Invaders - A reader in psychic warfare, cultural sabotage and
semiotic terrorism. Edited by Stewart Home
Yeaaaah. This is the business. A "who's who" of agents of discontent. The contents page gives it all away: Luther Blissett, Decadent Action, London Psychgeographical Association, The Association of Autonomous Astronauts, T.O.P.Y., Anti-Euclidean Action, Neoists a-go-go and a whole load more.
As for the contents, there are some fine rants here like Mandy B's Piss Manifesto, which shows the way for women who wee standing up, and the Campaign to Abolish the Complete Works of William Shakespeare's Ban Macbeth which begins "We call on the government to take immeditate action to ban this evil play and all other works by the depraved author William Shakespeare. It is our desire to see these foul abominations publicly burned as a warning to others."
The book also includes a number of longer texts, some of which have been widely circulated before (like the infamous Big Issue Chewing gum and the rise of glop art article and South London AAA's Dreamtime Mission Statement) and some of which are translations of previously hard to get hold of essays (a lot of the Luther Blissett and Gruppe M stuff). There's also a very useful list of contacts at the back, ensuring that there are possibilities beyond passive consumption.
I have three criticisms, firstly that some of the pieces would work better with their original graphics. Secondly, that an over zealous proof reader has spell-checked Raido AAA into a Radio station! And finally that Stewart seems to have fallen for the myth that thee Temple ov Psychick Youth is defunt.
Nevertheless, this is an essential collection of material that anyone interested in occulture, media hacking or mindfuckery should snap up immediately.
£9.99 Serpents Tail ISBN 1 85242 560 1
House of the Seven by Nine Squares - Stewart Home with texts by
A collection of letters about Neoism, Psychogeography and putting up shelves. Actually a very good read if you're interested in the machinations of the underground in the 90s. Lots of debate about multiple names and other projects, some mad anecdotes and some insight into the processes in which Stewart has become immersed.
Comes with a glossary and footnotes. Sort of a "behind the scenes" of Mind Invaders, if you will. Nice print job, too.
Invisible Books, BM Invisible, London WC1N 3XX ISBN 0 9521256 7 6
before Christ and Murder Love - Stewart Home
A tale of mind control, magick, madness and, ah, food. This is another bonkers schizo story from the master of pulp. Manages to steer clear of Stewart's previous territory of youth culture and marginal art/politics (just about). Instead we are lead into the occult underground and the psychogeography of London. The narrative continues (and develops) Home's techniques of plagiarism and repetition to the point of disorientation, fitting in well with the main character's confusion about what the fuck is going on.
However this isn't some arty for the sake of it experimental read - I tore through it in two sittings. On one level it's the usual sex, power, violence and obsessive stuff of which great novels are made. On another it's an exploration of our fragile notions of belief, identity and free will. Not for the faint-hearted.
£8.99 Serpents Tail ISBN 1 85242 575 X
Very nice. This started out as an organ of the original Exploding Cinema group, but is now satisfyingly broader than that. Wicked cover graphics (Action Man in Orwellian CCTV shock horror) and the inside is really good lookin' too.
Obviously there's a lot of film related stuff - feature interviews on Nick Zedd, Mike Kuchar and Jeff Keen, all of whom make films that are really difficult to see, but sound well worth the effort.
There's also a really good Coil interview, circa Black Light District, that touches on film, ritual, psychedelics and censorship.
And the whole thing is topped off by a look at protest culture (Castle Morton, Exodus, Reclaim The Streets) and 6 pages of Book, zine and video reviews. Kinokaze is a brilliant combination of the excesses of the transgressors and the visions of activists. A rare thing!
£2.50. Mischievous Productions, PO Box 8868, London SE16 1ZS
Documents From The Bureau Of The Banal #4
Mashed up reportage & anarcho/situ comment. Stuff this issue on corporate media monopoly, languages as a control method, Future Sound of London (transcript of a Radio 3 interview) and general angst about what they see as a possible techno-dystopia in the near future. I'm not so sure.
To its credit LDFTBOTB isn't a knee-jerk black/white issues publication, but it is a bit stark all the same. I really liked some of the smaller pieces ("Secret notes appear on OS maps") but this seems like it's trying to be s newsy "what's wrong with the world?" publication. I think it appears too irregularly to do that justice.
50p & 36p SAE. The Bureau of the Banal, 4 Adelaide Street, South Bank, York, YO2 1DL
Essentially a newsletter that reveals what the residents of the Red Republic of Parasol are up to, or musing on. The pleasures and dangers of hydration are scrutinised. AAA Parasol go down the pub and experiment with Electronic Voice Phenomena. Astrid Pluver is on an anti-work tip and a couple of zines are reviewed. Very nicely done and essential if your life demands a constant flow of cheap, yet luxurious, mail. They also have a report from the first congress of the New Lettrist International available, which is very illuminating.
Lubricious, as they say!
SAE to 24 Marfitt Street, Leicester LE4 6RN
It's got a Prince/Karl Marx collage on the cover, and inside you get stuff like a screenplay by Captain Beefheart, reviews of Bootleg records, Neoist Alliance reprints, poetry by Todd Moore, Blues Explosion set-list and comment and some reviews and stuff.
Quite heavy on the "stuff" content, actually.
$1? plus p&p: Sick Again!, PO Box 864002, Marietta, GA 30060, USA
and Tales #4
Handy zine made up of articles about drugs found on the internet. This issue features a Robert Anton Wilson interview, LSD "tattoo" hoax FAQ, Leary's 8 circuit model of the brain, cannabis and the UK Police (they love it, I'm told), and some legal and humorous stuff.
A very sensible editorial perspective and a sense of the absurd as well. Well worth checking out if you want to get beyond the media hype and the "my mate says" myths.
Free with large SAE? from Tribe of the Spoon, PO Box 11954, London NW2 5WJ.
Integralism - Luther Blissett
A critique of anarchism that arises out of current disputes with Green Anarchist, but also traces the reactionary nature of Proudhon and Bakunin.
£3 Sabotage Editions, BM Senior, London WC1N 3XX
Fuck me, it's like punk never happened. These two magazines make me feel like a grumpy old git.
Essense (sic) is London based, and is so fluffy that I'm surprised that the (purple!) ink actually stays on the page. We are firmly embedded in Goa Trancey-ness here, with all the cod Care Bear philosophy that seems to go with the territory. Poetry ("The earth is opening her blue-green eyes, emanating a love and warmth that draw me to her rapturous, spell-binding beauty."), astrology (What is the Age of Aquarius feature), psychedelics are good/doing nasty things to environment is bad, interviews with small-businessmen on the scene, and the usual reviews and rather earnest comment.
Lovey dovey, day-glo, hippie nonsense, then. No price stated, maaaaaan.
Essense, PO Box 11599, London SE26 5ZF
Lotus is a bit better on the surface. It hails from Los Angeles, has more full-colour adverts from major labels and promoters, has less poetry and astrology. It also concentrates more on music than philosophy, though the editorial does go off on one about creating your own destiny and positive change (and what's wrong with that, John? they all cry).
There's also a problem page with answers by a Zen Buddhist and a Gnostic dude, the latter of whom starts his advice to a rape victim thus: "To see the bigger picture regarding this matter you must understand that we have all lived before. That is, this is not our first life. When you realize this you realize that you are not a victim, but rather simply living the effects of causes that were put into motion in previous lives." Clearly all is not well in fluffy land.
"Free in Cali", Lotus, 1093 Broxton Ave No.568 LA, CA 90024, USA
Nicely put together freebie occulture zine. William Burroughs cartoon, AAA Maya report, TOPY text (from the Grey Book), Annie Sprinkle's Yoni Massage Ritual from Head magazine, acoustics and the vibration of life, contacts and so on.
It'll be interesting to see how this one develops, I reckon. Definitely worth an SAE.
EXIT, PO Box 53, Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear, NE26 1XY
The subtitle is "surveying the heretical", which I think highlights my problems with this (and the "scene" as a whole). Doing a survey suggests that it's just a report of what's going on - someone else has to analyse it all. But obviously this isn't the whole story. Anyone who puts out a zine goes through a process of selection - deciding what goes in and what stays out. It isn't like someone went through the racks at Tower Records and pulled out every 10th CD or something, is it? So the editor must either like the material, or at the very least find it intriguing. But oh no, there's a "Views and beliefs expressed" statement on page 2, so we have to guess, eh?
This wouldn't be a problem were it not for the fact that Compulsion contains some pretty dubious people, some of whom have worldviews that I consider thoroughly objectionable. For example there's a puff piece on ex-American Nazi Party organiser James Mason and his Manson-inspired Universal Order. I'm sure James is fantastically exciting, but it fucks me off that he can blandly suggest that the Tate killings were great because they were all "drug users, drug dealers, Jews, anti-racists and homosexuals" without even the teeniest bit of editorial comment.
