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MURDER IN THE CATHEDRAL - Afraid of ... - CD 1996 Longhair France Long

  Amazingly underrated French neo-psychedelic band.

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Progressiv /
Manufacturer: Longhair
Original release year: 1996
Manufacturing year: 2007
Cat. Nr.: LHC00060
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Amazingly underrated French neo-psychedelic band. Arised from the ashes of The Heretic Dreams Murder in the Cathedral was found in the beginning of the 90ties by Brothers Stephane (guitar, keyboards, vocals) and Pascal Moru (bass, keyboards) and drummer Gilles Lepron. Influenced by new groups like Plasticland, Prisoners and in the tradition of 13th Floor Elevator, Chocolate Watchband or Plastic Cloud, the boys tried to create their own sound. Their first eponymous album (entired as Bonusalbum on this CD), released in 1996, shows a mixture of guitar-oriented neo-psyche in the vein of Plastic Cloud, Morgen and Grateful Dead. It consists of 8 titles, instrumental pieces alternating with vocal (sung in English) ones. It was very positively received in the neo-psychedelic underground and the limited edition of 500 was sold out within a few months. 2nd album 'Afraid of...' saw the light of day in 1999. Now the music is much more structured and contains less jam-like passages. According to the reviewers the crucial sound influences rage from the Byrds to Bevis Frond, combing the San Francisco acid sound of the 60ties with oriental sounds. Again the album (limited edition of 500) was sold out within a few months. Although Long Hair is specialised in psychedelic/progressive-music of the 60ties and early 70ties, we like to present all lovers of psychedelic-music this outstanding band. All titles are digitally remastered from original tape. Booklet comes with extensive personal linernotes by guitar player and singer Stephane Moru including rare and unseen photos. Don't miss this CD!

1981: Stéphane and Pascal Moru, founders-to-be of the formation Murder in the Cathedral, are sharing an apartment in Caen with a close friend. The narrowness of the three rooms produces a 'smoked' atmosphere, filled with a musical eclecticism owing to 'the fever, strength, energy and a certain kind of etherealness.' The hymns of the Magmaiens are replaced by the psychedelic effects of the music of the 13th Floor Elevator or Collectors, the juvenile rebellion of the Liberty Bells or Chocolate Watch Band, the political orientation of the Deviants and the Edgar Broughton Band, the unrelenting criticism of the Mothers of Invention and other musical forms of expression that reject giving way to the ever increasing demands of formatted products. John Coltrane, Henry Cow, Joy Division and The Residents are also essential components of this highly explosive musical 'library'.

To begin with the only way the boys could satisfy their obsessive musical passion was by collecting the vinyl-discs in question. Those records set off 'internal processes' that carry on through the day. Although not quite aware of it, the ultimate wish of the boys is to revive the psychedelic works of their heroes. Alain Lebon, future founder of the labels Soleil de Gaia and Soleil Zeuhl frequently partakes in these musical forms of expression that are more similar to the delirious incantations of Amon Düül 1 than to a professionalism aimed at being successful by all means.

Certain matters that do not brook any delay are expressed in titles such as 'Dogs of the Streets' or 'Polizei'. After one year of living in this self-made parallel universe each of them goes their own way and the Moru brothers return to their small birth place Vire. Their passion for collecting records is so intense that they delve into the sales lists of American, English, Dutch and German record sellers in a near obsessive way. The enthusiasm and passion of their quest reminds one of the intensity of research required for a doctoral dissertation. Their search leads them to the folk rock of the Byrds or Leaves, to the psychedelic rock of Music Emporium or HP Lovecraft, the punk of the Wig or Lollipop Shoppe, the West coast sound of Jefferson Airplane or Quicksilver and eventually to acid music by Third Power and the rhythm and blues of the Shadows of Knights. Although centred around obscure labels, their search takes them to new geographic horizons as well: the Netherlands, Australia, Southern America. Before long the idea is born to share this passion with more than just a few friends and hardcore-collectors.

In 1984 the fanzine 'Everlasting Tribute' appears, published annually at that time. It contains LP reviews of psychedelic rock, but also covers the emerging neo-psychedelic scene. The first issue features interviews with Mick Farren of the Deviants, Gregg Provost of the Chesterfield Kings, Gary Danner of the Vogues and Georges Bringman. The fanzine, written in French, is praised internationally for its accuracy and thorough research. However, due to lack of funding there is no second issue. A considerable number of articles are still being kept in the drawers, such as an interview with Little Phil and the Nightshadows and an interview with Mike Korbik, a recognized collector of music and, moreover, manager of the Beatitudes.

