Monday, 23 June 2008

Scalphunters From Space

U.S. Christmas
Eat The Low Dogs
Neurot Recordings

I've had their self titled 12" for months and had it on heavy rotation. Heavy rotation is something these guys know a lot about. Blues based cosmic sludge, the coalescence of galactic effluence, psychedelic neon tails of burning dust lighting the night with their burning arcs and phosphorescent vapour. This album is something I've been waiting for. Coming from North Carolina, from a town in the Appalachians US Christmas (named after the Sam Pekinpah film), or USX for short, have a lot of space to star gaze, a lot of space to gaze into and a lot of space to make them feel small. Against that backdrop they play out like Crippled Black Phoenix, Neurosis and Hawkwind, the cosmic reference encapsulated in another band covering similar terrain – Comets On Fire. This is a kid of stoner rock, with none of the monged out drugginess. It’s clear headed shades of light and dark better able to cope with the paranoia creeping through the cracks, it’s enormity and scale companion to the environment it was created in.

In The Light Of All Time flickers into life like watching distant stars stuttering grasp on the firmament, slipping on and off it. This first track sounds like it was recorded by people half conscious in the best way possible. When the beat drops in on second track, The Scalphunters, little pinpoints of light accelerate into streaks, to scream past your periphery like hyperspeed just kicked in. Which it pretty much has. The effect is something to feel and it lasts for four minutes. The lyrics, barked out "BLACK AND COLD!" softened by echo and reverb, hardened by cold and exposure and darkness. Space rock. "WE ARE ONE AND ONE WITH GOD" See, not metal at all. Just disco beamed in from extremely fucking far away. “PRAY TO THE SKY!” – the coda. The rich, parched voice hoarse and unyielding in the face of the night. “PRAY TO THE SKY!” – drone soldiers in relentless skyward vigil.

It might be a touch cold, but other parts of the album come swaddled in earthy blues, a throbbing heartbeat of humanity, all the while dripping space dust and solar gas. The constant whirr, fluttering, phasing and twittering of theremin building the songs into a full on modern age psychedelic assault that draws from a healthy understanding of it’s history and tradition – which is to say that there are solos and striding passages of emotionally wrought supermassiveblackriffs – but they are sentiments that will get you because by the time those string bends tear the sound up, scarring the hulking body of the songs, they’ll have hooked into your head and heart and will be dragging it screaming into the abyss with them.

That’s Screaming good, not Screaming bad, and that’s good Abyss, not bad Abyss.


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