Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Review: Heads for the heart of the Sun – The Welcome Return of Dumb

Review: Under the Stress of a Headlong DiveThe Heads (Alternative Tentacles, 2006)

“…they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honoured disguise and borrowed language...”

Karl Marx - The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon (1852)

"Er ..." said Arthur after a moment, "what exactly was it that was wrong with your planet then?" "Oh, it was doomed, as I said," said the Captain, "Apparently it was going to crash into the sun or something
Douglas Adams - The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

As popular music slowly faces the reality of its own terminal decline as a business, it finds itself tottering over the edge of an abyss. It is gripped with a fevered existentialist anxiety, or maybe even, terror! No one any more is “standing in the way of control” to quote Beth Dido. God is, in fact, dead!

A fundamental question leaps out of this void. The artist is now liberated from “the man” and with close to complete access to means of production and distribution - but has to create for close to zero financial reward - who’s going to be bothered? Nietzsche claimed creators needed to be hard. Karl Marx (retired rolling stone columnist) or Lester Bangs – one of em anyways - would have it these are heavy times in which, in ways, it’s easiest just to fetch some riffs and beats from the past in order just …to go on…

One could even roll, and then, smoke; seventeen hundred giant blunts and only to observe:
“Creating in the Eternal Now is Always Heavy” (last track on the album!)


You have emerged from the tunnel and this is one of several growling embers of the 1970s that are rekindling to light a possible way to move forward via the past. Step up Comets on Fire, Boredoms, Omm, Sun (O) Earth and a plethora of other bands with not, in fairness, that much in common except a toe dipped into the UR Ocean of stoner hair metal.

Step forward The Heads!

The first thing that strikes you about this album is that it’s a smashing mess of bass driven, oceanic, nay titanic, fuzzy nose-diving guitar rock – and that’s also the last thing that strikes you. Then an ambulance arrives – if you’re lucky!

OK there are some slow and gigantic nods to ambient (maybe on cloud) and a few other ideas floating about in the swampy dirge. But like who the fuck asked for “other ideas”!??! Lets Sneer at “other ideas” maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan.
Is this jazz fusion? NO.
Is this post rock? NO!
Post, post rock maybe? NO NO, fuckedy, NO – Give it a rest!
This is the sound of R O C K with maybe even a little from its primitive blues prehistory. This is loud, huge glorious fountains of semi melodic troglodyte noise reverberating in some lonely, smoke filled bat cave high up in the smoky mists of don’t Bogart that joint mountain. Maybe its generic – definitely it’s been done (1970-3) but they are doing it so fucking well!
And they are doing this cataclysmic end times sounds-cape on Jello Biafra’s minute alternative tentacles label for little more than a toke and a bean…

It’ll be hard to be a creator in the future.
And that’s a GOOOD thing.
Hmmmmm these end times!
Smell of diving sales in the morning – yes we are “under the stress of a headlong dive”

Hey people worked (OK badly paid and treated) in HMV, Fopp, Virgin etc…

But these will not be times of record label advances, smoozing artist and reptile men, accountants thinly and badly disguised as bands (hi Thrills), unlimited coke budget and stretch limos and groupies in the back y’all.

Nor will these will not be the days of support for all the “causes” AFTER we’ve minted it and stashed the cash off shore (big up Bono!)

These will be hard times: the end game or, at least, the beginning of an end game – or the potential start of a new game.

It’s the maggots (to refer to a very old idea of Steven Wells) that have digested the past and can regurgitate it in luminous colours, the crazy ones, the big dope smoking, peddle stroking fuckheads who just don’t and just can’t even conceive of a bottom line who might just be the only look in that popular music is now going to get at movement…

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