Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

May Drudion 2006CE

May 2006ce

Hey Mein Hairies,

Hope yooz all well and hanging… me? I’m deaf as a post after seeing Ramesses play Bristol the other night. It was a wonderfuelled evening, made even better when singer Adam Richardson dedicated the malevolent hell rage of ‘Black Domina’ to Dorian and myself; I looked down at her adoringly – just before the Vocals of Doom kicked off – and cooed “Honey, they’re playing our song”. Ooh Ja! As we live in the middle of nowhere, I always awaken in Spring to a crow-and-cuckoo informed semi-silence, but that particular ‘next morning’ was accompanied by an utterly deafening hush, and my hearing just today returned. A coupla weeks ago, I’d taken the precaution of wearing earplugs and a full burkha for my performance with Sunn0))) in Brussels. But their volume takes a different approach – there on Sunn0)))’s stage, my breath was actually taken away by the oppressive Moog sub-sub-bass compressing my chest, and the all-pervasive aural treacle created by doom un-interrupted by drums or percussion. We performed a piece snappily entitled ‘Habit’, whose libretto described minutely the departure of the Viking fleet and all their preparations for their attack on the monastery on Lindisfarne, from their base on Zealand at the confluence of the rivers Varby and Tudea. And yes, I do discuss the lyrics I write for Sunn0))) with Stephen O’Malley before laying on them such extreme conceptual conceits. By the way, I should now seize the opportunity to make a note to all those liberals out there who defend the burkha as being a woman’s opportunity to avoid being seen as nothing more than a sex object by the likes of John ‘Serial Groper’ Prescott. They are unwittingly perpetuating the myth of my grandparents’ generation; a myth that implied that any ‘60s woman in a mini-skirt who got raped was “asking for it”. Since the arrival of the so-called Permissive Society forty years ago, all but the most macho and undeveloped of Western men have managed to achieve separation between ‘looking admiringly’ and ‘manhandling lasciviously’. Heightening our previously low expectations of the behaviour of boorish alpha males has caused – nay enforced – that cultural seismic swing towards the sexual safety of women here in the West. We must continue to deny the acceptability of boorish behaviour from incomers from the far-more sexist Eastern European and Middle-Eastern regions, rather than over-liberally catering to their undeveloped masculine psyches by trying to ‘understand’ them. Unsurprisingly, the few western women who have tried on my burkha have found it constricting to the point of being a smothering strait-jacket. Nuff said, methinks. So let us digress…

Brussels Burkha'd
Hey, I asserted in the last Album of the Month that Dave Harvey of Tight Bro’s From Way Back When had, after the band’s dissolution, moved to France to live out his Sonny Sharrock fantasy. Well Harvey is back, right off the free jazz thing and has a superb new four-piece band called Nudity. Their debut album WINTER IN RED is an angry sickadelick monster that features a truly huge version of Flower Travellin’ Band’s ‘Make Up’ – kind of like Amon Duul 2 woulda done it, and perhaps even better than Flower’s original (yeah, I know). Furthermore, the album opener (‘The Nightfeeders’) is like a massive 10-minute Krautrock take on AC/DC’s ‘Rock’n’Roll Singer’ (Imagine Neu playing Pere Ubu’s ‘Heart of Darkness’). You really gotta check out this essential band, ladies’n’gentlemen, they should be accessible via www.myspace.com/nuditytheband.

