As someone who goes to gigs in Leeds quite a lot I’m no stranger to Girl Sweat, who pops up as support on a regular basis. What you usually get is an intense set that draws on many influences that are slammed rather than woven together in what is normally a pretty manic half hour that, while not objecting to, is often something I don’t really get. It has always felt to me that there was a missing piece to the Girl Sweat jigsaw (if that even makes sense), something that I saw completed when I went to see Sex Swing in Manchester last year. Rather than seeing Mr Sweat on his own here was an ensemble piece that essentially seems to scale up the Girl Sweat sound into something that still captured the mad manic nature of the one person show, but opened it out into something much more panoramic… I was an immediate convert.
I’m pleased to say that the spirit of what I saw that night in Manchester has been brilliantly captured in this vinyl album release by Evil Hoodoo. Here are three long tracks absolutely brimming with energy, the sort of energy that I now realise that I can see is pent up in Girl Sweat’s solo performances; an energy that is not so much released here as explodes into a non-symmetrical kaleidoscope that is packed with joie de vivre, and as sense excitement that you will never fit back in the bottle.
This is an album that takes Girl Sweat out of the garage and into the temple… the garage was really too enclosed a space to hold him… in the temple, with his adherents by his side, he can engage in all manner of wondrous performances that encompass and accomplish so much more. This is evident from the very first bars of ”Mantra of the Pleasure Temple’ which hits you like one of those massive incense burners square in the face before shrieking like those holy motherfuckers MC5 and heading off in the sort of intense garage style which makes you feel like you’re being kicked in head… repeatedly… yet wanting more… is this ritual?… is this pleasure?… just pump out those jams… high level crazy bat-shit sounds that make you take the pummelling and keep you smiling…
Knackered already and only one fifth of the way into the album… here’s goes with ‘Rite To Power’. OK so I already know that this ain’t going to be a ballad, but at least it starts at a level slightly below ‘Mantra of the Pleasure Temple’… it’s still up there with everything being funnelled into the sound, the scale being reflected by the fact it was recorded in a church. Girl Sweat is calling us to worship, the ritualistic drums acting as a siren call to enter the mad faux egotism of this ritual. It’s chaotic without ever being totally out of control, but when the rhythm kicks in its like a demented T-Rex on acid hammering out something that is slightly glam… reflecting that moment in the early 70s… that indeterminate point between The Stooges and The New York Dolls. Then the moment is gone and the band head off on their own crazy paved path full of… well if I listed it you’d be still reading this tomorrow… let’s say that the overall effect is a sort of freaky ritualism… Then seven minutes in the whole sound is cleaned up and the whole thing goes off on another level… this is musical… this is really going somewhere… the nebulous steam distilled into holy water… that part of the ritual where the transformation takes place. From there things get faster and faster towards the inevitable denouement leaving us all flat on our backs on the altar and ready for a spell in the (Girl) sweatlodge.
After all that I’m not sure I’m ready for another bout of this, even if it is called ‘The Incantation of Pleasure’, but here goes anyway. Once again it’s straight in with the madness, a swirling organ announcing a pulsating beat that returns to the theme of belting the listener around the head repeatedly in order to elicit some form of spiritual metamorphosis. And, as the hungry ghosts swirl around, they suddenly metastasise into an absolutely massive unholy bastard of a cranium-bursting beat that is as appealing as it is crushing. This track is so far out there that I’m thinking of forming a UFO cult just listening to it. Thank whateverholyentitityisbeingincantedhere there is a bridge of summoning before this relentless pace is resumed because I’m not sure that I could have taken it all the way through. Man what a track.
If you’ve seen the Girl Sweat Pleasure Temple Ritual Band live you’ll know exactly what to expect from this album because it’s a pretty fair reflection of what you see up on stage. The band have managed to capture the chaos on disc in a way that is rare these days, and I can fully appreciate being back there when I listen to this. Yes you can hear more of what’s going on but the listening experience is essentially the same. I couldn’t listen to this all the time, but if I want to just let go… really let go… I can think of few better things to just totally fucking freak out to.
‘Hyper Rituals’ is available now on Evil Hoodoo Records here.