Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Aphrodite's Child—
666


Released 1972 on Vertigo
The Seth Man, April 2000ce
This was an ultimate freakout album in its time -- a weird amalgam of group chants, Moog excursions, obligatory pop and narrations with Vangelis Papathanassiou on keyboards. Despite the moments of absolutely flat pop (one track per side) it barely affects the flow of the rest of this mind-bending and bad trip-inducing potpourri. Recorded under the influence of “SAHLEP”(!), it begins with “The System,” all steam hammer effects over chants until Silver Koulouris’ “Pinball Wizard” guitar introduces “Babylon” and the emergence of Aphrodite’s Child’s inner power trio -- a trip regrettably underrepresented here as ambient instrumentals abound: “The Four Horsemen” is all tinkling chimes and deep echo; “The Lamb” is an instrumental with blaring bouzouki-type keyboards, while “Aegean Sea” is all twinkling stars over a moonless Mediterranean until Lucas Sideras’ huge drum kit cracks open a fissure with Koulouris’ distorto guitar. Chimes appear out of the brief and barely audible “The Waking Beast” as a distant voice wails mournfully in Greek continues over a low synthesizer drone when “The Marching Beast” bursts in at ten times the volume with oscillating keyboard runs and punctuated by a ridiculous Tull-like flute trill. What follows is “The Battle of The Locusts” / “Do It.” A narrator intones the title in double echo, and it’s Ash Ra Tempel meets Santana in a burn out that gets persistently interrupted by the announcer as though he’s giving a play-by-play on the sidelines. But the Apocalypse will not be televised, but only represented by magnificent power trio rocking out to their highest extreme and Silver Koulouris goes for it via an angry mass of wah wah at the end.

Side three begins with a ringmaster ripping down the curtain of reality as percussion and horn play out a persistent beat while Roussos scats his lid off. He continues with his “ba ba/ba baba/ba baba baba” scat until you feel he must be freaking flying into oblivion from all the repetition. Then an out of control moog swirl-out and thundering drums turn everything inside out with the careening “The Wedding of the Lamb.” Narration turns up and with a ridiculously halting manner pronounces, “That...was...the...wedding...of...the...Lamb” as the drums dim. He returns to announce “Now...comes...the...capture...of...the...beast...” and it’s all haunted house clinking chains to prove it. What follows is the unforgettable highlight: “Infinity.” Irene Papas commits to vinyl a terrifying vocal repetition of “I am/ to come/I am to come at once.” It may not seem like much but brother, Papas’ range extends from the here to Pluto, beyond and back again: whispering turns to braying to barking to screaming as she shivers, pants, sighs, cries, with hysterical 2-megaton orgasms, ending in a final operatic rendition that provides all-too-welcome light relief.

Side four is almost totally taken up with the nearly 20-minute instrumental, “All The Seats Were Occupied.” Snippets of songs from the past three sides are scattered all over this sprawling piece and sometimes three or four get superimposed over each other. The quiet “Affenstunde”-type moog against Koulouris’ spindly guitar and randomly hit toms opens the track, but after everything is tied together by an exquisite drum roll it all falls into place. Braying sax and kazoo join the fray, and then the snippets start flying fast and furious. It gets hectic as congas, saxes and raga guitar are added to a West Coast jam, only to rock out like a royal shitstorm. More overdubs appear and even drown out Aphrodite’s Child on occasion, but then Koulouris sets off a perfect descending surf riff, igniting the power trio as chaotic additional instrumentation cloud everything. It gets SUPER bombastic here, and then more overdubs from “Infinity,” “Seven Bowls,” who cares – they’re too many of them until halted in its tracks by a sudden silence to reveal the last narrator breaking in to say: “All the seats were occupied.” Whoa: shrieking sax blares, the band kicks it out and Papas’ moans from “Infinity” break down the last ultimate fuck in the universe as the drums get kicked over. Right on.