Friday, February 29, 2008

Sir Richard Bishop Elektronika Demonika
Sir Richard Bishop Fingering the Devil
Sir Richard Bishop While My Guitar Violently Bleeds
Grateful Dead Dick's Picks #12 (disc 3)
Grateful Dead Workingman's Dead
Various Artists The Doo Wop Box
John Martyn Solid Air

Like other maniacs I first heard about Elektronika Demonika back in the 1990s when Rick Bishop was interviewed by Popwatch magazine (online reprint by Perfect Sound Forever here). Back in those pre-knightdom days he described the piece as "ear-shattering, dark electronics and radio communications gathered from various uncommon global frequencies, some of which were recorded from unauthorized satellite systems. Pretty odd stuff," and then added, "It probably won't be released for awhile." Sure enough, it wasn't released until 2006 and I'm just now hearing it today for the first time. In some ways it's more groovin' than I expected, certainly for the first few minutes, but in other ways it's a full-on solo noise piece, in the heavily overdubbed and edited 'soundtrack' vein, more reminiscent of certain 1980s noise than 2000s. And, especially for an album released in an edition of 666 on the date 6/6/06, the 'scary voice' moments at the end of side one and beginning of side two REALLY WORK. Playing this sheds yet more light on why Sun City Girls sound like they do, and just how many different things each member of the trio brought to the table. (As the Sir Rich website says, "There is NO GUITAR on this record.") As soon as Demonika ended and the iPod went right into the ripping solo acoustic version of "Abydos" that opens the Fingering the Devil album, I immediately knew I was gonna listen to that whole thing too, a fiery studio session recorded during an afternoon off in London, England during a 2005 tour. I think it's his best all-acoustic no-overdubs album, rippling with the combative confidence that can only be honed by taking your show on the road. And from there the iPod went right into another SRB album, the great While My Guitar Violently Bleeds. This one starts acoustic with another 7-minute flamenco rippler but then the electric guitars get broken out and the blood starts flowing for the next two tracks, each one twice as long as the previous. Actually, the closing side-longer is a pretty beautiful raga in which bold and flowing acoustic extrapolates over an electric tampura-style drone. Another excellent album that in places rivals Elektronika Demonika for darkness, except this time with guitars. This is my first time hearing anything by John Martyn whatsoever, although I do own a 1998 issue of The Wire that has a great Sun City Girls article by Douglas Wolk and John Martyn is on the cover! Truly, everything has come full circle and I have aligned with the cosmos, just in time for this Martyn stuff to knock me right back on my ass. He's a real soul singer who can really power-belt, and I also wasn't ready for how groovy and funky the music gets, weird tribal disco fusion rock, heavy on the looped/echoed guitar, that honestly sounds 5-10 years ahead of its time for 1974, but then again very much of its time due to all the wah-wah clavinet. And Martyn can also do the melismatic croon, as he does on the rather stunning album opener/title track, with his gloriously and ironically liquid delivery of the line "when you're living on solid air.........."


Anonymous said...

"I'll always be a fan of vinyl, though CDs are a necessary evil. I'll also always be a fan of evil."

-Stevie Ray Brahma

Larry said...

So many classic quotes in that interview, like on Horse Cock Phepner: "We looked at it as a chance to catch up with our obscenity quota." I've been reading Bixobal #2 with the SRB India tour journal (I keep forgetting to list it), he's a regular standup comedian in there, talking about monkeys running wild everywhere: "These simians are terrorists, insurgents, enemy combatants. And of course, they're brown. I hate them because of their freedom!"

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