Friday, 24 September 2010

Coffin Joe, Scratch & Belbury Poly

If you think James Bond had it bad with one tarantula crawling over him you should see what Jose Mojica Marins’ puts women through in ‘This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse’. A whole cluster of the hairy beasts crawling over each one, all in the name of finding out which is worthy of bearing Ze do Caixao’s child. Coffin Joe (as he’s also known) is an evil bastard; a grave-digging, Catholic-hating (mind you, after the pope’s recent visit, I’m kind of with him there), pipe-smoking rogue who terrorises every town he settles in, and the men folk are too scared to take him on. They’ve seen what he does to anyone who tries. Caixao wants a child badly, not exactly in the broody way we’re familiar with, but more in the name of creating a super-being that will continue his bad work. His philosophy’s kind of Nietzschian mixed with Satanism and Nazi racial purity, and Marins plays him with relish, a dash of camp, and some dashing nastiness. He gets him comeuppance, kind of, wherein there is much torture by the spirits of his victims, clawing at soil, falling around amid the gravestones. Worse still, in ‘This Night’, he gets dragged down to Hell, a sequence Marins reserves colour film for. It’s easily the worst vision of Satan’s back yard I’ve ever seen, and that includes the West End on a Saturday night. There’s much screaming from tormented souls whose limbs protrude from the walls, and they’re regularly pierced with a fork, as well as whipped. If that’s how it is, I really hope Curtis Mayfield was wrong when he suggested that if there’s a Hell below, we’re all gonna go.
   Excuse the tenuous link, but The Scientist’s ‘Blood On His Lips’ has been a recent hit in the bunker. From the album, ‘Scientist Rids The World Of The Curse Of The Evil Vampires’, it’s just a killer bass and persistent, funky guitar riff, but in its simplicity there’s much to enjoy. Dub-wise, the arrival of a new Lee Perry collection may not have escaped your attention. ‘Sound System Scratch’ has had a good going over and now that the initial excitement has subsided, I’ve settled on a handful as truly great examples of Lee Perry at the controls. The opener, ‘Dub Plate Pressure’, has distorted vocals mixed right back, accompanied by fantastically messed up swishes of a cymbal. ‘Groove Dubber’ and ‘Groove Rider’ make the most of a dirty rhythm, especially as the latter steps deeper into the fog and funk of mixing desk magic. Then there’s ‘Jucky Skank’. You may know the rhythm well, but it’s given another great work-out here. ‘Chim Cherie’ is possibly the highlight, the drum machine-driven lo-fi basic thrust is irresistible.

   From one form of old technological sound to another in the form of Belbury Poly and Moon Wiring Club on Ghost Box and the recently-released two-track Youth And Recreation. Jim Jupp’s love of that synthesizer from the Grange Hill theme does put me off somewhat, but then again, as on ‘Portals And Parallels’, they rewrite Sci-Fi-TV theme nostalgia so well...complete with nonsensical yodeling (as if yodeling ever made sense). ‘Young People’ is good too, but it does have that synth riff. Jake Slazenger mined similar territory back in the 90s, but Ghost Box are exploiting the 70s cheese-funk UK quirkiness quite expertly. More living-room than ‘lounge’, if you get my drift. The third in the Studies series, Welcome To Godalming, is just as good, with the bonus of Mordant Music guesting on ‘Inn Ohm The Lake’. Poly’s Farmer’s Angle has also been reissued. More whimsy with electronics, just the stuff to recall 70s TV themes and science programs, with a rural twist – more country lane than autobahn and, consequently, very charming.

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