The Linus Pauling Quartet, “C is for Cthulhu”/”My Desire”
You’ve got to love those Linus Pauling Quartet guys; just when you think they can’t possibly come up with something quirkier or cooler or more insane than the last crazy-ass thing they did…well, they pretty much do. With big, goofy, halfway-loaded grins on their faces, no less.
Case in point: I figured it’d be pretty difficult to come anywhere near their 2012 3-CD retrospective, Assault on the Vault of the Ancient Bonglords, which came with its own freaking playable role-playing game module. I mean, c’mon — where do you go from there? It sure did seem like a high point, it’s true, until they came up with the idea behind what would become the A-side of their latest 7″, “C is for Cthulhu” (which, honestly, I’m surprised neither Neil Gaiman nor Charles Stross had already turned into a children’s book).
See, although the band had already written the song, lyrics and all, they were curious to see what the dedicated hordes of LP4 fans out there thought the song might sound like, based on the title and some sketchy song diagrams they released on their band Website. So they made it a contest: the person who submitted the “C is for Cthulhu” lyrics and/or music they liked best got a copy of the record plus a T-shirt, and would supposedly get to be in the video for the song (a little more on that in a bit). Oh, and if they really liked it, well, the band might record that version, too.
I’ve got to say, though — I find it hard to believe anything submitted could really top the actual song as recorded by the band. It’s a thundering, fuzzed-out, titanic-sounding slab of drop-tuned stoner-rock, one that’s obviously inspired by Lovecraft’s original story, “The Call of Cthulhu.” Appropriately, the whole thing stomps and crushes like some mythic beast from the depths, moving slowly but inexorably towards the realms of man where it can feast, and there’s little chance anybody has of stopping it. In short, it’s pretty badass, at times coming off like Mastodon if they were more steeped in old-school horror literature.
Then there’s the B-side, “My Desire,” which true oldtimers in the Houston music scene may recognize by name alone; it’s a cover of a classic song by the Pain Teens, a band who were icons by the time I moved here and influenced a whole generation of bands and musicians who came after. I know that when I first heard the band, they were like nothing I’d ever heard before, and it’s probably fair to say that a large chunk of H-town’s experimental-music scene looked up to Bliss Blood and her crew.
For their part, the LP4 guys (and guest vocalist Carol Sandin Cooley, standing in ably for Blood herself) pay homage nicely to the original, keeping things dark and murky and threatening while stacking those three heavy-ass guitars on top of one another. It’s less punk-sounding and more straight-up metal than the original, to my ears, but I’m good with that.
(The other part of the craziness around this release, by the way, is the aforementioned video for “C is for Cthulhu.” I’ve been sworn to secrecy as to the details, at least until its official debut, but trust me when I say that it’s freaking brilliant, topping even the last “full” video the band did, the epic Claymation video for “Crom” that made some fairly big waves back in 2012. Keep an eye out for it, seriously.)
[Feature photo by Lord Hightower.]