MARK LANEGAN LIVE + 2017 MOMENTS

DECEMBER REWIND: MARK LANEGAN BAND PLAYS OXFORD, PLUS A 2017 REWIND

Gargoyle. When you see Mark Lanegan stand dead still on stage, face lived-in and unbreaking, you wonder if the name of the album is a knowing, unmoving nod to his stage self.

Then you cast the thought off. Lanegan does not come across as a guy who does send-up, not in public at least. Gargoyles survive centuries though, and Lanegan’s voice has the same survivor’s trait, but the man himself …. at times he looks like he might not get much beyond another day. He only moves from and to the mic when he has to get a drink, and does it slowly with a limp. Every time he moves, he grimaces. Definitely not the imposing moody bruiser you’ve imagined – no, he looks like a veteran fighter in semi-retirement, taking the stage with reluctance. To anyone who hasn’t seen him in person before – me – it’s a bit of a shock. Puts you at unease.

Is Lanegan’s voice diminished? No. Not a bit. It’s exactly what you know from the records – rich, lived-in, strong with weary edge, and he doesn’t falter or miss all night. Death’s Head Tattoo and Gravedigger give us an early rush before Shelley Brien takes co-vocals on Hit the City‘s highway cool. Nocturne pulls out those Euro-driven post-punk synth-pop stops, pulsing like Simple Minds’ Theme for Great Cities, and it’s these tracks, the ones that drive you through metropolitan nightscapes, that work the best. Riot in My House showcases Jeff Fielder’s liquid solos, and that guy is stellar, totally immersed in the songs – he’s into it, bodily into it, with creeper-hop moves and dapper hat that are more acid jazz moonlighter than rock supremo. Class act, as is the whole band. Methamphetamine Blues closes the set with clank ‘n’ growl, then the encore gets stripped to guitar and voice only. Brien joins for a closing Bombed.

It’s a great gig, but an odd-funny one too (and we’re not even going near support act Joe Cardamone’s Holy War filmwank). You could say that Lanegan’s voice doesn’t fit the higher energy rock that he now does, yet it totally works. You could also say that he doesn’t fit the trad rock set-up on stage and you’d be right. And you would put cash on “Mark will be out in 15 minutes to sign any merchandise you have, he’d love to meet you” not being the last words of the set, but they are. A meet and greet with Mark Lanegan? Get the fork outta here.

But sure enough, he appears walking slowly with a cane, joined by Shelley, and they take their seats at the merch stand. They sign stuff, they shake everyone’s hands, it’s a cool thing to see. Would they sign my ticket, please? Of course they would. Happy new year, guys.

LANEGAN TICKET

MOMENTS OF THE YEAR

We’re already drowning in end-of-year lists, but I’ll add a drop’s worth anyway. What’s the criteria? Music moments 2017 – pretty much new, a little of the old, simple as that. The big 2017 reviews shame us into seeing how far off the pulse we non-music-biz mortals really are, but they give us plenty of stuff to check as well: a last grab at being remotely current.

They also make us wonder what everyone sees in LCD Soundsystem. 

Again.

NOTHING IS DEFINITIVE. Let’s go.

KXM – Scatterbrain
Rapid-fire prog-pyro technics launch the second KXM album. So, who KXM again? Dug Pinnick (King’s X) + George Lynch (Lynch Mob/Dokken) + Ray Luzier (Korn). Many of Pinnick’s projects overlap his mother band’s sound, but KXM does push a bit further out because Lynch has a tone all his own, and Ray Luzier lays down some pristine metallic double-kick action, yet the bedrock of it all are those big stop-starter funk-heavy grooves. Check Panic Attack for an epic Lynchian solo over heavy-Beatles harmony. If you’re looking to fall back in love with guitar heroes and musos who serve the song, submit to KXM’s hard-rock mastery.

King’s X live in Bristol
Might as well get straight on to the other 2017 Pinnick high: King’s X live, in the UK. After a life-time’s fandom, seeing them for the first time was odds-on to be Gig of the Year, and it was. It still is. This is what it felt like. King’s X, we salute you.

