Julian Cope’s Album of the Month
Terminal LoversDrama Pit (& Loan)
AOTM #44, January 2004ce
Released 2001 on Biological, Shifty & My Mind's Eye
Released in various guises and under different names, with different songs and different running orders, in 2001 and again in 2003 on Biological Records, Shifty Records and My Mind’s Eye Records.
- Darkest Hour (2.54)
- Polar Son (2.22)
- Tulips (6.58)
- FAN (8.31)
- Rising Tide (11.10)
- Stella (4.38)
- Straight Pipe Solution (5.50)
- She Delivers (3.44)
- Wishing Loan (8.52)
Note: Immediately this motherfucker dropped on to the stereo, I knew I was in the presence of True Heads with One Eye fixed on the lunations of the heavens. That the album etched its way directly into my brain on first hearing is startling, for I listen to shitloads of new stuff and mainly wait for their turgid meandering self-obsessions to struggle to locate any dignified conclusion. And after the deep art-rock invention of Terminal Lovers, most of the so-called stoner rock gathering in their masses is just so much novelty compost.
I decline your invitation to join the chase between myth and language of this ocean I build and I erase
Watt a way to kick the New Year in! Dammit, this record is the goods – usable, crushing, cremating, resurrecting and the ROCK!!! Terminal Lovers are dragged around by their collective hooter by one helluva talented snot-nosed longhair called Dave Cintron, a Cleveland guitarist/artist/McJagger-esque howler with a permanent boner that would tear Sir Lord Mick’s tight asshole apart purely for the pleasure of dissing the ancestors, if (strike that and make it WHEN) he gets the chance. Did you ever wish Woody Leffel coulda permanently pushed Cleveland’s Granicus to the same cultural corners he hounded ‘em into on the ever-ascending ‘You’re in America’ and that Viet-mawkish/dorkish 11-minute sub-sub-Stairway epic ‘Prayer’? Well, Terminal Lovers reach it often and in spades, motherfuckers! (What is it about Cleveland, brethren? Is the city really THAT fucking dreadful?) Terminal Lovers is garage-y as White Lightning’s ‘William’, smacktastic as Jane’s Addiction, demented as The Outcasts’ ‘1-2-5 Blair’ and still as simultaneously smart AND despairing as a Kim Fowley, Kurdt Kobain or Bobby Liebling. Did you ever wish the Iggy-meets-Zappa blackface voice Axel adopted for ‘It’s So Easy’ had abandoned its owner and gone solo? It did, boys’n’girls. It snuck into the plumbing of Everytown USA and called itself Dave Cintron. Now it’s mumbling the lyrics to ‘Rising Tide’ from inside the cistern of each and every corporation washroom. Imagine Iggy reconstituted as the same Muppet that intoned their freak hit ‘Mnah Mnah’ and you’ve got the voice Cintron adopts for addressing his mysterious female Muse. This is one confident motherfucker and she’s as tricky as Salvador Dali’s Gala at the very least.
Did you ever wish The Tubes had taken their tongues out of their cheeks long enough to reach once more for that truly Death & Resurrection moment on ‘White Punks on Dope’ when you glimpse the despair of that sad fucking Hollywood Heights teen wanker? Dit-fucking-toe for the answer! Did you ever catch Bobby Liebling’s vocal on ‘Last Night Here’ when you was at a particklier low ebb and genuinely wonder if it was your last night on Planet Oyth? Me three, motherfuckers. And obviously the big Ja for Herr Cintron aussi!!! This guy might wipe his nose and be your well-mannered boy for Auntie Martha and Uncle Joe’s Thanksgiving meal (hail, he’s even got his own www.davecintron.com), but believe me this is one druid whose entire being is giving the whole world the Inner Finger right up against yer fucking face, yoze’n’mine brudder! Buy his music now because he ain’t getting any more alive than this.
