Blues rock apotheosis - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #96

Right about now it would seem the market is flooded with bands all trying to be where it’s at, all going about it much the same way. But fuzzed guitars and growling do not a transcendental piece of recorded genius make; y’ gotta dig deep like I do in this inconsequential fucking column every week, go down deep and find the soul and the heart and splatter it onta the page because ‘specially if yer a newbie in the scene, y’ gotta follow F. Scott Fitzgerald’s advice and give it all ya got because if you haven’t got heart you haven’t got anything, dazzle ‘em with bullshit, because you’ve got nothing else to dazzle them with and it is such dazzling bullshit. Alternately o’course you could just ape and half-inch a buncha ideas from the newly dropped Untitled EP from Super Oil 69 because this record is fo’ sure where it’s at and there can be no denying. Furious soulful guitar work and a real obsessive interest in quality build this EP way up and it couldn’t be more righteously envisioned or completed.

Musings from a tired Bob Dylan fan - LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #59

It was announced not too long ago that His Bobness was releasing yet another album to add to his ever-growing discography. Mixed feelings have I on this one: naturally I’m thrilled at the thought of more new music to digest, and to paraphrase Griel Marcus, I’d buy an album of Bob breathing heavily, but the last one wasn’t wonderful, the man is now 71 and his voice is like an asthmatic, stuffy, Cuban cigar guzzling grizzly bear. Stranger things have happened mind you, and I have no doubt I’ll have it on repeat for about a week when it comes out before coming to any serious conclusion, no matter how good or bad it is. But as it doesn’t come out until September, and I haven’t been listening to much new music lately, I feel the announcement has given me the impetus to take trip through his extensive back catalogue and draw attention to a few obscure favourites.

Postpunk for the post postpunk world - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #95

Sing out all the old platitudes! They’re all true once again, good things come to those who wait, that ain’t no way to treat a lady, cross only when the green man shows, don’t take the brown acid, it’s all true true Barney McGrue because postpunk is back motherfuckers! Dust off yer old Wire albums and give them ten or fifty spins, and then drop into Holograms because they pull all the same moves. Stockholm must be a real shit place to live; daylight is at a premium half the year, but in the winter you get six hours of daylight a day, the leading cause of death among 15-24 year olds is suicide, and if that weren’t Orwellian enough for ya, the members of Holograms all got together after working in a factory. Now, we’ve always been a praiser of people who take old stylee things and put ‘em together with righteousness and verve, and Holograms do just that on their album. They’re drinking from the postpunk cup on this one. Y’see, punk was born as the bastard son of Kiss and Iggy’s vocals; in the white hot fire of Funhouse, in Cleveland where the ‘Lectric Eels and Rocket From the Tombs were doing their thing, out of the frustration with Regan and Thatcher when the silent majority had woken up and seized back their country in the 80s, right wing was key and the whole thing was fucking depressing. Of course came along Wire, who showed you how the whole thing was done. Like residents moving into a decaying edifice that was once a resplendent house, Wire looked at rock and roll like minimalists, walking around that now stinking, sweaty house so many people loved and asking “do we really need this wall, can we knock it through?” “do we really need this solo? Do we need a second verse?” Wire’s Pink Flag debut is still pride of place on my tiny list of perfect albums, along with Raw Power and Population II, because in bearing something down to its raw unskinned flesh, in whittling the album to a fine edge, they have created perfection, but also because of its mechanical ruthless efficiency. It’s brutal because it isn’t rock music, at all. There’s no hint of the screaming histrionics of rock and roll, Kiss doesn’t come into it and neither does Iggy’s insanity. Punk stated that its goal was to destroy music. That was their whole aim, and they nearly succeeded because they spawned postpunk, and they cut music away to its barest example. Postpunk could be more important than ever in today’s world.

