Anyone up for a 9-minute song about the highs and lows of, umm, highs and lows and sex and worshipping the ancient Gods and sex and drugs and Chthulu and sex and taking even more drugs? I knew I could count on you, you bunch of freaky animals. Just gather your flour-covered cowboy hat and duster jacket, saddle up your favourite hell bound steed and I’ll meet you outside. The in-flight entertainment will be provided by Fields of the Nephilim Psychonaut, a track so good and so Goddamned gothic that they refused to put it on an album, or trim it down to a more manageable size*, still that was 1989 for you.
I used to really like Fields of the Nephilim a lot without ever having heard a note of theirs, I just loved their image – a bunch of whacked-out trail riders who’d been out on the plains for far, far too long and gone native; think about some of the half-demented supporting characters in Once Upon a Time in the West . Their matted hair, twiddly leather thong medallions and the way they covered themselves in flour to obtain that dusty look on stage … who needed any actual music? I only got exploring later on and what I found was a raucous and unskilled debut, the Psychonaut 12″ and afterwards their astonishing almost completely secret classic third LP, Elizium – which I’ll tell you about one day**.
Lead Field, Carl McCoy had a deep manly baritone that defied belief, at full tilt he sounded like a man wrestling with his conscience, a glass of whiskey and a revolver on the very night that the devil was coming to sear his immortal soul from his unworthy body. True story. I imagine he’d sound like that on the phone to his mum, or reading a lullaby to a small child. Think Johnny Cash x2 but with a less easy conscience. I suspect the word ‘stentorian’ was reverse-engineered especially for him.
Psychonaut is great. After a chunk of Hammer Horror-style organ effects and recitation of loads of portentous mysticism, it explodes into action around the 4-minute mark with a bass line that’s uncannily like Pink Floyd’s ‘Run Like Hell’, which is a very good thing, obvs. This gives the track an almost dancey feel, albeit one cut through with guitar snarls. We get carried along through McCoy’s various magick invocations, which if you’re not in the mood are just plain daft and pretentious. I was in the mood tonight and thoroughly enjoyed the drama of it all.
Let us gather hallucinations from our private minds
Let us witness the reincarnation of the sun
Xi dingir anna kanpa xi dingir kia kanpa
May the mountains shake you to the core
Rock on. The B-side is an exclusive track, ‘Celebrate (Second Seal)’, the original being on the second Fields of the Nephilim LP^. The original sounds like Johnny Cash singing into the eye of a raging storm, this version has all that plus some bonus atmospherics and a bit of a jig, comparatively speaking, at the end. I must have listened to this before, but couldn’t remember it at all. I think it’s great, particularly the line,
This moment’s all you have it there
This moment hangs like your ragged hair
Unfortunately I think the cover and artwork for Psychonaut is absolute pants, sort of a splodgey, purple mess – not good enough. Strikes me that they could have done with a suitably mind-expanding, yet gloomily Gothic but ultimately transcendent cover. Luckily for Fields Of The Nephilim the 1537 Cover Redesign Services are here in full effect! Now I ask myself what could be more mind-expanding but ultimately transcendent than a hot chick?
Some might argue that my final design is perhaps lacking in the gravitas and doomy mysticism to complement the song, to which I listen carefully, as we here at 1537 value any and all feedback and say, ‘Fuck you, this is my gig and if it was good enough for Warrant, Legs Diamond and other large-haired 80’s sexists, then it’s good enough for the Fields Of The Nephilim; anyway its my cover that’s the important thing here’.
The rest is silence.
*although they seem to have done so, later on – there is a 4-minute version around somewhere but that’s not out-there-Gothic enough for me.
**no, I will.
^the one I’m trying not to talk myself into buying right now!