Zohra Atash is a singer, songwriter and musician. Her projects are Azar Swan and Religious to Damn. She is an irregular columnist at slutist.com. Her family founded and runs the Nooristan Foundation. You can follow Azar Swan on Twitter here.
(photo credit: Julia Comita)
Dying is easy. It’s the thinking about it that’s hard. What if it could somehow be avoided and I could freeze up, unchanged, with some of my youth intact, and I never had to think about dying ever again? That would be fantastic, right? But the monkey’s paw would never allow it. I’d be less of an Isabella Rossellini via Death Becomes Her, all scantily clad in a gothic mansion with hot manservants, and more just Zohra, contractually bound to waste away in a rent-stabilized apartment on Bedford Avenue while I suffer every death of a loved one, stuck with my old-timey slang and microchip-less brain. The world would become a stranger to me. My art would become even niche-ier, or conversely, I’d be worshiped Bill & Ted-style because my music, and my music alone, has stood the test of time. Both theoretical scenarios inspire “Ah! Get me out of here!” cold sweats. I’ll take the anxiety of “I could die at any moment” over “never changing as the world around me does” any day.
The thoughts that popped into my mind while listening to Hierophants’ latest seven-inch (available via Goner Records) for the first time were as follows: “Remember that super-cool poster Ryan Loveshisdumbmotorcycle* had up on his wall? I should for sure go to Meeps next time I’m in DC.” Thirty seconds into “I Don’t Mind,” I snapped out of my sound-association inner dialogue and realized there was this Vox organ ostinato part that had a child’s “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” quality to it: sweet and obnoxious. Eventually the repetition had a hypnotist’s spiral plate effect and I started to think about how this was the sonic equivalent of staying frozen in time: ’60s lo-fi garage psych by way of ’90s indie.
I started remembering bits from Apples in Stereo’s Fun Trick Noisemaker (1995), which reminded me of the stacks of CDs in sandwich bags I used to keep in my car. I remembered the odd, greenish-textured coating over Oh Ah! (1995) by Stereo Total and how much I loved the song “C’est la Mort.” I used it in my French class for a presentation on French clichés, and my teacher loved the song so much she’s played it for her students every semester since. Something about the way this song sounded reminded me of what I thought Ian Svenonius’ David Candy record was gonna sound like. By minute 1:49 I’m grabbed by the dropout and tempo change that anchor the gist of this little gem, and “I don’t mind!”
Neither do I, Hierophants, so thanks for the memories. At this point, if the dude started shouting out dance commandments, as much as that shit stresses me the fuck out, I’d do them. Even the Batusi. Whatevs.
“The 16th” pulls me out of my garage revival-laden memories and into the dark and smoky basement of Home Sweet Home for weird via 2007. Frankie Teardrop is playing some un-Shazamable post-punk or dark wave or cold wave or synth pop from 1982 and I’m waiting in line for the bathroom. Musically, it’s somewhere between Jeopardy-era (1980) the Sound and the love child of Edward Ka-Spel of the Legendary Pink Dots and Vic Godard. I’m entirely confused by the sonic about-face.
Who is Hierophants? Fuck if I know. Their Facebook page is “hardy-har” evasive. Their influences? Different configurations of their first names. Their bio on Triple J’s website states their previous bands were the NRA and the Third Reich. I can’t help but eye-roll. I guess they love the past? Maybe they are the Bill & Ted of music, grabbing a relic from every era they travel to. Who knows, maybe the full-length will have a tune to hully-gully to. Or hey, a truly wicked Studio 54-ready disco hit. Fuck if I know.
*Names were changed to protect the identities of folks who will think I liked them more than I did.