CULANN
HERRON
   The delicate sound of thunder roars in the distance, beyond the rolling verdant hills and on the horizon a dark and ominous thundercloud brews, broils and distills the baleful air, it crawls across the cerulean sky like ink dropped into water. The portent storm is stitched here and there with the coruscating flashes and streaks of phosphorescent lightning, its distant echoes just a gentle vibration with undertones of rumbling bolts stabbing at the ground capriciously and cracking with violent alacrity, booming like tombstones cracking together far away.
   The main bulk of the azure sky, still mercifully spared from the advancing storm, is pinpricked with tiny black dots that duck and weave like sparkles dancing before your eyes after a blow to the head. The dark swirls in the sky are millions and millions of crows, formicating upon a corvus’ feast of carrion. A wind sighs in from the North and shakes the leaves in the trees, bringing with it the stench of rotten flesh, and the metallic taste of blood on the air.
   The air closer to the ground is also black, but this with the buzz and hum of a galaxy of flies, they coat the air so thick with their rank presence that a man walking through them could literally choke to death on mouthfuls of the stinking brutes, masticating flies as he stumbles forward through the buzzing crawling fog of insects.
   The odour of decaying flesh alloys with the rancid pungency of faeces and escaping gas, leaking from the dead bodies of 2,000 dismounted and mutilated cavalry, their steeds, suffering the same fate or fleeing the battlefield of equestrian innards mixed with human pentralia, 15,000 infantry disemboweled, decollated or dismembered. Body parts and organs were scattered far and wide, every step was a step into shit or blood or soft, dead meat, praying for soil as unseen horrors squelched beneath your boots. Many of the fallen still jerked, moved or convulsed, despite being headless or heartless or ripped in two horizontally, or split in half vertically, the final throes, their last actions ‘pon this earth a spasmodic jerking in the bloodstained grass.
   The grass no longer green but a muddy rubescent colour. The flies and the ravens carrying the feculence and disease far and wide, piles and piles of defecation mixing with the vile viscera and turning the air toxic with its fumes. Colourful promiscuous piles of intestines, purple, red, orange, black, white and pink, each one swarming with flies or being pecked apart by birds, flying off with eyeballs dangling from their orange bloodstained beaks as bright white baubles, the human eyeballs huge once removed from the socket, much larger than one might expect, a healthy, nutritious meal for a murder of chicks back at the nest.
   The living souls stalk everywhere, the victors, in their plaid kilts, chain mail and bright yellow war shirts dyed in horse urine. They staggered from body to red-coated body stripping the armour off before they rotted any worse, looting, rifling, pick-pocketing, treasure hunting. For some, the treasures come in the forms of trophies, and trophies come in the forms of ears, heads, fingers or testicles, everywhere the snip, shlock, crack, or twang of these trophies being gleaned.
   Further up the battlefield, the bodies on the floor are being cleared into organised piles for burning, and down the valley in the middle of the heaps of carcasses a warlord sits upon a throne, his bony crown askew atop his head, sipping the exudate of his victims from a chalice fashioned from an alabaster skull, the blood runs in twin rivulets down his black-bearded chin and his eyes glisten and dart with the aftershock of battle, he surveys his victory with a lopsided grin. He fills a hookah with viscous opium tar and asthmador pipe mixture and inhales deeply until his lungs burn and his throat flagrates, his head surrounded in an ethereal halo of blue smoke, he rests his crimson-coated claymore at his feet and leans back…
   …He stuffs white headphones into his ears, flicks on his iPod and listens to Culann, full blast.

WILL JOHNSTONE

Staring into the flames with an iPod blaring Culann, two silhouettes cast tall ominous shadows against ruined bare brick walls. Dust kicked up with stones and dirt as glass bottles land,  swirling and dropping as the wind whispered through dilapidated old fences around the perimeter. The figures stood long, animated, excitable, the only motion in this desolate scene – as the darkening waste land slowly lost its colours of the day, piece by piece until the only colour left was the eerie fire light flickering against the gable end of a partly demolished building. The only sounds – dull voices in conversation, an occasional twisted laugh echoing around the site followed every ten minutes or so by the random launching of a void glass drinking vessel skelping off rocks and dry mud in the shadows.

Chris passes me a bottle of Wild Turkey, by this time near empty, laughing, asks me if I remember the first time we covered Culann… I do of course but for now I grin and guzzle a fat swig from the intoxicating bourbon and pass it back. I roll a smoke as Chris recalls the ‘End of the World’ gig when Culann headlined King Tuts on 21/12/12… I found it quite an awesome story as we each retold various versions of our exploits that surrounded that event and how amazing Culann had been that night.

