I clap my hands together and thrust them into the air. “FORGIVE ME DADDY FOR I HAVE SINNED!” Twice? Thrice? How many times did I deny you in the land of the poptimist? But it’s to you whom I must make this confession: I am a guitar bro. A relative square among the buy-ins who usurped the dropouts. There’s no longer any point in denying it. For all the rapture I’ve had from the pantheon of pop and its apocalyptic tendencies, for every body from which I’ve been liberated by the grunt of a synth, I was seared and branded at birth by the guitar. Not that it isn’t without its own trials; how much guitar music is juuust dreadful? Every week a new batch of hopeful Strokesalikes. In the decades since Gibson and Les Paul began, the evidence has mounted that a once-revolutionary instrument has been garroted by its own strings, the last drip of imagination rung from the frets. But isn’t it all the more rewarding when you find new life on the killing fields?
Lord, forgive me. You, who I’m speaking to, please forgive me. Baby I was born this way. I love it all. Throw me in the tropes and watch me wallow, but let’s give a thought to some traditions: is the guitar really phallic, or could it just as much evoke those star-pointed nipples Geoffrey O’Connor avowed a few months back? Is cock-rock not just a submission to the all-consuming sexuality of most folks, the great equalizing shibboleth of libido? Up close you can’t tell one gender’s tongue from another and by now we all know a seductive lick up the neck of a guitar makes no such distinction, scuttling down the spine and firebombing every e-zone between here and the lascivious there. Here’s some homework: next time you’re getting off don’t just stare at it, stare within it, all the way up inside the darkness until you meet your authentic, atavistic self. And tell ‘em jakec sent you. There’s no better opportunity to examine your most fundamental beliefs than when in the throes of something so steeped in the heteronormative. And you can figure out if I mean rock or sex for yourselves.
L-O-V-E, you ain’t got no better reason to be. Black Moon Spell isn’t a love letter to rock, that’s far too subtle. It’s a napalm spray ejaculated on the jungles of the heart in bright blazing letters. Incendiary. Cliche? Rock is cliche. Let’s have no pretense. The 14 year olds in the YouTube comments aren’t bothered by ‘em, although one wonders if shoving this into their wart-stubbed claws might shut them up for a minute about how the music died with John Bonham. After the burnout buffet that was King Tuff, heaping rebellion with ‘Baby Just Break’ and erotic shame with ‘Bad Thing’, Tuffy comes back two years later to reaffirm one thing: there’s no better friend than music.
I’ve got this idea long percolating that Boston’s ‘More Than A Feeling’ is the perfect song. No other song has captured more precisely the teleportational power of music, to remove one from their suffering and take on the shape of whatever one needs to ease that suffering upon returning to the world. But heed Black Moon Spell as it plays a similar tune. Where others deploy music as the medium, here the music seems inextricable from any experience he’s singing about. It’s music about living with music which gives life. On ‘Headbanger’ it’s bonding with another over music taste. On ‘Black Holes in Stereo’ it’s using music taste to supplant bonding with another. That second one lays out the teleportation real obviouly, in which the record on your turntable is a magic circle which becomes a wormhole to wherever you wanna be and all you gotta do is go. Gotta give it to Daryl Somers, that slogan left a lasting impression. Tuff subverts the popular fantasy that music came from on high and instead imagines it as an alien artefact — just as otherworldly, but then still the product of civilisation such that maybe we could produce something as apparently miraculous (which just reaffirms the triumph of music as an invention of humanity.) A chance encounter with a 45 gave him a way off the beaten track, and as so often happens with us, he never once looked back. Then to close out there’s ‘Eddie’s Song’, nodding towards ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ to remember a friend who’d split for the beyond while he keeps on singin’ his song. “Forever young / But forever’s not very long.” Don’t I know it.
But what about all these other songs? What, you think ‘Beautiful Thing’ is about some corporeal cutie pie? You think ‘I Love You Ugly’ is about an unconventional beauty? You think ‘Sick Mind’ is about a soulmate in derangement? IT’S ABOUT MUSIC! Sure on the surface ‘Magic Mirror’ might be about a psychedelic trip but peel back the skin and that swirling miasma is in fact the indescribable nebula of your musical dreamscape. Which reminds me, high on acid and ecstasy last year I thought I’d unlocked the key to this idea of music as divine; I could see ancient civilisations given the rudiments of how to invoke such incalculable concepts as thought and feeling, passing these keycodes to the full expanse of humanity down through oral tradition until it was just accepted knowledge that certain chord progressions and beat patterns were how music was best made. Finally, an explanation for why some of the greatest songs in history shared all or at least some of these elements! Lucid, though, I stake my claim that any such theories deny the thousands of years of development it took humankind to get to this point in rhythm and melody, in which Black Moon Spell, for as regressive as it might seem,represents another glorious break in the rumbling, unstoppable tide.
I snap back to reality. 2014. Whose record am I most eagerly waiting for, yapping and falling over myself at any hint of its appearance like a dog to the footsteps of the postie? Bonnie McKee’s. All dichotomies proven false. A playing field levelled. Edenic, except the only ribs pulled and torn are from the fear of being divorced from anything as sublime as this, and we all come from and for the same thing: eternal paradise basking in the radiance of it and those like it. Whether you ship the guitar or not I invite anyone who’s begun to doubt their faith in the unfathomable power of music to lie down with Black Moon Spell and reaffirm whatever it was that brought you here in the first place. It’s torrid, being in love with music, but one thing you must never, ever question is its omnipotence. Dancing with imagination, it defies physics, at once exactly what you need and the realm in which it’s housed. An auspicious burden to place on a single record, maybe, but I have no doubt Black Moon Spell is up to it.