Julian Cope - Rite At Ya

by Sean Hewson Rating:8 Release Date:2017-11-10
Julian Cope - Rite At Ya
Julian Cope - Rite At Ya

Rite At Ya is the fifth edition of Julian Cope’s fascinating Rite series, which has been running since 1992. The four tracks here were recorded over a 23 year period from 1993 to 2016.

The album opens, appropriately enough, with the title track – a light, funky groove that’s built on drums, bass and an ominous buzzing noise. A xylophone picks up the bass line and I am struck, as I frequently am when I listen to the Rite albums, with how hook-driven this music is. For a ‘forward-thinking motherfucker’, Cope has always been a populist, an enthusiast who wants to engage with people, rather than alienate them. He also loves a good melody and riff. As the track progresses it becomes more like a bizarre amalgamation of Henry Cow and the instrumental Beastie Boys (Cow Boys). The buzzing sound proves to be some manner of organ which then starts to pick out actual chords as the music approaches Serge Gainsbourg’s Histoire de Melody Nelson. But, just as suddenly, we are cast back into the realm of strange noises; before the basic riff returns. This is meditation music for destroyed attention spans.

Next up is Village of the Unshod Priesthoood which dates from 1993, making it contemporaneous with the mighty Jehovahkill album. This is more of an ambient piece with gentle keyboard sounds and whooshing noises. Time reveals there to be structure and melody here too as a three chord pattern slowly emerges.

Boskewan-Un is the most recent recording and dates from 2016. The personnel here are Cope’s new group Dope (including the wonderful Holy McGrail). This is the kind of primitive, Kosmische music that lives deep in Cope’s soul. A repetitive beat that is equal parts Neu! and The Cramps, swirling Moog and Space Echo. This is the more meditative half of the album and Boskewan-Un can be filed alongside some of Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schulze’s side-long excursions as a headphones on/lights out treat. The last track on Rite At Ya - The Ringed Hills of Ver - dates from 2001 and was recorded especially for Cope’s Discover Odin lectures at the British Museum and is another headphones on/lights out treat. It is more of an atmospheric track, built of drones and sound effects, quite similar to Coil. A folkish melody line occasionally wobbles into view, almost like an after-thought or a half-heard conversation. The track continues in this manner for twenty minutes.

Julian Cope has long gathered disparate and arcane influences together and presented them to the public, always trusting them to be up for the trip. This inclusionary approach is often missing from the reductive TV and media we currently experience. Not everyone is as ready as Cope and his chums to credit the listener with intelligence and curiosity. As well as this laudable trait, Cope is also a skilled thief; but, importantly, he is one with melodic gifts that are entirely his own. Combine all this with the enthusiasm that shines out of everything he puts his name to and you have another valuable addition to the Rite range and to the Cope catalogue. Get on the ball, y’all.

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