Julian Cope’s Album of the Month

Temple of Bon Matin

Temple of Bon Matin

AOTM #68, January 2006ce
Released 2006 on --
  1. Ex-Man F.U.N. (5.16) (from THUNDER FEEDBACK CONFUSION)
  2. Lion Brand (5.04) (from THUNDER FEEDBACK CONFUSION)
  3. Gunnison (3.06) (from INFIDEL)
  4. Born to Go (5.57) (from ASSASSINS OF SILENCE)
  5. Light of this World (10.53) (from THUNDER FEEDBACK CONFUSION)
  6. After Heaven (4.19) (from ENDURO)
  7. Miss Rev (6.04) (from ENDURO)
  8. Breed Love (4.04) (from INFIDEL)
  9. Crucethon (4.34) (from ENDURO)
  10. Jacobite (8.57) (from WE’VE GOT THE BIGGEST ENGINE)

Note: Yes, I know it’s another compilation I made up myself. But, what the fuck, I’m trying to serve the artist and if they can’t rustle up something that nails their metaphor in a single ‘best of’ styled LP, then so be it. Shit, I’m hardly one to talk after 27 years of veering all over the road. But Ed Wilcox has now been a favourite for half a decade and I gots to at least hip you to his existence before the whole shithouse goes up in flames.

Love is more than Words (or ‘Better Late Than Never’)







Is it too much to ask percussionist/fine art major/poet/lecturer Ed Wilcox perhaps to let one major parp loose that I could write proper words about? Or is the leader of Philadelphia’s Temple of Bon Matin always gonna be just too ‘too too’ to put a finger on? Am I destined to approach his canon of recorded work every nine months or so, whack together yet another Cope anthology of personal favourites – different everytime, natch! – and then stall at the tail-end of the piece just because it don’t do that man Wilcox justice? Or do I – at this late stage of January ’06 - just say fuck it and tell you all that this singing drummer Ed Wilcox is a living sea shanty, a raggedy-assed Huckleberry Finn-meets-Huckleberry Hound who, as leader of this Woden’s Hunt from the backwoods, conducts himself with the same impeccable Ginger Baker-meets-Keith Moon heathen glitterstompf rage as the Mongols of the Golden Horde displayed whilst careering across the Iranian Plain? Throughout Bon Matin’s 12-year career, Wilcox’s whistleblower voice has yelped and hectored, urged and cajoled like ‘Did He Die’-period Sky Sunlight Saxon, or a DUB HOUSING-period Crocus Behemoth wading through a swamp of music concrete, howling impressionist hoedown lyrics (Caligari’s Mirror-stylee) as he urges on his ever-changing pack of lo-fi mongrel synthesizer dogs and back alley guitar kitties (and let’s not forget the squeeling parps of his ornery occasional horn sections, neither), always towing behind his iron age battalions of rusted-up Dodge and Plymouth chariots a hang-gliding spectral army of free-jazz phantoms and experimental sonic ancestors, numbering among them the members of DOREMI-period Hawkwind, “We Are Time” Y-era Pop Group, LIVE IN HITLER’S BUNKER-period Liquorball1, ALIEN SOUNDTRACKS-period Chrome, all and every Monoshock-on-45, DISASTER-period Amon Duul, Exuma the Obeah Man, METAL BOX-period PIL (“Careering” and “Poptones” especially), STRICTLY PERSONAL-period Don Van Vliet (the tail feathers of “Candykorn” deffo), OM-era John Coltrane, and The Residents of FINGERPRINCE-period (a la PETALS FELL ON PETALUMA-period Harry Partch multiplied by zen). Imagine Creedence’s “Pagan Baby” with three analogue synthesizer players and Mitch Mitchell on drums, all sent through Comets’ Noel Harmonson’s Binson Echo Unit and you’re homing in somewhat on the obscurant Wilcox sound. Imagine that same treatment unleashed upon Hanoi Rocks’ immaculately decadent lo-fi “Self-Destruction Blues” (Andy McCoy’s lyrics refracted through the Instant Google Translator, aargh!) and you hit the nail on the head once again.

My cosmic assertion that the best rock’n’roll is achieved via an equation of 33% novelty + 66% tradition was never so perfectly realised as in the music of Temple of Bon Matin at their best. O ja, mein hairies, this is the shit… Now, of course, being a defiant motherfucker, Ed Wilcox’s music often falls way outside that aforementioned magical alchemy, alternately creating overdoses of unlistenable dins or overly devotional backwards/backwoods inbred folk music (campfire music concrete, anyone?), but as Mister Ed’s muse can only be discovered by those willing to probe the deepest recesses of the World Wide Web, we gots to imagine that only those hardiest perennials of souls are – ten long years into the trip – still making the effort to listen to his venerable barbarian free spirit. Ed Wilcox may have termed his band ‘space metal’ (perhaps in deference to the early UFO compilation of the same name), but his claims that the group takes as much of its inspiration a much from Judas Priest as from Sun Ra is disingenuous to say the least. Indeed, Ed’s days of the big riffs seem long behind him and – surely - the act of making music that sounds like the alchemical melding of the 17-minute unedited version of “LA Blues” AKA “Freak” by the Stooges into Mahogany Brain’s 21-minutes “Burning the Vibes” would, from the reactions of your fellow musicians alone, disavow you of any such notions. Indeed, Ed Wilcox has occasionally recorded whole LPs without so much as a single memorable riff to its name, albums where chanting like negroes in the forest brightly coloured seem to be his only raison d’etre; albums where Exuma the Obeah Man fronts the formlessness of TAGO MAGO-period Can’s ‘Aumgn’; albums where the ESP Disk ravings of Cro-Magnon’s stupor-duo classic “Caledonian” takes over for a whole fucking LP side (WE’VE GOT THE BIGGEST ENGINE, BULLET INTO MESMER’S BRAIN); dirty ass ambient records that seem to exist purely as a metaphor for the useless and vilely scruffy post-industrial hinterlands that lie, nay wallow, between the city conurbations and the rural landscapes beyond. Moreover, these records are real because – in his many and ever-changing dayjobs, Ed Wilcox is the poet of the in-between, the forklifttruckdriver, the manual labourer, the high level itinerant ranter busking a blue collar living in order to subside his music.

