Witness the glory of Neurosis, Bell Witch & Deaf Kids Photo Essay
Text and Photos from Charles Nickles aka @kidswinging
After you’ve found yourself peaking on some seriously speedy gel tabs at dawn, getting a handjob from an eight-eyed, Double-D’ed beast of a bad idea who keeps calling you “faggot” for going limp in her murderous grasp while your mother putters about the other side of your curtain alternately hacking and humming tunelessly (a habit you’ll resent even after she’s dead) as she readies herself for school or church or whatever the fuck it is she’s into these days and all you want to do is close your eyes and disappear into the forever and ever, amen but every time you so much as blink you meet a different vision of hell so violent and true you’re certain to become it and you try to tell your fiendish paramour as much in a vain attempt to get her to leave your poor, listless prick alone or, at the very least, offer you some modicum of real human tenderness as your brain swiftly crumbles to cinders but she just laughs cruelly and calls you “pussy” because after a long night of chasing cop cars and werewolves half-naked and shoeless in Central Park she’s finally come down to reveal herself to be a really, rather unlikeable person (a fact you’ve probably known all along but were willing to ignore because nothing resets a broken heart quite like a sultry lunatic) and so, in a last ditch effort to liberate yourself from her vice and greet death with some last gasp pride, you turn to find her two human eyes and mutter coolly “I want to rip your face off” which, apparently, does the trick because no sooner do you say it then everything goes blank and when you come to sometime in the late, lazy afternoon you’re fully clothed and on the couch and she’s nowhere to be found and no, you’re best friend (who you totally forgot had been sleeping in your bed the whole time) assures you, you didn’t kill her or maim her or try and eat any of her skin and no, he didn’t cover the whole thing up because he’s “your boy” (echoing the phrase back to you with a justified bristle), she just “shouted something shitty and left” so all’s well that ends until you see her again (which, ugh…of course, you will but don’t worry, you’ll do better eventually) the word “trippy” kind of loses all meaning.
You ever read Finnegan’s Wake?
I haven’t but I have had the first page read aloud to me drunk on a crowded train by Dave and I don’t remember much from the oration (Joyce being a particularly difficult lyricist to interpret by even his most fervent readers) except for an exceptionally long and decidedly absurd nonce that is alleged to echo the thunder that clapped when Adam and Eve fucked the Garden for good:
Apparently, there are some real words in there but I don’t know them and I’m not about to seek them out especially now that I have Deafkids to become theat grand unpronouncable, razing the tenuous fray of space/time/eternal with sonic deluges that opine a devastatingly narcotic wonder that’s equal parts gasoline and Ayahuasca, D-Beat freakout and deathhouse neotribal free-jazz face melt that breaks the brain and liberates the spirit as profoundly as Lucifer Rising at Plato’s Retreat.
Not that I think Deafkids are necessarily all about the postmodern occult fuckforce but goddamn if they don’t tune their volume to the revelations of the lizard self hard-pinned deep inside the Beinecke.
At first, I thought it was absurd that a duo (drum + bass) would set themselves so far apart on a stage this large but as Bell Witch as begin their grim trudge through the beauteous wonder of the great, big NOTHING I understand the need for a certain degree of isolation when performing such devastating funeraries.
Death is a solitary expression, after all. A singular experience for the passing (one imagines) and for the mourning and though the grief that comes when a loved one is lost can be a communal experience there is a more pertinent, private suffering that should only be honored alone.
Hence the space.
Hence the patience between notes, roars and movements.
Bell Witch’s performance is as honest a tribute to the totality of Western death as one is likely to ever hear and though their sound can, at times, be agonizing if not downright mind-numbing even that speaks volumes to the recovery process.
Because though it’s easy to think of grief through the veils of Italian keeners so much of the pain that lingers in the wake of the devastation is just so fucking tedious and complicated, so lacking in cathartic peace its enough to drive a body to scripture.
Twenty years ago I talked a lady friend into going to a Neurosis show by telling her the band sounded like Metallica playing Liszt which I can’t remember if I stole from someone or just threw out there because, at the time, I think I thought Liszt was the shit.
She thought the sounded like Fields of Nephilim.
And, to this day, I can’t tell if we were both wrong or totally on the nose because in the decades that Neurosis has grown from their nowhere Oakland dread punk riot to the monolith of postapocalyptic cosmic dirge synergy they have defied comparison and categorization, forging an urbane path to the singularity with a determinist power that triumphs the will.
Put simply, they are, were and will always be THE heavy.
Alpha and omega made blood and volume.
Not a band so much as a force, unkind as a sun and true as the wolf.