Third Eye Foundation
with David Grubbs
Highbury Garage, London • 4.5.97
I have finally figured out the perfect description for the Third Eye Foundation. Thirty years ago, there was this comic book called The Doom Patrol, and there was a long miniseries which featured a shadowy villain referred to only as the Brain. The Brain wreaked considerable havoc upon the Doom Patrol and the world. We are talking natural disasters, giant robot monsters, super-intelligent apes, and a schizophrenic French headmistress with the ability to assume any form she wished. The Brain carefully orchestrated a living hell for the Doom Patrol. Death. Pain. Tragedy.
Anyway, the series is winding down, the Doom Patrol have overcome the forces of the Brain and even breached his secret stronghold. Speculation is running feverishly high as to “what sort of a man could revel in all of this destruction?” Climax: Robotman pulls the steel doors off the hinges of the Brain’s inner sanctum and all we see is a brain immersed in liquid in a steel box. Recoil in shock.
That’s the Third Eye Foundation live experience, with the slight substitution of a pale shaven-headed fellow hiding behind a barrier of strange steel boxes. He might as well be an evil disembodied brain for the carnage he leaves in his unassuming wake. From those steel boxes ooze sickly percussion loops, seizure beats, Hammer Horror strings, with a perpetual satanic litany of moans, screeches, and human/inhuman cries. Snatches of album material skitter by fearfully, but tonight Third Eye are showing off improvisational mastery. Slowed down hip hop menace is added, as TEF takes his place rightfully beside RZA and the Automator. Then it’s all drum n bass night, with Aleister Crowley as the resident DJ. Images of gray swamp landscapes, wolves howling, gangrene, paranoia assault my mind. The tension and cold-hand-on-my-shoulder feeling never abates. Wait a minute, does this mean Third Eye Foundation are the new goth? Do you wanna dance?
David Grubbs, who is bearing an ever-increasing resemblance to an elementary school music teacher, has the unenviable task of closing the evening. He does have a wonderfully bruised voice, but too much of his set feels like a tutorial session in Appalachian folk music theory. Ultimately frustrating and dry.