Reviews 23/07/00

Head # 10
A split issue inna back to back stylee (as nobody says anymore). It's a game of two halves, Brian. The 'Altered Estates' half is bloody great. Lots of articles of a psychogeographical bent, why town planners are wankers, Chris X on Elephant & Castle, squatting, urbanism and suchlike. Plus a load of stuff on squawky arty electronic music if you want it. (no ta!).

The other half, is 'Altered States' and really falls down quite badly for a number of reasons, notably a load of purist bollocks about why some drugs are good and others are bad - "Drop the drugs which are inhibiting your spiritual evolution - ones to watch out for include: alcohol, tobacco, heroin, sugar, MDMA, cannabis, caffeine and amphetamine" - sounds like an average evening 'round at Loki towers. Except for the heroin, of course. We save that for the weekend.

"Spiritual evolution"? You fucking WHAT? The basic message is that necking a load of impossible to find plants in the countryside is far better for you than any of the above. This kind of ignores the bad evil satanic side of drug taking which naughty people do just for the hell of it, because getting off your tits is A Good Thing In And Of Itself. We want drugs that make our eyes bleed and compel us to chew our own faces off! We want to feel like playing all our records at the same time, whilst having weird monkey sex and shouting crazed psycho-poetics at hallucinated monsters! What we don't want is some fucking puritan telling us that their drugs are better than our drugs in terms of our "spirituality" - as if taking drugs was the same as going to church. Right?

I'd much rather be wandering around London in the middle of the night with a bunch of mates giggling about how we can't feel our teeth than cooped up in some kind of "secluded location" with a bunch of serious "meditators" who wouldn't know a good time if it ejaculated over their third eye. Here's The Truth - people who bang on about the "spiritual" side of sex are crap shags, people who bang on about the serial numbers on records are crap at dancing, people who bang on about drugs are crap to take drugs with. OK?

Also a weird article on 'Artificial Life' which, alongside a pseudo-academic vocabulary that Head is normally very good at avoiding, seems to trumpet all that post-human stuff in which technological advances are treated so uncritically that their effects on human beings are seen as being the next wonderful evolutionary step. It's been said that primitivism is the worst product of civilisation, but you could make a good case for post-humanism being the other side of the putrid coin.

That aside, there is some pretty good stuff in there as well. Luscious pouting Neil Gordon-Orr has a look at the differences between shamanic cultures and their supposed resurgence on the trance scene. Stewart Home goes all uniform-fetishistic (presumably in response to the camouflage cover of the last issue of Head) and there are some nice bits on E-Prime and Dreamachines for people who don't know about them, reviews, etc.

£4.95 from BM Uplift, London WC1N 3XX


Rhizom - a white radical is three parts bullshit and one part hesitation
Well considered zine from Denmark. Half of this issue is an article on Toni Negri in Danish, which looks pretty interesting from the footnotes (Bataille, Luther Blissett, Deleuze and Guattari), but will remain forever an enigma for those of that don't read Danish. The other piece is a cartoon cum stream of consciousness that examines satanism, occulture, Nietzsche and so on. It's really good to see someone doing this in a non-linear way that isn't strictly pro or con - it makes a case for the liberatory and anti-liberal aspects of satanism, but still disses all the Nietzschean ubermensch elitism. On the way, you get thoughts on other things, "some of the music acts I haven't listened to for a while" and some nice drawing. Made me rethink a few things, which can only be good.

Udstillingsstedet Rhizom
Studsgade 42, st-th.

rooted #2
More merrick-related madness. A grab bag of clipped and original articles, all tinged with merrick's optimism, which I find inspiring and infuriating by turns. Articles titled "Linda McCartney was a saint" rub me up the wrong way. Call me an old cynic, but surely her pies were more about spotting a gap in the market (i.e. to make vegetarianism a respectable and profitable part of capitalism) than transforming the world? So now we can have vegetarian bailiffs, vegetarian arms traders, vegetarian coppers. Thanks Linda! Um, moving swiftly along - Douglas Adams on fear of the Net, Gyrus on the Smoke Demon (which has also appeared in Head and Turbulent Times and is good), a completely mental article on McDonald's use of spermicide (really!). Bill Watterson on why you can't buy Calvin and Hobbes merchandise, "Free Crisps for Schools" slag off, 'what causes heterosexuality', poems and some nice rants and reviews.