Mason's publisher is also interviewed. Unsurprisingly he's also happy to be called a fascist and we even get to read his (ooh how heretical!) views, though thankfully we're spared his usual spiel about re-opening the concentration camps this time. Admittedly Compulsion isn't all blokes with an unhealthy fixation with uniforms and the music of Wagner. The Boredoms, Foetus, Jim Rose and the excellent Somewhere in Europe are also covered. It's just that anyone who expresses an ideology in any depth is completely reactionary. That is clearly one of the editor's major interests, but any conclusions he's made or insights he's gained are missing completely.
It's not even as if the editor is a fascist, it's just the usual laziness that seems to permeate industrial culture these days. Nobody is ever challenged about their views, not because people agree with them, but because people just aren't bothered. The "scene" seems to have ditched TG's ideas of actively researching extremes and is now just a darker version of MTV, spoon-feeding extremity for the sake of it. The excuse is always that people can make up their own minds, which no doubt is true. But there doesn't seem to be a lot of evidence of it happening.
Most of the people I've discussed this with have a pretty unsophisticated analysis of it all, despite all the Èlitist "oh we are so much more intelligent than the masses" bollocks that goes with the territory. The fans either just get off on the "mystery" of whether such and such a group is "dodgy", nudge nudge, wink wink, or try to get themselves off the hook by arguing that so and so can't be a fascist because he isn't racist (as if the two were the same thing).
There are too many people who still think that "nazis" are all evil, stupid and ugly. That sort of liberalism just leaves them ill-equipped to critically examine anything resembling a considered argument for (for example) racial segregation, or stopping all welfare and letting people starve to death. I'm not suggesting that every paragraph should come with a dogmatic PC analysis, or that such views shouldn't be allowed to appear in print. That isn't a situation I will ever be able to (or want to) enforce.
However, I am not happy to just uncritically consume people's ideas. It is not in my interest to give fascists or their fans an easy ride. Perhaps that makes me the biggest heretic of all.
(From Tony Dickie, 10 Netherhill Road, Gallowhill, Paisley PA3 4RE England)
- Great God Pan
(Elfenblut Recordings CD)
3 years in the making , this is Endura doing what they do best. The labels trip off the tongue - gothic, pagan, darkwave, sinister... before the teeth sink in - a painful reminder that all categories are extremely dubious. It's amazing how many groups do this sort of thing really badly. Endura manage to be bleakly percussive and classical without sounding cheesy. The vocals aren't intrusive or overly pretentious (though you have to worry about titles like "The Sperm Of Metals", eh?) - the whole CD is more about restraint and suggestion than in-your-face show and tell. Which is fine, but surely Pan suggests a little more bestial lust and humour? Either way, Endura have a great future making soundtracks for horror films where the monsters triumph.
(Elfenblut, PO Box 9, Hadleigh, Suffolk IP7 5AU - UK)
- TA' Wil
Monumental dark classical stuff from the same label as Crash Worship. Where Endura evoke caves and dungeons, COTA hail from wide open spaces - more manic and howling, but still lit by the moon. There are 6 pieces here, the space on the CD allowing each to really get going and raise an atmosphere. The percussion is biting and syncopated and the accompanying drones are exquisitely beautiful and rich. This is one I've gone back to again and again.
Charnel Music, PO Box 170277, San Francisco, CA 94117-0277, USA
Emissions - Sunspot Activity
Minimalist tinkliness and the odd gleeful screech on top. Yo! It's not stated whether the music is inspired by Sunspot emissions, or whether the frequenices appear in the tracks as with AAA delegate and ex-beauty queen Fiorella's (www.fiorella.com) work. Either way it's one in the eye for pagan crooners who strum away about blood and the sun and all that mystical bollocks.
This music does strange things to your head - it's as much about the spaces as the noises, recalling a lot of the "eastern" zen/taoist influenced musics. It made me go a bit spinny, anyhow. There are some great tonal variations here, and I would throughly recommend this to any aspiring autonomous astronauts as part of their training. The noccies do it again!
Available from Earthly Delights, PO Box 2, Cornwall PL22 0YY
Artists - We Hate You: A Small Tribute to Throbbing Gristle
(Jazzassin CD + 7" set)
In the world of industrial music those who remember the past seem condemned to repeat it. Post-modernism means that everything is up for grabs, at least in theory. In practice it often means that all the good ideas get drowned in waves of self-referential irony. How long before there's a "No-Way-Sis" covers band doing versions of early-eighties Psychic TV, Current 93 and Swans?
The ultimate irony is that there's been a twofold tribute to Throbbing Gristle going on since they split in 1981. Their most interesting legacy consists of people who have applied their ideas and theories to their projects - and that applies to video makers and hackers just as much as it applies to musicians like Coldcut, Andy Weatherall and countless others. The other legacy is the massed legions of white boys in their bedrooms with a load of books about mass murderers and some distortion pedals, some of whom are represented here.
