Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

November Drudion

November 2006ce

Hey Drudion,

It’s been a strange month what with the re-issue of JEHOVAHKILL, the release of Brain Donor’s new album DRAIN’D BONER, the cancellation of the Bristol show and my turning forty-nine and all that miserable shit. Most of the time, I try to forge ahead regardless with never a thought about the past. But I got so sick on my birthday that I was forced to take to my bed, where I lay for 36 hours. It was also the 40th anniversary of the Aberfan Mining Disaster, which had taken place on my ninth birthday. As I wrote a decade ago in HEAD-ON, my ninth birthday was spent in my grandparents’ tiny Welsh house, in the village of Deri, and this was the house in which I was born. On that fateful October day back in 1966, as the whole family came around gently over cups of tea, the BBC radio news alerted us to the fact that a massive landslide just four miles away had buried Aberfan Primary School under a mountainside of thick black coal slag. And as the news slowly unfolded, it became clear that 116 children – mostly my own age – had died under that foul asphyxiating slurry. My birthday would never be the same again. Nowadays I’m so rarely ill and so rarely stuck in bed that lying inert in a darkened room for 36 hours forced me to address a whole bunch of previously unconsidered demons – the dead children of Aberfan. My situation was exacerbated around 20 hours into the trip when I started to suffer from caffeine and alcohol withdrawal, which pitched me into some truly demonic hallucinations. I crawled around the Underworld, stumbling and bumping into things, all the time being increasingly aware that while each of those 116 dead Aberfan children – all from the same working class mining background as myself – had been spirited away and stashed somewhere unknown, I’d been privileged to continue onwards for a further forty years of life. Where were they? Where had they been taken? For me, life is a one-time shot, and in death there’s to be no sitting at God’s right hand or 70 dusky-eyed virgins administering endless hijab blowjobs. So when I awoke from my Underworld ramblings, this so-called real world seemed like such a gift that I ached with pleasure, or rather my uncaffeinated kidneys ached, but I still inhaled the entire world around me as one recalled to life. In particular, I stared at the JEHOVAHKILL re-issue, the ‘Kraut & Kelt’ subtitle and the picture of me in the Faust t-shirt, and I laughed out loud at how far we had come these past fourteen years. This album that had long ago got me banished from the record label had now been re-released by the same company as a sumptuous double CD! Those vigorous anti-religious sentiments of 1992CE that had seen a major pressing plant refuse to handle the record, the pro-women sentiments, the anti-churchmen stance: everything was just as valid today, nay even more valid… especially the opening lyric on ‘Fear Loves This Place’ that stated: “So a man struck a woman again, and a veil descended from above”. Furthermore, on its release fourteen years ago, many outraged Cope fans had taken me to task for adding Doggen’s speed metal guitar solo to the Krautrock instrumental ‘Necropolis’, but it’s nowadays just another essential ingredient to my music. My birthday was, therefore, no celebration (and neither should it be at my age), but a genuine doorway between the past and the future. Those of you who enjoy what I do and those of you who accept what I do, I thank you for paying attention and I’ll try not to let you down. Onwards, upwards, sideways but never backwards. All I can hope to do is represent the Western experiment in its finest form. No dogma, No religion, No Gods.

INTERPRETATIONS by Grails

MAGUS by RKH

CHIMAREANDAMMERUNG by Hototogisu

ATAVIST by Atavist

Okay, with that ranting out of the way, I must point out a few essential listening items from the past month’s rock’n’roll releases. And after Nudity’s wonderful version of ‘Make-up’ a few months back, it’s good to see the tributes to Japanese legends Flower Travellin’ Band keep on coming. This month, it’s via Grails’ wonderful 3-song EP entitled INTERPRETATIONS OF THREE PSYCHEDELIC ROCK SONGS FROM AROUND THE WORLD, accessible via southern.net. Grails have taken Flower’s timeless proto-Amon Duul 2 drone rock classic ‘Satori Part 3’ (the one that became ‘Hiroshima’ on the MADE IN JAPAN LP) and added an early Curved Air vibe to it, complete with violin melody and elegant conservatory atmosphere. However, across the whole EP, the peak performances come from drummer Emil Amos, whose whirling dervish percussion pitches the whole sound headlong into itself. This release is part of the Southern Records’ Latitudes series, each of which is packaged in a beautiful Stephen O’Malley-designed fold-out container. Next, check out the live album MAGUS by Australian avant-garde extreme metal guitarist Reverend Kriss Hades. Billed as RKH, the guitarist here delivers some apocalyptic nightmare meditations that come across like Peter Fromader’s Nekropolis playing Edward Van Halen’s ‘Eruption’. The opening track ‘Paganini’ is a mighty rush, but is eclipsed by the central epic 25 minutes of ‘Bloodlust’. It’s outrageous stuff and entirely listenable, moreover because the purveyor of this sonic bloodbath performs it all behooded and befanged. Get your sorry asses over to Media Entertainment or check out revkrisshades.com. Oh, Ja, mein hairies! If your meditative pleasure centres are best activated by searing viola drone overload, you should deffo search out the incredible CHIMARENDAMMERUNG album by drone duo Hototogisu. Comprised of Double Leopards’ Marcia Bassett and Skullflower/Sunroof luminary Matthew Bower, this album is just out on De Stijl Records and is truly the shit. I was disappointed that all references to these guys (along with other discussions of Vibracathedral Orchestra) were cut from my recent Guardian article. But now’s a perfect opportunity to alert you to this visionary heft. You can locate them on destijlrecs.com. Also essential is the self-titled debut album from Manchester’s monstrous Atavist, whose trudge metal is propelled by the savagery of former Burning Witch drummer James ‘Boggy’ Sykes. The record inhabits the same kind of landscapes as Tyne & Wear’s excellent Marzuraan if played by Ramesses. Huge and malevolent, magnificent. Released on Bristol’s Invada Records, the same label that released the new Donor, you should probably look out for the CD version if possible, as the opening track is so long that it’s had to be split over two vinyl sides.

Finally, I want to say a big ‘congratulations’ to three old friends whose books have come to completion. First off, my cohort and all-purpose design genius Psychedelic Paul Drummond has finally concluded his masterwork on the lives and times of The 13th Floor Elevators by signing a book deal with Feral House Books. Nine years in the making, this has to be one of the most heroic trawls through psychedelia ever attempted. Next, a massive ‘Fuck, yeah’ to Tom FourWinds, whose debut publication MONU-MENTAL ABOUT PREHISTORIC DUBLIN is merely one in a series of Irish guidebooks that this guitar-hoarding dolmen denialist has prepared for unleashing upon us in the coming years. FourWinds, All right! Finally, a big thumbs up to Sons Of TC-Lethbridge’s Simon Brighton, whose excellent IN SEARCH OF THE KNIGHTS TEMPLARS is just released by Weidenfeld & Nicolson. Gentlemen, it’s a thrill to see further evidence of rock’n’rollers with their own pens! Just about now it’s time to me to sod off, so I’ll wish you all a fabulous autumn.

U-Know!

JULIAN (Lord Yatesbury)