(d)Rude awakenings

REWIND JANUARY

We’re flying into 2015 and the new releases are piling up ALREADY. Who knew that Venom have a new album out? Not me, but at least Phil Alexander did – ta for shoving it out there on Planet Rock last week (Saturday night, repeated on Wednesdays if you wanna check his weekly dispatch of new and classic rawk). Napalm Death have got a new one out as well. Is 2014 really so-last-year already? Is it too late to mention John Garcia and Boris? Given the tardiness of this slipsliding Rewind, probably yes, but you’ll have to wait a few lines because we’re starting with summat new. January 2015 brought a bit of excitement for experimental/drone fiends when Stewart Lee, standing in for Stuart Maconie on the Freakzone one Sunday night, played an excerpt of a too-long-for-radio track by VESUVIO, an underground commune band from Naples back in the 70s.

Vesuvio are not real.

Vesuvio do not exist, yet they’ve just put a record out.

WTF??? Yeah, bit of a head-scrambler that one, but when you know that Julian Cope is one third of Vesuvio (Stephen O’Malley and Holy McGrail make up the whole), and that Vesuvio are one of the invented bands in Cope’s One Three One novel – Dayglo Maradona, Make Fuck and Nurse with Mound are some of t’others – then things start to make, not sense exactly, but the beginnings of sense.

And, with those longhairs at the helm (I’m assuming McGrail is not shorn of scalp), you can guess the musical direction: three tracks of elemental earth-crust ambience that unfolds, percussion-free, over 54 drone-out minutes. The last of those tracks, Resin A, is listed as a bonus and it’s true that the other two tracks, Pompeii (side 1) and Herculaneum (side 2), are the real deal here. Escapist and vast and totally out-fucking-side in its scope, Vesuvio flirt with the likes of Urthona, McGrail himself and mebbe even Carlton Melton, which means that – if you accept their 70s origins – Vesuvio predate these other arteests by about 30 years … shit. Better not think about that for fear of being time-warped in the head. But if you’re a fan of the Arch Drude’s ambient metal sprawl-outs, this is pretty crucial stuff and you can get it over on Head Heritage.

Back to last year briefly for a quick word about a couple of albums. Did John Garcia’s solo effort make the top end of any critics’ lists? If not, it should have. Not flash, not avant and definitely not a Kyuss rehash, it’s a rock solid, class effort by a guy who knows what he does best: even-paced desert grooves and quietly addictive riffs, topped off – of course – by that voice, so don’t forget about him.

And finally, Noise by Boris. Did anyone else feel underwhelmed by Noise on first listen? I did, fearing it was another throwaway slice of fast ‘n catchy Boris-lite, but there’s enough heaviness ‘twixt the hooks to make it a keeper. Heavy Rain’s gargantuan post-rock crawl, Angel’s 18-minute ace and Quicksilver’s after-the-thrash fadeout – check the last three minutes for a definition of heavy beauty – are among a fistful of highlights, and while Noise might not challenge Feedbacker in the greatness stakes, it does at least sound like the Boris we know: MASSIVE. A flawed hit, then.

Well, time’s run out on us and we didn’t get any words on 2014 highs by Yob, Mogwai and Melvins, but that’s the way it’s gonna be (yeah, yeah-yeah …).

’til next time!

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