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Holy McGrail - Collecting Earthquakes

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Artist: Holy McGrail

Album: Collecting Earthquakes

Label: Head Heritage

Review date: Oct. 30, 2005

Transliterate backyard bard H. D. Thoreau’s take on reading into deliberate music making, and one’s got a general idea of the metastasizing riff spread from the malignant lump of “Lady Holle,” track one of Holy McGrail’s Collecting Earthquakes. If books should be read as carefully as they were written, McGrail’s “Lady Holle” is a gross challenge to tin-eared shredders who couldn’t find their asshole with both hands.

A cadre of the sons of T. C. Lethbridge, and Stephen “Hotdog” O’Malley, join McGrail – a member of Slomo and L. A. M. F. – for three rib-rattling pieces of neo-neanderthal noise. For “Lady Holle,” Antr0nhy bashes the batterie like Blue Cheer drummer Paul Whaley; sticks sink into skins as stoners into sofas; shruti sonics shed mohair fuzzes around the periphery of the piece, cut down occasionally by ebullient Moog and Yngwie’d acoustics courtesy of Brain Donor Doggen Foster. Elements recede and are reintroduced; Neu is ultimately nudged free of its ur-linear title as Antr0nhy continues unabated. When the drums are put to bed, instrumentation becomes gleefully unidentifiable; with so much going on, “oneness” occurs sans incense, fungal ingestion, or esoteric incantation.

The aptly named “Quake Appeal” falls into tectonic trance without delay. Smears of Sabbath’s “Iron Man” scar the first few seconds and Messrs McGrail and Practitioner of Technicolor Arts, Julian Cope, are locked into a pitched battle to see/hear who can digest one’s seismic afterbirth the quickest. Cope straps in tightly, prejudicially shearing Buck Dharma’s hirsute guitar lines, and building new cromlechs in Hiroshi Nar’s honor. McGrail does something else entirely, slapping baritone sound like boar shit onto cold cave walls. If ever music was “organic,” it’s here: “Quake Appeal” provokes a litany of processed breakfast cereal Latinisms, all while tugging at Nidhogg’s sagging scrotum. The molecular models slowly built out of synth squelch and six-string bravado are torn down on their own; like Jean Tinguely’s machines destroyed under the weight of their own motion, microbiology argot and Eddic posture prove to be discouraging creampuffs in the face of this steely joust. “Quake Appeal”’s drone is ceremoniously broken, beaten into the ground even further; buried in the shards and splinters of the Big Ol’ Hum.

Closer “Ur-Cow” brings O’Malley’s “gloom axe” into the fold to unlikely effect. McGrail and O’Malley instantaneously erect a karyobin nest out of elastic Ebows and limitless Digitech flux, providing the possible warbling yield of Boards of Canada covering Rush’s “Jacob’s Ladder.” Mechanical chirps, lowing wind, woofer farts and tweeter queefs are shuffled and dealt cold dead hands.

“Collecting Earthquakes” brings new potency to those lining the aural Unterwelt, forcing bizarre takes on the now “popular” forms of drone ambient. Wearing Rock’s prickhuggers while waltzing with a prudish avant partner – and making it audibly “work” – is a fucking feat. But, depleting the warchests of both genres with one’s first solo outing is entirely another beast: Where McGrail fills his Jesus juicecup next is anybody’s guess.

By Stewart Voegtlin

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