Reviews 23/01/01


alt-ctrl-delete issue 1

From the makers of Autoxicity and Communist Headache comes another burst of beautiful text (and some bizarre photos). The intro goes into the name and examines psychogeography. Nailing their colours to the wall from the outset, psychogeography is seen as something involving conflict rather than a literary device. It goes on to summarise some the lines of flight of Situationist/Academic/Ultraleft/postmodern/Anarchist and other trajectories.

That said, the first article, Hostile Environments, concerns the psychogeography of an area of the M1 motorway. Or rather, the intersection of the M1, M18 and A1(M). This text morphs into a look at the writer's childhood obsession with motorway junctions into a discussion of hitch-hiking around the country to see punk bands into a report from an academic conference on psychogeography which has a dreamlike quality to it that echoes my impression of such events (a sort of surreal failure to engage properly - of not having the right linguistic tools to participate). The psychogeography section finishes with a piece entitled "Small Space Dynamics" which is without doubt one of the best things I've read for years. A fictionalised account of one man's attempt to navigate various subcultures. It's about the weird dynamics that such networks throw up - the non-community of community, the rush of enthusiasm that novices display when mapping out the territory. And finally, the double edged sword of finding the edges - the satisfaction of belonging coupled with the loss of mystery, of being on top of things but also being aware of limits - limits which may be impossible to navigate.

The writing about music in alt-ctrl-delete is of a similar high quality. Lots of reviews of avant-electronica, Howard Slater on electro-acoustic music, an interview with snd from Sheffield, and an examination of the resurgence of the 7" single in such areas (it never went away for reggae heads, of course.

Alt-ctrl-delete has a great 'feel' to it - the minimal cover, the insert, the bizarre 'found' photographs all give it a compelling glow - like a company document from the 1970s has been fed through some kind of zine-filter to produce a strange hybrid. Once again - you should get this. The editor has also been busted for pirate radio activities (see news 230900) and needs your help if there is to be more of this - and it would be a great shame if there wasn't.

Contact: ? er not sure! We've got some here, so try emailing us!


Mads Ranch Kornum - compilation for Temporary Services

"Anyway, apparently Karl Marx blamed capitalism for his boils so he wanted a revolution fucking badly - I don't have boils, but feel the same way. But, sadly - art practice, political activism, theoretical & occultural discourses of today are such a mess. You know what? It all needs to be even messier to gain new momentum. I'm gonna do my share of the fun - are you gonna do yours?" - from the intro

Well. Blimey! This is just great. Mads Ranch does sorta politcal, sorta occult cartoons/rant combinations. This is a selection of his work from other areas. It includes his thoughts on life in space that appeared in the AAA's Space 1999 exhibition, which takes on diverse inputs like taoism, Robert Anton Wilson, Zero-Work, Nietzsche and anarchism to comment on areas like Justice, Parenthood, Science, Love, etc. Oh and 'School': "Most of human history is defined by devolution, i.e. it's finite how stupid you can be from birth, so the rest must be carefully developed by proper education".

'Spiritless Cicumstances' orginally appeared as part of the "A White Radical is Three Parts Bullshit and One Part Hesitation" exhibition in Aarhus. It's a cool look at occulture, satanism, religion and liberalism/elitism and points in between/off the map: "The new revolutionary theoretico-practice will give your ex-lover your new phone number. It will mix kool-aid into your fish tank. It will make you fall in love with a dog. It will give you nightmares about sex with your dead grandparents. It will move your bike around randomly so you can't find it. It will send hate mail 'from you' to your boss".

The other strip, 'Shaft' is new and deals with all sorts of shit that is verging on the high falutin' but still works - the end of the world, "Ufonauts Molesting Hillbillie Buttholes", 'sinister dialectics' and so on. It's still a great read and Madsranch's thought processes are a delight to watch as ideas collide, references elude him ("Toffler-or-some-French-fuck-what's-his-face: on social acceleration") and memes invade the host body.

All of this is absolutely fantastic stuff - funny and thought provoking, complex but still accessible. I can't recommend it highly enough...

perhaps still available from:

or write direct:

Mads Ranch Kornum
Mariendalsvej 52C, 3TV
DK-2000 Fredericksberg


The Chthonic manifesto #1

Hey, it's the crazy fucks that did the disease-obsessed "Taoist Microcosm" (see reviews 230700) back in spooky underworld mode! Apparently they have been living in a pramshed drinking 'scotch' pudding wine and licking the lice of their bodies. Welcome, welcome! It seems to have paid off.

This 4-pager includes "Daoism as Chthonic Shamanic Philosophy", thoughts on Fomorians and Celtic myths and the usual unhinged stuff about the spirituality of rats, rubbish dumps, weeds, etc. Every copy has a unique back page. Mine has a clipping about Parisian gangs using monkeys, and a rather unsettling 'meat' sticker. Once again - some powerful meditations on subject matter that most "seekers" either studiously avoid (xtians, new agers, white witches, etc) or glamorise in an ineffectual James Bond 'baddie' style (chaos magickians, left hand pathers, etc). I am somewhat peturbed at them attempts to bribe me with a 'midwife' for a review here, however. (No need! No, really!).

