Saturday, April 22, 2017

TMW #3 - Eeter

Estonia has a very strong tradition of folk vocal music - singing choirs and the like - which worked as a form of nationalist resilience during the long period of Soviet rule and attempted Russification. Indeed Estonia's breaking loose from the crumbling U.S.S.R. actually involved mass protests known as The Singing Revolution.

                                                                  [pic by Maria Aua]

Several artists at the Tallinn Music Week drew on these traditions, working vaguely Medieval / liturgical  or rustic folk vocals (with a tinge of the country's pagan past - it was Christianized as late as the 13th Century)  into soundscapes influenced by industrial / ambient /electroacoustic techniques and atmospheres. The result is a distinctively Estonian contribution to the tradition of  "ethereal girl" music. The most mesmerising of the ones I saw was Eeter - which as it happens, is the Estonian word for "ether". But it's also quite close to  Eesti, the Estonian for, well, Estonia the country and Estonian the language. Thereby - intentionally? - suggesting a native ethereality to this densely forested country, with its countless lakes, its bogs and fens, and indeed the exterior locations it provided for Tarkosvky's wondrously eerie Stalker.

The trio of Anna Hints, Marja-Liisa Plats and Ann Reimann  use their pipes in a variety of ways - ranging from mouth-music / text-sound / voice-scape effects through to much more diva-like Gothic grandeur reminiscent of Lisa Gerrard - and then mesh that with a mixture of acoustic textures (cawing violin, dulcimer-like glints and tingles, piano) and electronic scrapes, drones, glitches etc. Sometimes you're put in mind of Dead Can Dance;  sometimes there's a faint flavour of Nico's The Marble Index. But the setting through which the voices float is much more ambient and IDM in  feel and provenance.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

TMW # 2 - Glintshake

Probably the most pure entertainment-!wow! of the groups I saw at Tallinn Music Week was this Russian outfit Glintshake.

The video above is the best of the ones I could find on YouTube and it doesn't really convey their force-of-personality live - although you do get a glimpse of singer / guitarist Kate Shilonosova's charisma and her repertoire of facial expressions and hand gestures.

Live, Glintshake was obviously a lot louder and in your face (it was a small space in Old Town Tallinn, astonishingly crammed - there's a big buzz about the group - and hot, steamy, and actually a bit smelly). But also the band's wiry punk-funk sound just jumped and writhed and swerved and sparked so much more. Shilonosova's arch "startled" expressions and steadying-my-balance body-moves conveyed perfectly the feeling of being jolted and tumbled by the music. It looked like she was perpetually skidding on an icy pavement and only just managing to stay upright. (You get a sense of this in the middle bit of the song/video above).

The name "Glintshake" puzzled me a bit and that minor mystery was revealed when I went back to check out their earlier material from 2014, which is shoegaze-derivative both sound-wise and image-wise. Thankfully they seem to have chucked all that in the bin and embarked upon intensive studies of the works of the Fire Engines, Contortions, possibly Big Flame, maybe even Stump. But  all that antipop angularity and friction is sluiced through New Wave aesthetics (little bit of Lene Lovich in the mix, maybe, but without the operatics) and the result ends up very pop: catchy, boppy, fun. 

Kate Shilonosova also has a solo career bubbling away and was given a mini-profile in the New Yorker recently, would you believe.

The approach couldn't be further from  Glintshake -  21st Century hip eclectronica with a pop finish.

The dainty/dinky/airy quality is almost Japanese in sensibility.  Those breathy buttery Sarah Cracknell/Sally Shapiro vocals. Nice, but I much prefer her rolled r's and more jagged delivery in Glintshake.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

TMW #1 - Mart Avi

Recently I was in Estonia for the Tallinn Music Week. Saw a bunch of interesting bands  -  and this is the first in a series (probably) of posts about the ones that caught my ear / eye.

An intriguing performer I saw  - twice! - at TMW 2017 was Mart Avi.


