this is a free fanzine
bastard noise + barrabus + rotunda + absolution
editorial I first started Steady Diet zine in ’92, when the glut of great zines being sold at gigs and local record stores inspired me to have a go. I had things to say and questions that needed answering, as well as a Brother electronic typewriter looking redundant in the corner of my bedroom. It was one of those that had a two line LCD display and a ribbon strip that ran out very quick. I soon realised that doing a zine would be expensive. But what the hell, everyone makes a loss in the DIY scene. Just accept it. It was fun to do, All the cut and paste, the photocopying of photos sourced from books and magazines. Things got a little easier when I got an Apple Mac Performa 475 desktop with Home Publisher software. For better or worse, old school zine production was out, and slick layouts with professional typefaces were in. I didn’t have internet so photocopies of images were scanned, imported and processed. It was fun to do. More fun than trying to sell it. But that’s another story. And I missed it. 1996 was when the last issue was put out. Around the time Man Is The Bastard broke up. And I called it a day too. But the desire to put out this zine again has been getting to me for a year now, but I didn’t want to do something that required me to go out and sell it. I needed a more innovative business model. So I’ve decided to give it away free with orders to the music mail-order thing I do. I might leave a few copies lying about on tube trains and buses or pub tables, or any record shop that will take it. So if you’re reading this, I guess that’s one of the ways you got hold of it. Pass it on if you want, but I’ve hand numbered them to make them collectible (I learned that from vinyl). I hope you enjoy the zine. It’s got interviews with bands I like rather than trying to promote a record on a label’s behalf, plus the usual zine stuff that’s opinionated and personal. Post script- I popped into Rough Trade in Talbot Road, Notting Hill the other day to check out stuff. I last came here in the early 90s. Anyway, I enquired about punk zines they sold. Dude gave me a blank look. All they had was Maximum Rocknroll. Looks like those good old days are truly over when you could pick up a good read with your record. I
UDI M O M Satpal Kalsi IO O snail mail: 4 Mainstone Close Winyates East Redditch B98 0PP England UK telephone/text: +44 (0)7791683020 email: email@example.com
Contributions and letters for publication would be most welcome. Don’t be shy.
hey POTUS. You even know what Leadership is?
next issue scheduled for MAY 2018 The American people owe me big time. My Leadership is My Struggle....
Distribution: if you can help out by leaving copies of this zine in your area please e-mail me.
… and I’ve got my Volksgemeinshaft to make sure I do it. Even if they have to crack a few Commie heads! Vielen Danke, Vielen Danke.
The band I first wanted to Interview with Eric Wood feature upon resurrecting this Why is the band on hiatus? - - - Without being evil and self righteous, the band is on hiatus for a zine was Bastard Noise. few key reasons. First, I left for a one year job on the east coast of the United States (Englewood Cliffs, New Primarily led by Eric Wood, Jersey) from June of 2014 to late May of 2015 which caused an obvious break for us as a unit but allowed me this Los Angeles noise unit have for years continued to to survive - bittersweet for sure and when you're a bit older, survival and the definition of it are more serious put out intriguing vinyls and than ever. It DID open up a brand new avenue though when I asked Anthony Saunders to join BASTARD CDs that had me captivated. NOISE for the year long commitment I made to be back east and we proceeded to establish a very Though I’ve followed them for comfortable chemistry together as a two piece unit. We played great shows and did a mini-tour in December years (right back to 1996) I of 2014 with the utterly captivating artist NYODENE D. Anthony is a great sound artist, trustworthy and can’t claim to have everything extremely knowledgeable with his gear and how to compliment negative in a live set. He is a treasure. they’ve released (BN is incredibly prolific because so Secondly, I was troubled to a degree about the unequal effort being made by the three members at the time I many small record labels dig left for work (i.e. not caring about buying the appropriate equipment to be self sustaining, rehearsing like a what they do) I would say that real band does - more than once or twice a week and me doing nearly all of the writing both lyrically and the strength of their music musically - aside from the drums being created/composed around the writing I did for each of the has kept me coming back. compositions which is no small feat !) Also our last drummer (APPELHANS) was in stifling legal trouble Eric is very vocal in his and had personal problems that could not be ratified by anyone but him. I have no idea where he is today. It's politics and doesn’t tolerate very sad. Being in a band is very trying when one person does the majority of work and gets in the case of idiots. That hardness is reflected in music which can BASTARD NOISE (music) one third of the reward. I do not miss that about it. This only pertains to the almost be called outsider art. "band" side of BN just to be clear. It’s not looking to be beautiful. Beauty manifests itself when How do you feel the band has progressed in the last few years? - - - Since the band there is an understanding has been on hiatus for nearly two years, there has not been progress within that side of the unit. It has between the creator and the however opened up a great opportunity for BN's experimental side which I find much more rewarding (despite listener. It’s not an easy feat the experimental sound/noise haters that "pepper" the underground community). BASTARD NOISE but I think it’s been achieved (band) is productive when I do everything or when W.T. NELSON was involved in the band side of BN. It by this incredible band. gets very tiring and if there are ethics being followed then all my personal income goes in to it. I am over
paying for nearly everything for one third of the reward. I know my feelings are not an isolated case. Many people in bands know exactly what I am referring to.
Are there two versions of BN- one that plays rhythmic music and the other that performs pure noise? - - - Yes there are. For now BASTARD NOISE ("INSECT WAR ELECTRONICS" + extreme lyrics is the top priority) With the addition of Saira Huff formerly of DETESTATION and currently of QUESTION, a real rebirth in the unit has occurred. We are together currently writing our first full length 12" L.P and many releases are planned for the future.
Do you prefer an ever changing line up in Bastard Noise? - - - The ever changing line-up of BASTARD NOISE has not been easy to deal with quite honestly due to initially finding like minded/skilled individuals to carry the "skull torch" into the next realm of sound and to develop a musical chemistry that is both mentally and musically productive beyond just a recording. There is really a lack of quality players in Los Angeles who are in it for the "long haul”, that possess writing skills and creative drive. Grindcore is exhausted as a genre as well as hardcore in its "cubist" state and BN always strived musically to divert from such obvious tendencies. That is why BASTARD NOISE (NOISE) is such a breath of fresh air for me to focus on solely. Honestly, M.I.T.B. and BASTARD NOISE always came from a rock/jazz/progressive background NOT a hardcore/grind origin so the material reflects that. In BN (noise) Saira is a dream to deal with. No babysitting is ever needed. It's been amazing so far. Rotating line-ups can make you old before your time if the material of the music is super challenging.
What is your working method when creating new sounds?
- - - It varies but
usually is about never repeating an approach that has been documented before. With BN producer Michael Rozon who has produced the band/noise for the last ten years, the chemistry is serene and rewarding even in the toughest of times. A lot of times it is based around lyrical subject matter. The philosophy of "bring every tool to even the smallest job" is what I adhere to.
Since 1996 how differently have you approached creating music? - - - There is no real difference since the 1997 break up of MAN IS THE BASTARD. I have always tried to come from the heart and approach/create sounds/compositions/lyrics that I myself would want to hear. With BASTARD NOISE (all noise), I stopped dealing with anyone else doing the sounds but myself. I have more peace of mind and I see results quicker and when an artist is trying to stay prolific, that assists immensely. In BN, new vocalist Saira Huff writes half of the lyrics and I write the other 50% and I come up with all the sounds and design the live sets.
Do you believe in having a consistent/ core group of instruments? - - - Usually with a few exceptions that interchange now and then depending the set being performed but this doesn't apply in the studio for the most part.
Have digital workstations made it easier for you to achieve what you wanted? - - - If you mean recording with PRO-TOOLS yes most definitely BN does not record at home. BN records in a professional studio setting with our producer Michael Rozon.
When you have creative blocks do you look to the works of people you admire, or your own past works? - - - Usually not in the moment. Either before or after a session. Patience IS virtue you know and that is exactly why I work with Michael Rozon. He is BN's George Martin (R.I.P.)
If an idea isn't working out do you abandon it or persevere until a solution is found? - - - Both approaches. Usually abandonment only occurs with a lot of reviewing of what has be documented.
Are titles for your pieces derived from what you feel from the sounds, or is the sound derived to express a specific subject? - - - It is definitely both. There needs to be an acute relationship between both the lyrical content and the sounds that are carefully and specifically created I guess, but I prefer now to have things sound much more of a "composed" feel to
It’s all getting a bit tiresome now- this argument about vinyl versus digital. I used to be like thatarguing one was better than the other. Years ago, I was pro CD, then I went the other way, and now I don’t really care. At the end of the day, what’s important is the emotional response to the sound quality, whether the same album is being played on vinyl, cassette or CD. Therefore, what you perceive to be superior sound quality of one format over the other is not down to the musicians, but to the technical skills of the Sound Engineers. There’s three types of music available nowanalog source transferred directly to the masters for vinyl records (original old records), digital sources processed for analogue (modern recording using software), and analogue sources remastered for digital (old albums remastered for CDs). In each case the results are down to what the Engineer has done to preserve the original tone, while accentuating the dynamic ranges of volume, but how one Engineer would approach it will be different to another Engineer. That’s why, for example, people are always complaining that the quality of Beatles or Rolling Stones re-issues vary. Both of these bands nowadays have their music sourced from the digital for vinyl, probably because Engineers can compress the sound better, ie. make the records sound louder without losing the balance between the instruments. It’s a subjective process, and this is where the pitfalls can lie. Digital sound is like a reproduced photo online or in a magazine. To reduce the photo file size, the image is converted into pixels or dots, so the saving is in the empty spaces beween the dots. The resolution is the density of the dots per area of image. The viewer’s brain fills in the spaces between the dots to visualise a smooth, vibrant image. Digital audio works the same wayfrequencies are stripped off the sound so the transition across tone is stepped rather than smooth. The stripping of frequencies is like creating the spaces between the pixels in a photo. The resolution is in how big the steps are. To compensate, digital to analogue converters built into amplifiers attempt to smooth out the steps.
it. There are so many shit sounding artists who just make a racket. It's pathetic. I try to push myself and always take the listener to "other worlds”.
Do you feel the audience appreciate what BN are trying to do? - - - It seems so but it took a much longer time for BN (all/lyrics + vocals) to be accepted (of course!). If it wasn't for perseverance, and the late KOJI TANO (M.S.B.R./MAGMAX/DENSHI ZATSUON MAGAZINE), BASTARD NOISE would not be where it is today. The recent TOWER TRANSMISSIONS V festival in Dresden, Germany last September really was a treat for me personally and was only my second time ever performing by myself. Eric Byrne and Peter Hauptfleisch (L WHITE RECORDS) made it all possible. It was a contemporary turning point for BN.
stepped digital signals compared to smooth analogue sine curve
Do you feel your audience puts expectations on you that might affect creative processes? - - - Not at all but people are especially receptive to vocals/lyrics incorporated into the content of each performance so that is something I have tried to be loyal about. Now with the addition of Sara, things are in "bulldoze" mode !
