Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Primal Scream—
Vanishing Point


Released 1997 on Creation
The Seth Man, April 2000ce
After their somewhat unsatisfying previous Keef-out album and wishing to put all their e-memories behind them, Primal Scream wound up producing the closest thing the nineties ever got to “Second Edition.” It’s a Krautrock/Dub/Funk/remix-it-all-into-oblivion visionary double album housed in a beautiful Intro designed collage sleeve -- and it’s not even on Blood And Fire! But the dub moments might as well be, trancelike in their timing and sheer rock steadiness. And when it’s not dub, it’s all skewered fuzz/punk or hooky psychedelic tiffs that plow over an intricately-latticed backdrop of expertly-engineered 21st Century headzones. There is really no way to describe the depth of the sonic field on this record, but it gets mightily deep, baby: For the whole duration, the needle is psychologically in the red, and it’s a series of massive blow outs, crack ups or unquiet, moody slumbers. It’s highly experimental, and utilises all manner of distortion, fuzztones, tape delays, hollow dub snares, muscle groove basslines, drum machines, sitar’n’tablas, theremins, and synthesizers as they ricochet from speaker to speaker while wily re-mix engineered FXs run rampant throughout. If it sounds like a lot, it’s because it is, and it all comes at ya fast, so you better duck!

For the first two minutes of the opener, “Burning Wheel” there are no vocals and no melody: only a drum pattern and keyboard line that are almost wiped out by the guitar when they finally emerge. It’s a triumphant fanfare in audio snapshots, and although it’s Marco Nelson on bass here, newly joined ex-Stone Roses bassist Mani lays a line down just as straight and heavy on “Kowalski” (The Primals’ ode to the speed-obsessed main character in the classic 1970 film, “Vanishing Point”) with uncompromising Peter Hook/Lemmy Rickenbacker isms (Yes, it’s that heavy). Synthesizer bursts cut through everything and disappear, curling into the back of the mix. Effects you’ve never heard in your life are slotted everywhere: behind the vocals, through the guitar, into the cymbals, outside your house! “If They Move, Kill ‘Em” is another such moment of insanity. A solid rhythm and blacksploitation horns give up the funk and much more as a sinister theremin “wheeeeeeeeuuuuuwww”s over (perhaps) a sample of the “Walk This Way” guitar riff. It repeats, fades out, turns backwards and crossfades into the 3am stupor of “Out Of The Void” and its gently whacked snares and minor keyboards. Which side of the album this track ends as it slides behind the wall of troubled sleep is impossible to tell, but it does end because next up is the paranoid/speed dub attack of “Stuka” with sickening theremin/keyboard roars that continually return, and has you reaching for the (by comparison) soothing NYC postal queue doorbell rings that pepper to remind you your time is up. The Primals get (the rest) of their ya ya’s out on “Medication”: all “Spirit In The Sky” fuzz underpinned by Keef-isms, circa ‘71. It was unbelievable to hear a release brimming over with so many fantastic sound collages -- by definition many aren’t strictly “songs” -- folded into one album in 1997. Until, of course, Creation issued a righteous dub remix of (most of) the album a few months later...