Buzz and Dale
First it was Crystal Fairy who crunched our worlds with revitalised riffage, then Melvins took us on A Walk with Love and Death double header, with Death possibly the best Melvins album since Freak Puke and one that draws on Stag‘s vintage lurch without ever doing a retread. Dale Crover put a solo record out, too – haven’t heard it, one for next year, surely.

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs
Chanced upon these raucous fuckbags back in January and pounced on one-track EP The Wizard and the Seven Swines. One of the best listens of the year. Debut album Feed the Rats landed in 2017, and though more hinged, it’s still a righteous slab of sludgy noisy drawn-out psyche.

Robert Plant – Carry Fire
Any Robert Plant record is a big deal, no matter how it turns out. Carry Fire isn’t the global psychedelic melt that we might expect from the Sensational Space Shifters – more wistful Welsh valley than charging Mali burn – and its restrained mood is at odds with Plant’s life-affirming interviews, so what gives? Once The May Queen has skipped past, side A keeps it slow and you’re straining for a kick, but after that – Carving Up The World Again onwards – it hits the Plant mark. Bones of Saints echoes Mighty Rearranger, Carry Fire conjures bazaars and street heat while Keep it Hid tiptoes a Space Shifter electronica shimmy. Given time, the slower tracks grow, but best of all is Heaven Sent at the record’s end – heavy, slow-droning surf, one of Plant’s darkest. Majesterial stuff as always, just a bit more hidden. Slow-releasing heat.

Dead Cross – Dead Cross
Old Kids on the Block? Yeah, but the joy of hearing Patton THIS animated and Lombardo THAT ferocious in a 28-minute ultrablast is hard to top.

Ministry – Rio Grande Blood
Jizzy Pearl played Wasted in America at the Bullingdon in 2017. Of course, it launched a Love/Hate listening phase, and that somehow led to a Ministry revival as well – you know what it’s like. Must have been a bands-of-92 thing. Anyway, Ministry. Don’t know how long you stuck with them, but I stopped buying after Houses of the Mole, not for any great reason other than the stacks of other new bands and sounds to grab hold of. Suddenly you’ve got a four-album Ministry deficit and the guitarist has died. Shit. What happens when you then get stuck in to Rio Grande Blood? It blows your head. Senor Peligro is ferocious, aggressive, surely one of the hardest tracks they’ve ever done. Cue immediate Ministry gap fill, and if you can stomach a bit of gross-out reading while you do the same, Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen is it (get it on Kindle). Frank, funny and disgusting, it’s an unbelievable tale (literally, in the Robert Plant anecdote Led Zeppelin in 1983, really???) where you can’t help but be charmed by Alien J. Lotta self deprecation, whole lotta self abuse, some horrible fucking stories. Get past the first few pages and you won’t stop.

Prince – Around the World in a Day
The Prince education continues, and this album … well, Tamborine and America. How hard is the funk on those tracks? ’nuff said. Staggering.

Chris Cornell 

We all know the story. We all know it doesn’t sit right, either. Going beyond Soundgarden, Carry On and Songbook have kept Cornell’s flame flickering this year, and the more you listen, the deeper that talent  and loss – goes.

Myrkur – Mareridt
Already referenced here as a winter soundtrack, Mareridt covers many more bases than Myrkur’s debut album M. It is less metal – much less – but more diverse, more coherent and more euphoric in an icy, nightmare folk kinda way. Ghosts of black metal. #2 in Metal Hammer’s 2017 review.

Wire live in Oxford
Chairs missing. Doors opening. (non) review right here.

Paradise Lost – Medusa
20 years after last picking up a Paradise Lost album (One Second), Medusa became an impulse buy. Don’t know why. Must have been the subliminal dark arts of the reviews and interviews, and it’s still too new to know well, but it’s got a mature, heavy crunch. Slow-moving and resolute, Medusa is grounded – exactly what we need in fast, unstable times. Just goth enough, feels like a stayer. Let’s see.

