Type to search

The Asphodells – Ruled by Passion, Destroyed By Lust


jacket_img_L.jpgLabel: Rotters Golf Club Score: 9/10   Talking to Andrew Weatherall last June about the sublime selection he’d just cooked up for Ministry’s Masterpiece series, he talked about a new project he was working on with Timothy J. Fairplay called the Asphodells. Named after the Victorian flower of regret [“but with two ‘l’s in it, I thought it sounded like an early 60s surf band”], the Asphodells were represented on the compilation by their stellar take on fierce 80s group A.R. Kane’s ‘A Love From Outer Space’. It’s also the name of the club he was hosting, playing the kind of “downtempo cosmic disco stuff” which comprised much of the compilation.   At that point, the pair were six tracks into recording an album. The finished article has now arrived and, true to form if anyone knows any of Weatherall’s doings over the last 25 years, is even a different beast from the music presented on the Ministry set.   Since looming out of London’s post-acid house DJ beehive with a barrage of startling remixes, groundbreaking productions for Primal Scream then starting his own Sabres Of Paradise label and band, Weatherall has wilfully charted his own stoically uncompromising path, often wearing influences such as dub, electro, punk and industrial on his sleeve but more often than not inside his bespoke creative cod-piece, churning around to spurt forth as challenging new sounds, going against what‘s expected or even demanded of him [usually against the grain].   Weatherall explains his relentless quest for  unchartered realms using aural peaks which grabbed him in the past as, “music that’s in the blood”, meaning that these sounds have entered his creative cortex, made themselves at home and become part of his psyche, ready to spill out  depending on the urge of the moment. This is why he can be found commanding huge crowds with seat-gripping DJ onslaughts one night, then spinning primal rockabilly in a pub basement the next. When it comes to making his own music, he can go somewhere else entirely, despite the heights scaled by his panoramic creative smorgasbord on 1991’s Screamadelica, along with those remixes, his own projects straddling the Sabres’ techno-funk, Two Lone Swordsmen’s electronic psychobilly vocal missives and the rock ‘n’ roll-flavoured A Pox On The Pioneers set, now arriving at the Asphodells, in many ways his most personal creation yet.Weatherall has always needed a telepathic studio foil to help realise his profusion of ideas, both Sabres’ Jagz Kooner and Gary Burns and TLS’s Keith Tenniswood also becoming part of the sound. With ex-Batants/DJ/producer Fairplay, he’s followed a whole different trajectory, while sticking to his unswerving ethic that the spine of any decent music is provided by the bass and drums [“get that right and everything else will follow”]. ’Never There’, ’Beglammered’, ’One Minutes’ Silence’ and alienation-anthem ’We Are The Axis’ whip up an unholy dub mutant of mid-80s electro/hiphop beatbox clatter [808 insect genital clicks and tickles to the fore on ‘Skwatch‘], a rampant clap-track often taking centre-stage in the engine room; atmosphere throbbing in the dark recesses of earliest Chicago acid house, cloaked in spectral string themes, gouged by guitar ghosts and shafted byshards of snaky melody. Instrumentals such as ’The Quiet Dignity’ and ’Another Lonely City’ sculpt electro-acid mood symphonies, traversing burned-out building soundscapes and the kind of confessional not usually found in electronic dance music. Weatherall’s vocals, first heard on 2004’s TLS album The Double Gone Chapel, have strengthened into an expressive instrument in their own right [sometimes still haunted by Throbbing Gristle’s ‘United’, which inspired the first Sabres outing]. ‘Late Flowering Lust’ [complete with dub version] is possibly the most fulsome realisation of the Asphodells sound, John Betjemin’s words strangely creating a modern love song for men of a certain age. This is another of the album’s strengths; the duo aren’t trying to present themselves as on-the-button kings of teenage club whoopee, instead creating a punk-ethos soundtrack for those who have served, in the process beating most of their contemporaries when it comes to brandishing a cutting-edge sonic switchblade. The album closes with the track which mobilised this particular ball from its cosmic jock-strap, ‘A Love From Outer Space’ startling as ever with its subliminal disco chants and heady, spangled euphoria. Its kind of spirit-affirming that Weatherall can still turn out music which challenges and rewards repeated immersion, making the future a more exciting prospect than the past. After nearly a quarter century mastering the art of expressing his idiosyncratic visions in the studio, only now are the flowers of the original acid house plantation reaching full bloom.

Grahame Farmer

Grahame Farmer’s love affair with electronic music goes back to the mid-90s when he first began to venture into the UK’s beloved rave culture, finding himself interlaced with some of the country’s most seminal club spaces. A trip to dance music’s anointed holy ground of Ibiza in 1997 then cemented his sense of purpose and laid the foundations for what was to come over the next few decades of his marriage to the music industry.

  • 1

You Might also Like

Leave a Comment

Next Up