I got back from the final show just before 3 a.m. last night, and have to say a big thanks to everyone who contributed to making this sporadic ‘tour’ such a pleasure. With all the promotional stuff to be done for THE MEGALITHIC EUROPEAN, I was fearful that no rock’n’roll shows would be possible this year, so the past coupla weeks have been a real bonus. Despite the pleasure I get from my writing, I know my primary job will always remain that of a showman, and getting out to see people and hang out was a big result for this neurotic sociopath. Dogntank added immensely to the overall vibe of the tour, especially as Doggen’s overtly over-achieving guitar methods (even occasionally using his teeth, natch!) were backed by such relentlessly monolithic rhythms from Charlie Wayman and Antronhy. Now, they gots to get down to the serious work of that first LP. Thanks also to Holy McGrail for guesting on synthesizer at several shows (Stoke especially approached the Underworld), and to Welbourn Tekh for his sporadic Lethbridge monologues. Thanks also to M’Lud John Knight for providing such sustained Anglo-Norman longhair Vibikness, and to all the remarkably gorgeous laydeez who still populate the front rows of my shows.
In the meantime, the soon-to-be-published THE MEGALITHIC EUROPEAN has already begun to weave its inexorable magic, commencing with a marvellous letter of praise from Aubrey Burl this week, who wrote to my commissioning editor, calling the work ‘a magnificent production, handsome, astonishingly well-illustrated and rather well researched … a most impressive book… My only advantage is that I started on the frustrating venture almost forty years before Julian. But I think he’s caught up’. Phew! Excuse my sharing this with you but Dr. Burl has been a hero of mine for years, and such comments make me feel as though I’m bestriding the universe after many years of alternately baling across European plains and spending months indoors hammering the text together. Now I can get on with the main business of delivering LET ME SPEAK TO THE DRIVER to y’all.
Reading the newspapers recently, I have to admit to having only limited sympathies for the Middle East-based Canon Ian Sherwood, whose frustrations at the deepening gulf between Islam and the West drove him to comment: ‘I feel it has to be said that the problem is that not enough Muslims speak out in horror of what al-Qaida is doing… Those who represent Islam have not been very outspoken in condemning carnage … Are they frightened? Why is it that religions other than Islam are meant to feel diminished in the Islamic world? Why is it that we are made to feel that we misunderstand Islam, when Islam in our own free societies makes no effort to stand up for us Christians in Islamic societies?’
However, as Tony Blair – a semi-Catholic married to an acknowledged Catholic – has had numerous opportunities to apologise publicly for the war in Iraq, yet has not done so because of his admitted ‘Christian belief’ in the overall good that he and George Bush are doing, who are we to judge Muslims who do not ‘stand up for us (sic) Christians in Islamic societies?’ Ultimately, Islam is a princely religion whose belief in the superiority of its own prophet’s revelation must surely accommodate only a very limited sympathy for ‘lesser’ religions such as Christianity and Judaism. Surely it is only the secular West’s lack of understanding of belief that allows Canon Sherwood to expect such sympathy; indeed his religious open-mindedness is not the product of Christian revelation, but of centuries of compromise, and is – therefore – quite at odds with what good Muslims should believe. That Islam still tolerates other religions within its borders of so-called Dar al-Islam is surely enough of a result for we modern Westerners. Personally, if I were Canon Sherwood, rather than expect Muslim toleration of what the majority of them must surely be perceiving as an ever-increasingly Godless Western society, I’d instead shut up and get the hell out of there. Besides, we have only to look at the physical structure of the Mediterranean cities (Spanish, Maltese, Sardi, etc) of Moorish times to understand that Islam rates itself far higher than other creeds – the controlling Muslims lived within the city walls, whilst Jews and Christians dwelled without. Racism is not something we could justly accuse Muslims of, though Creedist they certainly are. And the wall that the Israelis are currently building to keep out Muslim suicide attacks, whilst wholly inappropriate to our Western eyes, is actually just playing the same exclusionist game that Islam played with its ‘lesser’ Christian and Jewish neighbours down the centuries. But surely it is not Islam that should be judged for failing to provide its own citizens with freedom, for that was never part of its hierarchical remit. No, those who should be found wanting are the Western leaders Blair and Bush, who peddle Democracy as Freedom, yet still rain bombs and death upon Iraq despite recent admissions that its links with Al Qaeda were spurious. We are the people these bozos claim to speak for, yet it is we whom they put at risk from the terrorist whose belief systems they cannot reach. Islam is an unfathomable religion to we westerners, but the arrogance of Blair and Bush is – to my mind – even more unfathomable.
Okay, that’s enough sounding off. I shall finish by forewarning you in plenty of time that Holy McGrail and I shall be joining the mighty Sunn0)) tour in Athens, in early December. Sunn0))’s Stephen O’Malley will also be joining us for the new LAMF album HANGING ON DODON’S TREE, and possibly making the roadtrip with us up to Dodoni (close to the Albanian border) if we can swing it! In the meantime, the recording of CITIZEN CAIN’D is almost complete and some of the tracks have gone into post-production. It’s gonna be a long sojourn through vast sonic landscapes, full of teetering combative ballads and bastardised ear-fouling garage rawk/proto-metal. In fact, it sounds so abjectly appealing to me that we’ve scheduled a full band tour for next February, featuring Messrs. Skinner, Skinner, McGrail and Dogman, so, er – Look Out!
JULIAN (M’Lud Yatesbury)