Do you believe there should be a level of accessibility in your sounds so it may appeal to people not familiar with noise? - - - I think again, that's where vocals/ lyrics come in. It helps people relate more to the sound content of the performance. Vocals would be the "accessible" element if there was one.
What are the specific themes that interest you most? - - - Environmental, space travel, alien worlds and creatures (more specifically), the insidious nature of man, when inventions destroy their inventors, the history of our earth mother we (before the cockroaches that we are ruined everything) and animal rights (forever) to name a few.
When recording or performing live do you feel you are continuing the tradition of improvisational music? - - - I imagine but again, I prefer to have a percentage of the BASTARD NOISE live set be as composed as possible. There is a lot of shit out there I prefer to not be associated with. The more of a compositional feel recorded documents or live performances have, the better quite honestly.
Is the purpose of noise to break free from the confines and rules of tonal music, or to complement it? - - - Definitely to compliment it ! If it isn't "musical noise", I want nothing to do with it.
Is noise a niche or have you sensed a greater appreciation of the genre? - - In my case (or in the case of BASTARD NOISE I should say) I think a greater appreciation has become apparent as the years go on. It's still a "niche" but BARNES and W.T. NELSON and their initial memberships in MAN IS THE BASTARD really introduced a lot of people to a world of unconventional sound that could be "fused" into conventional, progressive, underground music We were lucky in that way to have had the chemistry and open-mindedness that we did. It was crucial to have non contemporary influences/heroes to execute and create the best contemporary material possible.
Are noise artistes appreciative of each other?
- - - I think that goes without saying. I
am a huge fan myself and probably buy too many releases that my peers put out !
Which artistes do you feel are continually transcending the genre?
- - -
BRUME/CHRISTIAN RENOU, AMPS FOR CHRIST, GUILTY CONNECTOR, AZOIKUM (finally resumed activity after nearly 8 years !), HUMAN LARVAE, WORK DEATH, SICKNESS, OUTERMOST, HIROSHI HASEGAWA, GOVERNMENT ALPHA, TOSHIJI MIKAWA, FACIALMESS, AUBE, EINLEITUNGZEIT, CHAOS AS SHELTER are examples of sound units I feel change and do quality work. Certainly there are endless quality artists though. It is a crime not to mention them all.
Would you describe yourself as a noise purist? - - - I’m not sure how to answer that "correctly" ! I mean what BASTARD NOISE is about sound-wise DOES include some similar themes (if the subject matter is determined to be strong enough to be reiterated) but I feel I guess I
record collecting Then only very high frequencies are stripped offopinion being that the result is indiscernible from the original source. To do this, the Engineer needs to understand the music. Treating a delicate Anton Webern Piano piece would receive a different Mastering response to an experimental noise piece by Aube, even though both artistes specialise in low volume audio. If done wrong the album will sound dry and sterile regardless of format ( and that includes online streaming). Just buying a remastered album on vinyl simply because it’s on vinyl is not a guarantee that you are getting the best interpretation of the music. I would be wary of record labels who boast about being vinyl onlybelieve their hype only if they can provide the technical data to back up their claims, if precise audiophilia is your thing. In an ideal world, the simplest thing would be to buy records in their original releases- if they were classics before digital then they’ll still be classics. Of course, no one has the money to buy every decent vinyl record, so you really have no choice but to make do with CD or digital streams. Personally, I am not too bothered about audiophile sound. I’m really looking for the emotional quality of what I hear- that ‘warmth’ people are always going on about. I get that from old second hand records with their crackle and pops. I love that. Especially when you lay the needle down. Even when I digitise my records so not to wear them out, the sound of ‘defects’ adds to the charm. I’ve noticed digitising an album maintains the warmth while pushing up the lower frequencies. It’s not a sterile sound if you keep away from all the software filters that may tempt you to mess around with the audio. Again. it is subjective so maybe some ear training exercises may be advisable. Audiophiles might be shocked by this and say I’m doing the music a dis-service by ignoring the technological innovations of HD digital. But if a raw recording like Crossed Out’s first 7”ep still sounds incredible today, do I need to spend thousands on a CD player and speaker system to get the most out of it? All I’m saying is buy an album if the sound is right for you, and not because of the format.
wouldn't use for instance banjo or vibes necessarily in a recording. There are about nine or ten diﬀerent
Steady Diet favourite 10 albums
units used (in diﬀerent combinations) on such recorded documents. I guess in a certain respect, the
Bob Dylan - Blood On The Tracks
answer would be "yes".
Bolt Thrower - War Master
Do the electronic pioneers of yesteryear still have relevance or influence? -
Grateful Dead - Anthem Of The Sun
- - No doubt about it ! HERBERT EIMERT, DAVID VORHAUS, LUIGI RUSSOLO,
Grateful Dead - American Beauty
ROLAND KIRK, PIERRE HENRY and their countless comrades play an integral role in my
It’s A Beautiful Day - Marrying Maiden
awareness and at least have a subliminal effect on what BN's continuous mission is.
Jefferson Airplane - After Bathing At Baxters
You've dedicated a recording to Koji Tano. Please tell us what he still means to you? - - - KOJI TANO means everything to BASTARD NOISE being heard by a
Man Is The Bastard - Sum Of The Men Meat Puppets - Up On The Sun Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation Spirit - 12 Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus
is “noise music”
was the line-up of WIESE/WOOD for that first Japan tour) many great shows with the likes of
Is there any equipment eg. Synthesizers that you would really love to invest in for the next phase of BN? - - - No not really. BN uses
MERZBOW (a live collaboration), TIMISOARA, GASOLINEMAN, KAZUMOTO ENDO, CRY
TROGOTRONIC hand made electronics now
much wider and hungry audience. He was the first person ever to express an intense interest in
BASTARD NOISE coming to Japan (our first trip was in 2000) He worked tirelessly for BN and got us (it
HAVOC, IDIOSY OF THE GROTESQUE, NIKU DOREI, MONEY IS GOD, MASONNA,
exclusively. ( www.trogotronic.com ) W.T.
PAIN JERK and many more. That first tour was an eye opener and a real education. His magazine
NELSON makes the best units available for BASTARD
DENSHI ZATSUON and his units M.S.B.R. and MAGMAX were utterly incredible and his record
NOISE’s mission on this earth and worlds beyond...
store and label were also equally as amazing. Also as a important note, the "METAL BONE AND
SAN and recorded on our third tour of JAPAN in 2004 (the NELSON/WOOD line-up) at his record store
You have collaborated with a lot of artistes. What are the advantages of collaborating over solo works? - - - There aren't actual literal
during the wee hours of the end of our tour. We never saw him again. His passing (in July of 2005) was the
advantages (at least to me personally) but instead diﬀerent
heaviest blow ever to the experimental community at large but especially in Japan. We miss him dearly and
perspectives on approaching recorded sound that involve
will love him with reverence forever.
surprises, chance taking and open mindedness. It helps to
SERVITUDE" release (DEFEKTRO/BASTARD NOISE collaboration cd) was dedicated to TANO-
Is there such a thing as cliques in the noise scene? - - - There is such a thing and it's fucking bullshit. Such cliques are populated by cowardly, "legends in their own minds", human waste that know nothing about being "down home" and acting like a good neighbours/fellow artists. They are totally full of shit and they know who they are.
have someone you can emphatically trust that you are in collaboration with too. I trust more than anyone else CHRISTIAN RENOU (BRUME) how and his work with BN sounds, but many have also proven themselves with their tireless eﬀorts in collaboration recordings.
What is the biggest limiting factor for the group when moving forward - - - Simply put :
Could you ever consider creating noise just for yourself or do you feel what you do is only relevant if there is an audience? - - - I wouldn't bother if I didn't hold top
financing. Starving artist forever.
priority to do it for myself FIRST. It's certainly nice to see and learn of those that seem to comprehend your
- - There are variables in style but nonetheless a
work the same way you might but I do it for myself first. Always have, always will.
consistency is also apparent in BASTARD NOISE in
Do you think the young kids doing their own noise thing are appreciative of the history of noise? - - - I think some are and some are not. It's all about research and educating oneself. There would be no present without the past. I'm most impressed with those that appreciate early pioneers that were active prior to these young minds being born. That's always refreshing to see/realise. Anyone that wants to learn, I am a fan of.
What releases are you planning for the near future? - - - These are some of the planned releases coming in the next 18 months : AMPS FOR CHRIST/BASTARD NOISE split 12" L.P. (already recorded but untitled - no label yet), "BASTARD NOISE : "THE H O N E S T Y S H O P " 1 2 " L . P. (ROBOTIC EMPIRE), " D E A T H ' S DOOR" (BASTARD NOISE/SICKNESS collaboration 12" L.P. - RELAPSE RECORDS), OUTERMOST/BASTARD NOISE collaboration 7" e.p. (test pressings generated and artwork being designed - I am releasing this on my tiny label "SKULL
BASTARD NOISE/GOVERNMENT ALPHA collaboration 12" L.P . (for ANTHEMS OF THE UNDESIRABLE), BRUME/BASTARD NOISE collaboration 7" e.p. (not yet recorded but will be on SKULL RECORDS), 3" cd for L RECORDS")),
WHITE RECORDS (Berlin, Germany) featuring David Smith of SHITSTORM on vocals),
BASTARD NOISE/FACIALMESS - BASTARD NOISE/HIROSHI H A S E G A W A live cassette (SKULL RECORDS), B A S T A R D N O I S E / BRUTALOMANIA split 7" e.p. "OUR EARTH'S BLOOD PT VI 7" e.p. for Japan Tour 2017 (not recorded - SKULL RECORDS). This will keep us busy for a long time.
Are you making home recordings during this hiatus? - - - No I do not record at home. BASTARD NOISE records in a professional studio with our producer Michael Rozon who has worked with the music and noise sides of BN for the last 10 years exclusively. Quality production is a must for BN and with the amount of work, a professional studio is a better, more optimum choice for productivity.