Kamasi Washington – Harmony of Difference
Mary Anne Hobbs and Stuart Maconie are all over Kamasi Washington on 6 Music, as are many others, but if you’re open to The Jazz yet rarely snagged, Washington’s triple disc debut The Epic would be way too much. Maybe he knows this. Maybe this is why he put out Harmony of Difference, a 32-minute 6-tracker (at EP price, bargainheads) that uses counterpoint theory – not something I know about, but Harmony is a rich, fullsome listen that might even beat a path to The Epic… one day.

What else for 2017?

Drore

Mastodon!!! But Emperor of Sand tops the Metal Hammer poll, so go read a proper write up over there instead.

Other 2017 stuff not yet managed: king crimson live in chicago QOTSA – big|brave  motorpsycho hannah peel godflesh  mogwai nine inch nails gy!be – the bug vs earth and so on anon anon anon…

HAPPY NEW YEAR, see you in 2018!

SNOWY AUDIO

THIS TIME, IT’S SEASONAL: SIX CHRISTMAS-ISH LISTENS

Noddy, Lewie, Bowie. Elvis and Ella, crooners and swingers – we wheel them all out for Christmas, and rightly so. It’s CHRIIIISTMAAAS, innit? But outside of all that, which non-jinglers best fit the wintry build-up to Christmas? Who creates the mood for a warming dark rum and a soundtrack for snow, even if there isn’t any?

Here are some of my go-to festives. Warmers and coolers, all seasonal. What are yours?

BJORK – Vespertine

Top of the winter pops is Vespertine, always. Somehow, it’s the essence of snow in musical form, yet it doesn’t sound like it’s contrived to be a winter album – it feels like it just turned out that way. Hidden Place pushes against wind and snow drifts before the chorus sweeps you up and out, flying over white patchworks. Frosti, Aurora and An Echo, A Stain make for an especially frost-twinkled run of three, but the whole of Vespertine has a softness of sound that is flakes falling, ice forming. Magical. It only ever gets played at this time of year. That’s the deal.

NICK CAVE AND WARREN ELLIS – White Lunar

Where Vespertine exposes your inner wonder to winter’s call, White Lunar tracks the harsh, bleak end of the same season – let your mind go with The Rider #2 or Zanstra and conjure a whiteout. Song for Jesse and Micro Sucker could have fallen from Vespertine’s branches, but really, it’s isolation and loneliness that dominate these heavy scores …. like Srey Leak, disc 2. Plug in for barren, wintry detachment from civilisation this Christmas.

BOB DYLAN – Tempest

Gotta have some Dylan at Christmas. Not youthful early-peak Dylan, but something more weathered, cracked and fallible instead. Crackling Bob. Time Out of Mind always works when winter nights shorten the days, but this year it’s Tempest’s fireside feel that’s snuck its way in – must be the light jazzy blues swing that shuffles through. Not every track is essential, but you CAN imagine Duquesne Whistle soundtracking a snowy trudge home after a warming short in the pub. Scarlet Town and Tin Angel give you the storyteller view from a window seat. Dark roots. Yeah, Tempest goes down well – pour another rum.

ROBERT PLANT – Band of Joy

Does a similar job to Dylan’s Tempest, but given that Plant is The Man round these parts, it’s much more of a player. What makes it a  listen for this time of year? The camaraderie, the togetherness, the organic warmth in the production… Angel Dance might share some of Duquesne Whistle’s jaunt, but it’s the ethereal dark of the Silver Rider and Monkey covers – and Central Two-O-Nine‘s rustic free-wheel – that really put a wintry seal on things.

CULT OF LUNA – Somewhere Along the Highway

Or Salvation. Or Vertikal and Vertikal II. But probably Somewhere Along the Highway. Less seasonal than the others here, but I always get more Cult of Luna in the diet in winter. Slow-moving, heavy and intense, the Swedish post-metal masters rarely waver from their template and yet, like Mogwai, refine it pretty much every time they put a record out. This, their fourth album, may be their best. Dim soars to a higher mellow than they’d managed before, and Back to Chapel Town is a timeless snowbound pounder. Just get the whole album on, it’s a class act.

MYRKUR – Mareridt

Far less metal than its predecessor, Myrkur’s second album haunts beautifully – check Crown and tell me there’s no snowscape coming to mind. Tracks like Bornehjem and Death of Days might not be Christmas family crackers, despite being free of metallic axe, but wait for the ice of the post-festive comedown. Surely Myrkur can score that?

To be continued? Probably. HAPPY ROCKIN’ CHRISTMAS!

 

WINTER ANIMALS

WIRE: live – a non-review

NOVEMBER REWIND: WIRE DO A NUMBER ON OXFORD BULLY. MOSLEY FALLS.

You know when you get an album that grabs you so much on first listen that you’re reduced to a state of stationary captivation, rooted speaker-side by some sort of slow motion epiphany? Like you’ve been shown a new way, something big and beyond your shrinked mind?

Wire just laid all that on yours truly the day after their Oxford gig at the Bullingdon, a gig that’s not being reviewed here. Why no review?

Being someone who knows close to shit-all about the band, beyond a couple of albums and their widely-reported creds, any review would be dubious, under-informed cack. Real fake. So, instead of beating out a few words about what the gig is or was, better to look at what it did.

WIRE. Who first heard the name through Elastica’s Connection plagia-rism? Got my hand up for that one. Did nothing about it until a few years ago though, when Pink Flag popped up at the right time and revealed its spiky outer-punk brilliance. Special, a Proper Band, so I thought it’d be a good idea to pick up the albums in chronological order and hear the band unfold the way they actually did. This would be my Wire Listening Project. From what I’d read, they were apt to shift things pretty swiftly, and Chairs Missing confirmed it. Should be an interesting journey: 154, next stop.

Thing is, the project got derailed before 154 was ever reached, because Wire came to town and played such a shit-kicking set (to my novice ears) that leaving the gig without snaffling audio merch was just not an option. 

On stage, Colin Newman cuts a quiet, almost delicate shape up front. His guitar is anything but. ThickerbiggerwarmerHEAVIER than expected, it’s voluminous – like Neil Young on Le Noise, but machined to a straighter edge. No idea what the tracks were, though a post-gig lyric search meant that two standouts turned out to be Over Theirs, which finished off the main set under feedback tides, and an encore-defining Stealth of a Stork. Massive, vital. Wire made an impact.

At the merch stand, Send Ultimate and Read & Burn 3 found a new home, and it was Send Ultimate’s double-discer that whipped the froth in the first paragraph. That first play revealed a tough-sounding album, not industrial but industrial hard, magnetic, of itself and no-one else, and it’s just the start of what’s gonna be a long burrow into Wire world. Such is the potency of a gig when you’re ripe for accelerated conversion and didn’t even know it.

GONE 

AC/DC’s Malcolm Young slipped away this month, but it was Chuck Mosley whose loss was perhaps the bigger shock. No doubt you played something in tribute … here, having not played Introduce Yourself for years, Chinese Arithmetic leapt out brash and fully fresh. And from the Cement days, you gotta give Piledriver a go. Riffs: sharp but loose.

’til next time!

Wire CDs: Send Ultimate

Wire: just press send

 

THE WILDHEARTS: Endless, Nameless

NOISY ANOMALY FROM CLASS OF ’97

Tin-can drums, way high in the mix. Dry-bone guitars trebled to the max. Mega bass shocks and overamped noise. This is Anthem, the first single from Endless, Nameless.

Fuck me. What happened to the Wildhearts?

Where are the sticky sweet melodies and riff ‘n’ roll majesty of Earth vs… and P.H.U.Q.? The multi-part stretch-out of Fishing for Luckies, or the Motorhead speed scuzz of Caffeine Bomb? The TUNES, where are the tunes?

Gone. Bombed out.

Sort of.

Wildhearts: Endless, Nameless

Endless, Nameless: tuneless? No

This was a New Era for the Wildhearts, an era that sounded like the end. Before then, Ginger’s gang were a volatile technicolour splatter on a po-grunge backdrop, a gang who gave good chaos both on and off record – vids like this (nice vom) and stunts like this (nice Kerrang! visit) made sure of that, which would all count for knack-all if the music blew, but … it very definitely didn’t, as the albums and A-grade B-sides show. But if drugs, bust ups and breakdowns were standard operating procedure for this lot, by ’97 it had got a whole lot darker: band members fired (CJ), sort-of band members AWOL (Mark Keds), rehab yo-yo (Danny McCormack), attempted suicide (Ginger) – and Endless, Nameless masks none of it. Do a mood-check on this bunch of cheery-bastard titles: Junkenstein, Pissjoy, Heroin, Thunderfuck, Why You Lie?

