Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Goom - Massai Parts 1/2

Massai Parts 1/2

Released 1972 on Disques Vogue/Bellaphon
Reviewed by aether, 12/08/2010ce

A jackboot stomp, a shuderring drum riff, and a ballsy acousto-groove of slide guitars, equal parts T-Rex-on-LIthium/full-on Magma rant. Disembodied undead warrior voices appear out of the nothingness - a spectral army chanting: Ahhhhh, Ahhhh, Uhhhh, Uhhhhh, Massai, Massai, Massai, Massai!! - A lead vocal appears - ululating a wierd top line that appears to be scat - sounding for all the world like Marc Bolan meets Comus' Roger Wooten (as another Internet scribe so vividly puts it).

This is the wyrd psychedelic Afro-beat, Zeuhl-acousto-funk of France's Goom - a sort of folk-driven Chrome Hoof of the early seventies that released some singles in 1972.

Side Two's remix seems to preempt the early nineties sampling/beat culture by a quarter of a century by providing a slighly different version, holding the vocal back for a few bars and emphasising a darker take on the foudnational ur-riff, with rumbling percussion and even more spectral alien voices. Part 2 also has an instrumental mid-section of sorts in which the remedially brilliant riff is altered slightly - a funk-folk-doom stomp that is pure sci-fi glam. Only the French of the early 70s could come up with this bricolge of sci-fi mysticism and glam-pop glitz. (Only the equally (proto-)postmodern Funkadelic proffered similar musical miscibles, a year down the line).

Its the imaginary soundtrack to a burgeoning combat on some alien plain from a Clark Ashton Smith novella (rather than the Massai plains of the title) - collating tribes of strange Venusian half-beasts as they mass around the central war-march/chant. Simialrities to Magma, Chrome Hoof, and particualrly the work of Horrific Child's sonic magus, J.P. Masseria (been tanning the recent vinyl reissue of the Horrific Child LP aswell). Indeed, there is scant info on the band available and it wouldn't surprise me at all to find Masseria's 'claw' behind this muvver!

Goom's ultra-culty Massai 7" comes in a gaudy colour sleeve (with so-bad-its-good colour artwork reminiscent of Uriah Heep's so-"terrible-its-almost-credible" "Innocent Victim" cover design), the sleeve depicting one of the above-mentioned beast of war.

Copies seem easily available which makes me think it might have been a minor hit of the day. I could certainly see Christian'n'Stella getting their celestial booty down to this piece of ur-wyrd-ness.


Aether (ex-Gogmagog)

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