Now my devotion to Chrome's masterpieces Alien Soundtracks and Half Machine Lip Moves isn't exactly a secret. But it occurs to me that I've never written about Helios Creed's solo stuff on here before. Which is a little odd given that he's probably my favourite guitarist ever, I'll freely admit that sonically he's influenced me more deeply than any other musician and is certainly the one who opened my ears further than anyone before or since to the infinite possibilities of using a stupid amount of effects pedals*, and crucially, possibly even more so than Matt Bower et al, branded into the core of my musical being that going too fucking far is a damn good place to start.
There are three albums in particular (out of many) that will always be the killers as far as I'm concerned, the untouchable triumvirate of 1989's The Last Laugh, 1990's Boxing The Clown, and 1991's Lactating Purple (all on Amphetamine Reptile)*. A trio of albums that fused together every disparate strand of psychedelia and spacerock, filtered through a vicious hardcore/punk sensibility, occasionally refracted through an angular proggish prism, sometimes infused with a deeply unsettling almost mediaeval ambience in their (admittedly rare) quieter moments all wrapped round a noiserock core of unswerving viciousness and nailed to the fucking floor by whatever rhythm section the mad fucker had got on board for that particular album. Helios Creed used to go through rhythm sections like Spinal Tap go through drummers or the Melvins through bassists, and weirdly, his records were all the better for it then. He never seemed to attain the same heights of ultrapsych lunacy once his band actually coalesced into a stable unit.
The first of the three, The Last Laugh, featuring the rhythm section of Jason Finn (drums) and Daniel House (bass) starts with a three part blast that recalls the disjointed structures of Alien Soundtracks and Half Machine Lip Moves, kicking off with the straight-for-the-jugular Some Way Out, a careering piece of psychedelic hardcore, powered along by that fucking guitar sound, that stuck wah'ed chainsaw that just cuts through yr brain like a monofilament garrotte with the heavily distorted and filtered vocals of Mr Creed insanely gargling through the maelstrom and then suddenly, with no warning, cuts straight into the unsettling ambience of The Dream, all heavily reverbed backward and acoustic guitars, massively detuned chant and and atmosphere of real hypnagogic dread before slamming back into The Diplomat, a mid paced spacepunk cut with some fucking astonishing guitar that sounds like a writhing psychedelic hydra during the solo. Track 3 (I'm not going to go into all the tracks here, I just want to whet yr appetite if you've never heard this shit), Nirbasion Annasion, is one of his greatest moments, like spacerock turned inside out, beginning with a wonderful persian sounding guitar line, it's rolls into full power on an insidious, sinuous bass line and minimalist drums as the man himself unleashes a torrent of just fucking amazing acid guitar lines forwards and backwards (and as ever with Helios, it's sometimes hard to tell which is going which way, or if it's one, two or four guitars), intertwining with each other and the bass to create a philosophers knot of a track, with his relatively buried, and as usual, heavily processed vocals adding to the glorious confusion. It's just brilliant, and deeply weird. It's everything spacerock promises to be, but almost never quite becomes, except when this man pulls his acid soaked finger out of his arse and gets it right like he does here.
Side 2 is just as fucking good, leading off with Late Bloomer, a track drenched in the same paranoid Ballard/Dick atmosphere that was soaked right through Chrome's Third From The Sun, before kicking into the deeply unsettling Where The Children Are. One of the most traditionally structred songs on the album, yet one of the most disturbing, (along with Road Out Of Hell which ends side 1), it's a seemingly innocuous slowish rock song, well, at least until the guitars really get going. The phasing bandsaw is back with a vengeance, allied with a howling, crying solo line that splinters and recombines as Helios deadpan intones the lines "As you wish upon a star, wondering where yr children are" and other lovely sentiments, it's not a song you necessarily want to examine too deeply, there's an undercurrent of reined-in violent perversity to it that's never explicit, just felt as a deep unease in the back of yr throat. The tension built up by that piece of masterful freak horror is perfectly defused by the next song, the most playful track on the LP, The Rant, which is sort of what would happen if you took a fast 60s r'n'b or soul number, preferably one that tells you exactly how to do the monkey, or the watusi, or the boogaloo, and rerecorded it with a Venusian harcdore band. Fantastic madness, and it contains some of the best fucking guitar you can imagine. There's not a duff track on the album, and it would be a stone cold motherfucking classic if it wasn't for the LP that followed it, Boxing The Clown, a record which I can safely say, that if The Last Laugh blew my mind, then Boxing The Clown gave it the single best musical fuck it had up until that moment, and which will be the subject of the next post in this series.
So yeah, part two will be coming when I have the time as I suspect this week could be a bit chaotic, and I can't be arsed to write any more this evening because those lovely blue valium tablets someone very kindly gave me last week have just kicked in and I'm starting to giggle at everything, so yeah part two very soon. And yes, I'm much less discombobulated now, and that's not because of the valium, but because I now know what I really needed to know before. Cryptic? Yeah, but you know me.
I wouldn't normally post anything from youtube without any visuals, but I don't have Nirbasion Annasion on any digital format, but the man himself has posted the bugger up there so I'll make an exception as it is such a fucking amazing piece of psych. Enjoy. Or run away...
*A live engineer once sneeringly asked me do you think all those pedals are really necessary? To which he received one of my two customary answers to the fucking stupid things some live engineers come out with, that is to say a look of withering contempt coupled with a skull fracturing blast of phased to fuck feedback, followed by the one word answer "yeah". The other answer is just "oh fuck off", it depends how much of a cock the engineer is, and what sort of mood I'm in at the time.
** The preceding LP, Superior Catholic Finger (Subterranean) is fucking excellent too, as were the two LPs that followed these three on AmRep, Kiss To The Brain and Planet X, but that's for another day and another article.