Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Factrix - Artifact


Released 2003 on Storm
Reviewed by Lawrence, 05/01/2005ce

My first exposure to this band was their first single "Empires Of Passion" I found at the House Of Guitars during my teenage years searching for whatever was different from the usual cheesy corporate-rock stuff. Never found anything else by them until, as it turned out, the infamous Michael "Coup De Grace" Moynihan released this retrospective on his Storm label. Actually I now remember in between I found the live Factrix/Cazazza album, so my memory serves me wrong then! (Thanks Keith Brewer...)

Of course it's ironic this Artifact was put out by Moynihan as Factrix never dwelled in totalitarian imagery unlike many industrial or punk acts. This is more like total head-trip music taken into a different context -- urban-decay as psychedelia as opposed to vise-versa and maybe even vice-versa.

So the first official 7" starts the collection with African percussion and almost Goth-like guitars on "Empire of Passion', with the flipside being the enigmatic and creepy "Splice Of Life" -- must have something to do with the woman on a table next to some kind of splicing machine on the cover of that 7"...

After that is the entire album Scheintot, which I remember one music critic described as "music to encourage spontaneous human combustion", which I can't really imagine but what a cool thing to say anyways... Just listen to the track "Eerie Lights" and this gives you an idea of what Factrix is about -- Bond Bergland's Tom Verlaine-inspired guitar and various homemade electronic mayhem. And seemingly DaDa-ist and Burroughsian lyrics that seem more than a jumble of cut-up words, or maybe that's just the strange musical backings than just the words themselves. This doesn't seem totally meaningless but whatever meaning there is isn't tangible, but then you just have to hear more!

The second disc is rare material some of which is live and repeats some of the songs on the first. Some downright disturbing stuff like "Death By Hanging" and a creepy moment when Monte Cazazza recites Charles Manson on "ProManSon". Does "Silver River" suggest some kind of Native American spirituality? Who knows? It's hypnotic and beautiful and makes it too bad no-one from this group is making music anymore (that I know of...) The set ends with an irreverant version of "Beginning To See The Light", which seemed like a jumble to me at first listen but after repeated listenings it made perfect sense!

Factrix went under a different name for a while -- calling themselves the Saquarra Dogs (did I spell that right?) which I was rather disappointed in next to "Empire of Passion". Member Joseph Jacobs did some percussion for Patti Smith during her first (and rather disappointing) comeback album (of which the title I forgot and it's just as well...)

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