Monday, 23 February 2015

Liberating Earth


Just published is Liberating Earth, an anthology of short science-fiction tales brought together and edited by Kate Orman. I haven't read it yet, but I've heard good things about it, and Kate Orman's name has become synonymous with a certain standard, so I expect it's worth a look; and it's mentioned here because I painted the cover.

Liberating Earth is available in lovely hardback (or eBook if you have a nose around the site) directly from Obverse Books at this link, and possibly from some other places, but I'm not sure where just yet. Nowhere in North America, I guess. 

In case anyone is interested, I tend to take photographs of my book covers as I paint them, and so I usually have a few work in progress shots for future reference. For Liberating Earth, these are as follows:




...and finally, Cyril?
 
Finally, Esther, I am indebted to Mrs. R. Simpson of Tonbridge Wells who sent me this naughty carrot...



The links should hopefully take you to my Flickr page where you can see the images without having to scrabble around for a magnifying glass, and the arrow symbol on the right hand side of that page should yield downloads in the event of anyone wanting any of the above for a screensaver or any other non-nefarious purpose.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Cultural Terror


Roughly sixty-five million years ago towards the close of the Cretaceous period, I dabbled in cassette tapes of noisy electronic shite. Noisy electronic shite was the internet when most of you lot were still agonising over Optimus Prime's latest bout of existential nausea in the Transformers comic, and you were probably also listening to the Electric Light Orchestra and watching Michael J. Fox films on a VCR the size of Battersea power station, yer twat.

Amongst the more enthusiastically offensive of my many, many correspondents of the time was the excellent Trev Ward - a lovely bloke in person, and the man behind a tape label known as Zeal SS in 1987 or thereabouts. The SS stood for Severe Systems, naturally. I released a couple of Trev's tapes on my own tape label, and he put out one of mine - a live recording to which he gave the title Death in a Milan Square.

This double cassette compilation was a label sampler comprising excerpts from everything that was available at the time. I'm featured - doing a fairly poor impersonation of Whitehouse as recorded in the sculpture studio at my college in Leamington Spa; as are ESP Kinetic - musical organ of the famous Neil Campbell, Thee Unkommuniti - Tim Gane's group prior to Stereolab, Final - which was the bloke from Godflesh, Asepisis - which was my mate Jez from school making a noise on my stereo, the Apostles, Ashenden, Grey Wolves, and others you may recall if you have a long memory and were into the noisy electronic shite; and it's available for free download here.

I say noisy electronic shite, but the compilation is actually quite varied, even musical providing you're not expecting the Monkees. Some of it may appear extreme to the uninitiated, but it should probably be remembered that this was the decade in which a badly photocopied picture of a concentration camp was probably confronting society with its own inherent hypocrisy whilst hoping to upset you as much as possible, rather than suggesting that concentration camps had necessarily ever been a good thing. I realise there may have been some room for ambiguity in more recent years, particularly amongst those on the fringes of power electronics and certain fat Nazis who seem to be of the belief that the wrong side won the second world war, but if there was any of that here, and I'm pretty sure there wasn't, then I remain unaware of its presence in case that needs stating. We were young and stupid, and it was supposed to be repellant. That was the point.

...and I'm surprised at how good it is to hear this stuff again.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Hmph


An individual named James Hornby posting as Valermos on one of those internet forums about spaceships and Harry Potter and terrific children's computer games has submitted this comment concerning the Obverse Books catalogue on 1st February 2015:

Erasing Sherlock is simply amazing. I honestly cannot sell this novel enough. Of the City of the Saved... is also a very high quality story. The only other one's I've read are Dead Romance (again, supberb) and A Romance in Twelve Parts. The Faction Paradox series is simply phenominal in terms of quality.

