Wednesday, January 12, 2000

Under the underground

Posted By on Wed, Jan 12, 2000 at 12:00 AM

Sometimes it really pays to read the footnotes. Hand drummer, poet, calligrapher, visionary and the original drummer of the Velvet Underground: Angus MacLise, the most mythic footnote in the VU story, has long deserved to have his own story told and heard. It was MacLise, after all, who had the deepest roots in the avant-garde film and sound scene that spawned the VU. Lurid Lou Reed biographer Victor Bockris sez that MacLise is the guy who turned Lou on to speed, and, alas, Angus was the first Velvet to die – in 1979, in Katmandu. He was also the first Velvet to quit – on the eve of their first pro gig, 1965, on the grounds of art contra commerce.

Such a free spirit is evident from the first song, which is the title track and sound track to the mind-and-Mylar-bending Ira Cohen film of the same name. For 40 minutes, five sonic psychonauts, the legendary Joyous Lake (including MacLise’s wife Hetty on organ and tanpura), ascend to heights of mystic group-trance. Heavy on drone and echo, this pagoda panic is littered nonstop with MacLise’s out-of-control hand drumming.

Should you survive this howling, ecstatic blast, a couple of relatively shorter ones await. These reveal MacLise in a variety of other freeform settings, with various other musicians. The psychedelic intensity ranges from the metal-on-metal mayhem of "Blastitude" to the more serene "Humming in the Night Skull," a placid flute-harmonium-guitar drone punctuated by MacLise’s ringing song bells.

If you’re into musical freedom that doesn’t like to be told when to start and when to stop, you’ve just hit transcendence. This release, the first in what will hopefully be a long-running archival series, begins to make up for lost histories.

Tags:

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Most Popular

Read the Digital Print Issue

Sept. 22, 2021

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation