ALBUM REVIEW: Moon Duo – Occult Architecture Vol.1


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Do you look when you see? What do you ‘see’?

Moon Duo, the Portland twosome (Wooden Shjips émigré Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada) consistently examine the Manichean, the Yin and Yang, staring down the two-faced Janus, seeking the good vs bad, observing black vs white; these binary dualities shaded in with colour and light that ease the passage from dusk into night and the seasonal gradations. On fourth long-player Occult Architecture Vol. 1 we are taken on another voyage on the Sea of Tran-quality.

Where pyramids and obelisks are overt (blatant) structures built on specific energy points (the better to siphon nature’s power and subvert), occult symbolic structures as hidden spectacle (latent) hijack our psychic space as a controlling, corralling, herding entity that sinisterly influences behaviour, mood and actions.

However, esoteric education reveals the hidden patterns, the sub-texts that enable the dismantling of pre-existing and non-questionable structural systems, providing clarity of the atavistic absorption of these invisible frameworks that shepherd humankind, allowing psychic freedom from the fugue of dystopiates that numb the questing mind. Once the shackles are loose, you will never ‘unsee’.

Lucifer, Moloch and their satanic disciples all get a kicking throughout starting with ‘The Death Set’. In the crosshairs are the war-mongers, the corrupt, the abrupt, the low vibrational architects of misery, the attendees of the clandestine committees, the scripted, the conscripted, the rehearsed, the perversed, the harbingers of gloom pocketing profits of doom, the obscene unseen whose own strings are pulled by malevolent, desolate ones, the carpetbaggers and market blaggers.

‘Cold Fear’s haunting hum entrances and hypnotises, a seductive delve into an alt-realm of chilly atomisation and separatism. An unvarnished synth-phony par excellence.

The motorik-rock of ‘Creepin’ is the sound of the fright-night demons that linger throughout the day-daze.

Ol’ Moloch’s popular this year (‘Cult of Moloch’ and also San-Fran-band The Molochs), the cabal of the death set worship at the altar of this child sacrificial deity, this song in the key of sacrifice with tribal beating and bible bleating. ‘Cross Town Fade’ is superlative orienteering of the mindscape.

The spooktacularly eerie and wailing ‘Will of the Devil’ could soundtrack Halloween XII: Carrie knows what The Exorcist did on Friday the 13th’s Chainsaw massacre; where evil lurks, Satan works. The closing ‘White Rose’ proffers hope through purity and spirituality, flower power virtues delivered in a blitzkrieg bouquet.

Reaction equals creation and in times of cosmic crisis and spiritual strife, supersonic avatars are needed to facilitate between the Gods and the mortals, these esoteric lunar-tics look like us, but, they don’t sound like us. They sound like THIS.

This profound sound shows a darker side of the Moon (Duo), a celestial escort through the time-space songtinuum. Activate your trip-chords to these rhymes of the seasons: open your ears, your mind will follow. Set your controls for the art of the sunset.

These lightbringers return later this year with Volume 2.

Raising Martha




This six-handed farcical Middle England ‘romp-com’ by David Spicer centres round the disinterred and disassembled skeleton of Martha ‘Mother’ Duffy. Her exhumation by animal rights (psycho)activists and comical bone dispersal leads to a series of (un)orchestrated calamitous events with territorial greed, weed and ultimately chicken feed in the mix. Hereditary, animal (‘the third emancipation: ‘slaves, women, frogs’) and human rights are all dissected in a familiar tale of familial feuding and fowl play.

Martha’s remains are dug up, reburied, then re-dug up by dogs; the bones are the clues, the trail followed by clownish Inspector Clout, a verbally dextrous Herculean Pierrot desperate for that big case who delivers the best lines: ‘civil liberties? We gave them up to protect them’ to bemoaning the state of ‘sandwiches today? Avocado, grape and rocket are just words between bread’ a dig at faddish vegetarianism, arguably how the meat industry wants it to be perceived.

Laird of this Toad Hall is Gerry, whose frog farming for vivisectionists acts as a smokescreen for his potent hybrid of cane toad gland-spittle marijuana which upon ingestion sees him receive numerous visitations from six-foot amphibians’ intent on cutting him open, repaying the barbarism.

In opposition with Gerry is financially strapped brother Roger, who eyes the prize/price of land so a psychological battle of wits ensues between them uncovering a mutual antipathy towards their exhumed Mother and revealing admissions of culpability.

At the heart of the grave-robbing is scheming Caro, granddaughter of Martha and the brains behind the plot to seize the land for a chicken farm, playing the bumbling ‘activists’ Jago (a.k.a. the less-radical sounding ‘Graham’) and Mark like a fiddle. This is expertly summarised when Roger threatens to boil the frogs, a metaphor for how often realisation comes too late (‘at boiling point’); oblivious to the obvious.

The cartoonish climax sees one character with all their eggs in one basket, the coup now a coop, all chickens coming home to roost, new income now poultry not paltry.

