Monday, March 25, 2019

Get Behind Me - Scott Walker

let the social media competition to find the least authentically decent and popular left field Scott  Walker obscurity as totem of true fandom begin!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

repeater has a youtube channel
really good, frankly educational piece.

Friday, July 13, 2018

...which doesn't mean you know that in the here and now I am not delirious with hope and admiration in the muted ways I can allow myself to be...

hard not to love your fellow man again, under such circumstances,

harder still to know that's a calamity you're perhaps best rid of....

bus still, but still, your heart gets prised open by degrees,


by degrees at this age




might come rushing in....

and you never know, you never know...

A photo that in 20 or 30 years time will become iconographic for the Left and used as a cover image on books on Verso mourning and anatomizing lost possibilities and Utopian futures of the late 2010s yet to be realized

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

This guy is the Ur Left Populist de nos jours, right?

Image result for jose mujica  uruguay

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Beautiful day out there.

Suddenly thought; If I live as long as my Dad, I have got 32 more Summers.

Faint combination of incredulity and panic. That doubtless strengthens as the Summers tick by.

Crossed a boundry and definitively entered the terrain of last things, then.

Counting them off, counting them down.

Trying to grasp each one fully, mindful, just in case, because you never know, you never know....

Monday, May 07, 2018

I wrote a  review of two new books on sci-fi out on Repeater and Golsmiths University Press.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Also found myself in the  unlikely position of being a big fan of  Hieroghlyhphic Being and related work.

Moses Boyd - Drum Dance

Sons of Kemet — Your Queen Is a Reptile│2018

Fantastic. The addition of Moses Boyd was a winning move.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Eminent Domain extract 1

Urkive/ Sounds/96/Genre:Passocon/Investigative/ Improvised
Artist/Vernon Crane.  
Title: Counterfactual musics Vol 1         
Year 1996
Ltd edition 1,000.
Urkived sound files here
Volume 2 here.
Side 1
Hulme Cassette Factory                    
Pale Crescents (3.23)
Kahil Killah feat. Gruel Crew             
Time Dies (4.13)
Dentine 9                                                 
Resolution Way (3:26)
Metastatic (subtle body dub mix) ( 5.22)
Field Recording#8 (3:40)
Imploding Sons                          
Heat (is a one way street) (2.59)

Side 2
UnSpool versus CyberKrush         
Angelus Novus (7:20)
{author unknown}                              
Conjunctural asides (6:26)

DemolitionDimension/Worldslip (13:31)                              

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Friday, September 01, 2017

records it has taken me a long time to really get into

but which I now absolutely love, a very occasional series.

Image result for modern vampires of the city

Sunday, August 20, 2017

WOEBOT: Now That's What I Call Avant-Electronics

a woebot poem

Haven't listened to this yet,

but as with Matt's

other mixes

you can bet

it's an embarrassment

of riches

WOEBOT: Now That's What I Call Avant-Electronics: Gotta admit, barring the Minimalism of Steve Reich and Philip Glass which generally relies upon played instruments, I like my Avant-G...

Thursday, July 13, 2017


I think Novara media generally and, especially over the course of the recent election, Aaron Bastani's tireless commitment to getting out into the mainstream media in support of Corbyn(ism) (not to mention what excellent, cogent media performers both he and Ash Sarkar have become) have been an enormous force for good.
I encourage you to join me as a suscriber or if you are one already to join me in increasing your subscription rate where you can*

*we are not mates, have never met and if we did probably wouldn't like each other.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

in praise of exorbitant serendipity

Significant overlap between my exorbitant sufficiency stuff and woebot's latest here, esp in its focus on acid/future folk, its relation to tradition/the pastoral/the ecstatic and its Rowan William's quote about an hour in.

this track from Rocket Cottage is also really interesting in its dubby use of the studio...


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Exorbitant Sufficiency; or, some questions I would like to have asked Mark Fisher

( I was asked to give a talk about some aspects of  Mark Fisher's work, so this is what I said)

About a year or so ago I was briefly in contact with Mark about his book Acid Communism, which I'd heard rumours about, didn’t quite believe really existed and finally succumbed to the temptation to ask him about it. Anyway he sent me the introduction, which may have altered subsequently, and among the many striking observations there was one section and one phrase that particularly struck me, partly because I was thinking along similar lines and also because of what I was reading and listening to at the time.

