♫♪  Gary Lucas - “Vertigo / Psycho”

The officer walks you into a tiny concrete room and sits you at the table. You feel your pulse throbbing in your temples. “Don’t worry kid, we’re gonna figure out who did this to you,” he tells you. He presses a button on a panel by the door and speakers descend from the ceiling. “I know you don’t remember much, But listen to these guys and tell me if one of ‘em sounds familiar. Maybe we can ID the bastard.” He presses [PLAY] on the remote and the first guitar hits, all major seventh chords and nice little jazzy flourishes. This is not the man you saw on stage last night. The second sample sounds scuzzier, distortion damaged. Almost there, but not quite right. The third kicks in with chunky block chords, pristine atonal fingerpicking, straight up raw, man, each note at once perfectly right and perfectly wrong. Jackpot. You clutch your head, and it all comes flooding back.

You went to the show alone. The guitarist stood on stage with a sombrero sitting way back on his skull, surrounded by pedals. He bent down to adjust a knob, and when he looked up for a second, it seemed like he looked right at you. A cryptic smile spread across his face. He flipped on his amp and started playing, no, like, spewing notes out in a cascade of tritones, all horror-score-core, and that’s when you recognize it. Among all the looping, whammy-ing, ring modulating, string mangling — it’s Bernard Hermann’s theme from Psycho. By the time the Vertigo theme emerges from a massive swirl of delay feedback, it’s over for you. You’re falling through a monochromatic red expanse with nothing to grab onto, as a white tesseract spirals off before you into the abyss.

“That’s the guy,” you tell the policeman. He starts to laugh.

“Whaaaat, hearing Gary Lucas konked you out? The man’s a walking legend. Played with the goddam Captain Beefheart himself. Ever heard of ‘Flavor Bud Living?’ Yes? No? We’re talkin’ 20+ solo albums, kid.” He claps you on the back and points at the door. “You’re gonna need to grow a pair, real quick, ‘cause Lucas’s new album Cinefantastique is all solo guitar reinterpretations of movie themes and — guess what? — it’s already available.”

• Gary Lucas: http://www.garylucas.com
• Northern Spy: http://northernspyrecords.com

Chocolate Grinder

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.

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