Before I delve back into the Flaming Lips led misunderstood reconstruction of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, I’m gonna tell you that I have been obsessed by Earthless. There have been a few times where I’m been consumed by music to a point where genuinely obsessive behaviour comes into play, but I can honestly say it’s been a few years since there was any of those sorts of shenanigans.
You know the shenanigans I’m talking about. The looking in record stores in the hope that there’s a nice copy of that album you’re after sitting there. Fitting in as many stores as you can. Looking through the racks and crates a few times just to be sure you didn’t miss it. If you live in Glasgow and the chances of finding a specific title are slim, you end up looking at retailers online. Indie stores with an online presence. Or discogs. Flicking through every listing of the desired album. Calculating costs. Weighing up VG+ against NM and how much that means in monetary terms. A sense of urgency around the buying, too. That’s where I’m at with Earthless.
Y’see, Earthless take me somewhere else. I connect with the flowing rhythms… the explosions and the shifts. The guitar scorching and lighting up the skies like a solar flare – aurora borealis (or aurora australis), in more reflective moments. I know that some have already said it, but it’s true that it’s like Hendrix jamming with Sabbath and Cream at times.
And the Hendrix here is Isaiah Mitchell. He’s now one of my favourite guitar men. His playing is intricate and full of controlled power. Like Ryu’s fists. Or even that Scarlet Witch, lass. Man, it genuinely blows my mind.
I was chatting with a pal recently who is a big Rocket From The Crypt fan and I asked if he was into Earthless, cause, if he was, I couldn’t understand why he didn’t tell me about them. Nope. He wasn’t.
D: “Who are they? Why’d you ask?”
J: “Well, cause yir drummer guy is there”.
D: “Mario? Is he? I’ll need to check that out… What are they like?”
J: “Holy scorched Earth, buddy! They are incredible!!”
And he agreed and also mentioned how bloody awesome they guitaring is. And, y’know, the musicianship from all the players is on a whole other level. Lifting… powerful… intense… dynamic. They play with confidence and a sun bleached swagger. This, my friends, is psychedelic pyro-dynamic splendour.
The first album released in the time I’d call myself a fan was Black Heaven and I had that sucker pre-ordered. It got it’s hooks into me quickly and is easily up there as my favourite of the year so far. Mitchell’s vocals, which I heard on their take of the Groundhog’s Cherry Red, are fitting and not out of place. They only add to that classic vibe. However, as much as I like the album, I can’t stop listening to From The Ages and Rhythms From A Cosmic Sky. I’d listened to them digitally (streaming) after reviews by two of my favourite pushers (yeah, you know who I’m looking at), but, after two years and then some months, I hadn’t gotten to buying anything yet. Not until Black Heaven. Then the floodgates opened. New release enthusiasm. Genuine obsessive behaviour took hold. I got obsessive about every note on the albums I’d been listening to on and off and decided I was buying them. Right now. Or at least tried to.
From The Ages was easy to get a hold of. The vinyl colour isn’t the easiest on the eye and there’s something about the contrast with the label that bugs me. The colours just don’t work together. But that’s not important… right? Look at it, though? It’s just a bit odd, eh? Is it just me? I’ll not say any more about it, but I do wish it was black vinyl. The music, though? Holy scorched Earth, peoples!! Don’t just take my word for it, one of my favourite pushers gave it all the praise.
Rhythms of a Cosmic Sky, which I became familiar with after lego guy threw it on my radar thanks to his write up, has been a bit of a sucker to get my hands on. Mostly cause I tried to find a copy at a reasonable price and, well, the streaming meant that I was managing to get a fix when I needed it. Besides, I always found a way to pick up something else. As the Earthless obsessed chap, I could have laughed with hysteria.
Anyhoo, I only just added it to the collection. First of all, back in March when I ordered From The Ages, Amazon didn’t have it in stock, but I found it cheap on eBay. 4 weeks later and no LP, I contacted the seller and they said it’s likely been lost. Money back. Use that and add a few quid and order another via Discogs. Only UK shop on there with it listed. Again, a good price, so I was quite chuffed. Later that day I get a message of apology, but the LP is no longer available and they hadn’t updated the inventory. Gah. Another listing on eBay. Cheap. Details suggest it’s the LP, but it has the CD track listing. I enquire whether it’s CD or vinyl… the answer… we don’t know. Huh? But what’s this? Another reasonably priced copy on Discogs… near mint… from Germany. Why not? I do all this in a matter of days.
The LP arrived today and, well, it’s not near mint as stated. I can live with the few dinks on the sleeve, but the vinyl itself isn’t in the best shape. The only thing missing is cobwebs. Worry and internal dialogue. “Lots of dust and suchlike and it looks like it’s groove deep, too. Gah”. I worry about that. “I guess I clean it up, though”. I worry. “What if I don’t find one?” A search online and copies are more expensive. Some beads of worry persperation trickle from my forehead. Worry becomes frustration. “Hopefully it plays fine, cause I can’t be fucked finding another copy.”
When I got home I took a nice clean cloth to it. Looks like it cleaned up well… even got the shine back.
And yeah, there’s some of that comforting surface noise… but the cosmic noise is much preferred.
And I drift away.