V/A-Tetes Lourdes

December 9, 2008


Various Artists

Tetes Lourdes(No Label)


When I think of gritty psychedelic rock and roll, France would be near the bottom of my list.  If you were discussing wellsprings of 70s prog, then I may consider France as a contender for the crown, but I have mistakenly associated it too closely with Serge Gainsbourg, Brigitte Fontaine and Magma.  I love a lot of the music France has foisted upon the world, but Tetes Lourdes has renewed my appreciation of the country’s contribution to 70s hard rock. In fact, much of the material collected on this bootleg falls somewhere between the James Gang, 70s metal and 60s psych rock. To be honest, the combo of these three phrases is more than enough to inspire devotion and love from this grimy soul.

To be honest, it isn’t one of those comps that fire on all cylinders. Some of it is just as bloated and cliched as other anonymous hard rock acts of the 70s, but half of it is postively brilliant and life-affirming in the way hoary rock chestnuts can be when it hits that perfect ratio of sleaze, fuzz, riffery and two-pack a day vocals. The absolute highlights of this comp are provided by Rotomagus whose “Fighting Cock” is nearly punk in its execution and absolutely ridiculous in its portrayal of a badass rooster in search of battle. This song is so raw and nasty that it makes the entire comp an essential listed by its mere inclusion. Their next contribution “Madame Wanda” veers into more familiar terrain with plenty of wah-wah and some psychedelic wailing choruses and upliting riffs that borrow from the majesty and grace of Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland. The rest of the acts on Tetes Lourdes aren’t as innovative, but marry enough sleaze to their melodies to keep everything on par with the insanity of Rotomagus’ unexpected explosiveness.

Davis Redford Triad

Mystical Path of the Number 86 (Holy Mountain 1997)


Not a triad, but a solo project from Faust member Steven Wray Lobdell, the Davis Redford Triad is a heavy listen. It is not heavy in a sludgy metallic manner, but in a way that scrubs your synapses with steel wool. Supposedly released after a stay in a mental institution, Mystic Path of the Number 86 contains some truly majestic guitar riffs buried beneath primitive electronic swells and warm drones that build in intensity until it is just a wash of white noise. It is a harsh album, but there is a lot of beauty hidden beneath these dark, claustrophobic constructs. At times, it kind of reminds me of Skullflower’s more “mellow” moments mated with loud hippie jams because it has this loner psych vibe going on, but Lobdell isn’t afraid to bash gorgeous moments into the ether.

I like his later albums for Holy Mountain, Blue Cloud, Code Orange and Ewige Blumenkraft, but none of them contain anything approaching the grandeur of “Hymn of the Virgin Sun Queen” which may be one of the best instrumentals I’ve ever heard. It is like Keiji Haino attempting to channel Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland and Cul De Sac’s ECIM albums. It is a ridiculous analogy, but it makes sense to me. This music comes from a place most guitarists cannot tap into without serious psychic damage. It’ll blow your boo-boo loose to be sure.

Crystallized Movements

Revelations from Pandemonium


This was Crystallized Movements’ finale and it was a perfect summary of all that was great about this band while pointing towards the psychedelic balladry of Magic Hour as well as the crushing heaviness of Major Stars. In my humble opinion, both of these later projects are superior to Crystallized Movements attempts to combine the two, but Revelations From Pandemonium straddled the line so well.

The core unit of all of these acts are Wayne Rogers and Kate Biggar, who run Twisted Village, an influential label and records store. They have had a hand in many releases on the label by B.O.R.B. and Vermonster. You can count on the Twisted Village label if you love fried, amp-destroying feedback with a taste for the 60s.

If I had to sum up Revelations From Pandemonium, it would be “fuzzy.” I guess a lazy comparison would be to Sonic Youth’s Sister and EVOL filtered through psych-folk, but then again that doesn’t do it total justice. Wayne Rogers’ guitar playing is kaleidoscopic in that so many sounds can be perceived in his lo-fi wall of sound. His playing is majestic and regal when he avoids the noise and reels off a riff worthy of Jimi Hendrix Randy Holden. His vocals are deadpan and don’t add much, the lyrics are meaningless, but his voice works because it adds a monotone accent on the main attraction–the instrumental brilliance of this band.

This album is an acquired taste and requires a few listens to grasp its brilliance, but anyone in love with scruffy psychedelia will eventually find much to love.