Sir Richard Bishop - The Freak of Araby Eric Nielsen 4.24.9
Not for the faint of heart, The Freak of Araby battles me into a listen and compels me to head bang in a middle eastern style. All of our fucking wars in the middle east have brought some of that culture home. Blood-Stained Sands gets me to some intense desert world of creatures, seances under full moons and wicked, red skies. Super hardcore, blazing fire pits surrounded by dancers while others are sacrificing/severing an animal in the dark ritual. It's a rich seven and a half minutes of other-worldly power, opening doors to dimensions unseen, charming snakes and souls. A break down of inhibitions, a chakra shaker.
Sir Richard performed at The Che recently, opening for Tara Jane O'Neil, and I was aghast at the audacity of his solo guitar playing. It was mostly blues/troubadour with an outlandish over the top approach to the guitar of a million notes a second with some kind of singing that I didn't connect with. After the show, I was able to talk to him some, get an angle inside of what was going on in that guitar processing head space, and he's actually a mellow cat, opposite of his all or nothing guitar. Prior to my listen of his new disc, The Freak of Araby (Django reference from a Django freak), a surprise is what I was looking for. Something special that blows away anything I'd imagined, or so different that it strikes my brain in a memorable way. And, The Freak doesn't deny this desire as a relentless guitar dominates this disc. The frequencies of the guitar are often brittle and sharp like breaking pieces of glass stuffed inside my ears. They ride high over the background drums and bells. Of course the manic guitars are all over almost every song, especially Kaddak El Mayass, but there is some great dialing down and dynamics throughout.
I love his Sun City Girls stuff and that vibe resides in small cracks and in between sounds, in ambient bowed instruments and super drums, shakers, and bells. All of the instruments are definitely set to spotlight his over the top guitar majesty (even though the best track on the disc is the last one Blood-Stained Sands that has no guitars on it). He's a super freak collector of the occult (check out his DVD God Damn Religion), maker of seemingly infinite numbers of records, and a seeker of the east (he's half Lebanese). This group of songs demands a live band and is best listened to loud. At it's best the disc is a head-cocking realization of the power of music. A fucking freak show ready to initiate me into sounds I've not yet heard, frequencies not yet burned. Be prepared, be aware, beware, bye bye. Need a trip without a toke? Try it. It's a ride up through to the third eye.
Check him out live at Bar Pink May 31st.