The scribe, a sonic ritual attended - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #122

Awaits the ritual, prepares for transportation,
Anticipation prevents any slightest fear,
Return to ritual, ascend the ivory steeple,
Take astral flight to understand creation,
Aspire to spiritual conflagration,
Breathe the oneness of percussion,
Touch the sky, receive the precious beating
Perish on the shores of the all-distorted sea.
Hold a vigil, become a single being.
OM mid-astral flight

Aqua Disco - Seahawks - LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #69

“Drifting, drifting, drifting… it seems like another life.” It does, too. I lie in a haze, half-dreaming, conscious only that cogito ergo sum. I am conscious only of my sensory perception. I have no prejudices or hopes or loves or desires or fears: my being is overwhelmed by a festivity of colours, faint-remembrances, astrophysical interplanetary journeys through time and space. I hear the waves of an ocean, the cry of a seagull. A faint voice appears; echoing as if remote, fragmentary and possibly a product of my own muddled senses.
“It seems like another life.”

“It seems like another life.”

“It seems like another life.”
Slowly my senses are roused. Perchance is that the semblance of a rhythm? One in tune with nature, a suggestion of a beat rather than an actual presentation. The sounds are slowly slipping into unison, trickling together, one drop at a time. Soon they will form a cascade of Biblical proportions and yup, there we go: this beat, anticipated as one anticipates the coming of Spring in that cold incandescent post-Winter stillness. Glorious in all its fullness, accompanied by a pulsatile bassline and interstellar synth lines… Seahawks are back, baby.

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.

I am not a robot, you are not a robot - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #120

In the shadow of her former self, but beautiful. Marina as
she is today (photo - Guardian)
EDIT (25/9/2012) Well fuck, something thoroughly ten-tonne downer just a-sprung from one of the music industries more sweaty and less wholesome orifices; apparently the release of the (shit) new Marina and the Diamonds single video will be delayed because she looks “ugly” in it. Dear everyone who works, with, for or in accordance with Atlantic Records, I can only hope your vile poisonous statements are one day recompensed as you have a beautiful day with your lovely wife and healthy children, no cares at all, and then Karma and the Great Magnet strike and conspire to throw you down a manhole up to your neck in semiliquid shit and you scream and beg for your (non-existent) God as shit and sewer water run down your screaming throat and up your nose and well up in your eye sockets and in your final shit-choked gasp of air you realise you’ve just insulted a woman, a beautiful and intelligent and unique sophisticated artist brought low by your idiocy, and confirmed in her and everyone who hears about this that they have to stoop low enough to be considered ‘attractive’ by the kind of wank-off Neanderthal gazes of you and your be-suited bald mates; in that turd-gurgling second you’ll realise that everyone in the world has the potential to be beautiful, not because of what they look like in your narrow perception, but because of what they can do; and realise your myopic vendetta against progress and human dignity has forever scarred history and you’ll be judged by the Great Magnet for all the crimes you’ve commited. And then you’ll choke to death on human shit in front of your family and your funeral will be attended by nobody because you’re a misogynistic cultural pollutant and everyone knew all along what a 24 carat cunt you always were. If I ever meet you I’m going to kick you to death. Now, on with why you’re wrong and Marina and the Diamonds is our third Alternative Hall of Fame inductee.

I am a robot, you are a robot - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #119

Well there’s been over a hundred of these damn things and it doesn’t get any easier thinking up ways week to week to say that the freaks behind the strings of whatever forgotten undiscovered opus is on my turntable rock it more brilliantly than half of those that are remembered, as well as bringing philosophical and spiritual right-headedness to proceedings; that the same old formula of drum, bass and a bit of gee-tar can be elevated like Icarus into the light of the infinite unknowable godhead and made into a whirling dervish of light and sound and ideas that’ll just about knock you off yer feet and give your socks a solid rocking anytime. I sure hope it ain’t losing impact just because I’m dropping endless loving on all manner of heads from all across the world all working to the same rock and roll toil and coming to radically different conclusions. Today, guess what? I bring you another hyper-punkified Groundhogged boozeup courtesy of Common Deflection Problems, more specifically their literal one-sided picture disk and their latest contribution to the annuls of thumbs-up rock and roll in the form of a TV Eye, Split-ear Groundhog proto-punk mostly-instrumental guitar freakout set heavy and low down for a stomach-inverting ball-rumbling amplifier and skin crash onto the mat; this is We All Play Synth.

