A Meeting by the River - Ry Cooder and Vishwa Mohan Bhatt - LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #75

I’ve long expressed my interest in music from other cultures and unfamiliar styles, and something I like just as much as that is whenever this sort of music is blended with something more familiar. You could think of it as safer: a gentle little introduction to an otherwise completely unknown territory, just testing the waters a little bit, although I prefer not to. I prefer to see it as some otherwise unrelated musicians with completely separate ideas and mindsets and skills joining together to create a product of their own differences: a unique sound unlike anything heard before, music that exists not as the spearhead of a new movement or even something that can be replicated: something as unique as a fingerprint or a snowflake. And A Meeting by The River is just that: two masters of their own very different genres, pioneers of their own delicate sound, coming together to complement each other and build something that would be impossible to do on their own. The album title couldn’t be more appropriate: a meeting, as if to suggest a casual encounter, reflects the improvisatory nature of the album, (apparently the two musicians met less than an hour before the recording of the album and that the entire album was “unplanned and unrehearsed”) and a river, this most natural and pure of environments, suggests the gentle natural flowing of life and music, tranquil, clear and soothing.

You're in my veins you fuck! An astro psyche roundup - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #136

All matter flows according to the whims of the Great Magnet, what a fool I was to defy him. Life ebbs and flows like a frost stream, not like an ever-flowing river. After being trapped in a busy schedule and getting hung-up on a series of below-par albums for a few weeks I was beginning to lose sight of what this blog was about. Luckily fresh drilling into the welcoming belly of the underground has yielded yet more fret-smashing action I’m all too happy to bring to you in a pristine psychedelic state of the union. It has also not escaped my attention that we’re speeding towards the end of the year, and the end of year lists (and we gotta special present for y’all in December too, so keep ‘em peeled) but right now I figured it was time for a psychic roundup of all the best psyche that for one reason or another slipped past us this year (mostly ‘cause I missed the fuckers, eh?) Each and every one of these is special, bespoke, very very good, and usually effing difficult to get ahold of, savour.

Not much time before the end me babies; Atlantean Runes provide some apocalypse rock - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #135

Pop a buncha coffee granules straight outta the jar and grind ‘em up between my teeth and just ride the bitter whisky shudder and I’m buzzing buzzing buzz propa natural natch buzz coming totally without psychic meditative impairment through I do feel like jumping or sprinting or doing one armed press-ups and it’s makin’ Atlantean Runes debut go with a certain sluggish pop that is even more otherworldly zing than ever before and it’s while my consciousness is moving at a hundred billion miles a second and the stars are turned from pinpricks of light into diverging streaks of light and all the while I’m not. Actually. Moving. At all. Compared to the comparatively sober Jackfest gee-tar runs of Eidetic Seeing and La Otracina (about which I started one of these fuckups but never finished), Atlantean Runes are definitely intuitive noncareer movers, but also in a very real minute-by-minute sense nonmovers. The record materialises outta thin air, as if it’s been rolling steadily on forever, like a ghost train appearing over the desert horizon in a fug of steam and just rolling past for forty minutes before the tail carriage, as empty and desolate as the engine up front rolls over y’r dumbstruck mind and is gone, just as it came. Presumably still rolling somewheres else. Just because you can’t hear it doesn’t mean it isn’t still spinning, running adrift through millions of miles of empty space. It feels ancient, older than the cosmos, built of things we know not and been traversing the universe for untold millennia before finally splashing down here. It’s 2012 motherfucker, I can’t think of a world that needs it more.

