Dead Skeletons – “Om Mani Peme Hung” (2011)

deadskeletonsblueWhat happens when an artist fascinated with death forms a band with members of Singapore Sling and The Brian Jonestown Massacre?  Well, you get some seriously trippy stuff, my friend.  What you get is Dead Skeletons.

I always have my eyes open for Dead Skeleton releases because they don’t show up for sale too often.  I enjoyed Dead Mantra (2010), Dead Comet (2013) and Live in Berlin (2016), so it wasn’t much of a stretch to plunk down my money for a copy of the 2011 Om Mani Peme Hung 7″ the other day over at Reykjavik’s Lucky Records.  I even mentioned it to band member and artist Jón Sæmundur Auðarson when I visited his gallery during Airwaves, and he seemed surprised that I’d been able to find a copy locally.  Some of Jón’s art includes screen-printing using records as the canvas, and I picked up another of these during that visit to hang alongside the two I bought on previous trips.

But back to Om Mani Peme Hung.  It’s exactly what you’d expect – a psych-trip wall of sound with some Eastern influences and an almost religious-trance-inducing vibe.  Neither song lets up – they just keep coming at you, relentlessly, pulsing their ways into your brain. It’s not going to appeal to everyone, but if you like some hard psych you’ll definitely enjoy Dead Skeletons.

Dead Skeletons – “Dead Comet”

deaddoorDead is an art gallery in Reykjavik, Iceland.  While it’s technically on the main downtown shopping street Laugavegur, you actually have to be on the lookout for it, as it’s down a little gap in between two buildings, almost like an alleyway.  I’ve probably walked by the sign without noticing it back there dozens of times over the years, but this time I was specifically on the lookout for Dead – and even then I almost missed it while actively looking for it!  My reasons for seeking out Dead were twofold.  First, I think artist Jón Sæmundur Auðarson has a really cool style.  But two, he’s also in a band called Dead Skeletons.

Jon came out from his studio space when we entered, and he’s an engaging guy.  His gallery space has all kinds of his art from originals to silkscreens to shirts and hats, most of which in some way include images associated with death – skulls, ravens, and things that look somewhat dark and twisted.  He also does silk screening onto 7″ and 12″ records, and I picked up a pair of 12″ers that are hanging on my wall as we speak.  Unfortunately I couldn’t get him to part with any of the 7″ ones that lined the top of the wall, but I was quite happy with what I got.

I also picked up a copy of the most recent Dead Skeletons release, the two song 12″ Dead Comet that was released in 2013.  It’s a unique item in keeping with Jon’s artistic style – both songs are on side A, while side B is silkscreened image (see below).  The jacket is thick, and the inner sleeve also includes beautiful art on both sides.  I bought a copy without even knowing much about Dead Skeletons’ style of music because, frankly, it was just so well put together.deadskeletonsdeadcomet01

And guess what?  The music is pretty damn good too, heavy classic psych rock with trippy vocals, something you can groove to.  The title track, “Dead Comet,” incorporates both male and female vocals and has some seemingly eastern musical influences, with a sort of drone that acts as the backbone of the song.  “Om Vajra Sattva Hung” continues the same general vibe from “Dead Comet,” but with deeper and richer vocals reminiscent of a some kind of heavy mantra.

I’m way into the sound of the Dead Skeletons after just two songs and I’m going to track down some more of their stuff online.  Unfortunately the various albums are all released in some seriously limited quantities, so it might be a while before I can add another to my collection.  Glad I got this one when I did – and Jon had a handful of copies left in the gallery, so if you want one, hit him up… and tell him I sent you!