So why am I writing about this low rider named Wilcox if his career has been, is, and (possibly) always will be such a hit’n’miss affair? Surely there must be plenny of kaka more deserving to be bigged up during this particklierly bland portion of the early 21st century? No. There truly ain’t nobody out there more deserving than Ed Wilcox and his hand-painted semi-industrial drumkit. Shit, I’d have written this years ago if I’d been able with words to reach where his music is capable of taking us. But this is not music of the NOW, brothers and sisters, it is truly music of the FOREVER. Ed Wilcox will be making music at least another decade before he hits his peak and makes something we all can take from – in the meantime, all the real heads can stick their heads in his bass bins real early here’n’now and look forward to what is to come. Herr Wilcox being himself an AC/DC fan, Doggen and I have long wished to do a power trio with him named Temple of Bon Scott, but my visa problems last year set that back months at least, and the best I can do is alert you to his ever-curious muse, mostly irritating and unapproachable as it may be. But if there’s a problem with the subterranean Ed Wilcox thus far, it’s that the Judas Priest clichés he hears are still all in his head and need to be shit out in the company of such turds on a bum ride as me and the Dogman.

This Compilation Sucks – America’s Most Loudness

I’d be dead wrong to suggest that these toons I excavated from my sizeable Bon Matin collection in any way truly reflect the band’s oeuvre as a whole. Hell kiddies, it’s all down to chance and technology here in Lord Yatesbury’s Pad. For a start, I ignored totally all the songs from CABIN IN THE SKY (which I love, by the way) purely because I ain’t got the technology to transfer the vinyl on to digital for y’all. Indeed, my scratched-to-heil vinyl copy of THUNDER FEEDBACK CONFUSION wouldna been represented either if it weren’t for the righteous intervention of Surefire’s Ron Schneidermann, whose ecstasy and apostasy regarding The Wilcox clued me to this locust abortion technician in the first place. That Ron’s own transfer from vinyl is itself a crackling popping miscarriage of sonic justice makes me feel a little better, especially as it’s proof that all copies of THUNDER FEEDBACK CONFUSION were never pressed conventionally, being instead hand-grooved by southpaw orcs with alcoholic DTs, labouring 17 hours per day in the sweatshops of Mordor. Furthermore, I was reluctant to heft too much of the unconventional Bon Matin smearage your way for fear of turning you off afore ye’d even commenced the trip. So this so-called anthology is top heavy with early stuff, almost bereft of mid-period songs, and under-representative of the truly brand new INFIDEL-period sqwark. Sure, Temple of Bon Matin started life as a duo and graduated for their first LP into a power trio (THUNDER FEEDBACK CONFUSION), but they thereafter made records as a twin-drumming quintet (ENDURO), before engorging by the late mid-90s into a florid and perspiring nontet (BULLET IN MESMER’S BRAIN, WE’VE GOT THE BIGGEST ENGINE, CABIN IN THE SKY) replete with three synthesizer players, three guitarists and the guest stuporstar punch drunk punk rock singer Mikey ‘Mayor of South Street’ Wild. That Ed Wilcox would not choose to name himself a Pragmatic Motherfucker is evidenced by his so-called comeback LP (2004’s INFIDEL) on which he still managed to shoehorn six members into the group, making the Temple neither a practical touring outfit nor a viable rehearsing or recording proposition. To my melted plastic way of thinking, this lack of the practical is what makes Wilcox’s utter dedication worthy of both your time and mine. He’s clearly the US underground’s equivalent of George Clinton’s Parliament circa the outlandish and cash-consuming 1978 Mothership tour and should be lauded for it (if some mentor/patron gave him shedloads of cash, I’m sure Ed’d blow it on a choir and/or arkestra worthy of Sun Ra his-self). Long may the temple survive, be it in brick, stone, wood or even soluble tablet form. That I have made no attempt to describe individually each song contained within this demonstration disc has more to do with the elusive nature of this band than any true laziness on my part. Temple of Bon Matin, brothers and sisters… look out for their new record around 2015 and it should all start to be coming a little clearer.

  1. Ed Wilcox played with Liquorball on their live album TORA TORA LIVE, released in 2000CE on Radon records. This three-piece powerhouse affair featured Marlon ‘Feast’ Kasberg on bass and sirens, and Monoshock legend Grady Runyan, and consisted on one violently explosive 39-minute track.

ENDURO (Bulb 1996)
CABIN IN THE SKY (Bulb 2001)
INFIDEL (Spirit of Orr 2004)