12-inch, A Library
A fantastically disturbing collection of recordings of the members and leaders of 12 different religious factions widely considered “cults” and in fact this compilations selects primarily from twelve of the most notorious and infamous sects from around the world (short bios on reverse). What is most compelling about this album is however the incredible variety of the tracks. The absurd childlike simplicity of the Shoko Asahara (A4) track, which considering the gravity and scope of his Aum Shinrikyo group’s actions including the killing of 13 and the poisoning of over 6000 and who was subsequently hanged along with 12 of his followers in 2018 in a rare occurrence of capital punishment in the normally life affirming nation of Japan, provides a real skin-crawling element to this release. However, it is not the only track with this quality. A stalwart rival for creepiest track predictably comes from the choir of the People’s Temple (A1), children sing merrily to a 70’s pop riff that does little to belie the impending death of 909 individuals. However, there is much more to this album than the macabre titillation of the body count. From the surprisingly talented crooning ballad by David Koresh “Book of Daniel” (A5), to the funky Beefheart-esque stomp of Ya Ho Wha (B1), to the jazzy saxophone jubilation of L. Ron Hubbard’s Apollo Stars (B2). Other standouts include the doom/psych composition “Lucifer Rising Pt. I” by Bobby Beausoleil (a former member of Grass Roots, an early incarnation of Arthur Lee’s, Love) & The Freedom Orchestra (A2) which notably, was recorded in Deuel Vocational Institution with the approval of Tracy Prison administration as an accompaniment to the Kenneth Anger film of the same name (Beausoleil was convicted of killing his friend Gary Hinman and fellow associate of the Manson Family in 1970), as well as the bitingly cynical robotic queries and command(ment)s over electronic instrumentation and dancy beats by Chris Korda & The Church of Euthanasia’s “Save the Planet, Kill Yourself” (B4), and perhaps the most unnerving (because it is potentially my favorite), an offering from the founder of the globe spanning Raëlian movement. Raël’s Viva la Vie Viva la Mour (B6) delivers a sweet and somber love song accompanied by a tenderly picked accoustic guitar that has me considering enrollment in his 80,000 member strong U.F.O. sex cult, though it is unlikely that I will find the time as I am currently immersed in practicing the Dark Arts at the most subversive cult of them all, the masochistic mind-control and sonic insubordination sect housed in building 6200 on the campus of Foothill Junior College. The most striking and perhaps disturbing aspect of this collection is the proliferation of hooks. It is an insidious reminder that music, at its roots is primal and inextricably connected to both memory and emotion. That for centuries the most powerful propaganda was employed first by the bards, then church, and most recently the advertising firm and their overlords, the architects and beneficiaries of the capitalist system. That the pop of today shall become the hymns of tomorrow, driving humankind into the compulsive recital of Dave Berry, The Beatles, Cyndi Lauper, and the Artist formally known as Prince in a prayer for deliverance from (or into) the maw (the lap) of the Prince of Darkness.