This is an album by Creation Books founder James Williamson under his pen name James Havoc (the guy who gets killed and brought back to life every time there’s a cash cow to milk). It is based on Raism, a rather extreme novella written in chaotic pseudoprose, and Church of Raism aims to be music to the same effect. It aims, but doesn’t hit.
Church of Raism only wants to be irritating noise, but James Havoc isn’t good enough at making irritating noise. Chaos can be interesting if it’s controlled chaos (a paradox?) – marshalled and micromanaged by an expert. This, unfortunately, is the other sort: a person who lacks talent and thinks impulsive spasms of creativity are a substitute.
“Death to Pussycat” sets the tone, dissonant rhythms snaking out of a sea of fuzz and what sounds like a Donald Duck cartoon. “Caustic Descent” has Havoc reading some of his writing (“an anal pact with demons…”) in the voice of a page boy who has been lectured to mind his manners, and the effect is unintentionally comic.
“Night Scar” has female vox and acoustic guitar playing and lots of distorted noise – if you liked the early White Zombie albums you’d dig parts of this, it’s definitely influenced by 80s noise rock. The other songs stick to a similar formula: destructive noise juxtaposed with spoken word sections and incongruous shards of melody.
There’s not much thought put into anything here, that’s my principle complaint. Everything sounds random and witless. There will shortly be computer algorithms capable of making albums like Church of Raism. This isn’t a horrifying look into the mind of a madman. It’s a horrifying look into the mind of someone fiddling with discount recording gear he bought at Fisher and Paykel.
The final song is “Ditchfinder”. “The cunt of the night is bled into my mouth…” oh, shut up. 11 minutes? Seriously? I have to listen to this for 11 minutes? Can’t I go outside and be a productive citizen?
Havoc is a far better writer than he is a musician. In print, he is often forceful and disturbing. In audio, he sounds more like a child let loose at a mixing desk. Havoc was “in tight” with a few big boys in the UK indie scene – Primal Scream and Creation Records’ Alan McGee – and Church of Raism probably got more of a push than it was intended to get.
These days, the internet has restored it to its rightful place in the food chain: an EP-length musical experiment that Creation fans will check out once and will maybe check out twice but will probably not check out a third time.