Saturday, 3 January 2015

In Search Of The Demonic

Here's another record heaving with demons - Ut's "In Gut's House" which spooked the hell out of me when I first heard it. It seemed to have a pair of fangs that dug into my shoulders. In hindsight, although it still sounds quite daunting, I'm a bit perplexed as to how it elicited quite the response it did at the time.



Ut were New York no-wavers who relocated to the UK, and seemed to slip between the gaps in peoples' attention in the process, to the extent that they are now virtually unknown. Being an all-female band, they were compared to the Slits and the Raincoats, which was not entirely unfair, as like those bands their songs had that slippery sense of inhabiting an interstitial realm between structure and structurelessness. Listening to them is like walking on a creaking floor that can give way at any minute, dropping the listener into a terrifying void.



It makes sense for a female band to construct their sound like this, structure after all being the process by which men make the world a man's world. This record demonstrates just how effectively undermining such structure can invoke the uncanny.

Monday, 29 December 2014

The Demon-Haunted World

Let us put on our woo-goggles for a moment, and suppose that angels, demons and other spirits are not metaphors, but are real living beings that can be manifested in our reality. Perhaps if they were, and being composed of ether, they could be captured on magnetic recording tape. They might then be capable of being replicated and perhaps embedded in the grooves of vinyl records, say. This thought probably appears disturbing, or silly, or disturbingly silly, as it breaks the materialist convention that inanimate objects such as vinyl records are inert, or "dead", and also contravenes the progressive idea inherent in popular music that old things inevitably lose their lustre over time and constantly require replacement. On the other hand, perhaps your treasured record collection instead of being a lifeless compendium of essentially harmless entertainment music and marker of personal taste, is in fact more akin to a demon storage vault.

So how would disembodied spirits inveigle themselves into recorded music? Most of the time the invocation of these beings would no doubt be accidental, a by-product of the invariably anti-structural behaviour of musicians, whose innate tendency is to blur the boundaries of Western rationalism. However, there would also be occasions when the invocations were deliberate. It is well known, for example, that this is what Ian Curtis was attempting to do during the recording of Joy Division's "Closer" album. This activity is usually relayed by music writers, who are materialists to a man and woman, as simply being a spooky by-product of the tragic loss of perspective that afflicted Curtis in his last days. That Curtis might have been a genuine shaman and psychopomp who had expertise in what he was doing is rarely considered. Killing Joke are another band who may have been summoning spirits deliberately, although one can assume in the case of that particular band, these demons would have been particularly malicious.

Neither of these cases are especially suggestive in themselves, and neither of them might prompt anyone to engage in the speculations above, if it wasn't for the fact that there was another band whose numinous power dwarfed that of Joy Division and Killing Joke.



That band was The Comsat Angels, whose 1981 LP "Sleep No More", towers over every other post-punk album ever recorded.

What makes The Comsat Angels so disorientating to think about is that it is difficult to understand rationally how they achieve the effect that they do. On a first hearing, they sound just like any other all-present-and-correct, meat-and-two-veg post-punk band, but after a few listens something seems to creep over the listener like a gas, and you start to realise that there is something very unsettling nestled within their matrix of sound. It isn't exactly evil, but it isn't entirely benign either. It is some kind of living spiritual power that seems to exist purely to provoke its own admiration. Perhaps it is the moment when you "get" a record that the demons are released.



"Mass" is a particularly illustrative piece. For any other band, this would have been considered a much-cherished career highlight. For the Comsats, it was an off-cut not even deemed worthy of placement on a b-side. These Angels had aether to burn:

Friday, 21 November 2014

Linkies

There's an extract from The Tome in the cultural powerhouse that is 3am Magazine here

Meanwhile, The Impostume discusses the work of Ben Wheatley, film-maker and member of the Satanic Church Of The Anti-Kriss, here

There's a good article on why the whole VIP Paedos palaver is probably cobblers here

On the same theme, another fascinating post on the subject here. Worth noting the persistent presence of hoaxers and the intriguing (to put it mildly) role of "therapists" within the whole paedo-conspiracy menagerie. Also the deeply anti-structural ramifications of implicating the powerful in status-shattering accusations of child abuse. Has Theresa May, with her historic abuse inquiry, unwittingly placed herself in the clutches of The Trickster?