"It's a love song!" - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #94

(Or:- “Eees always good t’ get’cha maaaand blaaawn”)

“If you liked Vincent Black Shadow, you’ll definitely dig on Murder” promised Adam Black Savage via email when I devoted to them one of these weekly tongue-baths a while back and finally I get round to downloading their self-titled EP follow up to the debut FUCKPUNK (phew, I know right… capitals an’ all), hot on the heels of having my existence noticeably improved by the Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell’s record last week I get another slice of thunderous genius in this new EP. Vincent Black Shadow, named after the 1936 150 miles-per-hour record breaking motorbike, the engine of which “looked like it had been forced in with a whip and chair”, they were a modern-day regurgitation of Stoogified philosophy taking the free-rock of TV Eye to its logical insanely enjoyable conclusion. At the eye of that hurricane was Adam Black Savage with hip-jutting shit-strutting vocal stuff so intense, and communicating through audio the fact he sleeps with someone under 25 any time he wants. I dug their self-titled debut and maybe dug their follow-up More Deeper a little more (both available on CD from Heartbreakbeat Records) and of course Vincent Black Shadow went the way of the Dodo (and the Vincent Black Shadow) and died off. Now Adam Black Savage and Dan O of that very heavenly noisy parish have returned with Murder, a project that attempts the same nostalgic hero-worship combined with shameless coffin-stomping of Electric Eels and Rocket From the Tombs riffs played with frustration and angst they deserve, and just as his growls and vocal gesticulations instantly recalled Iggy of Pop fame, with Murder he’s channelling Peter Laughner channelling John Morton channelling Iggy, Adam Black Savage is just as savage as ever.

Who still has hidden tracks? The Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell still have hidden tracks! - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #93

(Or:- the best album of the year)
(Or:- the best album of all time)
(Or:- newly in love)
(Or:- Kingdom finally come)
Photo by Ester Segarra. Full Don't Hear It...Fear It gatefold album art.

I could write a Pihkal-length book about this record, and I’ll definitely be doing a retrospective at the end of the year, because if something is able to beat Don’t Hear It… Fear It this year it will have been a truly stellar year for records, so look out in December for some kinda ‘Living with Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell’ retrospective. Don’t bother reading the rest of this, go straight to Rise Above records and grab yourself one of a very limited number of pressings of this record. If you have any soul at all, if the neurons can still fire in yer brain and you haven’t been swallowed whole by forty years of music industry pelting you with disappointingly shit shite bands then this record’ll propel you backwards in time Marty McFly style ‘till you’re partying with Sir Lord Baltimore all over again. I adore this record, I’ve got high on every femtogram of this record’s 181 grams, loved every decibel and cried litres of joy-tears; the entire edifice is flawless in every conceivable detail. Verily, I love it more than life itself, and after one listen I was hooked. I became convinced it was the best record I had ever heard midway through the second listen and fell deeply asexually in love with its creators, the volume conquistadors, the powerchord pioneers, the decibel disciples, the holy trinity. It’s time for a big noise from a little band from England, and it’ll change everything.

Sex and the rock and roll revolution - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #92

This is rapidly turning into a diarise which I don’t want to do to y’all because contrary to me very own predictions I’mma startin’ to quite like some of you, and I’d only be diarising and dropping poetry on y’ if I’d conceived some sorta spite upon yooz; but anyhoo; I got called out, that’s right kiddies someone out there probably reading this right now has the nerve to call out the author on the subject of the rock and roll revolution, as you might have noticed it’s often my musing to conclude that this-or-that sonic stirrer of the moment is an essential piece in the sonic arsenal of the rock and roll revolution and it isn’t just a line, it’s true true Barney McGrue because rest assured that the revolution is coming brothers and sisters and you can’t even imagine it, nor will you be able to truly explain it in retrospect when yer kiddies ask you about the world before. To mis-quote a great man, this shiver is just the passing of greed because dictators die, fortunes are gambled and systems fail but we, the people, shall live on indefinitely. The rock and roll revolution will be a peaceful revolution, though there will be blood, the rock and roll revolution will remove (utterly) the barriers between men and women, between black and white people, between young and old. This I shall do, through cleansing of all the facets of old and evil, all the things for corrupting the soul and poisoning the will. The rock and roll revolution will be this pure, I know, because it will be primarily a sexual revolution. We’ll come simultaneously to realise the vital qualities that sexual union offers to the human soul, and the meaninglessness of the sexual union simultaneously. This will be spearheaded natch by Jex Thoth, the sultry rock temptress will lead us all to a better land, but she hasn’t enough records to fully get to the point so we’re going to have to build our castle upon Blood Ceremony records.

