Posts Tagged ‘The Doors’

Cruel Nature – 6th January 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s something of a relief to discover that Score’s seventh long player for Cruel Nature isn’t some gentle exercise in self-help and mental health wellbeing, or otherwise the soundtrack to some existential post-pandemic breakdown – because the former are utterly fucking nauseating, and the latter, while I’m all for those primal screams of anguish, which I often find relatable, at least to an extent, variety isn’t only the spice of life but the key to staying within the marginal parameters of sane in an insane world. No, COPE, recorded in six weeks at the end of 2022, which somehow feels like a long time ago now already, takes its title from Julian Cope.

As the blurb explains, ‘the album was directly inspired by the musical descriptions to be found in the autobiographies of Julian Cope: Head On and Repossessed. Using Cope’s impassioned words as instructional starting points for each track, COPE references Mott the Hoople, Patti Smith, CAN, Duane Eddy, The Doors, Suicide, Dr John, Sly & The Family Stone and more.’

Julian Cope of one of those people who I’ve long been somewhat perplexed by, and, truth be told, haven’t spent too much time investigating, either musically or biographically. He has always struck me as having a career less centred around his relatively low-key musical output following a degree of commercial success with The Teardrop Explodes, and more around the fact that he’s Julian Cope. Some may want to set me straight on this, but right now, I don’t need to hear it, and a familiarity with the source material shouldn’t be a prerequisite of my ability to critique the work at hand, which interestingly, in drawing on his biographies, only serves to further indicate that Julian Cope spends more time writing about being Julian Cope than making music I need to hear.

COPE is a document to creativity under intense circumstances. To quote from the accompanying notes, COPE was ‘recorded as it was written, in one or two takes in a tiny garage and drawing on an old quote from the arch-druid himself as a creative manifesto: “It had to be very cheap, very fast, very loose. I needed to be an ambassador of looseness”’… ‘COPE is an exercise in embracing limitations and existing in the moment, a lyric-less love letter to Rock ‘n’ Roll itself, and a one-word command to the fried modern human.’

Containing nine instrumental compositions, COPE is a pretty demented journey, an absolute rollercoaster of a ride, that swings between psychedelia and krautrock, twangy desert rock, swampy jazz, with the six-minute ‘Brick’ bringing it all together with a Doorsy kind of trip with the added bonus of some woozy brass in the mix. ‘On The One’ goes deep into a funk workout that grooves hard, but ‘Old Prick’ stands out for its darker post-punk feel that suggests it could almost be a Psychedelic Furs or The Sisters of Mercy demo. The twelve-and-a-half-minute ‘Softgraundt’ is more than just expansive in terms of duration, and is a multi-faceted musical exploration that wanders hither and thither, shifting, evolving, a dozen or more songs in one. And perhaps this is the key to COPE – both the album, and the man. It’s everything all at once, and it’s more than you can really keep up with. It’s a challenge, and one I’m not entirely sure I’m up to, but there’s never a dull or predictable moment here.

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5th June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

The only way to remain sane through all of this madness is to embrace it, or at least some of it. Then again, ( kröter ) have been ahead of the curve in the madness stakes for some time, as the conveyor-belt of releases over the last couple of years have shown, since they were all culled from some epic sessions around 2018.

*f is their third album of 2021, and the sixth album to be culled from these sessions. Remarkably, rather than a random collection of offcuts and flow-sweepings, it contains some of the most outstanding material yet, and one has to wonder how much did they actually record?

They’ve spent a lot of time sifting through the material and chopping it into tracks and sequencing them into albums – with varying degrees of cohesion – but as they note, ‘as usual, there are no second takes in this pond. All is nutritious, spiraling and slowly growing legs.’ These legs are long and hairy, and the sprawling eleven-minute ‘Trajectory’ is a dingy, dirgy grind dominated by a crunchy, dirty bass groove and plodding beat. It’s kinda post-punk, kinda no-wave, kinda noise-rock, and if there are moments when Mr Vast’s vocals hint at a Jim Morrison-esque swagger, the whole thing reminds me most of Terminal Cheesecake, for those who can handle an obscure reference point.