Friday, 10 October 2014

Behold the awesome cluelessness of Labour activists:

So yes, Labour is going to have to talk about immigration and welfare. And I believe that we have it within ourselves to do that in a way that speaks to voters concerns without pandering to the whims of those who want us to abandon our beliefs to the politics of the right. But we must also talk about the kind of change we want to see in Britain – on housing, jobs and wages – where our ambition is currently too limited.
Personally, I don't give much of a toss about any of this. My bare minimum requirement to start voting Labour again is the full re-nationalisation of the railways; a mild, sensible policy that would be a token acknowledgment that the party is prepared to break with the Neoliberal consensus. Airy, speculative talk about a "partial" renationalisation isn't close to being good enough. That's just a start, by the way. How about a dedicated effort to bring shipbuilding back to the Clyde, or to the Wear? It only seems impossible because we've never tried it.

There is absolutely no way the Labour hierarchy will seriously consider any of this, because in the narrow avenue of thinking they have confined themselves to, such policies would be tantamount to heresy. And because they operate within such confined strictures of possibility, they, like the other mainstream parties, operate almost purely in the realm of perception management, "reaching out to voters' concerns", "allaying fears", "pointing out the consequences" etc. The policies that could re-connect with Labour's core vote are unacceptable to Labour, and neither immigration nor the EU need come into it.

All the mainstream parties are suffering from what Charles Tart called "consensus trance". They have hypnotised themselves with their own mantras of what is economically and socially possible, and are literally unable to see any options that exist outside their self-imposed definition of reality. This is why charismatic tricksters like Salmond and Farage can garner so much mileage from tormenting them.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Tome Sweet Tome



January 30th 2015

This date will from now on be known as Tome Day, or, for short, T-day, the date on which I will no doubt be catapulted out of total obscurity and into the realm of relative obscurity.

You can read the exciting promotional blurb here. Reynoldsmeister Simon has been gracious enough to risk his good reputation by providing an endorsement, so many thanks to him. He will no doubt be joining me in attempting to answer the question that Strangled is most likely to provoke, to whit: "so what the fuck is this actually about, exactly?"

I bring even more good tidings, in that The Carlmeister also has an epic tome approaching gestation. Myself and His Impostumeness did discuss having a joint book launch, but, characteristically, I got distracted by something else, so this idea is still hanging in the air somewhere between Peterborough and London. But who knows what may manifest between now and T-Day?

Not even I.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Strange Days



I've come to the conclusion that the next Tome is going to have to be about The Doors.

It's the connections between the military-industrial complex and popular music that I find fascinating, and Jim Morrison is the most striking example of this. Like everyone, I've always considered music and the military as existing in entirely separate realms, or even as mutual opposites, but actually the connections are profound and intriguing. Much of the infrastructure of popular music is derived from the military - the strategic highways that allowed bands to tour, most of the communications technology, even some of the drugs. Also to an extent rock bands themselves are akin to war machines - their music is loud and violent, there's the rhythmic co-ordination of actions, guitars as substitute guns, the intra-band hierarchies etc.

In many ways The Doors are a minor example of what I would call the marginal utility of the military. By this I mean that there seems to be a point where the military in any society expands to the point that it has a negative social impact. Its defensive purpose is overshadowed by, for example, the sheer economic burden of maintaining it - the Soviet Union being the classic example of this. But the military can also corrode society in a multitude of other ways. Its obsession with secrecy can prompt suspicion and paranoia. The technology it conjures into existence can have huge social effects, even with something as apparently minor as pre-cooked meals. The computer screen you are reading this on is derived from a technology developed by the US military. Spengler called our modern cities, with their apartment blocks and housing estates "barrack cities", and there is a sense that the compactness and orderliness of the military leach into civilian life, making automatons of us all.

