I just got back from fieldwork in Brittany in time to see our women win the gold medal in the Curling. Awl-right! Go Rona and company! And there was a Canadian in the winning Ice Hockey team who had an Irish great-uncle, so that’s virtually another British victory if we don’t mention Cromwell or potato famines. Right On! Also good to see the U.S.A. winning so many medals at the Winter Olympics. Germany got a lot more, but who needs to be best when you’re the biggest? Of course, Breton travel was a constant reminder of American roots, what with the ‘Ben Franklin hotel’ and ‘Cave de Ben Franklin’ and all the other stuff around Vannes. I guess even the Breton flag was a beautiful monochrome inspiration for the later Stars & Stripes – ain’t any other national flags use that exact configuration. But seeing all that symbolism was debilitating because America’s become what its founders went to escape from. Britons laugh at the way Americans salute the flag so seriously but I always found it somehow beautiful – it began as a way of uniting entirely disparate disenfranchised groups who’d been kicked out of their homes in Old Europe and Old Britain, people who had nothing in common but their sense of alienation. The symbolism of saluting that flag was so powerful in its early years. But now America is a turncoat with a turncoat president – a yankee from an educated Connecticut family who pretends to be a redneck good-old-boy; born wealthy and educated wealthy, his quaint turns of phrase are more to do with low intelligence than upbringing. And in a country which claims to hate the pretentious, his is the ultimate pretence.
And what of this term ‘evil axis’ which the U.S. has (so proudly) come up with to sweep nations under its carpet-bombing strategy. Korea, Iraq and Somalia are all surely thinking "I know you are but what am I?" The most those countries have in common is in being Non American. Which doesn’t augur well for the rest of us Non Americans. Somehow, the physicality of living on American soil is nowadays supposed to bestow an incredible grace upon the people of the U.S.A. And the rest of us are all saps to be drawn in by warmongers such as Donald Rumsfeld, who declare at any opportunity that America and her allies are in great danger. No, that is untrue. America Corporate Political is America’s greatest danger – and ours, too. The U.S. doesn’t just shit on the world; it shits in its own back yard to such an extent that the Anthrax scares after September 11th came from within! Can you imagine what America woulda said had this been done by Muslims? But instead it’s been swept damn’d hastily under the carpet because no Brownie Points could be scored from it.
So, am I an American-o-phobe? No, half of my family is American and as darling a bunch you could never expect to meet. I’m a rock’n’roller whose barbarian culture was forged by American Kelts, American Blacks, American Jews, American Krauts, U-name it. No way am I anti-America: I’m just a bully-o-phobe and always have been. I also know that America’s isolation from the world outside is America’s loss. But America has become like the children of Hamelin who followed the Pied Piper into the crack in the mountain and closed the door. There’s room for no one else anymore, right? You’re either with us or against us. Spaceship America has sealed its doors and we’re changing all the locks.
See, there are huge parts of America where you can still travel for mile upon endless American mile and get neither change in the accent nor change in the attitude. Try that in the rest of the world and it’s impossible. Western Brittany doesn’t even think of itself as France. North Wales doesn’t even think South Waleans are Welsh. Japanese are embarrassed you might mistake them for Koreans. Denmark is the butt of all Scandinavian jokes. Young Aberdonians call themselves Picts not Scots. North Londoners joke about South London as ‘village life’. Shetlanders even call people from Orkney ‘Sooth Moothers (South Mouthers)’. Modern Croatians get feisty if you call them ‘Balkan’. BUT, we all know we gotta somehow live together – just like the English did when they first moved in with the British tribes. And it’s our world duty to constantly remind America in loud Ziggyish tones:
"You’re Not Alone! You’re Not Alone!"
Whew, I think I’ve said it so I’ll shut the fuck up.
Now, during this last rant I’ve been listening to some killer American music by longhairs with guitars that sound like motorbikes and chainsaws, and some other longhairs who come on like the soundtrack to a slo-mo movie of Victorian plumbing being hurled down a spiral staircase. The sound of the former is the amazing new album by SunnO))) and it goes by the wonderful name Flight of the Behemoth. I know I made their OO Void Album of the Month, but this new one is better! The other bunch that’s never off my turntable is the death sound of Khanate, another bunch of brooding longhairs from the same Southern Lord record label, and they are March Album of the Month. Khanate is thee Trudge-o-thon I’ve been searching for. I was gonna write a big article about Flower Travellin’ Band but it’s gotta have to wait till next month.
What a time for music. I’m like a dancing fool at the moment just trying to keep up with all the genius and subgenius which is being released and re-released weekly. All kinds of Taj Mahal Travellers offshoots are surfacing, the greatest surely being Catch-Wave by Takehisa Kosugi from 1975. If you only get one album this month, get this. He’s Yoko’s first husband and the Fluxus artist who started Taj Mahal Travellers, and who was, therefore, responsible for pushing the Japanese drone thing so far beyond what was possible. The sleeve is a monochrome Brigit Riley-type affair which mixes your mind and visually orchestrates da whole listening X-peerience. Talking of drone, I gotta warn you off the reissued Moses album, which Drone Syndicate have finally put out. What a build up – what a let down! Instead, beg, steal or have burned a copy of the Parson Sound double album. It’s taken years for this stuff to come out and there’s far more than I ever realised – tapes from Swedish radio used to circulate and you always got the feeling it was your cassette player which made it sound so magnificent. No, Parson Sound is truly the cosmic Ur-Velvets drone release of the 2002CE.
I’m travelling throughout this year, re-visiting European sites and some new ones for the gazetteer of the next book. And I’ll also be playing shows in Ireland during April. Dublin happens on April 11th, Cork is on the 12th, then I play Belfast on April 21nd.
Hey, Scotland has finally outlawed foxhunting. All right! All right! All right! When I was recording at Thighpaulsandra’s last month, a hunt came through our garden. Our neighbour, who lives at next door’s John Stewart Hall, had to retrieve his chickens, which were all shitting themselves in the low branches of nearby bushes. According to Dorian, who was screaming her head off at these morons, the hunt climaxed with the use of terriers and an earthmover, which dug up the fox’s set just beyond the end of our garden. That evening at 3 a.m., the vixen returned home to howl outside my bedroom window for her lost mate. In the six years we’ve been here, they used to howl regularly below the oak trees together – but not anymore though. I’d be lying if I said I’ll miss their spine-chilling shrieks that much because it was always the unearthliest wailing imaginable BUT you really have to live in the country to truly understand how forelock-tugging and class-riddled Britain still is.
I know this is a long Drudion but I did have a lot to say. Before I leave, gotta tell you that QE2 is soon coming and housed in all new super-symbolic packaging. Sorry it’s been off catalogue so long but we didn’t anticipate that kind of demand for it. Regarding Brain Donor, the second LP has now had a coupla really great sessions, but the new single is not gonna surface until April because of administration problems at Impresario Records.
Okay, I’ll quit now while I’m only a little behind. Gotta go and listen to Khanate trudge through their epic ‘Human Shield’ one more time!
Love Fucking Peace,
Mr. Drude (M’Lud Yatesbury)