HEY! Get updates to this and the CD and 7" blogs via Twitter: @VinylUnderbite

12 September 2011

Cro-Magnon (ESP)

For the few of you that actually follow these pages, you'll notice some large gaps in-between posts. Usually these are due to unexpected life circumstances - traveling, moving, working -- because (surprise, surprise) I don't do Disclocated Underbite and related pages as a full-time paid job. But sometimes I hit a lull because I'm trying to wrap my head around a single record, and I can't properly put down my words about it and move onto the next one until I've given it several, sometimes numerous, goes around the ol' Pro-Ject Debut III. Cro-Magnon is DEFINITELY a bottleneck record. It's been on my shelf for years, unplayed, the only time I ever actually listened to it a few years before I bought it (when I was consuming all things ESP). My memory was that it was intentionally primitive, as were all rock-leaning ESP titles (The Godz!!), and maybe the spiritual predecessor of No Neck Blues Band and their ilk. This was a bit of an incorrect assessment, I do believe -- going back to it now, I'm floored. This sounds like some contemporary noise kids have access to a time machine, so they went back and dropped this artefact and then disappeared. But I don't mean to say that Cro-Magnon sounds like a mediocre DOD-pedal noise band - if my time-travel theory is true, then this is the cream of the crop, because this record slays pretty much everything that is happening today. I know this is sometimes called Orgasm and sometimes called Cave Rock, but my copy, with the black and white cover, bears neither title - just a photo of three moustached dudes (again, three guys that could definitely pass as contemporary hipsters from Brooklyn, Berlin or Potland in 2011) and the tracks, listed with side B first. This is the most "avant" of "avant-rock"; equal parts psychedelic exploration, musique concrete, noise-thrust-fusion and horizontal soundscape. There's nary a trace of prog, though - the structures are brutal and primitive. Even the dazzling opening cut, 'Caledonia', is a mindless verse-verse-verse structure, made amazing through the parched vocals, dissonant instrumentation, and bleating bagpipes. On the flip, 'Crow of the Black Tree' manages to sound huge and complex, though it's only two acoustic guitar chords throughout. It's deceptively beautiful at the beginning, like a postcard from Andalusia dropped in a puddle; the overall feeling resembles Amon Duul 1, minus any trace of "good vibes". Pretty much every track on here is singular and brilliant, and goes in a different direction than what precded it. 'Fantasy' even sounds like the Beach Boys, only warped; 'Toth, Scribe I' is the dense murky jam that you've been waiting for and it doesn't disappoint over it's ten minutes. 'Ritual Feast of the Libido' and 'Organic Sundown' dominate side A, conjuring images of stones in coffee cans, loincloths, and shrieks. 'Genitalia' utilises some insane bird noises that are synths (I think), like the United States of America record on crack -- except crack hadn't been invented yet. Being "ahead of its time" alone is not enough to make something great, but for someone like me who weaned himself on outsider-orientated music, hearing something like this particularly revelatory.

No comments:

Post a Comment