And yet popular musicians have traditionally tended to promote peace and love, which indeed find great resonance with the populations of Warfare States such as the USA and Britain. Is there a paradox here, or is it intrinsic to Warfare States that inside their hard, brittle shells the interior is soft and gooey? In hiving off the duties of national defence to a professional caste, held in general contempt by the populace, is it inevitable that the prosecution of war becomes tainted, akin to working in the tannery or down the sewer? There's also the strange and contrary nature of peace protests, which invariably fail to prevent wars. Are they in fact a vital part of the preparation for war, a ritual theatre in which the public can metaphorically wash their hands of the ensuing violence, like in those Mafia films where the mobsters go to confession before they murder their next victims? Is this what "Not In My Name" really means?

And, finally, what are The Doors really about? There's the strange Shaman complex, which, like the military, is much concerned with surprise and deception. There's the Oedipal animus towards parents and authority. But what was ultimately driving this? I have to confess I don't know - The Doors, like so many bands, make little apparent sense when you start to seriously examine them. Don't expect any answers soon, as this will probably be another tortuously long project. All I'm saying is that I'm commencing my investigations.....

Sunday, 14 September 2014

A quite amazing story here detailing the links between the Laurel Canyon hippie music scene and the military-industrial complex. A sample:
"Given that Zappa was, by numerous accounts, a rigidly authoritarian control-freak and a supporter of U.S. military actions in Southeast Asia, it is perhaps not surprising that he would not feel a kinship with the youth movement that he helped nurture. And it is probably safe to say that Frank’s dad also had little regard for the youth culture of the 1960s, given that Francis Zappa was, in case you were wondering, a chemical warfare specialist assigned to – where else? – the Edgewood Arsenal. Edgewood is, of course, the longtime home of America’s chemical warfare program, as well as a facility frequently cited as being deeply enmeshed in MK-ULTRA operations. Curiously enough, Frank Zappa literally grew up at the Edgewood Arsenal, having lived the first seven years of his life in military housing on the grounds of the facility. The family later moved to Lancaster, California, near Edwards Air Force Base, where Francis Zappa continued to busy himself with doing classified work for the military/intelligence complex. His son, meanwhile, prepped himself to become an icon of the peace & love crowd. Again, nothing unusual about that, I suppose.

Zappa’s manager, by the way, is a shadowy character by the name of Herb Cohen, who had come out to L.A. from the Bronx with his brother Mutt just before the music and club scene began heating up. Cohen, a former U.S. Marine, had spent a few years traveling the world before his arrival on the Laurel Canyon scene. Those travels, curiously, had taken him to the Congo in 1961, at the very time that leftist Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba was being tortured and killed by our very own CIA. Not to worry though; according to one of Zappa’s biographers, Cohen wasn’t in the Congo on some kind of nefarious intelligence mission. No, he was there, believe it or not, to supply arms to Lumumba “in defiance of the CIA.” Because, you know, that is the kind of thing that globetrotting ex-Marines did in those days (as we’ll see soon enough when we take a look at another Laurel Canyon luminary)".
Jim Morrison, Robbie Kreiger, Grace Slick, Stephen Stills, Mike Nesmith, David Crosby, Jackson Browne, Gram Parsons, to name but a few, all came from wealthy, well-connected military families. I'm not sure that I share the conspiratorial slant of the author though. What I think these connections reveal is just how vast the US military-industrial complex was (and no doubt still is) and how deeply the American middle class, and the media that provided them with entertainment, were socially embedded within it. What is revealed here is not that the counterculture was some indoctrination programme enacted upon American youth, but that the USA was/is a Warfare State, and so even its culture of internal dissent will be reflective of this.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Eventually got round to checking out Kevin Coyne, without a great deal of enthusiasm, just for the sake of completeness and everything.

Turns out he's fantastic: