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Unborn Ghost - Airs of Contempt and Derision

Unborn Ghost - Airs of Contempt and Derision coverUnborn Ghost is the musical project of Brian M. Clark, the man behind Discriminate Audio the label responsible for retrospective anthologies from Vadge Moore's Chthonic Force, Ralph Gean and Little Fyodor - all of whom, amongst others, guest here adding snippets of spoken word. Remember the Unpop Art Movement who turned the offensive, disturbing and unpleasant into pop culture fun well he was involved in that too. Under his own name he released Songs From The Empty Places Where People Killed Themselves an album of mood music that made suicide soon groovy. So it's not surprising that Airs of Contempt and Derision deals with topics and themes most musicians and artists would steer clear of. Airs of Contempt and Derision is largely based on songs he wrote as a student back some 20 years ago, and belatedly recorded during the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns. Not that you'd know it as many of the themes appear more current, delivered with a scathing and cutting wit, backed by dark rock arrangements absorbing elements of everything from psych, doom, industrial and garage, interspersed with experimental piano based interludes.

'Sketch One' the first of those instrumentals which opens the album is filled with ominous doomy and ivory tinkling piano laced with queasy harsh waverings. As the final piano chord slides away it moves into the doomy stoner rock of 'A Lamentable Series of Poor Life Decisions'. "Filling the void with flesh, you're such a fucking mess" Clark sings in monotone over twisted psychedelic guitars as the final line becomes something of a mantra constantly repeated. It's an approach followed on many of the other tracks. It's like finding a scab and repeatedly picking at it until it bleeds.

"You wanna turn on?" asks Shaun Partridge at the start of 'Acute Adverse Psychological Reaction to Lysergic Acid Diethylamide'. Well, why not trip out to the stoner rock and piano chords charting the effects of dropping too much acid as it slips from jaunty piano chords into queasy carousel organ chime and fried guitar wrangling, abetted by some groovy commentary from Little Fyodor, Waver Jamie and Vadge Moore. "I saw you marchin' in the white guilt parade" chides Clark at the start of 'White Guilt Parade' but fortunately or unfortunately this one isn't so much about debating the benefits and privileges bestowed upon white people or owning the responsibility for past injustices but rather that self seeking exoneration, something we've all seen by many on countless issues, by wanting to be seen to be on the right side of things. "You're a really good guy" or a variation of is repeated continually before the ringing guitars lead into an extended outro featuring a multitude of different voices offering their recognition of your good guy credentials. It's followed by a track about the atomic bomb and while that may not be the most obvious of song subjects here draped in dark drone, hollow and mangled detuned guitar 'The Worm at The Demon Core' is more experimental in nature at least at the beginning. That is until it settles into a sustained drone and offbeat rock 'n' roller Ralph Gean intones the line "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds" from the Bhagavad Gita, its most famous line ascribed to Oppenheimer as he witnessed the first detonation of the nuclear bomb, as it bursts into passages of doom chords and explosive drumming.

From then on there's the subtle put down on today's career opportunities on the shifty toe-tappin' garage rock 'n' roll of 'Federal Government Functionary' and the Twilight Zone edged funereal piano score of 'Sketch Two'. More self-seeking behaviour is ridiculed on 'Histrionic Personality Disorder' which pounds to thunderous drumming carried by waves of distorted and gnarled psych-punk bass that fall away as a distant voice stretched over slow distorted bass riffs heralds your oncoming - nope, never going to happen - fame. Then there's 'Richard Cory' a Butthole Surfers styled sped-up take on the Simon and Garfunkel song from Sounds of Silence - based on a poem, I know - about a charming and affluent factory owner, whose privileged life is envied by one of his impoverished factory workers, who takes his own life, and yet is still envied by that worker. Go figure.

In an album which derides and shares contempt for behaviours, choices and conditions 'Go Fuck Yourself (Go Fuck Yourself)' is much more direct and applicable to all with soaring and searing metal guitars over muscular rhythms primed for the void. The whole track is kinda pitched somewhere between Ministry and Revolting Cocks flitting between distant hollered chants and Waver Jamie telling you to go do just what the title says. Nice. And while the misanthropy evidenced on that one was open to all 'The Black Pill' is, I suspect, directed at a strata of misguided male extremists. Even if that wasn't apparent to you it's still devastatingly depressive as the alluring tones of Kaleidoscope Partridge avail to "never fuck you. Never ever, ever fuck you" as exotica lounge styled percussion gives way to doomy and surging guitar mannerisms. There are a couple of surprises to be found on both the vinyl and CD but I'll leave that for you to discover.

I don't know, the topics seem current but musically it recalls that period when Amphetamine Reptile and Sympathy For The Record Industry were spewing out records, and while the musical interludes remind me of some of the work of David E. Williams - another musical outsider - the sentiments and thoughts pick up on and are on a par with the misanthropy that fuelled a slew of early nineties albums involving Boyd Rice, Jim Goad, Anton LaVey and Adam Parfrey. And, maybe, that's no bad thing as dissenting voices in the musical world are hard to find these days, and Airs of Contempt and Derision offers a rare, if not directly critical, take on a world that is sometimes hard to fathom. Housed in a cover with stunning art from Sara Lucas aka Hello The Mushroom, it's fun, too. Airs of Contempt and Derision is released on CD, cassette, limited blue splatter vinyl and digitally all available from Discriminate Audio bandcamp