This morning (January 1st), I leaned out of my bedroom window to take this early morning photo of the sun rising over Silbury, seen at left picked out in pale blue.
Heathens, Pagans, Motherfucking Atheists all,
Lend me your lobes, for ‘tis the beginning of a brand new year. And what a way to start 007, knowing that we non-Christians no longer have to feel guilty about celebrating Christmas Day because one of rock’n’roll’s True Saviours left the building on December 25th 2006CE. Yup, the sad death of our beloved James Brown at the criminally young age of 73 means that henceforth that day shall be marked on all righteous calendars as Ain’t-It-Funky-Mas. Despite James’ untimely passing, to observe the great man lying in state at Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theatre was something beautiful and deeply mysterious. I had tears in my eyes every time the News showed footage of the mourners passing his body, and I kept pointing at the TV set, screaming: ‘Get Up…Get On Up!’ These past ten years, my daughters had grown so accustomed to celebrating Yuletide to the soundtrack of The JB’s BREAKING’ BREAD album that it was difficult for them to imagine that the leaden figure lying in the open casket could have been that same delirious twirly-bird that had cackled and heckled his way through umpteen poorly-transferred VHS performances throughout their childhoods. Moreover, as our X-Mass night was spent slumped before the TV set watching James Live at Paris Olympia in 1971, it was just as though Brother Rapp was still here among us, as his portly be-catsuited frame tossed off prime move after prime move. Hail to the real Gods, ladies’n’gentlemen! Let us believe only in what we can see for ourselves!
One Yuletide TV image I found difficult to relish, however, was that noose around the neck of Saddam Hussein. I’m not saying I wasn’t delighted to see that Uber-scoundrel meet his judgement, nor that I wouldn’t have happily pulled the lever myself. I just can’t help suspecting that filming it all was just one more Anglo-American political powerplay posing as ‘evidence’ to his ardent-but-deluded supporters that their hero was, under no circumstances, on the point of making a John Travolta-style PULP FICTION comeback. However bad Saddam was (and he certainly couldn’t have got much worse) that motherfucker was still just a tribal leader doing what all tribal leaders have done since the Bronze Age, ie: stick it to the other tribes in the area in no uncertain terms. Most of us in the West have left tribalism so far behind (and so long ago) that we cannot possibly imagine what fears-and-fantasies still inform the tribal mindset. But we should remember that Saddam was not a World Leader, nor did he ever claim to be, being instead the lowest and most foully self-serving tribal chieftain in a geographical area historically run by such types. But if we in the democratic West are so much more civilised than the Middle East (which we are, I’ve absolutely no doubt), shouldn’t we have higher expectations of the new standards of justice to be meted out in those places ‘chosen’ by Christendom’s Saints Bush’n’Blair to have been deemed worthy of having democracy bestowed/imposed upon them? Suffice it to say, when my own kids saw the dishevelled and unshaven Saddam with a noose around his neck on the 6 o’clock news, the image just seems to have successfully reinforced in them the notion that the tyrants of the barbarous Middle East will always get their come-uppance, whereas the leaders of The West, however crooked and self-serving, will always appear statesman-like and positively regal in comparison.