Eldritch light on tales of Northern rumble - a conversation with Jackal-Headed Guard of the Dead - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #134

“Why doest thou hide thyself in clouds
From every searching eye?
Why darkness and obscurity
In all thy words and laws
So that none dare eat the fruit but from
The wily serpent’s jaws”
Excerpt from To Nobodaddy by William Blake

Jackal-Headed Guard of the Dead were real, as I grew up I’d been told stories of a band called Jackal-Headed Guard of the Dead but never really believed them. I began to have strange dreams, visions of a towering, impossibly thin man who took… skin… and brought with him behind him always a great and terrible rumbling like the sullen grumbling of some unfathomable darkness. Under discussion I discovered a lot of my friends had had similarly nightmarish visions, which only became worse under the influence of psychoactive drugs. Then we discovered a new band, the Jackal-Headed Guard of the Dead. We had all heard, we had all understood, and we had all gone slightly mad with the horror of it all. We had all heard the stories as children, as young men we had all read the Necronomicon and thought we had understood it. We fancied ourselves that we could imagine the land beyond, that we could envision Leng. It wasn’t until Leng was conjured before me and I went there, from a basement under Auld Reekie’s damp and dusky time-worn cobbles under gibbous moon, on waves of Melvinite grumbling amplified to the sound of the sun tearing apart, channelled through three men, their instruments and a sea of fine Scots malt bong water, it wasn’t until one night that I realised exactly what Leng was… that it was a horror beyond imagining. Nothing, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing the unknowable, of Leng, of Innsmouth, of Dunwich, to see that placid island of ignorance in the black seas of infinity for what it was, to understand that there are horrors out there beyond the snows and over the mountains impossible for the human mind to sanely comprehend. On a hazy crashing tide of psychoactive distortion, and by printing in the infernal method; by taking the audience apart, tearing and mangling in a fiendish and unspeakable fashion, that they have not yet done; but Jackal Headed Guard of the Dead have taken us to Leng; I observed such an occurrence, towards the end of the set as the plateau was reached, I observed behind the band a vast spectral Viking ship crewed by ghosts sailing in the infinite vastness of space, except the single man at the helm, who appeared to be alive… and pointing behind me and screaming. ‘Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!’ With a shrillness and look in his eyes that was immediately distressing. As with Edinburgh doom Of Spire and Throne, after each listen I fall into reluctant and fitful slumber and have strange vivid apocalyptic dreams, of nightmarish lightning crashing all about me, of beings coming from the stars and waging unholy wars upon man, of horrors that before Jackal-Headed Guard of the Dead were beyond the imaginings of man, but now in my nightmares made flesh.

A tiny measure of a reflection of beauty: Spend an April in the Orange - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #133

“Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space.” – Douglas Adams.

Please, avail yourself of the April in the Orange album the Glittering Fish Were Stars, indulge in whatever chemicals you find give you spiritual balance, if any at all. Take as much time as required to come to terms with this interactive diagram, contemplate the small, the large and the relative scope of yourself amidst the universe. Lay back, ideally observing the most un-light-polluted night sky reasonably possible and repeat after me (group recitation is also encouraged): “There is no God, I am alone. The human concept of God exists only in the ignorant mind as a lie self-dictated to us in the early days of our collective awareness, to reassure those incapable of grappling with the ineffable truth, which I have unsuccessfully contemplated, but wholly accept. I acknowledge that the notion of a being, entity, force or intention existing before the material universe and giving creation and overseeing the lives of the tiny, imbecilic life forms on a small rock in a distant spiral arm of an unimportant galaxy in the scope of what is now believed to exist as well as the chaos and suffering of the world as it is is thoroughly foolish, and to sustain such a notion in my mind is only to give shelter to the self-important machinery of ignorance. The reason I cannot contemplate the real truth, and instead replace it with loving absent cosmic fathers, is the same reason it gives me spiritual balance. God is but the projection of ignorance, fear and self-importance that comes with self-awareness. I am ignorant enough to believe in a higher power, self-important enough to expect one and fearful enough to need one. I am a tiny, insignificant carbon based life form able to understand my place in the universe only to the extent as to wilfully misinterpret it. I assume my place in the universe to be of purpose, to make sense, to begin and to conclude in a sequence comprehendible to my brain; this is not the case. My life is pointless, a happy cosmic accident and a joyous giggle on the temporal smoke exhalation of the breath of the universe. My life has no purpose but what I make of it. I am not watched over, either by benevolent or malevolent forces, nor indeed indifferent entities. Just as the earth is not the universe, just as the earth is not the centre of the universe, just as the earth is not the centre of the solar system, just as the solar system is in no way central – my life is in no way central, watched or controlled. I express my understanding of this fact, although I do not understand it. I express my agreement with this fact, even while my body shouts with every atom of its existence a strong pantheistic terror at the expression of the following phrase, the existential terror belying what I am about to express highlights both the truth of the phrase and the difficulty I have in accepting it into my being. I make all efforts to come to terms with this truth, to open my mind to its possibilities and though my body shouts I say quietly but with resolution: I am totally alone. Alone in a universe so vast and labyrinthine that in no way can I understand the enormity of it. My life was not created with meaning, nor did it cultivate meaning. I was not created, I simply am. When my soul separates from my body, I know not whether it will endure or die too, nor where it will go if it does endure.”

