Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Urthona—
Super-Heavy Hamoazian Reverie


Released 2011 on Further
The Seth Man, March 2015ce
Urthona’s third release, “Super-Heavy Hamoazian Reverie,” is a feedback-sustained affair that courses through eddies of becalmed musings until transmuting into a fast-moving derecho bearing down upon Devon estuaries on what was only moments before a perfectly sunny day -- leaving its inlets ringed with green debris still visible at high tide. For like nature, Urthona’s sound is a force to be reckoned with as it rises, roars, rages, raves, and rears up on high with squalling feedback ringed with distortion -- only to recede without notice and only then returning at twice the magnitude in a series of shifting, ebb’n’flow passages that stretch the boundaries of sonic (and chthonic, for that matter) experience.

One of the inserts found within the album is a stunning photograph of what looks to be the ancient triple stone row at Cosdon Hill, Dartmoor. Nicknamed ‘The Graveyard,’ these three irregular rows of stones emerge from the grass and lead toward the blue horizon of land that appears in the distance ocean-like, while banks of clouds obstruct the sky but not its backlit brilliance. It’s a timeless image where all is land, cloud, sky and light but for those rocks -- paralleling both arrangement and positioning of the album’s accompanying elements of unruffled synthesizer, intermittent drums and field recordings from the countryside that sequester the Rock of Urthona’s unyielding guitar in a formidable wilderness of sound and fury. Mere bones can break on the rocks of Dartmoor, but Urthona stands resolute while holding his guitar headstock downwards as if tapping into some ancient power grid.

With the help of some heavy friends (The Asterism on synthesizer plus a battery of drummers -- Julian Cope, Mr. E and Albert Snazz), Urthona charts the passage of time at the speed of stormy weather with his guitar and amplifiers on “Super-Heavy Hamoazian Reverie.” Opening with majestically soaring guitar feedback meticulously designed to elevate, it builds to a sustaining roar as if pinning Urthona midpoint twixt his Les Paul Gibson Junior and Marshall amplifier into the position of a power trio minus the rhythm section but with three times the power. The feedback -- that glorious sound -- builds to sheet metal-shearing frequencies, swerving and sustaining to razing proportions in head-tenderizing poetry, blanketing both the horizontal and vertical of all audible spheres. Emerging from behind this electric ocean of feedback continually sweeping and howling in tautness comes the crossfading sound of crashing waves of water until all is completely immersed.

An entirely different bombardment re-commences as further feedback washes switch against slow soloing joined by double hammering drums with inconsistent cymbals until a breakaway guitar solo roils and agitates in forward motion. Shimmering cymbals build under the incessant roar of a soloing from the heated grills of Marshall amps. While the drums stamp out a simple beat into the ground, cymbals build louder and louder and louder to wipe out even the guitar until: it all jars to halt.

A new passage ensues with rain on water FX while synthesizer sweeps across lonely moorlands oddly evoke an unhurried and half-remembered ambient version of the chorus of “Superstar” from “Jesus Christ Superstar.” But that’s probably only a reaction of my overtaxed brain grasping for a signpost or for some semblance of mental terra firma before flowing downstream into further harmonising ooze. A second horizontal layer of synth curls around this as a slower, static theme to create a superimposition that could undulate seemingly forever. However, this particular reverie is broken by a brief series of guitar riffs that resound slow in metallic echo with the timbre of claustrophobia and the perimeters of a cove as a slow, mechanical rhythm grinds out in the background haze with all the corroded texture of NEU!’s “Super 16.” After infinite moments, it trudges off into silence and into the most spacious section of the album where a re-emergence of raw guitar resounds slowly to deeply sprinkling its volume across the vast silence. A second sole downstroke erupts, while cavernous guitar squeaks spatially alight on it. Ever so slowly, these strums, trimmed with feedback undertow, endure as slight riffing wedges between these monuments like moss blooming in granite crevices. Shortly, feedback soars into wispy trails, reigned in and deftly balanced as the absolute stillness, huge depth and slow paces are all maintained as the now highly-degraded guitar signals of both strum-and-dranging feedback have melded into each other as a single sonic force.

Resonations increase, then the FX of rain on waves until, a black scrawl of distorted L.A.M.F. guitars emerges out from a murkiness of storm cloud synthesizers and begins a barrage of incoming psychedelic soloing joined by and shored up with hollow drums beating in the background. As it builds, it brings to mind both the plastic forward thrust of Ash Ra Tempel’s “Flowers Must Die” and the wrecked aural qualities of NEU!’s “Spitzenqualität” happening all once. While distorted guitar slashing continues as a near-continuous force field, additional cymbals join the fray to propel the most errant part of album forward. Amassed roaring and windswept phasing plus rain FX soon swamp the right channel while Urthona’s swaths of amplified howl swamp everything else until the drums slow down to nothing and all but fall away. Out from this storm, Urthona reconvenes with a stupendously overdriven guitar that cuts in to solo crazily in lurching, Free-Rock abandon that blankets the sonic landscape with a clamorous veneer. Stinging, soaring, pitching, wending its way through a quadruple bypass of overdriven guitar into a falling rock zone of amplified ooze, further flurries of furry riffing ensue until a final feedback filigree signals it’s time to stomp on the volume pedal to crush it all into silence.

File under: Heavy Rural.