24 March 2015
Psychedelic fire and brimstone doom monster with heavy Doors-ish influence and ferociously guttural screamed lead vocals that rival "Jim Morrison" (although the singer "Jim Beach" was singing on Sunset Strip long before "Jim Morrison" took to the stage, and musically "The Doors" were never so heavy). Slow intense lengthy climactic songs (only six of them) that burn with loud grungy guitars, letting up occasionally for psych-drenched hazy dream-scapes, with wah-wah, fuzz, reverb, tremolo all strongly represented. Strange apocalyptic lyrics (virtually indecipherable without the lyric sheet) that are not your typical Christian fare by any means. Considered by many to be the Holy Grail of Psychedelic privates (Fraction - Moon Blood, 1971 Angelus Records 571), hence the accompanying $2500 Whopper price tag. Ken Scott The Archivist.
The vocalist "Jim Beach" sounds like he is undergoing agonized conflicts of faith, a righteous man, growling, snarling and finally screaming at a world where seekers after truth are downtrodden.
The guitars are so overloaded with effects that they sound like a storm raging on the surface of another world. The drums have fantastic range, at times very delicate, at other times, pounding with raw energy. Every band member gives it all they have and all the songs were recorded as one takes.
This really works as they sound very fresh and alive, like the band is playing right next to you. There is nothing righteous or preachy on the LP. Richard Iwanicki
Based in LA, Fraction was a ragged collection of working-class musicians–the line-up was ringleader "Jim Beach" (vocals), "Don Swanson" (lead guitar), "Victor Hemme" (bass guitar), "Robert Meinel" (rhythm guitar) and "Curt Swanson" (drums).
"Jim Beach" himself describes those early days: "The guys met through various acquaintances that we had in LA. 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 4:30 AM. We all had day jobs, so we did what we could".
Amazingly the recording sessions for the album were recorded similarly on the fly, as "Jim Beach" further states: "The Moonblood recording took place at Whitney's Studio in Glendale, CA, early in 1971. On a strict budget, these songs were recorded in less than three hours and all of them 'one takes'. We played, all 5 of us, simultaneously– there were no studio effects, no overdubbing or any additional sound effects added. Basically what you hear is considered 'old school' recording".
Fascinatingly enough, "Jim Beach" cites the much punker Love as his fave LA band over "The Doors", and also gives influence-nods to proto-everything rockers "The Yardbirds" and to "Bob Dylan", whose dark word tapestries surely inspired "Jim Beach"'s lyrics.
Equally as integral to the Fraction sound is lead guitarist "Don Swanson", "Jim Beach" says: "his blown-out fuzz riffs set a template for what is now commonly known as 'stoner rock' or 'acid punk', and his solos consist of jagged, wah-wah-ed shards of notes, with his amplifier clearly pushed to the limit. Don's guitar was always my driving force and he did everything he could to keep it over the top. You'd never know that (his sound) was coming from an old, broken down Esquire. Don kept it alive!"
The other members contributions shouldn't be underappreciated though– drummer "Curt Swanson" keeps things at a constant simmer, and then boils over when the whole band launches into snarling glory. The band and LP as a whole equals something indescribably intense from start to finish, comparisons to the Detroit late 60s high-energy bands like "The Stooges" and MC5 abound, as well as the sort of late 60s damaged spirit lurking in biker clubs and disgruntled Vietnam vets.
This one might very well be the greatest Christian Rock album ever made.