Avi's live presence doesn't fully come across from  the available YouTube videos, but you do get a flavour of his thing, which -  crudely - I would situate as Billy Mackenzie meets Thomas Leer (but if Leer was using today's technology, including voice-processing software).

In some ways it could be a missing "aftershock" from the end-part of Shock and Awe - Euro Eighties neo-glam aesthetics meets modern R&B. I also felt the occasional memory-frisson of Scott Walker circa Climate of Hunter.

The live performances involved backing tapes (shades of Cabaret Futura) and stylized movements from Avi, who was clad in a vaguely Comintern-era raincoat - evocative of private eyes or spies. For one song he had a whole routine involving an umbrella. The voice is big -  really big  - to the point where it feels unlikely that such a billowing gaseous sound could emanate from such a willowy frame.

This is Mart Avi's most recent album Rogue Wave, from late last year.


Chatting with Mart in person (briefly) and via email (less briefly) I came away with the impression of a chap with a lot of ideas behind what's he doing. The promo for  "Blind Wall," for instance, is inspired by his "obsession with rapidity, overwhelming force, "Crash" n glamour, going much too fast - the manifestation of such themes in exquisitely designed vehicles to be precise".  The video is conceived as a response  (or "potential aftermath") to Future's "Poppin' Tags", with a lyrical nod to Gloria Jones (as in she who was at the wheel when Bolan smashed into that tree), all encased in a production-vibe that aims for a "plastic covered in chrome" sound-texture suggestive of "hyper-yuppie-mutant-soul". But unlike with a lot of conceptronica, the thoughtful thoughts don't get in the way of  - nor are they necessary to activate - the seduction effect. 

Here is some of Mart Avi's earlier music.

More to explore at

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Saturday April 29 NYC - GLAM!! A Celebration of Glitter Rock and Art Pop

Sukhdev Sandhu and I have organised a day-long celebration of glam, glitter and 70s art pop in downtown New York on Saturday April 29th - with talks involving Mark Dery, Dan Fox, Johan Kugelberg, Vivien Goldman, Sukhdev Sandhu and myself, and the screening of some rarely-seen films from or about the early Seventies.

The event is free and open to the public.




Date: Saturday, April 29, 2017
Time: 2:00pm - 9:30pm
Location: 721 Broadway (at Waverly Place), New York. Room: 674
Cost: Free


2:00 –  introduction from Simon Reynolds

2:15 - So Many Ways To Hurt You (Jeremy Deller's film about glam wrestler Adrian Street, 2010)

3:10 - Punk Before Punk: Stomp Rock and Junkshop Glam - conversation between Johan Kugelberg & Simon Reynolds.

4 - Roxette (John McManus's film about Roxy Music fans, 1977) + other short films

4:55 - “I Felt Like An Actor”: Glam and the Authentically Inauthentic - conversation between Dan Fox and Mark Dery.

5:45 - All That Glitters (Julian Aston's film about The Sweet, 1974) +  Gary Glitter: Did You Miss Me…? (directed by Nigel Finch, 1981)

6:45 - ‘Shock and Awe: Glam Rock and Its Legacies from the 70s to the 21st century’ – conversation between Simon Reynolds, Vivien Goldman & Sukhdev Sandhu

7:45 - Slade In Flame (directed by Richard Loncraine, 1975).


More information about the event and the participants


Monday, March 27, 2017

Hauntology Parish Newsletter - Spring 2017

Lots of activity in the parish this spring! There's a new release from Patterned Air Recordings; the latest album from Keith Seatman; another themed compilation from A Year In The Country; and exciting news of an unusual live event organised by Buried Treasure - a name completely unfamiliar name to me, although it appears they have been quietly living in the parish for quite a time.  