Would you say that BN moves forward in phases of style and technique or is there consistency in everything you have done? -
that you CAN trust that each sound document will "deliver the goods". Being prolific yet strong on every release and in every performance is all one can hope for to attain continuous, freedom.
for news, networking and product www.bastardnoise.com
how to create electronic music- the easy way
MN OC M N I NT R T O M O OM ID ND , O OC M M OCDIBN T I ? O F DA ND M A M T MN A , T B ? L DOT N I? ? N OC O C C ?B ? M D RN -C F D? N I OC DM D DOD N . IOA R A NCD I T N I?DIB ON A I T IN ? NND I B L D IO N DO FN C O NO AA DN A M OC S MD I ? ND D I RC I C I? OC DM INO O M ION R MDIB DNN N I? B I M IM D D DOT B ? I C MF DN I O O B M OC I ' I ? MI ? T N I? ? DF O I B I M O M M NTIOC NDU M RC I NO MODIB O C A I D N DN DI FDIB OC NO O A OC IOMT L D IO 7OMD DIB A M IDL N I?N RD M M R M?N RT C O ? D? RC O S O T OM ID ND IN O T DN DO I DN D IO ?M I MCTOC M BM DIB M ? I .DAA M IO L D IO DN B ? A M ?DAA M IO NOT N A OM ID ND NDIB N L I M DN IOM O OM ID ND RC OC M T WM B DIB O M O ' DI O ?M I RDOC N O NCDAON M O NOD ? O O 10 2 W T . II 7 M C N L I M N AM N T M C I?N O I IOM O I NDIB OC M ? N DA T C OC II O ? O DS M :C O M T MN O M OD N C N NND N DA T M TDIB D N O I? M M? RC O M T ? 2DNO IDIB F O OC N O N RD M OC M DOT M ? O RC O T OCDIF T R M CD DIB I M I I M A DI RDOC ITOCDIB T M O , M M ? O OCM R R T D? N M OC M OC I NOMD DIB O MM O M N RD E NO
ADBCODIB NDIB OO C OT A OM ID ND DN OC O DO BD N A AM ? FDI O D M DN ? ND ITOCDIB B N AM DU MM ON O N DIB I DM I IO N I?N 1O N DAD L DOT OC O II O CD ? DI OC OM ?DOD I ND N O A B DO M NN I? ?M N C ?DAAD OT DN DI DO I O N I?DIB DF NN I OC BC DI OM ID ND T IB O R T RDOC N A DI O I 1OWN ND? I ADO , O S MD I ? OM ID ND AD D I ? N I N O OC NCDO AM OC B ID N C OC M BM O OCDIB O OM ID ND DN DO RN T M O N I?N N OC O M N MN I O T 1A T M TDIB DI ? DI OC ? MF I? R IO O C M I DIO IN NT C ? D ?M I M C MNC I DN MM B OI I DN ? DIB S O T RC O T R IO OC I N I? ? T E NO M ODIB DO T MN A 3T OO 17 17 21, 1
process create rhythm patterns if using sequencer activate chosen sounds on sound modules hook up sound modules to mixer hook up mixer to tape recorder / amplifier practice on sound modules until happy check on amplifier that sound is not overly loud adjust mixer and amplifier settings as required press record on cassette tape start up sequencer and mess with controls on modules use keyboard for a human element keep repeating until happy with a ‘live’ performance hook up amplifier / tape player to computer import final version on cassette into Garageband clean up sound using reverb, pan, equalizer and compressor create mixdown and send to iTunes enjoy opportunities for improvement- understand sound and tone
some hippie guitarists- check ‘em out I would recommended listening to these albums: Jefferson Airplane - ‘After Bathing At Baxters’ Country Joe And The Fish - ‘Electric Music For The Mind And Body’ Grateful Dead - ‘Live/Dead’ Pink Floyd - ‘Meddle’ Big Brother And The Holding Company’ - ‘Cheap Thrills’ Quicksilver Messenger Service ‘ ‘Happy Trails’
jerry garcia - grateful dead
jorma kaukonen - jefferson airplane
quicksilver messenger service
james gurley - big brother
dave gilmore - pink floyd
barry melton - country joe and the fish
What exactly is a hippie guitarist? Looking like a hippie usually helps (see sample photos). Beyond that, a skilled hippie guitarist should have a certain earthliness about their playingcan express the gentleness of folk and country music, as well as the free form explosions of improvised jazz and Raga. This eclectic combination means that the approach is not tied to a certain style but can travel in the direction that er…. circumstances may dictate, while not losing the sense of structure or order. The best psychedelic music is the kind that evokes the rural communities of laid back existence and the urban chaos of liberated values. It’s dictated by a state of mind rather than technique or formula.
LONDON / MIDLANDS UK
who the hell are
RABID HARDCORE WHILE BEING NICE
why are they in here?
FOR PLAYING RABID HARDCORE TO AN EXEMPLARY LEVEL. AND THEY DRESS WELL
interview with paul catten So who the hell are Barrabus and why are they doing what they’re doing? Barrabus? Myself, my long time partner in musical crime Mark, top man Keen and some bloke on drums. Why? Times ticking away! We're trying to cram as much stuﬀ into these twilight years as we can. And in a time when the majority of music, particularly metal, has become stale, we have returned as suited super heroes to save the world from skinny guys with lots of tattoos, nice hair and traditional beatdowns.
There was a long break between now and your earlier stuff. Why resurrect the band? It was never a plan to be fair. The four of us were in the same room at Jammer's funeral and it was the first time in years, just a shame about the circumstances. Whilst enjoying a feast buﬀet at Jam's expense we talked about jamming again, and that was that. Couple of years of Keen badgering everyone went by and then Dan found a rehearsal recording we had done, so he laid down some drums and we took it from there.
What’s so unique about the band that it had to be resurrected rather than start a new band? It was unfinished business I guess. We had some great tunes in the bank and it seemed a waste to leave them unheard. People dug the band when we were around, we always enjoyed playing in suits and not having any musical sort of restrictions. It was always good fun too, no pressures as it was pretty much a side project. I know people are saying Paul Catten has resurrected this old band etc but trust me, I was the last to be involved, although I'm glad I warmed to the idea as so far its been great. It's no Paul Catten stroke of genius, Mark is the main brains behind the music. Fuck Paul Catten! Porn (excerpt)
“I’d say we are the crack of metal, cheap rate metal for losers”
Can’t concentrate, my focus waning Tears are dried upon my cheek I masturbate both day and night My mind is fucked from 3 hours sleep I wanted things to work out Tried so hard to pretend I’m always acting that part It all went wrong in the end Porn – You almost saved me Porn – The joy you gave me
Are lyrics recent or have they been gathering dust since the early days?
Porn – Please never leave me Porn - You’re all I live for now Am I just passing the time, or am I wasting my time? Waiting for someone who doesn’t exist
Bit of both to be honest. Some were recorded as demos so I had a reference for the lyrics, and did some fine tuning or some word changes. Others I had no idea what was being sung on the rehearsal recording so apart from the odd key phrase I had to rewrite, which I'm glad about now. The titles are the same so I had the subject, just needed to write the story behind it. It felt good to write some lyrics again, I've pretty much left lyric writing alone for a good few years.
The sleeve design is very distinctive. What is being represented? I have no idea, Tony Shephard (Deviated Instinct) at Shephard Creative was left to his own devices
am I dreaming the dream
and we loved what he did. I'm easily pleased when it comes to artwork. We liked the fact it was un-metal and basic in its surrounding. The 3 faces behind the CD were done by John Leamy of Masters of Reality as a
Cos nothing has changed
favour, and it looks killer. Sorry I can't be more precise my friend!
Been disowned by friends and
The album is musically dense and unrelenting. Is that a reflection of your state of mind?
Am I in love with the obscene, or
Ummmmm, not so much now but at the time of the band before, we were throwing a lot of ideas into a melting pot. Add a pure fixation with Disco Volante and being the opposite to the 'main' bands we were in. When recording them
Fantasy became my life I wear my tie like Michael Hutchence Can’t leave the house for fear of daylight
How has social media helped document the band’s progress and how have you utilised it?
I wanted things to work out Tried so hard to pretend I’m always acting that part It all went wrong in the end
we wanted it to be intense of course, but we're pretty good at that as musicians anyhow so it was easily achieved. I find it quite musical in comparison to some of the stuﬀ in our discography, whereas to normal ears it’s punishing. Maybe we need to up the stakes on the next album. We use intensity for amusement these days, rather than for catharsis I think.
It's so much easier for bands now with social media, and it has definitely helped us out. Keen loves it, as I do to a lesser extent. We mistimed it a bit, by announcing our comeback in early 2015 but people have stuck with us. The days of travelling around, playing to no one and trying to sell cassettes are long long gone. Which is how I met you many moons ago I believe?
Photos of the band suggest a specific image for the band. Any reasons for this? When you are blessed with our boyish good looks and style, you have to exploit it. Poster boys for the middle-aged. We like wearing suits, I think we'd be rubbish if we just wore t-shirts and jeans, top class fashion sense = top class
tunes. We have proven this :) I have fond memories of one of your earlier bands, Medulla Nocte. Is there anything of that band buried within Barrabus? Maybe a love of playing fast at times and shouting a lot, I still enjoy that as much as I did then but nothing else. ‘In League With Vader’ sounds a bit
in places I suppose, but not intentionally. It's nice to hear people still
remembering that band, but no backward steps here...always move forward. It's buried, and best left in that grave.
The reviews for the album so far have been very positive. How do you feel about that, but do you think the press aimed at a more mainstream audience will ever get hardcore or extreme metal? It's been great to see the response so far, although it would have made no diﬀerence to us if everyone hated it. Even better probably! Bands always say they don't give a fuck about the mainstream press but when you do get a good review in say Kerrang, it's always feels nice. I actually bought the issue with the review in and although the bands in it weren't to my taste it was nice to be the most full on band mentioned in it. There's enough press around for those bands with Terrorizer, Zero Tolerance etc...horses for courses as they say. Metal fans are like drug addicts though, they start oﬀ on weaker stuﬀ and gradually descend to harder stuﬀ. Using that analogy I'd say we are the crack of metal, cheap rate metal for losers haha.
Is there any particular song on the album that is that little bit special to you? ‘Porn’ is a bit of a masterpiece to my ears [now made as a video- SK], so that one feels a bit special at times, whereas on another day ‘Merrick’ is my favourite. Then I hear ‘Vader’ and think the same thing. Then again, ‘The End’ is beautiful as well. Having produced it, and living and breathing those songs for a long time and knowing the eﬀorts we all put into it, it’s fucking hard to choose one I think!
You work with children in a school. Is there anything you see in the way children interpret the world that you don’t see from an adult? Haha, yes, the kids I work with don't give a fuck! And I mean that nicely, nothing is more important than looking good on social media or falling out with friends over Snapchat. The world is a small place to the majority of teenagers, that's why jobs like mine exist...helping these guys find their way. You can take a horse to water, and if you're lucky it will drink plenty but sometimes it just fucks oﬀ in the other direction. Adults are boring, teenagers are full of energy and lunacy, and that's why I still feel right at home in a school!
