This week's Monday Magick entry, "Shake a Fist" by Hot Chip, is one of those tricky songs that isn't supposed to be about magick or the occult but sure as hell sounds like it is. The tune comes from the London-based five-man Indie Dance act's third LP 'Made in The Dark', released under the aegis of DFA Records back in 2008.
Supposedly the lyrical content of "Shake a Fist" is co-frontman Alexis Taylor's attempt at summarizing or imagining other co-frontman Joe Goddard's experience tripping on salvia (which mystic revelations have been associated with) at the Glastonbury Festival. But I can't help hear the lyrics about raising chalices, teleportation, magic potions, incantations and willfully choosing hell over heaven in a completely different, and more esoteric, way. Could the reference to moving "underwater" be a sly nod to some Lovecraftian horror? Probably not. But in my mind the chorus, which repeats the phrase "out and out and out", sure as hell echoes Chapter 23 from Aleister Crowley's 'Book of Lies'.
What man is at ease in his Inn?
Wide is the world and cold.
Thou hast become an in-itiate.
But thou canst not get out by the way thou camest in. The Way out is THE WAY.
For OUT is Love and Wisdom and Power.
If thou hast T already, first get UT.
Then get O.
And so at last get OUT.
So, much like "Season of the Witch", any occult meaning "Shake a Fist" may contain is apparently unintentional. Admittedly, other than the chorus of "Hold On" ("I'm only going to heaven if it feels like hell, I'm only going to heaven if it tastes like caramel"), also from 'Made in the Dark' (the "dark"...hmmm), I haven't really noticed Hot Chip delving into the world of the supernatural much. Maybe I should listen closer to the lyrics when they drop their new record, 'Why Make Sense', on May 18th?
I literally just got out of the hospital and am in a pretty weird mood, so this week's Monday Magick pick is a little out of the ordinary. The tune, "Sorcerers" by KMD, is a laid back jazzy Hip-Hop joint featuring verses from metal-masked rap legend MF DOOM, Lil' Sci, and ID4Windz over one of DOOM's 'Special Herbs' instrumentals. I'm pretty sure the song was originally a loose one-off, but it's been released in a few different LP formats over the years.
Billed as a KMD song, the truth is "Sorcerers" is more like a collaboration between DOOM and Nuwaupian Hip-Hop crew Scienz of Life. KMD was of course DOOM's original project featuring himself (then recording under the name Zevlove X), his brother Subroc, and collaborator Onyx. Together they released the classic LP 'Mr. Hood' in 1991 and recorded the controversial 1994 LP 'Black Bastards' which Elektra Records famously refused to release and went unpublished for years. The group was known for its eccentric use of samples and their connection to Dwight York and his Ansaaru Allah Community (also known as the Nubian Islamic Hebrews, Holy Tabernacle Ministries, and the Nuwaubian Nation of Moors). When Subroc passed in a tragic auto accident and Elektra balked at released the group's sophomore LP Zevlove X went deep underground and transformed into MF DOOM. He reemerged just as eccentric, but far less devout. Yet and still, he's consistently dropped references to the spiritual teachings of York and has maintained a relationship with Nuwaupian Hip-Hop acts like Scienz of Life. So when collaborations between DOOM and members of Scienz of Life emerged it only made sense to associate the connection to the Nuwaubianism with his former group. I don't know if DOOM was really toying with the idea, or if it was just fans wishing, but it would make sense for DOOM, Lil' Sci, and ID4WINDZ to combine as a reformed KMD. I wouldn't have minded as their other collaborations, such as a Scienze of Life cut called "Yikes!", are pretty dope. "Sorcerers" itself is gloriously smooth thanks to a slick Blackbyrds sample and expert microphone magic courtesy of the the self0identified "rawest emcees that floss like Sorcerers". No, the tune isn't concerned with magick, or the occult, but the connection of all involved with the teachings of Dr. York, along with the titular allusion to sorcery, are enough to warrant an appearance here.
Sadly, nothing concrete ever came of the collaborations between DOOM, Sci, and ID4WINDZ, aside from a couple of loose cuts, and Sci (now operating under his John Robinson alias) rhyming over some DOOM beats. DOOM himself continues to record, despite living in veritable exile in the England, the land of his birth. Scienz of Life seems to have disbanded with it's members going in various directions, with John Robinson remaining active on the Hip-Hop scene.
This week Monday Magick makes a grandiose return with a tune from one of my favorite bands, and one with the potential to make repeat appearances here, Athens, Georgia Indie-Pop collective of Montreal. Essentially a project showcasing the songwriting and musicianship of Kevin Barnes with a rotating cast of supporting characters, the band has undergone several permutations. The tune in question, "Gronlandic Edit" from 2007's 'Hissing Fauna, Are the Destroyer?', came amidst a time of deep emotional upheaval on Barnes' part. The song surely alludes to that distress while also addressing several deeper concepts to which Barnes returns to repeatedly throughout his career.
In my mind those "deeper concepts" I mention are intrinsically illuminist in nature, making "Gronlandic Editt" a fine candidate for discussion in a Monday Magick post. Sure, Barnes is dealing with relationship issues stemming from his coupling with Nina Twin, the birth of their daughter Alabee Blonde, an ever evolving identity crisis that would play out over his next few albums, and chemical imbalance. But when he expresses a tortured desire to personally experience the divine while simultaneously slagging traditional religions and their adherents I can't help but hear someone reaching towards transcendental illumination. And when he goes on to describe a battle between the beauty of a personal religious experience brought down to Earth by the physics of the "real world" while also offering his assistance in breaking others out of the logogram cycle I hear someone who's already experienced transcendental illumination. But then in the finale he questions himself and his ability to enlighten others by allowing his fans to experience the beauty of illumination through the simple act of performing his own music. Hunchbacks and soldiers all over!
As I mentioned above, Barnes traverses similar territory on both previous and subsequent of Montreal albums and I may highlight those songs in the future. He's currently preparing the band's 13th studio LP 'Aureate Gloom', which already sounds fantastic, and is due out on Polyvinyl Records on March 3rd.
Stumbled across new music from UK Hip-Hop label High Focus the other day in the form of "Lord of the Light (Sun Riddim)" from young London based emcee Onoe Caponoe.
He's clearly on some tripped-out, drug-influenced, psychedelic shit and is likely to find favor with fans of the OFGKTA crew, and RATKING, not to mention with longtime listeners of Wu-Tang Clan, Madlib, The Pharcyde, and the Boot Camp Click.
His album, 'Voices From Planet Cattele', is available for purchase now at the High Focus Records website.
As a bonus, here's a video for "Disappearing Jakob" another one of the young chap's tunes.
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