Voodoo Rhythm reprises Roy and the Devil's Motorcycle's noisy birth
Good Morning Blues – Roy and the Devil’s Motorcycle (Voodoo Rhythm)
In case you never noticed, this place often celebrates the weird and non-conformist end of the rock and roll spectrum, and it doesn’t come much stranger than Swiss band Roy and the Devil’s Motorcycle.
Resident on the Voodoo Rhythm label (“Music to Ruin Any Party”) since it first released this, their debut 10-inch mini-album, back in 1996, its mix of bass-less, guitar distort-skronk and megaphonic vocals sounded fucked up then and sounds fucked up today.
It’s worth adding context: “Good Morning Blues” was unleashed on a world full of techno and the Real Rock and Roll landscape was a wasteland. Major labels still roamed what a musical Jurassic Park, looking for underground bands from which they could extract blood and turn into mainstream melange. A dead dog’s scrotum had more chance of being signed than Roy and the Devil’s Motorcycle.
The label calls Roy and the Devil’s Motorcycle “notorious psychedelic punk” but you might come up with a descriptor of your own. The band are unabashed fans of Spacemen 3 and you can draw a direct line back to the warped sounds of the UK underground sound circa 1969, typified by The Deviants.
“Candy Train” is an elongated sprawl of distorted guitars and barely discernible distant vocals that collapses in a pile of backward masking and sirens. “Lay in the Sun” is a Fuggs cover (how many ‘90s bands can you name that covered the Fuggs? Answer: none) that apes that the shambolic sound we thought they’d patented.
At one stage you can the sound being peppered by conga drums and sax as a passage of music melts and oozes towards its finish. Just when you pigeonhole Roy and the Devil’s Motorcycle as Sun Ra’s six-stringed cousins, they wheel out an old blues cover, “Trying to get to You”, pared back and struggling for air among a cacophony of taped seashore noises.
Is “Intro” the second-to-last “song”? By now it’s a blur with each cut blurring into the next. It sounds like it was recorded at extreme in-the-red level into a telephone and taped at the other end. Which it apparently was. “Six Feet off the Ground” sounds like it's trying to tip somneone over the edge and send them to rehab.
Is this perverse listening pleasure or nails-on-a-blackboard indulgence? “Good Morning Blues” swings from one to the other. Consider playing it at 4am when you’re desperate to get the last guests to leave.