“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. Today’s guest is a founder member of legendary New York nihilist noise punks Live Skull.
Coming at the tail gunning end of the No Wave scene and contemporaries of Swans, Sonic Youth, Lydia Lunch, Suicide and Glenn Branca, Live Skull inhabited a doom-laden drop D tuned world that was like the Stooges had taken the sinister raga of “We Will Fall” to its bone-crushing nth degree, replete with creepy Flesh Eaters style crepuscular lyrics and percussive circular descent into Dante’s inferno.
A rotating line up has always had Mark C at its nexus, and with this a second new album since a 2016 reunion, “Dangerous Visions” combines brand new songs on side A, with some real nuggets from the back cat on side B including Peel sessions and deep live cuts featuring the inimitable vocals of friend of this zine Thalia Zedek.
“Dangerous Visions” is front loaded with some musically and emotionally heavy tunes that are just as vital and darkly insurgent as their crate-digging material on the flip. Originally recording against the backdrop of Reagan’s America and the spectre of instantaneous Mutually Assured Destruction, new Live Skull tunes, like lead “In A Perfect World” with its Joy Division/The Cure style heft, show that despite how many years have advanced since then, we really haven’t come that far from the precipice in a World that’s become if anything more openly gloomy.
In that sense, “Dangerous Visions” is reassuring in its motorik off-kilter menace. It’s an enticing tight knit package around a blisteringly arresting sonic universe and with that in mind it’s awesome to have here to choose an intriguing tune, Live Skull’s high functioning brain, Mark C!
Track “Day One of the Experiment” was recorded live in Ravenna, Italy at the Transmission XII festival and is described thus by Mark C “The song recounts a daughter’s discovery of her fathers’ lost airplane, years after his disappearance and reminded me of my father’s experience as a pilot in the air force, who survived his airplane getting shot down. Born as a rehearsal jam, and developed live, it’s one of the first tracks written collectively by the latest version of the Live Skull experiment.”
The revitalising experiment in question features long-time member Richard Hutchins (ex-Ruin drummer) plus Kent Heine and Dave Hollinghurst, while the violently evocative and brilliantly lurid cover of the record is designed by cult cartoon artist Gary Panter (best mates with Matt Groening, and whose pics have also adorned records by Zappa and Yo La Tengo).
“Dangerous Visions” despite being a game of two halves is very much a unified singular affair, with the Live Skull murderous modus operandi dripping through every track – be it the five songs recorded in 19-20 or the 1987-1989 cuts including four from the 1989 Peel session – one of which “Adema” has never been released. If like me you like a bit of noise rock, it’s pretty much an essential new purchase.
But what did Mark C choose as his tune for our series? It’s edifyingly murky and edgy, but also fully edutaining. Without further ado, here’s Mark’s “song for ewe”…
“Here’s a video by Native American artist Wanbdi that a friend turned me on to. A dark track, complimented by a strikingly minimal video, that features the type of raw energy that makes me want to pick up my guitar and play.
Wanbdi is a member of the Nakota Nation and grew up on the Yankton Reservation in South Dakota and was the drummer for the acclaimed Native American rock band Indigenous.”
THANKS SO MUCH TO MARK C AND TO KATE PRICE OF STEREO SANCTITY PR
“Dangerous Visions” is out this Friday, 11th December on Bronson Recordings.
Check out the video to album opener “In A Perfect World” here…
if you’re a fan of Thalia Zedek, former Live Skull vocalist, here’s a “song for ewe”