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Radio Werewolf - The Vinyl Solution, Analog Artifacts: Ritual Instrumentals and Undercover Versions

The Vinyl Solution, Analog Artifacts: Ritual Instrumentals and Undercover Versions is a CD issue of Radio Werewolf tracks that only ever appeared on limited run vinyl pressings together with 2 bonus tracks never previously released to the public by Radio Werewolf. By the time these recordings were made the line-up of Radio Werewolf had endured various schisms, with Nikolas Schreck remaining at the helm, a position he now shared with Zeena LaVey - the estranged daughter of Anton LaVey, the late High Priest of the Church of Satan. Both Schreck and Zeena (as she is now known; she ditched her maiden name with her renunciation from the Church of Satan) were at the time outspoken proponents of Satanism, appearing on talk shows acting as a rational counterpoint to the ongoing right-wing fundamentalist's propagation of satanic scare stories. Nowadays, both Nikolas and Zeena have renounced Satanism, or at least pushed it into the background, and embraced the left hand path of Tantric Buddhism. Their conversion resulted in the formation of the Sethian Liberation Movement in 2002. The Vinyl Solution, therefore, should be seen as being of a certain time and place, and one that they have progressed from. It's worth pointing out though that the audio ritual manifestations of Radio Werewolf found here are rooted in some rather dubious and odious territory - especially on the recordings from The Lightning and the Sun.

The Vinyl Solution opens with 'Prologue: Turn Off, Tune In, Drop Out', an excerpt from The Zurich Experiment, a recording from the last ever public performance of Radio Werewolf which took place in 1991. Billed as a deprogramming ritual, which aired simultaneously on pirate radio, this "transmission of the nightmare network" features an experimental collage of radio frequency effects, spliced with film dialogue and soundtracks, wolf calls, over the chatter of a live audience. "Broadcasting at a frequency of six hundred and sixty-six megahertz" it acts as an introduction to the "sonic magic" found on The Vinyl Solution.

As far as I'm aware The Lightning and the Sun, was the first Radio Werewolf album to feature Zeena. The muddied martial percussion and NON-like lo-fi crackling symphonic ritual music of 'Providence' opens The Lightning and the Sun. It's followed by 'The Wild Hunt' with a cascade of hand rhythms and blazing horns summoning Odin. By the time it reaches 'Epiphany On The Freinberg' the closing track on the "Lightning" side, most of the dynamics have already been played out as the remainder of the "Sun" side settles rather incongruously into repetitive gloomy chamber music, performed rather rudimentary on keyboards, with occasional atmospheric moments that wouldn't sound out of place on a Hammer Horror or a horror b-movie score. The Lightning and the Sun was based on the same-titled work of the writer Savitri Devi, who blended Hinduism and National Socialism, proclaiming Adolf Hitler as an avatar of Vishnu, encompassing both lightning and sun. As dark ages go, this was by far the darkest Radio Werewolf would sink.

If The Lightning and the Sun basked in heady esoteric mysticism, the subsequent tracks show a lighter, more humorous side to Radio Werewolf, even if it wasn't always evident in the sound. 'Bring Me The Head Of Geraldo Rivera!' subtitled 'A Benediction In Four Movements', originally issued on 12-inch vinyl, is thick with ritual ambience. The opener 'Parasit' places dialogue from Charles Manson (culled from his famous interview with the sensationalist talk show host), that's paraphrased in the title, around malevolent lumbering chords. It's worth noting that at this point both Nikolas and Zeena had featured on Geraldo's show (as well as being regular fixtures on Christian evangelist Bob Larson's radio show) in an attempt to counter the imaginary "satanic panic" that Rivera and his ilk were propagating during the eighties. Nikolas Schreck, an early latterday proponent of Manson, has delved deep into the Manson Mythos; he co-edited the original version of The Manson File, and directed the illuminating documentary Charles Manson Superstar. A new heavily revised edition of The Manson File titled The Manson File: Myth and Reality of an Outlaw Shaman, has recently been published featuring the results of Schreck's ongoing investigation into the Charles Manson phenomenon. The other pieces continue the repetitive nature with keyboard tones, with 'Zeit Der Rache' laced with the occult ritual voices of Schreck and Zeena over cumbersome heavy thuds. The final piece is a dirge like instrumental of faded keyboards and thuds with something like a saxophone eeking out a melody of sorts, as Manson samples from the Rivera show reappear. In spite of the black humour 'Bring Me The Head Of Geraldo Rivera!', like all of Radio Werewolf's work, wasn't without magical intent: the entire recording seems devised to seek revenge on the sensationalist media.

Radio Werewolf aren't without humour or even irony though, and that is especially true of the following 12-inch release, 'Boots/Witchcraft', which featured cover versions of material from both Frank and Nancy Sinatra. Subtitled 'A Tribute to the Sin-Atras' there's a devilish charm to be found on the reworking of Nancy's most famous track 'These Boots Are Made For Walking'. Here Zeena's sultry vocal is delivered over skittering snare beats, jazzy bass and martial drum rolls - often accompanied by the sound of marching soldiers. Some verses are intoned in German, while occasionally lightweight keyboards augment the meandering bass tones. It's all kinda funny. 'Witchcraft' with Nikolas Schreck on lead vocal is kinda good too. Light snare drum and jazzy bass supplement the organ chime as Zeena provides breathy accompaniment to Schreck's cheesy Las Vegas vocal style, serenading Zeena along the way. "Cause there's no nicer witch than you", Schreck deadpans, making clear this is a marriage made in hell.

The final track listed only as 'Mystery Bonus Track' merges the voices of Nikolas and Zeena atmospherically over hand rhythms and sorrowful eastern strings. Without giving too much away those lyrics did featured in a book by little Paul Watkins....

Not really being familiar with most of their work beforehand, it's clear many of the tracks suffer from poor production and a real lack of dynamics, especially on The Lightning and the Sun. And that's without mentioning the odious influences that inform that release. The 12-inches are much more entertaining and intentionally ironic, as they mess with their then public personas. And while they are undoubtedly infused with a personal magical significance it rarely translates into a great sound - though their intent and impact may have transcended the actual recordings. It's really only the previously unreleased final track which creates the most alluring atmosphere. On the whole, as one largely unaccustomed to the work of Radio Werewolf, The Vinyl Solution is an interesting listen providing detail on what propelled Radio Werewolf at the time, showing that even though some of their more controversial influences may have waned, thankfully - the influence of Charles Manson, still resonates in their relationship and informs the minds of both Nikolas and Zeena Schreck. For more information go to www.nikolasschreck.eu