Monday, May 16, 2016

Fraction - "Moon Blood" 1971

A few years ago, if you had wanted to hear this record, you would have had to hunt down a bootleg copy (which in itself, may have set you back a few big $$$), or spend thousands on an original, that is if you found one, as there were only 200 copies that comprised the 1971 release.

L.A. based Fraction, were in theory, a Christian rock band but at times, sounded like some seriously deranged and dangerous people. The lineup was: Jim Beach - vocals, Don Swanson - lead guitar, Kurt Swanson - drums, Victor Hemme - bass, and Robert Meinal - rhythm guitar.

Tapping the same wave of down-tuned, bleakly heavy, savage come-down psych that informed contemporary's like Black Sabbath or The Stooges, Fraction were a working-class band who would rehearse and record in the early morning hours before starting their day jobs. Beach himself describes those early days: "The guys met through various acquaintances that we had in L.A. All of us had been in bands before, but were seeking something with more teeth. We had a small studio in an industrial complex in North Hollywood and started practicing sometimes as early as 4 a.m. We all had day jobs, so we did what we could."

Thanks to that dedication, there is a spacious sort of loneliness at the heart of the noise they make. "Come Out of Her" is positively demonic, singer Jim Beach's ragged growl and unparalleled pained howls has been likened to Jim Morrison, and also gives influence nods to proto-everything, the Yardbirds (though lines from The Doors' 'LaMerica' pop up on the album) but there's a desperation and anxiety here that the hansom, wealthy son of a Navy senior officer never had. (fascinatingly enough, Beach cites the much punker 'Love' as his fave L.A. band over the Doors), while guitarist Don Swanson incorporates excessive wah-pedal and fuzzed out distortion to the limit. Swanson's blown-out fuzz riffs set a template for today's stoner metal.

On a strict budget, the five songs that made up the original release were recorded in one three hour session, with no overdubs or added effects. As Beach further states: "The Moon Blood recording took place at Whitney's studio in Glendale Ca. early in 1971. All of the tracks 'one-takes', all of us played simultaniously, no overdubbing or effects. Basically what you hear is 'old school' recording."


Moon Blood is a brilliantly odd record. A snapshot of a time when Jesus-freak hippys still knew what it was like to have some angry toxins running through your brain. Naturally, the band never got anywhere, and for decades, no one but the most obsessed got to hear them.



Cryptrock re-issue

Angelus Records re-issues (U.S.)

Assembling Moon Blood's "red window" album cover.





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