I wanted to ask Mark lots of questions about this project and this particular phrase he’s used but it wasn’t the right moment to start burdening him with my insights so they went unasked, and so I am taking the opportunity to reconsider them now.

Mark uses a passage from Danny Baker’s autobiography to illustrate a moment that he then characterises as expressing a sense of “exorbitant sufficiency”.

I’ll think about that phrase in two dimensions, political and aesthetic, because as we are repeatedly told there is only aesthetics and political economy

First, here’s the passage from Baker’s autobiography.

"It was July 1966 and I was newly nine years old. We had holidayed on the Broads and the family had recently taken possession of the gorgeous wooden cruiser that was to be our floating home for the next fortnight. It was called The Constellation and, as my brother and I breathlessly explored the twin beds and curtained portholes in our cabin built into the boat’s bow, the prospect of what lay ahead saw the life force beaming from us like the rays of a cartoon sun. … I … made my way up to through the boat to take up position in the small area of the stern. On the way, I pick up sister Sharon’s teeny pink and white Sanyo transistor radio and switched it on. I looked up at the clear blue afternoon sky. Ike and Tina Turner’s ‘River Deep, Mountain High’ was playing and a sort of rapturous trance descended on me. From the limitless blue sky I looked down into the churning, crystal-peaked wake our boat was creating as we motored along, and at that moment, ‘River Deep’ gave way to my absolute favourite song of the period: ‘Bus Stop’ by the Hollies. As the mock flamenco guitar flourish that marks its beginning rose above the deep burble of the Constellation’s engine, I stared into the tumbling waters and said aloud, but to myself, ‘This is happening now. THIS is happening now.’ (49-50) 

The preconditions for this experience of exorbitant sufficiency get spelled out in the text essentially the high point of a post war social democracy and which Mark is keen to emphasise are the general preconditions of this particularly personal moment of rapture in order to deflect the criticism that it only represents a nostalgic reflection on Baker’s part or a typical, halcyon moment from childhood. This is of a piece with many of Mark’s observation that the foundations for a particular continuum of working class art and music production, punk/post-punk/rave/drum and bass were based on the possibilities of a dropping out and/or going to Art school, having a reasonably comfortable life on the dole, something which probably stops being possible around the mid to late 90s in the UK.

there is something very specific about this moment, something that means it could have only happened then. We can enumerate some of the factors that made it unique: a sense of existential and social security that allowed working-class families to take holidays at all; the role that new technology such as transistor radios played in both connecting groups to an outside and enabling them to luxuriate in the moment, a moment that was somehow exorbitantly sufficient. (italics mine)

One of the things that’s interesting in the book or at least in its opening section is that Mark has returned to the Sixties. In some ways the Sixties for an earlier iteration of K-Punk in its blogging heyday would have been anathema, the hippies and their tree hugging, free-love organicist enthusiasms were everything that Punk and Cyberpunk stood against and one of the main currents that has developed out of a particular strain of Mark’s thinking, Accelerationism, is still quite openly anti-Hippy in its orientation.

One of the ways in which hippie culture is/was anathema is in its focus on the child as symbol of  nature and innocence and Mark was a famous early advocate of anti-natalist positions, championing No Future by Lee Edelman and so on.

So I suppose my first question here would be; while we have to be careful to make sure we are looking at the techno-economic paradigm that make these highly personal moments possible, can childhood and the experience in childhood of continuous levels of engagement and enlargement, the constant learning, the, if you like, repeated epiphanies, be a good model for acid communist or exorbitantly sufficient subjectivities? I am also thinking here little bit of a recent proposal for a National Education Service in the UK, a non-neoliberal equivalent to the market demand for life-long learning, because there is something psychedelic in the world-renewing properties of theorizing and reconceptualising and that’s consonant in some ways with Mark’s interest in the notion of an outside; this space beyond current conceptions and boundaries that we constantly push into.

Can we locate a radical version of the inner child? Can we repurpose it, move it away from kind of wide-eyed avatar of some essential goodness and wonder, into a questing and adventurous, intellectually omnivorous, polymorphous subject, one that retains openness to an outside and that doesn’t ossify into a “realist” “adult” or highly individualized subjectivity?

