Described as a “cult legend” by no less an authority than BBC 6Music’s Tom Robinson, Bristol-based singer-songwriter John E Vistic releases his new album Under The Volcano today via Deaf Endling Records. A dark, rumbling concoction of apocolyptic, bluesy doom-psych and venomous curled-lip punk rock, it draws as much inspiration from the words of W.B. Yeats, Ezra Pound and Malcolm Lowry (whose 1947 novel provides the title for the album) as it does from the music of Nick Cave, The Jesus and Mary Chain and The Stooges.
Under The Volcano wraps a fascinating, foreboding and many-layered labyrinth around the wastelands of modern life – we asked its creator to guide us through, track by track.
1. The Sublime Architecture of Death
Troy burns. The irony of human wishes. Hector’s corpse is dragged in dust. Ulysses sets sail: to strive to seek to find and not to yield. Forward unto death. All are united. Sublimity. Sing up! Death is coming.
A song inspired by Pound’s Cantos, Homer and Tennyson, and the irony of human wishes (cf. Dr. Johnson).
2. The King of Rock N Roll
Be a boss, now you’re an expert! Logo t-shirts and bumper stickers. Sell me something please! Everyone’s so cool. You’re so cool. Death is coming.
A song inspired by the cult of expertise. cf. also Ramones T-shirts on sale in M&S.
3. Psycho Death Cult
Homo Sapiens – the original psycho death cult. Fictional Entities. Emperors of Imagination. Join us! Colossus bestride thyself! Facts without feelings. Death is coming.
A song inspired by Harari’s ‘Sapiens’ (cf also song of the same title: ‘Sapiens’). Humanity is a Psycho Death Cult.
4. It’s Nature
Nature nurtures a riddle of ideologies and ideologues. To be free, enslave yourself! Darwin stalks the land of Determinism. Deny deny deny! The fault is with you! Death is coming.
A song inspired by the problem of freedom and determinism in a self help age.
Slouching Leviathan. Caliban the destroyer denies his own. Prospero burns the island. None but ourselves shall free our minds. Death is coming.
A rewriting of Yeats, TS Eliot and Shakespeare’s Tempest in a song.
6. I am the Shadow
To know the light is to know the darkness. Love is born from shadows. The storm breaks. Death is coming.
A love song.
7. Long Black Cloud
Drink none so hard, the darkness falls. There is no return to the womb. The streets are sound and fury. Sink down to the bottom. Drown. Death is coming.
A St.Pauls drinking song about living among crackheads, junkies and prostitutes in the age of the War on Terror.
8. Heart in Danger
Choose what side you will. Reason, the slave of passions. Death is coming.
A song about how despite the many protestations of the rational mind, our choices are made by emotions (cf. Daniel Kahnemann).
9. The Moronic Inferno
On the island full of noise, the sound of singing. Under the Volcano. Gin and knives beneath the burning sky. Pen or Rope choose your own victory. Death is coming.
A song inspired by a strong misreading of Malcolm Lowry’s apocalyptic novel of love – Under the Volcano (cf. also Martin Amis).
10. All Animals Again
Luxuries beset in a silver seal of righteousness. Choose More! Choose Now! Choose Life! Death is coming.
A song written during the tribalism and manic social distortions of the Brexit debate.
11. Rattlesnake (Die Die Die)
Uneasy is the crown. Who would be King. Crawl King Snake Crawl! Death is coming.
A song about killing your heroes. All of them.
These poor dreams we shore up against our ruin. To each his own, his own is all. To be happy is to know the end. Vanitas Vanitatum et omnia vanitas. Death is coming.
(As above) A song inspired by Harari’s ideas on Fictional Entitities. Humans are good at self deception and delusion.
Catch John E Vistic live at the following shows:
8th October: Club Loko, Bristol with David Ryder Prangley and Miss Kill
14th October: Nambucca, London with David Ryder Prangley
Find out more at John E Vistic’s official website
Introduction by Paul Maps