And a mighty fine idea it was to kick off VC’s string of Ur-Yowls at 6am at W. Kennett Longbarrow. Holy Shit! By 6.10 am, Vybik Jon and Common Era were already ensconced’n’clammering within those 5,000-year-old chambers whilst I set up at the far west-end of the mighty earthen barrow and observed the sun rising into an absolutely clear sky and – I must add – rising almost directly above the Neolithic Sanctuary, around half a mile to our east. Righteous moments, brothers’n’sisters! Hell, even the bemused (and wholly freaked out) swallows that nest in West Kennett’s northernmost front chamber doggedly held their ground until one of VC’s more guttural expectorations blasted the lot of them out of those massive portals and up into the sky like Nature’s Red Arrows. VC’s late evening performance within the highly remote Stoney Littleton longbarrow was poetically enhanced by the spectral presence of the lovely Mrs Alexandra Ahab, who perched atop the capstone like some fairy queen. Thereafter, the VC performances at Belas Knap, Lanhill, Hetty Pegler’s Tump and Wayland’s Smithy all yielded useful recorded materièls, the last mentioned even affording us all another grand panoramic sunrise, this time across Uffington Castle and its legendary White Horse. The Black Sheep torture never stops, me babbies!
WODEN by Julian Cope
Okay, before we whizz over to the Reviews Section, I’d first like to tell y’all about my ‘new’ album WODEN, which has just gained its first release on Head Heritage. Recorded way back in 1997/98, but shelved until now on account of the unexpected success of its more palatable sibling ODIN, this WODEN release showcases just one 72-minute-long epic that buzzes, fizzes and undulates with synthesizers and field recordings, and should be investigated simply by pressing this here button
AMOTOE by Sachiko & Fukuoka Rinji
Meanwhile, in the so-called real world, make sure you search out your own copy of AMOTOE by avant-garde vocalist Sachiko & her co-conspirator Fukuoka Rinji, founding member of Tokyo’s excellent Overhang Party. Upon hearing this delightful Melage à Twatted, listeners will forget in an instant the gorgeous J. Cale-isms of Fukuoka’s former band, his new musical trajectory aimed so far beyond any worldly horizons that the converted will sail effortlessly between the Rugby Posts of the Universe into a Massive Reality belt million of miles across. Released on Japan’s Music Atlach
label, AMOTOE comprises just two Vast Eternities of sound, each so rich, so musically fulsome that the uninitiated may drown in its eiderdown of purity. Queen Elizabeth’s ‘Eisteddfod 69’ comes to mind as a reference, as does Yatha Sidra’s magnificent A MEDITATION MASS from 1974, but beyond such named specifics, this inspired duo hauls our psychick asses into a black-painted 10’ x 10’ sensory deprivation tank and just leaves us there. Huge, beautifully formed and essential, kiddies.
THE EVENING REDNESS IN THE WEST by Joe Marshall
Another beautifully formed and highly useful release is Joe Marshall’s spectacular 22-minute EP THE EVENING REDNESS IN THE WEST, which creates in listeners’ minds a delightfully unsignposted and roadless musical landscape, as huge industrial-sized clouds of sound engulf and intoxicate. Talk about Sonic Catering, this music was achieved on the musical equivalent of an old secondary school canteen stove, participants enjoying a hearty pudding at music’s end. Slipping out on one of Double Dot Dash’s low-key old-style musicassettes, this Marshall tour de force is accompanied by a free download, rendering it an essential to all you Inner Space Cadets with a perpetual jones for Righteous Cuntedness. Play it all night on repeat and petition our composer for a full LP’s worth. Right fucky on!
OLD EARTH by Ehnahre
Next up, prepare yourselves for the extreme Doom theatre antics of Boston’s Ehnahre, whose new album OLD EARTH has just escaped from Crucial Blast Records
, and is presently employing a scorched earth policy upon all those whose earholes are laid upon it. Like some lost Samuel Beckett play in which Loki is destined to prowl Midgard chained to a shopping trolley, OLD EARTH is a genuinely confusing puzzlement worthy of psychedelic status. Who knows or even needs to know what is meant by all those tremendous Glenn Branca-like guitar manglings? Is it in these miserable times even necessary to know what has propelled the singer of these songs into his World Tantrums? Who can but guess why bursts of elegant and eloquently-bowed double bass sometimes take the foreground, only once more to dissolve into post-industrial night tableaux of unrighteous revelry and unspecified extraneous noise? Yes kiddies, this album is such a compelling mess of ideas and performances and displays that it is positively ambient in its results, a Radio 4 Play-with-fangs that enables listeners to affix their own storyline whenever the composers’ own becomes to ‘too too’ to put a finger on. Superbly fucked and superbly executed and … totally exhausting.