This strikes me as more of a scrap book of things that merrick thinks people should check out than anything else. Which is fair enough, but there isn't much in there that challenges yer average Guardian reader, let alone the throbbing vortex of weirdo zine readers and activists that is presumably merrick's readership.

£1 plus p&p
Godhaven Ink, Rooted Media, The Cardigan Centre, 145-149 Cardigan Road, Leeds LS6 1LJ

The Taoist Microcosm #1 and Dhole issue
Yeah! People doing the ol' taoist thing without baning on about tranquility and wanting-to-be-chinese. We got sent two issues of this, plus some strange one-sheeters. Seem into the idea that disease is some kind of spiritual force in the world (or is that a metaphor, or does it matter anyway?).

"The Maitreya should be an ex-crack head from the slums who thinks one day what is the essence of reality? Not fucking visualising some jaggy kunted Dakini in a plush apartment its out there in you the microbes in your gut not a bolt from the divine..."

As you can see, they don't really "do" punctuation. It's suitably lo-fi and stream of consciousness stuff, but they/it obviously think about it quite a lot. 'Fuck funerals' article& stuff on the anti-globalisation demos, 'Amoebic Dysentery in Kathmandu', all done in ultra-taoist stylee. I'm tempted to compare it to Gneurosis, but it's actually coming from down the street from it, in the alley.

No price given (stamps?)

The Taoist Microcosmic Society, 257 Anlaby Park Road South, Hull HU4 7JD

Parasol Post #19 and #20
Aieeee! Prolific lefty-surrealist-mailart-psychogeography-autonomous-astronaut print frenzy!!! 19 is the Luther Blissett obituary issue with loads of reprinted texts concerning everyone's favourite multiple-identity name (the-name-is-fixed-the-people-using-it-are-not.) and the winding up of the Luther Blissett Project. Also Luther Francone, the Argentinian variant, some manifestos, revenge magickal activity against Disney and McDonald's, Mad Pride, insane plagiarist fiction in the style of Stewart Home, Robert Anton Wilson on the Luther Blissett phenomenon, and some press cuttings about the "original" Luther Blissett, the Watford footballer.

Aieeee! Issue 20 is done up to look exactly like a.n.other small press publication, which is the kind of thing that makes me smile a great deal. Lots of completely ridiculous AAA fiction (or is it?) in this issue featuring Zoe Ball, Boyzone and various autonomous astronauts in compromising positions. Also the Church of Euthanasia, the truth about mobile phones, safety tips for urban drifters, LOTS of reviews and contacts. Bloody marvellous.

UK Stamps and SAE
Red Republic of Parasol, 24 Marfitt Street, Leicester LE4 6RB

Guerilla Tactics in propaganda and dissemination - Luther Blissett
Uh, weirdly "copyright Luther Blissett 2000". Quite funny when you read on to find that "the right of Luther Blissett to be identified as the author is asserted in accordance with the Copyrights, Designs and Patents Act 1998". "Luther" would have a tough time identifying himself full stop, though perhaps this is the idea.

Anyway - this is basically what it says. Not agreeing with the idea of changing society through guerilla groups means this isn't very useful for me. I'm not keen on the inspirations either (1st of May group, Che Guevara, the IRA and the ALF) - all a bit isolationist and vanguardist for my liking - acting "for the people" is a bit of a non-starter. (See 'Militias: rooted in right-wing supremacy' available from Unpopular Books for more on this). As is "having as few personal contacts as possible" - this suggests that making the world a better place is an activity best suited to people who can survive with a minimum of social interactions and relationships - who I certainly wouldn't want acting on MY behalf. Perhaps best read as a look into another paradigm.

