Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

VON LMO—
Red Resistor


Released 1996 on Variant
The Seth Man, June 2004ce
Do not adjust your set for “Red Resistor” is a monster movie to rival a replaying loop of the grand finale/battle royale of “Destroy All Monsters” replaced by a wave of robotic destroyers from outer space set to waves of hypnotic metal. A comeback album to dwarf all of LMO’s previous albums with a sonic ray gun to the frontal lobes that will reduce all reason to rubble and everything else to a pile of ash. Almost.

Out of all the weird things about VON LMO (and there are many) one of the weirdest is that his albums grew progressively BETTER despite lapses of decades and years between their release dates. After a thirteen-year hiatus, VON’s “Cosmic Interception” was a somewhat more flexible and muscular an outing than his first LP, “Future Language” (1981) while “Red Resistor” itself is far more brutal and heavier than both. Some attic on his home planet Strazar must be storing a portrait of VON (in all certainty rendered in white-out ink on a black sheet of construction paper like the sleeve art) because both VON himself and his vision oddly show no real visible signs of aging whatsoever. If anything, it’s though VON is some interplanetary vampire who wound up extending his stay on planet earth, so gaga was he with the elixir of earthling rock’n’roll.

Suggested by the album’s title, “Red Resistor” is where the promise of VON's earlier, tightly-wound three-piece Red Transistor was finally fulfilled and laid out in all the shattering glory of not what could’ve been but what is and now. Joining LMO on this assaultive odyssey is the brilliantly tight, racket-backing band comprised of David Tamura (guitar), Robert Lee Oliver II (bass), Howard “Crash” Valentine (drums) while VON himself chant/deadpans the vocals while letting fly intermittent stunning noise guitar outbursts that are unpredictably wild and careen off into their own orbit yet still make sense within the context of this most flexible and ultra-stable lineup.

Like a mechanical march towards a pre-determined technological doom, the nine-minute “Mass Destruction” opens the record and cuts a mile wide swath with a scorched earth barrage that will not let up for the duration of the record. Strident military tones and crazily detuned, descending guitars wheel overhead to soon turn menacing when the groove gets struck, becoming ever-widened by the alert players into a tsunami of sound that begins expanding in strength much like the impending doom outlined by VON’s first lyrics, which incidentally, are: “SUCK...! SQUASH...! BANG...! BLOW...!” And they are intoned evenly with nightmarish robot Starfleet command reverb while swinging its mighty metal fist swinging across and into the skyline of some unsuspecting earthling metropolis.

A jerkier, more guitar-laden and far heavier remake of VON’s earlier “Flying Saucer 88” follows which is located somewhere between “Lesson #2” off Glenn Branca’s “The Ascension” meets Martian rock’n’roll but played FAR heavier than both. VON’s solos -- if you can call what he does mere ‘soloing’ -- are aggressive maelstroms of dissensions and here they alternate between a damaged, ever-descending bad-trip melody that crackles in its failed mission to keep the guitar from feeding back and just manically strumming up a fractious storm for nearly forty seconds straight. And still the disjointed funk groove continues its metallic course.

The 30 minute “X+Z=0” is a super fucked-up, near-continuous noise guitar odyssey that continually erupts and re-erupts with feedbacking as it bristles with assault and battery on the brain and takes no quarter. Although it’s relatively calm at its onset as dense tribal drums and bass keep a low rhythmic trellis overhead for guitars to skitter across with throttling feedback to appear and vanish at will and then make a 90 degree pitch upwards into sheets of overdriven electric guitar primed and buzzsawing through the inch and a half thick steel-plated doors of sanity. VON ‘solos’ once more and ends in a detuned flurry-freak that soon falls away. But just when you think everything’s has simmered down to mere dark foreboding-ness, he ‘solos’ again and this time it sets the scene for even more mayhem to cut loose as he intones the first of several relayed messages from Planet Strazar (located near the spiral galaxy of Coney Island): “I am the infinite survivor of the first thought.” Here is the time to start backing away slowly to eject the damn thing, but quick, baby because it only gets more demented. A lifetime of noise jamming ensues after VON repeats the magic phrase “Reverse the polarity” over wang-bar madnesses and into something approaching a repetition that is truly all things hypnotic. Which is the true marvel of “X+Z=0” because it’s not ‘just noise’ but a consistent structure shielding an undying mania translated into hurriedly strummed guitar strangulation placed too close to amplification set far too loud yet controlled for optimum mind destruction. This heads into a countdown to blast off, signaling to the band to explode and they do so with a flaming vengeance from Ur-anus and into a series of song and universe-ending flourishes that do not signal the end of anything but the continuance of further chaos being funneled into a descending chute that stretches for light years as feedback, cymbal hits and errantly struck bass strings pull together at intervals only to attain what little cohesion it can in this roof-atop-four-walls-of-disorienting-sound of no end. Once more, false song-ending crescendos are struck with squealing feedback the only navigation and just as soon as you think they’re getting sucked into yet another freak portal of free noise freak-out with no end VON intones: “RED ALERT... RED ALERT... SOMEONE... SOMEWHERE... WILL... GET... HURT...” The scenario starts getting more twisted as VON starts in all trance-like with free-associations about a female spaceship in drag and so forth, cutting directly off and into the fiercest and most thrashing rock’n’rollicking with VON stepping up to the mike breathlessly with “WOO! All right!! WOOO! Thisisarock’n’roll!! The neutron rock!! The cosmic bop!! Tick, tock, tick, tock!! Rip out your heart!!!” This is spinning out of control although it IS in control because VON assures “You’re in control.” But I don’t believe him for a minute because he’s already headlong into Red Transistor’s 1977 spazz attack, “We’re Not Crazy” and it descends into clusterfuck central once more at high velocity. It disengages into discombobulating and jarring feedback, free drumming and a wrenching of guitars. It then lurches back into “We’re Not Crazy,” only with the bass now towering at twice the strength threatening to rip the fabric of the bass cabinet and possibly, reality itself. Another noise undertow grabs everyone by the ankles, and they’re back screeching and belabouring the amps for all its worth: careening, disjointed, distended and highly fucked up and where the fuck can it go now? They drive home with a series of accenting builds as if to finish off the fucker once and for all and the bombast reluctantly clears to reveal the return of the introduction’s tribal tom-toms and cross-hatching free-guitar slashes against VON’s counter-punctual free guitar downstrokes. VON now loudly proclaims as though it’s nothing less than self-evident that “X+Z equals zero... ZERO... ZERO...” and


“Your reality is no longer the same...
You have entered the eternal sound...
We transform death into life...
We transform energy into sound...”


When all’s said and done the album could have ended right here, because after this there is nothing left but for the slow-grind “Atomic Sound” to take what little is left of your resistance and decimate it with a 2,000 pound funk mortar and pestle. It concludes the album and leaving you feeling a little scared, a little wiser and tingly all over.

A small, rectangular piece of aluminum foil can be found lodged in between the tray and back inlay. And for one final time, I’m scared.