JEALOUSY OF THE MALCONTENTS by Brotherhood of Mandrax
All you Inner Space Travellers should most serpently search out the vast sonic landscapes of JEALOUSY OF THE MALCONTENTS by Scotland’s Brotherhood of Mandrax. Containing just the one near-hour-long title track, this highly useful and mesmerising piece commences in a space similar to Dr. Fiorella Terenzi’s magnificent MUSIC FROM THE GALAXIES and Psychic TV’s groundbreaking ambulant monster KONDOLE. Pressed snare rolls and synthesized horns thrum and gallop across the near horizon as drones and tidal roars ensnare listeners and re-programme their body clocks back to Year Zero. Thereafter, the piece gradually, oh so gradually mutates into even more Kosmische territory, sucking up elements of early orchestrated Klaus Schulze and T. Dream, even putting me in mind of Mikhail Chekhalin’s timeless MEDITATIV MUSIC FOR DECOMPOSED ORGAN. Indeed, until I came to review this Brotherhood of Mandrax sucker, I had no idea at all of its length. Released on the consistently excellent Kovorox Sound
, the extremely minimalist packaging of JEALOUSY OF THE MALCONTENTS is more than made up for by its musical essentialness. Big, bold and endlessly repeatable. Buy it, do!
LAST DAYS HERE DVD
Okay, now let’s take a look at LAST DAYS HERE, that long awaited fucking Pentagram documentary they been promising us for so long I even overlooked the sucker when it finally slipped out. So does Bobby Liebling pop his clogs on camera, or lose his legs to gangrene and scratching as contemporary Metal Legend has had us believe? No, none of that. No such highs, brothers’n’sisters. Sure, we discover that the ‘70s passed Pentagram by because they couldn’t even rent a proper rehearsal space when Kiss’ Gene’n’Paul took tour time off to check’em out. Sure, we learn from BÖC producer Murray Krugman that he pulled the plugs on their 1974 CBS demo sesh after Pentagram’s singer called him a ‘fucking asshole’. But for genu-whine fans? Fuck off you film-maker cunts, you totally lost the plot and sent us all down a u-bend in some Midwest toilet. Yup, all you genuine Pentagram fans out there B E W A R E and give this Hollyfraud Abortion a very wide berth. Leave it to the Rubberneckers. This IQ-less schocker has piss-all to do with the music of Pentagram as portrayed through the past decade of oft-excellent releases (a mighty ‘Thank You’ to Black Widow Records and salutes to the sterling Joe Hassevlander). Instead this dog-end of sub-sub-Reality TV fixates on a highly limited bunch of Pentagram’s Ur-originals, thereby presenting the current band as never more than an oldies act, or worse still an ever-revolving turnstile of musically adept randomers, fanboy chancers & Liebling neighbours. Now Jagger’s evidence enough that we can’t expect to like all of our rock heroes. But Bobby Liebling? He’s as foul a user as they come, brothers’n’sisters. Squatting in his parents’ filthy basement like a turd in a festival portaloo, this flailing Golum helps, nay, actively guides the directors into genuine Ambient levels of film-making by nodding out and drooling for hours at a time. And boy do these opportunists keep their cameras on him. Addicted to heroin for 39 years and crack for over two decades, the re-awakened Bob declares piously: “I’m an old soldier”. No you ain’t, you son-of-a-highly-successful-government-executive, your daddy (and Who He Knew) kept you out of all that. It’s the poor boys that got to be soldiers, not Joe Liebling’s boy. For Pentagram’s Booby Liebling is a Kept Man, with a big Sugar Daddy called… well, ‘Daddy’! With his smug mug on the front cover of a mid-70s EXECUTIVE magazine, Bob’s dad Joe Liebling was a White House success story for decades. So Pentagram’s obstinate singer – from the well-fed safety of his Ivory Tower Sub-Basement – could afford to sell out his long-suffering Pentagram mates, and sell them out he did again and again and fucking again. Of these erstwhile rock cohorts that got Liebling to studios, shows or interviews, precious little mention is made. Like Mark Smith and Frank Zappa, it’s only ever about Bobby. Those two fascinating gentlemen, however, achieved in a very Big Ass Way for decade upon decade. Bobby’s Perma-Dwindle Non-Achievement has just been facilitated so long there ain’t no one left in his World Equation but Bobby. But … Shee-it, kiddies! Even Johnny Thunders done the biz somewhat afore bringing down the punk movement with smack. Everybody comes out of LAST DAYS HERE covered in shit. And the cast are forcibly divided into either Clowns or Cunts, with the exception of the aforementched B.Ö.C. producer Murray Krugman, whose cleaving appearance here is the genuine highlight and very funny, too. Otherwise the stench of vileness pervading LAST DAYS HERE is simply too much to bear. The wealthy amongst us should buy it just to bin it. One less copy in the world, sweet.
