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Low Culture

TQ Sound & Vision Subscribers To Get Joint JK Flesh & GNOD EP
John Doran , December 17th, 2020 09:03

The Winter Solstice Session is here with bastions of the underground Justin Broadrick and GNOD working together for the first time and this is pretty much a definition of a dream come true for John Doran

The JK Flesh vs GNOD EP goes out exclusively to Sound + Vision subscribers; to find out more click here

Now that I’ve had to pretty much permanently banish myself from tQHQ - I’m living in Wiltshire with my immediate family and an elderly, sheltering mother while remaining unable to drive - I’m struggling to imagine a time where I’ll ever return to our office to work. But absence makes the heart grow fonder and the brain grow softer.

Every time I think of all the London offices we’ve shared - and the word office is being pushed way past breaking point in some of these instances - my primary memory is now of laughter. Some of it joyful; some chemical and maniacal; some of it to the point of tears of hilarity; some in order to avert another kind of lachrymal incident; some perhaps quite unhealthy, like sets of wind up joke shop chattering teeth, clacking about along the edge of an abyssal cliff top before pinging off senselessly into the fathomless gulch below.

But there has been much laughter nonetheless and this is key to the Quietus aesthetic for better or worse and not just the feckless stupidity some no doubt see it as.

Luke and I have long since been engaged in a battle to make each other laugh with outlandish ideas if only to distract ourselves from terrifying technical misfires that happen to the creaking zeppelin of the Quietus behind the scene on a weekly basis, the threat of legal action, looming VAT bills, the shrinking of our ad revenue by 95% in an 18 month period and so on. But to be deadly serious, it’s long since been a creative strategy for us.

Once we stop chortling like custard cream scoffing pantry boys, usually one of us says, ‘Hang on a second…’ Whether it is inventing the UK DIY scene supporting New Weird Britain concept simply because we wanted Noel Gardner to write a column with a ridiculous title (“Noel’s Foul House”) to presenting an entire Easter Monday’s worth of content dedicated to Billy Childish (“The Billy Holiday”), this is essentially our version of The Oblique Strategy card.

So, I’m going to just get it off my chest quickly: initially the idea for this Winter Solstice Session EP only came about because the name GNODflesh cracked me up. But (as the more fleet-minded reading this have already realised) it’s not actually that funny if you haven’t just drank a litre of coffee and had half a Modafinil. But that’s OK, because the idea of bringing these two titanic musical units together is a seriously good one, no matter which buffoon stumbled on it by accident.

I’ve long been a huge fan of the work of Justin K Broadrick. Thanks to John Peel in the mid-80s, I was an early adopter when it came to Napalm Death, to the extent I was a callow but freshly radicalised schoolboy treading gingerly along the interzone between fandom, bravado and endurance. Just a couple of years later, now fully and actually engaged, I was lucky enough to see Godflesh play with Loop and to witness Head Of David at the astounding Reading Festival of 1989. And those records… I’m sure no one reading this needs to be reminded how good Streetcleaner is for example.

But I’m no golden ager: one of the best things about my first 15 years of being a music writer was the ease of which I could go and watch a band or two every single night, without having to worry about the cost, so I got to witness up close Broadrick’s determination to keep on evolving and pushing forwards at any cost.

Out of all of his projects, including the reactivated industrial collagism of Final, the melancholic shoegaze of Jesu and the grinding no wave of Greymachine, I’d say definitely that I’ve enjoyed his crushing beats, dread bass and caustic guitar action as JK Flesh the most live.

GNOD occupy a similar space in my soul, no matter what ostensible change in direction they take, everything is underpinned by a quest for transcendence, an appreciation of the dynamic use of bass, how electronics and guitars can be combined in meaningful ways, the freedom to be found in hypnotic rhythms. It feels like both units stand on a continuum that inculcates an appreciation of a truer sense of psychedelia; and that doesn’t mean Urban Outfitter psych. It’s not some deodorised lifestyle soundtrack peddled by a trad rock band in hipster kaftans with a double necked guitar bought from eBay but an overwhelming and sublime force with the power to change your perception.

That they have both agreed to do this and turned in such an affecting sonic document really means a great deal to me - it’s no laughing matter at all. I hope it hits you in the brain and in the heart and in the soul in with the same force as it did me.
John Doran