Lycanthropic fantasies and solace in death - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #171

It seems appropriate at this time in my life to dedicate myself even more wholeheartedly to the study of black metal. Just as my gaming experiences have continued a slow spiral down into reflexively exploring the less wholesome parts of my own psyche, with dispiriting and dehumanising violence from Spec Ops: the Line and Hotline Miami and joblessness still enduring, anything less than pitch-black iss immediately discarded. I can only sit and read William Blake and Nietzsche in spurts, intercut with restless sleep, horrible headaches and real heavy things.

The idiot's guide to black metal - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #170

(as in, written by an idiot)
Graffiti in the basement recording studio of Helvete record shop.
“Black Metal is like Black Magic without the chocolate” David Wood.

Black metal is first and foremost a subgenre of abrasive heavy metal music, but like all genres doesn’t stop at musical sound. Some will claim black metal is a theatrical gesture, some say it’s a way of life or an act of rebellion. It’s associated with the countries of Scandinavia and Norway in particular. Musically it strains at the edge of listenability, even for people who are self-confessed fans. The fusion of many aesthetics of 1980s death and thrash metal and hardcore punk, as well as occult doom rock dating back to the 1960s; and ideologically drawing on Satanic, or pre-Christian Pagan views of western Europe, black metal of the 1990s was confined geographically and ideologically. Today, the old models have been blown apart, now black metal emanates from sweaty basements in back alleys of every city of the world. The rebellious streak of Norwegian black metal is bent to rebel against American ideals, Cobalt’s own brand of melody is more inspired by Hemingway and Hunter Thompson than any musical tradition, Botanist’s one-man San Fran ‘green metal’ combines hammered dulcimer sound with an environmental message, Janaza takes the elements of black metal violently opposed to organised religion and sings “burn the Quran”. There are even Christian black metal bands, who are regularly hounded out of venues by fans of ‘true’ black metal. This article should function as a beginner’s guide to Black Metal; its musical legacy, its preposterous and violent history, ludicrous iconography, and the new divergent artists and their clash with the established order. I’ll interweave these, as they are interwoven, to paint hopefully a canvass of a very confused, contradictory and thriving group of people.

Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet - Gavin Bryars - LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #91

One of the many things in life that continues to amaze me is how the tiniest and happiest of coincidences can have profound, long lasting effects. To use a home-grown example, if I hadn’t been on Pink Floyd’s Bebo page about 7 years ago and noticed a guy with a cool display picture leaving a comment about how much he liked the band, and I hadn’t left him a message when I noticed we had similar taste in music, I wouldn’t ever have come across my co-conspirator Steven and you probably wouldn’t be reading this today. (Perhaps you wish you weren’t) Anyhow, the point of this of course relates to the subject of today’s article, Gavin Bryars’ 1971 arrangement known as Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet. Not a composition: an arrangement.  The happiest of coincidences brought this piece to light for, I believe, the better of many who hear it.

Savages, a no-boy band? - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #169

(EDITED: 17th May 2013 01:00GMT)
It comes as no surprise that the Savages postpunk album is really something special. Everyone and their dog, and their dog’s favourite rock snob has said so by now. I’m late to this particular party. Their particular brand of stripped-down punk, by turns primal and ethereal, but always captivatingly esoteric is just the sort of thing we need to document the world’s slow slide into the theatre of the unwell. Of course everyone has said it’s real good, real real good. You should go out and listen to it. But something you can’t have failed to notice, in addition to the album’s stellar quality was who played on it. Yes, girls, ladybeings, females, the better sex, oestrogen rather than testosterone was in effect here. This is a Y chromosome free zone people, take fucking note. Because, gee, shucks, some of them actually slipped through the sexist net of the music 'industry', what a novelty. And, phew, she's pretty good... for a girl.

Reproducing the good and bad decisions of the past - Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats above their station - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #168

People seem to quite like these ‘state of the union’ type posts where I cast my half-hooded whisky eye over the last few putrid years of culture’s most vestigial feature, the continued prevalence of all levels of rock and roll. From stadium-filling geriatric clowns to fresh-faced up-and-comers rocking out right beside the fire exit, so young the show concludes with the cutting of the umbilical cord. It doesn’t fit together, it’s a disorganised clusterfuck, there’s no weekly podcast or magazine to tell everyone what to listen to or what to do, hence why you still get Nu Metal bands even though most of us would rather fellate a nailgun than slip out of our opium coma long enough to remember the early 2000s. I’ve been predicting rock’s ultimate rise out of the murk of nerd-dom and return to the culturally relevant stage again, god help us all. Thankfully Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats are here to make sure rock and roll stays a trainspotting pastime, by being bored, retrograde, hopelessly tied into all the iconography that makes “70’s inspired” rock bands so bloody insipid.

If Los Tentakills don't play, riot! - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #167

Put down your phone, switch off the TV, hammer a bone through your nose and do the dance of the eight arms; or: assume the lotus position and imagine you are drifting into the desert; or: sell the house! Sell the kids! I’m never coming home back. Go out, find a shop, buy a beer and tool the streets swigging lazily until some basement jive drifting up at you through a darkened stairwell inspires you to go down and join the party. Do all this, because Los Tentakills are about to drop us a real full-length album for the first time. The Glasgae-based space-bound arts collective, known for insane tribal shows and total dedication to the cause. Still the best kept secret of the Glasgow underground, if they ever do explode across the world scene, bringing their kitschy Americana as the speed of sound, it’ll be like a multi-coloured paint-bomb exploding across the airwaves and there will be no going back.

Southern rock and hark-backy blues - Please tune in... - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #166

The Heavy Company? Weren’t they the band we were plastering as the Next Big Thing a coupla years ago? Whatever happened to them? Well they released a cracking little live EP last January but since then it’s all been quiet. Turns out they’ve been distilling their southern rock right down into soul, boiling off almost all the distortion and more grinding elements from their southern rock until it’s pure gentle sipping for 37 uninterrupted minutes of their debut album. Replacing the latterday-Clutch-bothering is a whole strain of Hawkwindy/Floydy sortof spacestuff that fits really nicely. The Midwest Electric is definitely something to tune in to.

I got the space disco fever, and I know who can give it to you too - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #165

(Or:- How I learned to stop worrying and love.)

I always write live reviews this way. Hunched over the laptop, eyes and brainpan burning from the morning sunlight, fingers poised over the keys waiting for the caffeine jolt to hit like a bolt of lightning and animate me into action on the previous night’s excursion. It’s different this time because gig and morning hangover haze are presided over through a fug of disease and cold. Ye gods you ain’t seen the Kosmik Deed until you’ve seen them while tripping off the scale on a frontal lobe and sinuses packed tight with pain concrete, or swiftly setting clay. Piecing together the photos, the awful pain and the raw interview recordings feels like decoding the contents of a Vegas hotel room on a nightmarishly bright Sunday morning. What the hell happened here?

Kosmik James, freelance guitar abuse.

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