69 Love Songs - the Magnetic Fields - LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #68

So you’re in love. It’s a great feeling, huh? You want to jump up and down on tabletops and tell it to the world! It’s a warm feeling inside you: somehow, people on the street appear to smile at you as you walk past, the temperature is more pleasing, your senses are heightened… everything feels just that little bit better. Your life changes irrevocably for the better, and nothing can get in the way of your happiness. Right? Sorry, Stephin Merritt, do you hear me? Er, guess he missed the memo about love…

Bigger than Jesus, louder than Hell: Mammoth Mammoth hit the bricks - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #118

Self-proclaimed as the “greatest rock and roll band in the history of history”; lock up your daughters and your smaller livestock because Mammoth Mammoth are coming to your town sometime soon. Their star is in the ascendancy and it’s all set aboard an ironclad Trojan horse that’ll open up once in yer turntable and let out unrepentant Paranoidisms. Y’ can’t believe anything these guys say (even, perhaps especially under oath), but apparently “after a 13-day DMT bender in an abandoned women’s mental institution” they returned with this one-off 2012 highlight and instant barbarian seventies-inflected zaprock. In the same way Balt’s the Garn harnessed the power of proto-Moto’head and proto-Kiss, Mammoth Mammoth’s Mikey Tucker harnesses all these things in sunburnedly post-everything parody pastiche pulverisations, for a start his balls seem to be swinging somewhere south of his knees and he articulates with every breath that whenever he steps off his Harley after a long afternoon burning down some dusty backwater in Melbourne terrifying anyone who dares cross the road after dozing up on whatever he could find in the pockets of his inexplicably pristine leather trousers and remembering Death Race 2000 (I don’t say this for biographic detail here kiddies, for all I know he descales the kettle after helping his doting mother across the street – I’m talking pure rock chic, where the moment he’s ghostlike before the mic he ceases to be whatever he is, and becomes Mikey, singer for Mammoth Mammoth and ten-tonne beer-guzzling badass in all manner of forms) he gets all the girls he could ever want. He may, or may not (no doubt there are a great many of Melbourne’s young ladies could confirm or deny this) as he claims on this album, have “a tattoo on my chest that says ‘fuck you’” – but because of his rockstar cred and reputable histrionics, you believe him.

"We need to play now, and loud!" - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #117

Alternative hall of fame inductee number two - Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.
In 2010 I was still very much in the throes of a ‘metalhead’ (as I defined myself) and I was reeling from all manner of ill-conceived notions about the world and just starting the emotional maturation and exploration which I can say I am currently in the middle of. I’d just been to see a film on the advisement of someone or other and it had kinda sorta blow my mind. I called up the HQ bunker on a classic hand-cranked world war one-era phone of the metal revolution to question the authority, “was it just me, or are we all wrong? Did Scott Pilgrim versus the World not just nail the beauty” the answer came back in the affirmative and I had to sit there a moment, dumbstruck. I sat and wrote screeds, article after article trying to explain to myself exactly why Scott Pilgrim versus the World was the shit and very much of the now. How it so effectively nails the beauty, but I couldn’t. Very recently I’ve dug up both soundtrack albums and I’ve finally made sense of it. It was the rock and roll soundtrack, the faux-Japano freerock purveyed by the titular character as well as all the rest, the quality unknowns, even a bit of T-Rex. It was the faded rock shirt wrapped around the baseball bat, making the savage latenight beating all the more vicious and deadly silent as the sheer genius vision caves in yer skull and then. Because of course while it is a potential turning point and I very well believe in ten years’ time it’ll be seen as the movie that speaks for all of us, we’ll all be cribbing lines from it, nobody want to see Scott Pilgrim. When people start telling you they saw it in 2010, be honest with them, the box office figures don’t add up.