With the emergence of neo-psychedelic rock and bands such as the Slickee Boys, Plasticland, Les Lyres and Prisoners a considerable number of fans turn away from punk rock to neo-psychedelic rock. Pascal Moru's apartment becomes the venue for the lovers of this new musical genre, and here they exchange their musical preferences and make friendships, both musical and personal. The Moru brothers still dream of 'leaving their small stone in the Hall of Fame of Rock', and so they eventually form a band of 5 members: Pascal Moru (bass), Stéphane Moru (guitar), Gilles Lepron (drums), Pascal Lebois (guitar), Pascal Simonin (vocals). At first the boys go looking for a suitable band name that will both draw

attention to the group and characterize the musical orientation of the band members. Initially the term Ultimate Orgasm is being discussed, as an expression of the group's provocative attitude. However, the idea is abandoned for fear of a negative response due to the predictable sweeping statements and negative images commonly linked with rock music. After many discussions the group agrees on Heretic Dreams. During the following weeks and months the band rehearses untiringly on 5 to 6 nights a week in search of their own personal identity. The atmosphere is seething with excitement, and in their youthful exuberance the band decides to go into a recording studio and all by themselves record a single with the titles 'Like Adam with Eva in Hell' and 'Deathchild'. The cover design is supposed to reflect an original cover of the years 1966 to 1969 ( photo as negative image, fisheye lens perspective and sinoidal colouring). Christian Fontaine, called Baby, a friend of the band, is going to do the cover design, while Robert Peccoraro's contribution is a text in the pure spirit of the 1960ies: 'What you'll get is a rock sound of seedy innocence and unrestrained lust that won't let go of you. The Heretic Dreams have made a record with the rocking-fucking-sound extremely rare these days. Let's hope that the money keeps rolling in and the band will be able to record a rocking-tripping album.

The Heretic Dreams have come to stay!!!' This last small line was a direct reference to the Slickee Boys.

In spite of all efforts the single turned out a failure. The producer displayed a strong dislike for the band that did not meet his expectations of a saturated mainstream guitar- and rock sound. However, the band wouldn't have him impose his ideas on them, and consequently the relationship between band and producer became extremely tense. To make matters worse, the band name was misspelled on the label of the single, reading 'Eretic Dreams' instead. This was a heavy blow for the group, since recording a single for them possessed a mystic dimension. Yet, the incident could not destroy their 'fervour' , and so a new attempt was made by increasing the number of concerts. First up the band played in the supporting programme of the French rock heroes Little Bob Story on the festival Bas-Normand. Next there were many gigs in the region Basse Normandie and Mayenne. After that they were offered concerts with the Roadrunners, Innocents and Valentinos. At that time, the band's programme consisted of 75% own titles, compositions with a wild and at the same time forthcoming energy that distinguishes the band from other bands. Their music is situated somewhere between punk and hard rock, influenced by the vocals of English mod-bands (Who, Action), using structures based on the sudden change of rhythm of the garage-psyche-punk of the 60ies. Even when doing cover versions, such as 'Don't look back' by the Remains, Moving Sidewalk's '99th floor', 'Shaking' by the Inmates, Elmar Gantry's Velvet Opera 'Flames', Hangmen's 'What a girl can do', Steppenwolf's 'Born to be wild' and Flamin Groovie's 'Shake some Action', the band retains its distinctive sound. The group is gaining experience and able to stand to eye-level with the region's most esteemed bands. Memories of the first studio recordings have long since faded when Heretic Dreams consider going back to the studio. Luckily they meet up again with Lucas Trouble, organist of the Vietnam Veterans, who offers to produce four titles. Again the band proves its creative strength and obvious ability to invent 'melodies'. Influences range from psychedelic-rock (Will I ever find my Baby, Deathchild), folk rock (Little Sunny Annie) to garage-punk (I got a face). Their fear of not being equipped with the right guitars for the studio turns out to be groundless, since the band is able to use instruments available in the studio and can record their songs as they had wished to. In the meantime Heretic Dreams had been asked by FR3 (French TV-channel) to take part in a TV show called Rocking Chair, hosted by Jean Lou Janeir. The stage set for the TV appearance created by Christian Fontaine, who had done the cover of the first single, featured the band as Pharaohs on a screen of 4 by 2 meters. Parts of this stage set can be looked at on Youtube. The Parisian label 'Lolita', renowned for its preferencefor neo-psychedelic bands, had heard about the four titles recorded, but wanted a broader repertoire, a minimum of 10 titles, before considering a record contract. Unfortunately technical problems arise that jeopardize these happy prospects of a record contract with Lolita. The band only has four days in the studio, under direction of Lucas Trouble, to record the 10 songs required. Trouble, however, fails to supply the technical conditions required for high-quality recordings. Initial sound clips reveal that the recordings are full of reverb. Only later it would be known how the songs really could have sounded. Some titles, however, such as 'Secret Noise' and 'Four Sides' meet the expectations.