Without reading too much in the band name, but essentially the people had to make a choice between the good guy Jesus and the bad guy Barrabus. They chose the bad guy to go free. Is that a metaphor for something? When we started I was flirting with religion a bit (the Lazarus Blackstar albums are loaded with this questioning) and Barrabus was just a name from a key moment in the Bible that's all. Maybe a bit anti-Jesus in some ways perhaps, bear in mind Barrabus at the start was just me and Mark and a whole bunch of eﬀects. Unworldly racket for sure, so a slightly oﬀensive religious name was part of the plan. There's also the scene in 24 Hour Party People where
Coogan says Barrabus is the name for a band, and that confirmed the fact we had made the right choice. “Who do you want?” “Barrabus!” I'm pretty sure if we were up against Jesus in a crucifixion face oﬀ the result may diﬀer now however.
How difficult was it to get the sound you wanted during the production process? Well, bear in mind the album was pretty much recorded in diﬀerent rooms, with overdubs, vocals, production, mixing and mastering all done in my attic studio. We never even saw each other, just did it separately and mailed it over. Mark and I had a vision of how it would sound I think, pretty punk rock and loose to a point. My production skills are usually orchestral/avant garde stuﬀ so it was going to be a challenge doing a whole band of fussy bastards. Getting the sound isn't the issue (I have a degree in this stuﬀ)...its keeping the band members happy. Sometimes you just have to say “no” or say you have done something when you haven't haha. It turned out sounding great but I was also anxious about how it sounded to everyone outside the band. Thankfully the reviews have proved we are more than capable of doing it totally DIY, and still sound nice with it
Where will the band be going next or will there be another long break? We've started writing a second album, and we will have to do some gigs to back this up...just do what we can. Another 10 year hiatus won't work, we'd be dead or as good as by then. We'll be around, and we have other musical projects coming up as always.
Paul Catten (Vox / Electronics / Theremin) : Mark Seddon (Vox / Guitars / Noise) : Matt Keen (Vox / Bass ) : Adam Evans (Vox / Drums)
www.facebook.com/WeAreBarrabus : ‘Barrabus’ is out on Undergroove Records www.undergroove.co.uk
VALUING LIVES With recent tragic events regarding fires in public spaces, there has been much anger at accountability and public inquests. The building process is very complex, but each stage should be covered by Standards and Legislation as guidance as a minimum. In the chart on the right Control Points are shown in a simplified flow chart for Construction at the Building Regulations stage.. A Control Point is where the process should not progress until it has been passed off. It doesn’t matter if it’s large scale social housing or a basement for punk shows, it’s always the same. In the event of Critical failures it can be difficult to identify accountability because each Control Point has to be investigated and there can be so many, resulting in a long, drawn out process dependent on competently kept documentation and traceability of decisions made. Whatever happens, the biggest hurdle to be crossed is the blame game, and the ‘it’s not my fault’ mentality. Every party involved will claim to have Legislation and Standards to back them up. That’s how the Construction industry works.
Neil - vocals Richard - rhythm guitar Adam - lead guitar Kane - bass Jason - drums
OLD SCHOOL BRUTAL DEATH METAL
why are they in here?
HEROICALLY KEEPING ONE OF THE MOST VITAL MUSIC GENRES TRUE TO ITS ROOTS
interview with Richard Harwood
~ Absolution were on a very long hiatus. What made you guys reform the band? >>> When Absolution broke up in 1994, the split was not acrimonious, particularly between myself and other founding member Neil (Hadden - vocals). I had no intention in being in any other bands again. I moved away from Birmingham after I graduated from University, Neil moved away for a new job. Many years later, Neil returned to Birmingham and I saw him occasionally at gigs. We started chatting and hanging around with each other again in around 2008, and put our past differences behind us. Because people started seeing us together again, some people started to remember Absolution and saying wouldn’t it be good to reform. The seed was planted and eventually in around 2011 we decided to reform the band.
~What are the qualities in the band that makes you feel you can keep going? >>> Ultimately, we enjoy it. That is the main driving factor. From a band point of view, I would like to think that we are doing something a little bit different to many other bands. We are not superfast or super slow. We enjoy catchy, simple riffs and Master-style drums beat grooves.
~ The band seems to have returned to its original line-up. How difficult has it been for the band to get a stable and strong line-up? >>> No, the band did not return to the same line-up when we reformed. Only myself and Neil were the original members when we reformed. Although, this year our original drummer Jason Woods has rejoined us (he left Absolution in 1993). Quite simply we lost touch with original members, and therefore had to start again with new additions. Yes, it has been difficult and remains difficult to maintain a stable line-up. Since we reformed we have had 3 bass players and 3 drummers.
~ Do you think it is a good time to be in a death metal band?
>>> It depends what you mean by "good time". If you are in a big, full time band then I guess so. But for an underground Birmingham band, not really. Gigs tend to be poorly attended in the main, and there are fewer and fewer venues and promoters. Again, it is only our enjoyment and commitment that keeps us going.
~ Have you sensed any major changes in death metal during your hiatus? >>> Not really. Everything is just more exaggerated these days. The fast bands play faster, the slower bands play slower, the technical bands become more technical.
~ Do you think the newer audiences appreciate the bands from the beginning (ie 80's / early 90's)? >>> I would like to think so, but it is hard to say. We have seen Bolt Thrower in 2014 and thousands of people were there. But then again, we have seen Masscare and Master in recent years also and there were around 50 people maximum.
~ Do you think death metal is susceptible to fashionable changes like any other type of music? >>> Of course, death metal is no different in that respect. Everything goes around in a cycle. Doom is very popular of late, but the wheel will turn onto something else in the end.
~ Is Absolution's existence directly related to how much they play or many demos they sell? >>> It is great and flattering if people buy Absolution CD's, but if people do not like what they hear I am not going to loose any sleep over it, as it is the best we could have done in a point of time. If we didn't sell any then I would be concerned, of course! If we didn't play gigs we would sell less CD's, as we sell most of our CD's at gigs. So one is dependent upon the other. Playing live is the more important of the two.
~ Please tell us your ideas behind your recent release "Temptations Of The Flesh”? >>> We had not recorded anything since 1992, so we wanted to get our newer songs on an EP in order to have something fresh to promote us. Plus as we had new members in the band that had contributed to creating these new songs they were keen to show what they were capable of.
~ Death seems to be in the news a lot more now, less from serial killers than terrorism. Is this something that could feed into the songs of Absolution? >>> I think we go through phases with lyrics. At the moment, we are writing about UK serial killers, which is also reflected in our artwork and merchandise. But in the past, we have written about the likes of terrorism and drug addiction. We can also write a song with a serious comment on murder (eg Shallow Graves about the Moors Murders), and one with an eye towards black humour (eg Cannibal Clan about Scottish cannibal Sauney Bean). So we can mix things up lyrically.
~ The demo has a very professional sound. Please tell us about the production of it and any difficulties the band had in getting the sound they wanted? >>> If you are referring to our 1992 demo "Remittance of Penance" then although I am proud of it as an achievement and that is was well received, it was rushed. We should have spent more time preparing and investing in hindsight. The more recent EP "Temptations of the Flesh" we spent more time and money on, which I think shows.
~ Please state 5 old death metal bands that Absolution have been influenced by and three currant bands you think have added something to the genre? >>> 5 old bands that have influenced us? Massacre, Master, Bolt Thrower, Autopsy, Celtic Frost. Newer bands? Memorium and Vallenfyre.
the www.facebook.com/absolutionUK octor in d a e r Remittance of Penance cassette demo 1992 “is the ” Remittance Reborn compilation 2014 house? Temptations Of The Flesh CDep 2015
PUNK ROCK LIKE THEIR LIVES DEPENDED ON IT
why are they in here?
FOR BEING A PUNK BAND THAT HAS BUILT A FAN BASE WHO APPRECIATE GOOD MUSIC WHEN THEY HEAR IT
- You've played a couple of festivals like Blackpool and punk picnics. How has that helped the band compared to playing the smaller venues? + Playing festivals has helped us as a band. When you step up to the next level, it’s a lot more professional compared to smaller gigs; you tend to get a better sound. But to be honest, we love playing both.
- I think the band consists of guys with differing tastes in music. How has that impacted on the Rotunda sound? + There’s Dave at one end of the spectrum. He loves metal and really heavy stuff. And at the other end, Stew loves melodic and pop punk. We’ve got a good mix of different styles, and when they all go into the Rotunda melting pot, that’s what you get.
interview with louis warren - What can we expect from the forthcoming album?
new Rotunda album is gonna be called Rotten to the Core. You can expect 11 kick-ass tunes. We’ve recorded some of the fastest and heaviest songs we’ve ever done, as well as melodic singalong anthems. We’ve been playing the title track off the new album in our live set recently, and it’s going down a storm. As a band, we are so pleased with how the new album is sounding.
- Do you think it's a good time to be a punk band in Theresa May's Britain? + Yes, it’s good time to be in a punk band because people are angry and they’ve got something to say. The Tories are creating a division between the rich and the poor, and we have some songs on our new album that reflect how we feel. One of the songs is called Mug Me Off. It’s about being ripped off and lied to by your employer in pay negotiations. Lots of people haven’t had a pay rise in a long time. I think it’s a disgrace.
- The band line up has been quite stable. What prevents you guys from killing each other? + I think we’ve known each other for so long, we all get along really well. We’ve had people leave the band in the past because they weren’t enjoying it any more. If you’re not enjoying it, then things can become stressful - and that’s when you want to kill each other!
- Tell us interesting things about the Rotunda fans. + One of our fans ran the London marathon in a Rotunda t-shirt. A couple walked down the aisle at their wedding to one of our songs (No Fun At All). And another of our fans has one of our song titles – Punk Rock Casualties tattooed on his neck.
- You just celebrated 20 years together. How was the response at the anniversary gig? + Fantastic! A real crosssection of new and old fans, some of whom we’ve known since our very first gig. We played some really old songs that night that we haven’t played in a long time, and it was great!
- Can you identify a change in fan base or audience over those 20 years? + Yes, we can tell a change in our fan base, because we have a lot of younger fans. But a lot of our original fans have been loyal and stuck with us, and become good friends. Social media and having our music played on the radio has helped us reach a new audience.
- You play a fast melodic punk rock. That sound never seems to age. Why? + Catchy songs (ear worms) just get in your head and stay there, never dying. We buy and listen to loads of new music, but like many people we go back to listening to the same classic albums of the past. Some bands never seem to age: The Clash; Bad Religion; The Misfits; Leatherface; etc.
- What are your influences now compared to 15 years ago? + Our influences haven’t changed that much, though our new guitarists Neil and Stew have changed our style slightly.
Louis Warren - vocals, Steve Wynne-Jones Drums, Dave Cain - bass, Stew Tyler - lead guitar, Neil Harvey - rhythm guitar
Audio Reviews - Feel free to submit stuff for review. Demos welcome ACxDC/Disparo! split 7”ep (Here And Now!)