This is a sharp satire on meat abstention, recreational drug use and extremism, especially how the term is knowingly deployed as articulated by Clout: ‘when protest turns into terrorism it becomes police budgetary policy’; it’s how you frame the blame.

Mark Fisher



Reading (and only being able to endorse) all the obituaries, tributes and memories of Mark Fisher got me thinking about my own relationship with his ideas, prophecies, notions, arguments, all at once random and linked, disparate and dissonant, pointing out connectivity where ties seemed absurd, nothing was beyond critical dissembling/reassembling and destruction/reconstruction.

Scratch the surface then keep digging, nothing is ever as it seems, nothing is impenetrable, depth exists in anything and everything, make it what you want it to be. Who’s to say otherwise?

Like many others I discovered his K-Punk blog via Simon Reynolds’s Blissblog ( another important avenue for me for abstract thinking and a profound desire to constantly dig and probe) and always found it (in no particular order):

challenging, confronting, opaque, oblique, dense, enlightening, informative, provocative, educational, inspiring, conspiring, connected, disconnected, amusing, emotional, prescient, foreboding, interesting, arresting. And more.

As David Stubbs says

‘Mark’s own music journalism, which ventured further into the depths of theory and perception than I could ever hope to reach. I can’t be the only fellow writer who emerged from his essays feeling educated and energised but also like a bit of a banal lunk by comparison.’

For me reading Mark’s work most of the time left me feeling dazed and confused, in a state of shock that took ages to abide and even longer for his musings to be processed (if ever at all), but thinking about it deeply the past week I have concluded that it isn’t about understanding and being able to recite or repeat or regurgitate it is more that the actual digesting and absorption alters me on levels I never knew existed and in ways I will never fathom, feel it don’t fight it, always for the positive.

It is this positivity (in spite of his own struggles and the overall ‘state of things’) I will miss from his writing.

‘You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone’ seems apt.





How (do you think you) would you react, respond, replay, remember, re-enact and recover following the aftermath of a terrorist attack?

Stuart Slade’s incisive, immersive, intimate and intelligent play charts the lives of six victims affected in myriad ways (there are physical, emotional, psychological scars) following the shooting down of flight BU21. The event changes, shapes and alters their fate with the past and present colliding: circumstance, happenstance and chance all lead to entwined, conjoined lives that create a hitherto unheralded future.

Derived from the testimonies of real statements the play filters these via monologues to dialogue: the survivors’ support group network providing the thread and platform for the neuroses, patterns of behaviour, habits, idiosyncrasies, prejudices, motives and tellingly the li(v)es lived and conducted that come to the fore revealing more than they knew about themselves.

Memories are confronted, challenged, (mis)remembered and in one case fabricated: an accidental ‘hero’ whose desire to help snowballs into a world of fantasy and exploitation.

Masks and façades adopted eventually crumble and slip, some characters confront their existence and change and progress whilst others lapse back into narcissistic and mendacious behaviour. For some redemption awaits, for others (once a banker always a …) life repeats itself, business as usual. The six actors inhabit and exhibit these (universal) characters and their wrangled foibles with all their being, you ‘feel’ their grief and share their pain and dilemmas.

This is a forensic examination of the human condition provoking age old notions of identity, nationhood and belonging and how fear and paranoia can be manipulated.

Crucially it also addresses the pernicious role of the media and authorities who hijack, co-opt and corrupt testimonies for their nefarious means to effect further control of perception (mis)management (e.g brown face and backpack= terrorist = divide and conquer = job done) and to justify increased surveillance and illegal invasions.

My only (minor) gripes would be the reductive nature of the ‘xenophobic Northerner in an England shirt’ and that terrorism is far from a modern occurrence.

Postscript: Is the shot-down Flight BU21 an allegory for ‘Be you to one’ another, that despite/in spite of what(ever) happens, ‘be’ this?

ALBUM REVIEW: The Molochs – America’s Velvet Glory


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Head Moloch Lucas Fitzsimons’s mission statement is to ‘take the past apart, not recreate it’.

Accordingly this second long-player (following 2013’s Forgetter Blues) from Los Angeles miscreants The Molochs (with Ryan Foster) (re)examines the hallowed, sanctified and perennially excavated ‘60s to 90s’ epoch in style.

Named for a God of child sacrifice who then proceeds to di/ingest said infants as dessert (he’s (always a he) also suitably cast in Milton’s Paradise Lost and Ginsberg’s Howl) this Super-Cali-Ritualistic-Esoteric-docious pair play for redemption, praying for (radio) time.

Eleven songs detailing romantique woes and lows, outlining affairs of the heart aching/art-making kind that comprise an expert dis/reassembling and de/restructuring: the end product a kaleidoscopic bricolage-homage, a patchwork-panorama of electric-eclecticism.

