[I've had a bit of time off and have been writing overtime, so for the forseeable I'll be posting two articles on a Friday. I'll try to keep it to one with the best picks from my collection and the best of 2012, but who knows?]
Today I received a reply to an interview I’ve mailed off to Antipidean drone-space-dreamsludge merchants Sneeze the Wizard, famous for having the most awesome album cover of the year, and it’s only fugging January. Y’see usually interviews for this blog are done by email, rather than instant messenger or Skype; partly because my schedule is as inflexible as a granite block, partly because recording a Skype interview while doing shorthand is hard and mainly because I hate people. Well anyhoo, some artists do alright with the impersonal interview email, but Sneeze the Wizard really grabbed it with both hands, including for my delectation an extended post-script (yes babies, that’s what P.S. stands for) bearing the title POST INTERVIEW RANT – BONUS INFORMATION/anecdotal information and began with the phrase “Sneeze the Wizard was created with the goal of creating anti-industry music”. Where is the sign-up sheet for team ‘hell yes!’? These guys rule. Also their band is a result of the anger that arose from a teeshirted fop not knowing who Roger Ebert is; as someone who has literally executed corporal punishment on people who aren’t familiar with White Light/White Heat, I sure can understand that one; and tie it all up with a certain sort of ur-fav rude song title, Tool’s Hooker with a Penis about the same kinda shit.
Musically speaking, Sneeze the Wizard’s EP To Space We Go is exactly the kind of mind-expansion aid hyper-spatial dronescape I like to see more of. Takes me back to something approaching the Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine-esque minimalist drone that I never can get enough of. Their second EP, Rise of Academia, is a sound that is guaranteed to spin you like a gunshot to the shoulder after the previous quiet doomscape end-of-the-world-tableau. Rise of Academia presents textured plastic guitar notes ringing out electronically and is if anything more compelling. John tells me “the idea behind Sneeze the Wizard was to have a single band playing as many different styles as possible... Will it make our back catalogue seem schizophrenic and confusing? Yes. Is it more fun to do it this way? Yes.” I’m not sure it is schizophrenic. While the sounds differ, the same spirit is carrying the music to its conclusion in both EPs. It seems pretty hilarious to write this on the day of the Wikipedia blackout, but Sneeze the Wizard very consciously come out of a generation of people for whom information is a currency. The accruement and ability to further accrue vast amounts of useless data and keep it in your head to disgorge at others in the pub is of greater value than money or status. It’s called the information society. As such there is a kind of intellectual class emerging, there is a whole generation of men with this almost academic level of expertness in all things who don’t get the respect they deserve (including internet guttersnipe music writers...) and Sneeze the Wizard come out of that. John Says “Yeah, let’s form a band with some flawed ideologies and pseudo intellectual ideas”, Adam says “Our mission is to imbue a kind of musical art-form to purify the world of the mundane and monotonous”.
“Sneeze isn’t pretentious enough to claim to epitomise music as art, but we are pretentious enough to claim that we’re the closest anyone will ever get” And it is, this is art. Because as a wise man probably once said, art is not endemic to a property and neither is it in the eye of the beholder, it is in the creation. Is the vast apocalyptic Damoclean sword of a nuclear mushroom cloud an eerily beautiful sight? Certainly. Does it also inspire a kind of hideous existential angst? I should hope so. Is it art? No. Because it was made to turn foreigners into glass, not make you go wobbly about the existence or non-existence of God. Is a sheep cut up and pickled a way to explore our own soul? Nope. Is it art? Sure is! Because the twat who put it all together thought he was making art. Up until now, modern music has been in the realm of the mushroom cloud; maybe once in a while it’s quite beautiful but it doesn’t count as art because that isn’t the aim. Sneeze the Wizard set out to make art. Sneeze the Wizard say the same thing I’ve always been saying (see, told you I was right) that music isn’t art anymore. It isn’t put together because the people involved think the new Lady GaGa single would be a nice thing for everyone to listen to, it’s put together because the shadowy be-suited businessmen who wouldn’t put a cent in a vending machine unless they could expect a return on investment sitting around in penthouse offices wallpapered with money slowly becoming emotionally dead would like a seventeenth gold-plated speedboat crewed by lingerie models. I’m not saying that’s not a noble goal (certainly I’m off down the speedboat shop myself the second this blog starts to deliver) but is it really helping out the world? Is all the latest fully-plastic but not so fantastic sounds really making the world a better place b helping nurture the human souls who hear them? Fuck no. Are Sneeze the Wizard doing their utmost to give you that rock and roll spiritual kick to the head you all badly deserve? Fuck yes. This raw stuff is made as art. To spark controversy and be exciting and funny and inspiring and piss you off. It isn’t the kind of thing you can run in the background while shooting up enough heroin to knock out a rhino and running the mouth for hours about ‘revitalising pop’.
Sorry... lost my train of thought. Sneeze the Wizard then. These guys are good. Really good. Sharp silky sound straight out of the ur-groove playbook and sultry spacerock jams at the other end. More EPs are promised in a rash of other styles, so if you aren’t particularly inured with their current work (why not?) then hop on over and tell them to make a crunk-core record or whatever it is you’d like to hear. Personally I can’t recommend it highly enough as a way to ensure your musical 2012 starts on a high. They’re excellent, they don’t fit in “you don’t see many musicians drawing transmutation circles in notebooks or making videos about carrots in space” and they set out with the expressed desire to fuck with the rulebook and your head in the process.
“That story has no real point or satisfying conclusion, but I quite like it” – John.
Written under duress by Steven. The record is available here and it's FREE!