In the current issue of the Wire, there's a write-up by yours truly of When It's Time To Let Go by Lo Five, a review that doubles up as a sort of quasi-profile of Patterned Air Recordings. As you're probably aware they put out three of my favorite long-players of 2016 (not bad going considering they were the label's first three releases and the sum total of their releases at that point!). The review explores the mystery of hauntology's uncanny persistence and also allowed me to think aloud about the issue of framing - how release-rationales and the conceptronica trend (which extends way beyond the H-zone) can be at once catalytic for creators, experience-expanding for listeners, but also runs the risk sometimes of confining the music's meaning-potential. Tricky one that, and something I have yet to resolve in my mind - I tend to take it on a case by case basis. But it does seem like there has been a bunch of music these last five or so years where the spiel surpasses the feel.  

The Lo Five album - another fine addition to the Patterned discography, and an unusual listen -  is out on April 14. But you can hear it now and pre-order


Also out in mid-April is the latest album from Keith Seatman - all hold hands and off we go.

Excellent stuff  from Mr Keith -  darker and more woozily abstract than his previous releases. 


Perhaps the most prolific of hauntology's second-wave labels, A Year In the Country has a new themed album, The Restless Field, for release on May 2nd: another exquisitely packaged affair with audio contributions from Patterned Air's Assembled Minds, Field Lines Cartographer, Vic Mars, Bare Bones, Grey Frequency, Endurance, Listening Center, Pulselovers, Sproatly Smith, Polypores, Depatterning, Time Attendant, and David Colohan.  

One of their best efforts so far, I think - murky and ominous as befits the guiding thematic: places that are spectrally imprinted with past conflicts and struggles. Particularly enjoyed the blackly buzzing pulsescape  of "Congested District" by Listening Center.

Release rationale: 

The Restless Field is a study of the land as a place of conflict and protest as well as beauty and escape; an exploration and acknowledgment of the history and possibility of protest, resistance and struggle in the landscape/rural areas, in contrast with often more referred to urban events.

It takes inspiration from flash points in history while also interweaving personal and societal myth, memory, the lost and hidden tales of the land.

References and starting points include: The British Miners Strike of 1984 and the Battle Of Orgreave. The first battle of the English Civil War in 1642. The burying of The Rotherwas Ribbon. The Mass Tresspass of Kinder Scout in 1932. Graveney Marsh/the last battle fought on English soil. Gerrard Winstanley & the Diggers/True Levellers in the 17th century. The Congested Districts Board/the 19th century land war in Ireland. The Battle Of The Beanfield in 1985.

Series statement:

The Restless Field is Released as part of the A Year In The Country project, a set of year long journeys; cyclical explorations of an motherly pastoralism, a wandering amongst subculture that draws from the undergrowth of the land – the patterns beneath the plough, pylons and amongst the edge lands.

Those wanderings take in the beauty and escape of rural pastures, intertwined with a search for expressions of an underlying unsettledness to the bucolic countryside dream.

It is sent out into the world in two different hand-crafted Night and Dawn editions, produced using archival giclée pigment inks; presenting and encasing their journey in amongst tinderboxes, string bound booklets and accompanying ephemera 


Word reaches me of a very special event this summer organised by Buried Treasure.

The Delaware Road takes place on July 28th at the Kelvedon Hatch Nuclear Bunker - the lineup includes many well-known faces from around the parish (Robin the Fog's Howlround project, Britronica archaeologist Ian Helliwell, Concretism, Dolly Dolly, DJ Food) along with a number of names new to me (Telplasmiste, Loose Capacitor, The Mummers & the Pappers, Radionics Radio, The Twelve Hour Foundation, Glitch, Saunders & Hill). 

Tickets available here

Buried Treasure - founded by Alan Gubby - is also a label. Past releases include John Baker: The Vendetta Tapes - Incidental Music from the 1960s BBC TV Series and Other Radiphonics  and The Delaware Road, a compilation based around a narrative devised by Gubby and Dolly Dolly's David Yates that concerns a pair of Radiophonic-style pioneering electronic composers who "discover a recording that leads to a startling revelation about their employer. Fascinated by the occult nature of the tape they conduct a studio ritual that will alter their lives forever."

