I’ve only managed to see the Dead Skeletons live on one occasion, an amazing double-header with Follakzoid (see here) at the now sadly closed Kazimier Club in Liverpool. It was my first time for both bands, a great night in which the Liverpool PsychFest team had pulled out all the stops to make that small club look much bigger and very atmospheric.
Follakzoid were amazing that night, but it was the Dead Skeletons that I remember more. As well as delivering a killer musical performance, I was also struck by the ritualism and magick that was woven into the band’s performance. I was spellbound by lead singer Nonni Dead’s (Jón Sæmundur Auðarson) ritualistic painting, seemingly channeling the spirits to produce his art. This was then transferred to the stage, which was as much a shrine as a performance area.
As far as I know the Dead Skeletons have been quiet since ‘Dead Comet’ was released in 2013; and live performances have been thin on the ground. In order to fill this gap Fuzz Club Records are releasing a double live album, recorded in Berlin just a week after I saw the band, which does two important things for me. Firstly it brings all the Dead Skeletons most well known tracks together in one package and, second, it gives a indication of what a good live band the Dead Skeletons are (or maybe it’s were).
Live albums are always something of a compromise between presenting the band ‘warts and all’ and delivering something that is a little too lo-fi for its own good. This recording seems to have found a good balance in the sense that it is a well produced and mixed album which for me does just about enough to retain that live feel. But for me the strength is in the track listing featuring certainly some of my favourite Dead Skeletons tracks notably: ‘Om Mani Peme Hung’, ‘Buddha Christ’, ‘Kundalini Eyes’, ‘Psycho Dead’ and, of course ‘Dead Mantra’.
There are moments on this album where you can hear the ritualistic parts of the performance, but for me this is the main thing that it lost with this recording. Indeed, it would be impossible to capture that atmosphere. Nevertheless this takes it as close as it can, and with stunning artwork by Nonni Dead it is a great package to own and perhaps remember this singular band.
The release is coming out in two double 12” gatefold editions, one standard and one as a Fuzz Club Exclusive (the exclusive artwork is featured here). Both editions feature cover art taken from paintngs by Nonni Dead, printed inner sleeves featuring photography from the Berlin show, a silk screened D side and embossed Fuzz Club logo. The standard vinyl is 180g heavy white vinyl with red and black splatter. There are 1200 copies.
The Fuzz Club Exclusive cover is also hand numbered, embossed, and vinyl is 180g black with yellow and white spatter. They’re limited to 300 copies.
Also available on CD, cassette and with a new range of limited edition merchandise incluing tees and tote bags featuring the Dead Mantra logo, and 40cm x40cm screen prints of the cover art on heavy card. All merch is exclusive to fuzzclub.com
You can find my other writing for Backseat Mafia here.