Fort Beulah N.U. conducts its ceremony across 5 sides of untitled vinyl. Commencing with the sound of a spaceship landing to the tune of beatnik bongos, and an incantation lifted from Leonard Cohen that promises of a freedom to come. Conjoining juice harps and Tesla coils in folk mantras – where thighbone trumpets blow Middle Eastern mysteries, calls to prayer. Employing these elements to shape simple, sparse, slow, hypnotic dervish disco / whirls, whose syncopation is tap, tap, tapped out on home-made percussion. Dub-wise lightning darting harp cascades and glissando. That UFO lifting off amid sitar buzz and drone. Rhythmic rituals, musical meditations, shaken by muted planet rocking space age string shots. The effect, like the break in Eddie Kendrick’s Girl, You Need A Change Of Mind taken to trippy extremes. To be honest, kinda creepy at first, and a bit “cult”, suggesting a Midsommar-like rite. But then I’m super suspicious of anything approaching organized religion*. Frightening my inner prude, as I attempt to resist the suite`s seductive siren`s song. But by the time its protagonist purrs,
“To the beat of our hearts we will do the dance of love.”
I`m like Edward Woodward driven to delirium by a buck naked Britt Ekland in Robin Hardy`s Wicker Man. I am its prisoner, willing to follow it anywhere, and burn.
“We just can’t get enough of that hot stuff.”
Techno echoes and soundsystem SFX clash behind handmaiden harmonies in a Ḥashshāshīn`s dope dream of paradise. A calm, having peaked past the point of greatest intensity. Funky synths sing in a bush of ON-U ghosts, all the while that beatnik drum ritual banging. The latin licks recalling Sister Sarah Webster Fabio`s Sweet Songs, and the more forceful metallic battle patterns, The Last Poets` madness.
There are spectres throughout of the artist, Andrew Weatherall`s body of work. A distant resonance of much-loved remixes and former rave riffs – their sonics perhaps fed back through old toys. Similarities that nag at the obsessive`s memory. Cryptic clues for the curious. Fragmented before you can quite get a handle on them. ID their place of origin. Though I’m deep in it now, as the music eschews “the wonders of modern technology” for something more basic, organic, pagan. As documentary dialogue is dissected a la Billy Burroughs at it in the Grey Room, and a muffled jazz loop – a lone swordsman’s building block – jumps and leaps – reverberating with Weatherall, Burns, and Kooner`s once momentous re-jigging of Throbbing Gristle`s United in its lo-fi jive. Prancing like a playful Penguin Cafe Orchestra wiggin` with Westbam – the latter`s And Party (Sweet 17) rearranged for woodblocks and jaunty electric joanna – its subliminal samples casting a subconscious spell. Nothing as heavy as Seidr`s shamanic channeling, just a little chaos magick. Creating an, uncharacteristically perhaps, “jolly”, final piece in the puzzle. A conclusion which on its original release might have seemed slight. Open-ended, with no answers, instructions, obviously disclosed in its runes` secret whispers. But now taken in sad context, and all 5 emissions imbibed as a whole, to initiates, listeners and believers, this closer will appear as it truly is, a celebration of light. With it spinning, I imagine Convenanza, shouts and cheers going up, setting the Carcassonne castle walls ringing. Filling the courtyard with smiles.
The Fort Beulah N.U. releases were available exclusively from London’s Love Vinyl. All 5 records have been cued up here by Biznotic.
For a more info on the Fort Beulah series of 12s check this article over at The Bagging Area.
*All boils down to being beaten as a child and the resulting severe authority issues.