The Cosmic Dead – The Exalted King
The Cosmic Dead were one of a few bands which, along with The Janitors and [sic] favourites Dead Sea Apes, originally inspired label boss Dave Cambridge to found Cardinal Fuzz with the express idea to release their stuff. First released on Dub Ditch Picnic and then again Cosmic Eye in 2013, The Exalted King was the Glasgow four-piece’s follow-up to their incredible 2011 heavy-psych debut. More patient and hypnotic than that S/T release, The Exalted King was in turn trippier too.
Now being re-released via Cardinal Fuzz and Sky Lantern Records, The Exalted King totals 75 minutes this time around and 34 of these are taken by the massive and pretty special opening title track. Digging deeper and deeper into warped riffs, meditative pulses circle the immense drain of some distant black hole, Julian Dicken’s ritualistic drumming burrowing further into the transcendental conscious. The guitars get hotter and hotter until they go full supernova, spacey FX distorting the very fabric of time and space. Suddenly you’re in the wormhole, careering along at infinite speed as all perception of reality bends and folds around you, tempo and intensity ebbing and flowing as you’re eventually spat out into some weightless netherworld built more on groove than gravity. Paranoia slowly creeps in; you’re not alone. Intelligent cloud-life then gathers where the horizon ought to be, the track winding up for an inevitable collision that ends instead by sucking on the exhausts of the interstellar peace-pipe. Soundtrack this cut alone in a planetarium with a decent laser show and you’d pay good money to experience it time and again.
Given the unenviable task of following on, “Anatta” initially takes the foot of the warp-speed pedal, forming in layers as if under production from a 3D printer, reverent ambience becoming experimental drone and then oppressive kosmiche. Everything is treated to so much reverb (James T. McKay’s all-encompassing wah, what’s left of Omar Aborida‘s irradiated vocal) that it shimmers too, convulsing as if coming alive. Not on the original release, but here present nonetheless, “Khartoum” – perhaps unsurprisingly – conjures the pungent aromas of the souk via Lewis Cook’s miasmatic synth work, snake charmers and khat-based migraine-drones interweaving as zealots call aloud from every soap box in the vicinity. It’s disorientating stuff, but not as much as the closing 20 minutes of “Anaphora” are. Introduced by a lengthy period of disembodied vocal chatter, cosmic FX and fragments of guitar melody frequently interrupt bass-line throbs and jazzy improv. The whole then swells latterly to a heavy-psych mass in which the internal G-forces cause your head to feel like lead before settling in for some horizontal space-rock zoning that ultimately fades out into pure ambience. You may spin side-A more than you do B, but give them equal attention and you may find one is the ideal tonic to the other’s heady effervescence.
~The Exalted King is re-released on double-LP gatefold 3rd April 2017 via the collaborative efforts of Cardinal Fuzz and Sky Lantern Records. It is limited to 557 copies.~