The Sidewinder - Lee Morgan - LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #58

It’s been a quiet few weeks, music wise. I haven’t picked up a whole pile of new stuff, and I’ll hopefully be heading off on holiday quite soon (I should be there when this article hits the web actually) so I’m taking a little look back at some old albums I haven’t really got around to writing about yet. This particular album has been frequenting my recently played list recently, I can’t quite pinpoint a reason why it’s specifically there, but I figured seeing as it was I should make you good people aware of it. It’s actually very well known in jazz circles, but in this day and age that’s more or less like saying it’s the football champion of the Conference South.

Fuck you Bruce, farewell my Lord, and Blacker Sabbath - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #91

Well shit, someone turned off the Boss's mike and now the internet is a-buzzin' with retardation on all fronts. I'm stuck in the middle because I don't wanna be the prick who says the Boss probably shoulda picked a better venue if he was gonna moan about it; and I don't wanna be the prick who says that if you're hosting a concert, you ought to turn it up and let them play and if y' ain't prepared to do that you might as well not have a gig at all; I definately don't wanna walk in steps of Steve Zahn when he said "who are we disturbing on a Saturday night", failing to remember that not everyone in the whole universe works Mon-Fri nine-five, or indeed likes to listen to two greats meeting on a stage and listening to them take three hours about noisily going over the hill. I've said what I want to about the amps, apparently they only play 76 paltry decibels, which is quieter than headphones sound turned full-up... Now it behoves both parties here, the organisers and council and the side of the man, to put on a decent show or not put on one at all, but if they really were bald enough to want to do this, then the Boss and all his army of retards oughta have said "no thanks, I'd rather play how I want, when I want", and seeing as he accepted the constraints, to then break them shows a certain arrogance on his part, that he accepted the conditions thinking they didn't really apply to the Boss, which I can fully believe but have to say I don't much like. I don't want to be the guy who says any of that stuff, even though I now awkwardly have (im a riter!!!) because this debate is getting retarded on every side. I would, however and if you’ll indulge me, like to call out Dominic Lawson for his piece in the Independent, although I feel interacting with such people for any length of time will make me a prick by proxy, and I reckon the whole point of his unintelligent, classist, generalised and ill-informed piece was to get his name around through responses such as mine. Well fuck it, clickity click on that link and give him the views because he's debased himself just to get yer click so it's worth spreading the word of how idiotic his piece is. His qualm seems to be straight outta a misguided Dylan fan's poetry book circa Dylan-goes-electric, I imagine he was the idiot who shouted "Judas" but this can't be independently confirmed. Amplification is damn awesome! It gives young men a sense of power and weight in their poetry it is otherwise difficult to find. It democratises music to an extent never before known, when a crowd of young men (or preferably women) in a tiny pub somewhere can summon the wattage and decibels hitherto only captured by Wagner's killer bass-loaded orchestra, and the power to shut the whole crowd out. Amplification, he said, makes it possible to disturb people who aren't at the gig, the residents around Hyde Park, fer instance; missing of course that that's the whole point of amplification. We, the initiates of the rock and roll revolution are prepared to instigate this uprising bloodlessly, but if necessary the vast bald masses will have to be blown out of their living room chairs on a surfable wave of rock and roll so loud and omnipresent that they can't run from it and they can't ignore it, both old and new, from every source imaginable until they too have that piercing insight that rock and roll is the way to save the world. Of course I'm biased up the arse and I'd have this shit piped into supermarkets and nurseries, but the inalienable right to kick out the jams is something that should override the rights of any individual not wishing to currently kick out the jams. Fuck you and yer sleep fuck you and yer other preferences, this is for your own good! Why won't anyone listen to me? Rock and roll ain't straightforwardly beautiful, like Janis Joplin, it's beautiful because of what it can do. Rock and roll is a mirror for the world, and there's a whole lotta bad, whole lotta abrasiveness and a whole lotta hurt, even in a perfect world you'll still stub yer toe and get dumped by yer wumman so rock and roll's darker passes are vital sonic travelling for true spiritual enlightenment. Dominic Lawson also makes reference to the Queen's dislike of rock and roll (fuck the Queen, not literally, but the institution of saying one person is better than all the others when really we're all just different parts of the same consciousness experiencing itself subjectively) and the beauty of the National Gallery Concerts in the early 40s (fuck the past, the future is where it's at and the most awesome time is resolutely NOW, go and live in the past if it was so much better... oh wait you can't so better start loving the future 'cause you'll spend the rest of your life there). Dominic, Dom, Dommy baby, Dom's bollocks, Dom Perignon, Dom Giovanni, Dom to the hills (Dom for your liiiiiife): I freakin' dig that you're into music, this blog is dedicated to finding endless ways of saying it's the greatest pleasure, and you must dig that I'm into music, and we must both dig that we're into different things; but you've just got to accept that rock and roll, while unsuitable for most of the straighter population of the world, is the only true solace and very definitely the cure for what ails us, while not wishing to draw unfortunate lyrical comparisons, I'm a soldier of the rock and roll revolution armed with an amp and prepared to go to sonic war, and if you ain't with us, you're against us baby. Enjoy the show!

