Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Vesuvio


Released 2014 on Trilithon
The Seth Man, November 2014ce
“A DRONE METAL COLOSSUS OF 54-MINUTES’ ENDURANCE”

Before I read the above statement accompanying several online sites promoting “Vesuvio,” I had a vision of this album as a colossus while enduring its invigorating amplifier blasts, endless drones and meditational qualities...Well, not exactly a colossus, but a statue of a standing human figure held to a secure pedestal on a static landscape as clouds swept swiftly above into dissipating vapour in super-rapid time lapse. Despite this image, not once did I quote Shelley’s ‘Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!' because unlike Ozymandias, THIS statue the size of a colossus remained whole: unbroken and wholly defiant as the winds of time that blew in its eyes for millennia that still gazed steely-eyed upon the seesaw of sunrise, shadow and sunset as if a mere imperceptible flicker. And yet, the ever-droning and interior-lit fire of persistence of Vesuvio just continued to grow at an expansive rate just as that statue without identity, position or any identifying marks was void of all but its own stern immovability. Vesuvio is as immovable as this: its heavy ambience and six-string attacks held to my four walls, ceiling, and floor with such extreme clear-air turbulence that it actually created sounds that weren’t even part of the recording. (Which I discovered after only cutting back on the volume to find it was a window resonating in an adjoining room...In tune, no less.)

Talk about a power trio -- with a sonic summit comprised of Julian Cope, Stephen O’Malley from SunnO))), and Holy McGrail from Slomo, these visionaries have laid down a towering work and a force of nature to be reckoned with. For this reproduction of a 1970 Neapolitan commune band’s debut comes fully loaded in truly a fuck-off sleeve to die for, encasing two eruptions and an ash-smothered comedown sonically on par with the legendary events that occurred in the summer of 79CE that devastated the populations of nearby Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Side one is entirely taken up by “Pompeii,” cracking open immediately with amplified electric guitar gesturing against bass guitar death rattles in a slow motion barrage akin to angry, sulfuric clouds rising up into the sky. Electronics rumble low in heaven’s tumble dry setting, spattered by streaks of feedback lava while simultaneously billowing down the slopes in a rain of molten rock, ash and stones. A phenomenon known as ‘dirty thunderstorms’ were first sighted at Mount Vesuvius during a later eruption in 1944CE and towards the 8 minute mark, “Pompeii” turns into a maelstrom of dirty thunderstorming of feedback against heartbeat bass just as terrifyingly beautiful. Sometime later, this pyroclastic flow relatively simmers, followed by a rain of fumes and ash that obscure the sun into darkness.

Three shattering notes held together by repetition and epic qualities alone signal the onslaught of “Herculaneum.” Holy McGrail attends to the background cosmic debris by manipulating it with shattering Echoplex as the stentorian three note rote returns, soon fading off into the waves of oscillating signals weave just below levels of distortion. Resonations occur underneath and within the ensuing sonic miasma of jingling, unstable feedback, and harmonically low atmospherics. Vibrations continue to merge and dissolve at varying rates, occasionally joined by trailing feedback balanced just on the edge of inharmoniousness, and its density continues unfurling and swelling in a zone of suspension until it -- somehow -- fades and falls gently off into silence.

The aftermath of the previous two eruptions arrives in the form of “Resin A.” Its becalmed meditational resonances and far-flung subterranean prayers which adorn it -- such as the vocal intonations oscillating in pitch between low and high that often trail off into strangulated larynx emissions are, for all the apparent randomness of the skeletal guitar notes and gentle chiming cast amid distant, overcast drones, only seemingly arbitrary as they will continue cycling until that it becomes apparent they’re united with a surprisingly even and spatial distribution of strung-out dimensions. To work something up so replete with unified atmosphere and power with so few materials present is either the work of voluntary self-control, freedom of expression at its utmost realisation or...probably both. But any way you look at it/or hear it, its oscillating ebb and flow is sublime, its horizontally-inclined hanging-ness bringing to mind (or my mind, anyway) the first moments of Amon Düül’s “Der Gärten Sandosa Im Morgentau” only slowed, repeated, and pressed to the ground with an interior gravity as the tumult of various frequencies are held above immovably still.

Vesuvio is one of over a dozen groups mentioned in Julian Cope’s debut “One Three One” novel and this is the latest of several recordings of those groups that have been appearing in waves for some time now. The promise of even more in the future reinforces Cope’s literary statement beyond its already creative apogee into a rich, different world of interactive elements that create a new literary -- and musical -- experience. With the intense degree of artistic thoroughness the author has been articulating through his works -- for decades now -- is an achievement of the most singular kind.

Produced by Cliff Cheerio.