With (s)influences varying from Richard Hellish ‘blank generation’ apathy on ‘New York’ to the Prefab Four’s Monkeeing about bonhomie (sem)antics which are all over ‘No Control’. The Byrdsian jingle-jangle ‘The one I love’ enlists you for the eight miles high club.

Spiralling organotronics permeate ‘Ten Thousand’ a Dan Sartainesque fable in its ramshackle and reedy hyper-rockin’ and rollin’. The a-Syd (Barrett) whimsury-rhymery of ‘Charlie’s Lips’ is a disaffected drawling death-disc(o), does our man wish to BE Charlie or does he pity him? As the titular Chuck ‘sharks the passers-by …’ the song comes across as a kin-sing-ship with Jonathan Richman’s perma-stoned ‘Hippy Johnny’. Fitzsimons’s mocking delivery leaving us in the dark.

Those Satanic Majesties themselves the Rolling Stones are summonsed doubly on the sneering country-honking ‘That’s the trouble with you’ and the happy-sad ‘You and me (with its nod to ‘I’m free’) both paeans to escape: freedom in both the spiritual and physical realms.

‘Little Stars’ has energy-echoes of den of iniquity anthem ‘House of the rising sun’, a dark undertow underpins this autobiographical(?) narration, his portentous story-selling depicting a hellish day in the strife that doubles as a warning to you and me. Take heed.

‘No more cryin’ oozes woozy-bluesy harmonica, the lyrics deadpan and drawled/doled out with the end-product like Television covering ‘19th Nervous Breakdown’.

This is not simply a case of analogue archive exhuming, these Bohemian Groovers have delivered 11 skull and boneshakers; the City of Angels has some new demons to kneel at the alt-altar for. Proffer your lambs.

As the saying goes: if you can remember the 60s … then you’re in your 60s.

ALBUM REVIEW: The Blue Aeroplanes – ‘Welcome, Stranger!’


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Six years on from the last LP Anti-Gravity, indie-doyens The Blue Aeroplanes return with their inimitable Bristolian ‘swagger’ and increased ‘beatsongs’.

Contemporaries) of REM-embers Stipe and Mills (1991’s seminal album Swagger a favourite) and glumbient sorrow-foragers Radiohead the past year has seen the group perform at the BBC Radio 6 Festival and play at Stewart Lee’s compered (and ultimate) All Tomorrow’s Parties. The cognoscenti never forget.

Having never split up they have avoided the heritage circuit, those cabaret cavalcades of zombified-monetised-yester-memories for the false-conscious fraternity. Veneration prevails through lasting appreciation not commercial renovation.

The band still orbit round perma-shaded-vox-poet, Gerard Langley and ear-drumsticker John Langley here augmented again by ex-Witness Gerard Starkie, bassist Chris Sharp and fresher recruits Bec Jevons (who assumes singing duties on the Belly-like ‘Skin’)and Mike Youe.

Not many acts can intone their lyrics to effective droll-speeching, however, Langley is one-such (c.f. Dexys’ Kevin Rowland, Half Man Half Biscuit’s Nigel Blackwell). His idiosyncratic and ultra-sardonic delivery is fully evidenced on opener ‘Looking for X’s on a map’ which (in spite of the incongruous and alarming apostrophe) crashes metaphorically onwards/philosophically inwards, a clanging stomper and an erudite indictment of how apps (GPSOS?) have replaced maps, technology ‘guiding’ lost (and unfound) souls instead of psychogeography delivering spiritual nourishment via innate coordinates.

A melodic sermon to arboreal death ‘Dead Tree! Dead Tree!’ is ‘beautiful and familiar, it doesn’t change with the season’ Langley anatomising the eternal allure of decay, time may pass, but, the tree will wither no more. We will. Remember that.

Known knowns and old bones are picked at the ‘Elvis festival’ where nothing ever dies … burger with fries … a fatman walking in the rain in a stained jumpsuit’ presents vivid imagery that provides a collective and selective (mis)rembered past, one (re)evoked and ‘sung badly’ which is all part of the FUN. Isn’t it?

The operatic ‘Nothing will ever happen in the future’ sees our protagonist ‘standing on the cusp of getting it right’ resigned to the 50/50 of it ‘probably won’t work out but it might’ an(other) inept-step into a tomorrow of (un)foreseen consequences. We’ve all been there.

A sense of time and place, rhyme and space, past and present, permeates throughout this documentarian ten-track traipse though coded odes to the HERE and NOW. An ever-intellectual tour de force of nature and ultra-cerebral (mis)fortune telling where ‘two kisses is a double-cross’.

Thirty-five years in the biz, this sextet are still soaring, no ‘altitude’ sickness for these sonic-architects. Repeated listening is required for maximum effect. ADHD-ficient technonanists need not apply and waste everyone’s time.

Caveat: ‘Gerard is also ‘Head of Songwriting’ at BIMM Bristol, where he was responsible for guiding the early steps of George Ezra’. So, YOU’RE to blame …