I found I Found a Ring In My Ear in my stereo - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #90

Drop everything! Sell the house, sell the kids, get a divorce, find someone else! I’m never coming home back. Give away your possessions, quit your job, have a physical fight with your girlfriend and engineer a scenario where she cracks an ashtray across your scalp, and while you’re recovering with the stitches you can dedicate the appropriate time and attention to the new releases coming out of Lightning Bolt, that utterly insane Providence rock group who have, for no apparent reason surged back into existence, dropping the punishing and unique I Found a Ring in My Ear on Bandcamp this year along with a second twenty minute jam titled 20; and it’s… it’s… complex. It isn’t simple, it’s closest to the noise of Fushitsusha or some of those other Japrock nutters. There are those that hold that Japrock was the best. Somewhere in the filtering process from all that joyous American rock and roll coming out of the bases and the few vinyls that made it across to Japan the whole idea got kinda fuzzy. Japrock is certainly some of the heaviest rock and roll yer likely to be subjected to, High Rise, Les Razillles Denudes and Mainliner will take their brand of Blue Cheer worship so far you’ll forget those Frisco freaks and be swept away on the orient express. Now there’s more psychedelic mayhem feed through the production meat grinder except it ain’t got no breaks. We can all appreciate the unstoppable vinyl brilliance of it, the way those forging-ahead motherfuckers had to take in the Faust Tapes in that cruel marketing twist, the best psychedelic album for half a quid? I’ll have two! Well this is even better, it’s totally free.

Spiritual Unity - Albert Ayler - LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #57

“Trane was the father,” said Albert Ayler, “Pharoah was the Son. I am the Holy Ghost.” He’s referring to the “Holy Trinity” of Tenor Saxophonists: John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders and himself, players who in the 60’s bent their saxophones over backwards and did some quite nasty things to them. A saxophone, an instrument of flair and finesse, of power and beauty, became a thing of ugliness. Not content with the current developments (or perhaps limitations) of tenor playing, these three one day decided to put their lips to the mouthpiece and to do the saxophone what Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer did to cinema. I mean it was brutal.  However, from this savage deflowering came not catastrophe and tragedy on a musical level, but a terrifyingly brilliant lovechild, something to fear and behold mightily, quivering in cold sweat, your heart mercilessly palpitating, your brain whizzing through its programming system, trying to make sense of this new cacophony. Nearly fifty years later, it still makes little sense, but of course if we are talking about the Holy Trinity of Saxophonists this becomes more understandable. What spiritual matters are revealed to anyone directly? To those who profess understanding, does this understanding come easily? For those who don’t, how difficult is it to comprehend? Like matters of divinity, Spiritual Unity is a difficult beast to wrestle with, its chains hard to untangle. It can be – scratch that – IS a monstrous challenge, one whose rewards are incomprehensible at first, difficult to even see and almost impossible to unlock. Furthermore, this isn’t an album to sit down and listen to with the missus or over a casual dinner party. In fact, there probably is no adequate situation or scenario to which this music is best suited.

