Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Beme Seed


Released 1989 on Blast First
The Seth Man, April 2006ce
The supernatural musical expressions within the first Beme Seed album compares favourably to the front cover’s photomontage of a standing figure in molecular outline suspended over a deserted and barren landscape. The form is present, but only hinted at in the loosest way and placed dead centre within a huge yet claustrophobic space. And with nine unconstructed, fragmentary half-forgotten shards of songs, “Beme Seed” operates within a similar place: one where nothing is defined yet always suggesting structure at the core of its raging emptiness. If you let go of concentration and just submit to its spontaneous seamlessness and barely controlled chaos, “Beme Seed” is like a drug you can turn on and off. And that’s saying something for an album made in 1989 (or any year, for that matter.)

Gentle electronic processing is applied to vocalist Kathleen Lynch’s released voicings that range from pure sound to staccato utterance, often operating as the sole rhythmic underpinning that the musical backing constantly rotates and evolves around. The production aligns the instrumentation to a dry balance behind the vocals with the bass hollow yet full and always hanging in the background, the drums more on feel-based than strictly rhythm while the guitar is constantly wah-wah’ed, feedbacking, detuning and insistently set to the controls to the heart of the Ron that tore and squealed throughout “Fun House.” And as if by some unknown force, it all combines into an intuitive environment that pulsates as it maintains a balance teetering on the edge of falling apart or just keeping from tearing away from itself altogether.

The brief “We Free Four” quiet commences the album with Lynch’s vocals soar wordless and echoed, wafting over ominous tom-toms hit with the consistency of a water tap dripping. Chiming guitar soon transforms into feedback while all irregularly negotiates a crooked path until without warning, everything zooms up in volume and cuts off to a jarring silence. “Universe In The Room” starts from either the beginning or the ending of the previous song or it’s the same song caught cascading downstream fifteen minutes later as feedback, tom-toms and occasional cymbals casually stalk some elusive groove. Lynch squeals and space whispers her superimposed vocals, causing the vortex of the piece to rise out of nowhere to a singularly disorienting effect. Guitarist Mark Albin is peeling off wads of wasted riffing as the bass rumbles in the background and the drumming thrashes around on the floor. A groove evolves out of nowhere, sprouting up only to spread and disseminate into self-dismantling chaos and when “Beme seed, beme seed” is chanted over the group’s discordances with variety to its accents, the repetition takes it to a heightened plateau as she shakes and shimmies all around the clatter emanating from her backing cohorts.

Some semblance of a song begins to emerge with “Terminal,” but only in the most far-flung manner possible. Tumult ensues as Lynch’s wriggling vocals rise and fall in choreography of the rhythms as Albin’s slowly grinds feedback between the twin gears of fuzz and wah-wah in the manner of Asheton’s perfectly mishandled Stratocaster during “L.A. Blues.” The piece starts to take root and blossom into a full-blown trance at surging tempo as shadows dance in the light of a backdrop of flickering flames. Almost at cross purposes, this freak out maintains momentum while several crescendos in instrumentation occur to suggest a place where a chorus would fall -- only the vocals are scattered freaking fragments against sustained guitar feedback while the rhythm section does its best to define not what the rhythm is, but what it might be. The group continues to pulse behind Lynch, pushing her to the peripheries of abandon until she’s reclaimed it all for herself. No longer vocal, Lynch’s final, echoed cries are released on the wind of quietly wafting feedback. Whirring arrives and settles in the background sometime during the onset of “The Love That Touches,” a ten and a half minute come-down into a sprawling, horizontal drift-zone of echoed vocals that draw consonants out into syllables, syllables into words and words back into consonants. With every breath, Lynch is exploring the fullest range of vocalising that draw together associations and a variety of pronunciations caught between speech, singing, screeching and whispery cries. It’s impossible to tell when “Terminal” has already drifted into the terrain marked “The Love That Touches” without looking at the track increment display on the CD player for they’ve either caught a hold of a riff or a riff’s caught hold of them and its only to be released in the foggy dreamtime improvisational absence of timekeeping for the next ten minutes. Lynch whispers, shudders, cries out and only approximates singing for she’s channeling mysterious snatches and phrases from the ether that keeps them there for “the growing/is the knowing.” As Lynch’s purring, white cat heat vocals mew and gurgle, the track slowly curls like languid wisps of thick smoke until finally settling into the glowing embers of silence.

“I Am The Sign” begins side two with a slow-motion group lift off as the measured, barked out proclamation “I’m comin’ right out of my dream!!” hurls over detuned guitar wailings, sparse tom-toms and roaring bass collects into a sexy, undulating rhythm. Lynch’s vocals are delayed to fan out into a wall of voices superimposed over themselves as they collide with the loose musical backing of consistent floor tom beatings and compressed, wah-wahed guitar riffs. But even the dense thicket of the muted accompaniment is swamped by Lynch’s moaning and cries of ecstasy, retracted as they are into infinity with super-echoey effects that dance on the perimeter of this enormous, raging epicenter where mysteries unfold yet remain unknown. Two brief interludes follow, subdued and scant: “Margolies” is a minute a half of cymbals, under-recorded bass runs, gentle feedback and random drum fills cascading over Lynch’s hushed words that are swept too soon into silence. “FM” also features whispery vocals while bass notes search in the darkness and slip away as controlled feedback keeps reigning itself in. Cymbal hits strike out to demarcate something unfinished, among faint and growling feedback until this, too quickly falls off mid-song.

Like a forgotten Stooges 45 on Elektra dragging its tattered remains from the vinyl graveyard, “God Inside” opens with Lynch laughing “Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha” along with the rhythm that is pushed by gnarled wah-wah guitar and a distant, steady beat. The only track of the album approaching something remotely song-oriented, “God Inside” is credited to Lynch and three previous members so it probably dates prior to the time of her association with The Butthole Surfers during the late eighties as their in-concert dancer. Slipping between Yoko-gibber, John Lydon-sneering, and Renate Knaup-Krötenschwanz-wailing crossed with altogether agonising tones Lynch repeats the title “God Insiiiiide...” as though birthing the very idea itself. Suddenly rooted to the spot, the music halts to leave Lynch’s tremulous vocals trail off uneasily.

Against an approaching cloud of whirring of locusts, the concluding “Happy Me” sees Lynch softly incanting before slipping into slow, shorthand operatics crawling on hand and knees. Little by little they regain full posture until reaching upwards with arms outstretched on tippy toes while the music is shaded and hung like shadows until it incrementally scales the walls to build into a pyre of wah-wahed, distorted guitar wringing itself dry over the steady sway of the drums and lowest-end bass. Double vocals mesh into a single, delayed wall of wailing as Albin tears into an excellent fuzz-wah/distortion solo just as it all recedes into the vapour for the final time...as if it was all a dream.

Ending a short-lived existence about as enigmatic as their music, Beme Seed recorded only two further albums (“Lights Unfold” and “Purify”) before falling on fallow ground and splitting in 1992. And if a John Peel session ever surfaces on the band, the title could only be: “The Beme Seed BBC CD EP.” Here’s hoping.

Note:
“Beme Seed” was also released on vinyl under the alternate title, “The Future Is Attacking.”