Nick Hudson: Ganymede in a State of War

A review by Michael Kemp

By Michael Kemp

Review of Ganymede in a State of War by Nick Hudson

cover of Ganymede in a State of War

Somewhere up in the night sky ~ barely perceptible to the naked eye ~ Jupiter’s largest moon orbits slowly across the face of the mother planet, casting a pale shadow in its wake. Shortwave radio signals start to emit from the mysterious red spot…

Meanwhile, the prettiest of Greek heroes has been abducted by Zeus and taken (via Southern Rail) to the top of Mount Olympus ~ where he spends his days, now immortal, pouring cheap red wine for the gods…

The radio signals are intercepted by giant radio telescopes down here on Earth and converted (by NASA scientists in Maryland) into audible sound patterns. We listen and can detect ancient pitch harmonies and Gnostic vowel chanting, which usher in strong shifting bass rhythms and an arcane narrative, touching on taxonomy (the classification of organisms, fossils) and the Turin Shroud. A soundtrack to a fever dream, perhaps, finally breaking forth from the confines of the ivory tower, and erupting into powerful Greek choruses, riddled with daylight percussion holes.

Nick Hudson’s long-awaited Ganymede in a State of War comes to us (via Theme Productions) with strange tales, harmonic overtones, and reminders that the Devil’s books are way overdue. We may find ourselves in a Moroccan marketplace in Kid’s Glove ~ twisting turning ~ charming snakes and other Medina creatures ~ shaking in a trance of convulsive beauty ~ Brion Gysin visiting Tangiers, looking, not for love, but for William Burroughs, in a simple tent under a sheltering sky... while Jupiter’s moons continue to cast their pale shadows.

Further on our esoteric voyage, we bear witness to many things: a classification of shipwrecks, marriage proposals and hexes, rain, dark shadowy vessels passing in the night, ghost choirs... The children of the night proliferate on Homunculus ~ with Lizzy Carey carefully aiming her glass shards of shimmering violin at the track, nailing it to the mast…

Polyrhythmic tapestries and cryptic scripts ensue, No gender, no god, no guilt, no government... an orphic call and response, cabalistic weather storms, wild electronic oscillations, primeval guitars feeding back like lost dinosaurs, stranded in some primordial swamp, wailing at a white sky , foreshadowing the coming of an unexpected ice age. Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice…

Wake on Fire is yet another album highlight ~ all drifting Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz jazz chords, mismatched perfectly with aching eerie harmonies from somewhere beyond the asteroid belt. Mornings out of time. There’s a tip of the scissors to Yoko Ono in Cut Piece ~ her landmark Fluxus performance piece from 1964 ~ replete with seminal Ono-esque whispers and Cale ostrich guitars; while Ballad in Jhonn D pays fond homage to Jhonn Balance of Coil ~ late of this parish ~ channelling dark angels, grandmother orchards, forgotten potting sheds, poems, bright lights and cats with no mouths.

The title track Ganymede in a State of War delivers on its ancient promise, alongside more silvery threads of Lizzy Carey violin séance, potent sea spells and the remote sound of approaching thunder. And, as we approach journey’s end, the final track A Convoluted Man marries Charles Dickens (circa 1859), with the Academy of Sun drinking themselves immortal in the lobby of the Overlook Hotel (all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy); and all hell breaking loose in a fierce fiery coda of giant tectonic plates, shifting perilously beneath our feet, beneath god’s good earth…

So… How was it for you?