There are several categories that Mark identifies as being essential to this sense of exorbitant sufficiency, light and space are two of them, but the most essential is perhaps time, free or unpressured time, and the sense of unpressured time comes of course from being a child, but also from a lack of anxiety about the future.

Exorbitant sufficiency has an ambiguous relationship toward the future as the space into which we project both anxiety and hope, but both those projections occur only if the present is intolerable, fallen, and will be redeemed in some way by the yet-to-come.

You might want to say that in exorbitantly sufficient moments the experience is one of time being in-joint as opposed to being out-of-joint. I’ll tentatively suggest that perhaps the time is always out-of-joint but that there are positive and negative modalities of that disjointedness. And I’d also suggest that there’s something slightly bittersweet in Baker’s passage which is perhaps why Mark says that it could “only have happened then” as it takes place just as a shift of a certain kind is occurring and that shift is symbolized here by the transistor radio that Baker takes up onto the bow of the boat.

One of Mark’s most influential formulations or projects was Hauntology, Hauntology expressed a time out-of-jointedness in its negative mode, a certain future should have appeared, a better present should exist but has failed to come into being and the remnants of this better present are scattered around us, provoking us, reminding us of the lost possibilities.

This idea is given a certain kind of empirical base by economists like Carlota Perez, who's essentially a long wave theorist of Capitalism and who argues that a shift toward a different type of post Fordism, a production regime not based on oil, mass production and disposability should have occurred around the 1970’s but the “spatial fix”, essentially the opening up of China and the economic power of big oil to suppress alternate technologies, among other factors, have kept us trapped in an unnaturally elongated  slowly and unevenly differentiating Fordist moment.

Interestingly the subject that Perez imagines as the new consumer of this deferred future/present is very similar to the figure of the Hipster, she believes that elites lead the way culturally, so these would be moneyed connoisseurs,  interested in the specialized, high quality, durable goods. interested in recycling and reclaiming and oriented toward vintage and low energy-intensive forms of commodity accumulation, creativity, “up-cycling” if you like. So to a degree the 2000’s in which Mark formulated Hauntology was haunted both by the remnants of the Utopian promise of an early order, Modernsim, intersecting with these kinds of harbingers of a Perezian future, temporally stranded and wandering around Dalston waiting for solar panels and vertical farming to arrive.

Time can also be out of joint in a “good way” however and I’d think here about Mark’s complaint that with regard to modern technology’s role in music, you can’t hear it anymore, using the example of Brian Eno's synths and tapes and the way they irrupted into Roxy’s often quite standard, pastichey pop and rock tunes, inducing in the listener an exhilarating frisson of Future Shock. Here the time is out of joint because the future is forcing its way back into the present, opening a passage in space-time and allowing the ghost of the yet-to-come, more an angel than a ghost perhaps, to come floating in.

In the passage with the young Danny Baker on the boat we have a couple of key interrelations, firstly the surrounding countryside offering an image of the eternal, the pastoral and sublime, the boat and its engine, an older classical form, an established type of technology and the emergent, the future, as symbolized by the radio.

 As it notes though, the radio is tiny and portable and the moment therefore captures something of an inflexion point in terms of the possibilities of Future Shock as an affect or an experience, and it’s a notion which disappears from the culture probably from the late 70s onward and is, to some extent an addiction that people of a certain generation have never been able to wean themselves off. Indeed you might want to argue that a lot of the accelerationist project both aesthetically and politically is redolent of Future Shock envy on the part of a younger generation.

For this Future Shock to occur I think the technology has to be visible in the same way as it has to be hearable in music, hence in a kind of vulgarized or at least popularized Hauntology and in Steampunk we have a fetishization of clunky, monolithic early versions of technology with huge, glowing cathode tubes, gramophones, vast banks of synths and so on. So as technology miniaturizes, blends in with its surroundings, becomes invisible, becomes more of a discrete frame, as architecture does too around this point, then this kind of juxtaposition, the eternal, the residual, the emergent begins to disappear. Even though cyberpunk, extropian and to some extent accelerationist fantasies focus on seamless integration, technical augmentation, the man-machine and so on, in a way a certain affect a certain dramatic temporal tension is lost with miniaturization, the future side of the relationship falls away, becomes invisible and the present feels lopsided, dislocated, out of joint.


