Friday, 19 November 2010
Thanks are due to The Wire Magazine [ http://www.thewire.co.uk/articles/5392/ ] for turning me onto this absolutely incredible band. The track in thewire.co.uk podcast is even better than this one, in my opinion. Here's the only song of theirs on youtube. Amazing stuff.
Wednesday, 10 November 2010
Thursday, 21 October 2010
Wednesday, 22 September 2010
Thursday, 16 September 2010
Tuesday, 7 September 2010
Saturday, 4 September 2010
Wednesday, 18 August 2010
Wednesday, 4 August 2010
Tuesday, 27 July 2010
Monday, 19 July 2010
Saturday, 17 July 2010
Saturday, 10 July 2010
The video embedded in this probably quite laborious post comes from the original soundtrack for the 1984 film Decoder, a low budget cult affair featuring cameo appearances by the late William S. Burroughs and musician/transgenderist Genesis P. Orridge. The film is beautiful in a raw, industrio-psychedelic fashion. Both of the big cameos give pretty weird, awkward performances but it's worth watching all the same... like a decent Ballardian B-movie. It's apparently based around or 'inspired by' Burroughs's ideas about sonic virology, a concept first outlined in his seminal publication on the subversive potentialities of sound and technology, Electronic Revolution (1970). The book contains (amongst other things) ideas about the 'language virus' itself, Burroughs's cut-up method and the use of sound recording and the human voice as weapons. Richard Kirk from industrial avant-garde band Cabaret Voltaire sights Electronic Revolution as "a handbook of how to use tape recorders in a crowd … to promote a sense of unease or unrest by playback of riot noises cut in with random recordings of the crowd itself."
Steve Goodman is variously known as Professor of Musicology at The University of East London, label boss of underground U.K dance music giant Hyperdub, acclaimed electronic music producer Kode9 and as the author of a fascinating philosophical treatise entitled Sonic Warfare (MIT Press, 2009). As Goodman terms it; we are today dealing with the dynamics and application of 'affective tonalities in the Industrial-Entertainment Complex' and 'the politics of frequency itself'. These are the kinds of ideas that Decoder sets against a backdrop of hyper-capitalist industry, impending spiritual apocalypse and ineffable individual isolation. I liked the film; the textures it deliverd, the mood it created, its lack of compromise and it's luscious low-fi, made-in-a-blacked-out-garage feel. As a student of the more subversive arts however, it disappointed me in a couple of quite important ways. Firstly, I fell asleep at least once. While this may well be 100% my fault and is certainly 100% my problem, it wasn't just my lack of zest that set me to dozing I don't think. The pretentiousness of the narrative sincerity became quite boring after a while, especially as most of the acting was so dismally guarded. The reliance on narrative in and of itself betrays a lack of conviction in the ideas that the narrative here pursues, specifically Burroughs's ideas about cut-up techniques and true deconstruction/reconstruction - to coin a phrase from Doctor T. Leary, 'pyschic imprinting' - which seem better suited to writing, musical production and more formally experimental forms of the still and moving image than to narrative cinema per se. Decoder did make me feel uneasy ; it succeeded in temporarily breaking down some of my preconditioned responses to social taboos, as well as those of my own subjectivity... but I wasn't in a crowd, and I never felt quite uneasy enough. What I think I'm trying to suggest is that the narrative form itself acted as something of a buffer against existential experience proper, keeping psychic activity just beyond arm's reach.
The editing, brutalist aesthetics and hyper-diegetic sound design were all pretty abrasive, satisfying some of the lust for sensory overload the viewer may or may not have been predisposed to. There is a prolonged Dreammachine sequence for example; a self-hypnosis tool propounded by many a transcendentalist artist, including not insignificantly Burrough's long term partner in crime Brion Gysin, as well as by Genesis P. Orridge and the cohorts of Throbbing Gristle in the U.K in the 1970s and 80s.
The soundtrack is possibly the strongest thing about Decoder, although there are definitely some really "cool" scenes in the film. About twenty minutes in for instance, once the angst and isolation of the weirdo-protagonist have been fertilized and the fruits of rebellion begun to blossom. A mesmerizingly pretentious scene takes place wherein the junky-chic, deadpan beauty, peep show starlet girlfriend of the male lead delivers a soliloquy about the symbolic significance of the frog in the spiritual languages of the ancient world.
"I read that they're a symbol of fertility or the amniotic fluid. For the Mayans they symbolized the vagina: Mucho."
Cutting between the two faces, we see the pair each on the phone, one in blue light, one in green.
"Got a light?" he says.
A cigarette lighter enters from left of screen and a two-shot reveals the couple in their shared apartment room, situated like pop videos in poised pose. They've both got dark glasses on and there are frogs lolling around all over the floor, the silver futon, and the girl...
Despite my fairly directionless criticisms, it's not hard to imagine some-where, some-time, some suitably weird scenes in and outside of cinema screenings of this film. Ultimately though I'm left wanting to compare Decoder unfavourably to David Cronenberg's superb 1991 adaptation of Burroughs's famous novel Naked Lunch. The key differential is that where Decoder attempts to insert theories of Ontological Anarchy and Poetic Terrorism into a risque, cool, dirty movie, Cronenberg's Naked Lunch instead takes the 'Art' of Burroughs and emblazons it in masterfully onto controlled celluloid. Maybe that's an unfair comparison, like pitting a spirited bare-knuckle gypsy against a zen master in a game of chess boxing, but as Oscar Wilde spake through the mouth of Lord Henry, "comparisons are odious".
