Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Graham Bond-Holy Magick


In light of the previous post, it stands to reason that Disaster Amnesiac would start digging into some of the musical artists of which he'd read.
It must be stated that although I mentioned enjoying reading about Graham Bond's tragic demise, please don't go and call your old pal D.A. some kind of sadist. To clarify, this blogger simply found Bond's story compelling and interesting. Ye olde Amnesiacke also really wanted to hear some of the Bond music highlighted by Young. Thankfully, Amazon had plenty of copies of the 2006 Holy Magick re-issue available. Within days of finishing Electric Eden, I was grooving to Holy Magick's  bewitching tones.
The LP's centerpiece, Meditation, a 23 minute invocation/adoration of and for the old Gods, begins with incantations that invoke images of the best Chick Comics in this blogger's mind. Being "just a modern guy" and all, Disaster Amnesiac finds this section of Bond's reverential epic somewhat of a distraction (yes, I am aware of post-Thelemic and Gardenarian Western mysticism, but, frankly, find it all as compelling as studying Maoist thought). It's when the band kicks in that things get good here. Twenty or so minutes of ascending and descending chord-age, kicked into gear by the heavy, tranced-out drumming of Keith Bailey, greased by hot Leslie-ed organ grind (weirdly uncredited, but it's there), and accented by bubbling conga playing by Big Pete Bailey. The tune features call and response vocalizing worthy of a Lagos all-nighter, repetitive riffing to match any L.A. blues or space ritual, and Bond's expressive and distinctive bluesy growl. Significant time spent listening to his voice makes it clear why he remains the object of such great esteem amongst both his contemporaries and collectors that have come along later. His saxophone playing is damn bluesy and great, too. It's within the musical meat of the Meditation where the mystical lyrics take their more comfortable place as chanted words within a musical matrix (you know, Rock-n-Roll!) and subsequently have a less important air. Surely Bond would have disagreed, as his liner notes go to lengths to stress that importance. One can't help but wonder if maybe he'd taken the mysticism a bit more lightly and just let the dumb, fleeting glory of  rockin' out have its proper due, he'd have avoided the precarious mental states that proved to be his undoing. We'll never know, sadly.
The rest of the record continues with shorter mystical vignettes, dealing with Arthurian Legend, the Apocalypse, archangels, and c. These tunes get back to a simpler, Blues-Rock feel, and, though finely played and sung (that voice, again), fail to reach the highs of Meditation's climb.
The 2006 re-issue also contains the single release for the album, Water Water. This tune's percussive gris-gris hell fire chanting makes me long to find a bar in which it is among the juke's selection. Preferably in New Orleans or London.


2 comments:

Pig State Recon said...

Great review, Mark. As you suggest: sometimes rockin' the fuck out can be thee most mystical thing on this mundane planet, lyrical subject matter be damned. Glad Graham got there in the end. I'll now have to go find this on-line someplace and listen to it myself.

On a separate note - your new photo on the blog header makes you look like Richard Meltzer! No lie.

Disaster Amnesiac said...

Thanks for reading, Row! I feel I may have been a bit harsh, but it seems as if Bond started to take the mysticism a bit too seriously. I can't even imagine what was going through his head when he finally ended his life.
It's really a good, good LP, and worth some listening time!
I'd love to go to a boxing match w/ R.M. sometime. I'd probably bore him.