Sunday, August 18, 2019



Late mate Mark Fisher's audio-essay On Vanishing Land - a collaboration with Justin Barton - has been given enduring material form by Hyperdub as a vinyl release through its new imprint Flatlines, which is dedicated to spoken word and text-sound projects.

You can find out more about the original release (ir)rationale for this project, and its makers, over here.  Here's  a snippet:

"OVL evokes a walk along the Suffolk coastline in 2006, from Felixstowe container port... to the Anglo-Saxon burial ground at Sutton Hoo. A walk under immense skies, through zones of deep time and within sunlit, liminal terrains, into the eerie. Everywhere there are charged atmospheres, shadowy incursions, enigmatic departures. A derelict radar base, coastal heathland, drifting thistledown, towers of overgrown shipping containers - music haunted by wider levels of reality, narrations about rarely visited zones and potentials, voices of dreams and stories. Newly composed tracks by John Foxx, Gazelle Twin, Baron Mordant, Raime, Pete Wiseman, Farmers of Vega, Skjolbrot, Eerie Anglia, Ekoplekz and Dolly Dolly; and, alongside these, views toward M.R. James’s Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to You My Lad (1904), Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock (1967), and Brian Eno’s On Land (1982). Beyond the surface of the day something becomes visible, a way forward, an escape-path from capitalist reality. On Vanishing Land is about following the lines of terrains and dreams. It is about a micropolitics of escape, of disappearance."

2013 interview with Justin Barton about the project.

Frieze's Charlie Fox reviews it.

A blog - largely photography based - about On Vanishing Land done at the time of its making.

And Mark & Justin's first collaboration, LondonunderLondon

Friday, August 16, 2019


Matthew Worley is an old mate who's now a professor of punk. He authored 2017's excellent No Future: Punk, Politics and British Youth Culture, 1976–1984 (previously given the when-mates-make treatment here). Currently, he's working on a magnum opus about the history of fanzines. In the meantime, he's one of the collective behind The Subcultures Network anthology Ripped, Torn and Cut: Pop, Politics and Punk Fanzines from 1976.

Ripped is a ripping read, its contents ranging from trip-down-memory-lane pieces from old skool zine-makers like Tom Vague and Richard Cabut (a/k/a positive-punk genre-definer Richard North), to contributions from scholars of DIY culture like Pete Dale and Lucy Robinson. Goth, anarcho, industrial, C86 and Riot Grrrl are among the subsets of fanzine action historicized and celebrated.

One title particularly tickled me:  "'Pam ponders Paul Morley's cat': City Fun and the politics of post-punk" . That's David Wilkinson's essay about the legendary postpunk Manczine City Fun.

More information about the Ripped, Torn and Cut  can be found here. You can buy it via Rough Trade or direct from Manchester University Press.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

maxed out

The theme of the new issue of The Wire is maximalism. It's a really enjoyable read that explores the appeal (or repulsion-edging-into-fascination) of musical manifestations of aesthetic excess and sonic surplus.

There's Greg Tate on P-Funk, Michaelangelo Matos on psy-trance (complete with ultra-garish photo of Shpongle and their audience!), Daniel Wilson on the history of explosives in music, David Toop on syrupy strings in countrypolitan and soul,  and many other treats. There's also me with a piece about overcoming postpunk less-is-more conditioning and learning to take pleasure in guitar solos.

Now that was a really fun piece to write. Not least because I remade the acquaintance of some overloaded and obese tracks that I hadn't listened to in many a year. I couldn't quite put back on the head that wigged out to Butthole Surfers and ransacked Bataille's Visions of Excess for a conceptual language adequate to the soiling immensity torrenting out of Paul Leary's axe. But Royal Trux's ruined majesty sounds as glorious as ever.