So what are Skullwizard then eh? Vehicle for mein hairy James McKay of Cosmic Dead and Los Tentakills fame, Glaswegian noise merchants given to facing away from the audience. Dark hoods, voodoo probably, all that good shit. Well they’ve released their first bit of audio as far as I can tell. One minute and eighteen seconds of hairy spazzing goodness. It’s free on the latest Fastbuck thing so you should totally avail yourselves of it post-haste. The rest is less memorable but worth indulging. Go forth at the price of nowt.
Did you hear blog faves and quiet-keepers paper opera Yamantaka//Sonic Titan praying to Yahweh in their latest single One? The doomy droges have decided to go all dream-pop which I can totally dig in their mixed up pan-pacific style. I give this the thumbs, all the way up.
Did you hear the Bardo Pond record they released as some sort of apology for the record-binge awfulness of so-called Record Store Day 2013? When everyone of questionable conscience with regards to music drags themselves on some sort of blessed ritual into their local fucked-up run-down record shop to demand Sex Pistols reissues? Well Bardo Pond said “fuck that noise” and decided to write a love letter, at once to Funkadelic with a whole-side-spanning re-interpretation of Maggot Brain (best guitar solo evar) and Pharoah Sanders’ epic wonder drug the Creator Has a Master Plan. If you ain’t heard it, fix that, but if you’re on the clock it’s kinda like King Crimson on Red but let off the leash. While I have no great love for the original, being on the fence about this whole ‘jazz’ fad and everything; but the Bardo Pond cover is spectacularly lysergically lackadaisical. This record, of the species of spectacular side cuts that dope-influenced bands like Bardo Pond specialise in, is just myth making, nation building. It isn’t hardcore essential output but is much more essential spiritually and meditatively. Pointless offcuts are the essence of music, because music itself is a pointless deviation from the ‘natural law’ of eat, sleep, reproduce (though it can improve all of these). Naturally speaking, music is simply playing in the grass at the side of the big road of life a Total Waste of Time. So what better expression of that could there be than wasting your time with playing on the grass at the side of the big road of a band’s career.
Of course Rise Above It All isn’t a waste of time. Most of the interest in the record will come in passive-aggressive meaningless artefact gathering, as it’s a rare vinyl; but true listeners will see two pieces that explore the quality in Bardo Pond that places them in my top five bands Of All Time. The gripping quality in what is essentially immobile or meandering music. The ability to produce an existential and genuinely meditative experience. Because that is the beauty of all music, the universality. Instrumental music especially which Bardo Pond do masterfully, but all music transcends all language barriers, all borders of race and colour and creed and country. The Maggot Brain cover captures an ambience, a stillness, an awareness of those around us that John Cage’s 4’33” groped hopelessly for. It is also bright, hopeful, not dour, not frightening, not imposing. It says, with the gentle stroking of strings and bleating of wind, that it’s okay. You don’t need to buy more locks and more guns. You will get a job, to quote someone whose name is so important I darn not mention it in this turgid dross, Every Little Thing is Gonna Be Alright.
As I write this black uniformed officers are firing tear gas into crowds in Egypt. Who is shooting at who doesn't seem to matter to the media, it's all about the suffering. I don’t take a side. I just ask everyone to Stop. My thoughts and efforts are with everyone hurt or displaced or meditavely unbalanced by the reflexive force of human hatred. Hate and fear are muscular, compassion is a relaxation. Compassion is natural, hate is effort.
Written under duress by Steven.