Buried Treasure have released a whole bunch of stuff, it seems - including an anthology of works by Soviet psychotronic musician Yuri Morozov  and a pair of remixes of  Groundhogs mainman Tony McPhee's 1973 electrono-bluesrock stampede "The Hunt"

At the end of this month Buried Treasure are also releasing the new album by REVBJELDE, a foray through hinterzones of "industrial noise, motorik folk + jazz psych"

Uncanny persistence indeed...

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Monday, March 13, 2017

Electronic Music From York



Verily a holy grail for electronic / tape-music collectors, but oddly unCreeled as yet:  Electronic Music From York, a 1973 triple LP box of pieces made at the University of York Electronic Music Studio.

I had a bash at virtually reconstructing it in its entirety, using the riches of the internet - and didn't get very far. 

At all.

Electronic Music From York tracklist

A1Andrew BentleyMoan

No luck
A2Martin GellhornCompression ICES '72

No luck
B1John CardaleDionysus

No luck 
B2Richard Orton (2)

       No Luck
C1Richard Orton (2)For The Time Being

No luck
C2Richard Orton (2)Clock Farm

No luck

however I do own a copy of this, so that's 
something I s'pose

D1    Martin Wesley-SmithMedia Music

No luck

D2Richard PickettLight Black

No luck 
ETrevor WishartMachine Part 1

Yes luck

F1Trevor WishartMachine Part 2

Yes luck
F2Trevor WishartMachine Part 3

Yes luck

The whole of Machine at the Other Minds


So that is  - Wishart aside - a complete bust. (And in fact I already had the

Paradigm reissue of Machine, so it's an even total-er fail)

If  you've got one 
(wheedling tone) do us a burn will ya?

However bits 'n' bobs from Electronic Music from York are said to be part of

this long mix (in two parts) called Epsilonia Mix: Trevor Wishart and Friends

It's an excellent listen (includes things from Trev's Journey Into SpaceRed Bird
Mouth MusicSing CircleBeach Singularity, etc + stuff from another incredibly
 rare release from York Electronic Studios, the more song-oriented 
All Day - York Pop Music Project.

 But be warned: nothing is identified or in discernible sequence so who knows
 how much or which components of the elusive triple LP are in here.

In my questings for properly tagged and identified Electronic Music From York 

tune-age I did find a few other  Wishart odds 'n' sods that I'm not certain I've got 
(got a lot - on CD too  - plus various stray internet gleanings).

This tune is from  Intregration, a cassette compilation  from the early Eighties
that minimal synth and DIY Anglotronica fiends regard highly. 

Now I think about it, I believe I do have this next one on disc, but what the hey, 

it's mad stuff, do give it a listen.

I also came across an an extensive obituary of Richard Orton.

However the other chaps on Electronic Music From York
Andrew Bentley, Martin Gelhorn, John Cardale, Richard Pickett and Martin Wesley-Smith - appear to be so obscure that they don't even have entries in Tape Leaders, last year's indispensable book about early  Brit electronic and concrete composers by Ian Helliwell - and that's a man who does love him some obscurity. 

In fact most of that lot don't seem to have composed anything else at all apart from the pieces on E.M.F.Y. 

Martin Wesley-Smith has left the most traceable spoor. 

Now Martin Gellhorn's piece "Compression ICES '72" derives part of its name from
International Carnival of Experimental Sound aka "ICES 72", an August 1972 avant-garde music
festival held at the Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London...

Poster design is by Gee Vaucher - yes, as in Crass.

Oh, for a time machine!

