Hiroshima Yeah! #94/December 2012
Turbulent Times #9 - The Mid-Life Crisis Issue
Spon #22 - The Animal Poetry Issue
A5 zine. Dumb Cunt Comics
Spon #23 - The Apathy Issue
A4 zine. Dumb Cunt Comics
Spon #24 - The Ceramic Hobs - OZ OZ Alice
Those of you with long memories will remember that the first ever paper edition of Idwal Fisher contained a number of reviews written by Gary Simmons. In a style heavily influenced by his passion for Whitehouse, Sci-Fi, space travel, Heavy Metal, GG Allin, Clockwork Orange, transgressive cinema, punk, Jap noise, cheap cider and avenues of a more risque bent he sent many a missive containing reviews that immediately singled him out as having a unique voice - like a cross between Alex from Clockwork Orange meets the Marquis de Sade at closing time in the Manowar pub Fleet Street. His review style meant that he usually meandered off course or even ignored the object of review completely, he used expletives in virtually every sentence [usually in upper case]. His main weapon was misanthropy which when coupled to a healthy disdain for mainstream culture meant that his targets regularly got blasted with heavy doses of his ultra sarcastic realism. And he certainly knew what he was talking about. I know of few people with anywhere as near an encyclopedic knowledge of the early English Power Electronics scene as himself and then there was the moon landings, the space race, NASA and probably plenty of other passions with which he could talk eloquently and write rabidly about.
I met him a few times whilst in London for gigs and once memorably bumped into him and his then Spanish girlfriend Maggie at the Tate Modern. A coincidental occurrence that inevitably ended in a drunken Sunday afternoon trawl around the pubs of Soho. The way he dressed [think big hair HM/punk cross over] and his propensity to give as much as he got often got him into trouble so I can’t say I was entirely shocked to learn that he’s now doing time in Pentoville Prison for the crime of GBH with intent.
Before his incarceration he wrote for Hiroshima Yeah! In an ongoing column entitled ’13.7 Billion Years Of Hell - Selected Dispatches From An Unwilling Player In God’s Little Game’ he ranted and raved about releases that fell within the noisy end of the spectrum usually attaching some of his own scans of related noise releases or the cover of a Brian Aldiss novel that for some reason just had to be in there.
Needless to say things have been quiet but in issue 94 of HY! he’s back. With a column now entitled “1.5 Years Behind Bars: Selected Dispatches From An Unwilling Contestant Of The British ‘Justice’ System’s Little Game” he gives us but six short paragraphs relating to life on the inside; the boredom, the routine, the lags, the screws all of it written in Gary’s own unique style. Lets hope that there’s more to come.
And lets not forget Mark Ritchie who has been manfully holding the reins of HY! solo fashion in his absence. I’ve mentioned HY! before but its worth mentioning again as its one of the few zines I know of that publishes regularly. A copy turns up at least once a month, most of them being but two pieces of A4 stapled in one corner. Think copy and paste, think gig reviews that mention drink more than the bands, think Ceramic Hobs, Glasgow and reality. Available for trades or stamps or maybe even a nice letter.
There were plenty of people at Extreme Rituals walking around with copies of Turbulent Times in their mitts. Most of them had smiles on their faces too, for Turbulent Times manages to pull off that rare trick of combining noise with humour. I’ve been told that humour and noise don’t mix but whoever said that never witnessed live shows by Emil Beaulieu, Evil Moisture, Gerogeregegege, R&G [think spaghetti] or Smell & Quim. And they never read Harsh Noise History in TT9. OK its pulled from Eraciator’s blog but lets not start getting all churlish here - this is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read regarding noise and it deserves a wider audience;
‘The European experimental music scene suffered badly during the economic recession of the eighties. In the UK, Live Actions became scarce when local councils zealously enforced the Harsh Noise Abatement Act. The extortionate price of photographic medical journals and army surplus clothing made it impossible for those without rich parents to continue’.
‘At exactly the same time John Coltrane and Albert Ayler invented free jazz in the new country of America for a bet’.
‘Japanese acts such as Merzbow (“Shit House” in English), Gregory Gegge, Hijokaidan (roughly translates as “ear wax sound”) and Hannah Trash (actually a Frenchman named Claude) produced vast quantities of noise cassettes and also surprised Western listeners by releasing their work on compact disc before the medium had been invented’.
Like all good zines TT9 wears its editors style on its sleeve. Healthy doses of cynicism abound as does some of the best gig reviewing I’ve ever read including top jobs on this years Broken Flag bash, a Consumer Electronics gig in London, the We Can Elude Control show at Bexhill’s De La Warr Pavilion [featuring Helm and Russell Haswell amongst others] plus a bizarre event suffered by the editor at the hands of Nuclear Medicine, a gig in which he was tied to a table in a room and left to his own devices for half an hour, this after having taken two tablets as prescribed. There’s interviews with Nocturnal Emissions, GX Jupitter-Larsen, the Libbe Matz Gang, someone called GRMMSK and an all too short review section.
TT9 does what all good zines should do; entertain and inform - to be honest I never knew dub noise existed before I picked this up but I do now and if I so choose I can pick from several examples of the genre all of which have been sat though and rated for my listening pleasure.
And its a proper paper zine, you can pick it up, read it, shove it in your pocket and when you’re done with it you can give it to someone else and help spread the word. Judging by the copies that were flying off the merch stall at ER there’s still plenty of life left in the noise zine yet. Lets hope that it doesn't take another fifteen years for the next issue to come out.
Meanwhile over in Blackpool Dr Steg’s Spon continues to baffle and amuse. The ‘Apathy’ issue has a cover with nothing on the inside except 16 blank pages. I think I’ll scribble something on them and mail them back to Steg. Its what he would have wanted. Spon 22 [The Animal Poetry Issue] has eight pages of Dada-istic gibberish. Hugo Ball would have loved it.
Steg also sent me some copies of the Ceramic Hobs CD release OZ OZ Alice all with different covers that becomes SPON 24. If anyone out there would like one then please get in touch. There was a Fes parker CD too, the one that came out on Mental Guru [I think], but it seems to be evading me at the moment.
And then out of the blue I received a painting by Dr Steg. Upon a golden background were stenciled the words “I’VE NEVER BEEN SEXUALLY ABUSED BY JIMMY SAVILE’. Its awaiting a permanent home but for now it sits at the top of stairs and every time I pass it I smile quietly inside. Gary Simmons would love it.
Dumb Cunt: dr23steg [at] yahoo.co.uk
Hiroshima Yeah! - donbirnam [at] hotmal.com
Turbulent Times - http://www.uncarved.org/blog/
Eraciator - http://eraciator.tumblr.com/
HMP The Verne