Amongst the seasonal activities in which your humble 20JFG scribes indulge, there is the odd film screening in the home cinema that our tycoon grandfather has set up in the cellar of his rural demesne. Crimson draperies and decadent gold gilded statues of Pan and Astarte, you can picture the scene. Well, for this year we decided to revisit a classic, no less than George A. Romero’s ‘Dawn of the Dead’. It was this most excellent piece of cinema verité that inspired the opening of this ‘Best of 2008’ post, where we walk the darker side of the sonic mausoleum where talented artists have buried us with blood, sweat and tears. Underline blood and tears, there.
Remember when Roger is getting close to his transformation into mindless flesh-eating corpse, and tells Peter to blow his brains off only when he is one hundred percent sure that the change has taken place, because it might not happen, as he is going to try not to come back?
Well, you could say that much of the music covered in today’s review is precisely that, music that died. And came back, a subtly, or not so subtly altered replica of its former, breathing self, still scintillatingly beautiful, but with a strange glint in its eye, a snake of black smoke nested in its fractured rib-cage, these are nice songs that spent an evening buried in the rocky grounds of the pet sematary, and awoke and returned up the lost path to envelop us with the seductive scent of their putrefaction. Many people out there do not understand our fascination with such things, they do not realise that when we behold through the ghastly gashes on the side of the emaciated visitations that our FEAR ballads are, we see things, and we hear things that come from beyond, we can’t help ourselves, we are people with that inclination for the supernatural.
Addendum– Heaven is a place where Francine blows up the head of the Hare Krishna zombie with an incandescent flare.
Two stars have shone blacker than the velvet foreboding sky this 2009 of blood-curdling shrieking and hands raised towards the sky in a feverish plea for deliverance. First come Portishead, subjects of an astonishing musical reinvention, teletransported to a nebulous zone of bone-shattering kraut-rock riddims, cadaverous country and beautiful industrial dirge, Machine Gun is probably our fave tune of the year, they also took our breath away live at Primavera Sound. And then Salem, engineers of a fiendish genetic thief escaped from the frozen tundras of Antarctica to arrive in the abandoned-hive like streets of Alphabet City becoming what, a hybrid of dirty (gothic) south opium nightmares and phantasmagorical shoe-gazing turbulence. John Carpenter would be proud, also of fellow travellers Young Cream and White Ring.
Crows danced in the sky to the powerful pulse of Black Mountain’s agit-mystical stomp, and Mirror Mirror drew us spellbound inside a mesmerising zone of magical glamour, an opalescent time-machine of sensual wizardry harkening back to the best pysche folk of the 60s.
Spectral chanteuse Zola Jesus will surely continue sending shivers down our feeble vertebral spines with her necromantic balladry, nostrils and mouth agape project ectoplasmic tendrils that melt into an auditory rorschach ink-blot where we hear echoes of Motown and Kate Bush that fiery warlock, wandering lost in a hall of shadows full of rabbit-holes whence we access misty treacherous moors, solitary urban back-alleys where memories of dreams dance to the cruel rhythm of a wintery wind.
You know that synthetic spirals let loose in the misty spaces of a Dario Argento tableaux never fail to turn us on in a death-pervert kind of way, well, this year we have had our fair share of such dirty thrills, by the hand of, amongst others, one master of darkness Mr. Steve Moore whose remixes of David Rubato and Genghis Tron made us think of apocalyptic sunsets populated by night gaunts spreading their leathery wings from shattered windows, nay, hollowed eyes of leprous high-rise buildings standing up to be counted like the corpses of behemoths in the sprawling graveyard of a nuked Wahington D.C. landscape. Meanwhile, Dissident records have continued unleashing upon the discotheque pumped up italo slashers, leather glove cast in iron brandishing serrated steel implements. Brassica, Naum Gabo and Truffle Club deserve special mentions in this unholy front, as do Chicago’s finest purveyors of goulish EBM electro carnage, Gatekeeper.
We kneel by the (thing on the) doorstep of Thisisnotanexit manor for three main reasons, namely Spectral Empire’s Jan Hammer slaher new beat gorefest, Detachments’ skeletal post-punk and Brain Machine’s vanishing point style trip across the cyclopean canals of a dead world. Just listen to Eternal Night, perfect Tangerine Dream-esque soundtrack for the eerie convolutions of Event Horizon’s Space Drive, a trail of fractal tears mark the spot where Jesus wept.
The long winded cycle of an ominous drone is the loop of a hangman’s noose which pulls us from freezing waters in a cruel paradox of asphyxia and salvation, Pocahaunted, Caldera Lakes, Oneohtrix Point Never, Teeth Mountain and Little Claw have risen like translucent revenants to stand in the murky background of forests captured by the camera of one Mr. Dan Nixon, a frightful zone we wander in a simultaneous delirum of joy and dread.
It is this wonderful gentleman Mr. Nixon who brought to our attention Fever Ray’s nebulous dirge. We are talking about the new project by Karin Dreijer Andersson from the Knife, so you know we are talking about some special business. An album shall be coming out in March, for now we revel in the abyssal depths of ‘If I had a Heart”, a macabre D. Lynch style trip across river Styx over the decrepit bridge of a rumbling bassline which could have well been produced with a medieval siege engine. If Genesis P-Orridge or Alan Vega had had a go at remixing Silent Shout, the outcomes would have been of this sort, i.e. astonishing.
And before we go to sprinkle an orderly corn-field with virginal blood, we leave you with a message from Chris Upset the Rhythm. It has to do with Foot Village’s new album, sweet stuff, do get involved.
FOOT VILLAGE WANT YOU TO BE IN THEIR NEW ALBUM
Foot Village – yes, them of the thunderous drum-n-shout circle from Los Angeles, are recording their new album ‘Anti-Magic’ for Upset The Rhythm in the studio right now. It’s day two and the roughs we’ve heard so far are a total brain-wrangle. It’s going to be a terrific record but only you can help finish the album as the band demand your involvement with the final track called CHICKEN AND CHEESE.
CHICKEN AND CHEESE is a celebration of requited love, a call to arms, an espionage and also an ever evolving loop about the world uniting through music – hence the inspired idea to throw the song open to everyone. Foot Village are going to start the loop and then every few measures it’ll get passed on to another band/artist/human to display their interpretation of the part.
To get a feel for what the loop will sound like at the beginning check out this practice-space recording:
Feel more than free to write and record your own version, I mean really go crazy, change it as much as you like, take it to places only you can reach and send it on to the band here:
They are going to take every contribution and edit it all together into a colossal parade of bands that will pretty much destroy your mind. The deadline for all contributions is THURSDAY 15 JANUARY 2009 and for those of you who might want to know the lyrics, here they are:
“We write love songs in a secret language that no one can resist”
Brilliant! Have fun and we hope you can join the party!
UPSET THE RHYTHM