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,
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.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Blair Bidmead on Against Nature


Well, it's probably not a review in the conventional sense, but I'm honestly not that fussy, and I particularly enjoyed the reference to Birds of a Feather. So here it is, as transmitted to me just the other day by Blair Bidmead, author of
various good things published by Obverse Books, amongst other mighty works regularly described at Battlefield by the Meadow.

Yes! Against Nature! I read it and that. A while ago now. I thought I had already mentioned it to you, but I think your book broke my head, because I didn't, so I am mentioning it now instead. What a thing you gawn and done, eh? A tremendous thing! Crafted within an inch of its life. A dense, sleek and impressive thing. I am reminded of that episode of Birds of a Feather when Dorian pretends she has written a book and Tracy reads it and says to Sharon, 'Nah, Sharon. It's like a real book, with bits I don't understand and everything!' So, yeah. You're getting that I greatly admire your book? I enjoyed it too, sort of. A bit. But, what do I know? Eh? I'm pretty low rent, really. So, greatly admire is a proper win, yeah? I would especially like to applaud the book's militant opacity. I respect that that most.

There was a point, about halfway through, I think maybe when the talking dog appears (he the same one from your Doctor Who book, innit?), where there seemed to be a classic bit of exposition to clarify shit, and I thought two things - one was; ah, he's throwing us a bone here, right the path shall become clearer now, the second thing I thought was; ah, so I have been following what was happening. That's good to know. But, that was it. There was no further concession made. It was keep up or fuck off and I like that. And do you know what's really weird? That talking dog's face has just appeared in the sponsored ads column as I type this! Spooky. Oh, and the final chapter? It's a happy ending, so that's nice, isn't it? These other books of which you speak. Some cunt will publish them, surely?

I don't know the answer to that question, but Against Nature is still very much available through channels referenced elsewhere on this blog.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

The Brakespeare Voyage

I probably should have mentioned this here when it came out, but never mind. The Brakespeare Voyage by Simon Bucher-Jones and Jonathan Dennis finds itself effortlessly amongst the finest weird science-fiction novels I've ever read - and I've read a few - which is hugely gratifying seeing as I painted the cover. As is sometimes my custom, I took photographs of the painting as I was working on it, principally because it was one of those pieces composed mainly by pushing the paint around until it eventually looked right - roughly following suggestions made by Mr. Dennis. This is an occasionally haphazard method which can sometimes unfortunately result in one painting over something half decent with something which turns out to look crap the next morning. Happily that didn't occur with this one. Anyway, I've been meaning to post the in progress material for anyone who wants to see it, so here it is.

If anyone wishes to download larger versions, for whatever reason, they can be found somewhere in this Flickr set, excepting the finished piece which is here - right click on the image, select the size required, then click on save as or whatever. It's not that hard.

If you haven't yet purchased a copy of The Brakespeare Voyage then I really can't recommend it enough, and it is available either from the Obverse Books site or here if you live in North America and don't wish to pay a million dollars postage fees. My own novel, Against Nature is also still available from both of those, in the event that you haven't yet bothered to buy the fucker, but nevertheless expect me to speak to you next time we meet, and for my friend who gushed most convincingly over how excited he would be to buy the thing when it comes out in paperback, it actually is a paperback, you tool.

Oh, and for what it's worth, here's what I thought of The Brakespeare Voyage in a little more detail.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

The Vostok Lake Interview

A few years ago I was a regular on a poorly attended bulletin board frequented by Random Static recording artist Daphne Lawless, and became roughly the only other contributor - excepting Daphne herself - to a question and answer thread vaguely forming a preface to the release of Vostok Lake's excellent Small Group Psychosis album. More recently, whilst going over some old writings, essays, shopping lists, and cat feeding reminders posted on the fridge door, I came across this interview and noticed that, as it stood, it wasn't that easy to read, often comprising blocks of five or six unrelated questions followed by the attendant blocks of five or six answers; so, I had a go at editing it into something with a more organic flow, and which I pray carries a slightly more conversational tone.

Happily, Daphne has now posted this interview in full on her Vostok Lake blog here. Hopefully it should be of some appeal to anyone with any sort of interest in progressive rock, electronic music, home recording, the New Zealand scene (or lack thereof), prog-cabaret (of which Daphne presently seems to be the sole proponent), or even the fabled Faction Paradox opera; and if you're still unconvinced, read it anyway because Daphne is one of those rare individuals who makes both the internet and the world a more pleasant and interesting place, and as such she deserves your support.