If Music Be The Food Of Laugh
By Neil Perry
Fifteen years ago Killing Joke released their debut record, the four track 'Nervous System' EP, mixing up mutant punk, rich funk, bass-heavy dub and even primitive techno. It was an astonishing noise, outrageously ahead of its time. For the next three years the line-up of singer Jaz Coleman, guitarist Geordie, drummer Big Paul and bassist Youth continued to make audaciously innovative records, diving deep into certain occult obsessions and giving fans and music journalists a hard time -physically, mentally and spiritually - along the way. Youth bowed out in 1982; Killing Joke remained sporadically brilliant, but a rare chemistry had been lost ... until now.
Pandemonium marks both a return to form and Youth's return to the Joker camp; having established himself as a producer with his own label and studio, the backroom wizard behind The Orb has also, explains Jaz, "got a bad case of cabin fever: He wants some action." The singer now lives in New Zealand; the reunion happened after Youth went there last year to produce Crowded House. And, true grand guignol KJ style, It was Youth's Idea to record the LP's first single, the utterly ferocious 'Exorcism', in the King's Chamber of The Great Pyramid in Cairo [sic], "we'd psyched ourselves up into quite an, erm, interesting state of mind," smiles Jaz. "Killing Joke has always been about catharsis, and having that particular building to ourselves, there were very powerful vibrations. In terms of what we've been trying to achieve over the years, this album is very special."
"Doing the album was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life!" says Youth. "Forget bungee jumping ... this was an emotional washing-machine on full. Killing Joke has always been a philosophy, an approach to life, and all the work I've done before has lead to this record. When I saw Killing Joke play four years ago, I realised how much further we could have taken it. This record is just scratching the surface -the next two will be something else. We're going for the ultimate trip, ha ha!"
With a foundation-rocking bottom end and all-powerful grooves, Pandemonium is a raucous celebration that instigates the renaissance of one of Britain's most influential acts. The graceful 'Jana' shows the wisdom KJ have acquired with age; the title track, with its manic Arabian aura spiralling from Geordie's guitar, is one of their most inspired creations yet, a massive collision between East and West. "Freedom was what we always wanted," states Jaz, "and we enjoy the fight. The last 15 years have been an excellent experiment. We'll continue to walk untrodden paths..."