This was of course the very first official collaboration between me and Chris as The Gonzo Division, his initiation as a review writer and holy fuck did he nail it. He had a part to play in a previous article from Kelburn Garden Party that summer that had spiked his interest in New Hellfire Club but this Culann gig had been his first official assignment and was the beginning of The Gonzo Division as you know it now. Swaggering through the swing doors in King Tuts we were confronted by two huge bouncers with a fairly menacing demeanour and I start off with:

“Will Johnstone… and this is Chris Herron… We’re Journalists. I think you’ll find we have press passes allocated.”

“NHC?“

“Aye that’s us”

It was so effortless that it took Chris aback at first, with a wild grin that said –

“Holy shit are they actually letting us in?!?’

I remember him perking up just as we are being adorned with our wrist bands saying something like:

“This is amazing!! I usually get kicked out after an abrupt bout of sarcastically seeded vituperations and satirically vehement utterings of disgust that run rings round the usual level of dull wit that you’d expect from an average Joe night club bouncer, which has mostly, until now, got me kicked back out before I’ve even gotten in hahahaha!”

The bouncers just glare at him. I slap one of them on the shoulder and suggest that he’s just messing with them because he’s excited about the gig. They don’t seem keen but they turn us loose inside nonetheless…

I was laughing at the memory thinking back to that night, but suddenly I felt the vastness of the expanse of time that had elapsed since that night until now. Nearly four years had somehow escaped us, eluding us with smoke and mirrors… All the work we had done, the parties, the gigs, festivals, weddings, funerals, fall outs, new friends, old friends, holidays, different jobs, failed relationships, projects, band after band, more gigs, random nights out, 12 day benders… Madness… Chris downs the last of his Wild Turkey and launches the bottle into a pile of bricks shouting –

You hear me talkin’ hillbilllie boy!!!!’

The noise brutally loud in the stark ambient back drop of our vacant locale, echoed around the few remaining brick walls surrounding the waste land where we were standing by the fire. City lights glimmering in the distance, no one else around.

“Let’s get the fuck outta here man. Culann gig kicks off in half an hour.”

“Here… ”

We decided to consult Drittewelle’s Eros and dance with Mandy for a little Gonzo flavour and stagger away from the light of the fire into the darkness passing a spliff as we descend from the hill in the direction of the city skyline, laughing, screaming out random noises like two escaped lunatics… We were now on top form and ready for Culann to blow our minds out the water! All we had left to do was make it across town before we started raving and jabbering like a couple of random 90’s Japanese anime cartoon characters with no subtitles…

We arrive early, which was weird, we are never early. The cider tap isn’t working, they tell us the keg needs changed but they feed us this line at various stages of the night while pushing ultra-expensive Kopparberg bottles at us. Tenner a round for two people is scandalous in what is meant to be a student friendly venue. We are pissed off at first, but quickly realize we can get pints of cider for 3 quid a jar up the stair so for now, we’re happy as pigs in shit and pretty fucked up. We were hitting that sweet spot of wreckedness. The kind that launches me into one-man-mosh-pit mode. I am now salivating as it has been a whole year since I last saw Culann live. I can already feel those high end vocals wrenching me up out of the crowd into a maniacal musically induced meltdown as the rocker in me – akin to an eczema-ridden pus-filled itchy spot head ripping under a ragged nail – breaks out uncontrollably like some kind of Beehive Pinata at the mercy of the entire batting division of the New York Yankees baseball team on steroids! That isto say, I am buzzing and mildly explosive…

Culann launch into their set like ancient Nordic Viking warriors, mad with hallucinogenics, seething with blood lust. The battleground is the low-roofed, ever tightening moshpit as more and more revellers revolt and rejoice in reclammation and “I Am The Red” sends me off the edge and my fist smashes through a part of the ceiling. Blood everywhere. I carry on screaming along as the music carries us afar like war drums beguiling our morale like the ascension of zen in some melded pre-emptive strike against some hidden enemy attacking our utopian dream… The kaleidoscope vortex swallows us all and the last thing I recall is laughing hysterically on the subway back to The Brox, being covered in my own blood from my wounded right hand and Chris laughing asking why I am covered in blood while some freaked out people moved away from us further up the carriage… I tried to tell them I was away to see Culann but I think they thought I said something about ‘kill him’ and they got off quite hastily… The rest is a blur at best, but the feeling that Culann gave us in that packed out underground club will remain etched in stone like an epitaph of greatness carved into the very walls of our minds…

Pics:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10208520211856130.1073741858.1032970718&type=1&l=5b8af09b14

Links:

https://www.facebook.com/culannband

https://www.facebook.com/events/1312548718773655/ – Gig poster is on this link

http://culann.bandcamp.com/

https://www.youtube.com/user/culannband

Originally published on NHC Music 14/06/2016 view that here:
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