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8 March 2012

The Dead C - 'Clyma Est Mort' (Siltbreeze)

I suppose this is the live album that Tom Lax praises in the liner notes to the CD issue of Eusa Kills, which is a shameless bit of self-promotion since he was responsible for releasing it. I forgive him, cause he's right - this is an essential document of what a brilliant band sounded like at the peak of their powers. That it's actually a "fake" live album is irrelevant -Lax has detailed the construction and release of this record in a Volcanic Tongue column, which I can refer you to. But of course it's live - just not in front of an audience! The album starts off with a sludgy, dim wall of detuned guitar, and when Morley's voice breaks in, it's like dawn breaking through the clouds. How appropriate that the track is called 'Sunshine'! The improvisatory nature of Clyma Est Mort is evident and also familiar by this point. There's lyrics, though they seem fairly improvised on jams like 'Dirt for Harry' and 'Electric' : "Shave your legs, shave your arms!" It's a good mix of hits and less familiar tunes; side two gets into the more aggro/hardcore side seen on the Dead C vs. Sebadoh single ('Highway' and 'Ein Kampf, Ein Seig'), and this take on 'Sky' is probably their best recorded one (not counting the YouTube version already alluded to). This 'Sky' has a fat undertow that drags throughout, sputtering into a weirdly unidentified radio broadcast. And, how about 'Electric'? The guitar is a sinister buzz-saw and it slowly gurgles and erupts, like it never wants to end. On the flip is a slow, heavy take on 'Power' that might also be the definitive version. It sounds like 100 layers of screeching guitars, assembled in a raging maelstrom that takes the best Lee/Thurston jams and casts them into another dimension. Yeats propels it along, climaxing when needed, conveying the lyrics 'take your fucking shit out of here' with the utmost urgency yet languid thumping. The jam out on the end is utter fucking magic. After a nice take on 'World' (Lax's favourite tun of their) the album closes with 'Das Fluten, Das Fluten (Oh Mama I can't go)', a real Dead C oddity as it's a Beefheart styled jam. In a band with so many versions of their classic songs, and so much overlap, it might seem like overkill, particularly if you listen to a bunch of these in a row like I have. But like most of the multi-record gauntlets in this project, I've found a renewed passion for these records when listened to in a linear way, and right now I feel like I could keep going even if they had 100 more versions of 'Power' to sort through.

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