Mindless Self Indulgence at the Garage, 26th October 2012

[We have a new contributor! Say hello to Ann-Margaret, whose photo-led meditations on the cure for what ails us will appear irregularly at an undetermined length. Please be encoraging and loving, as this entire thing was written and photographed under extreme duress on a phone! Hand in your luddite card. So come in Ann-Margaret, take off your coat, sit down, not in the big chair, that's mine. Ed.]

This review was written the day after I attended the Mindless Self Indulgence gig on Friday 26th of October, I was still totally hyped up from it so if it seems like it was written by a 14 year old girl who's had too much sugar and cider, that’s because it’s probably what the gig made me feel like :) (Please note I hadn’t had any sugar or cider that night!)

Sunken Condos - Donald Fagen - LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #74

Yet another surprising release that I inadvertently discovered on my daily web surf was this delightful little album by the man who put the Steely in Steely Dan. His fourth solo album in 30 years, and a “mere” six years since his last outing, (there were nine and 13 years between the first and second, and second and third respectively) Sunken Condos is as just as a surprise should be: unexpected, delightful, and enjoyable. It offers a much lighter feel than any of Fagen’s previous solo albums by not being a continuation of his extremely vague Nightfly trilogy, (I for one wasn’t aware it was a trilogy until the helpful interweb told me) which, for an artist whose work has always been jazzy and breezy makes for a very slick listen indeed.

There is a demon that lives in the air, at Mach one on the dial: Gnod go supersonic - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #132

Kneel before Gnod.
Gnod were on supersonic form at the Julian Cope Copendium book launch. It was an evening not just for them, but a celebration and a perfect metaphor for everything Cope stands for; a true recount of 21st century barbarianism, heathen rejoicing and primal evocations in the hall of mirrors. In attendance were (not) Manchester Motherfuckers and ‘intuitive non-careermovers’ Gnod, as well as similarly emotionally encumbered sonic conquistadors and volumatic cosmonauts the Kosmik Deed (Kosmik) James and (Kosmik) Jewlian confirmed. In attendance of course natch was Cope, Fido’s Blues, the insane Black Sheep road movie that deserves a whole non-music (although sorta music) In Search of Space frantic Benzedrine freakout all to itself. I may descend into complete incomprehensibility as I go on, as I did in front of Julian Cope as he signed my newly sold-out-for copy of Copendium (for those interested in rock artefacts, it’s a must, for those interested in rock writing, the Head Heritage Unsung keeping the red flag flying is a must). I can tell you all I informed him of this stumbling guffawing bullshit ride over the crunchy skin of the underground and occasionally into its nougat centre and his response was, “right on man! I propelled you”, I was humbled. Anyhoo. There was love, death, and a bit with a dog. Rawk awn.

