(And did the singer say, “I sometimes eat snowballs” or “I just pruned my body”? He* can’t have. Well, he might… it’s that sort of record).
This is a weird, weird record, but good! Milk and Morphine are a duo called Chay Sauvage and Orang Goreng – which is Rock enough in my books - and in making this LP, these two prove themselves to be in touch with the sort of cross continental wizardry that informed Nico, Klaus Schultze, Malcolm Mooney, Alan Vega, Takashi Mizutani, and John Cale. I’m not invoking these names lightly. For all its incredible camp and, (frankly), shoddy bedsit glory, it’s a giddy and psychically charged release. It’s also, for all its High Hippie styling, pretty remarkable: full of the high pressure weirdness and remove of Ruth White or Vampyros Lesbos, or even the stand-off menace of Memo to Turner. It’s obvious the band can’t – for a whole host of Magicke reasons – get out of the house.
Can I Carve My Name in Your Face? starts off with Running, a pleasingly stoned track that doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary apart from sounding very droney and off its head. Things start to get much weirder from now on, however. The voice on the folksy Milk and Morphine sounds incredibly sinister – you can imagine them all hanging out in some renovated tower block surrounded by test tubes and theodolites, reading passages of The Prophet to each other. It’s that kind of cocooned feel we’re dealing with. Hobohemia is another strange and totally psyched-out mix of utterly inappropriate instruments (banjo for God’s sake) and a highly camp Vedic address, pitched somewhere between John Lydon and Mahatma Gandhi. (And did the singer say, “I sometimes eat snowballs” or “I just pruned my body”? He* can’t have. Well, he might*… it’s that sort of record).
There’s no let up, I warn you: Desert Sand is a Theremin-drenched, Kafka-esque tale of alienation, though Franz K will be wearing lippy & mascara, without a doubt. Then we get Do You Like Me? (note, like, not love – I think this is very significant, we’re talking about these lads* getting enough courage to leave their ivory towers to buy bread here)… Anyway, Do You Like Me? is a web of pedal-drenched semi acoustic guitars and a ridiculously Gothicke address. It starts to get harder, too: Hey You and Turn Your Face dissolve into absinthe/acid-soaked atonal fade outs and No Note is an angry snarl – albeit at their trademark 5mph pace - the vox sound like Ivor Cutler’s younger, madder brother too. The last track Druglord Cowboy tries channelling Nick Cave but gives up and becomes an incredibly focussed psychic stumble replete with some paranoid yelling and drug exhortations.
A remarkable, remarkable record, and truly off its tits: I love it.
*Chay Sauvage is, (actually), a woman. Chay, sorry, yes we really, really should have known. So a smack in the chops for this correspondent winging it is in order. But the vox DO sound like "a highly camp Vedic address, pitched somewhere between John Lydon and Mahatma Gandhi." By that we stand.