‘The Letter’ is swampy, minimal, meandering, while ‘The Rock’, another low-oscillating slab of dark industrial-leaning synth is propelled by clattering percussion and features snarling, growling manic vocals. Vast is a versatile vocalist, even if on this set his delivery isn’t particularly angled towards melody, as he drones and yelps and drawls and yowls all kinds of atonality over repetitive electronic grooves.

It all comes together on the eighteen-minute ‘casper hauser in the mirror’, a thumping, humping, ketamine-paced motoric industrial jazz odyssey. Vast sounds utterly deranged as his voice wanders lost, aimless, as he half speaks, shouts, raps and yawns out abstract lyrics that drift out in a drift of reverb. Again, around the six minute mark, it sounds like Kraftwerk fronted by Jim Morrison circa LA Woman, and yes, it’s a pretty fucked-up experience, and the atmosphere is not only intense, but also dizzying, bewildering in its hypnotic pull. It transports the listener to another place, out of mind if not out of body, conjuring an almost trance-like experience. It may be some kind of woozy, weirdy, hippy shit, but it’s also affecting. There’s much to be said for the power of repetition, and this just goes on, and on… and on. It’s not nightmarish as such, but it is trippy and disorientating.

This is a fair summary of the album as a whole: *f really does pack in the weird shit, and if the initial tone is one of quirky, oddball fun, the overarching experience is rather darker. The disorientation it creates is less kaleidoscopic joy and more the nausea of excess, and a kind of unsettled bewilderment. ( kröter ) depart from Hunter S. Thompson’s adage that when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro, and instead forge their own path, whereby when the going gets weird, the weird gets even weirder, and a few shades darker, too. Which is cool, because who wants their weirdness to be predictable, after all?

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Svart Records – 1st December 2017

James Wells

This is a tough one. There’s a lot to like on the third album from Jess and the Ancient Ones, which is pitched as ‘a magical mystery trip to the dark side of the sixties as seen through the eyes of modern-day occult rock musicians’. It has energy, for a start, and tunes, to boot. Hooks? Yep, no shortage of hooks, and groove in abundance. But there’s also something that’s rather nigglesome, and it’s not just the excessively try-hard ‘weird’ collage colver art.

Their aim, according to the accompanying blurb, was to go for ‘an organic and human approach and produced a very old fashioned album, 9 songs and 31 minutes, recorded and mixed together with their live sound engineer’.

The Horse and Other Weird Tales is very much an ‘old fashioned album’, and from the opening bars, it’s the skippy, trippy, noodly, doodly, bouncy Hammond organ that stands out in both the mix and the arrangements. The first track is called ‘Death is the Doors,’ and if you cut the first two words, you’ve pretty much got everything you need to know. And therein lies the niggle: it’s pitched being a hybrid of ‘groovy, heavy, psychedelic beat music’ ‘hard death rock’ and ‘occult head-exploding meltdown’. How this actually translates is that ‘The Horse and Other Weird Tales’ is a less than subtle confluence of The Doors and Janis Joplin with a bunch of obvious interview and documentary samples about LSD and opening the doors of perception slung in for good measure. Subtle, it isn’t, and nor is it particularly imaginative.

Song title like ‘Radio Aquarius’, ‘Return to Hallucinate’ and ‘(Here Comes) The Rainbow Mouth’ reflect the dippy, trippy, hippy leanings of the album as a whole. None of the songs in themselves are awful, and there’s an energy, sincerity, and passion which radiates from every bar. But none of this is in question: the question is, why not? It’s all about the bigger picture. Retro is fine within reason. But hen the past becomes the primary focus (really? A sing about, prefaced with a sample discussing The Catcher in the Rye?) is starts to feel all too much like reconstructionalist pastiche. That is to say, parody without the irony: The Horse and Other Weird Tales marks the point at which admiration swings toward tribute.

Yet for all the fullness of the passion with which I dislike it, objectively, The Horse and Other Weird Tales contains some catchy, memorable tunes and demonstrates that Jess and the Ancient Ones know how to navigate a melodic hook underpinned by a stompalong riff. It’s as ersatz as hell, but The Horse and Other Weird Tales succeeds in capturing the spirit of the era which inspired it.

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Jess and the Ancient Ones – The Horse and Other Weird Tales