Following this experience the group is disillusioned. Rehearsals take place only on the weekends, and the relationship between the band members keeps deteriorating. The band is tired, and Stéphane, one of the two guitarists and creative head of the band, does not seem able to rouse the other band members' interest. Gilles, the drummer, goes abroad for work, leaving behind the seemingly lethargic group. Trying to keep up the appearance of a still existing band the Moru brothers and the vocalist produce two titles that raise hope for a new and decisive turning point: 'I'm just insane', a title combining elegance and spirituality and thus revealing a new facet of the band, and 'Ceremony', where the solo guitar makes for special power; the missing drums are replaced by rhythm machines. The second guitarist disagrees with the new development and doubts he'll be able to perform this sound live. As a consequence, the group drifts apart, and each of them follows their own personal preferences. However, the end of the band is never officially declared, as if they wanted to have the option for a future revival. It was one of the ironies of fate that the label Lolita never received the recordings done with Lucas Trouble.

Robert Peccoraro, musical friend since the very beginning and quite concerned that the band would soon be forgotten, suggests to keep the recordings for posterity by publishing them. The band agrees and lets him choose the titles for the tape. It is published in 1995 in a luxurious design, an act of reverence not just to the band, but to all the fans who believed in them. This tape entitled 'The Secret Noise of Heretic Dreams' documents the band's official end.

Notwithstanding, the Moru brothers keep pursuing their musical paths, and in their small home studio look through the archive collected by Stéphane, the guitarist. Playing together as a duo, the mutual, two-tier influences can be better incorporated. Pascal, the bassist, is in charge of the recording technique, so Stéphane can chiefly concentrate on the music. When Robert Peccoraro listens to the very first recording he suggests to include it as a bonus title in a compilation dedicated to American psychedelic rock. The compilation tape is called 'Psychedelic Wizzards', and the piece is entitled 'Over the Bridge'. It demonstrates the band's musical reorientation, with bizarrely distorted notes, giving it an 'Eastern Touch'. Several guitar tracks are combined by overdubbing, making the sound more complex. In this new formation the band is now called Murder in the Cathedral.

Further recordings in the home studio follow suit, and the idea is born to publish a record. Gilles, drummer of the Heretic Dreams, returns and takes part in the recording sessions that only take a few days. The album consists of 8 titles, instrumental pieces alternating with vocal ones. The titles give priority to the guitar, and the psychedelic influence is obvious. According to the critics, the music is a mixture of Plastic Cloud, Morgen and Grateful Dead. After initial start-up problems the album is published by 'Dig Records', a label specialised in publishing and selling garage rock from the 90ies and re-publishing titles from the 50ies and 60ies. The album is sold in the USA, Great Britain, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Korea, Japan and Spain, and is positively received in the neo-psychedelic underground. The cover design by Georges Peccoraro is a true reference to psychedelic art and contains an insert with the description of the historic connections to the band name Murder in the Cathedral.

Later on the band works increasingly on its second album that is going to be called 'Afraid of'. Due to the bad experiences with Dig Records they have to go looking for a new label once more. The US-label Rockadelic and Stan Denski's label Aether Record are being discussed. Denski is even interested, but eventually keeps the band waiting for too long. At this time they happen to meet Alain Lebon, a friend from the early period and founder of the labels Soleil de Gaia and Soleil Zeuhl. Lebon had published several bands playing the musical style Zeuhl, as well as a number of extraordinary albums of French progressive rock. Alain Lebon and Murder in the Cathedral not only share mutual influences, but also a mutual history, which enables them to both appreciate each other and match their mutual expectations. This becomes obvious when listening to the tapes, and the band decides to publish the second album in cooperation with Alain Lebon. It is published in 1999, again with an artistic cover designed by Georges Peccoraro in the tradition of psychedelic art. The cover depicts a gloomy universe, with the orbit of the circulating moons branching out in a strange way. The cover is made of thick cardboard, the label of the record is consistent with the relevant guidelines from the 60ies, and the insert has a photo of the band. The music is much more structured as on the first album and contains considerably less jam-like passages. According to the reviewers, the crucial sound influences range from the Byrds to Bevis Frond, combining the San Francisco acid sound of the 60ies with oriental sounds. They also praise the improvement of the band with regard to their instrumental forms of expression.Shortly after the band is asked to contribute to two samplers. For this purpose they record two new titles. 'World in Flame', 2002, recorded for the sampler 'Floralia Vol. 4', combines the band's most diverse influences with an ever present guitar covering all sound facets from lulling to devastating. The second new title appears on a compilation by the US label Aether Records, entitled 'Pull up the Paisley Covers, a psychedelic omnibus.' On this sampler several bands have recorded special versions of well-known titles from the 60ies. Murder in the Cathedral decide to play 'The Good's Gone', a title from the Who's first album. The band interprets this title from the early days of psychedelic pop in a minimalist way, changing the arrangement, the structure and the instrumental part in a way that the beat influences of the original version are no longer audible. The other musician on the sampler give new interpretations of titles by the Master Apprentices, Carolyn Hester, Kilburn Rovers, Pretty Things and Churchills. Apart from Murder in the Cathedral, Bevis Frond, Mushroom and several others are featuring on this sampler.

Currently, Murder in the Cathedral are 'in the waiting'. Stéphane Moru, guitarist of the band, is devotedly looking after the band's musical heritage, since the day might come when they will again yield to the urge of that hidden slumbering passion.

Stéphane Moru, February 2007

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