Black Wizard ’New Waste’ LP (Listenable)
Title Fight ‘Hyperview’ LP (Anti)
Nothing generic about this killer split 7”. ACxDC aka Antichrist Demoncore from the USA deliver five potent fastcore blasts where the bass tones are pushed forward for that extra bludgeoning. The dual vocal is standard fare but does its stuff effectively. Disparo from Australia deliver seven tracks of a similar vein. Their logo features two bars under their name. Remind you of anyone? Then you’ll know where these guys are coming from. Their sound is clear and full, and again pummels the listener with a delicate mix of beatdown HC and fastcore. A collector’s must.
Very few stoner rock bands interest me, but hearing Black Wizard I’m wondering if I’m missing out. If they’re all as good as what is delivered on ‘New Waste’ then maybe, stoner metal isn’t the monotonous, derivative, unoriginal and tiresome genre I was believing it to be. Or maybe it is and I just struck lucky. Black Wizard don’t do themselves any favours with their typical stoner name, but fortunately, that’s where the lack of originality ends. Across the nine tracks, the album has a lot of variety that mixes fine riffs with hard worked melodies and catchy breaks. A typical example is ‘Vivian Girls’ which incorporates driving melodies with pummelling doom riffs, 70s guitar licks, phasing psyche and Spanish guitar romance. All in one song? Even Black Sabbath never attempted this insanity.
It took me quite a few listens to get into this. Their incredible, previous album ‘Floral Green’ had been played to death. I really wanted to hear more of the same. Instead ‘Hyperview’ delivered songs that weren’t hardcore. The power of Title Fight that had been ingrained into me over the years had just dissipated. It was a bit of a shock. Then one day, like an epiphany, I dug this album. I should have taken it for what it is rather than what it should have been. ‘Hyperview’ is full of delicate, subtle songs of a transient quality with guitar tones continually engulfing the listener. Lit.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor ‘Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress’ LP (Constellation)
Wrong ‘Wrong’ LP (Relapse)
Bastard Noise ‘Doomed Expedition’ dbl LP (Skull)
This album evolved from a monumental live piece called ‘Behemoth’ but condensed into four tight instrumentals that are very listenable and have a flow across it’s 40 mins. The power lies in the mix of subtlety and intense audio damage. Godspeed no longer need to produce lengthy, meandering double or triple albums. This is their first single vinyl and proves that good things can be delivered in small packages. ’Piss Crowns Are Trebled’ concludes the album with an engaging crescendo that stays with you for a long while.
Just when Helmet were becoming a fading memory, Wrong have come along and resurrected the corpse of that once great posthardcore guitar band. It’s like they listened to ’Strap It On’ and thought, “How can we re-do the album but in an up to date way?”. Well, whatever Wrong did, it sounds right. Wrong have nailed that staccato rhythm that was so idiosyncratic for Helmet and given it an edge that leans a bit more towards clearer guitar tones and less percussive barrages. The bass could been pushed forward a bit too. Nevertheless, a modern day classic.
This three sided double LP set features the live rendition of ‘Rogue Astronaut’ recorded at the No Fun Noise Fest in New York 2009, plus a new track ‘Sewercide’. This being a tribute to the Mole Men believed to live beneath New York City. It is sinister yet somehow full of hope that there is a Civilisation somewhere wiser than Humanity. Of course, Humanity in failure is evoked in the brain shredding screeches and rumblings of 'Rogue Astronaut’ which totals 40 mins. across two sides of vinyl. The oscillators courtesy of Trogotronics have a hypnotic edge to them but any semblance of peacefulness is continually broken by high pitched frequencies that can only be the screams of spacemen as that rogue astronaut gleefully sends their craft towards a slow death. Scary stuff.
Corrupted ‘Loss’ 7” (Crust War)
Bardo Pond ’Acid Guru Pond’ dbl LP (Fire)
Bossk ‘Audio Noir’ LP (Deathwish Inc.)
Corrupted releases are always waited with baited breath, this low profile band being what it is. So when ‘Loss’ made an appearance on a distro list, I eagerly ordered it. It is disappointing. Side A is a generic and lazy effort that could have been churned out by the band in their sleep, while the B side is a 4 minute ambient drone that just doesn’t sit well in this 7” format. The whole thing just washes over me without impact. It doesn’t have that something special all other Corrupted records have. I expect a little more effort next time round. For Corrupted completists only.
Psychedelic drone can be a law unto itself. Many conventions, for better or worse, are discarded, and rules are re-written. This album exemplifies that. On paper, the five tracks, each named after a colour, shouldn't work. Rambling guitars, discordant drones and off kilter drumming is a recipe for tedium if not disaster. But there are things on this album I love, but only if taken in short bursts. Then the glistening, almost pastoral, pseudo raga of the tracks become rather more than just background muzak for your personal trips. Otherwise, listening to the whole album in one sitting becomes a chore and distractions are inevitable. This isn't jazz but the technique is there as you would expect when you have Bardo Pond collaborating with Acid Mothers Temple and Guru Guru. Fascinating stuff.
The opener ‘Reverie’ kicks things off in such an unexpected way. A beautiful shoegaze build up with a Swans-like feel. the gentle contrasting with the intense. Even Godspeed! come to mind. But Bossk are their own thing, and ‘Audio Noir’ keeps everything flowing with that ‘don’t know what’s round the corner’ vibe. They break out into these brutal shouts and screams and next thing they go shoe gaze (for want of a better word). I like that, It gives the grind sections space and the time to breathe, while the more ambient pieces provide the atmospherics that tell a story.
Mass Gothic ‘Mass Gothic ’ LP (Sub Pop)
Death Index ‘Death Index’ LP (Deathwish Inc.)
Barrabus ‘Barrabus’ CD (Undergroove)
Mass Gothic is best when they invigorate their songs with snatches of intense violence. On the whole they come across as an emotional indie band not too far from Turnover, with hints of that 80s synths pop like Flock Of Seagulls and Echo and the Bunnymen, but any danger that this might fall into some dull collection of self pity is lifted by genuinely uplifting breaks where loud power is utilised to express a joyfulness. Standout 'Every Night You've Got To Save Me' is exemplary. But the album doesn’t flow and it takes a good few listens to get into. But overall, a grower.
Death Index’s mix of Industrial and hardcore recalls Swans and Ministry as starting points but develops into something more modern because so much ground is covered across the ten tracks. Death Index are restless so try everything from apocalyptic barrages to morose dark wave to pure Industrial a la Pitchshifter. Even hints of Bardo Pond are there. All good references but the album lacks a flow. It’s more like a compilation of a band trying to find its niche, but the positive is that picking any track at random will deliver something of substance by itself. Flawed but exciting.
How fierce is this? From the off, Barrabus inflict any metalhead worth their salt nine songs of bizarre technical metal and grinding hardcore. For me, the first band that came to mind was Retox with Justin Pearson's distinctive shouty vocals. Vocalist Paul has matched those qualities while the band deal out riff after riff of pounding melodies. Essentially, the album avoids limiting the metal just for impact, and makes space for all kinds of weirdness, like the garbled insanity on 'Kleptomaniac', the dirge and sludge chops on 'Master Of Disguise'. I personally dig the cleaner guitars infecting the intensity of 'Porn'. If anything, Barrabus have gone out to produce a brand of metal full of character that is their own, and bodes well for future releases.
Heron Oblivion ‘Heron Oblivion’ CD (Sub Pop)
Graves At Sea ‘The Curse That Is’ CD (Relapse)
Dark Circles/Abstracter split 12” (Shove, plus others)
A bit confused about what Heron Oblivion want to be. The opening minutes of the album suggest a potent brand of psyche folk a la Pentangle or Carol Of Harvest, but then the hippie drippie melodies are punctuated by guitar noise and subgrunge. The two don't meld too well. Heron Oblivion are no Sonic Youth, so would do well to concentrate on their strengths which are the vocals of Meg Baird. Then, the band may actually create memorable songs. Having said all that, it's well worth a listen because Meg is continuing a tradition of vocals from the old, psychedelic days.
Asunder, Moss, Mastodon, Sourvein, Unearthly Trance, Serpeantcult, Monarch. If you know these sludge doom metal bands then you may find that Graves At Sea is right up there with the best. At 76 minutes, the album is determined to be punishing, but that is where the challenge lies for the band’s musicianship. The music has got to be unrelenting, but solid enough, skilful enough to hold the attention. And it works. There are no contrived 'musical interludes' for when the going gets tough, but considered structuring where it all falls into place naturally. Centrepiece 'The Ashes Make Her Beautiful' is a case in point. It would not embarrass the majestic Morgion with it’s haunting organs. These bands have nothing to lose so they really go for it leaving the listener entranced.
Dark Circles from Montreal and Abstracter from Oakland CA. effortlessly deliver a total of five pieces of blackened grind crust. Dark Circles are the fast guys with their hardcore recalling Dead And Gone or Uranus, while Abstracter are your Soilent Green, Grief type slower band. So the contrast on a single record did well to highlight both bands’ qualities, and the depth in the production fills the speakers. The basses really do reverberate through the air and the vocals cut like ice daggers. Of course, there's a lot of bands doing this, but how many can do it this well?
Moon Duo ’Occult Architecture Vol. 1 & 2’ dbl cassette box set (Sacred Bones)
Power Trip ’Nightmare Logic’ LP (Southern Lord)
Moon Duo plays psychedelia that takes the listener on a journey without a destination. But experiencing it is as pure a Magical Mystery Tour as you could want. With the two distinctive albums being released together as a set, the listener can decide if that journey has finally ended. Moon Duo’s technique is consistent throughout- a driving, pulsating barrage of synths and guitars strengthened by rippling drones, to a point that all songs flow into each other seamlessly (one half of the duo, Ripley Johnson, used to be in Wooden Shijps). The music is intense and overbearing, but distinctive enough as it progresses. There is nothing generic about this psychedelia. So the idea of presenting the two complementary albums as a set makes sense, and with the little tape box sitting on your shelf, you can feel mystical vibes emanating from it.
In truth, I haven't had much time for thrash metal, opting for death metal as the more intelligent option. But I had heard good things about this album, and it has been years since I bought a Southern Lord release. Both aspects didn't disappoint. Power Trip have almost rekindled an interest in thrash, and it seems Southern Lord are still keeping it fresh. Immediately, I was struck by was how loud this sounds, even at low volume. It's a magical production job that pushes the tones from the distorted guitars to levels I haven't heard before. Just listen how 'Firing Squad' delivers killer riffs and murderous shreds, backing Riley Gale, with his heavily reverbed brutish vocals. It's an heroic performance that would impress Conan The Barbarian. Onwards to battle may be the mother of all thrash cliches, but Power Trip are definitely the Leaders now.
