Thursday, 26 June 2014
Friday, 20 June 2014
Two thirds of TOMTIT went to see the mighty BONG last week. There weren’t many people there, and we were supposed to take photographs but we didn’t. Bong played one continuous piece of music occasionally interspersed with some ominous recitation and what sounded like Gregorian chant. They were extraordinary, and we left straight afterwards: we’d got what we came for.
Listening to Bong is like finding yourself caught in the path of a tornado. Just as you resign yourself to being torn apart and thrown to the four corners of the Earth, the tornado stops, or rather it stops advancing and whirls and rages just a few inches from you. All you can do is watch, and feel your body shake. Bong don’t rock, they reverberate; they are not heavy, they are dense, like stars, like the holes in space where stars used to be.
After a period of time which couldn’t necessarily be measured by human clocks (about forty minutes), the tornado receded, and we watched it go, ours jaws hanging open and our hair in a mess. It was a religious experience, the ancient religion of trees and the sun and knowing the awesome dread and wonder of nature. It also seemingly cured a bout of back ache that one of us had been experiencing.
Saturday, 14 June 2014
Tuesday, 10 June 2014
Oh, for a world where Blakes 7 is popular enough to warrant its theme tune appearing on not one seven inch single but TWO. Especially if one is a disco version. The mind boggles, then pops and fizzles out, never to work properly again.
This is the original, as written by Australian composer Dudley Simpson. It loses a bit of vitality by being considerably longer than the on air version, but then who would buy a slab of vinyl featuring a piece of music that was only about thirty seconds long? Apart from us, that is.
This is the disco version by Federation. To be searingly honest, it's actually hugely boring once the initial novelty dissipates but we don't care about that; the fact that this artefact even exists is good enough for us.
As an added bonus, here's yet another version, this time from the majestic Geoff Love. We love Love. This track appeared on his 'Close Encounters Of The Third Kind and Other Galactic Disco Themes' album, which is seminal stuff and should be in every collection of music BY LAW.
Thursday, 5 June 2014
We always think of Black Sabbath as a musical aperitif: listening to the no nonsense crunch of their best stuff immediately clears the palate, providing a simple but exhilarating antidote to fussy, over-produced music, a freshener that cuts to the very essence of what rock should be: hard, direct, relentless, evil.
There’s more to the Sabbath songbook than just bludgeoning riffs, however, although, of course, their riffs are superlatively good. What does resonate throughout their work is a kind of oppressive darkness, whether caused by man, woman, bomb, demon or boot wearing fairy: a nihilistic revelry in death and destruction.
There is no darkness to ‘Planet Caravan’, though, only diffused and abstracted light, cosmic (in both senses of the word) rays seen through a heat haze or a drug haze or a drug daze. The drifting, swirling music recall camels and shifting sands, but whether they are of the Sahara or the Olympus Mons is unclear. We have always assumed the latter, as the disembodied vocals suggest transmissions from another planet, radio waves floating through space, only received long after the sender has died and turned to dust.
In an alternate time stream, Sabbath recorded a whole album like this, full of textures and mystery and dreams. It went to number one and everyone in the world heard it and became a better and more spiritual person, and every government added Friday to the weekend so that we could all stay up late on Thursday and sit around on beanbags and listen to its strange magic.
Sunday, 1 June 2014
'His enemy is the eternal principle
of evil made flesh'
Amongst many other things, Guy N. Smith* spent the early nineteen eighties writing about Mark Sabat, an occult action man who specialises in combating the supernatural, a sort of psychic James Bond. Sabat appeared in four books, all of which are mirror images of each other. Whether Sabat is bringing down a European cannibal cult, a load of vampires or interceding in a planning dispute between ruthless developers and the spirits of Ancient Druids, the story always follows a fairly basic pattern, with only the types of violence, hideous death and sexual depravity changed to keep it interesting. Actually, the books are fascinating – in a crazed, out of control, often offensive way – not least because the central character is so fuck off fucking preposterous.
Mark Sabat is in his mid-thirties, tall, lean, with ‘jet black’ hair and a big scar running down his left cheek. He has a moustache. He always wears black, and I imagine him sporting a leather blouson jacket, but this may just be wish fulfilment. He drives a Daimler, is a weapons expert, knows Kung Fu and can astrally project, turning himself into a bat or a hawk while he’s out of his magnificently muscular body. Sabat’s early life was fairly straightforward until he entered in a sexual liaison with one of his male teachers (he often recalls the latters ‘tousled hair’). He enjoyed it, but, filled with guilt, chose to enter the Priesthood in order to escape the temptation of illicit sex. Yes, that is ironic, isn’t it?
The Church couldn’t contain a loose cannon like Sabat for long but, while in service, he discovered that he had a talent for exorcism, so he began to study arcane manuscripts to better understand the Devil and his disciples in order that he might vanquish them from this realm when called upon to do so. After the church, Sabat took the well-trodden ex-Priest route and joined the SAS, who taught him to kill, an activity that he greatly enjoyed.
After being caught sleeping with his superior officer’s wife, however, he was dishonourably discharged - so he set up on his own as a dark detective, a trouble shooter against the black arts, an exorcist for hire. His evil brother, Quentin, was one of his first assignments, but Sabat only succeeded in killing his body (he shot him in the head with his trusty .38) and didn’t perform the necessary rituals to vanquish his brother’s satanically naughty soul. It was a bad move, as Quentin’s spirit is now a lodger in Sabat’s body and, quite frankly, is a bloody liability.
Hardbitten, yet still strangely idealistic, Sabat is a cruel and ruthless enemy and, once miffed, sort of unstoppable, by which we mean that he is actually eminently stoppable, but his opponents always fail because they are marginally more rubbish than he is, just like in real life.
A curious thing about his character is that he is also a sex maniac - a habitual user of prostitutes and a serial abuser and rapist of women. Sabat is almost always in a state of arousal, and nobody is safe from his predatory erection. Quite often he decides that, once a particular shitstorm is over, he will shag an attractive heroine, villainess, acolyte, victim or passer-by as his ‘reward’ for getting rid of the bad stuff. They have no say in it whatsoever. If they object he either hypnotises them or forces the issue.
Naturally, being raped by a man like Sabat is actually a pleasurable experience – no matter how aggressive and unwanted his attentions are, a few seconds into it the women realise that this bastard is taking them to the heights of ecstasy. It’s pathetic, dangerous stuff. Mostly, however, Sabat is, quite appropriately, a wanker, forever cracking one out to ‘purge’ the evil within him. If anyone dares suggest he put it away, he usually blames his brother's baleful influence, or says that he was possessed by evil which made him toss himself off. It's all rather odd.
Brilliantly, in his invaluable tome ‘How To Write Horror Fiction’, writer Guy N. Smith says that he based Sabat’s CV on his own. I wouldn't want to be trapped in a loft space with him.
* No apparent relation to Mark E. Smith. But that would be awesome.