Monday, June 27, 2022

Pistol whipping

For this New York Times piece - which appeared in the print + paper edition yesterday - I looked at  Pistol as a punk fan turned parent and pedagogue. What, I wondered, could my sons or my students find inspirational, or relatable, or even comprehensible, about the Sex Pistols saga? Are there any "teachable moments"  to be gleaned from punk in the year 2022?

(Interviewed: my 16-year-old).

(Here also is the missus's take for Vanity Fair).

(The other installments of my recent "punk trilogy" - McLaren and cultural terrorism at LRB, punk movies for Pitchfork)

(Plus ancillary blogposts - Jordan and the aesthetics (and ethics) of shock, "No Fun" versus "Gee, Officer Krupke") 


'ere we go now

a sociology lecture

with a bit of psychology

a bit of neurology

a bit of fuckology

no fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun

Rotten mocking and taunting in advance all professional analysts and understanders of punk as "valid expression of working class youth energy"!

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

The Incredible Sulk

Forty years since Sulk came out! 

For which occasion BMG has assembled a gorgeous anniversary edition, finally out this week. 

For which I was thrilled to write a liner note essay. 

For which I re-interviewed Alan Rankine and spoke for the first time to producer Mike Hedges, keyboard + backing vocalist Martha Ladly, and bassman Michael Dempsey, and in the process learned many new things about the making of this miraculous record. 

For full details of the extra material corralled for the 3CD+Vinyl re-edition, go here (but ignore the now outmoded release date)

Friday, June 10, 2022

WHEN MATES MAKE BOOKS: Anwen Crawford's No Document


"Nothing we made was meant to last. Nothing we made has lasted for as long as what we made by making together."

Once upon a time a neighbour in this now dwindled constellation of blogs, Anwen Crawford is just about to publish No Document.  The core of this remarkable book is a fragmentary portrait of a beloved friend who died young and the commemoration of their partnership as visual artists mounting raids on Sydney's public places and abandoned buildings.  But in No Document the personal is political and the political is personal, so this private loss becomes a prism for all the injuries and injustices in the world. 

What results is not a meld or a genre-blend but a collage of modes and materials - latticed strips of memoir, art history, political protest, urban geography, colonial history, poetry, criticism, eulogy, diary, reverie. Appropriated scraps from newspapers, radio reports, children's reference books, photography manuals, and more. 

So it's a cut-up and it's cut up - even when writing coolly about slaughterhouses or refugee detention centres, the author's anger and anguish simmers beneath the preternaturally controlled surface. A short book, No Document is a dense read -  not in the sense of opacity (the prose is as lucid and elegant as Crawford's music criticism) but in the way a diamond is dense. So much ache and thought is compressed into these spare sentences. 

The look of the pages is as important as the text. There's a lot of blank white - many pages with only a few lines or a short paragraph. Sentences that break off unfinished. These voids seem to reflect an unwillingness to sew things up,  in both the resolution and healing a wound senses.  All that empty space evokes the absence around which the book is written - each patch of prose like a bandage that doesn't completely cover a laceration. The blanks suggests silence - points at which sorrow can no longer be verbalized, words are not enough.  

No Document has been shortlisted for the Stella Prize and is receiving warm responses from critics, including this detailed appreciation (which also incorporates sample pages from the book) at The Sydney Review of Books from Alix Beeston .

You can order No Document from Transit Books (in the USA) or from Giramondo (in Australia)

update Monday June 13 - the online US launch for No Document is this evening at 7pm Pacific Time / 10 pm East Coast, it's hosted by Point Reyes Books, attendance free or with donation (register here) and features Anwen Crawford in dialogue with Juliana Spahr

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

Hauntology Parish Newsletter

Cranking the mimeograph to bring you a smatter of summertime tidings.


New from  Lo Five, the EP Lack - marbled fog blocs for fuzzy heads ("Thicc Air", one of these four tracks is titled - and sounds like it).  


Moon Wiring Club have only just made the most recent releases, Ghost Party Delirium CD and Ghost Party Delirium LP (completely separate records) digitally available on Bandcamp. These I slept on a bit, arriving very late in 2021 as they did, but the CD in particular - a double - has resurged as listening for me recently and I recommend a deep delve.  I got stuck on this one tune "The Original Phantom Roller", entranced by its descending-and-ascending reverbed B-line and hall-of-mirror recession of  lady voices ("watch the light!", "who's real, then? Me - or you"). Having played it  at least thirty times now, I feel certain it would make an all-time MWC Top Twenty.  Another killer is this crepuscular creeper with slap-bass twinges as unexpected and alarming as a tendon snapping. 


