Released through Indivisible Records on 25 July 2017
Words by Jason Guest
Instrumental rock trio Blind Idiot God formed in 1982 and proceeded to mash the crap out of metal, noise, dub and funk with a free jazz and classical approach. Their eponymous debut appeared in 1987 to much critical acclaim soon to be followed by Undertow in 1988 and Cyclotron in 1992. 1996 and the original trio parts ways before reforming with a new line-up in 2001 to work on an album that, due to a number of setbacks and a line-up change, would not come to be until 2015, Before Ever After. Even the quickest of flicks through their discography reveals a triumvirate for whom the boundaries of any genre are for paying no mind to. After all, boundaries restrict, confine, curb. To BIG, music matters, not limits.
2017 and with Indivisible Music, the record label founded by Andy Hawkins in 2014, BIG are re-issuing Undertow. Produced by Bill Laswell with guest appearances by Henry Rollins and John Zorn can mean but one thing: genre-defying lunacy. The good sort, of course. The very good sort. With the tracks alternating between noise rock and punk-driven slabs of violence and mellowed dub, the album makes for both a jarring and a spiritual experience.
‘Sawtooth’ is a 2-minute instrumental of punk rock racket that’s like being in a mosh at CBGBs, ‘Atomic Whip’ is harsh and hard-hitting, as is the brick-tied-round-the-neck heaviness of ‘Drowning’, the manic guitar screams enough to give even Hendrix a feedback-fuelled headache. Amid the mayhem comes the band’s cover of Funkadelic’s ‘Alice In My Fantasies’, it’s fairly straight-ahead structure inviting some incredible lead work from Hawkins. ‘Rollercoaster’ shifts up and down and side to side and around and down and up and through and enough to make you vomit just before you are dropped from the rollercoaster’s highest point into the ferocity of ‘Wailing Wall’.
All of them crushing, the heavy tracks are interspersed with some really cool dub. ‘Clockwork Dub’, ‘Watch Yer Step’, ‘Major Key Dub’ and ‘Dubbing in the Sinai’, all as different to one another as the other tracks, all have a spiritual feel to them and so are a perfect counter to the violent air that looms large. The only track to feature vocals, ‘Freaked’, features Henry Rollins whose performance is as intense as the music demands. Had BIG ever decided to bring a vocalist in full time, it would have been Rollins. And to close the album out is the John Zorn-penned ‘Purged Specimen’, his twisted structure and his abrasive sax tearing along as the band blast and beat and bring the noise. Astounding.
With Cyclotron being re-issued soon and a new album in the works, if you’ve not heard them before, Blind Idiot God is a band to keep an eye on. And both ears. Give yourself plenty of time with this. You’ll need it. When the next album appears, you’ll need to be prepared.
- Atomic whip
- Watch yer step
- Major key dub
- Alice in my fantasies
- Dubbing in the Sinai
- Wailing wall
- Freaked – featuring Henry Rollins (long version)
- Purged Specimen – featuring John Zorn
- Freaked – featuring Henry Rollins (title version)