What reading do you get?

PHUQ-ed off, probably. Far less fun than TV Tan for sure, but the titles are just the half of it. The real sign that Things Are Bad is the nihilistic production job that quarantines this album from everything else they’ve done. Some reviews give it the white noise tag, but that’s overstating it – it’s not Wolf Eyes, it’s the Wildhearts, and they’re still a of bunch of dirt glam hook-ers loaded with tunes and smash-it-up attitude no matter what state they’re in. There IS noise, though. It’s in the production, a permanent stimulation that kinda tires your head. For a song-based record, a record where you expect and get hooks, verses and choruses, it’s pretty rough on the senses.

Junkenstein fires a savage warning to any fairweather fan. By far the hardest Wildhearts tune released up to that point (outdone by Why You Lie? on side 2), it’s industrialised, thrashy, pissed off and vital – more a two-minute warning than a tune. What’s not to love? NOTHING.

Nurse Maximum pulls the tempo back down to mid, at least for the verse, in a bit of a cool-off after Junkenstein’s jarring abrasions, but when Anthem’s unsubtle clank makes its move, you wonder where the record’s going … Anthem doesn’t feel like killer Wildhearts and we’re already three tracks in. At this point on Earth vs The Wildhearts we’d had Greetings from Shitsville, TV Tan and Everlone. Classics all. PHUQ’s opening 1-2-3 was I Wanna Go Where the People Go, V-Day and Just in Lust. Same deal. EN’s third track is sung by Danny McCormack: ‘I’m in love with the rock and roll world.’

Not exactly Ginger-sharp wordplay, is it?

But although this literal ode to the rock and roll world might not fire rockets on first listen, it’s not quite the braindead slog you first think, either – with Danny on vox, the words have a more autobiographical bent, and when the tune’s rammed with so much anti-pop production that it all but destroys itself, it feels like a metaphor for the band, McCormack especially. A grower of sorts

unlike Urge

Urge is no grower because it’s full-grown massive already, an instant shiner from the new dark Wildhearts. Check that slam-riffed mega shake, the in-and-out-of-sync verse (yet more overstimulation), the post-chorus bass-drum boooooom….yeah, the boom. Not the first appearance of this signature OTT Endless sonic, but it is the best pure earth quaker, an on-the-one detonation. Rumour goes that part-time Wildheart/full-time metal-oid Devin Townsend used it for his own endless ends on Infinity, but whatever the story and however it came about, it ramps up the imbalance and no doubt cracked some roadwork for Ginger’s more out-there adventures, not least the mad-bad Mutation project.

By now, after four tracks, you know that things are not going to clean up. There will be no singalonga Nita Nitro, there will be no normal production. There will be a kids’ chorus, though – Piss, JOY, NAAA NA-NA NA-NA – and a wrecked cover of Dogs D’Amour’s Heroine (here called Heroin) with drums distorted to shit, vocals ditto, volume levels ragged. Wasted and louche. Why You Lie? is so feral that it strangles the air out of you, and by the time it disintegrates, you’re spent. Thunderfuck’s mellow gives some respite at the album’s end, but it’s a wearisome downer. The sound of engines, the smell of burning. Torch it. Torch the lot. Over and out.

Endless, Nameless is a Wildhearts one-off, but it’s as true as any album that copped their classic sound – perhaps even more so. Abrasive industrial rock, hand-made by damaged human flaw-beings, it sits tight with a couple of other 90s records that were destructive reactions to predecessors – Warrior Soul’s Chill Pill and Ministry’s Filth Pig come to mind. The Wildhearts returned to their own vintage when they next got their shit together, but this one’s the unruly brother, the one you can’t ignore. It won’t let you.

Keep it maximum. 