Some Analogue, some digital, some history, some hagiography
The album title DRAMA PIT & LOAN is a portmanteau cobbled together from the original album DRAMA PIT and Cintron’s newer stuff intended for release as the WISHING LOAN e.p. But as versions slipped out with all kinds of different track listings, it was decided to unite everything thus far recorded under that one banner name. Now, because of all this, I ain’t about even to attempt to coherent-ify this Album of the Month, because Cintron is one slippery eel motherfucker and corraling his stampeding muse with lists, etc., would just make me look like the whole Roman army pursuing Caratacus. Besides, what appears as track one on one version of this disc is probbly track 6 on some versh I ain’t even heard about. So I’ll just lay it down historically as the artist himself laid it on me and we all gots to hope he weren’t joshing my credulous and overly elastic mush-brain throughout our correspondence…
Terminal Lovers began right as this new millennium kicked in, opening their recording schedule with the massive Can-meets-Pere Ubu’s Heart of Darkness styled ‘FAN’ with Scott Pickering on drums and Don Depew playing bass. That was it for a while. They carted off the rhythm section and Cintron lay quaking in a darkened room with newly-painted gloss walls for three months with Iggy’s ‘I’m only living just to sing this song’ echoing in his head. Would he record anything again or just hang it up after that kind of opening gambit? The song‘s beginning approaches the kind of erotic chordal landscape you get only when you foist Gorgio Moroder’s ‘I Feel Love’ on to BEGGARS’ BANQUET-period Keef and call up Shrat and the whole Amon Duul (1&2) commune to contribute bongos, congas, tablas, Tibetan gwe’eks, quardplums, Appalacian throat drums, etc. And just as Pere Ubu hassled Grand Funk’s engineer Ken Hamann out of retirement back in 1978 to cop summa that ‘Winter & My Soul’ post-teen dry husk Terry Knight production, so Cintron ouija’d up the entire Cleveland ’75 proto-punk scene to provide the same kinds spectral army backing vocal as Strider just summon’d to help him get the fuck out of New Zealand. Hail babies, Cintron even uses The Mirrors’ Jim Jones on Korg MS-10 – that same uncontrollable piece of nightmare physics dept. skullduggery that Holy McGrail foisted on my set for the ROME WEREN’T… shows. Visited by the ghost of Laughner (pushed on a glowing hospital trolley by a still living but equally pasty pale John Morton), Cintron realised his casually employing Axel Rose’s ‘It’s So Easy’ voice was gonna have big repercussions his SPAGHETTI INCIDENT inner voice could only have hinted at. Laughner’s ghost pointed a gun at Cintron’s head and gave him the number of Steve Mehlman, saying only someone working with the revamped Rocket from the Tombs was capable of the job (personally, I reckon Laughner had heard that so-called reunion and knew that Behemoth’s post-Jehovah’s Witness Beefheart Wannabe guise was gonna be totally overshadowed by this upstart longhair with songs to burn and time on his hands).
Enter a whole new Terminal Lovers (retaining Don Depew to add some glue), who then went back in the studio (despite Dead Boy Laughner’s insistence that they should do it on a live in Cleveland radio sesh style like Rocket’s original ’75 tape) and they put together ‘Darkest Hour’ in as long as it took to record said sucker. Mehlman’s drumming was un-fucking-believable double-bass-drum-para-diddle garage music informed by the 21st century and Cintron knew he held the motherlode right there in his mits. He shoehorned in a stadium-sized portion of Edward Van H. across the inevitable A minor to F, delighting in the traditions he was undermining. Feeling overly confident, (but wouldn’t you be with so tuff lyrics like the post-Mircea Eliade hi-amp speech-song of “I decline your invitation to join the chase between myth and language of this ocean I build and I erase”) Cintron then laid down the same Kurdt Kobain voice on ‘Straight Pipe Solution’ that Kimmy the Foul shoulda adopted for ‘Is America Dead?’ Successfully Tex-Mexing in unlikely samples of ‘some loons playing xylophone, various percussion and other stuff’ [his description], the whole thing melted down into a percussion groove redolent of WARRIOR ON THE EDGE OF TIME-period Hawkwind – indeed, you actively expect the riff of ‘The Golden Void’ to kick in at any moment.
Then Cistern Boy really confuses everyone (to reach this level of incongruity, you gots to imagine Skunk Baxter-period-Steely Dan duetting with Glenn Phillips from the Hampton Grease Band) by returning temporarily to the plumbing that reared him in order to serve up the sand’n’garlic-voiced schlong-a-thon of ‘She Delivers’. Harmonic multi-tracked geetars and funky white boy bass over traditional structures topped with a delightful tale of popping yo’ tadger into the red painted oval pout of some mythically perfect Hollywood Babylon Fellatress!!! Darn it, David, is yooz pulling the wool a little too far down over our eyes? And if not, then why is this so delightfully appealing when she ‘takes me places that I like to go’?