[All quotes are paraphrased and come attributed with a big *sic because I was way too spaced to keep notes or think to record it]

Space apes and unclean yearning: Enos live - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #131

Enos's Chris Rizzanski better
red than dead
So I’m sitting here in this stinking little room, looking at an evening of a gig I do not want to go to listening to the Vandelles album at preposterous volume, hunched over this laptop, elbows up, fingers gently moving, preparing to write, what? I don’t know. But something. I have to go and see Enos tonight, I’ve been trying to get them to come to Edinburgh for so long now, to not go and see them would be foolish. Cosmic Sleep impersonators Enos have taken time out to visit the frozen north and the lineup glitters with all manner of local secondary jewels. I just can’t work myself out of this angst funk and doubt I will do so by about midnight. Of course, if I choose not to go it leaves me in a very interesting position rearding exactly what shit I’ll feed into the insatiable maw of the dreaded internet hivemind and exactly how and when I’ll knock it together. It’s another oppurchancity to do some photography, make some friends, make contact with all the head ritual enchanters down at Bannermans bar, which now stands as just about the only bastion of high quality sonic worship going. It’s also a time when discerning Edinburgh music scribes can get a kick out of not having to catch a train at each end of the ritual, and make it worth the while of all those who toil in the name of our lord (Iommi). I will go, natch, in a haze of bad vibes and vicious angst fit, possessed of an acute Jesus frenzy and not talking to anyone of those sinners in that wretched place.

The Howling: the birth of Tommy Concrete and the Werewolves - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #130

A bog-standard photo emerging from
an exceptional performance.
It is now, strangely, that I reflect that the holistic world situation has become so tense and nervous and wrong that events unthinkable just two or three years ago are now almost beyond comment; like being chased down the Cowgate sprinting at full speed away from werewolves disguised as policemen and streets full of shambling corpses, all the while trying to photograph the whole retched business for some kind of posterity… but not really knowing why… Yes kiddies it was Hallowe’en again, the most misspelled of Pagan Christianised rituals turned pointless and meaningless by societies worst cunts, but more eventfully there was a new incarnation of Chief Heathen and Head Cunt Tommy Concrete, this time as Tommy Concrete and the Werewolves playing solo shit, some Shitball shit, and a bunch of other shit you mighta heard before, might not. Supporting were Edinburgh’s latest doom babies Atragon and Monheim and built into a late-night freak fest, least of all because of location: Bannermans rock and Whisky Bar, the Cowgate, scene of all the finest freak-jiving on the most otherwise normal of nights, and date, 31st of October, all-Hallows’ Eve. It was a weird and twisted night, the weird and twisted interview sliding down the sink of the evening was in many ways the most cerebral and normal moment of the entire affair.

'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! - Godspeed You! Black Emperor - LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #73

It came out a few weeks ago. It's shite.” -Steven

So it seems Godspeed have reappeared just as mysteriously as they disappeared almost ten years ago. Sure, they’ve been reformed and touring for the last two years, but a new album was the last thing I expected, and especially one whose release was so low key it took me a few weeks to even realize it was out (nah, I’m kidding, it’s me we’re talking about here: if there were banners flying from my house to promote the album I still would have missed it) [it wasn’t low key – Ed.]. Why did they choose now to release their newest body of work? I wanted to believe it was political: GY!BE have always been strongly opinionated in their critique of US Government and authority figures in their music, album artwork and statements. Now, in the midst of possibly one of the most moronic and conniving election campaigns we’ve seen for many a year, Godspeed might have found their calling again, to stand up against the madness and proclaim their voice of reason as they had before, a call to anarchism and political dissidence. However, if there is any message from this music, it’s certainly not political. Aside from the beginning of the album, gone appear to be the days when sinister vocals of impending rebellion lay draped over the band’s cataclysmic and ferocious instrumentals. I miss it somewhat, but on listening to ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! I conclude that this component of the music is not sorely lacking. There’s enough discontent, anger and nonconformity in the music to start a mini-uprising.
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