Hairy Halloween II

A pumpkin-grin welcome to anyone who’s there, imageand this year’s handful of Halloweeny hitters is a straight follow-up to last year: another blast of old-school rock tracks, videos and vibes that fit the ‘ween thing, and like all slasher sequels, it’s probably not as good as the one before…

…OR IS IT??? Wait for the dark.

 JOE SATRIANI: Big Bad Moon

What do you want from a Halloween vid? A dark, deserted street? Check. Full-moon menace? Yep. Amplifier being kicked down the stairs so a guitarist can solo the frig out of it? Errrrrrr no, but why the hell not??? Enter Big Bad Moon. Not only is the mood right, but you get an electro-shock Satch hair-ender that’s undead-worthy (low budget special effects version). Killer tune, killer solos. 

TOOL: Stinkfist

Less blitzy than Satriani, obvs, Stinkfist does anything but reek. Any number of Tool tunes could make a dark-side playlist, and this creepsome promo makes Tool a ‘ween shoe-in. Check the Stinkfist sand people, watch ’em peel.

MR BUNGLE: Quote Unquote

Odd weird. Sinister weird. Which is what you expect from Mr Bungle, right? Soundtrack to a death circus. With masks.

JUDAS PRIEST: Turbo Lover

Sure, A Touch of Evil makes more sense on the surface, but we’re not going as deep as surface here – we’re going for the vibe, specifically the Terminator-as-argonaut retro stink flying off this hilariously shit video. Rocking tune, though. 

DAVID BOWIE: Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)

A fair few Bowie tunes could land on a list like this, but if atmosphere and menace are on the menu instead of literal Scary Monsters, the predatory pre-Blackstar Sue (Or in a Season of Crime) jazz ensemble racks it up nice n’ noir.  

VOIVOD: Astronomy Domine

Did anyone else find the Tribal Convictions video a bit creepy as a kid? No? OK, that’s embarrassing. Let’s have a disembodied Voivodian vocal in a flicker-flicker-flicker-bam Floyd cover with a video of a band on a rotating wheel instead. Better?

ALICE COOPER: Killers

The creep factor in this version of Is It My Body has nothing to do with Alice stage props and effects – it’s pre-Nightmare, but Cooper was a theatrical master even when his props were nothing more than a shiny onesie, a shoe and a pink leotard. Classic. But this video for Killer (live) is a wee bit more showtime, shall we say. If the noose fits…

SMASHING PUMPKINS: Ava Adore

Graced with gothic electronica, alt-rock’s very own Uncle Fester goes full Nosferatu in the video – check the Corgan choreography for some pretty slick Nosfer moves you’ll wanna steal.

CHRIS MORRIS: Jam (intro to episode 2)

Not music, but there is dancing. Morris dancing. Subversive, woozy and warped at every twist, Jam fits right in with any horror sesh, and Morris’s taunt-and-haunt free-dance flail in the face of a failed suicide is wrong enough to be oh-so-very right.  

MELVINS/TOOL: Divorced

If ever there was a Halloween house band, Melvins would surely be it. Tool could do visuals, but there are no visuals here – get the headphones, kill the lights and sink deep into a 15-minute pit of top-grade Toolvins.

AC/DC: Night Prowler

A rat runs down the alley, and a chill runs down your spine…can there be a better lyric to end on? Pure slasher, a Bon ace over a deadly, bluesy groove.

But you can’t really have a halloween sequel without a farcical false ending, so … a heroic big-hair resurrection it is – check the big-budget cheapness in this Elm Street cornball. Who were those guys, Freddie? Eh? Lynch axe still cuts it, mind.

THE END! Off now, Salem’s Lot beckons.


Other radio stuff to check:


 

RITUAL UNION: a 5-band review

ULRIKA SPACEK, FLAMINGODS, JOSEFIN OHRN + THE LIBERATION, PINKSHINYULTRABLAST and BO NINGEN at Oxford’s new RITUAL UNION festival, October 21 2017

There’s a new festival in town and it’s called Ritual Union: three venues and four stages of bands – The Bullingdon, The Library and the O2 (upstairs and down), and some in-stores at Truck Store – make this a proper Cowley Road music community effort.

It all kicks off early aft this windy Saturday, and as ever with multiple-band jams like this, we want to like a lot and, with any luck, get blown sideways by somebody.