Available for return postage from:

Ophidian Underworld Society
Flat 2
143 Granton Road


Scientist Dubs Culture Into A Parallel Universe (RAS CD)

A new Scientist album cunningly disguised as a Scientist album from the halycon days of the 1980's. The wonderful cover recalls the golden ages of both dub and Marvel Comics, with Scientist pictured as a caped crusader doing battle with someone(?) from Culture. The music itself is a dub version of what is said to be a rather so-so album by Culture. It is all very sunny (some positively Hawaiian slide guitars!), as opposed to the darker, more visceral dubs that made Scientist's name. This is no bad thing, particularly now it's dark when I get up in the morning and when I leave work.

Some nice vocals too: "share the riches with the poor... before they share their poverty with you... " However, bits of it are just so tacky that the album veers towards camp. There are bizarre renditions of the US and UK national anthems at the beginning of tracks, and some horrid horrid "modern" synth sounds, which certainly don't belong to any parallel universe which I want to end up in. It's not even like I'm some kind of dub fundamentalist who hates modern technology - the digital roots stuff by Fatis Burrell (Xterminator Label) manages to be both sparkly and intense, and the UK digital productions by the Disciples and Iration Steppas are outstanding contributions to the more apocalyptic end of the dub spectrum.

Ironically the interview with Scientist in the sleeve-notes talks about him pushing dub forward and not being tied to the past, so perhaps it's the raw material here. It's a shame that the promise held by Scientist's appearance with Mad Professor at Essential 2000 (which involved live manipulations/remixes of rhythms, including some double speed breaks which veered towards drum 'n' bass) isn't held up here. It's not that this is a bad album. It's just that there are lots of better ones.



Paul Meme - Brixton Bass Pressure mixCD

NP: Brixton Bass Pressure, mixed to perfection by Paul Meme.

Beyond the TV ads, I haven't really listened to any garage for 3-4 months. Has it gone and changed again? On this beautifully presented and packaged CD, there appears to be some of the hypersoul stuff that Bat has been talking about lately, but only a taster at the start, and dropped in occasionally through the mix. I don't know if I could handle a whole CD of this sub/micro-genre. Super-sweet hypersoul can be delectable in small doses, in larger doses it can be a little sickly. I think I prefer the Wideboys remix of Tru Faith and Dub Conspiracy, a back-to-the-jungle remix of hypersoul that pushes it forward (or sideways). Rather than the hypersoul, what I really like about this CD is the real rude-boy Sarf-London two-step attitood. There's a profusion of bass-driven tracks that highlight the connections between early drum and bass and garage, and just rock my Mordaunt Shorts. Particular faves, after a few listens, include DJ Zinc's "138 Trek", with a bassline strangely reminiscent of Joey Beltram's "Energy Flash", and Bomb Squad's bombastic "Bad Acid", with one of those nagging vocal hooks that you can't get out of your head (kinda reminds me of Malcolm McLaren for some strange reason).

In many respects this CD sounds too British, too "two-step" to be related to New York garage. It also feels as if it's losing its ties with British garage as well; there's none of the cheesiness of the speed garage of yore, yet there's still the dark and twisted bass of hardcore and jungle. All in all, a subtly and seemlessly mixed tour through the South London garage discourse. A great CD.

Brixton Bass Pressure: BM Box 3641, London WC1N 3XX

[Stuart Borthwick]


Jah Tubbys meets Iration Steppas 05/01/01

Back to Electrowerkz for another night of bass worship. We arrive to find Jah Tubbys testing the soundsystem - pushing the frequencies to the limit. Once again I'd been telling the new initiates in our crew that the bass would be like nothing they'd ever experienced - they didn't seem too impressed at the time. But when the air started rumbling and their internal organs began to wobble, you could tell by the look on their faces that they'd got my drift. Just relax into it and bliss out... Tubbys are going for a classic roots vibe to get everyone swaying. They also have a full crew of singers, mic-chatters and gruff DJs. "There ain't no sound/no sound like Jah Tubbys". Wicked.

Iration Steppas are very much the outsiders - the challengers from the North taking on the Londoners on home turf. This doesn't seem to put off Mark Iration however, as he energetically jumps around to the first of many specials. Iration go for a more modern electronic vibe which veers towards a funky 'industrial' sound in places. Tubbys seem to be moving ahead, though. Their more soulful style easily accessed and the singers keep the crowd stimulated and involved.

We retire for a chill out and talk about the soundsystem thing. Coming from a ravey background, our contingent is surprised by the stoneface don't-show-your-teeth attitude of the rasta massive - we find it nigh impossible NOT to grin like nutters when the rhythms get dubbed out, the operator adds shitloads of effects to the mixÉ and the bass drops. Also some debate about the white rasta cringe-factor.

The rather, uh, basic nature of the venue makes this one of the coldest dancefloors I've ever experienced. Iration pick up on this with a grin: "Rasta get warm! Anyone got 50p for the meter?" When we head back in, Jah Tubbys are rockin out with some exclusives "Played by this sound ALONE!". They're also letting people know about a Beenie Man dubplate they're saving for later?

Iration Steppas counter by unleashing a barrage of outrageous techno-tinged dub that gets the crowd kicking their legs in the air. It's a total skank-out and things are hotting up for sure. Tubbys try to butt in and are told in no uncertain terms to "lock off" their system. Serious business. Tubbys' MC rebukes Iration for dropping 3 tracks in the 'two fe two' round and maintains their priority is to entertain the crowd. Gentle dissing but the gauntlet has been thrown down. The place is filling up, too. It's late by most people's standards (1:00AM) but this one goes all night and gets better at each stage. Iration's funk and futurism is winning people over. Tubbys come in with more righteous riddims...

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