So I suppose another question I would have there is, what’s the relationship of exorbitant sufficiency to time? Is it only possible at a given historical moment, a good out of jointedness? Is this why it can’t seem to come again?

The term exorbitant sufficiency expresses that one has enough yet that enough feels luxurious, far in excess of what’s required. So this is a paradox or an oxymoron, and this sense of completeness in the moment, this lack of orientation to the future puts me in mind of Todd McGowan’s recent work. McGowan’s a Lacanian, which makes reading him a rather forbidding prospect, at least it does for me , but essentially McGowan tries to build a politics, an anti-capitalist politics of the death drive.

To very crudely summarize his argument, we have suffered an originary loss and we try to replace this loss all through our lives by pursuing an object that will stand in for the loss, here, commodities, which promise us a sense of completeness but only lead us to experience disappointment, because what we actually want is the disappointment itself, the loss that allows us to desire again. The chase is better than the catch as Motorhead succinctly put it

McGowan believes ALL orientation toward the future is inherently bound up in capitalist desire, that the constant search for and repetition of failure maps onto the structure of capital accumulation, orientation toward the future as a salvationary space is caught up in the logic of the profit motive, commodity production etc. All of this is expressed through the kind of counterintuitive and paradoxical formulations of which Mark was fond, the title of his big book being “enjoying what we don’t have”. What we should stop doing for McGowan is precisely thinking about the future, seeking out boundaries and limits to overcome in the  belief that beyond them there is a true satisfaction possible as we already have everything we need or possibly everything we don’t need. Or perhaps better still we already don’t have everything we don’t need.

There are problems with McGowan’s work in that it fails to address the body and material needs, poverty and so on. It’s hard not to be oriented toward the future and accumulation if you don’t know where your next meal is coming from or you face crop failure this summer, and so there is an extent to which McGowan is really perhaps addressing, in a more rarified register, the Affluenza that bedevils his students and his peers. Either way, this refusal of the future overlaps in some ways with Marks exorbitant sufficiency; the moment burgeons into a sense of plenitude because in some ways it’s been bracketed off. The relationship with acid here might be fairly clear. Acid shuts down the memory and the sense of anticipation, the music critic Simon Reynolds likening its results to one being dazzled by the moment.

So the next question I would have asked is whether a post capitalist desire is at odds with a demand for the future and whether an exorbitantly sufficient renunciation of the future isn’t also an option to be considered? Does the idea of exorbitant sufficiency map in some ways onto the idea of Communal Luxury more than Luxury Communism.

Thinking about exorbitant sufficiency as an aesthetic, one of the songs Mark mentions as exemplifying this is the Kinks’ Lazing on a sunny afternoon, free time, a certain luxuriousness of surroundings, life devoted to the ludic, but also crucially a loss or a sense of being unencumbered.

I am going to suggest a series of qualities that I think are required for a work to add it to a canon of the exorbitantly sufficient and do that on the basis of some of my interpretation of the phrase I have already outlined.

I think it should it contain a sense of the good childlike, in the sense that it must have a certain numinous quality, a sense not of breaking into new territory/overcoming boundaries but of transformation or enlargement.

It should concentrate on a concentrated moment and that moment should be, paradoxically, illuminated by the eclipse of the future

Should have a sense of ease and lassitude.

Should formally express a relation and tensions between deep time and the traditional and the defamiliarizing possibilities of the technological but without aiming at the sense of the ruptural that characterized Future Shock

It should have something of the reverie and the epiphany.

I am going to nominate a song for this and that's Estuary Bed by The Triffids from an album with the interesting title, Born Sandy Devotional.

The  song title is also relevant. Estuaries are as much a combination of forces pulling in different directions as they are a confluence, an arresting of  motion and a deepening of it, rich, teaming environments alive with growth, ancient and yet also densely populated, worked over by humans, in some ways undermined by them.

Here are the lyrics.

