We all missed Billy Crystal Meth the first time around - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #110

EDIT #2 - This here chronicle of an ill-fated noughties band who churned out a one-off barnstormer inspired a lot of excitement and comment, thus it has after the fact been declared the first in a series of the Wine, Women and a Song or Two alternative rock and roll (and anything else actually) hall of fame. Sure we've written about well-known classics and undiscovered classics and we still love giving modern hard working heads writing this is now in graffiti above yer door a leg-up so we'll keep doing all that, but henceforth I'll be throwing an entry into the ongoing hall of fame. The rules I've just cooked up are quite simple. The release must be from between the turn of the millenium and today, it must be a stand-alone album or part of a miniscule discography, and the band must be for all intents and purposes dead, on permanent hiatus or broken up and doing other stuff. It's only now that the Blue Cheers and Pentagrams are being dug out of retirement and given proper recognition, and there's nobody on the radar giving the same exhuming to latterday hits that'll still be fresh when you open the coffin, so I'm going to write it. Henceforth this'll be a continuing project to map my generations undiscovered and unmined sonic weirdness. It'll be sporadic, not weekly or monthly, but it should be fun. If you've got an inclusion, get in touch and we'll check it out like Holmes and Watson (but stupid). This will be the record of those bands of the recent past who were too weird to live and too rare to die. Rite on! Inductee #1 into the Wine, Women and a Song or Two alternative rock and roll hall of fame.

Let us all lament, Billy Crystal Meth is dead, the treacherous ever-churning perpetually stormy seas of public taste interpreted by a moronic short-sighted industry have drowned yet another promising victim, but their work remains, and what a work it is. Welcome then, into the hall of greats, the alternative rock and roll hall of fame compiled not of release number, sales but for contribution to a ruthless Khanate arsenal of the most panoramic sonic motherfuckery ever to issue from the heads, to the heads, via the heads. Released in 2008 in limited edition bespoke CD version of 500, and featuring the apotheosis of the instrumental doom form; as inductees go, this one has already earned some deep respect, but you haven’t heard it yet. It will take you apart. The brothers Andy and Jeff Koettel on drums and axe respectively, another ex-Scat, current Mummifier member, also furnishing the axe department in Allan Kempf; the underground supergroup rock cred of Billy Crystal Meth is hard to beat. A stable of almost-made-it bands and also-rans is the first seal of approval. From Ottumwa, in the great state of Iowa. I am just reelin’ off the facts sheet here and not tellin’ ya a great deal. Let me get down to it, the story of how Billy Crystal Meth came into my life is at least as important and interesting as their music. I came upon the album very recently.

Music in my presence is consumed at a geometric rate, and acquired slightly faster. I pick up dozens of albums at any time, digital is almost constant and visits to record shops are many and multitudinous. Edinburgh’s record shop circuit is bad, but I come from the northern cultural wastes of Aberdeen and even scraps seem like a feast to a starving soul. I set to work on them all, constantly, viciously, without heed or conscience; consuming and devouring. On one of my many jaunts I was plugged into some real barbarian noise and was keen to purchase some more, to do my duty both as a rock and roll head and a consumer, so album artwork was to be my guiding star, single and holy. Buy music based on the cover, and almost immediately you will be drawn to an album with a cover thus: a vast top-heavy tank rolling across a shard-strewn wasteland, apparently spewing flame, and the words ‘Meth Metal’ given prominent bearing. I took it. I took many others. It rained, it rained so heavily… torrents of the stuff and unbeknowest to me destroyed all my records… all of them… every single one. I returned home to a bag full of pulp and metal. I took it all out, cleaned what I could, separated out what I could, and it was all ruined, every last record, every single liner note, every thing. I could have saved the disks I suppose, scoured the remnants of the sleeves out of the grooves and set them to play in mystery, but the entire thing seemed like such a bummer, such a downer. I wracked my brain trying to remember what I’d bought, what records I had purchased so I could download their digital copies illegally with the knowledge I had paid my share to their upkeep, but I couldn’t. One record survived unscathed. All the other CDs were spoiled, mashed and pulped in their cases but the Billy Crystal Meth album, their only album, was entirely unscathed. It wasn’t even wet. Now I know that it was the sheer genre-melting mastery contained in this disk that repelled water, not some fluke of chance, but the willing and abiding power of the Great Magnet. What a fool I was to try to defy him. Natch the time came to listen to this weather-retardant piece of excellence. I was already sold on the cover, but being the only CD that survived if nothing else woulda put it top of my CD stack for a while while I thoroughly absorbed it.

Laying waste, Billy Crystal Meth in full flow.
Now I feel real bad kiddies, gotta tells yaI feel bad ‘bout spoiling the string section superlative at the end of that Oren Ambarchi record I gushed about last week, and there is a similar be-suited spoiler lurking in the wings of this Billy Crystal Meth album. In film reviews, they say there’s four kinds of spoilers, there’s telling people what happens in the end, there’s telling people what doesn’t happen in the end, there’s the old “or is he” line to cast ye doubt on an otherwise unremarkedupon thing (who is just a cripple who survived the gunfight at the docks or is he?) and then there’s revealing that there is a twist, that has yooz sitting in the cinema thinking “yeah, it all seems wrapped up, but there’s a twist” so revealing that the final eighteen minutes of Meth Metal builds into a tsunamic boom that’ll rumble on under the radar throughout all of underground music is spoiling the surprise for yooz that I had the pleasure of being smacked by. ‘Course there’s more to this album than the final gasping shamanic legend-enshrining guitar scream like the final electric trumpet wail over a lost battlefield, there’s a whole fifty solid minutes of mung funk of thrilling thrashing Wildman fury to get through that might just satisfy ya and might justa been enough to cement this as a quality album. There’s clever use of sampling and the most insane guitar-top-heavy multi-instrumentation I’ve seen since Randy Holden’s Population II. But that ain’t what you’re here for, you’re here for the most insane outta-the-blue genius ending to an otherwise high quality but idea-light rock album. A ritualistic electric throb to bring the record to a close, the sorta barebones electric humm you’re likely to hear if the apocalypse wipes the world of all microchips and we have to go back to running our tech on computers the size of Victorian factories. A thudding blue electric abominable snowman tramping across endless empty fields of culture, unappreciated in its time, except by the few. A stillclub jive of a whole new ritual, a new prototype noise never to be repeated or put into mass production.
UPDATE motha'fucka's; Billy Crystal Meth may be dead, but they live on eternally, with an infinate number of totally free copies available from their hard-to-find bandcamp. Free, to those who can afford it, very expensive to those that can't. You can get all of Meth Metal, including the paradigm-shifting Frostilicus (which was recorded in one take and live - knew it). So go right here, and indulge. Spread it around, tell yer friends, it's FREE! Remember and contact them at Mummifier's facebook and tell them how awesome Billy Crystal Meth was too.
Written under duress by Steven.

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