You’ve gotta love it when a band you love covers a song you love, especially when the song covered is one of the prettier moments in a sprawling, inconsistent back catalog. Dinowalrus take on Psychic TV, one of the weirder groups to ever find itself lumped in with the industrial scene (mostly due to lead singer Genesis P. Orridge’s previous band: Throbbing Gristle).
Godstar is an ode to former Rolling Stones’ guitarist Brian Jones. Why Psychic TV felt compelled to craft a sonic shrine to Jones is open to speculation (maybe it was the mutual appreciation of loads of drugs), but no matter the reasoning behind it, it was probably the closest Psychic TV got to pure, unadorned pop. And in Dinowalrus’ capable hands, it veers even closer, shimmering with a pristine brightness that belies the troubled subject of the song. (Brian’s doing lines with the angels now…) But the best thing about a cover like this is that it gets you looking into Psychic TV’s recorded output again. (That’s if you’re me. RESULTS ARE NOT TYPICAL.)
Along with about a million live albums, Psychic TV released several albums of near-industrial psychedelia. The oft cross-dressed P. Orridge never shied away from confrontation, controversy or following his muse down a few dead ends. Of all the cul-de-sacs Psychic TV ended up in, none was more inadvertently entertaining than its brief foray into acid house.
Two albums, Jack the Tab and Tekno Acid Beat were released as pseudonymous “compilations.” Along with Towards Thee Infinite Beat and Beyond Thee Infinite Beat, these albums saw PTV exploring Britain’s exploding club music scene. It was a misguided exploration, though, as Genesis came to the not-altogether-erroneous conclusion that the “acid” in “acid house” referred to LSD rather than the acidic tones of brutalized Roland TB-303 bass emulators. An easy mistake to make, especially if you’re a tourist. Drug use was not unheard of in the club scene (UNDERSTATEMENT), so perhaps the confusion was inevitable.
However, PTV’s two “acid house” albums went long on their slightly-off take on house music and were completely bereft of “acid,” not counting P. Orridge’s no doubt prodigious intake of LSD. So while these albums don’t stand up on their own merits (that being: acid house albums), they do stand up as a curiosity permanently relegated to the outside of the scene. In terms of PTV’s output, the Jack the Tab albums (along with the/Thee twin Infinite Beat follow-ups) are a driveby two-off (like a one-off, only with two albums dedicated to misunderstanding the scene). There’s a sort of a tuneful darkness to some of the tracks (Black Rain) and some naff house tracks (much of the remainder), but there’s also a few keepers.
M.E.S.H. (Meet Every Situation Head-on) is the power of positive thinking as relayed by a drug-addled man in a full-length dress. Jigsaw has a nice minimal funk to it. But if there’s one song to keep from these albums, it’s Joy with its filtered and phased “J-O-Y” refrain and its filtered and phased everything else. Hardly danceable but also hardly anything but a dance track. You can dance to it, but your moves will have more in common with Ian Curtis’ near-epileptic movements (the only way to dance to Joy Division — see also PTV’s tribute to Ian Curtis, I.C. Water) than today’s raver staples (like that hand thing – if you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about).
BONUS OBSERVATION: Witch house impresario(s) and all-around mystery men Mater Suspiria Vision seem to be borrowing a page from PTV’s design manual. You can’t sell the brand without a logo. Compare the following two images:
A wonderful stroll down memory lane, as far as that goes. (About 700 words, it would appear.) But we’re here to talk about DINOWALRUS, are we not?!!? We are! So… let’s do exactly that.
A new memory lane.
If I’m not mistaken I was first pointed in the direction of Dinowalrus by ultra-fine music blog Waves at Night which, up until recently, sported a revolving set of background images that would occasionaly, without warning, fill your entire screen (other than what you were reading) with bare female nipples. The site is now much S’er for W and the quality of the music featured remains high, if a little disco-heavy.
The descriptor “drum and drone” caught my eye, as did the band name, an unlikely match of animals, the likes of which the world hadn’t seen since the underrated Cabin Boy, which featured a mythical Halfsharkalligatorhalfman.
Then there was the track title: Electric Car, Gas Guitar.
A very short internal conversation followed. “There’s no way we’re not listening to that!” Sounding pretty much like Hawkwind allowing Lemmy to make all the creative decisions, ECGG is an exhilarating sonic headbutt, not miles away from the muscular post-DFA1979 spacerockfunk of That Fucking Tank.
But the track that took me from fist-pumping rookie to fist-pumping acolyte was Mae Shi’s remix of Nuke Duke’Em, which dials back the speedometer a bit while applying plenty of low-end thump.
Then, of course, there was Actually, the best Spiritualized song ever to not appear on a Spiritualized album (click through for some more CLT wordage).
On top of all this great music and stylistic shift, Dinowalrus is one of the better reads on Twitter (this feels like the most left-handed compliment of all, but I assure you, it is not), ranking right up there with That Fucking Tank (again) and HEALTH (some grains of salt and a strong stomach occasionally need with this last one), all three of which are lively and active enough to remind you that an ACTUAL FUCKING HUMAN BEING is running the Twit, rather than just some PR flack pressing “SPAM” repeatedly.