The festival is discussed at Other Minds - that's the  audio of an interview with ICES organiser Harvey Matusow done in the early 1970s,  by Charles Amirkhanian:  

"Featuring 46 concerts in 14 days, including marathon performances in an refurbished railroad roundhouse, a music train to Edinburgh, films, happenings, and performances by avant-garde artists, dancers, and musicians from around the world, ICES ‘72 could be considered as a spiritual progenitor of such extravagances as Burning Man. That it was the brain child of Matusow, (with help from John LIfton and the editors of “Source Magazine”), is of little surprise as the man was part clown, part con man, and full time promoter of all things weird and wonderful. Once known as the “most hated man in America” for his role in informing, or misinforming, on Communists, including Pete Seeger, during the McCarthy Era, Matusow was a consummate show man and artistic visionary. In this interview he describes the Carnival, and introduces a number of recordings from it, including two works featuring the electronic music of Takehisa Kosugi as well as a sort of classical muddley by the Portsmouth Sinfonia. The Sinfonia was formed by group of students at Portsmouth School of Art in Portsmouth, England, however, unlike most student orchestras this one required that all the participants either be untrained or at least playing an instrument with which they were unfamiliar, all with very predictable results. A further description of ICES ‘72 and a recording of many of the pieces performed at the Festival can be found at"

(There's an album of AMM's performance at ICES but that appears to be as far as Pogus got with releasing archival stuff from the festival - there's no ICES02 on their catalogue online at any rate.) 

Here's a thorough non-audio account of the event and its participant performers by Dave Thompson

And here's a 1972 Rolling Stone piece .

Now The Wire had a large feature by Julian Cowley on this festival and the improbable Mr Matusow several years ago, but I don't believe it is online. However they do have a little treasury of links.

Ices ‘72 (aka International Carnival of Experimental Sound) (1972) by Anonymous

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Lovely audio tribute to Mark Fisher at Resident Advisor, convened by Angus Finlayson, and featured the words of Kode9, Holly Herndon, Tam Shlaim, Logos, Tim Lawrence, Adam Harper, Jeremy Greenspan, Lisa Blanning - and me.

(The streamcast also features a nice item on legendary grimestrumental "Pulse X")

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

haunty morsels

Moon Wiring Club with a triffic - and unusual - mix: Anxious Heart. A real departure actually - the English voice-snippets are still woven in there but the beat-matrix is much more electronic, veering into IDMish zones more often than soundtrack / library.

Ekoplekz and Farmer Glitch team up for a project titled  Pharmerz, based around acid house and the Roland 303. Which thought initially, I confess, made the old soul yawn a bit, but turns out the pair have managed to extract some different gloopy sound-shapes out of that seemingly exhausted icon of a machine.  20 Acid Glonk  Greats is very worth checking out.

Update 3/11: Nick Ekoplekz pops by to point out that there are actually zero "genuine 303 sounds" on Pharmerz. "We use a Korg Volca Bass for the acid impersonations. The only 303 involved was a two mile stretch of the A303 I drove down on my way to Yeovil for the session!". The goal though was to reclaim "some of lost potential of 'acid house' from that brief period before 303-orthodoxy set in".

Release rationale: 

What happens when Farmer Glitch (ex-Hacker Farm) convenes and colludes with Ekoplekz (Planet Mu, Mordant Music) at Yeovil's soon-to-be-legendary Eastville Project Space? Extracted from a marathon jam session, these eight tracks combine distinctly wonky acidic grooves with noise-improv interventions that bend and distort the Acid House template into new psychedelic shapes, via early Warp non-genres and Industrial-strength blasts from the post-punk past. Running counter-intuitive to current format trends, pHarmerz present these preliminary findings as a double 3" CDr in fold-out sleeve designed by Mark Hollis 

Purchase here

Sunday, February 19, 2017

glampunk salon

Next Saturday, 4.30 - 6.30 pm, Los Angeles  - I'll be discussing glam rock and punk rock with Steve Jones and Vivien Goldman.

It's part of the Happy Accidents salon series started by LA publisher Hat & Beard, in collaboration with LA venue No Name. Copies of Shock and Awe and Jones's memoir Lonely Boy available to buy signed, courtesy Skylight Books.

Address is 432 N. Fairfax Avenue, LA.