Girl ‘Sea And Dirt’ LP (SusannaSonata)
Fairlane ‘Wiris’ 7”ep (Speedowax)
Led Bib ‘Umbrella Weather’ dbl LP (RareNoise)
The Norwegian duo of Girl have created a collection of songs that sound like they were constructed on the spot. The vocals clearly beat the path to their strange brand of pastoral folk psyche but the minimal use of acoustic guitar and percussion is delicate and pseudo improvised. By accident or otherwise they tangentially touch on 'Embryonic Journey' by Jefferson Airplane. But the album lacks direction. Only 'Photograph' has a sense of power or presence to it. But this is music from the land of fresh sea breezes and to expect more would do this album a dis-service.
This band, from Atlanta, Georgia, are pretty open about their influences- indie rock from the 90s a la Quicksand, Samiam, Texas Is The Reason. All bands I love. Therefore, if Fairlane do paint by numbers competently, they can’t go wrong. Across the four tracks on this 7”, they’ve nailed that epic melodic, emo sound. The opener ‘Yew’ is easily the standout track, and the other three help support it, though the instrumental ‘Manatee’ is the least convincing. It does sound a lot like Mineral though. I’ve been listening to this a lot, so would love to hear more. Great stuff.
Jazz unit Led Bib had split before this record was made, but they all agreed to get together for one final burst of creativity. Maybe that ‘got nothing to loose vibe’ gave the band members a feeling of freedom to meld structured tunes with the improvisational playing we associate with modern jazz. Surprisingly, despite the many unbridled flourishes, this is a remarkably consistent and listenable work. At its most basic, rock music prejudices will recall Frank Zappa, where collisions of instruments somehow formulate wondrous musical experiences, though I prefer a track like 'Fields Of Forgetfulness' which reminds me of John Coltrane circa 'Afro Blue Impressions'. With added elements of funk, Led Bib have produced an album that will appeal to the wide demographic of modern jazz.
Bob Weir ‘Blue Mountain’ dbl LP (Columbia Legacy)
Horrified ‘Of Despair’ cassette (Till You Fukkin Bleed)
'Blue Mountain' is a reminder that Bob Weir had a life before the Grateful Dead. He grew up in the wild country working with ranchers and cowboys so reminisces about those days- part autobiographical, part mythical. These are cowboy songs of an America that was buried within the heart of the Grateful Dead. In that sense, Bob has produced an emotive Dead-like album. With the help of The National's quirky backing, and a slick production, the record is far from being a typical country record mired in cliches and insincere nostalgia. Excellent.
because everything that could be done has been done. Room for innovation is so limited all a band can ask for is a dedicated fanbase, whose only expectation is to keep death metal going. ‘Of Despair’ only offering is as an album of very good tried and tested death metal featuring excellent musicianship and a tight production. Standout track is ’Dreamer Of Ages’ notable for its quirky changes of tempo. Do they need to do anything else to push the genre? I don’t really care because I just want to hear a good death metal album like it was the 90s all over again. Musically, is it a melodic style recalling the latter phase of classic Swedish DM with touches of late era Carcass. This is the second album band from the Newcastle UK band.
Nothing Clean/Higgs Boson split 7”ep (Super Fi and others) A good old fashioned fast hardcore split 7” from the UK like it was the mid 90s all over again. Yes, it’s generic stuff, but still a very worthwhile listen if you get your kicks off hardcore that recalls anyone from Capitalist Casualties to Hard To Swallow. Fortunately, they took time with the production, and both bands deliver a very rich sound that I hope suggests they are serious with what they’re doing, since most fast hardcore bands tend to split faster than their songs. If I were a fast hardcore completist, would this be in my collection? Sure as hell would.
Grateful Dead ’Cornell 05/08/77’ 5xLP box set (Rhino)
Minneapolis Uranium Club ‘All Them Naturals’ I wonder what expectations death metal bands have nowadays, 12”ep (Static Shock)
Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs ’Feed The Rats’ 12”ep (Rocket) Wow. There's nothing subtle about Pigs.... This UK stoner, psychedelic band have gone all out to be loud. Don't worry about it being a 12". The unrelenting jams makes it feel like a full length album. OK, the three tracks do sound the same, but I don't think that's what Pigs... would really worry about. Yes, there might be subtleties in there if you want to look for them, but this band is about the big sound. You've seen the videos of Hawkwind with everyone going crazy on stage. Well, they’re the descendants of that fine tradition.
Universally agreed to be one of the best, if not the best Grateful Dead concert. In the top three on most lists anyway. But is such a thing possible? How do you quantify something where so many variables can influence a decision, and from a sample size of the thousands? Only by being a pure Deadhead who has heard as many shows as is humanly possible. By living and breathing Dead. I'm not one of those. I’ve heard a lot of Dead shows and a lot from '77, and every show has something special that others don't. This one is no different. There's a lot I like, but some songs I've heard more killer versions of elsewhere. But what there is, which most fans agree on, is a tightness to the performances. Very little music is superfluous, there's no extended jams, no psychedelia. Even the longer efforts like 'Not Fade Away' have tight jams. I
If any band was recalled by these quirky guitar freaks, it would be Firehose, because of the staccato beats, ringing guitar chops and the fun wordplay. This ep has six enigmatic tracks plus a voiced intro and a fragment of bluesy guitar. It's unrelenting throughout with a breakneck percussion dragging the guitars, to a point that there is no space to experiment, or develop ideas. It doesn't matter too much that the songs have a similar quality, less so than the feeling of exhilaration as soon as the first notes are struck.
Absolution ‘Temptations Of The Flesh’ CDep (self released) Absolution’s rather long hiatus has not dampened their feel for what death metal should be. Instead of re-inventing themselves as a new band with high pretensions and kicking everyone in the shins, they have stuck to the qualities that made their demo ‘Remittance Of Penance’ promise so much. The better sound reveals the skills these guys possess, so there is still the potential to take their brutality to new levels without compromising on its essence. The three tracks on this ep are exactly what any self respecting death metal band should be aiming for, and the tried and tested subject matter of serial killers still sounds fresh. Yes, I do believe Dr. Harold Shipman (he of the 250 alleged murders and still counting) would be mightily pleased by what these lads have put out. I was.
swear the band are trying to rush through this show while trying to get as many songs in as possible. The energy, as with most Dead shows, intensifies as they progress, so it's when they get to 'Fire On The Mountain' that you can truly say, the band are killer. By then each band member has tuned into the same wavelength and Garcia's guitar deviates between beautiful subtlety and big rock brashness, each quality directing the others with their own unique deliveries. The highlight 'Morning Dew' is a song on many occasions, I've dreaded, because it can be so dreary, but here it's a monumental tour de force of technique and emotion with Garcia's vocals being both sweet and forceful. As a recorded document, the vinyl transfer is pristine and joyful with Phil's bass given the warmth it deserves; the stereo separation emulates the band member positions on stage. Even if you've heard quality soundboard tapes of this show, this professional production should throw new light on a legendary performance.
Radiohead ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ LP (XL Recordings)
Iron Void ’Iron Void’ LP (Fear Me! Music)
Sick Tired / Sea Of Shit split 12” (Deep Six)
It's taking me too long to get into this. To be fair, I am noticing new stuff with each listen such is the immense multilayering of the instrumentation. I loved their classic album 'Kid A' so that was always going to be a benchmark for me. Unfortunately, this album has no wow factor, no stand out track and every song flows at the same even pace, so much so you get mired in the dense music that mixes pseudo ambient electronics with indie guitar. It's not so bad that it's unlistenable. As chill-out background music, I would definitely put this on and there's some beautifully produced elements that fill rooms, but deep down I wonder if this is what Radiohead really wanted from their music. The opener ‘Burn The Witch’ is the standout track and the rest sound like variations of it.
With it’s stunning sleeve design, Iron Void’s album was always meant to be released on big old vinyl. Though released in 2014 by Barbarian Wrath on CD, Fear Me! Music has ensured that the warmth of this stoner doom band’s old school metal is experienced in a more reverential manner. Whether you have it in boring black or acidic red, once the needle hits the grooves, time shifts to an age when metal’s big riffs only wanted to entertain. So refreshing compared to today’s pretentiousness, Iron Void remember that catchy songs come first. A surprising pleasure.
I love this. Sick Tired takes me back to the days of Excruciating Terror and Eyehategod with their mix of grindcore, screams and death metal. All done at a breakneck speed that doesn’t even allow for pauses betweens songs. Pretty much everything I would want to hear from a fastcore band. Sea Of Shit pretty much do the same thing, but the prominent vocal is more strained or shouty- which contrasts with the intermittent guttural gargling. SOS always alter their pace allowing the songs to actually have a start and a finish. A top notch release for fans of fast hardcore and death grind.
Despise You/Coke Bust split 7”ep (Bones Brigade)
Thee Headcoats ‘Conundrum’ LP (Damaged Goods)
Seven Sisters Of Sleep ‘Ezekiel’s Hags’ dbl LP (Relapse)
Despise You deliver five new tracks of a fastcore with tempo changes and very short deliveries that carry on the work of Man Is The Bastard, but still doing their own thing (probably not as experimental). It’s powerful stuff for a band that’s been going ages. Coke Bust have got a lot of people excited in recent years. Not surprising since their four tracks are so Infest and Lack Of Interest in style- a style that few people get tired of, despite so many bands taking up those bands’ legacy. Again, another ep that is an essential purchase for completists of this awesome genre.
Originally released in 1994 by Superelectro Sounds and Hangman, this timely re-release is a reminder that bands out there still need to believe in the purity of raw, garage punk. At the time, Billy Childish was almost a one man army trying to align punk to the down trodden working classes (I read his disturbing semi autobiographical novel ’Notebooks Of A Naked Youth’). Recorded at the uber-retro Toe Rag Studio, ‘Conundrum’ is fourteen tracks of intensity but not so overbearing that the lyrics are lost. Billy Childish’s musings are a gem and inspirational. They broke up in 2000.
‘Seven Sisters Of Sleep’ was a book published in 1860, written by Mordecai Cooke looking at the dark world of narcotics consumption, but in an openminded way, while examining the failure of the many ‘wars on drugs’ through history. Is it too much to assume that the Los Angeles band 7SOS reflect that nocturnal world with their dystopian brand of sludge, doom and black metal grind? There’s not much psychedelia to allude to the nature of chemical consumption. The band seem more interested in the blackened nature of our existences where drugs are not needed to create a world or hate and fear. The mysticism in the lyrics allude to strange things we will never understand and infested by characters and places that maybe we should contemplate with trepidation. Stressful witchery.
Dinosaur Jr ‘Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not’ LP (Jagjaguwar)
Woven Skull ‘His Cattle Are Pets And He Goes With The Moon’ cassette (Cruel Nature)
It took me a couple of listens to really appreciate how much of a total album this was. Dinosaur Jr. has always been renowned for the guitar leads of J Mascis, but their focus has moved onto songwriting, to a point that opportunities for guitar excess have been sacrificed for words. This is no ‘You’re Living All Over Me’ or ‘Bug’. ‘Green Mind’ from 1991 was their first album to have the strong songwriting and commercial appeal. This album is aligned to that. The reason this didn’t grab me at first, was because of its strengths. The strong writing and the accommodating vocals placed Dinosaur Jr. in the mainstream with heartfelt songs of love and loss. My bias has always been towards grinding, sludgy guitars. But there comes a point when you have to accept a direction a band decides to take. Then you may discover new treasures in expression.
