Sunday, August 21, 2005

A Giant Bottle of Liquid Mercury...

The Universal Mutant Repertory Company - Heavenly Blue Pt. 4 & 5

This would be one of the outfits involving the great Angus MacLise. He was the original drummer of The Velvet Underground but it wasn't his thing. Too structured for his liking.

I picked up all of his albums over the last couple of years and although I listened to them incessantly for months, even falling asleep to them to see what kinds of dream they would allow, it took me a long time to grasp what they were really about.

Angus had an unashamedly Cosmic agenda. The man was a Pure Land Buddhist who left America and wound up in Kathmandu. But his concept of Cosmic music is rarely ethereal or pretty. Ira Cohen takes up the story:

"I looked over a rare Dreamweapon publication Angus made of a Tibetan musical score for the short Mahakala Puja wherein he describes Mahakala as once being an implacable enemy of all chaos, turned staunch defender of the Dharma. "He holds a the skull cup filled with blood. He is barefoot and stands with legs spread, and is surrounded with the flames of wisdom... No pallid rites here, no insipid music." "

No pallid rites... what else is in this district? Brian Jones, recording the Master Magicians of Jajouka and upping the heaviosity by slapping effects on everything. Genius move, trying to invoke/evoke the ritual. "Durga Puja Slaughter" on the new Sublime Frequencies release, "Harmika Yab-Yum: Folk Sounds From Nepal", a bunch of field recording collages from Robert Millis of Climax Golden Twins. "I realised the stone stairs were sticky with running blood... bull after bull was sacrificed, each time the sword fell, chopping a head clean off, guns were fired and a crazed orchestra wailed." Or it could be the Velvets, ripping through "I Heard Her Call My Name".

Angus took in huge church organ drones, ritual drumming, ecstatic poetry, analogue electronic music, collaborating with the likes of Tony Conrad, John Cale, and the whole damn Universe, basically. I bought a dulcimer recently and I soon realised I was knocking it around just like he would, tuning it to a drone chord and just hammering for twenty minutes at a time. Maybe that's me trying to collaborate with him, or trying to let him play through me...or maybe the music is playing through us...

Buy - Angus Maclise - The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda
Buy - Harmika Yab Yum - Folk Sounds From Nepal
Buy - Brian Jones Presents: The Pipes of Pan at Jajouka
Visit - Angus Maclise's Virtual Shrine (Which tells the story better than I can)


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