Right off the bat I just know I’mma love this Pharoah Chromium record so damn much I may just have to settle down with it. The first 35 seconds of side one have already indulged in that true Melvinite post-Iommiism with such dedication and affection I just wanna take the record and play it for y’all individually. There also been some organ worship that brought back fond acid flashbacks of Yamantaka Sonic Titan trips with such pleasing instant mind-transferall I just gotta tell y’all, I felt a little summin’ summin’ in my bones. It all went a bit electric too. Just what are they putting in the water in Berlin to make you drop this motha’fucker motherfucker? Whatever it is, drink up and drink deep because it’s closing time at the bar and you’ve got a universe to master.
This be Krautrock. A genre I’ve tiptoed round the edges of. Both the post-world war two losing powers seem to have grabbed onto something pretty sonically vital, guess there’s just something in the ashes of defeat that makes a motherfucker want to play somethin’ pretty special. While Japrock is a definite muse of mine, I’ve been less inured with any of the Krautrock stuff (outside of both Amon Düüls, natch) but might this just be the LP that sends all us Kraut krazy just zooming on pure motorik deizel fuel and unable to distinguish between electronic, traditional, empty and dead until it all just collapses? Maybe so, it’s definitely workin’ on me so far and shows no signs of slowin’. There be a connection to all the Japrock kings too, this side, side one, Atomic side (just spy for a moment the sorta group that would call their side Atomic side? Yaaaah that’s who we in the company of now) is a mediation on the recent Fukushima disaster. Empty soundscapes drift past, anxious like the electric air before a lightning storm just waiting for the rain, waiting for somthin’ you can’t give, oh no sir. The tension is palpable, even if exactly what puts it there ain’t. It just burns with a raw electrickery, both in mood and in reality, this LP is powering the houses for miles around with its electric glow... Ye remember the Faust Tapes, a few heads have brought this up in relation to this LP but it really rings true; just a single tape ribbon stretching into eternity packed with a million tiny ideas that all come together into something world-cracking. Liquid philosophy bleeding from your speakers and you just to young and too dumb to be in its presence but y’are. You don’t really know what you’re doing, you’re a kid but you play along because you’ve managed to bullshit everyone so far and you better not stop. That’s what this side one feels like. I ache for side two. Feral side. Hooboy.
Neo-brutalist ideas. Sci fi. The occult. The kicker is called Zen and Napalm... eeeee! It’s side two, feral side. We’ve all got a feral side? Right kiddies? Usually comes out after a fifth of jack and somebody warm to rub against huh? The smell of sweat? I can smell it in the room now after just a few seconds under this new side’s heat-ray. It sure is hot. Like side one it’s an electric burning, intensity despite absence, really quite post-. Not sign of those Iommiisms they treated us to early on, I hope they come back though. This is robotronik, not motorik. This is the kind of shit you hear on your answer phone messages when you play it back late at night in your nightmares. Shadows against the window, shadows of impossibly proportioned Lovecraftian men... long, slender, he comin’. Ghazi Barakat has done an absolutely sensational job, naw I mean it, sensational, I want a sensory deprivation tank because this material world is ruining yer fine work. No less credit ought to go to Nicolas Moulin, who saw this genius when others didn’t and released this whole thing upon the world, opening the cage fer all this darkness to just leap forward because at the bottom of Pandora’s box lay hope eh? He’s also responsible for the nightmarish packaging, something that would befit an LP recorded by Sleep trapped in a Bedouin tent miles from electricity and forced to scrape metal to make the recording deadline, on some super-heavy skunk too. This side is just a sheer electric fizz, like trying to keep afloat in a glass of freezing champagne and being sucked under, except the whole thing is plugged into enough voltage to punch you right through a concrete wall and leave your hair smouldering too. Max ostinato pressure from the electronic scramjets, trying to get this baby into orbit before disk two... phew it sure does take the wind outta ya. Swirling seas of distortion hanging like an electric mist over the long-dead ruins of some bombed out town circa-1945... something anciently European is in this side, only just coming to the surface under this digital fog, not sure if its distorted...
An interpretation of new age and world music lies ahead, sitars crushed under the weight of all that electric haze. I’m reminded of what blasphemy the preposterously ironically named Holy McGrail committed upon the until-then unsullied Raw Power, this world music is twisted beyond belief and at one point drops out almost completely, as if your stereo has died. This second side is becoming much harder to get a handle on, a hold is proving difficult, slipping, sliding, feeling like it might be me that’s breaking and not the record. Madness in all directions, whirling dervishes of fairground organs at impossibly slow speeds. Waves of Rhine mud are blasting up off the seawall, electrically of course, before stopping as abruptly as they began to allow a grass swaying eastern rhythm to soothe for a moment. It’s a momentary lapse above the electric mist to look around a beautiful eastern sunrise, morning is here and its brought with it some soothing wind. I don’t miss being back in the nightmare but I do hope to return there soon. This is called the Ghost side... Oh and here comes the nightmare! Strutting back in on a wave of dronerific electric noise worthy of the greatest guitar gods but all digital, it storms the barricades like a shoggoth. Fuck this, this whole side sounds like Acid Mothers Temple taking flying lessons in my flat in old B29 Superfortresses training for dropping the Fat Man on Nagasaki and it blows my fucking mind. Onwards!
Arabic side. Twelve loops inspired by two Turkish Saz players from Kreuzberg and this is the most organic the LP has yet felt... Interference zaps through the closest this record gets to rock and roll, sharp like a steakknife and dropping so randomly you’re half-clenched up in yer seat hoping you ain’t gonna get sliced. I didn’t know y’all could get electric Saz, but here they’re whipped up like a top chef might and dropped into the mix to sound just like electric guitars. Again Holy McGrails beautiful raping of Shake Appeal comes to mind. The restraint, the will to keep something this catchy and edgy ‘till last... phew I can hardly stomach that. Hard to believe that these cosmic monstrosities, echoing out across the cosmos are two guys on Saz’s. And what are those vocal samples? Call to prayer? Call to arms? These are the questions he wants us to ask. Islamaphobia, with the trial of the despicable Brevik ongoing it seems more pertinent than ever to look for the cure to what ails us, why we are so afraid of beautiful people just because they don’t share our beliefs? Why can’t we love our fellow man? Why can we who have not give to those, and receive that which we don’t have, spiritual and healthy beauty. Why are we so full of hate for our fellow man? Why can we not accept those who do not love as we do, who do not worship as we do, who do not think as we do, who do not hold our values or cherish our idols. Can we not see that hate begets hate just as violence begets violence, and it is all folly, to meet violence with violence is to kill oneself? The only force powerful enough to defeat violence and death is love, if we beget violence with violence, so our victims will beget too until we will all be lost. Do not hate, the voices of hate want you to buy bigger guns, put bigger locks on your doors and not peek out your curtains; the eyes of love want you to see as they see, all people as part of a whole, all things as part of a whole, all life as a journey for the sake of love and enjoyment and pleasure. To join in the eyes of love requires nothing but your cooperation, just a simple change, made instantly and with seismic ramifications if we can all make it. But this track, like so much music I’ve been through on these journeys, could change the world if only music were seen as I see it, as something to be taken and waved as a flag to unify people of all ages, sexes, races, beliefs under the one flag, and a flag of love. Not armed with anything, not with guns or with ideals or even with hate; but simply imbued with love, because if we can do that, our energy will simply prevail.
Listen to it here. Savour, and tell the label and the band what a great job they're doing.
Written under duress by Steven.