That said, this is a pretty good package. You get a nice clear vinyl 7", a full-length CD and a booklet, all in a 7" sleeve that's designed to look like TG's "Mission of Dead Souls". Like most compilations it's patchy, but there are some great/engaging/funny tracks from Aube, Kapotte Muziek, Merzbow, Illusion of Safety, and Eugene Chadbourne. Needless to say there is also some absolute tosh from Anus Presley (a hur hur hur.), Bilge Pump (oh stop it, my sides will split), Jarboe (surprisingly) and Mourning Cloak.
Two decades after TG the terrain has changed. There are still people doing innovative things with whatever equipment they can lay their hands on, but it usually isn't noise (and TG were much more than that). The Information War that they talked about is still being fought, but new tactics are required. In the next decade the issues will be about who has access to technology, and how we deal with the massive amount of data that is now (potentially) available to the more fortunate of us.
Compared to that, some plonker shouting the lyrics to "Something Came Over Me" over a Casiotone in Stoke on Trent really isn't worth your time.
Jazzassin, PO Box 1402, Leangen, 7002 Trondheim, Norway
Over Heaven - Anunnaki
(Slippery Fish CD single)
A weird one. Mad sub-bass and breakbeats that almost fall over into disjointed Squarepusher territory. Accompanied by some bloke reading about ancient Sumerian culture or the Iluminati. Can't see the junglist massive giving this the rewind treatment, but it's pretty fine in a strange ambient occultural propaganda way. It's difficullt to know whether to listen to the information or groove to the music, but it's quite compelling either way and I'm hoping they do more because it isn't like anything else.
Available for £3 (to "I.Waite") ppd UK. Drums Over Heaven, PO Box 16164, Clapham, London SW4
- How Can You Hide From What Never Goes Away?
(Outsider Records CD)
Impressively laid-back, but still intense full-lengther recorded 1993-1997. Delphium have got the same kit as a lot of other people, but use it in refreshingly unclichÈd ways. So you get gently pulsing synths that manage not to be "techno", some really good breakbeat loops with some eerily discordant strings behind them, and some quality drones. Hell, there are even some noised-up guitars on here that have NOTHING to do with rock and roll!
It's the use of restraint, repetition and the duration of the tracks that really suck you in. Delphium flit about a bit - you can hear the echoes of everything from trip hop, to reggae, to post-rock, to some kind of strange Martian symphony orchestra in there. In the space of one track you can be lulled into a nice dream-like state and then woken up by a cacophonous racket. One to watch.
(Outsider Records, 10 Yarborough Road, Lincoln, Lincs. LN1 1HS - UK)
- Breeding Bad Blood
(Outsider Records 7"e.p)
A limited release that serves as a good, but frustrating, introduction. Good because the quality of the material is great, but frustrating because the tracks on the "swirl side" aren't long enough to get you where they want to take you. The "nothing side" fares better with the 6 minute title track - groovy phased beats, rumblin' bass and some nice hushed dark atmospheric bits. Works a treat if you're doing a fucked-up chill out DJ set, I can tell you.
First pressing comes with a hand-marbled colour frontpiece.
(Outsider Records, 10 Yarborough Road, Lincoln, Lincs. LN1 1HS - UK)
Home- Cyber-Sadism Live!
(Sabotage Editions CD)
An hour of Stewart Home live readings and audio ephemera. Good stuff too, the readings are from four different live performances and capture Stewart's live feel pretty well. It always impresses me immensely that he does his readings from memory, rather than from notes. This is especially gratifying during the longer pieces like the classic A Fiery Flying Roll piece from Defiant Pose, which is included here. The piece superimposes a narrative that reveals the history and psychogeography of central London onto an account of a riot that destroys it, alongside a third text which describes an anarchist being given head whilst travelling down the thames in a boat, reciting Abiezer Coppe's rant.
Other readings include Home's scatalogical Teutonic Order of Buddhist Youth from Red London, his story about The Australian Whitehouse (a tribute band) and several off-the-cuff exchanges with audiences of variable hostility. The "Cyber Recordings" are an interesting collection of Neoist archive stuff, documents from Home's feuds (The True Blue Confessions of Larry O'Hara, Spookbuster!) and a coversation with Jimmy Cauty of the K Foundation.
More care and attention has been put into this than your average spoken word CD. Buy it and hear why Stewart Home is so reviled by reactionaries everywhere!