Admission is free with RSVP to

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Remembering Mark

Touching and painful - but also hopeful - now online are the texts of the tributes to Mark Fisher delivered at the memorial last Sunday at Goldsmiths - by friends, colleagues, comrades and mentorees: Tariq Goddard, Jeremy Gilbert, Justin Barton, Tristan Adams, and Robin Mackay.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Mark his words

Like many of you I'm sure, I have been dipping into the online Markhive - rereading favorite pieces and posts. Below are just a handful - well, a couple of handfuls - really an armful - of Fisher classics. Along with the fully-realised long-form work, there's a few more fragmentary things too - in some ways even more enjoyable and characteristic. Mark was in his element when pitching into the  fray - arguing, agreeing (but always building on his interlocutor's point, pushing it further along). Some of his best insights and lines emerged out of the back-and-forth of these fractious spaces - Dissensus threads, the K-punk comments box. Jewels, exuberant with the sheer sport of thought, that are hard to disentangle from the discursive thicket of their moment. But in a way it was in these innumerable brief exchanges and interactions that Mark's mind flexed itself most fruitfully - and merrily.

From the CCRU era, an early classic tirade against postmodernism, co-written with Robin Mackay - "Pomophobia".

On darkside jungle, in the New Statesman, in 1994! And a later Wire Epiphany about the impact of Rufige Cru on his young mind. 

Writing as Mark De’Rosario, for Hyperdub when it was a dance-theory-crit webzine not  yet a label, on Oxide & Neutrino as punk garage.

From early K-punk -  Sapphire & Steel and "time anomalies"

"Isn't hip hop the problem these days?" - a short thought from 2004

A classic K-punk surprise - his paean to Dido's Life For Rent.  (Earlier thoughts on her - and Girls Aloud here)

Far more K-punk kanonical - an appreciation of Japan's Tin Drum.  

Literally the K-punk kanon - his Top 100 British Albums

"There are dead times" - a swift salvo against poptimism's obligatory cheerfulness. See also the precursor post "Are We Living Through Another 1985?"

Another salvo anti-poptimism (but not, crucially, anti-pop), with an immensely long and fractious comments section.

The klassic piece on Burial - "London After the Rave"

And his interview with Burial for the The Wire

And the unedited transcript of the Burial dialogue. 

On Fleetwood Mac

Hauntology, ahoy! #1 

Hauntology, ahoy! #2 (Wire interview with The Caretaker / James Kirby)

Photo-illustrated posts on hauntology and landscape - Suffolk +  Norfolk

Quick riff on the UK music press and their long-gone power to "dream alternatives". And one on the emerging blog network as its replacement / fruition in exile. 

"Is Pop Undead?" - the klassic K-punk assault on Arctic Monkeys, in which he introduces the concept of nihilation (the negative drive to aggressively outflank and outmode rival forms of music, discredit and discard them - an energy fatally lacking in the contemporary scene) . Plus Mark's response to my response and his final response

"Nihil Rebound" - on Joy Division and the depressive truth of laddism. 

Glampunk Artpop Discontinuum. And more glam thoughts in this Glampirism post.

Pomophobia, Pt 2  (via Robbie Williams)

On Picnic At Hanging Rock

Posts on the wounds of class

On Michael Jackson

"Ontological rot" - a piece on the artist Nigel Cooke

There are too many Dissensus moments - but Mark was in top form in this thread he started about how he just didn't get Dylan. Made potent contributions (as did several others) to these more philosophically out-there pop-theory threads on pleasure and either/or versus plus/and (nihilation pt 2 really). And this - on why the name Dissensus for the forum he co-founded with Matt Woebot - is of historical interest.  As is his stormy exit from the forum a few years later.

A surprising piece from the briefly reactivated K-punk of several years ago - a revisionist celebration of The Jam as radical entryists

"Running on Empty" - a New Statesman essay about an energy crisis in pop culture resulting in declining rates of innovation. Most startling among many insights:"Technology has been decalibrated from cultural form. We can’t hear technology any more. There has been a gradual disappearance of the sound of technological rupture" (in favour of endless upgrades).  

Another New Statesman essay, this one on the connection between music and militancy. 