That somebody won’t be Ulrika Spacek, though. 20-something minutes in to a 30-minute set in the Bullingdon, I’m trying not to drift off standing up. Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s late … no, it’s 6pm. Velvets-y new wave with a less than stellar vocal – not much to grab hold of, and that’s a real shame ‘coz after catching the very end of their support set for Minor Victories last year, I swear they’d made a loud, moto-rhythmic first impression. It’s why I had them down as a cert for today.

But wait … the final track, wassis? Thicker guitars, more sprawl, spacier voice and yes, a moto-groove. It’s good. It’s very good. It’s Everything: All of the Time, and is surely how they wrapped their Minor Victories set last year. My tip? Get to the gig 10 minutes from the end, you’ll love it.

Sticking with the Bully, next up are Flamingods, and these guys – Bahrain-formed culture clashers – radiate musicality before they even strike a note. You can just feel it. And when they do start, they lift the room BIG TIME with a soaring, infectious, free-flowing fusion that’s bursting with soul from whatever genre-culture they see fit. Like what, like who? The fact that they were tour buds with The Comet is Coming this year gives a kaleidoscopic clue, but my rock-ist worldview (depressingly narrow in front of this lot) means that Neu!, Boredoms, Mr Bungle/Secret Chiefs 3, Goat and even Hawkwind all fly to mind, at least for this punchy live set. Smile and dance the trance, Ritual Union-ists! Rich, colourful, euphoric stuff – GO SEE THIS BAND. Proper players mixing it up, a real celebration.

Next: Josefin Ohrn + the LiberationKnowing nothing about them, this could go either way, so … the dark instrumental space halfway through the set is a welcome place to make a late entry. Heavy on the rhythm again, but more driving, shadowy and goth-flecked – channelling The Creatures (Siouxsie) a bit, mebbe? – theirs is a different kind of psych, if psych is what it is. A low-key summoning, perhaps. Another one to keep eyes on.

Pinkshinyultrablast.
No.

Sorry. And with that, we do a weird exits early from the Bullingdon and head upstairs at the O2 for Bo Ningen. YES…. their live rep precedes them and, to be honest, they are the reason for getting a buzz about this Ritual thing in the first place – a chance to see them melt minds right here, in Oxford. And they do.

Fried space rock, total reverb overload and damaged psyche with vocal yelps that jab your eyes, it’s what Comets on Fire could be like if they took a Man’s Ruin desert trip with Boris and jammed at full tilt. Wild but never, ever sloppy, Bo Ningen bow out with a noise maelstrom that’s utter fucking carnage. Astonishing.

Downstairs, festival headliners Peace are on the big stage with whatever it is that they do.

But who wants Peace when you can have war? BO NINGEN. Game over.

PSYCH HOUR

MUGSTAR MAN’S OUT-THERE RADIO HOUR

Should have done a quickie post about this sooner, because there aren’t many days until it expires, but if you’re seeking a 60-minute psych-out curated by an insider – and who isn’t? – check this Freak Zone Playlist on 6 Music.

Aired in connection with the Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia last month, it features Jason Stoll – Mugstar bassist, God Unknown Records label dude – as your soft-spoken guide through the anything-goes.

Many high points here, especially Mesange’s ethereal low frequency – a Sunn O))) undercurrent to Zep’s In the Light spook – and Here Lies Man’s max fuzz Afrobeat, but the most audacious slab is Sly & the Family Drone/Dead Neanderthals. Destined not to be stuck on repeat in the car for the Aldi family shop, Sly/Dead hammer out a confrontational 10 minutes of doomed saxophony.

The psych playlist expires by October 28, go check it.

Stretching the Festival of Psychedelia theme a bit more, a link to Julie’s Haircut turned up in an email the other week – they also played the festival, and you can hear why. Whispered moto-shimmer with sax of a very different order to Sly/Dead, you might fancy picking them up for a psych expedition.

AND…Ritual Union music event this Saturday in Oxford. Bo Ningen, Ulrika Spacek and Flamingods are among the bands at this 4-stage Cowley Road special, let’s hope the whole thing rocks enough on the day/night. See you down there.