IN SEARCH OF SPACE #4 - A love letter to Jex Thoth

NOTE – In this article I’ll be discussing one of modern rock’s most unsung heroines. I’ll be taking reference from Jex Thoth’s self titled album, and Restored to One by Sabbath Assembly. Jex has appeared on other releases, but I haven’t been able to track them down. So deal with it.
NOTE 2 – In one of the remarkable coincidences that attends the gin-soaked production process of this journal, both Adam and myself are on holiday this week (hence this blogs tardiness) and have written about female musicians. If you think this is good, it was deliberate, if not, then not.

“I don’t feel like you’re playing songs
I feel like your conjuring spirits”
Jex Thoth, who the fuck is that? You may be asking. Can I put it on pitta bread? You might be enquiring. Let me introduce her. Say hello to the twenty first century’s Grace Slick. A genuine, bona fide one hundred percent double-your-money-back rock goddess. On the first song of Jex Thoth’s debut album, she proclaims “You think you know me/but you won’t believe your eyes”.
Everyone had that girl from school or the office who was almost too clean cut. All crisp shirts and practiced thankyous. Jex Thoth is the girl who kisses that straight laced girl at a party before everyone is drunk enough to forget and isn’t even ashamed. The girl who has a new style by the time you’ve got used to the current one, never seems out of control except when she wants to be and can drink anyone under the table. She isn’t a caricature and either cares about nothing at all, or tremendously much that people think so. Jex’s vocals border on dirty. She sounds exactly like she looks, a dirty blonde hippy vixen with an almost Scandinavian edge. She looks like she could be a cultist or a zealot.

Her first album, self-titled with a doom metal backing band was like the coming of the devil hippies. Sunn O)))’s uppity cousins. Thumping riffs, and an industrial connection to her later work as part of Sabbath Assembly. Long, drippy psychedelic sounds flow into the ears throughout, especially in the instrumental interludes which drop out of doom altogether and proceed with classy electric guitar solos and organ sections that really help to elevate the music to the level Jex’s lyrics help pitch it at.
Jex Thoth really came into her own with Sabbath Assembly. The straight rock album which some called psychedelic and some called folk and I first read about in extreme metal chronicle Terroriser, Restored to One became one of the albums leading metal’s retro-rock movement. Ideas formed in the lyrics of this album were written as hymns by members of the Process Church of the Final Judgement in the sixties, performed by Jex Thoth and Dave Nuss; they are known as Sabbath Assembly, the name by which the original Process Church mass was known. Jex and Dave rework the hymns with a seventies groove feel. (On a side note, someone really should write a book about the connection between religion and rock and roll, and if someone already has they ought to send me a free copy). The Process Church of the Final Judgement were an excommunicated splinter cult to L. Ron Hubbard’s Church of Scientology and are often simplistically viewed as Satanists because of their worship of both Christ and Satan. Their belief was that during Armageddon, Christ would judge Satan and Satan would become reconciled to him. They would return to earth together to judge humanity. The four key figures of this ideology were Jehovah, Lucifer, Satan and Jesus. Essential tenants of the religion are the unification of Satan and Jesus, and thus, the unification of Jehovah and Lucifer. Charles Manson is said to have borrowed some of his beliefs from the Process Church, these accusations were taken so seriously that members of the church visited him in prison to ascertain whether he had indeed had contact with members of the church or received their literature. Like many Satanically inflected beliefs, the Process Church worked firstly on the ideas of self-understanding and self-improvement and the empowerment of the self. Satanism is this kind of religion, to allow oneself to have power and mastery. In this way it is very different from Christianity, which is more revolved around the idea of being led, being part of a group. Satanism is an elitist idea, with only the strongest and most wilful being accepted. This sound is akin to the whole of the Jefferson Airplane joining the Manson family (which, with his well documented links to the California rock and roll movement isn’t as ridiculous as it first seems). Most of the songs are happy and cheery with an underlying danger, as one might imagine a cult’s hymns to be. The light mood being undermined by the subservience to ideas and the occasional mentions of Satan. It is the discomfort of being in the presence of people who find joy in beliefs which terrify you.

I had the honour of seeing rock’s modern exalted goddess herself performing live in support of the magnificently megalithic Earth in Glasgow as part of the psychedelic Sabbath Assembly. At the time I knew virtually nothing about her and was supposed to be finding the PR guy so I could do an interview with Earth’s own Dylan Carlson during Jex’s set. Yet when she appeared through the smoke on the red-lit stage, hair a chaotic but clearly intended tangle and dressed in a black dress with bare arms and legs, booming forth proud and stunningly powerful guttural vocals, I forgot all about meeting one of rock’s greatest unsung heroes and wanted, needed, to see Jex perform. Her bewitching presence, her stage ability, bending backwards almost impossibly and shaking her shoulders, watching her hair roll back off them and leaving them naked. Holding forth ceremonies with incense and sound, lighting passion in the heart. She had a presence almost like Bowie, not glam obviously but with that same haunting, hovering way. Picking her moment carefully like a vocal predator. Looking out at the audience through a veil of tangled hair and holding eye contact with everyone until an orgasmic yell and spasm, launching backwards into a Christ-like pose and an impassioned vocal. Watching her, it wouldn’t be beyond the realms of imagination to see a full Linda Blair exploding out of the stage in a shocking display you simply can’t tear away from. Surely she is possessed, but I know not with what.

Words - (written under duress by) Steven

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