Mark returns to this theme - the relationship between political dissent and pop - against the backdrop the student protests and riots of 2011 - in this Wire end-of-year piece. (I always felt he was trying desperately here to avoid the utterly bleak conclusion that the mechanism that once connected music and the real world, social energy, issues, etc, had now broken down irrevocably).

His controversial intervention  "Exiting the Vampire Castle"  (containing a celebration / defense of Russell Brand)

On boredom  (via his archival blog Spectres of Mark - originally in Visual Arts News Sheet)

"The Secret Sadness of the 21st Century" - a piece on James Blake for Electronic Beats.

Secret Sadness, Pt 2 - on Drake. 

A definitive take on Sleaford Mods for The Wire

"leaving some signs / now a legend"

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

I wrote the intro essay for Pitchfork's 50 Best IDM Albums of All Time - and short appreciations for Boards of Canada's Geogaddi and Isolée's Rest.

As with the ambient list, there's lots of things I've never heard, and even a few names I've never heard of.

Surprised at the non-appearance of Luke Vibert, though.

If the electorate has been restricted to a single voter -  me! - then Throbbing Pouch would be Top Five and Tally Ho! would have placed somewhere too. There'd be even more Aphex Twin (Analogue Bubblebath 3.... that old tracks for free megadump bonanza of a few years ago) and even more Boards of Canada. Those exquisite early Black Dog EPs would have got a nod. 

Yes, I would incline to a narrower and somewhat Britcentric conception of IDM.... Do Detroit-aligned or German-minimal things really count? IDM fans might like them, but....

You'd also have seen this lovely record in there too. 

An album inspired by bereavement, as it happens. 

Also grief-releasing is this first-phase IDM classic -  by the overlooked Tom Middleton and Mark Pritchard. 

I did not know this existed. Like a beloved face, seen from a different angle. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

RIP Jaki Liebezeit

The might, the majesty

Scoring 9.8 on the Motorikhter Scale

Five bodies, one mind.

Here, though, they come over not so very distant from Deep Purple

Back to the worship...

Absolutely rollin

The Meters of Mittel Europa

Postpunkfunk should have just not even bothered -  game over, six years previous

Cooking up your bodybrain

The politics of trancing

And last but perhaps most -  my favorites, I think

(Is this a tango?)

The unstoppable pulse

Liebezeit - translates literally as Lovetime.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Remembering Mark Fisher

Here's my more "official" tribute to Mark at The Guardian

The words came easy, although it was somewhat disorienting to be assessing the achievements and legacy of a friend who was also a public figure. 

That was his achievement, though  -  he was out there, making a difference in the world.  

Only real problem was struggling to fit all that Mark had done into the word-count. He was active on so many various fronts, came up with so many concepts and provocations.  

There's an increasing number of remembrances out there, with more promised.

Below are just some of the testimonials so far from friends and colleagues - touchingly personal, or touching on other facets of his work than I could cover.

Owen Hatherley's 

Jeremy Greenspan's 

Derek Walmsley's

Siobhan McKeown's 

Dissensus bods's 

David Stubbs's (+ and unpublished 2010 interview with Mark by Agata Pyzik)

John Foxx's 

Adam Harper's 

Robin Mackay's

Otolith Collective's

Paul Autonomic's

Dan Fox at Frieze's

Sam Davies at Sight & Sound's

Maria Minerva's memories of being Mark's student at Goldsmiths

Also a proper long study of his life and work from Alex Niven at Jacobin

There is also a fund now that's been set up to support Zoë and George.  Please give if you're able. In a little over a day, it reached its target amount and now has a new target amount. That's a lot of love there. (Update 1/24: it's now reached the revised target amount and is steadily ascending to yet another target amount - amazing!)

Later on I will pull together some links to favorite or epochal pieces by Mark. There's so many, though!

Oh and this is lovely - Magz Hall dug out a Resonance radio doc she did in 2004 on the early blogscene - you can hear Mark's voice, along with Woebot, Geeta Dayal, Luke Davis and myself. Happy days...