The children are walking back from the beach/ Sun on the sidewalk is burning their feet/Washing the salt off under the shower/And just wasting away, wasting away
The hours and hours and hours
Come on, climb over your father's back fence/For the very last time we'll take the shortcut/Across his lawn/Then lie together on the estuary bed/Perfectly still, perfectly warm
Sleep no more/Sleep is dead/Sleep no more on the estuary bed/Ache no more/Old skin is shed/Sleep no more on the estuary bed
I see you still/I know not rest/Silt returns along the passage of flesh/ I hear your voice/I taste the salt/I bear the stain, it won't wash off/I hold you not
But I see you still/What use eyesight if it should melt? What use memory covered in estuary silt?
I know your shape/Our limbs entwined/I know your name, remember mine
Sleep no more/Sleep is dead/Sleep no more on the estuary bed/Ache no more/Old skin is shed/Sleep no more on the estuary bed

There is an emphasis on childhood, un-hurried time, sunlight, nature, the sense of rebirth, sloughing an old skin, awakening, mutual embrace, a mutual transformation. The track itself is essentially a pretty straight, folk-rock track given a particular brightness and ambient edge through the production, and as it progresses the lead vocal becomes increasingly detached from the background, swimming off into a kind of overlapping, multi tracked, oneiric drift, urging whoever the song’s addressee is, perhaps the singer themselves, to awake, to face life replenished. There is nothing but two people lying together in the sun, in a particular favourite place and yet the song implies this is everything, more than anything one could want, exorbitantly sufficient.

So, I suppose all of this would just have been a long preamble to the question, What do you think of this song, Mark? Do you like it?

To which his answer would almost certainly have been “no”.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Friday, June 02, 2017

Friday, May 26, 2017

It must be the vitamins that keep him going

indefatigable Renaissance  man Matt Woebot's  sublime yet instructive latest video project here.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

You should donate to this.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Guy Called Gerald Escape HD HQ

Never heard this before: samples Negativeland's Escape from noise and Christianity is stupid, eh?

Monday, May 01, 2017


Novara  media have done tirelessly inspiring work for the left over the past five years and if  you can manage it I would encourage you to donate/subscribe.


Audio Resolution

The audio book of Resolution Way gets released in a week or so. It's here. 

Of course I suppose the downside of the impending Labour landslide will be to make this novel seem less relevant. Still you can always think of it as the future we have now happily avoided!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Knots in May

They create chaos because they are weak

We create chaos because we are strong

therefore only we can protect you from the chaos we create

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Friday, March 17, 2017


though lee scott claims this was the track that made him want to become a rapper

Robbie Williams - Rudebox

This could be the UR-text here, though. Then again I have always liked it.


We seem to be going through something of a golden age for hyper pop culture literate absurdist lo-fi provincial British hip-hop. With great videos.

and let's not even get into that Strange U album

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


Remarkable. So when are these guys getting on the cover of the Wire?

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

No point in this not being publicly available is there? Especially as setting it up in Blog format was a bit of a labour of love. Apologies for dead links and inserts. time takes its toll.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

No more miserable Monday mornings

He meant a lot to me and did a lot for me and I'm far from being the only one who owes him a huge debt of gratitude. My thoughts to his family and close friends.
What a horrible loss. What a tremendous influence.

"when I am dead and gone/ my vibrations will live on"

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Platform Capitalism is a very brisk, highly readable (yet detailed!) summary of the last thirty years plus a very cogent and persuasive overview of types and development of platforms, their role in contemporary capitalism, future direction and, briefly, possible responses to their power.

So that's a recommendation, then.

Platform Capitalism (Theory Redux)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Interview with yours truly by working class hero David Lichfield over at his blog The Work Trials. Just in time for Christmas too! Trust me, if you knew how much I rambled you would understand the herculean levels of synthesisng and sculpting the lad has undertaken.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

This is a short and very interesting analysis of the grounding of bitcoin (and related cyberlibertarian tropes) in the discourse of the extreme right.

Golumbia also blogs here

The Politics of Bitcoin: Software as Right-Wing Extremism (Forerunners: Ideas First) by [Golumbia, David]

Monday, September 19, 2016

I'll be representing the mighty Repeater Books at this mini-Indy-Lit-fest  next week, reading from Resolution Way I guess.

Also a nice review of the book here.

Anybody else wants to review that book anywhere, just let me or Repeater know and we'll get a copy to you.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

The in/estimable Owen Hatherley using Resolution Way to talk about the transformation of South London (among other things).

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

A Begging Letter.