In league with Satan - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #89

(Or:- "please just fuck off, take your money, get out, I hate you")

Let me tell y’ folks, this entire writing has been inspired by an incident I had with a negative person. An individual so terrifically spiritually bald that I don’t understand how they can exist with so much hate wrapped up inside their dry, black empty little rotten apple of a heart. Certain people still exist, though our history has been one unsteady march towards acceptance, tolerance, greater rights for the individual against the negative power of the man while also expanding the ability of the man to help us live our lives by keeping us safe, keeping us fed, keeping us healthy, there are still leaps and bounds to go before we attain total utilitarianism. It’s a hard fought time but you’ve got to individually, and using your money and your vote stand up for the oppressed, the minority and the little guy being trodden on by the man of the moment. Whatever your feelings, be they an individual a group, and whatever the colour of their skin, their beliefs or their standing in society, you see someone getting a bum deal you go help them out because the more together we are the more dangerous we are to the government. I’m quite happy to use the word freak, because the way things are going in this world I think there can be fewer nobler classifications. This time when I encountered a wall-building bald non-freak trying to put the downer on something she couldn’t possibly have comprehended with her infinitesimal brain, I found myself standing up for Satanists.

"Stop, man, I can't take your machinatons, just let me get blown outta ma skull!" - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #88

(Or:- Drop me some of that Mainliner Sonic, I need to get haaai!)
(Or:- A love letter suitable for publication.)

I ought to be frank, because I haven’t a lot of time, not the best pen either and really it’s the only thing I should ever be anyway. I am so pathetic, I haven’t spoken to you in two days and already I feel down. I’ve concluded that wine makes me mean and cider makes me really drunk, all of it makes me think of you all the more. I’m writing twisted stories while I’m here and I’m listening to a lot of love songs, but I’m always with you. Another thing I can’t seem to do without is Mainliner’s half-our work of utter genius drum based humdrumdrumdrum riffappolooza Mainliner Sonic. When High Rise dropped Speed Free Sonic, I doubt they realised Mainliner would be dropping an album that would have been better named Speed-ful Sonic. Certainly there were more than a few bennys dropped into this cauldron if the sound is to be believed, and it almost can’t; rough like sandpaper, heavy like a mountain but tissue paper thin strung out on poor-quality production with bicarbonate of soda crusted round both nostrils but piercing eyes burning holes in the back of yer skull. This is the only shoegaze album that isn’t fucked up by a thousand yard stare, and be sure it is shoegaze, shoes are the only places you can look when you’re flurrying away at the strings like a dope-fiend in need of a vicious fix late on a Saturday night and the sound coming outta the speakers is like a hundredhead of stallions stampeding through a Vietnam war tableau.

Red Dirt's rebel thang - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #87

Write ‘boutcha own time, son. Sing ‘boutcha own time. I know, I ought to, but this Red Dirt album is such an undiscovered lil’ gem I can’t help but put my big spotlight on it. Because after long deliberation I think that this album really rewrites the rules of music. That ain’t music journo notice me I’m different, here are all my different opinions for ya BS, I genuinely don’t know where this album is going from moment one and it gives me a killer kick each time it drops into something so schizophrenically different from the previous song. To this day, Red Dirt’s self-titled and only album is, as the inimitable Marvin Gaye put it, what’s goin’ on. It was recently limited edition reissued with a buncha live tracks taking it up and over the hour mark and just cementing Red Dirt, the little English band who appeared on the radar and just as quickly vanished again were really on to something. Think of them as the British Mountain, until you hear them, then all bets are off. (The Groundhogs are really the British Blue Cheer, in that they put a Brit-spin on all things blue and cheery; and Mountain were like a less intense country Blue Cheer, but hey, oversimplification has a lot of casualties).