The Kosmik Dead: Decadent, depraved - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #116

The Kosmik Dead mid-ritual.
“These are the last of the tapes” says (Kosmik guitar priest) James; the last of the tapes of the exalted the Exalted King are laid out in an inverted crucifix, along with CD copies of Cosmik Tape One alongside a hastily scratchy written sign on paper saying ‘Cosmic Dead (shite)’, “we won’t be making this on tape, again… ever” he says,
“Do you play in the Kosmik Dead?” I asked, shouting over the PA,
“If I ask nicely, they might let me, do you play in the Kosmik Dead?” I stared up, blown away by the madness of it all, at his resplendently hirsute face, I’d play with the Kosmik Deed if they’d let me. Meanwhile, in the future, the Kosmik Deed are playing a blistering and raw tribal set, and all reach enlightenment; for a single moment, all three men completely connect and become more together than they could individually. Meanwhile, after the show, (Kosmik) James says thankyou as I tell him how great the Cosmic Dead were, he says thankyou, and then grabs my camera from round my neck and licks the lens (lenscap on, mercifully), looking at it, he says “ah, Canon! Canon tastes like shit, you want a Nikon mate!” and then rambles off. He seems to have a view of the ridiculousness of it all. It’s Glasgow, it’s the ABC (two this time, the secondary bunker in Glasgow’s on-going domination of the Scottish rock scene) and a mini-date on the music calendar as Miami’s doompop quartet descend on chilly-Jocko land and bring out of semi-hiatus Glasgow’s own scotPsyche pioneers the Kosmik Deed. My predictions of a weird mashup proved correct, the Kosmik Deed played for aroundabout fifty minutes and played a sprightly and tightened version of an hour and a half number; Torche played for just over an hour and played about twenty songs. Nevertheless, the good and the great and the smokers and the dopers and the horny-handed mountain men from the rural sub-basement all turned out as usual to indulge in the orgy of weirdness and watch the freaks lose it. It was also packed fulla hired geeks like myself. I ran into another photog and a writer too; keep rolling, all y’all. And Ye gods! it was loud. I know that’s par but hoo-ee me ears are still whistlin’. Rumours were that it was going to be a very heavy night. The Kosmik Dead were whipping up something of a storm, there was even word from an unconfirmed source that (Kosmik) James had been messing with some very heavy stuff: an exotic brand of speed known as ‘Wallet’.

I just missed the perfect summer album - LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #67

“Move on the Sun” a hitRECord compilation

In terms of weather, this summer was once again abysmal at home, with a few days of no rain or clouds being the scarce highlights. Nevertheless, it was still summer, man, and I was free! Exams passed, nothing to worry about, and one of the things I was most psyched for was finding that all-important soundtrack to my summer this year. I have a tendency to associate specific times and moments of my life with music, as regular readers should know, and last year my summer was made quite the spectacular with some of the songs I discovered in that time period. This year, however? Nothing, nada, zero, zilch. Nothing moved me in ways that I wanted: Sure, I found lots of good music, but nothing life-affirming, nothing light-hearted or with that dash of sea breeze in its wake; in short, nothing summery. I guess it made sense though: gloomy weather, gloomy music. But this week, finally, FINALLY I found something that evinced that true spirit of summer, music that immediately transported me to an open top convertible in the glorious sunshine, wind whipping through my hair, sipping on a cold one and leaving all my cares behind me. And guess what? I started back to university a few weeks ago and am in the middle of writing a dissertation. Life takes strange turns, eh?

The spirit of the Phantom Cosmonaut flies with the Kosmik Dead - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #115

Written under duress by Steven.

Summation – The new record from the Cosmic Dead is good, damn good. So damn good in fact I’ve changed my whole angle of attack. Y’know I’ll usually say an album is as good as whipping across the desert astride a powerful Harley, or the guitar tone soars as a flock of seabirds over this temporal real while simultaneously body-shifting as pandimensional beings into fifties rock and roll dancers? Well the Exalted King by the Cosmic Dead inspired this piece. Short – go get it from their Bandcamp if you have a soul like the rest of us humans. Here's a lil' piece of short fiction I done and knocked up after dropping some psilocybin in a late-night teeth-grinding angst frenzy. I put on the Exhalted King and my life changed.

Careful howling yawning epic supergroup birthday party Sputnik - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #114

There's only so much guitar, bass and drums can do in these circumstances. Despite the energy and a good turn from the drummer it was overlong and formless.” Lewis Stapleton, Liverpool Echo (one of the uninitiated).