Anybody out there feels well enough disposed toward me or my works, I'd be grateful if you gave me a vote on this.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Still banging on about the same old thing.

In the ongoing attempt to get someone, anyone to pay attention to Resolution Way (it's a crowded scene!) we are having a crack at this....

Anybody who has read it and feels they could nominate it, that would be great, and incur a lifetime's supply of pints owed etc.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Officially inspirational,

There's a short interview with me here. Dunno what I am doing with my hands in that photo.....

Friday, July 01, 2016

For heaven's sake man, buy!

In piss-poor attempt at promotion I remind you all that this exists. That's just what the reading public needs right now, a political dystopia to escape into.
If anyone has any better ideas re promotion I'd welcome them!
Also if I promised you a copy fear not, they will be dispatched this very weekend. Even if its raining! 
Which it will be

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

in a nutshell.

The defence of Corbyn is not the defence of an individual, even an admirable and, as the present situation shows, extremely brave one, but the defence of a possibility (and at the moment it is only a possibility) that Labour can offer and generate alternative purposes to those given by existing economic, political and social power. To defend Corbyn is also, though, to will and then engage in the thought and practical effort required to resolve the serious problems articulating, defending and finding ways to institutionalise and implement a modern socialist programme

Good blog post from Tom Gann

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Resolution Way extract at the Repeater blog.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Monday, May 30, 2016

Bank holidAYA.

I chose the name and that image I'll have you know.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Indeterminate Resolutions

Right. well there you go. Though  actually it appears, rather in keeping with the books central theme that Resolution Way both exists and does not yet exist. Perhaps depending on whether or not, or who is looking.

Again I can only beseech anyone  who has read it to leave  a positive  comment on Amazon, should they feel positive  about it of course. Apparently these things matter.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Lovely stuff, as Alan Partridge would doubtless affirm.

WordPress code

Thursday, May 05, 2016

An important day for everyone of a left-leaning political disposition in the UK today. 

That's right, it's exactly two weeks until sleeper feel-good dystopian hit of the long, hot 2016 summer rockets to the top of the bestseller list, driven by the wave of radical leftism sweeping through the country.

You can pre-order it on Amazon, but you should probably get it from your local independent bookshop.

And if you do, thanks. I owe you a pint.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Self Possessed

Winter sleeps and dreams of Summer
As does Autumn, as does Spring
but Summer, in its fleeting fullness
dreams it is beyond such things.
I, on the other hand had my first anxiety dream about Resolution Way coming out last night and am strongly tempted to enter into a period of protracted hibernation myself.

AYA, you'll be delighted to discover, is emerging from its winter hibernation.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Brion Gysin - All Those Years

This just appeared out of nowhere as I was listening to youtube, and it's really rather lovely, simple, charming, unexpectedly so. So I thought I'd share it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Lee Scott - NVR MND (prod by Chemo) OFFICIAL VIDEO

Lee Scott/Blah Records on a bit of a roll at the moment.....

Great video too.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Slow Tech

No coincidence perhaps that this article

and this appear on the same day!

It's the (gratifyingly slow) partial return of Illbient really, innit? No objections there and much as I think a lot of this stuff is great it still hadn't surpassed Illbient's high point which, for me, must be this,

or maybe this 20 bpm banger.... a return to slow in the offing?

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Out soon...

19th of May to be exact. I'll get some author copies no doubt. If you'd like one, email me. All I ask in return is that if you like it you leave a positive review on Amazon. And if you don't, you just quietly bin it.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Bass bits 3. The day everything became nothing

Another bass-driven hardcore band that reached their creative peak around the late 80s and early 90s and around whom, mysteriously, no critical consensus as to their excellence has coalesced is of course, No Means No.

The album Wrong remains as good as anything from the time, while the Blast First retinue were lionized partly because the smart, Vorticist-inspired branding and post-industrial/ experimental/no-wave pedigree of many of its bands fit the bill for smart, arty, leftfield attempts to revivify rock(ism) other less readily theorizable but no less exhilarating or experimental bands were relegated to second or third  division as lumpen hardcore, naive or simplistic  aggro music for the dog-on-a-string brigade, moshing music for the unwashed.

