The mark of a classic Columbus, Ohio band is their penchant to continually explore and expand—not towards experiments in noise and fad genre, but noise chained liberally to the riff and the punk. El Jesus de Magico journeyed so far they almost sounded bored, like nomads arrived at a stasis that you could hear in their grooves. They could always write and observe a pop song (see their singles for proof), but always gave the vibe that songs are for chumps.
Guitarist Dave Capaldi could moonlight as one of the city’s finest arena-rock inspired axemen if he wanted. His “Dave’s Song” here is brutal thunk, a crude rendering of a Zep-cum-Sabbath convergence thrust through the ringer, the same way Thomas Jefferson’s Bob Petric violated Van Halen and Rush. All and every instance of obstinate catharsis opens up into a perverted wanderlust. If songs are for chumps, then let’s ride the snake instead. The Ragtime Hors cassette, a micro-curio limited to handfuls, also feels like the end of the world, where despite that finality, and apparently the end of El Jesus, the soul will survive and the reverberations are endless. Then again, it could be a communal send-off, something sacred (i.e. a weekend of drugs and jam) that wasn’t really supposed to be released.
Either way, it’s one of Columbus’ finest bands of the last decade, reveling in a rawness and energy that befits their amorphous live shows. It also documents just how connected they were as a band, not merely a group of phantom limbs flailing off in opposite corners of the stage. “Half Face” brings the increasingly Kraut re-imagining their shows usually barreled into. If they intended to tear it down piece by piece, this is a good anthem for the toppling. “Half Face” is the would-be single, were the charts dominated by Amon Duul II psychic chug and motorik workouts. As a whirlwind of doom, it’s an invitation to a nihilistic meeting of the minds. That bleeds into “Our Sweden II,” a continuation of the paths forged on last year’s Scalping the Guru LP. As a first-side closer, it manages to show the ritual, slowly dismantling the empire in a serpentine manner.
Even though “New Moses” has been a live staple from the beginning—if this is the end—their enhanced version of the song compiles all of the sonic glues the band accumulated during their tenure. This one goes beyond the original by a cosmic warp, walking into the sunset (all purple and amber), still raging from the self-immolation. Better to burn-out than to...
Kevin J. Elliott