I don't know exactly how to upload something to share, but if someone sends me their email I can send the Faction Paradox novels Against Nature and The Brakespeare Voyage in epub, as well as the City of the Saved novel Tales of the City, and the Iris Wildthyme anthology Iris: Fifteen that I'm perfectly happy to share, as, to my knowledge, they haven't been shared around by our wonderful group. When Liberating Earth's ebook gets released I will also have that too, so if someone could send me their email who is willing to share them with everyone else I'm more than happy to obliged

Whilst I suppose I should be flattered to consider my novel worth ripping off, it's sort of difficult to keep myself from thinking of the ten years of sweat, heartache, sleepless nights, and diarrhea which went into the composition of Against Nature, a novel for which I have been paid, but not paid in sufficient quantity as to be able to buy myself a fucking yacht; and thinking of this in relation to Mr. Hornby's kind offer of come one, come all, stop me and have one for fucking free, I am compelled to the formation of dark thoughts. I wouldn't really care if it was just the odd one-off slipped in the general direction of a mate, but were I of either Republican or Libertarian inclination I would probably view this as food stolen from the mouth of my child, because it sort of is.

Obverse Books is a small publisher
. They pay what they can afford, and they rely on sales to keep going, to continue publishing. A
s an economic model, this does not strike me as difficult to understand. My feelings expressed towards Mr. Hornby, as posted on the platform from which he first made his generous offer, may not have contained much actual swearing but took a quite strident tone. I fully expect my contribution to be deleted, so I'm expanding upon the general thrust here.

Mr. Hornby, you have displeased me to a considerable degree. I'm not sure if you've actually read Against Nature as yet, but if not, please don't bother. I would rather not be read than be read by arseholes.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Their Darkest Hour


A few years ago I was in a band called Konstruktivitsts, famously or semi-famously instigated by Glenn Wallis, one time Whitehouse ivory tickler and Throbbing Gristle bag carrier. We recorded one album whilst I was in the band, although my favourite stuff emerged from sessions prior to that, just Glenn and myself at his house in Norwich hammering out a few ideas directly onto his portastudio. Happily Monsieur Y, which was one of these tracks, has resurfaced on a new collection of previously unreleased material from Glenn and Mark. Their Darkest Hour, as the collection is called, is free to download from the Konstruktivists' bandcamp page. Whilst I'm blowing this particular trumpet, you may be interested to know that the cover painting for Konstruktivists' Black December - as originally released on lovely vinyl back in 1984 - is one of mine, and Psykho Genetika - also available from the aforelinked bandcamp page has been described as the greatest industrial album of all time by at least a few people. Personally I wouldn't call it industrial, but it is indeed one powerful fucker of an album, which I would recommend to anybody with a taste for spooky electronics.

Ooh ooh - I also play on Housewife's Choice which is on Kollection 78-95 so you need to buy that one too in order that your archive of all my mighty deeds remaineth complete.

It's okay. I'm joking.


Sunday, 16 November 2014

Raffy the Psychiatric Labrador


For whatever it may be worth, I've recently dusted off my wax crayons and returned to comics, specifically a cartoon strip called Raffy the Psychiatric Labrador for Southwark Mental Health News #126. It's just four panels, but Southwark Mental Health News is something deserving of support, so it seemed worth mentioning here. The magazine is put together by Robert Dellar, author of the excellent Splitting In Two: Mad Pride and Punk Rock Oblivion (published by Unkant, a thumping good read, and reviewed within by Stewart Home) and is more in the line of yer proper fanzine than the list of charity coffee mornings and biscuit making evening classes one might anticipate given the title; and it's print, a physical thing with pages which you hold in your hands, which is nice. Whilst
Southwark Mental Health News is undoubtedly published with a fairly specific readership in mind, it should be of interest to anyone who has ever had any sort of dealing with the psychiatric profession, and not just residents of Southwark (as I was myself about five years ago in case anyone was wondering).

Raffy, by the way, is an actual sniffer dog employed to locate illegal narcotic substances smuggled in by patients at Maudsley hospital, usually tobacco which has been banned from the premises because some fucking genius decided that any person of sufficient derangement as to be sectioned under the mental health act and admitted for treatment, observation or whatever might also benefit from finding themselves additionally forced to give up smoking whilst in the bin because it's so unhealthy and makes your clothes smell blah blah blah... the idea seemed ripe for sarcastic commentary. Also, there are reviews of CDs by UNIT and a couple of groups I've never heard of but who sound worth hearing.

Southwark Mental Health News #126 is free if you (I think) send an A4 stamped addressed envelope to:

Southwark Association for Mental Health,
Cambridge House,
1, Addington Square,
London,
SE5 0HF,
United Kingdom.

