Zen and the art of time manipulation - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #121

Julian Cope Woden 2012
Holy shiiiit Julian Cope (my idol and god) finally got around to releasing Woden, followup to Odin from the dim and distant past of 1998 (when this particular trip was derailed by the emergence of L.A.M.F. from between the kitchen floorboards) and it’s… phew… it’s… It’s a million decibels wide and 72 minutes long and ethereally beautiful and deeply transcendently heartbreakingly powerfuel. It’s the sound of a bomb dropping in slowmo for 72 minutes. It’s the sky coming in on our heads. It’s those final seconds of Melancholia as the vast blue planet that has hung heavy over the entire film finally sucks the earth around and vacuums the atmosphere away to reveal black space floating without a care beyond. It’s a dialtone. It’s the crackle on the radio in the Bunker of the Last Shots as radio transmissions bounce off the atmosphere from a vast apocalypse-surviving city where churchbells ring underground and echo around a cavern like sonar bouncing off the hull of a sweaty submarine as vast machines rolled in cogwheels by men move ponderously around. It isn’t music, you’ll notice I haven’t referenced music. It’s cinema, audio cinema, it’s beauty the likes of which no images could match. It’s a passport to another world surer than any hastily created Hollywood nightmare. It’s an invocation and a resignation and a place in the world that cannot altogether be quantified or explained away without having heard it. I may sit here for hours, incense burning, variously trying to sonically meditate and then return and express my renewed vision of Woden but it really will this time be all for naught if you haven’t attempted to hear the Archdrude’s latest lamentation for yo good self, nevertheless I feel I’m locked in the all-night teeth-grinder and won’t get out ‘til morning. Maybe, just maybe (I write this paragraph after a single listen) it’s a VCS3 Putney synthesiser (teak baby!) (and a waterfall of last-minute Mellotron 400 Marine backup) throwing wide open the doors of perception and Hel together and allowing the mixture of the resultant Mexican mushie and brimstone perfumes distilled into a single spinning disk.

Listen #2

For the most part it’s the absence. I’ve said Earth 2: Special Low Frequency Version is the heaviest album of all time because it’s an hour and twenty minutes of absence and this comes close to the sky-falling-in heaviness of that record. It never really gets done beginning, it never really ends. Certainly it reaches its own sort of climax of bell-ringing synthesised madness but it’s not a song. It’s a meditative agenda; it’s a Stuka putting on the siren of Jericho and hoving down on some empty desert town, but atomically dissected by Cope and his magical mystical time-travel machine of Zenlike genius. The entire friggin’ record is the calm before a very nasty storm. It’s the slight howl in the wind, that deep-down gut wrench at seeing a pitch-black cloud on the horizon; youbetcha, it’s 2012 baby!

Listen #3
The Archdrude in full flow -
Photo Head Heritage
Like breakers of liquid glass shattering electrically; that’s how it starts and it goes on for bloody hours (or maybe it just seems that way) before this kind of low-end wail starts to sneak in under the radar. Is it the distant crackle of far-off thunder, the electricity in the air and the stormclouds draped upon the panorama. The distant rumbles of faraway thunder until it all coalesces together into something softer but constant; like the sound of the Northern Lights in the sky. On a side note. Copey has clearly half-inched Nails’ Unsilent Death album artwork (or Holy McGrail has, whether Cope is in on his own complicity in idea piracy is another matter) but it’s damn lovely; that Nails album was sweaty but in a complete way, but this is just on another realm. I can discern now that its divided into roughly two pieces; an opening third that is a largely eventless but deeply profound for its utter blackness journey to the charred centre of the mantle of a lightless star, truly cosmik. The second half is a bellringer-backed acid funerial matrimony and is consciousness-snappingly beautiful. I’m not talking primal satisfaction like that to be had from Blue Cheers meditations, nor am I talking literary fulfilment from Bonny ‘Prince’ Billy’s first record, no no no, I’m talking a deepseated spiritual one-ness that lasts to the end of the record as soon as Cope and his synthesiser wash upon the shores of this insane preternatural courtship religious mystery and set about it with Mello(w)tron in tow.

Woden is a ‘from the treasure troves’ release which is either a cynical cash-grab or a genuine attempt at rock genius from the one and only rock genius. I chose the latter, natch, but it’s a modern one-man orchestra and a powerfully spiritual lamentation. I’m not usually stuck for words, but each listen has slammed me into the chair with eyes fastened open and made my muscles hurt and audaciously filled the room with the trogliditic silence even Dylan Carlson in his best moments couldn’t bring himself to muster. Multiple listens will follow, many more and I may even feel compelled to complete another lamentation on this creation and it’ll fo’ sho’ feature in the best-of-year end-of-year class report. It’s the audacity to embrace silence on such a panoramic scale that blows my mind every time. How many things, in this mechanical 24 hour world of ours know how to embrace true rural heathen silence. How many people know how to be quiet, utterly silent without the merest hint of action or movement or comment or noise? That’s the stroke of genius that’ll filter down through the ages as the ripples of this record start up in isolated little locations and headphoned heads all across the world. Reading around it, someone suggested that the tundra Troglodyte nature of this record demands actual undergroundness, in which case I am informed the lowest point of the London underground is 32 metres below the ground, at the Jubilee platforms at Westminster (wouldn’t it be though?) ‘Course the nearest I can get is fucking about in Edinburgh’s Marianas trench of a street, the Cowgate. I’m seeing the permanent pilgrim Dylan Carlson there soon, so I’ll report back with field recordings. Peace.

Written under duress by Steven.

Post script – I would have called it Woden-ful, if I were a label-approved journalist secretly longing for death.

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