Saturday, January 14, 2017

RIP Mark Fisher

I expect most in this community will have heard the terribly upsetting news about Mark Fisher, aka K-punk.

My first encounter with Mark was actually unawares – in 1994 I wrote a piece for Melody Maker about a group he was in called D-Generation, in which many of the ideas and themes that would obsess him in his later writing were rehearsed. But the phone interview was with another member of the group, Simon Biddell. Years later Mark shyly revealed that I had actually written about him, in effect, and I went back and checked the piece and there he was, in the photo. With long hair! But then we all had long hair in the early Nineties.

I first met Mark when doing a profile of the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit, aka CCRU, in the late Nineties. He stood out - even in a milieu crackling with intellectual energy – for his eloquence and urgency. Already the hallmarks of his work were evident in his conversation and in the tracts he penned for CCRU publications: the lucidity, the rigour, the exuberance, the capacity and the compulsion to connect things across far-flung fields, the ability to focus in with vivid attention to aesthetic particulars and zoom out to the widest possible scope.

Then we became proper friends – and comrades – during the early blogging days of the 2000s.         K-punk was the hub of the community, fizzing with fervour and argument; Mark was a dynamo, hurling out provocations, ideas that demanded engagement. He became a cult figure. A catalyst.

With Matthew Ingram aka Woebot - the community's other hub, with a similarly effervescing comments box - Mark co-founded Dissensus.

That era then led onto to Mark’s brilliant books for Zero and Repeater - Capitalist Realism, Ghosts of My Life, the collections he edited and co-edited on Michael Jackson and Postpunk. And now his new book The Weird and The Eerie. Books that have cemented his standing as the most original and provocative writer about popular culture - and its interface with the political - of the last fifteen years.

The exciting thing about Mark's writing - CCRU era, K-punk era, in magazines like FACT and The Wire, the books - was the feeling that he was on a journey: the ideas were going somewhere,  a gigantic edifice of thought was in the process of construction. That Mark was thinking big, building a system, always aiming for the largest scale. And finally that this work, rigorous and deeply informed as it was, was not academic, in the sense of being done purely for its own sake: its urgency came from his faith that words really could change things. Reading Mark's writing made everything feel more meaningful, supercharged with significance. It was a rush. An addiction.

The last time I saw Mark in the flesh was at the Incubate music festival in Tilburg, Holland, in 2012. We had a long chat, intermittently soundtracked by a live performance by Raime. He talked about his plans for future books, and passingly mentioned – in a completely unassuming way – that Capitalist Realism had sold ten thousand copies. I’m not sure he fully grasped what an extraordinary achievement this was, for a theoretical book about politics and mental health on a small publisher. This was down to word of mouth, his own charismatic public appearances, the originality and timeliness of his ideas combined with the clarity and passion of the writing.

At the festival I gave a talk, relying as always largely on a pre-written text; Mark followed and spoke off the cuff, riffing away, leaping from subject to subject, making electric connections, in a performance that he later likened to a stand-up routine.

On page and in person alike, Mark was a brilliant communicator.

I can imagine he must have been an inspiring teacher.

The last time I communicated with Mark, a few months ago - during which he alluded to his struggles - I told him I had been wanting badly to hear what he had to say about Corbyn, about so many things at this present critical time – musical, cultural, political.

I shall miss all the writing that Mark would have done, the penetrating insights and surprising connections, always that sense of the big picture. The wit and the style too: his writing was always an entertainment as well as a challenge.

But I shall miss Mark the person more. He was kind, generous, sweet, funny – these are not always things that go hand in hand with genius.

Our hearts go out to his wife Zoë and little boy George; to his family and friends; his colleagues and students; and to his fans and readers.


Below is a photo from a party Joy and I (and Kieran) held during the summer of 2002, which was the last period we lived in England for any length of time. There’s Mark, and Kodwo Eshun, and Anjalika Sagar, and Steve Goodman aka Kode 9. A clusterfuck of genius!

A couple of Mark's favorite songs.