While the machinegun staccato crackle of the drums patters in yer ears, and the bass ploughs deep furrows of glowing Chernobyl farmland and the axe is just a soaring sweeping wailing Stuka hepped up on fuzz wah guitar. All this is manned by a core buncha dudes who understand psychedelia, their previous LP showed us that Black Bombaim were seriously diligent in their jam-band cred, and their latest LP, Titans, is accurately named. Lemme just list off the righteous and honourary alternative hall-of-famers who get a walk-on appearance: Steve Mackay (The Stooges), Noel V. Harmonson (Comets On Fire), Adolfo Luxúria Canibal (Mão Morta), Jorge Coelho (ZEN, Torto), Tiago Jónatas (Surya Exp Duo), Isaiah Mitchell (Earthless/Howlin Rain), Ghuna X, HHY, Tiago Pereira (Aspen), Guilherme Canhão (Lobster/Sunflare) and João ‘Shela’ Pereira (PAUS, If Lucy Fell, Riding Pânico); each of this galaxy of underground alt-rock convention defying heads contribute to an entire vinyl side of this splendid gatefold identified only with the names of the contributors. Titans they certainly prove themselves (yeah, I hate that, it’s so hack) on this record. The power to create and to destroy, the howling teeth of the abyss on a cosmic scale infest this record in its spinning black hole.

Tempest - Bob Dylan - LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #66

I have awaited today with a fervid anticipation almost since the not-so-long-ago announcement of this album’s imminent release. A new Bob Dylan album! One I can spend many an hour drooling over and expressing my adoration for it in a long winded and drawn out article that will likely interest no-one but give me great pleasure in writing! Fantastic, what more could I want? And although I’m likely blinded by my all-consuming love for Zimmy’s music, no matter how bad, (his last effort, Christmas in the Heart, was embarrassingly bad, and yet has still been played over 10 times the whole way through according to my iTunes) I’m pretty sure I’m making a fair judgment when I say this album rocks. And I don’t just mean that as a descriptor, I mean that literally, this album is often loud and raucous and violent; an absolute riot. Much has been said in pre-release reviews that it’s both Dylan’s “strangest” and “darkest” album yet. Frankly accusing Dylan of being strange is like accusing Adele of being depressing  - everyone knows it and expects it. But as for being dark… these critics have a point. Many of Tempest’s songs play out like Shakespearean tragedies, full of strange characters, consuming lusts, murderous sensibilities and evil desires. Heck, when the closing two songs are about the sinking of the Titanic and the murder of John Lennon, you know the rest of the album isn’t likely to be all sunshine and lollipops.

Fashionista femme fatales show all the boys how it's done - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #113

And here I was thinking it was largely NY’s unsurpassed Heliotropes propping up this blog’s continuing notion that music of today (and indeed yesteryear) is too light on female voices, both figuratively and literally; and that we need a few more right-thinkin’ lay-deez to come down and show us all how it’s done. Even while I typed these sentiments all those posts ago, little did I know something very special indeed was brewing in the City of Angels. I have a friend who asserts “I wish it was the eighties and I was in LA” and I think on the back of the San Fernando valley sleaze blues pumped out by the two fashonista femmes at the head of the Deap Vally wave, I finally understand that sentiment. Welcome then, to the revolution.

Third Reich n' Roll - the Residents - LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #65

What’s the worst thing you can do to a song? Do you cover it in an excessively sentimental style? Butcher it with horrible vocals? Massively overproduce it? Constantly fire it over the radio waves until the world is sick of hearing it and wishes it never existed? [there is a cover of the Wind Cries Mary by Jamie Cullum out there; if I ever meet Jamie Cullum, I’m going to kick him to death – Ed.] Not good enough, say the Residents. How about taking a bunch of songs, completely decimate them in an avant-garde style and throw them together in a pastiche of pop music with an overarching Nazi theme? How about using an album to lampoon mainstream music by comparing it to a Fascist movement with people blindly following, drooling at the mouths, right arms raised high in a pledge of their ignorant loyalty? What about mashing together a few pop songs in a continuous suite to prove a point that all pop music is interchangeable and sounds the same? That’s more like it.

I spent my week tripping on nostalgia in the company of some ornery dudes - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #112

Lemme just appropriate the scene for y’all, in my flat, quite late on a Sunday night, when I came upon this new EP by the South courtesy of the Heavy Company’s Ian Gerber (thanks dude). I looked, and blinked, and looked again, then squealed, a Brain Worker cover! A cover of Brain Worker by Red Dirt, a stupidly underground artist beyond imagining has been righteously done in the mould of Paranoid-era Sabbath by a buncha Texans clearly in the grip of some twisted nostalgia trip and it’s so damn good. Well shit, a lil’ more digging and we turn up an Evil Ways cover, a Sunshine of Your Love cover (ohboy ohboy ohboy). Clearly these Texas boys have nailed the beauty. Rock and roll since 1976 has been a nostalgia trip in various stages of hiddenness, so why not drop the pretensions of originality and let everyone see what you’ve got swinging around down there? Why not just be a covers band, but a unique covers band putting their own bespoke seal on each song they bathe in their dusky desert groove? Word had it they were adding to their rusting Katyusha full of covers with a Forever My Queen love letter recorded this weekend but it didn’t happen, hopefully it’s on the backburner; but clearly the cheat-sheet these guys are working from is based on every Stonerrock.comers record shelves. And why not?

