The Moon, Cardiff, Mon 9 July
In an alternative edit of Oliver Stone’s The Doors, Jim Morrison and chums go into the desert to find themselves but never come back, staggering around dazed and drugged up to their eyeballs, losing their minds and the capacity for coherent speech, and finally succumbing to searing heat and figments of their own imagination. In other words, they become Infinity Forms Of Yellow Remember, prog-psych warlocks who make a bad trip sound like a damn good time.
There’s a greater impetus and intensity to tonight’s performance than in prior encounters, though, and fewer strung-out, kaleidoscopic jams. Final song Surely They Know, which takes the Beach Boys to a very dark place – the back alley behind The Stooges’ house – for a good shoeing, is a case in point.
But nevertheless they pale in comparison to headliners The Cosmic Dead. Most bands would, to be fair, given the Glaswegians’ proclivity for taking things to the limit and beyond, and then a good distance further still – as most recently evidenced on 2017’s astonishing (and ironically titled) Psych Is Dead LP. Clothing their spacerock epics in lead overcoats found in doom’s wardrobe while also occasionally drawing upon metal’s brutal thrash, The Cosmic Dead certainly don’t do things by halves – not even after finding themselves halved in number by the departure of two core members, Julian Dicken and Lewis Cook, in the spring. Guitarist Omar Aborida and bassist James McKay opted to plough on, recruiting Tommy Duffin on drums and Girl Sweat’s Russell Gray on electronics.
Duffin looks like Robert Peston if he discovered Sleep, while man mountain Gray is dressed like someone who’s forgotten his PE kit and been forced to wear whatever could be salvaged from the lost property bin. Both fit in seamlessly, though, as the self-proclaimed “psychonautal cosmodelic buckfaustian quartet” set about living up to their billing by obliterating anything and everything in their path.
At first, admittedly, the band members’ onstage arrangement – in a circle, facing inward towards each other – appears to signal self-indulgence, a deliberate attempt to exclude the audience, and gives the impression that The Cosmic Dead might be best experienced from the centre of that circle. But the rapport between punters and performers steadily grows – not least when one eager-to-please gig-goer hears a passing mention of Buckfast and nips out to the corner shop, returning with a bottle of the stuff that gets swigged from both onstage and off – and by the end there is no longer any barrier between the two, McKay standing on a bench within the crowd while he and his co-conspirators howl into the abyss for one final time and slowly grind to a juddering halt.
words BEN WOOLHEAD photos NOEL GARDNER