Everyone should probably go through a Pink Floyd phase at some
point, emphasis on the through. One of this esteemed websites founders is
likely to disagree, but there is rich territory in Pink Floyd that can prove
useful to the inquisitive young mind later in life on trails of their own
carving. It can be argued that Pink
Floyd made the psychedelic grand, and in doing that ruined it; akin to removing
the drugs from little baggies and setting them out in silver platters - it's
just not right. I will leave the Floyd's verdict in your hands, and offer in their
tangential defense these two inflated pigs hanging on my wings.
Assassins: Black Meddle Pt. 1
Chicago's Nachtmytium was the very model of modern minor
metal, growling and howling with basement din over that of the lesser US Black
metal bands, but somewhere, flinty demon squelches and dual kick drums were not
enough for this band, and they took some lessons from the Floyd. The most
obvious allusion is "Meddle" in the name, but it is in "Assassins" that they
real tribute lies. The track hums out in thick phaser tones as a pulse
resembling the phone off the hook from The Wall beeps, pleads for connection.
The album has not forgotten the corpse-painted zombies that brought them to the
dance - you still get trashed around by scraped vocals and rage in "Ghosts of Grace"
and "Your True Enemy" but even these storms are tempered with a daring addition
to the underground metal script - scruatbility. Unlike every other metal album
in recent memory, I can actually make out some of the words and discern the
melodies, and those, particularly the repeated I never sleep and the guitar solo in "Your True Enemy" are the
stuff of giant rock classics.
The heaviest moments on Assassins are not the brutal workouts
but the smoldering ones, like the air-guitar ready riff of "Code Negative" and the
three-part "Seasick." These songs are
melodramatic and moody like the great brood music of the late Eighties, and
while no one would confuse these with tracks off, say First, last and Always or
Pornography, or with Dark Side of the Moon for that matter, it would not be out
of the question to put Nachtmystium in the same playlist on your iPod. And that
is about as genre-expanding as it gets nowadays.
Mr. Alien Brain Vs. the Skinwalkers
Psychic TV were always at their musical best not while
tearing at their flesh with sheets of noise or titrating their consciousness
through the faux-Leary drug evangelism of acid house(even if the band coined the
term) but when they do quiet, simple, sinister things. And that is what
comprises most of this album. The Pink
Floyd connection here is blatant with the spectacular cover of "No Good Trying"
off Syd Barrett's solo masterpiece The
Madcap Laughs. They cheekily play on
the studio gaff that opens the original, playfully repeating it a couple times
at the beginning before kicking into the jam, howling like Jim Morrison and
riding the poisoned wave of the song as it crashes to the shore.
The real endgame is played out in "Trussed" with Genesis
playing on words do you trust me over a dirge that has as much to do with a Geiger
counter or submarine radar beep as it does a rock song. It sounds impossibly alive and dead at the
same time. Psychic TV can plod with the best
of them. VU's "Foggy Notion" is garage-tastic in its reverent joy while "I am Making
a Mirror", penned by the late Lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge is a devastating. Lady
Jaye and Genesis were undergoing project of pandrogeny, slowly becoming each
other through plastic surgeries and mutating of gender identities (pointed at the
ragged rocker "Boys are Girls and Girls are Boys") when Jaye passed away from heart
failure last October, leaving Genesis in a singular state of mourning,
half-himself, half-her with the other halves of halves in the hereafter. "I am
Making a Mirror" (no pun intended) reflects that loss with chilling efficacy.
Not every song is a winner here, but overall it is one of the more enjoyable
and open Psychic TV efforts in years, and like the cracked Pink Floyd genius aped
and lauded with "No Good Trying" it maps out a way to reach to the outer limits
and drag something back worth looking at.