Woven Skull’s recent album ‘Lair Of The Glowing Bantling’ is a fascinating exercise in experimental folk music that transforms deep memories into ritualistic chants and drones, but having the power of a band like Godspeed!YBE and Amps For Christ. This limited release cassette is a lot more experimental, and less structured utilising a collage of sounds a la Musique Concrete. But if the randomness suggests no direction, the structuring and tone prevents unlistenable chaos. The whole thing (two 13 minute pieces) flow quite elegantly with enough jarring elements to hint at the ritualistic qualities of their LP. Like Musique Concrete, the whole purpose is to do with audio sensations and creating an environment, so each listen renders interpretations and moods, while never forgetting the earthiness of this Irish band’s folk interests.
Harm Done ‘Abuse/Abused’ LP (Straight & Alert)
Magic Pockets ‘Volcano Of The Bleeding Skies’ LP (Penske)
Sickmark ‘II’ 7”ep (various labels)
Heavily influenced and inspired by the Youth Crew hardcore scene and the fastcore band Sex Prisoner, this French band have found their feet in this powerful release. Seventeen tracks of brutal, fast, screaming hardcore intermingled with slower breakdowns, with enough melodies to stop it all sounding the same. I think the band are straightedge, with a lot of opinionated lyrics and finger wagging. That’s their choice, and it’s okay as long as the music backs up the bluster. Props too to the black and white sleeve design and packaging. A white vinyl too. Great stuff.
Magic Pockets (actually the solo project of Ruadhan O’Meara) has to be commended on nailing a specific sound while still making it more than just pointless pastiche. The niche sound is the late 70s/ early 80s synthe music of Tangerine Dream, the Koyannquattsi soundtrack, and the anonymous incidental music on so many TV shows of the period. Stuff that at the time seemed disposable but now is finding a new appreciation. Therefore, the seven tracks on this LP are far from experimental, but precise instrumentals carefully crafted on vintage instruments and recorded onto tape. How retro is that? Don’t expect anything with the Wow! factor, such is the generic nature of the source material, but appreciate a very fine album of atmospheric synthe music with a pop slant.
Germany’s Sickmark deliver a good, no nonsense slab of fastcore influenced by those power violence hardcore bands of aeons ago. Unrelenting is the way these guys like to present their music, so there aren’t any breaks between songs- just listen out for the changes in rhythm to get an idea where a song starts and stops. Nine tracks, eight under a minute, and one at an epic three minutes. It’s not total Infest worship, so there’s some serious grind influences. If you like this, then they’ve just released another six tracks on the ‘Germany Will Be Worse’ compilation.
Melvins ‘A Walk With Love And Death’ dbl LP (Ipecac)
Keiji Haino ‘The Miracles Of Only One Thing’ LP (Sub Rosa)
Blindside USA ‘Wave Of Regret’ 7”ep (Straight & Alert)
Got to mention the packaging first- two vinyls in their own gatefold sleeve and both presented in a slipcase. Very stylish and elegant (and dare I say it ‘collectable’) Whatever. So why two separate sleeves? Because each LP is a stand alone release. ‘Love’ is a fourteen track soundtrack to a short film by Jesse Neimenen, while ‘Death’ is a Melvins album in the usual sense. ‘Death’ is everything you would expect from this band- solid sludge and driving melodies, But nothing that special. More interesting is the soundtrack where the Melvins stop being Melvins. With the help of other musicians they construct short pieces that transcend styles- retro 60s, experimental, Musique Concrete. It’s great but die hard Melvins fans will be gritting their teeth in hesitant appreciation. Worth a listen.
Belgian improvisers Jozef Dumoulin and Teur Verbruggen hooked up with guitar modernist Keijo Haino while on tour in Japan. Utilising both live and studio sessions the trio freed their minds in attacking four pieces of music that sees collisions of free jazz, chaotic noise, yelling, pure improv and anything else that could stimulate the most lethargic of brain cells. They generate a kaleidoscope of sounds that are as demanding as they are beautiful, but each with their own distinct approach and qualities. But first, the listener must equally free their own minds and be Zen in state.
This Kansas hardcore band have produced a powerful record that is heavily indebted to the old school straightedge bands. There’s six songs that pretty much do what is expected of them. Not original in style but still very good, However, the first thing you notice is the heavy reverb in the production. I don’t know if that was intentional but it gives the ep a very live and immediate feel, but also muddies up the sound in places. It’s weird. Nevertheless, fans of Sheer Terror, Gorilla Biscuits or the better New York bands of the early 90s are going to get a lot out this ep. Good stuff.
Merzbow ‘Wildwood and II’ CD & LP (Dirter Promotions)
Basement Benders 7” (Dead Broke / Drunken Sailor)
M.I.A. ‘AIM’ dbl LP (Interscope)
Psychedelic noise at its finest. Four tracks on the CD and two on the follow up LP employing the custom mix of analogue and digital but unified in the need for audio violence. Skeptics are going to say they’ve heard it all before. Maybe. Personally, I can’t get enough of what Merzbow does. There is a sophistication that isn’t present in other artistes doing noise, and that is down to years of experience. Hats off to the production team that know how to work the compressors for such a difficult genre. The CD is a benefit for the Wildwood Trust that protects British wildlife.
Pretty straightforward melodic punk rock that is as disposable as it is precious for the few minutes it’s playing across the four tracks. By disposable I mean there are hundreds of bands doing this kind of music so I don’t hear anything that lifts them above the crowd. And by precious I mean that this is a style of music that is so direct and pure. Short and to the point with great melodies. The snotty vocals are in the tradition of Buzzcocks and Undertones. The lyrics are very affecting and full of angst, especially ‘Train Song’. This US band have an LP on No Idea Records.
Trust me to find a new appreciation in M.I.A.’s music just as she decided to retire from music. She’s been putting out messages that the music scene isn’t as adventurous as it used to be, hence her inspiration to create for an appreciating demographic has dissipated. And some of her antics have left a bad feeling. So ‘AIM’ is a mixed bag. Lyrically, the quality deviates between sublime to the cheesy and downright naff (‘Borders’ (with the accompanying video) is the signature tune on here). Musically, the album has much to offer. The textures and layers of beats, eclectic rhythms and atmospheric currents are captivating. MIA’s vocals are as good, having that urban edge as well as technical sophistication. It would be a shame if she threw this talent away. Send her your love.
Synopcracy S u n p r o c r‘Eyegasm acy ’Eyegasm Hallelujah!’ dbl LP (various)
Mage ‘Black Sands / Last Orders’ cassette (self released)
Iron Void ‘Doomsday’ dbl LP (Fear Me! Music)
There’s a little bit of everything on this intriguing album by this Italian post rock band- at times they come across like Enslaved or Opeth mixing extreme metal with progressive rock and dense, complex styles. It takes a lot of skill to do something like this, but for the most they pull it off, even though a double album is really going to demand your attention. The whole thing is constructed as a single suite divided into nine parts, and the sleeve graphics allude to many metaphysical ideas while the lyrics are laden with gothic / romantic symbolism. A very good album.
This limited issue cassette collects their albums from 2012 and 2014 in a nice little package for those who want to reference their work preceding the new album ‘Green’. ‘Black Sands’ is a good slab of stoner doom, if a bit generic. While no single song stands out, the playing is competent and powerful. ‘Last Orders’ builds on the first album’s technical qualities and adds the darker edge that the graphics of the band alludes to. The way opening track ‘Dark Matter’ with its sludgy intro immediately captures the attention is how I wish more metal albums would start. From then on, songs like ‘Old Bones’ and ‘One For The Road’ deliver stoner doom with riff upon riff and driving melodies, backing a clear vocal delivery that shows a lot of skill. The band is from Leicestershire UK.
As with the debut album, ‘Doomsday’ got a vinyl release from Fear Me! and both albums complement each other both musically and visually. I found the debut to be musically darker than this, more in line with doom metal. ‘This album is more stoner, replacing the morose tones with catchy melodies and hard rock and touches of psychedelia. It could have been a mess, but I found myself being distracted by this while working. And that’s a good thing- strong songs, powerful production and classic rock vocals. Pretty much ticked all the right boxes.
Coffins / Ilsa split 12”ep (Relapse)
Bastard Noise ‘Honesty Shop’ LP (Robotic Empire)
Rotunda ‘Rotten To The Core’ CD (Nunny Dave / Can’t Shine Shit)
Strange little release that looks like it’s aimed at the Collector market. Only one song by each artist, on the A side, while the B-side is an etching. The lack of musical content suggests it can’t be anything else. If you’re paying top dollar for this, then make sure you’re going to get a good return on it. Musically, the two bands deliver very good blasts of death grind, with Coffins, from Japan, spewing out death metal mixing mid pace and speed. Ilsa, from the USA, are sludgier, filling their seven minutes with a raw, dirty sound, and a slow pace touching on doom metal.
This collaboration between Eric Wood and Anthony Saunders culminated in this fine release after the former’s stay on the East Coast, which included a number of live shows to enable this symbiosis of noise. Both harsh and drone and infected by the apocalyptic growls of Wood, the two lengthy pieces are atmospheric and creepy, alluding to sinister states of being. If there is beauty to be found in ugliness, then this proves it. The screeching and wailing electronics may be devastating to some, but beneath the chaos, there is a beautiful, zen-like quality. Hypnotic.
At long last. The album probably every punk in Birmingham has been waiting for. Of course, Rotunda has played so many live shows, the songs may already be familiar, but they have a new freshness on CD. The punk Rotunda play is as melodic as it is abrasive; singalong anthems with lyrics straight from the streets. Songs like ‘In The Blink Of An Eye’ and ‘Promise Road’ reflect the frustrations that most young people feel but there’s an upbeat alternative in songs like ‘No Regret’. Lou’s upfront vocal style captures that anger, and the rhythm section maintains the trademark no-nonsense energy of their live gigs. Fans of Rancid and Bad Religion will get a lot out of the eleven original songs but I’m hoping we don’t have to wait another twenty years for the next album.
‘Nomad’ by Alan Partridge As each step in his career takes a downward direction, TV and mid morning radio personality Alan decided to take time out and find closure with his long dead father Partridge Sr. who went to a job interview at Dungeness Nuclear Power station in Kent (a job he failed to get). Alan emotionally decided to literally follow in his father’s footsteps by walking 160 miles from Norwich to Kent. On the way he optimistically hoped to meet people who may have remembered his dad all those decades ago. Alan, as we know, is the master of opportunities, so this walk became about much more. A nomad should be at one with their environment (how seriously he is decked out on the book cover), but Alan is not afraid to diverge in his journey and his objectives to have a pop at all the people that stifled his career both professionally and privately (the BBC gravy train, his ex wife and Noel Edmonds being examples). You can sense a lot of anger and resentment about his zero career so his father becomes less of a concern. This book is very funny, and proves Alan to be the twat he always will be. That’s why we like him.