SERIOUS POWER HOUR by Workin' Man Noise Unit
Right me babbies, after that cynical Y A W N O T H O N
, let’s turn on to the real fucking deal. Yup, Workin’ Man Noise Unit is back in the cassette racks with the stuperb sounds of SERIOUS POWER HOUR. Yikes, this is some cunted rock’n’roll, maybe a happy hour hybrid of Vincent Black Shadow, Jane’s Early Addiction and the MC5 as played by Van Der Graaf around 1978. That specific? Not ‘arf, kiddies. That thuggish, too. And after their all-too-brief debut DRINKIN’ STELLA TO MAKE MUSIC TO DRINK STELLA TO (see Drudion #155 June 2012), this quartet of Reading Ur-louts (lauts?) have returned with even more ramonesleavehome.com that Blue Cheer barfed up for their own difficult second album. That on the programme? Yup, this second outing is as on-programme a the Model T Ford, SERIOUS POWER HOUR’s tinnitus-inducing guitar midrange occupying an Iron Curtain of distortion around which deadly barbed wire-festooned drums and attendant chromed percussion hardware provide Somme-style sanctuary from whose elevated machine gun position, the Noise Unit dispenses its deadly and unremitting dose of braying ass vocals. What a lively scene. What a vivid bunch. Released on Double Dot Dash
records in a handsome full colour sleeve with free digital download, only a right dreary cunt could disapprove of these robust tricksters and their slap-you-in-the-mush tactics. Right on!
FAME: JON SAVAGE'S SECRET HISTORY OF POST-PUNK (78-81)
Okay, afore we leave this here Reviews Section, let’s have a traipse through ‘FAME’: JON SAVAGE’S SECRET HISTORY OF POST-PUNK (78-81), the erstwhile Jonathan Sage’s superbly curated double-LP in whose limited edition grey vinyl grooves can be located umpteen compelling-yet-too-unapplauded slabs o’dysfunctional genius. Dutifully commencing with Pere Ubu’s 1975 proto-Hooky masterpiece ‘Heart of Darkness’, Il Savage is soon deploying all manner of barely remembered musical ordinance, Damon Edge’s fantastic Chrome closely followed by the tourettic ‘sampling’ of St. Albans’ Nigel Simpkins, even File Under Pop’s 7”… mercy! Next, he’s hurling Robert Rental and Thomas Leer our way, sneaking Joy Div’s lost elektro-soul epic ‘Autosuggestion’ round the barricades, even (quite justifiably) lumping Charles Hayward’s This Heat into the equation. Like Lenny Kaye’s NUGGETS compilation, this Savage feat goes some way towards restoring the imbalance necessary to define this wyrd genre. Throughout 1979-81, I played a lot of Kevin Millins’ Final Solution shows with J. Div, The Fall, Monochrome Set and almost all the UK bands included herein and, brother, the grey vinyl absolutely nails it. Play this hefty sucker indoors with a long mac on and – even if it’s sunny out – the moroseness of Post-Punk will drag you down down down… Released on Caroline True Records
, this is one beautifully boutique beast.
Finally, do look out later this month for news of a COPENDIUM promo tour, intended for early November. Faber & Faber are currently looking at three consecutive nights – Glasgow, Manchester and London – with live band performances, presentations and conversations from myself, rock’n’roll films and Black Sheep DJ sets. Our itinerary is almost complete, but a Head Heritage page will soon appear with all of the particular details itemised for each of the three evenings. It’s looking quite interesting, kiddies. I hope this happens.
Love Be Upon Y’All,
JULIAN (Your Drude on the Downs)