Guerilla Press, BM Betelguise, London WC1N 3XX

Johnny Rides an Aeroplane #4
In which a malaysian anarcho punk quizzes Chumbawamba about signing to a major label. Chumbawamba come across as articulate and as having thought things out rather a lot and the anarcho punk contributes very little, which I don't think was the intention. Plus an interview with A/Political (a punk band) from Baltimore.
Free or stamps

A Dream?
Malaysian anarcho punk zine (in English). Asks lots of questions that you may have asked (and answered) already. Some good abstract alienation graphics and some OK anti-war graphics that just make the whole thing look like a bit of a time-warp to my eyes. Poetry, interviews with punk bands, quotes from Crass. It's just a bit... odd. Precious little about anything Malaysian - it all look like the home counties circa 1983 to me. To be fair, the editor clearly knows what he likes and our exchange of letters has been quite interesting. Novelty is overrated, but I do wonder about how useful all this stuff is these days. There's loads of experience that has been gained from the anarcho-punk movement, but this seems to have avoided that, either because of the distances involved, or because of some kind of reverence for the orginal "texts".
$2 US ppd

Both of the above from: FIZAN/ 122 Jln. Anggerik / D.T.J. Cha'ah/ 85400 Segamat/ Johore/Malaysia

Step Forward #2
Wa-Hey! Brilliant glossy A5 reggae zine. Comes out every two years! [- nowt wrong with that, laddie! - JE] Pages and pages and pages of reviews of new and revival reggae, ragga and dub. Plus interviews with UK dub exponents The Disciples (oh yes), Lee Digidub, Gussie P and the mighty Jah Shaka. Also a feature on Dr Alimantado's singles, (a rather basic) What is Dub?, and some very useful contacts and listings. It is very much at the "fan" end of fanzines - very few negative reviews and a lot of stuff about the "industry" side of the music (i.e. how there's no money in it, which is a great shame, but doesn't make for very interesting reading). However, there isn't nearly enough coverage of reggae and dub these days, so if you want some - here's where it is. The people who do the zine also have a number of records and CDs available including a new compilation which looks worth a go.

£2 (cheques to "D.Slayen")
P.O. Box 19954, London N3 1ZF


SMILE #22, #23 and #24
Back in full attack! Never give in until they crack! It's Andy Martin man! Watch as he devastates entire cities with every step! Blimey missus! I didn't think we'd ever see one of these again, and the boss has dumped 3 of the buggers on my lap in one go.

22 is the "Bring Back Proof" issue which is chocka full of stuff about Hard Science (as in Hard as Nails, laddie! Smarten Yourself Up!!!). Reprints of articles from the now impossible to get hold of early issues (they were printed with irradiated ink so as to destroy the anarcho punk subculture from within and are now all stored in some government bunker or something) on language (Saussure), 'Suicide, Madness & Anti-Art in the Avant Garde Manifesto Tradition' by Robert Dellar (co-editor of the Mad Pride book) which includes stuff on Lettrists, Dadaists, Fluxus, Neoists and other nuttahs, Rape article by someone who' been through it, Barthes, War Arrow on War, on Richard Dawkins and also on how new age toss-pots have totally arsed up their interpretations of Mayan culture and history, which is a hilarious read. Hard man Andy Martin on martial arts, maths and physics (that's 3 different articles, by the way).

23 is the "introduction to classical music" issue, the bulk of which is biogs of composers listed by country. Really not my bag, but it's good to see the guy behind the soundtrack to the Godzilla films listed alongside Verdi. Also stuff on Wittgenstein, science, interview with Liu Bin Yan (Chinese dissident). Oh and 'why I am not a democrat' which is just elitist piffle, really - people get the government they deserve and all that. It sounds a bit like my grandad - shop keepers (but not banks?!) are ripping us off, TV rots your mind, make begging illegal, blah blah blah. Either this is a wind up or Andy is angling for a job at the Daily Express. Not my favourite issue, fer sure.