Seven Films by Andrei Tarkovsky
‘Girl In A Band’ by Kim Gordon I read this a while back and found it to be a pretty easy read, probably because it doesn’t really go into detail on the day to day existence of the author with her band Sonic Youth, or her art work. ‘Girl In A Band’ is impressionistic, in that it implies a lot by saying very little. In a way that’s a relief, because not everyone who has a story to tell can effectively tell it. Kim Gordon was always going to be opinionated, through her dealings with the people in the ‘scene’ during the dark days of grunge music, as well as the break up of her marriage to Thurston Moore. It’s not cringeworthy by any means and the reader can decide which side of the story to believe or support, but it seems that as the band progressed, they became less the outsider band, and more middle class individuals who suddenly found that being in a rock band revolved around the needs of family and paying bills. Do I care any more for Kim than I did before reading this? Not really. Did I need to know anything Kim had to say about music? Not really. Sonic Youth are one of those bands who let their music tell the stories because it is a lot more interesting.
‘Absolute Recoil’ by Slavoj Zizek This review is a bit different. It’s for a book I couldn’t finish, no matter how hard I tried. I felt I had to read it, as Slavoj Zizek is the Enfant terrible of the Left- not as an extremist but as a conservative agitator, who avoids the predictable ranting and raving of the wannabe Che Guevaras. Thus, what he writes about tangentially touches on Marxism and is about how cultural artefacts can reveal processes about interpreting the working class attitude towards materialism. In this age, most of us exist in this bubble where we only hear what we want to hear, but when we don’t get what we want we regress into a state of shock and reaction. Comparing the idealism of Hegel and the scientific realism of Marx and his followers, Zizek looks at examples through religion, music and cinema. It wasn’t always easy to get what he was saying as this typical example shows: “To recapitulate: for the transcendental approach, the a priori ontological frame is irreducible, it can never be inscribed back into reality as an ontic occurrence, since every such occurrence already appears within some transcendental frame. Hegel’s way of overcoming the transcendental approach is to introduce a dialectical mediation between the form/frame and its content:” All of its 415 pages is written in this kind of dense language. I can either look thick and out of my depth, or I can re-read this book many times to understand it. I’ll have to opt for the latter because, the parts I did understand had great value. For any Marxist, Zizek is added value.
After years of finding the odd Tarkovsky film on a proper and affordable DVD release it was a relief to have Curzon Artificial Eye re-release the whole lot in 2016. For someone who only made seven films you’d think Tarkovsky would have been better served. But, I guess, his style of dense, meditative, contemplative, non-commercial film-making no longer tuned in to the wavelengths of today’s audiences, who still demand a sense of shock and action, even in the ‘art house’ community. The benchmarks have been taken away from Tarkovsky and given to lesser Directors like Ridley Scott, and whoever does the Star Wars films. Is this just snobbery on my part? I don’t think so. Tarkovsky’s films were always meant for the working classes, and reached a sublime level of storytelling unlike any other. Even under the watchful gaze of the Stalinist Soviet regime, the sense of decay and loneliness got past the censors by the use of motifs linked to Nature, whether it’s the wind, fire, water, or journeying through destroyed landscapes. From ‘Ivan’s Childhood’ to ‘The Sacrifice’, Tarkovsky focused on the human will to achieve goals for the betterment. The young boy in ‘Ivan’s Childhood’ may have been the heroic symbol fighting the Nazis, but outside the obvious gestures towards pleasing politicised audiences and propaganda, the sense of loss and fate transcended banal storytelling. For me, his best film is ‘Mirror’ a very complex construction of memories given incredible visual power but never fully explained, becoming open to interpretation. The technique of storytelling was never cut and dried for Tarkovsky. His interpretations of books and artists (‘Solaris’ and ‘Andrey Rublev’) were clinical in that the film-making was so focused and free from distractions. The flow of the plot pulled the viewer in. ‘Stalker’ is his most difficult film, demanding so much from the audience with its heavy dialogue and claustrophobic environment. Even there the sci-fi scenario is given the unique uplift only Tarkovsky could provide. Unique. available on blu-ray and DVD by Curzon Artificial Eye
‘Ivan’s Childhood’ (1962) ‘Andrei Rublev’ (1966) ‘Solaris’ (1972) ‘Mirror’ (1974) ‘Stalker’ (1979) ‘Nostalgia’ (1983) ‘The Sacrifice’ (1986)
Humans - from hunter to accumulator- submitted by Leon T. How far can Man progress? By progress, I mean become ‘civilised’. Has Mankind reached a point where it does nothing more than exist in a state of perpetual survival - defining the status quo as the ideal of civilisation that must be protected. For better of worse, civilisation is defined by common factors identified by its citizens, be it religion, economic influence, language, military capability, or folk traditions. In each case the idea of civilisation is nothing more than the biased and intolerant values of a narrow demographic. But how can this regressive personality in Humankind be governed towards something more progressive, objective and inclusive? That something has to be specific to what to what it is to be a Human now compared to say five hundred years ago, such that we can define our species in a way more relevant. Humans have gone through four distinct phases, in all areas of our planet, all influenced by the need for survival- 1. hunting, 2. gathering, 3. crafting and 4. accumulating. These phases are linear progressions. By extrapolation, there must be a phase yet to be entered because, by any definition, Humanity has not reached a state of perfection despite what some may think. In the film ‘2001 A Space Odyssey’ (1968), when the Apemen are given knowledge by the Monolith appearing out of nowhere, the first thing they do as an act of survival is to kill for food. The natural instinct was to kill- the Monolith may have implanted that war mentality into their brains. From now on, solutions could only be found through force. History has shown that the nature of Man, in its linear development, has always been through military action. In fact, domestic policy could not exist without the options for force being considered, though now the idea of ‘force’ has been strategically replaced by ‘defence’. But, Humans in their hunter stage lacked the capacity to understand anything beyond survival- the concepts of ‘options’ and ‘alternatives’ just did not appear. Nothing was allowed to contaminate the need for killing. By the 18th century, hunting, gathering and crafting had reached its pinnacle. Expansionism of strong countries into weaker countries was a natural process with no regard for morals or respect of other peoples, albeit it done inefficiently. The tools for expansionism were still in the hands of craftsmen and Guilds. Then something happened- Industrial production. Steam engines, and electric turbines powered an increase in productivity. Maybe, still not efficiently, but certainly, the birth of mass production. Mills, forges, mines all consuming raw material. If hunting and gathering were the acts of survival, then mass production elevated Humans to a new State- accumulation. Man as the accumulator had only one purpose- to attain
material goods in excess. Desire and Status inevitably turned every human into this new beast. Those with no money could only envy, but the desire was still there to accumulate as a goal. It became part of the DNA. Homes were filled with objects of no value but to give pleasure. Whether it’s a simple vase of flowers in a slum dwelling or a ceiling fresco on a country house, the mentality is the same, with no turning back. This new process was so natural, distinctive and repeatable across the whole world, that it took Karl Marx to define it in scientific terms. To him, the human was simply a ‘consumer’ and everything revolved around ‘commodity’. ‘Commodity’ meant how an item was sold, how it was costed, how it was produced, and what the consumer as a collective could exchange for it (eg. their labour). As we are now, there is no other way to define the human being except as a consumer. Even if you are so poor and not actually buying anything, your potential to exchange your labour to enable accumulation does not exempt you from being like anyone else. You will just hurt more than others. Who does the most hurting? As Marx continually expressed in his many writings, most notably in ‘Capital’, the natural desire to always want more, has given rise to the Capitalist. Their accumulation of assets to be later exchanged for wealth required a level of exploitation which the consumer had little choice but to allow. Even today, in a liberalised economy where almost anyone can start a business, and with concessions made to the consumer by the capitalist, the need to accumulate has not changed. In fact, it is inherently impossible to make any progressive improvements as long as there is commodity. Is there an alternative to commodity, that would effectively nullify the consumer, thus in effect taking humankind to a new state of being? What does this entail? What sacrifices to accumulating capital would have to be made? As stated, the status quo is too engrained to make adjustments to- to make it less hurting on the common person (as is currently being attempted by all social democratic and socialist parties right now). There must be a complete break from the concept of accumulation which propagates the unhealthy notion of competition. Can it be in the form of communism but not as we’ve known it? Can it be a variation of Augustus’ Rome with a benevolent Leadership with representative Senators. Maybe a mix. Whichever way, the basic human rights like shelter, water, food, work must be given out equally and free but rewards of labour like wages would go directly to the State. Good citizenship would be rewarded. Good work would be rewarded by position in the factories. Access to arts and music would be through shared portals. There would be no ownership of any material
product. How would you reconcile this with private enterprise and incentives to invest in a communist society? Despite the current trope of ‘the worker owning the means of production’ popular with Marxist memes, in reality the worker in the factories and offices does not need to own the fruits of their labour / means of production. As if they won’t have enough on their plates already. Better to let existing private companies, with their own developed Management Systems, work in partnership with the State. The role of the worker would be a role of continual training and advancement of skills so no one would be without leadership and management skills. The concept of individual career workers would be eliminated when everyone is given the same chance. These skills can then be taken across to any industry or service. Better to let the owners of these companies concentrate on the running and the management at the highest level. But there is still the issue of Globalisation. If we break from the state of being accumulators, then surely aggressive economic expansionism is an anathema. The needs to establish hegemony in areas rich in oil and minerals would be outlawed, ergo military imperialism. I’m not sure what the exact term is for a State to restrict its communism within its own borders, but that’s what I would like to see. Let other Nations deal with their own politics. In conclusion, communism can liberate mankind from its current state of profit orientated existence based on exploitation and inequalities. Communism would treat every human in exactly the same way. If there were categories for humans it would be based on their ability and willingness to exchange their labour for social housing, good education and useful employment. Those that couldn’t would be helped to move up the skills trees, through mentoring from skilled workers.
The Unite d’Habitation social housing block would be the ideal solution to provide equal shelter for everyone. Designed by Le Corbusier, the blocks proportioned to the human scale brought good daylight and well proportioned spaces to mass housing. The pilotis (supporting columns and walls) liberated the ground to be given to the occupants as urban green spaces for recreation and health. Roof terraces encouraged the mixing of habitants as well as reinforcing the idea of shared responsibility for maintaining common spaces. With the State organising the planning and construction of such buildings, the role of the speculative builder and their eyesore houses consuming precious land would be eliminated.
views expressed in ‘Civil Society’ are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of this zine