Old Time Relijun
Lost Light is roadhouse dance music for one-eyed drifters (the other one is red glass). But there’s more sensitivity and alien-ness in these songs to distinguish them from the legions of garage no-hopers and lo-fi fetishists; there’s something more here, something wondrous (and spiritual). The music is totally stripped down stomp and romp. Cramps is the closest antecedent I can find — and Captain Beefheart, if I liked Captain Beefheart: lotsa nuggets and gospel and early garage like. And The Mysterians plus some Beat Happening. But yeah, mostly Cramps, a wild-eyed ecstatic proselytizing tent revival Cramps: timeless visceral recording and performance strategies versus that totally invigorating directness of emotion and enthusiasm — “I broke the body I drink the blood / I’m a vampire” –scream, shake and shimmy as the guitars squall ever more out of tune. That’s “Vampire Victim” powerful Lux-y vocals slithering and crawling through the dark castle with the spider web guitars spindling all around you — that’s what she’s like.
Vocalist Arrington de Dionyso’s desperate bellows of “cold water” followed by a feral grunt and the rest of the band (drummer Rives Elliot and bassist Aaron Hartman, a fucking fabulous rhythm section) answering back “goin’ down cold water” are total musical gospel reality if I’ve ever heard it. The guitars, drums and bass mantra in and out, like a garage rock Dave Clark Five: total classy restraint, but beauty in uncertainty and ramshackle musical gambits. Repeated cries of “I’m Goin’ Down,” as the instruments continue on their casual path of minimal, harmonic repetition. A filament-thin three-note guitar solo courtesy of Dionyso. Neato freakout zombie keyboards overwhelm the sound on “This Kettle Contains The Heart,” makin’ the whole song a pretty disorienting shimmy nightmare with — horror flick soundz — “a boiled heart!” Man, that’s disturbing. And the angular guitar slashing in all sorts of menacing shapes only drives the point home.
“Tigers Of The Temple” brings some atonal hints of James Chance and post-punk ephemera like Gang of Four into the mix — extra elements of chance as well as a little more sharp-edged discipline. With some free jazz blurts from a sax, it all layers together, with those wonderful Jagger-y, Michael Pattony vocals. Or how about when the guitar really kicks in on “Pardes Rimmonim,” scraping back and forth, sharp clipped strums and chords, scratching the pick up against the base of your spine and neck. Dionyso emits ghostly yelps and howls from a locked trunk underneath the floorboards of the studio. Serious soul here.
“Cold Water, Deep Underwater” is an instrumental, dense with suffocating guitar echo, overlaying all manner of sharp seahorse-like riffing (don’t you see it? Darting and jagged?) and tight mantra rhythms. Then there’s that slow burn intro to “Rising Water, Blinding Light,” where the drums don’t even start until about two minutes in, but it’s about the sweetest release you’ve ever had, and the tempo keeps picking up from there. That damn singer’s good, too, going from a hellfire growl to falsetto yelps over taut, razor wire guitar and bass nets. Yes! Come to the cavern baby, and we’re gonna cut a fucking rug tonight. Sounds like the sub-riff from “Vampire Victim” comes back for a minute at the end. Damn. “War Is Over” is a discordant shuffle, marching straight into a cool white noise break of exploding bass, cymbals and shrieking guitar and sax!
Garage in all the best senses of the word. Which means, fucking chops and fucking guts. Got those cramps again.
K Records: www.krecs.com