Tuesday, 6 July 2010
Sunday, 4 July 2010
Expect good things, bad things, good words about bad things, bad photos of good things and bad words about bad things.
Someone asked me earlier this week what clothes I would wear if I was a girl. Unhesitatingly I replied "PVC trousers". It was one of those things you say that elicits a quick giggle but over time reveals itself to have come straight from the heart.
Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Monday, 21 June 2010
Behind all that hair and sweat and other fun stuff is Awkward contributor Rosemary Kirton.
Rosie has been on board since day one and I have her artistic fervour to thank in no small part for the continuation of the zine.
Some new work of Rosie's will undoubtedly feature somewhere in Issue 3, which is coming soon to a collapsing, piss stained magazine pile next to a toilet near you!
Currently in the works is a cartoon strip collaboration with distressingly talented painter and illustrator Ryan Humphrey (http://drawingasquare.blogspot.com). I was introduced to Ryan's work at the recent Fine Art graduation show in Farnham at The University for the Creative Arts, where I was instantly seduced by it's simplicity, skillfulness and gallons of style. Definitely one to watch.
(photo by Alex Milnes)
A couple of weekends ago we all got together and had a bloody great big fucking party for the launch of Issue 2.
Andrew Ferguson made a fine fine poster,
played drums for The Old Dolphin Brigade and was just generally on fine fine form all night
what a dirty little diggler
He topped off the evening drumming up a storm in the street outside his house across the road from the party at 4 o clock in the morning.
Wednesday, 2 June 2010
Monday, 31 May 2010
Rest in peace Louise.
Friday, 28 May 2010
It makes me feel sick. I really really hate it.
It made me look around the internet for what the phobia of corpses is called. Or the personification of Death. but it's none of those things. Not putrefaction itself, but the personification of our fear and denial of it, popping up out of the ground where we tried to hide it, insolent and terrible, and doing a repugnant little dance.
hugs and kisses
Tuesday, 25 May 2010
Thursday, 20 May 2010
Awkward is a book project comprised of short stories, images and little experiences that happen inside and outside the heads of the makers. What seems to be the idea behind the project is to create a collision of works, but not to have a unique theme involved. In some ways this can create difficulties in consistence and follow-ability in reading and viewing. This was seen in the previous issue, but not so much in this issue. There have been critical choices made for the Awkward audience, but how have these choices been made without a theme or context?
The direction seems to be purely a force exerted by the act of collection, the way the choices are made is curatorial rather than editorial, or like a writer working on the flow and sequence of the words rather than just the polemic. The point is not encased in themes or just one piece of work. Its point is made by its entirety, though it does seem to have two principles running through it; imagination and narrative. The way the collection is laid out seems to be much like a conventional catalogue from an exhibition, which can give a flow to the audience's thought if done well enough. In Awkward, the layout choice does give clarity to each work and does not create a feeling of being overwhelming to the viewer or singling out individual pieces of work. The idea of narrative is being used here in terms of the layout; to create a dialogue between the imaginations at work and to show a correlation or confliction of expressions effectively.
The principle of imagination is seen heavily in the majority of works. What is meant by imagination here, are those grand or epic depictions of the unbelievable that will stay unbelievable. These stories are not ‘lived’ in today's societies but some stories show the fine line between real and unreal by overlapping them. These stories do require you to use your imagination or to be a part of the writer’s, illustrators or the photographer’s imagination.
What is refreshing to see is that these tales are ‘written’ with such compulsion, that even though they are obviously budding writers, they are still able to reach into you and take you somewhere else.
This is only the second issue and so it is hard to say where it could go from here, but so far so good. In some ways this not a magazine, a fanzine or booklet but a notebook made by many people.
Thursday, 29 April 2010
I'm nervous about letting them out into the world.
I'm nervous because I'm exposing myself.
I'm nervous because I don't know what I'm doing.
I'm nervous because I put a poem of mine in there that makes me sweat with embarrassment.
I'm nervous because I really do care what you think, although I know I probably shouldn't.
"Art should be imaginative, not authoritative - kill that fearful and mawkish voice inside you that disallows poetry!" - as my very good friend Toby Dyter said to me only yesterday.
So then, Awkward Issue 2 is available as of right now. Containing documentation of the brain farts of the following fine folks:
Florence Poppy Deary
Javena Rahamantya Wilkinson
Ian Pons Jewell
If you'd like one, simply send £2.75 via paypal to email@example.com and don't forget to add the address you'd like your copy sent to.
Get in touch about paying through any other channels, or indeed with any other currency.
As unlikely as it may seem, there does actually exist an even more enchanting version of this wonderful song, somewhere deep in my friend Luke Branston's collection of rare and excellent reggae records. Both you and I will have to make do with this youtube version for now though, because you can bet your house on the fact that he won't let anyone touch it.