EXHUMED: Heitkotter 'Black Orckid' LP

posted Tuesday Jan 20th, 2015

A mystery among collectors for decades, Now-Again Records (with rare pics, and illuminating liner notes by label head Eothen Alapatt) pulls back the curtain on the raw, wasted, funky, downer, destructo-blues-rock opus from 1971 by Stephen David Heitkotter—ex-drummer for Fresno, CA, teenbeat titans the Road Runners. Heitkotter’s demo LP, originally produced in a hand-made run of 25 copies for friends and labels, is here re-titled Black Orckid (Heitkotter’s pen name as singer/songwriter/visual artist). Replacing the hand-scrawled name or plain-type on a stock sleeve—as the OG and first reissue were, respectively—we’re presented a re-envisioning of one of his enveloping, dark pieces of art as a front slick.

While likely influenced by power trios like Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys-era—quite evident in the five mostly instrumental unreleased demo tracks that surge with fluid, indelible riffs, frenetic basslines and a light funkiness—the meditative, languid rhythm of “Hangin’ All Night” with bursts of electric fuzz, the minimalist “Quaker Dog Got Away” (sounding closest to early Royal Trux), and the churning, funky “Cadillac Woman” with their muttered, drawly vocals most sound like a precursor to scuzzy ‘90s NY underground blues-punk.

Bucking the source of inspiration Heitkotter transmitted his visions in a loose, flowing fashion sitting somewhere in the realm of George Brigman and Steve Hall (Afflicted Man), and is a sure trip for fans of either, or those who’ve long been struck by his saga.

(The bonus demos tracks are slightly more lo-fi, but anyone into this sorta damage shouldn’t be bothered by that.) Pick up the latest issue of Ugly Things with this review right here.