21st Century ‘indie’ labels increasingly make feeble assaults on the mainstream by being brattish digital marketers, hawking opaque, hollow copies of the dregs of whatever retro-Spotify playlists they think will give them the best Google analytics that month. So it is refreshing that we have Rocket Recordings – a truly independent label on a simple mission to bore a hole through our collective craniums by bringing the most experimental, expansive slabs of unique music from around the world. You’ll probably know them from Goat, the be-masked Swedish voodoo freaks (or collective of astute musicians having an almighty laugh at the Music Industry) who took Funkadelica as a starting point and took it off into the shamanic psychedelic dance beast which can be seen at festivals across the globe.
And invariably their releases are as much earworms as they are statements of art. Here, on these three lovingly presented EPs (all in black and white, maze sleeve designs with printed cards in the inlay) they showcase that quality control by introducing three distinct bands who, in equal measure, make your hair stand up and empty your bowels to a blizzard of aural delights. Sound good? Of course it does.
First up we have Capra Informis, which apparently means ‘shapeless Goat’ – four songs made by Goat’s djembe player. But before you imagine an awkward night at a vegan drum circle watching lonely spinsters dancing around raffia mats, it is worth noting that this is a) not just some man beating a drum b) as dark as fuck. It is more like a late night Goat getting into a groove, soundtracking Angel Heart or a new series of Twin Peaks. And there is something distinctly ‘black lodge’ about I Darkness, You Fire with exactly that chanted, buried under hypnotic beats and near-subconscious teeth-gnashing guitar. Elsewhere, when the djembe comes out it’s far too cool to be Fair Trade, with the opulent vintage organs and ‘60s bass lines on the likes of Cold and High. You can half imagine Jimmy Page passed out on their studio floor, dressed like a druid.
Mamuthones are Italian space cadets and synth obsessives. Apparently, their name is taken from death-marked ghouls who haunted the minds of Sardinians at carnivals. But their take on Symphony For the Devil sounds more like the ghost of LCD Soundsystem or Can, taking Richards’ and Jagger’s swaggering epic into a neon-mellow rave of kraut-metronomes and hissing, backward guitar loops. They take the cross-over of New York loft party hipness and white noise-guitar on Any Longer as it implodes in slogans and shrieks of wah-wah, as if they’ve just come up on peyote and have forgotten how to lift their feet. On the other side it broads more down dark moog alleys, coming close to the genius of John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13.
On the other hand, Oneida would be the man at the party, who dismissed your entire record collection as irrelevant and started ranting about the latest Slavoj Žižek documentary. That’s not to say they’re bores, it is just that these veteran Brooklynites don’t just want to take their music to the edges, they want it to mean something. So they’ve used this EP to largely introduce two of their influences, This Heat and Chrome. Covering the former with S.P.Q.R , they say it might be ‘about imperialism and socio-political give-an- take but..it’s a juicer reading on interpersonal hegemony’. What that means is an intense side of instrumental, bass heavy psych as they mash it into their own, Under Whose Sword and hammer it out like a philosopher with amnesia trying to rediscover the meaning of truth. While in their take of All Data Lost, you genuinely feel like someone is reprogramming your brain and you might end up on a roof top, preparing to assassinate your local MP.
My advice would to buy the lot and then try listening to Tame Impala without the first word of their name, screaming in your beautifully altered heads.