Friday, October 03, 2008

The Heads

For Plan B

The Heads
Dead In The Water (Rooster)
Despite possessing such a deep love for noise bestowed with heavily
psychotropic effects, I've always felt something of a fraud when
writing about psychedelic music, having never personally dropped
anything stronger than a couple of valerian to ease jetlag. And yet,
I've been familiar with the relationship between contraband chemicals,
mind expansion and screaming skronk rock since the first time my Dad
played me Led Zep's 'Whole Lotta Love' and relayed in an instructional
manner, over the freeform guitargasm middle section, reminiscences of
listening to it while sprawled on the floor, between two huge
speakers, while blitzed on some illicit chemical during the halcyon
Sixties. As I was but eight years old at the time, he added a hasty
"hey kid don't do drugs" by way of a coda, and that was that.
But while my third eye has remained un-squeegied in the interim, the
magickal sounds of feedback, drone and phaser asphasia have ever
jolted my grateful brane, from my earliest pre-teen experiments with
such lysergic compounds as Hendrix and The Byrds, through subsequent
addictions to the Buttholes, Sonic Youth and Comets On Fire. This
latest slab of joy from Bristolian noisenik perennials The Heads is
certainly one heavy hit of something, a disorientating and uncut blast
set to send synapses sprawling and throbbing, administering most
pleasant bruises to the aural tender spots while a wicked light show
plays on in the foreground.
Over seven or so albums thus far, these hardy druganauts have
performed a graceful devolution, from stellar riffouts sucked into Far
Out vortices and strewn with funhouse-mirror vocals, to releases such
as this, edited from endless rehearsal jams into a mind-pummeling
symphony in four movements. The titanic riffs that first won them love
from the global stoner rock constituencies are still present, but now
freed from earthbound song structure, materializing from pools of
fugged din to build and build until they collapse into the electric
murk, to be followed by similar such behemoths. Dead In The
brings to mind Comets On Fire's stated intention, of
capturing those peak moments of inspiration heavy rock titans pepper
across their works, and stretching those moments over entire songs,
albums, their discography in fact. Similarly, The Heads here trade
structure for a joyous indulgence of the wonders that screaming
oscillators, acid-scarred guitars, monolithic bass and
atom-splintering drums can evince, when pushed to the absolute fuckin'
Fans of Comets and Acid Mothers Temple will grok this riot in the
blink of a dilated eye, but the strongest comparison for these
inspired trips are the Complete Sessions box sets for Miles Davis's
Jack Johnson and On The Corner LPs, in the way the tracks
brilliantly vault the trap of formlessness for, instead, a fearless
freeform-ness, these epic and frazzled narratives switching from peaks
of freaked drama to passages of pearlescent drone and full-spectrum
sonix. Stitched together by snatches of pointedly trippy dialogue,
Dead In The Water comes on like some psychedelic horror flick,
where you're never sure what mind-scrambling phantasm is about to tear
from the speakers. Riding wah-pedals into the sun, sending shards of
cymbal flying like shuriken, chasing some spiral riff charting a path
to sublime Nirvana, The Heads hold the listener entirely under their
control, so their screaming noise would leave even the Straightest
Edge entirely stoned. If this is a trip, then I'm loving it.
(c) 2008 Stevie Chick

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