December 1, 2021

Big Paul Ferguson – ‘Virtual Control’ – “Killing Joke drummer brings thoughts and impelling grooves”

CLEO RECORDS      25th June 2021

Big Paul Ferguson co-founded post-punk massive noise-mongers, Killing Joke. His part in their industrial levels of sonic attack was huge tribal drumming, which stood its ground amidst Geordie’s guitar onslaught and Jaz Coleman’s shouting. It comes as no surprise that drums are the key instrument here. There is plenty of choppy post-punk guitar but it all rides on big rolling drum patterns, high in the mix. Words are delivered sung-spoken and earn a place on the sleeve because this could be considered a concept album. Killing Joke have always channelled disconnection from the modern world and anomie. That continues here, amped up by the world-change of COVID-19 restrictions.

Lyrically, Paul describes the work as “My reflections on the dichotomies, social and personal, of these times. How our lives are being affected by isolation coupled with the bombardment of conflicting information. Our trust in what is real and true being challenged on a daily basis.” The vocals dig into the online obsession, living online, waiting as the blue wheel spins, mental health wobbling amidst continually changing messages of safe / not safe.

“Hard to imagine what the future’s gonna look like

When the structures we’ve been used to

Have all been swept aside

Barriers of normalcy

Barriers of trade

Have all been blown to pieces

By this fundamental change.”

The album is perhaps more a set of musings amid churning music than songs per se, but in a world where Dry Cleaning are currently setting the pace for innovation, this is a showcase of how Big Paul Ferguson is both up to date and ahead of his past, forever out of time and unsettled in the world despite the earthy and totally grounded drums.