Another oldie but goodie - really old in fact, and really good (among the Top Five Greatest Hauntological Recordings Ever) - is something whose first-time vinyl reincarnation bypassed me some months ago: Dead Air by Mordant Music. One of that first cluster of albums that made it clear something was happening that needed monitoring and monikering, the CD's mustard-hued fold-out has been gorgeously scaled up into a gatefold elpee by Castles in Space, with new artwork from Admiral Greyscale worked in there. And the audio has been remastered for vinyl - hear here the new edition's first side of dankly glistening glory. 


Beautify Junkyards have just released the lovely and eerie film Cosmorama Moving Images. A creative ruse around the challenges of touring in a locked down world, it documents a live performance by the band in a space  teeming with video projections, with surrealistic interludes involving spoken word from Justin Hopper of Old Weird Albion renown. "The environment becomes labyrinthine and the band's vibrant performance seems to induce the formation of spatial and temporal portals that spectators are invited to cross." Inspirations include Victorian London's Cosmorama rooms and the experimental film maker Stan VanDerBeek.  

You can see the movie at Vimeo On Demand. 


Not really from this parish - but let's say he's an exchange student - Estonian pop aesthete Mart Avi has an  excellent new album out, Blade


Canadian exchange student Samuel Macklin (better known as  connect_icut) has a collaborative project with Larissa Loyva called The Bastion Mews. Their latest emanation is this eddying haze of songspace titled "Sinking" and paired with the songspacier "Sinking Dub". It's the second in a series of singles - check out also last month's "Sweet" b/w "Sweet Dub."


A postcard from our Italian twin town Artetetra foretells an imminent ectoplasmic apparition: Loris Cericola's Metaphysical Graffiti.  

Release rationale: 

Best described as an obscure, dadaist sound collage, the album was realized entirely by experimenting with an array of tape cut-ups and analog sound manipulation techniques. A set of live improvisations performed with an assemblage of 4-tracks tape recorders, testing the possibilities offered by the textural audio qualities of cassettes. With an imagery shaped by Ed Wood-style geographic and fictional tropes, Metaphysical Graffiti stands as an aural alternative to a subcultural cave painting. The album is an ill-defined conglomerate of unintelligible folklore, flimsy remote voices and phony, signal-like transmissions. A fragmentary listening conjuring the instability of shortwave explorations and the ominous vibes of waking up in the middle of the night after falling asleep in front of a television in an unfamiliar locale. The samples and soundbites emerging from the minimal tracks’ backbone originate from a careful collection built through time by the musician and is composed of miscellaneous forgotten sales bin recordings, abstruse midnight home movies and haphazard library music pieces. Although the ten songs show a tendency towards supernatural, at times eldritch overtones, the work is surprisingly balanced by a direct simplicity. An atmosphere crafted through delicate distension of time and scattered synth themes. For the most part, Metaphysical Graffiti builds on liminal ambiances reminding of the early James Ferraro and Joel Vandroogenbroeck’s "Biomechanoid", crafting a long moment of discontinuous suspension akin to slow opium phantasmagorias. A space crawling with dimensional spooks drawn in sedative-induced reveries and practical-effects era delusions. 

Full waft due June 17


Finally, I recommend a good dig through our local library's record section. In amongst the budget classical, brass band and Bread albums, you can find some unexpected gems. Like these Eiretronica albums from the 1970s!

For the full story about these releases, go to the Miúin Archives. 

There is also a new curated compilation of work made at the Kilkenny Electroacoustic Research Laboratory in the 1960s, '70s and '80s. 

"The Kilkenny Electroacoustic Research Laboratory was informally set up in late 1965 by Jacinta Delaney (1937 -) and Eoghan Comerford (1935 -). They were inspired by Groupe de Recherches Musicales after Comerford visited the RTF in Paris in ’64..... The purpose of this collection is an introduction to a selection of works by key characters in the development of K.E.R.L. The structure of the collection gives a general outline of the development of the works throughout the history of the Lab, but it is no way comprehensive."