(Distributed by Overground: PO Box 148, Hove, East Sussex, BN3 3DQ Fax: (0)1273 205502)
With Guns - Hard Corps
(AIN Australia CD EP)
Bonkers Burroughs sampling, big beating, banging tracks. Apparently the live show features a full live-video mix as well. They are our mates, but we choose our friends very carefully. There is no way you're going to get a copy of this CD, though. It's a limited edition of 3. (heh, heh, heh! Reviewer sticks CD case down his trousers and gasps with the near-orgasmic elitism of it all). Future releases should be not only even better, but more available.
TV - Ov Power
Don't know much about the status of this one, it looks like a bit of an under-the-counter job. Seems to be a re-release of the legendary Ov Power bootleg live LP that had record collectors foaming at the mouth at its mere mention. It's a recording from 1983 and is pretty good quality. It descends into a long percussive freak-out in the 2nd half. The packaging is very reminscent of the "skulls, skinheads and scarification" era of T.O.P.Y. (nice and stark) and this will make a pretty good addition to anybody's collection of PTV documents. Not the best place to start (I suppose we should do a consumer's guide, eh?), but worth checking out if you can find it.
TV - Themes 2
(Cold Spring CD)
Yet another quality release from Cold Spring. This slots in nicely with their re-issue of Those Who Do Not and the T.O.P.Y. Angels ov Light release. Themes 2 was originally released as an LP of ritual music in the mid 80s. This sort of thing was often ridiculed at the time for trying to do something other than the standard rock 'n' roll schtick. However, it has stood the test of time and is now revealed as a precursor to a lot of the weirder dark ambient or isolationist music of today. It's easy to deride people who experiment, or use the terminology of magick as part of their work.
Closer inspection reveals that Psychic TV were experimenting with musical loops and peaks 10 years before they were turned into an everyday act of bliss by dance music. I guess rock critics are unhappy with music that is designed to elicit a response, that demands some interaction beyond being entertainined (not that there's anything wrong with being entertained, mind).
The sleevenotes describe the theories and intention in some detail, but the only way to see if it's any good is to give it a go and see what happens. Your experiences and insights whilst listening are what the music is about. The pieces from the original LP were also used as theme music for some of Derek Jarman's more abstract films. This CD is therefore dedicated to him and contains an additional piece entitled Prayer for Derek. The extensive sleevenotes also outline Genesis P-Orridge's relationship with Jarman and are a great read. A classic.
(Cold Spring: 8, Wellspring, Blisworth, Northants. NN7 3EH)
Funky demo from our friends at www.spinwarp.com - a one stop shop for all yer drum 'n' bass news.
This is a 6 track CD which opens with "solidified", a nice brooding headnodder with a bass-line that reminds me of the Human League (tho' a lot of things do these days).
Things go up a gear (but actually down in bpm) with the next track - "descendant", which has some really funky stops and starts - one to sway yer arse to with a cool beer in one hand.
"bandit cobra" starts off with a break that's just a touch too fussy for headbangers like me, but there are some great effects on it, and the chiming bass is a winner! Pretty damn tearing when it settles into a groove, though at 4 minutes, there maybe isn't enough simple repetition.
"arcane" is billed as "dark step" and certainly veers close enough to Witchman territory for my liking, but later on develops a really nice habit of drums kicking in really hard. Mmmmm.
"insect militia" & "grave raider" are strictly for home listening. The former is a bit self-consciously jazzy, the latter prioritises space and ambience over dirt and funk to these ears. But then I'm no LTJ Bukem fan, either!
Overall an excellent start - looking forward to some more tearin' tracks in the future.
Radio's Gonna Fuck The Millennium cassette
Allegedly a radio broadcast of a stadium rave in North City (USA?). Featuring some perversely unbalanced beats, with tunes and vocal samples flung into the mix along with, uh, "crowd noises". Either recorded by some techie people on some messed up equipment or by some messed up people on some techie equipment.
Big KLF influence. Choice tracks include "We're Travelling Through The Solar System - A tribute to the AAA", which features a loop of the title sung by school kids. And "The Dropping of Astralwerks Records Into a Vat of Piss", in which our brave heroes almost manage to keep it funky.
UNIT - Richard
Dawkins is Together With Us
Available for £2.50 ppd from BBP, 3 Read Street, Swindon, Wilts, SN1 5HJ
of Imagination - Planetary House Nation
(Mindspore CD) Mindspore, 540n. Santa Cruz Ave, Suite 289, Los Gatos, CA 95030, USA
NB Some of the above
reviews have prevously appeared in CAUTION
Click here for my review of the Wreckers of Civilisation Booklaunch at the ICA.