...or possibly you could phone 020 7358 7279 and get yourself on the mailing list. I have no idea what you would do should you live outside the United Kingdom, maybe try the phone number, or ask me if you're here in the US as I have a couple of extra copies.

The next issue is supposed to have a free CD of various Mad Pride associated groups which is sure to be well worth a listen, so get yourself on the mailing list if you want to cop one of those.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Andy Martin on Roy of the Aztecs


There haven't been any reviews of my Roy of the Aztecs collection because I haven't bothered to send out any review copies and wouldn't know who to send them to if I did, but - for what it may be worth - I've just had a couple of emails from my friend Andy Martin whom some of you may remember as one time singer of the Apostles, and here's what he said on the 25th September 2014:

I'm now on page 44 of Roy Of The Aztecs and I am amazed I never bothered to read this strip when it was first produced. I've never liked comics, even when they're done by people I know. I remember a few frames you photocopied and stuck on your toilet wall - the famous frame with Roy off his tree on peyotl which ends the trees, the trees.


Basically this is easily one of the cleverest and most hilarious items I've ever read. I laughed out loud on the D6 bus to work today and I chuckled aloud on the 277 on the way back home.

...and then on 26th September 2014:

I finished Roy early this morning - it stopped me going to sleep because I had to read just one more page and then just one more...until I realised I only had 5 more pages to go and so I decided to read on until the end.


The chap with the punk haircut - can't remember his name - who kindly provides preposterously (and obviously) contrived end of strip cliff hangers by playing thoroughly impractical practical jokes - is splendid!

So there you go. That's why you should buy it. If you've no idea what it actually is or what it's about, then please refer to this blog post, and then open your wallet in the general direction of this webpage. If you still have doubts, ignore them. Just buy it.

Ta very much.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

White Stained Covers



About a million years ago, back when I lived in Lewisham, Mark Crumby of Impulse fanzine told me that he was putting together a book about the power electronics group Whitehouse. This was to be accompanied by a free cassette of cover versions of Whitehouse tracks, and I was asked if I would like to contribute. Mark explained that the covers could be fairly liberal interpretations, and that the point was to have fun with the material. I mentioned this to my friend Andrew Cox as we convened for our evening session in The White Horse, and he was very much tickled by the idea, and thus were born Stan Presley & the Glitterdust All-Stars for the express purpose of failing to see the humour in Rock and Roll, a track originally recorded for Birthdeath Experience, Whitehouse's 1980 album and one of the few that doesn't sound exactly the same as the other two thousand they have since recorded. I also turded out two further tracks, and Andrew played guitar on one of these, but I can't remember which as I don't have the cassette with me, and I haven't heard them in two decades. This is also why I'm not going to name my other two tracks, in case it turns out that they were shite after all. Apparently William Bennet of Whitehouse was somewhat bemused by the cassette when it emerged. Perhaps he thought we had failed to treat his oeuvre with due reverence, or perhaps he was simply angry because our versions were much better than all that ranty ravey I'm going to feel your bottom! stuff of his. Actually, that's probably it, I should think.

Anyway, White Stained Covers has been reissued, for some reason, albeit as a limited run of numbered copies by the Bleak Netlabel in conjunction with something called aufnahme+wiedergabe.

In 1993, a group of electronic troubadours set about writing and recording a tribute to their favourite band, Whitehouse. Amongst them, ex-Whitehouse member Glenn Michael Wallis, founder of industrial pioneers Konstruktivists, former stagehand for Throbbing Gristle. The recordings were given away with the book Still Going Strong, a collection of interviews, reviews and newspaper snippets about Whitehouse and their legendary live actions. Created, edited and published by Mark Crumby's Impulse label, it has become a massively sought after collector's item - the book, that is; not the tape. The tape never got the attention it deserves, and everything around it seems to be embarrassing for the involved persons. It took twenty years to unveil the mysteries to it, to identify the names and persons behind this labour of love. While considered a parody by many, including William Bennett, we feel that this highly underrated work by dedicated artists should be brought to a new generation of power electronic kids.

So there you have it. The tape is not yet available, but is available for pre-order, possibly from this place, or maybe from their friends. Ordinarily I would wait for it to be on sale before plugging such an item, but it'll probably be sold out by then, given that this is how such things tend to go and it's now possible to sell a bit of paper with the word industrial written on it on eBay for thousands of pounds.