Altar is a self-published book, collecting all 8 paintings from the project, together with automatic drawings, found photographs and texts that I felt evoked the mood of the album. Released in 2006, this collaboration between the Japanese art-rock band Boris and American doom metal veterans SunnO))) surprised many with its levels of experimentation, somewhat unexpected from the people involved who up to that point, had predominantly worked in various shades of drone. There is some of that on there, of course, and some thunderous multi-guitar crescendos of howling feedback, but there’s also long stretches of almost ambient textures and even a proper song – ‘The Sinking Belle’ – with vocals by Jesse Sykes, all of which adds up to make it one of the best rock albums of recent times. Inspired by the results, and emboldened by my new-found confidence in painting, I started out in 2010 to create a painting for each of the 7 tracks on the double album, plus a final painting called simply ‘Altar’. Once I’d finished the paintings, which took only a couple of months, and knowing I would never ever in a million years get any gallery interest, I decided to publish them in book form via the on-demand service Lulu. Here’s a taster of the contents:
Overall, the project satisfied my lifelong inclination to meld rock music with art, comix, film and writing. I see it all as one big psychedelic vortex into which we must leap in order to experience the universe at full volume.
The book is still available for £7.00 & postage. Order your copy here.
This dates back to around 2007-8. I’d been approached by several t-shirt peddlers over the years, some of whom had completely ripped me off by using artwork without permission or not paying me for work produced. Shysters and shitheads, the lot of ’em, so I considered doing my own ‘line’ of decorated garments. I’d been convinced by the argument of Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth that for the working classes pop culture was their art gallery, as opposed to the white cube mausoleums of the high art brigade, and believed if I could get my art onto people’s chests and bedroom walls, that would be a more realistic ambition to aim for than getting paintings begrudgingly hung in some Hoxton snob hovel. This drawing was the first of several planned, but something happened along the way. It’s not too late though, and it’s not hard to imagine this on the chest of an urban surf poseur.
I drew in 1999 this for The Sound Projector, accompanying my review of Masonna’s album Ejaculation Generater. The next time your neighbour is having a barbeque and polluting the local environment with crap music, your weapon of choice for retaliation has to be Masonna. I guarantee victory through superior firepower.
Masonna – Beast
This unpublished illustration dates back to around 2005-6, and comes off the back of the Saturn In Retrograde project. One of the two articles I wrote for the book was ‘Requiem For Lucifer‘, covering the life and crimes of Robert ‘Bobby’ Beausoleil, one-time member of the band that would be Love, star of Kenneth Anger’s Invocation Of My Demon Brother and associate of Charles Manson and his ‘Family’. It seems many people who would rather you know otherwise had unsavoury dealings with Manson, but very few were ever associated with actual murder. Beausoleil was, and has been in prison ever since, and I suspect it’s because of that association he will never receive parole.
Hah! This one still makes me laugh. Drawn around 1999-2000, it was to be the cover for a proposed comics zine where all the strips would be unintelligible, written in either Japanese kanji or invented languages. I intended to make the point that comics, which at that time were in serious decline, though there’s been something of a renaissance in the medium’s fortune since, didn’t have to make sense or have anything like a coherent story or well-crafted dialogue, as long as there was guns and tits and monsters and things blowing up (which seems to accurately describe most of today’s films). It was supposed to be a punkadelic pop art explosion of informed stupidity, taking in everything – Alfred Jarry, Dada, Burroughs/Gysin, Malcolm McLaren, Baudrillard, Ballard – and throwing in plenty of ‘low’ cultural motifs – underground comix, straight-to-video action films, pornography, punk rock – to demolish any high-brow pretensions. I did half-finish a few strips and it all seemed to be going well, but I think it dawned on me that self-publishing a comics zine for a deliberately limited audience wasn’t a good use of my time and money. Those strips are now all lost and the original art for this illustration was given away. It’s worth pondering on the fact that what was once an ‘outrageous’ image could now be seen in any number of pop videos today. “Nothing’s shocking.”
This is one of the many illustrations I did for the book Saturn In Retrograde. This goes back to 2005 when editor Martin (Bedabbled!) Jones was bringing together a collection of true crime articles discussing events famous, infamous and otherwise from the peak-freak era 1965-1975. For each chapter I produced a ‘title image’ designed to look like a real psychedelic rock poster of the kind you might have found in a Haight-Ashbury headshop back in the day. This chapter – written by me and novella-like in length – discussed the case of Bobby Beausoleil and his associations with the Manson Family, sprawling out to encompass the Zodiac murders and just about everything else that was weird in California in the late 1960’s… and there was a lot of it going about. Beausoleil was known throughout the L.A. and San Frinscisco scenes as an up & comer, having briefly been a member of Arthur Lee’s pre-Love band Grass Roots, and later performed with Orkustra. It could have all been so different, but getting mixed up with Kenneth Anger and then the wild scene surrounding Charles Manson and his ‘family’ led to mayhem, murder and life in prison. It’s a hell of a story, and one I hope to get published in some form someday.
Bobby Beausoleil with The Magick Powerhouse of Oz – Lucifer Rising (I)
Between 2005-7 I worked with Martin (Bedabbled!) Jones on Saturn In Retrograde, a true crime anthology of articles about crimes infamous and otherwise from the era of peak-freak that occurred between the mid-1960’s to mid-1970’s. It’s a chunk of space-time that has long fascinated Martin and myself, both having been born in the midst of all that craziness and both having grown up with the nagging sense that we’d been born too late and had missed out on something important. In terms of subject matter we were spoilt for choice, but the final selection was narrowed down to the likes of The Manson Family (obviously), Altamont, Zodiac, Herbert Mullin, Magdalena Solis, Wayne Boden, Charles Sobraj, Bible John, Gary Krist, and Patrick Mackay. Writers around the world were approached, and several rose to the challenge, leaving Martin to write three of the chapters and myself to write two – ‘Requiem For Lucifer’ (Bobby Beausoleil, The Manson Family & Zodiac) and ‘The End Of Nothing’ (The Hell’s Angels, The Rolling Stones & Altamont). I also illustrated the book, producing a full-colour cover and, for each chapter, a full-page title illustration intended to look like a psychedelic rock poster from the late 60’s. The book was finished in 2007, submitted to a publisher , and has never seen the light of day. That situation needs to be addressed, but in the meantime, I will feature all the artwork here over the next few weeks/months.