I saw Sleep - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #71

Or: - Lebanon! Lebanon! Hashishian! Rubble me, I’m a fifth century stone Buddha.
Or: - Stoner caravan from deep space arrives.
Or: - Sun beams down on to the Sandsean reigns.

NOTE - Adam is still trapped in exam glut, so spare a thought for him, and because I saw Sleep last night, give Tony Iommi a thought. The Sabbath reunion may be a retard jambourie at the moment, but they also laid a foundation of mung so thick you could build your house on it. Housekeeping over, on with what I scribbled!

It’s a beautiful day and I work out early so’s I can get on a train and go see Sleep, that San Jose mega-power-trio you might justa heard of because I can’t go ten minutes without mentioning something about their sonic mastery or the ultimate Sabbath-teasing or their Blue Cheer proto-metal fumblings or pseudo-religious lyrics or the fact that spinning them up on a civilised volume will be so utterly overwhelming you’ll scrape yourself from the floor after the record is finished just to re-seat the sucker and commence a second listen curled in the foetal position, fingers in bleeding ears and screaming. A sonic necessity then. But after the real Black Sabbath reunion appears to be imploding after Iommi’s cancer and the Bill Ward kerfuffle shot a tiny but potentially ruinous hole in the side of their space capsule and now we’re looking at explosive decompression, I wondered if Sleep, after munging and monging out whole generations of switched-on heads were the ones monged and munged to Ozzy levels and the show would be a tired useless husk. Rumours of Dopesmoker recitals at Roadburn exacerbated my worry and heightened my excitement. What if they do play Dopesmoker… the whole thing… shit… what if they suck and they play Dopesmoker. I tried to focus on working out, making myself exhausted to just let the show wash over me, be it good or ill. I wasn’t in any form to be contemplating it lest I get stuck in paranoid delusions of Sleep failing me and curl up in the bath, screaming whenever anyone switches off the light… horrible angst. I saw Kyuss live last year and they were superb, within seconds all the 15 years that had slid past since those generator parties in the desert dripped away, the band became younger on stage, music reviving them, because the grooves of Kyuss are so flawless that nothing, not the relentless march of time or the indifferent neglect of man can stop those records sounding picked-today fresh.

So I was in Glasgow (I fucking hate Glasgow) and I was in a bad mood and the support didn’t do anything to calm my nerves. Out of interest, I’m not sure exactly how much of my life I’ve listened to gravelly but pre-pubescent sounding angry men say “tee-yas” and “pay-yun” but it’s almost certainly a coupla hours total, time I could have spent getting in another coupla listens of Dopesmoker… Boring weak shit, A Storm of Light. I knew nothing about them before and I’m not going to look it up. I wish doom metal bands would stop trying to be Down, I really do, because Down weren’t that good, and if there’s one lesson Sleep have taught us is that if you are influenced by another band (Sleep – Sabbath) then having a sense of humour and apology about it is fucking useless, you gotta be so much more full-on than your muse and totally outflank them by the second LP.
There’s a projector behind the band, showing something or other. Just before Sleep comes on it starts showing episodes of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos… holy shit, I thought, they’re really gonna do it, they’re gonna just show us two hours of TV, come on at the end, say thankyou and I’mma run home and tell everyone I saw Sleep and they were mind altering. I’m not even on anything at this gig, not even drinking at all and I can barely handle this, all I can think is that this is a cruel trip to lay on somebody with a head full of acid. Luckily after what seems a nightmarish amount of time, they begin. Matt Pike gets his shirt off and gets a cheer. Al isn’t anywhere near the spindly sprite seen in all those Sleep-era interviews, but he has those wild eyes framed by his lank black hair. So it begins. Carl Sagan fades away and Sleep launch into Dopesmoker, the first half-hour anyhoo. Holy fucking shit. Sleep are playing Dopesmoker and it’s as far from sucking as you can get, it’s a thudding sonic colossus. I don’t know why they dropped the Sweet Leaf guitar tone and picked up the Ramesses guitar tone but it sure is working. This could be the loudest gig I’ve been to, it isn’t even a volume thing, you can hear the drums, sure, but the guitar is experienced through vibration. Seriously, all the hair on my head, hair on my arms and my clothes are vibrating at a high-hertz, you gotta experience it this way because the frequency is so vast your ears are overwhelmed and have to focus on the drumming (which accurately replicates the sound of a bible being repeatedly dropped). I can sense the people around me vibeing too. Everything is resonating with the guitars, there are zaps of electrickery dancing through my follicles, like I’m trapped in a lightning storm at the top of a hill holding a golf club to the heavens shouting just take me, will ya motherfucker? The bass… you feel that in your fucking bones. Seriously, the heaviness is dialled such an extent that it ain’t even in your ears… it’s just shaking your very marrow. The versions of Dopesmoker, Dragonaut, Aquarian, Antarcticus Thawed are all thuddingly powerful, muscled up, after a few years out of the gossip magazines they’ve returned with a new look. The distortion is dialled to 99, the bass even higher and the volume is stratospheric. The Arches is in a basement under Glasgow Central station and I wouldn’t be surprised to read of a few derailments, the thudding coming outta that roomful o’ freaks was enough to lift the trains clean off the rails. All kept in place by some hash-addled sound tech at the back who’d MacGyvered the console into giving him pure sonic liquid. The set was astoundingly electric from beginning to end, playing for two hours but it simultaneously felt like two minutes and two days. Proceeds the weedian.
Dopesmoker 2012 re-release gatefold by Moonhawk Roper
I s’pose this tour counts as the Dopesmoker release tour huh? We never did get one of those did we? The whole fuck up kinda tore Sleep apart at the time because those London records clowns (wearing their brownest trousers) weren’t keen about releasing it, we’ll now Southern Lord have given us full and beautiful picturedisks to spin. I didn’t get one though, I was too slow to the merch table, I mistakenly didn’t realise that remastered copies of Dopesmoker in beautiful picturedisk vinyl would sell like… well like that actually. I got the CD and it’s great. Remastered by Brad Bortright and released on the Southern Lord label, I’m spinning it just now, third rotation. The new artwork is awesome guys, and I’m gonna treasure this. Sad reports coming in from the twittersphere that there was someone who got their mitts on that special picturedisk vinyl before the show and dropped it and got it trampled during the show. This is something to really lament guys, limited edition is now slightly more limited. I’d be heartbroken. Ah well, that’s about all from me, me ears is still ringing. Remember kiddies, that whistling sound is the sound of the ear hairs dying. Wave your freak flag high, peace, and goodbye Glasgow you rotten hole, for another few weeks at least.

Written under duress by Steven.

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