No means No were on the unfashionable Alternative Tentacles, Jello Biafra's label and as such, suspect, retrograde, tarred no doubt by association with The Biafran sensibility, (a sensibility that to be fair inflects most anarchism) painful self-righteousness combined with laboured Situationist wackiness (see; Chumbawamba). No means No might on first glance appear to be proponents of The Wacky, technically brilliant musicians “subversively” squandering their gifts as a repudiation to the sad, co-opted straight world of “success”/ the Industry and expecting to be celebrated for such (see; Ween), but any serious engagement with their work, saturated in dread, caustic surrealism and straight romantic yearning along with a dynamically inventive approach to the form that pushed hardcore right up against the limits of funk, prog, jazz and metal without ever spilling over into math-rock or other dry attempts at “complexity” and hybridization should rapidly rebut any such association. They remained fun, funny, powerful, ingenious, surprising, moving, perplexing; ranged widely without ever losing the essential elements of their own unique take on life and their chosen genre. You might call that the very definition of the fully achieved artist.
All bass dance-floor filler from the Phono's hardcore night circa 1988. Killer bass, killer guitar, killer lyrics. ditto non-Wrong bangerz (this list is potentially huge so I content myself with three more.) Worldhood also a strong contender for best NMN album.

Saturday, February 20, 2016


Simon observes that there's not that many bands with two bassists. True, but luckily there is also.... Cop Shoot Cop.

Now given that Cop Shoot Cop remain one of my favourite bands of all time I am hard pressed not to just post all their albums up here. Instead I’ll do a rough chronology of best (bass) bits from Piece Man through to Release, from sharp-edged, metallic, primarily percussive Neubautenism to the more slickly produced, propulsive rubberized bounce once they got onto a major. The two-bass, percussion and sampler set up was a deliberate attempt to Smash Retro, to force rock into a different direction, expand the logic of post punk, staying true to their anti-Reaganite political vision and their experience of poverty and exclusion in the New York of the Eighties. Why they aren't celebrated as one of the great bands of the period (or indeed all-time) remains a mystery when also-rans Drive like Jehu are somehow headlining ATP. Off we go.



 A great high-toned hulking beast of a bassline on this bad boy.


 What's a lousy cut of meat/without a stinking crust of bread?

 But can't resist posting this one for the way the bass is used to lunge in, scatter shards and shrapnel around, generate tension.


 50 grand would make me a man!

But could also be used  to produce lovely, elegiac,chrome-plated melodic lines when they needed to get more ballady on us. Even if they were ballads about existential and political deadlock.


 Injustice is never an accident.

And also managed to combine the icily mournful with surges of bracingly cold funk. Plus some of the best lyrics, possibly the only explicitly political lyrics of the era.


Everything was easier when you had your time/ you have taken my innocence and now you want my prime/now what have you given me to remember you by/but hazy excuses and a handful of lies.?

Of course as they launched Project Mersh fully things started to get more conventionally rocky. Ask Questions Later tries to get into RATM and Springsteen territory, (Room 429) (among many other things) at the same time. Fantastically well in both cases, with extra doses of snark and Romanticism.

 Surprise, Surprise! The Government lies!

The below is probably a Natz track. Natz, to be fair, was the less interesting of the two vocalist/bassist both musically and lyrically tending to emphasize the post-Birthday Party/Scratch Acid to Jesus Lizard, skronk and howl. There's a bit too much Johnny Cash and Rockabilly in Natz's track as as opposed to the starker, wry Europeanism in Todd A's stuff, still this is a beauty.


If your lover used to beat you with his anger/if your mother used to tie you to a rock/ observe your former life preserved in amber/ like someone pulled the power on the clock.

The last album, Release goes full on for memorable, bouncy bass lines and is their most Stranglerish (clearly an unacknowledged influence) but still manages to produce some post Neubauten/ Young Gods derived clangoursly driving industrial belters a la.....

 Another Natz track, I suspect.

But the best of this is definitely Todd A ( who went on to found the brilliant Rain Dogs era Waits inspired

 Can't really pick a best track, it's generally superb.

One last track then? Indulge me! A rather beautifully deployed scatter-shot, swelling melodic line from Days Will Pass another of the haunting, cusp-of-defeat semi-lullabies they also plied.


 We write the book/ we take the praise but not the blame.

Ah, so true! Drive like  bloody Jehu, I ask you.......