‘Rising Tide’ is beyond epic and straddles about ten early cultures at once, from Tain Bo Cooley to Urartu via the mountainously snow-capped Iberian interior without missing a fucking beat. It has that cross-riffing intersectioned minor-chord stuff so infectious in the ‘Green Manalishi’-informed LOVE IT TO DEATH-period Alice, conjuring up ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ played in a KILLER stylee, it ya catch ma drift. And who but Cintron (and ROCK DRILL-period Alex Harvey on the lost genius of ‘Booids’) would think to inhale samples of atonal tin whistle from some ancient traditional Irish Folk LP then sneeze ‘em back into the post-drone of Terminal Lovers? But then again, I remember a bunch of these sounds from that Speaker/Cranker ensemble when Cintron ‘just’ played ‘synth/tapes’, and those FX even intrigued me back then. For the end of ‘Rising Tide’, I’m convinced he just copped the middle fake raga bit from The Teardrop Explodes’ ‘When I Dream’ and monstered it into something akin to that motorik heavyweight ‘All the Gates are Open’ off the generally-ignored 1978 self-titled CAN LP (but then my delusional self is part of what propels the detective in me to find such magi as Cintron).
There’s a deeply moving Death C&W atmosphere permeating much of this LP. This combination of acoustic guitars, sacrifice of the Muse and use of bombastic electronics is what the second Dust album approached but ultimately could never reach (I honestly believe their unreleased 3rd LP coulda been the biz). ‘Stella’ opens just like ‘Doggen Does Bach’ from his forthcoming DOGNTANK solo LP, being an acoustic-recorded-through-a-compressor mike Iommi ’tween-time Sabbath take played on a Spanish gut-strung-git. Then Cintron hips you to some lostest of lost love affairs that say she-be-dead at the very least. O’course it ain’t until the third or fourth listen that you clock he’s the one who put her in the ground. Tragic is the vibe of this song and I well up with tears every time I hear its 10,000 year old refrain. I’d guess that ritual death of one’s Muse is a fairly common artist conceit, but I ain’t heard it put quite so beautifully (nor so exquisitely traditionally) as Mr Cintron’s take since Tom Lehrer’s ‘I Hold Your Hand In Mine, Dear’. Nuff Said, just dig these words:
Go on now up that hill
Back to where the water’s still
The door’s unlocked the lamp is lit,
There is a chair where you will sit down and have a drink
There‘s no more time to think, your time has come
I use this gun on earth to send you to heaven…
I dug a hole deep in the ground now to lay you down
The way I had it figured out this was a predetermined route
Your time has come…
Odin, Mithra, Attis, Christ, such is the love we’ve sacrificed, kiddies…
Where there’s a hole there was a crack…
So what are we to make of the nine minutes of ‘Wishing Loan’? This fabulous slow build intro is a delightful amalgam of LAST-period Agitation Free and ZOSO-period Zeppelin that transcends both the heavy rock and Krautrock that informed it, to smear sparkles of light over every corner of the world (It should really be available unencumbered by any other song and in the e.p. ur-guise that Cintron had intended). And when yer man finally wipes the foam off the corners of his mouth for long enough, this druid’s one killer guitar player with his head in the stars (even if it did have to crash through the suspended styrofoam ceiling to git there!) Cintron’s bludgeon riffola finally crashes a pathway for a voice like a just hatched’n’still sticky baby dinosaur with Phil Lynott’s head singing the Doctors of Madness. What the fuck ‘where there’s a hole there was a crack… this is the wishing loan’ is about I ain’t even gonna make a suggestion but you start excavating your mind for examples of similar lyrical curveballs (maybe ‘Eight Legs to Live On’) but it’s all over before you’ve clocked its superb trickiness.
Hey, and if yooz wunnering why I waited to the end to discuss ‘Tulips’ it’s because it’s my favourite track Cintron has yet laid upon us. Yes babies, this is the place where he hits perfection in both directions, emerging from the cosmic stew of multipled backwards guitars and shakey percussion to greet the spring like some truly elevated bear with a sore head. And this is one Trouble Bruin! Transcendental FM rawk with overtones of Perry Farrell and Kurdt Kobain and even glimpsing that outrageous perfection that (the otherwise boots-of-lead) ELIZIUM-period Fields of the Nephilim laid upon us in the dying embers of their career with the more-than-magnificent fall of empires ur-holler of ‘Wail of Sumer/And There Will Your Heart Be Also’ (and if that ain’t 14-minutes of the greatest lost rock, then I’m Roland Orbital’s bumboy!)
And so, at 9.45 a.m. on this blazingly sunny first day of 2004CE, we can only hope that the career of Dave Cintron is on the upwards and celebrate his coming of age. If (for umpteen possible reasons) this is as high as he ever gets, then we still get down on our knees and thank the Muse who fuelled him this far and salute the Sun Goddess for her constancy. That the Rock will continue to inform all of us whose physicality hath not yet deserted us is once more proven by the ardent use of electricity on this 21st century record. Hail the Ancestors and praise the Gods – for they’ze still amongst us!