Attention Earth! EP by Henge – Review
By David Schuster
Henge are like your great aunt Mildred: Mad as a box of frogs, but fun and with interesting stuff to say, if you take the time to listen.
Introductions may be necessary for those who are unfamiliar with the band’s unique line up: On vocals there’s an ancient entity called Zpor, who wears a plasma globe on his head, like a health and safety conscious Arthur Brown. Nom, a frog/squid hybrid on drums. Completing the quartet are a grey alien on bass and keyboards, and the only actual human, who looks like he’s been teleported in from the 60’s hippy revolution, on synthesisers. Attention Earth!, their second EP, has just fallen through a space time anomaly on to our planet.
‘Mushroom One’, the first track, opens with a slow and haunting guitar, which sounds like Duane Eddy’s ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’. It’s at this point that you realise that there’s more to them than just great dress sense. As a thumping bass beat and Zpor’s staccato vocals come in, it develops into more expected Pixies’ territory musically, before treating us to something I’ve never encountered previously; psychedelic rap. The vocal treatment on this bizarrely reminded me of the song ‘Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu’, which you might recall from The Kenny Everett Video Show in the late 70s.
“Covers a lot of ground”
Attention Henge! It was at this point I encountered a disadvantage with the EP: It might seem like a good idea to print the track listing onto the CD. It isn’t; you can’t tell what the songs are called when it’s being played. Having ejected the disc, photographed the title list, and re-started it, I listened on… The second number, which it transpires is called ‘Moon’, starts comfortably in Gong style space rock territory before transitioning to a rave beat. It gradually becomes more urgent as screaming electronics kick in, pleasurable and slightly uncomfortable, like a good curry. The group are known for hosting live rave parties in Manchester, called Space Cassette, and those roots can be felt most strongly in this piece and ‘In Praise of Water’.
There’s a lot of variety in this mini-album, from the vocals on ‘Monolith’ that sound like they are performed by Jigsaw from the Saw franchise, to ‘Machine Landscape’, for which I’ve created a whole new genre; ‘Psychedelic Easy Listening’. There’s a lot of pleasant surprises on a journey that covers a lot of ground musically.
Hat stand bonkers they might be, but that doesn’t mean that Henge don’t make a lot of sense. The final song ‘Demilitarise’, with its central message “We demand that the weapons of war are manufactured no more”, could easily have been an anthem for peace performed at Woodstock. Worth taking the time to listen to.