Richard Bishop – God Damn Religion [Locust, 2008]

Richard Bishop - God Damn ReligionJust when it seemed that psycho-acoustic music had been damned to the insipid Hell of the New Age bin, Sun City Girls’ Sir Richard Bishop unleashes a fiendish treat that will seize your brain for a little trance-inducing shock treatment.

God Damn Religion is an infernal treasure of a DVD, coupled with a CD of the film’s soundtrack (“Elektronica Demonika”). Filled with field footage as well as chop-cut images from the archives of Bishop and the Sun City Girls, GDR bombards the viewer with depictions of Krampus (the Christmas devil who afflicts the bad kids), Buddhist and Hindu Tantric art, festively decked lingams, threatening herukas, morphed ethnographic photography, Tibetan Monks and other exotica. Not without good reason, GDR is touted as “a phantasmagoric presentation of demonic and divine imagery, meticulously assembled and designed to put the viewer into an altered state of darkened awareness.” Indeed, anyone who has experimented with a light & sound machine will recognize that old black magick of brainwave-changing rhythms and flashing lights. With this in mind, it’s important to take Sir Richard’s disclaimer seriously:

“Some viewers may find the imagery used in my movie to be disturbing, but that’s the idea. Contains some strong sexual content (as all true religion should). Not for the weak-minded, faint of heart, or those suffering from occasional seizures.”

This is a far cry from Bishop’s masterful solo outings with acoustic guitar, though certainly kin to several Sun City Girls outings. The soundtrack to this thrill-ride of the damned is densely, overwhelmingly bizarre, fitting the pace and content of the film, which employs kaleidoscopic effects and a micro-edited onslaught of iconography from the chthonic underbelly of world religion. There are audio passages reminiscent of Lustmord or T.A.G.C., reminding us that brain-changing music is still a frontier. What’s wonderful about this release is that it invites deeply personal partnership with the listener/ viewer through the aforementioned psycho-acoustic mad science. What you see may only be the prelude to what your own brain conjures up as you flop about on the floor like a stuck chicken or sit transfixed on your paisley yoga mat.

If you missed your chance to join this or that Love & Terror cult, here’s a DIY kit for starting your own. Indeed, this may be the finest masterpiece of initiatory esotericism since the Fleischer Brothers released the cryptic cartoon “Bimbo’s Initiation.”

Steve Aydt

Back to reviews
Buy Richard Bishop albums on
Sir Richard Bishop (Official Site)
Locust Music