Bobby Conn & the Glass Gypsies
he previous album from the PostRock Gino Vanelli (of no higher praise can I conceive) functioned as, among other things, a meditation on power relations. This time the power is seen from the outside. Power being the ability to define reality and thus defining falsity, the more paranoid somebody appears to be the more correct their understanding of power is. Perhaps power is not the sole determinant of human behaviour, but titles here include “Homeland” and “We’re Taking Over the World” so that’s the object under consideration here. To the degree that it is also the subject is the degree to which it fails.
For which I blame producer John McEntire. Jim O’Rourke just got a better sound on The Golden Age which made it seem more focused. For example, on the poodle-rocker “Style I Need” they could’ve done without those Polymoog sounds, although those allude to Parliament’s “Fantasy is Reality” so the pyramidal cover makes this BC’s America Eats its Young. Then again the guitars are those superdistorted digital Daft Punk ones, so it makes up for it. Eclecticism is always a risky approach, if less so when the overall effect is Magma fronted by Phil Ochs, but I still miss the dysfunctional coke-sex ballads.
Perhaps preferring sensationalistic debauchery to meditations on global injustice indicates a defect in my own character (like, what do I know about power when I don’t even have an identity, plus I’m not the Antichrist like Bobby so there are secrets that will never be revealed to me) but songs like “Angels” and “Pumper” conveyed impressions of a unique and ambiguous nature while dissections of Imperium aren’t telling me anything I didn’t already know, at least before the unfortunate incident after which I needed ‘relaxation’. Which I think was the End of History, but had I heeded the eternal serpent of Saqqara (“immortality is a pearl of great price”) I would’ve known that already. This is End-of-History stuff after all! Conn once claimed to be the Antichrist and the only way to verify this claim is to get McEntire to produce the Rapture and stickering the CD “Caution: Listener May Disappear at any Moment To Join the 144,000 Granted Eternal Afterlife”.
Are you one of those? (“I didn’t need to get elected/ I was selected” – “Relax”, one of the two songs here sharing titles with 80s romantic ballads. The other is “Home Sweet Home”, a piano elegy with an excellent vocal that sounds like somebody trying to avoid the draft while being kicked in the groin.) I had this album playing when the Jehovah Witnesses came by and it really put me in a mood to talk to them! They asked me if there was ever going to be world peace (makes a change from “Buy carpet please?”) and I said “no”. Then they showed me this bit in the Bible saying how there would be world peace once God eliminated all the bad people and I said “Cool, we’re all gonna die! About time”, and even though the elevator is broken and it was fuckin’ hurricane conditions outside they didn’t even come in for a cup of tea. Yeah ‘tea’, I live in London so I’m constantly informing people that American music sounds the way it does because over there Pink Floyd’s Wall is considered the apex of concept-album acuity. Homeland is like that record’s Side 4, in that it works as a rendering of the objective-correlative of the central conceit but I just liked Side 3 better, maybe because it was more oppressively monotonous.
Homeland is not monotonous, but (sonically at least) it seems more diffuse than necessary and unfortunately the Battlefield Earth-budgeted film it needs to do it justice will never get out of development hell as everyone connected with the production is falling prey to mysterious accidents or being sent to pyramid-shaped internment centres where they develop amnesia. Fortunately there will still be the live show, and I hope the bass solos get brought back! Also I can’t wait to see the crowd reaction to the line “If you’re willing to die for what you believe/ then we’re willing to kill you all”, which recaptures Golden Age’s poignantly confused cruelty, especially in these times when using an airport is such a FUCKING ordeal just because some people haven’t contemplated the nature of free will to the extent that Bobby Conn has. In fact, when he claims to be “a Mason, 33rd degree/ tenth generation Illuminati”, I hope he’s telling the truth and if he’s baiting them then they should just leave him the fuck alone.
Reviewed by: Dave Queen
Reviewed on: 2004-01-12