Diapason (ricercares) wrote,

Forensic Voodoo: A Queasy Listening Retrospective

I've been meaning to write something about the Queasy Listening label for quite some time. As far can be ascertained, QL has been decommissioned in the last year or two, the core members now comprising the English Heretic organisation, with whom I occasionally collaborate. Since the catalogue is (with one exception) out of print I feel that it might be appreciated- with the permission of English Heretic - to make some small part of the QL discography available online. Therefore I present my personal choices from those recordings I have, along with a little commentary.

I first came into contact with QL in 2000 or early 2001 when Jack Babylon got in touch enquiring about an album I'd recorded called Black Brotherhood. I could see from some of the themes in the QL catalogue that we shared some common interests: the unusual occultism of Kenneth Grant, surrealism, and a general sense of amusement at the absurdity and excesses of so-called 'Industrial Culture'.

Those interested in reading further may like to visit the Queasy Listening website and read the philosophical statement of the label; for the remainder of this post I'd like to share some of my thoughts on the tracklist for the aforementioned compilation of personal favourites from the QL back-catalogue.

Re-uploaded if you missed it first time! Download the compilation by clicking here - a track-by-track breakdown follows below.

Forensic Voodoo: A Queasy Listening Retrospective

I) False Order of the True Paths, from Experience the Charisma of Dr. Andrew Sharp & His Forensic Voodoo String Orchestra (QLCD002)
This comes from the earliest QL CD I own, never - as far as I know - released to the public. It's heavy on the industrial kitsch: the artist appears on the cover wearing a uniform, the lamen of the OTO on his armband, the spectral visage of Myra Hindley floats in the sky above, while the inside bears the kitschy slogan "The oak panelled Armageddon has begun." Many of the recurrent obsessions are already evident on this disc - 60s and 70s British horror, Grantian mysticism and the compulsion to twist 70s rock and pop classics into absurd forms (Thank you for the Industrial Musik, Mama We're All Criminally Insane Now).

II) Earth as Suffering: Ere the Noon Day Sun Swings His Sword, from Music for the Fireside (QLCD010)
Released in 2001, Music for the Fireside was a compilation of various QL works in progress. I can't do any better than quote from the accompanying Cabala of the Hearth regarding the themes of this track: "an acoustic introduction depicting a domestic harmony is a serrated by the phrase 'Ere The Noon Day Sun Swings His Sword.' This marks a sudden demise, a slash of scythe and a rapid descent into the furnace of the crematorium. A requiem of ritualistic drum and wrenching uber-glam riff all overlaid by aphorisms from First World War Poetry, cast us into a world of tragedy on microcosmic and macrocosmic scale, the (h)earths or herds sleep arrested by catastrophe. Indeed it is complacency's torpor that is shaken by insight of death - for "though we have our lives we know what sinister threat lurks"."

III) Buddhist or Assassin: Suvasini in Denim, from Limerence Story (QLCD-lo005)
This album developed from the a near fatal onset of limerence experienced by Mr. SM. This episode resulted in a psychic descent through the 17th Tunnel of Set - an area of mystical geography associated with the tarot Arcanum of The Lovers. The genius Zamradiel, banshees and spectral hyenas haunt this tunnel of love. Its landscape battered by the storms of obsessive sexuality. An exotic and romantic document which was part of the Lost Object series of recordings, intended to be 'lost' at meaningful places: in this instance left on train platforms at midnight or cast from the top of lovers' leap.

IV) Bo-Thaam: Escape, from Music for the Fireside (QLCD010)
Bo-Thaam inhabit a parallel dimension in which English cricketers indulge in ritual-electronics. Perhaps it's best to quote once more from the Cabala of the Hearth: "Over the surreal "chance meeting" of Tibetan Drukpa Sect chant and the simpering irony of Rupert Holmes' classic Escape (Piña Colada Song). A Cenobitic Voice mocks hyprocisy of the royal wedding. "Do you take this soul and devour The Heart". Again we see the fractured synonyms of the hearth firstly in the name of Rupert Ho(l)mes and secondly in the devoured heart. Was not Diana, The self styled Queen of Hearts and did she not die of a severed pulmonary artery - literally a broken heart? The piece ends fittingly with the Late Cardinal Runcie warning the royal couple of ..." the dreadful day of judgement when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed"."

V) Buddhist or Assassin: Music to Trap Ku By, from The Cellar of Niantiel (QLCD0011)
Perhaps instrumental to his recovery from the ravages of limerence was Mr. SM's investigation of the opium-clouded dens of the Cult of the Kû - practitioners of ancient Chinese witchcraft - and also his psychically shattering investigations into the outer reaches of thanatology. Here's the opening track of The Cellar of Niantiel: a journey through occult rock accompanied by Eros and Thanatos.

VI) Aossic Argonaut: Hymn to Lam, from The Rhyme of the Ancient Marina (QLCD-lo6)
Recorded in the churchyard of Brundish, final resting place of the East Anglian Wyard family. Margaret Wyard was accused of witchcraft in 1645, and according to some sources consorted with the Devil and entities from beyond this world in Rendlesham forest. This short, improvised prayer was recorded in the church porch and addressed to LAM - gateway entity to extraterrestrial gnosis.

VII) The Last Mushrooms: Panarchy in the UK, from Invasion of the Energy Spectres (QLCD008)
Thus far the only Last Mushrooms recording - so far as I am aware. Invasion of the Energy Spectres took its inspiration from Kenneth Grant's hypothesis that "the malefic sonic vibrations inherent in rock music, that are manifestations of radioactive energy spectres released by the nuclear explosion of Horishima." EVP and other methods of mantic audio were used to give voice to these otherworldly spirits who seek to influence the human sphere via the rent in the universe opened by nuclear warfare. An anonymous source tells me that The Last Mushrooms have recently returned to the studio to record a concept album concerning the rituals of the New Isis Lodge

VIII) Roger & Hal Hunt: The Dunwich Tapes I, from The Dunwich Tapes (QLCD-lo002)
The first Queasy Listening recording I ever heard - a very sparse and primitive production, but quite a powerful set of recordings. "In late January of 2001 two respectable businessmen and brothers, Roger and Hal Hunt, rented a cottage in the ancient Suffolk village of Dunwich, and set about recording a rock album on digital hard-disk apparatus … eleven days later they had inexplicably vanished from the face of the earth."

IX) Buddhist or Assassin: She's Riding Necheshtheron, from The Cellar of Niantiel (QLCD0011)
Another from the second Buddhist or Assassin outing: a journey through the spectral precincts of Niantiel.

X) The Timeless Cocktail Piano Of Colin Holman: Recovered Memories are Made of This, from The Other World Of Val Doonican (QLCD-lo4)
From one of my favourites, and not just because the original edition was left in charity shops, disguised as a Val Doonican album. Recovered Memories are Made of This is a monologue based in imagery dredged up from the psyche through methods of active memory and depth psychology. I hope you can appreciate it even in this format, which is not book-ended by Val Doonican's classic.

Tags: english heretic, kenneth grant, magic, music, queasy listening

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