24 is the "TOUGH" issue and mostly consists of an almighty rant (from SMILE #11) against pretty much everything and everyone - written when Andy was pretty much at the bottom of the heap (job, housing and relationship disasters), this is a pretty good catharsis by anyone's standards. Includes an invitation to many of Andy's ex-teachers to turn up for a fight outside Centreprise Bookshop at a particular date and time (none of them did). Also socialist surrealism, Vague/Rapid Eye slag off, couple-busting (anti-friendship!) and lots lots more. "Full-on" doesn't really do it justice!

£3 each from
UNIT, Box 4, 136 Kingsland High Street, London E8 2NS


10th Muse #10
We don't like poetry here. (Poetry and crap power electronics tapes with poorly photocopies covers bearing "shocking imagery", actually). We've just seen waaaay too much stuff that just went on and on and didn't do anything except make the "poet" look like an arse. But we'll make exceptions for people who we like. 10th Muse in connected in some way to the Equi-Phallic Alliance who paraded their theories about "place" being a fiction, the landscape being on stilts and the goddess being a transvestite around 'Mind Invaders' and have pumped out the odd newsletter since. So this is kind of a poetry magazine, but most of the real poetry is to be found elsewhere in the mag. The reviews, for example, are a joy to read. The editor's comments actually add something rather than a simple description and judgement (like what I do, heh heh) and the material stretches from the fringes (and feuds) of the small press poetry scene to psychogeographical material... and beyond.

We now present a review-within-a-review of a publication called the Agitator, which is a directory of autonomous, non-hierarchical groups and such like in Britain and Ireland:

"Oddly for such a full-on publication, the Agitator self-censors on the first page 'It's our movement and we want to see it grow and become f**king unstoppable.' The double asterisk does not bode well. [...] A resource such as this could easily develop into an on-going critique of the anarchist milieu. The sarcasm about the Association of Autonomous Astronauts (East London Branch) - 'Contact them for details, if you can be bothered' - could easily develop into a more general call for the boycotting of anarchist meetings and actions by a proletariat newly empowered by media studies and a knowledge of literary criticism. These meetings are "work" and we should refuse them."

The editorial in this issue of 10th Muse is an examination of the editor of the Ecologist magazine and his well dodgy politics.

£3 (to "10th Muse")
33 Hartington Road, Southampton SO14 0EW


Spinwarp promotional CD#4
A great two track 3" CD. Absolutely tearing 180 bpm drum 'n' bass. The b-lines are goddamn seismic and kick Spinwarp's pevious efforts into touch. 'The Hunger' is a full-on, heads-down, get on the floor track replete with "What do you want from me?" horror sample and some haunting background noises. 'The Trouble' begins with a "Do you wanna go someplace dark?" Christopher Walken sample and then takes you there - without even asking for a reply!

More info and free downloads at

Sweet Tooth - 5.57 7"
Oh Joy! A Whitehouse tribute. Just what the world needs. Why do I get to review all this stuff? [Cos I've done more than enough of it - JE] Pink cover with a drawing of a spotty japanese woman with stupidly big tits. Side A "I've been around this world/looking for pussy... take this cock it's what you deserve... I like to see you suffer, I like to see you crawl" etc. Ho hum. And some rather impotent screechy synths. Side B - some pedestrian instrumental "power" electronics.

To give Whitehouse their due, they have produced what is questionably the most extreme sonic material ever. But this is increasingly something that is only worthwhile from an intellectual perspective - i.e. there's no point in listening to it. Are people still interested in this stuff? Apparently so. It's possible that the whole thing is a piss take, but why bother if it is or it isn't? The most interesting thing about this record is that the run out groove info has been scratched off in such a way that the needle skips back to the end of the track each time.

Further investigation reveals that apparently this is actually a counterfeit or rip-off of an ultra rare 7" that Whitehouse put out in Japan a couple of years ago. Which makes it a bit funnier, but not much. A far better bet would be the version of "I'm coming up your arse" that was circulating a while back: "I'm coming 'round your house/I'm bored of my Mum/I'll bring my Whitehouse records/You won't like them baby..."

No label or contact information.


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