Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Vermonster - Instinctively Inhuman

Instinctively Inhuman

Released 1991 on Twisted Village
Reviewed by Dog 3000, 07/06/2005ce

side 1
Black Sally

side 2
Stoned Guitar

In 1970 the New Zealand group Human Instinct released an album called "Stoned Guitar", which by 1991 was an ultra-obscure but highly collectable & uber-cool piece of wax. So leave it to the bonkers guitar nerds in Vermonster (whose day job is running Cambridge, MA's finest used record store which bears the same name as their record label) to craft for their second LP this totally baked half-remake ("half" cuz they only got as far as the first two songs, each of which takes up an entire side of vinyl once Vermonster-ized.)

The concept is simple: Vermonster does these songs the same way Human Instinct did, only THREE TIMES AS MUCH. Which means three times as many lead guitars (all playing at once) and the songs last three times longer. And Human Instinct was a band known for endless noodle-wank screaming lead guitars in the first place! But frankly Vermonster's infinite thunderhead guitar clouds do leave Human Instinct's originals biting the dust as they focus on overall sound & texture more than the individualistic egoism of early-70's muso-virtusoso stylings. (And that 15 years on Vermonster has also outdone Human Instinct in terms of obscurity & record-nerd-collectibility is an irony I'm sure they relish as well!)

Wayne Rogers & Kate Biggar are the twin titans of 'tar responsible for this glorious racket, and have made other records under a variety of names (the closest to some kind of underground fame would be their stint as half of the band Magic Hour, the other half being Damon & Naomi from Galaxy 500.)

"Black Sally" is Vermonster's cover of Human Instinct's cover of a song by Dennis Wilson, built on an ominous downward crunching riff (who'd have thought a Beach Boy could write a song fit for Black Sabbath? In fact Rogers even sings in a pseudo-British accent which is funny because none of the previous versions sound British.) The HI version sounds a bit thin as their drummer always sounds like he is playing biscuit tins, and the guitar & bass are recorded very clear and separate. Whereas Vermonster's drums are pure heavy metal caveman but buried by so much ampsludge they struggle to be heard, as the rest of the instruments create a blaring wall-of-noise that puts Vermonster in the first rank of bands from any era whose aesthetic is based on overwhelming guitar feedback. And this take on "Black Sally" is probably the most accessibly "pop-rockish" track on any of their three albums, even if it is 16 minutes long!

Vermonster's "Stoned Guitar" begins with 6 or 7 minutes of overcast guitar buzz which hardly seems like a cover of anything, though a comparison to the Human Instinct version reveals that the two are definitely related. Again the HI version features a single guitar with a piercing and trebly sound whereas Vermonster unleash several guitars and amps howling like a pack of martian werewolves in an electrical storm. Both versions begin with "psychedelic guitar noise" and eventually congeal into a funky riff at geological speed, but even the riff as played by Vermonster is so freaked-out with squalling wah-feedback it hardly registers as a "riff" at all until the bass comes in. Then settle in for 13 minutes of a slowly decaying mindless stoner riff overlaid with swarms of droning feedback coloration and frantic lysergic fretnoodling. As it goes on much longer than Human Instinct's instrumental original, the Vermonsterization rises and falls in dynamic tension several times before the inevitable feedback war & accompanying drum frenzy one would expect as a conclusion.

I'm sure Thurston Moore has all their records.

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