LBJ haunts my dreams and Tricky Nixon took my shoes - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #111

Gonna open with a cheery shot across the bows paragraph before descending into what’s sure to be one long dank deep journey, though hopefully ultimately redemptive. Y’all should go right now and download the latest to drop from epochal seventies-deniers the Be Helds, part of the Kitty Comp on Burger Records, why? Because it’s so catchy I found myself singing along on my first listen. You bedda believe it! It’s a sunny frothy beer-glug wash of pure joy and there’s a cat on the cover. Go forth my minions! It’s freeeeee. Anyway, onwards!

Timeless - John Abercrombie - LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #64

My week’s been a bit hectic. It’s the time of year again where I bid farewell to my best friends for another few months as we all head back to university for another semester, that time where I have to once again pull my finger out after a summer that felt far too short and do some work. I’m a man of sentiment and I emphasize memories, and in monumental times of the year such as now I tend to do a lot of thinking about the past year: what was good, what was bad, how it’s compared to previous years, if I’ve changed etc. And of course there’s always a soundtrack to such important moments in my life. September’s traditionally Go! Team/DJ Shadow for me, don’t know why, but there’s one album that’s always been a constant presence in these moments over the years, one I constantly crave and return to and it’s only taken me until now to realize: Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present John Abercrombie.

We all missed Billy Crystal Meth the first time around - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #110

EDIT #2 - This here chronicle of an ill-fated noughties band who churned out a one-off barnstormer inspired a lot of excitement and comment, thus it has after the fact been declared the first in a series of the Wine, Women and a Song or Two alternative rock and roll (and anything else actually) hall of fame. Sure we've written about well-known classics and undiscovered classics and we still love giving modern hard working heads writing this is now in graffiti above yer door a leg-up so we'll keep doing all that, but henceforth I'll be throwing an entry into the ongoing hall of fame. The rules I've just cooked up are quite simple. The release must be from between the turn of the millenium and today, it must be a stand-alone album or part of a miniscule discography, and the band must be for all intents and purposes dead, on permanent hiatus or broken up and doing other stuff. It's only now that the Blue Cheers and Pentagrams are being dug out of retirement and given proper recognition, and there's nobody on the radar giving the same exhuming to latterday hits that'll still be fresh when you open the coffin, so I'm going to write it. Henceforth this'll be a continuing project to map my generations undiscovered and unmined sonic weirdness. It'll be sporadic, not weekly or monthly, but it should be fun. If you've got an inclusion, get in touch and we'll check it out like Holmes and Watson (but stupid). This will be the record of those bands of the recent past who were too weird to live and too rare to die. Rite on! Inductee #1 into the Wine, Women and a Song or Two alternative rock and roll hall of fame.

Let us all lament, Billy Crystal Meth is dead, the treacherous ever-churning perpetually stormy seas of public taste interpreted by a moronic short-sighted industry have drowned yet another promising victim, but their work remains, and what a work it is. Welcome then, into the hall of greats, the alternative rock and roll hall of fame compiled not of release number, sales but for contribution to a ruthless Khanate arsenal of the most panoramic sonic motherfuckery ever to issue from the heads, to the heads, via the heads. Released in 2008 in limited edition bespoke CD version of 500, and featuring the apotheosis of the instrumental doom form; as inductees go, this one has already earned some deep respect, but you haven’t heard it yet. It will take you apart. The brothers Andy and Jeff Koettel on drums and axe respectively, another ex-Scat, current Mummifier member, also furnishing the axe department in Allan Kempf; the underground supergroup rock cred of Billy Crystal Meth is hard to beat. A stable of almost-made-it bands and also-rans is the first seal of approval. From Ottumwa, in the great state of Iowa. I am just reelin’ off the facts sheet here and not tellin’ ya a great deal. Let me get down to it, the story of how Billy Crystal Meth came into my life is at least as important and interesting as their music. I came upon the album very recently.
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