Are you experienced? - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #86

You plummeting down yet another cutting in the road like a crevasse through geological time, as the rocks all blur together so does history and time and perception. Wind burned eyes strain to see down the centre line as the clear road ahead fills with metal, hot rushing cars you seem to slip past with only an inch to spare. Open it up on the straights, no cooling it down around the bends, but no knowing what lies in wait around the corner, far too fast to avoid; like in life, on the road you sometimes hurtle towards something, never knowing what it is and knowing you can’t avoid it; knowing that around any corner, in any dip or hidden entrance could be two tonnes of trouble in a horrible sun-bleached red hatchback, or a car driven by someone not prepared for the lightning-fast heel/toe work like you are, someone who doesn’t know the road… or maybe just another speed freak like you… You just have to focus on the centre line, keep your mind on the road and the pedal-pressures and off realising that somewhere out there, maybe on a Californian back-road but maybe just around the corner, there’s a speedfreak just like you going hell-for-leather in the opposite direction. Do you feel lucky, punk? Are you experienced? Given the backdrop of existential fears focused on a small space, we bring you an album called shoegaze, but to term it that and knock off for lunch is horrifyingly detrimental to exactly the kind of wide-open face-out spaces this album drops. Listening for the Highland suicide run was Tamaryn’s the Waves.

In/Flux - DJ Shadow - LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #56

I know, I know, more DJ Shadow, like anyone apart from me even cares. If you’ll permit me to indulge myself this time (because I NEVER do that) I’m going to talk you through a solitary piece of his music, not even a an album, merely a single: In/Flux. One of his first on James Lavelle’s Mo’Wax label, In/Flux was one of the songs responsible for the coining of the phrase “trip hop” to describe the music. A mix of hip-hop, soundbytes about social upheaval and mind-bending garble, it stands as perhaps Shadow’s most accomplished work, although it’s far from my favourite. In fact the more I think about it, the more I think it’s possibly one of the most perfectly constructed pieces of music ever produced.

Road songs - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #85

“The roads of Scotland afford little diversion to the traveller, who seldom sees himself either encountered or overtaken, and who has nothing to contemplate but grounds that have no visible boundaries.” – Samuel Johnson.
When I first listened to this Goat EP I just laughed manically for the entire duration. I spun it again straight away and laughed all the way through again. The band I was most instantly transported to spiritually was Sir Lord Baltimore, I had a similar reaction to their Kingdom Come LP that is still 37 minutes of more frantic and orgasmic fun than any of us has any right to have. The pseudo-psyche afro-funk junk-drunk guitar workouts of the most psychedelically bizarre are just instantly and eternally exuberant. That Goat are playing shows in deepest darkest Sweden with Acid Mothers Temple ought to come as a surprise to virtually nobody as soon as they get an earful of exactly what these guys do. The songs all bounce with youth and life and make you want to do the same. More and more with each lesson their exuberant rituals embody that statement of the great Hamilton Morris, “life is but a cosmic giggle on the breath of the universe” ‘cuz that’s the mood envoked by this kind of bombastic high-energy lysergic rock and roll; the sound of a laugh at a crowded party; the sound of instantly dissipated cosmic perfection synthesised down in unconventional sound laboratories meant for innerspace exploration, not outerspace categorisation; a volume conquistador conjured to explore us in a way filled with such high energy that it positively fizzes. They’re conjuring the spirits of the still living and they come up dancing. They’re the perfect road record, perfect to watch that white line dance around in front of you as the hot nose devours the road. Hundreds of miles sucked under the spinning wheels. Burning down the highway. Heading west. Chasing our shadows in the early morning.

Of DMT absinthe and visions of the apocalypse - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #84

Another whisky, to celebrate the victory of a country I have no association with in a sport I do not give a shit about. I do give a shit about whisky though (that’s whisky as in Scotch whisky not whiskey as in Irish whiskey – a subject about which I could be tedious for about 45 minutes). Whisky mixed with finest Ayahuaska absinthe, so I am told, I’ve never had anything infused with DMT but I’m far too blitzed to make out the label or care long enough to check. Things are a haze and a blaze of colour and excitement for what seems like a long time. I feel like I’m spinning wildly constantly. Eventually I struggle to sleep, and when I final succumb I have frightening apocalyptic nightmares of great weight and import, the specifics of which are lost to me as soon as I wake. All that’s left behind is the feeling of Armageddon despair and insane Lovecraftian horrors. All of my dreams featured the new Of Spire and Throne track, towering above everything in the distance… I looked back and saw its shadow rising in the clouds over the mountains, it was then, I think, that I went mad...

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