BARCO DO VINHO by Allerseelen and Sangre Cavallum
CALTROP by Caltrop
ORIGINS & PRIMITIVES 1&2 by The Psychic Paramount
MUGSTAR by Mugstar
ADROP by Bardo Pond
IF YOU'VE SEEN ME LATELY, PLEASE TELL ME WHERE I'VE BEEN by Jens
Okay, I’m gonna move swiftly on to a discussion of the huge weight of excellent music emanating from within the wider musical Underworld. Firstly, let’s address the excellent new split album BARCO DO VINHO from two of my favourite heathen bands, Austria’s Allerseelen and Sangre Cavallum from northern Portugal’s Galicia region. Released on Allerseelen’s own Ahnstern label and clearly instigated by that band’s leader Gerhard, this album of devotional songs to the divine properties of wine is split into four songs from each band. As Odin himself discovered wine, and its roots go back at least into the Neolithic period, this subject is particularly dear to my heart, and Gerhard’s inspiring and intriguing combination of samples, chants and traditional instruments conspire to evoke a similar mood to Holger Czukay’s own solo LPs, most exhilarating on the martial rhythms of ‘In Vino Veritas’. In comparison, Sangre Cavallum’s rich southern folk sound is shot through with umpteen layers of reeds, bagpipes, monkish singing and an Ur-Keltic mystery that also recalls parts of central Spain and the folk songs of the more insular Nuoro regions of Sardinia. Be sure to investigate this masterful stuff via www.steinklang-records.at
. Next stop must be at the debut EP from the very fine quartet Caltrop, who hail from Chapel Hill in North Carolina. Now, I’m not even sure of the status of this 27-minute release, but its very singular fucking excellence emanates in a kind of Scando-proto-metal meets early Ramasses kind of way and fugs up the room in a manner that demands repeated listenings. Check them out at www.myspace/caltropband
, and be sure to listen all the way through, because these gentlemen unfold into areas only the most confident of motherfuckers dare take their shit. And while the drumming is truly something else, the hugely varied guitar playing sways from bilious, cyclical twin lead riffology to ‘Eruption’-style Edward Van Halen-isms of the highest quality. Best of all, these subversives take their name from one of the most vilely-conceived guerrilla warfare weapons ever invented. Yowzah! Let’s next investigate the amazing series of power drones and guitar loops contained within the double-CD set ORIGINS & PRIMITIVES VOLUMES 1&2 by The Psychic Paramount, on No Quarter Records (www.noquarter.net
). I didn’t get much of a buzz off the band’s first album, but this stupendous rush of jams captures snatches of the moment in much the same manner as the first Harmonia album MUSIK VON HARMONIA. It’s a truly disorientating headfuck and a real amphetamine pessary up the psychic jacksie. Also coming on in a headlong rush is the self-titled debut album by Liverpool band Mugstar, whose eight tracks of driving motorik Litmus-style instrumentals distil/streamline all the best late Lemmy-period Hawkwind into a tougher and more speedfreaked out version of top flight La Dusseldorf. Get down to www.mugstar.com or buy their album from Sea Records at www.searecords.co.uk/shop.htm
. I’ve also been both tripping out, meditating and exercising to the new Bardo Pond album ADROP, a single 33-minute track divided into three long pieces each featuring slightly different instrumentation and musicians for each phase. The first third wells up like a transcendental take on Nico’s ‘It Was A Pleasure Then’, with spectacular free drumming and microphone feedback, melding seamlessly into a kind of liquid downbeat FAUST IV scenario, before concluding with an acoustic Scando-drone-folk fade that brings to mind the Gothic mantra at the end of Amon Duul’s 15-minute ‘Love Is Peace’. Excuse all these overly-simplistic comparisons, for ADROP is entirely itself and wholly original, and should be searched out at www.threelobed.com/bardo
. Finally, I’ve also been startled by the melancholic beauty of IF YOU’VE SEEN ME LATELY, PLEASE TELL ME WHERE I’VE BEEN by the Swedish dark folksinger Jens. This release on the excellent Goddamn I’m A Countryman record label conjures up that same spectral ancestral folk as David Ackles’ mighty ‘Montana Song’ from his 1972 LP AMERICAN GOTHIC. Somehow, Jens’ decision to sing in English renders the work only more ‘foreign’ and mysterious, exhibiting the kind of icy Kelto-Viking quality that would resound with the same truths whether performed in Galway or on the northern Danish coastal wastes of Skaggerak. Jens is accompanied throughout by harpist/singer Linnea, whose dulcet tones match perfectly Jens’ close-miked gravely weariness, and this record is available at www.countryman.com
I have to say I’m roaring with anticipation to get moving on my own many projects planned for 2007CE. And with the impending recording of my new album YOU GOTTA PROBLEM WITH ME, I’ve made a serious New Year’s Resolution to be far more offensive in my rock’n’roll art statements than before. As a confirmed Odinist and worshipper of the Mother Earth, there is nothing more abhorrent than the impending replacement of Christendom’s bozo priesthood by a newer and more vigorous gang of patriarchal bastards in the form of New Islam’s imams. We can only hope that the rise of Islam in secular Western Europe does not inject the clapped out remnants of Christianity with renewed vigour and determination. For in religion there is only the way of death, whereas we Godless dare to strike out for ourselves, guided only by a determination to follow the experiences of our ancestors, our ancestors’ more credible traditions and our own rich life experiences. And with that, I shall wish ye all a successful, prosperous and Merry New Year!
Onwards and sideways,
JULIAN (Lord Yatesbury)