Nudity's debut WINTER IN RED

Midryasi's self-titled debut LP

Vincent Black Shadow's HEART BREAK BEAT

Loosers' album FOR ALL THE ROUND SUNS

Also, really try to search out Wooden Ships’ 10” monotone drone EP currently out on Free Records. Overloaded electric piano bass, motorik rhythms and ‘Father Cannot Yell’ guitar solos on one side, followed by samples of The Modern Lovers’ ‘She Cracked’, The Stooges’ ‘Raw Power’ and hiccup’d Rallizes-style vocals on the other; this mysterious bunch come across like a Krautrock hybrid somewhere between La Dusseldorf and an over-caffeinated Extrem Musik a La Ping Pong. Nice. Meanwhile, over on the Iron Tyrant label, Italian power trio Midryasi emits a strange combination of dark metal and motorik Krautrock, coming on like Pentagram’s Bobby Leibling singing over Dragonauta. It’s a fucking fabulous trip, further elevated by their lo-fi descent into a series of so-called ‘cave improvisations’ later on in the album. The conflation of heavy metal and Krautrock appears to be the grand union of the current rock’n’roll scene. I reckon it’s a fucking useful deal, what with the plethora of riffage involved and the meditational insistence of the beat. I’m also right now really listening to a lot of heathen folk music, northern and Germanic as opposed to romantic and Keltic. My current favourite stuff is by the American band Changes, and the acoustic songs available by Austrian death metal band Cadaverous Condition. However, for pure heathen underworld dark beauty, the new LP KRISTALLE by Werkraum (Ahnstern Records) features both members of Changes in a major supporting role, and is a fantastic blend of faerie and human sacrifice. Also dwelling in the young oak forests of the heathen hordes is the extraordinarily beautiful guitar music of Steven R. Smith, whose Emperor Jones LP KOHL evokes a Nordic beauty somewhere between Led Zeppelin, Creedence’s megadrone ‘Ramble Tamble’ and The 13th Floor Elevators at their most Stacy Sutherland-driven. This Smith LP woulda been on ESP during the 1960s, on Germany’s Pilz Records were it hailing from the 1970s, and probably 4AD if it had fetched up in the ‘80s. Superbly melancholic and mind-manifesting at the same time. Moving north to Scandinavia, and true to their uber-cliched rock’n’roll name, the Danish quintet Albatros score majorly with their DEMO 2005, a major league (con)fusion of Sabbath and Juicy Lucy riffs, somehow transcending both reference points with their genuinely Beefheartian tumbling rhythms. Moreover, Albatros vocalist Goran Prskalo has that desperate huskiness in his voice that I haven’t heard since the early ‘70s when Family’s Roger Chapman astonished the TOP OF THE POPS audience with their 7” ‘In My Own Time’ and Greece’s fascist Papadopoulos regime kicked out power trio Socrates Drank The Conium because singer Antonis Tourkogiorgis’s vocal delivery was considered too flagrantly free for those uptight assholes. For those obsessed by the clod-hopping numbness of power trio-period Grand Funk Railroad, you gots to check out the vinyl-only LP HEART BREAK BEAT by Vincent Black Shadow (named after my late mate Pete DeFreitas’ fave ever motorcycle, by the way). As well as achieving early Blue Cheer-levels of whiny inept twin lead guitar bile, this whole Vincent Black Shadow record features that fabulous dry drum sound so beloved of Grand Funk engineer Ken Hamann, who would later take his clumsy expertise to exert the same for Scott Krauss on Pere Ubu’s early albums. And despite singer Adam’s almost Emo hairdo, this urban fashion-plate emotes as hoary and as hairy as the mad mountainmen mouthpieces of ‘69 legends Dragonfly and Josephus. This is essential shit, motherfuckers. Finally, I should also mention Loosers, a Portuguese (for want of a better description) No Wave trio (find them at loosersarefree.com) with a penchant for confusion and percussion blitz outs. I know only two albums (both released in 2005 CE on their own Ruby Red label) but each is a righteous spine-jolting experiment. Whereas FOR ALL THE ROUND SUNS runs the gamut of No New York bands such as Mars and DNA as played by the overtly muscular This Heat, the ultra-percussive and hyper SLUGS features a series of sample-and-percussion led jams, plus one beautiful agnostic monologue that is the title track itself. Its expressions of doubt and open-mindedness about the origins and reasons for this world are read out over a purely percussion-based groove, the rhythmic bell-propelled clockwork music perfect for the imaginings and musings in front of the microphone of the author of the text, as he comes to the (possibly inevitable) conclusion that the Creator – should s/he exist – be ‘a great watch-maker – a supreme organiser’. Like all the best rock’n’roll of this 21st century, Loosers are erudite barbarians with one eye on the skies. Unlike organised religions, the rock’n’roll of these aforementioned bands is – for me at least – solid evidence of Real Life right here on this Planet Earth.

Right, I’m off to rehearse versions of ‘Head Hang Low’ and ‘Akhenaten’ on my white Mellotron 400, ready for Friday’s Belfast show. After that, my good friend Tom Fourwinds is gonna show me some of Northern Ireland’s truly massive dolmens. And as he’s driving, I’m gonna be drinking! So, uh… look out!

Love Fucking Peace,

JULIAN (Lord Yatesbury)