Sunday, December 21, 2014

Xanntone Zmas Party

Xanntone Zmas Party
18th December 2014. Wharf Chambers, Leeds.

Ihsorak, Daniel Thomas, Astral Social Club.

Dave Keenan’s article about the death of the underground in the recent year end Wire has caused much debate in and around and amongst the bald heads of noise. Its the treading water idealist who leans over a table full of pedals making noises to a group of people who are mostly friends or friends of friends or Facebook associates or Twitter followers and the  critics who are no more than the ‘defanged boosters of their favourite musicians’. Its the everybody knows everybody scenario, the chummy bon honomie, the fist popping clique-ness of certain groups of music making individuals who retweet each others successes to the nth degree that appears to stick sharpest in Keenan’s claw, that and the tables. Get thee behind me oh table of foulness says DK, give me real instruments and real people, people who run free with the wind in their hair and lager down their shirt front and needles sticking out of their arms. Proper artists with no fixed agenda or prerecorded cassette sets.

The first Zanntone curated event at the Wharf Chambers would have satisfied Keenan on some fronts but failed on others. There were tables and thinning pates but there was also drums and guitars and nakedness too. In December. Nakedness in December in the not noted for its red hot venue space Wharf Chambers. So I wander around in my big coat counting the punters and it appears that we almost qualify for the  #realnoaudienceunderground hashtag by virtue of there being but a dozen people in attendance, some of whom have been at the John Barleycorn since the office shut early for Xmas and are now slobbering on about ducks in Wetherby. Some of those who are showing signs of being full of the festive spirit are the performers themsleves. Including Paul Walsh whose night this is. He’s the one on the left of the photos with the table full of gadgets thus putting him on DK’s hit list, behind him is John Cylde Evans on drums, Neil Campbell on side drum and whatever Evans isn’t and is hitting and stage right Pascal Ansell with various gadgets and, later on, no clothing.

Like the last gig I attended at the WC where Campbell and Clyde Evan’s hit the shit out of stuff for 40 solid minutes under their UK Muzzlers guise, this gathering of minds, that goes by the name ‘Ihsorak’, appears to have been formed with the full intent of making nothing but a godawful racket. For 23 minutes, obvs. They claim they are playing songs, Walsh signaling the end of each ‘song’ by switching off his equipment turning around and waving his arms at Campbell and Clyde Evans like a shipwreck survivor trying to get the attention of a passing ship. When they eventually see him [Campbell has his back to him for the entire set] they finish and then immediately start again making much the same racket as before. Which was all good fun in a pre Xmas lets bash the shit out of some gear kind of way. At times they did hit a Boredoms groove but just as it was getting interesting Walsh did his shipwreck survivor bit and they stopped. And started. And stopped. Somewhere amongst all this chaos Ansell left his gadgets and strapped a guitar to his frame before pulling off his boxer shorts thus rendering him knacker bare. A brave man. I felt the cold and I had an overcoat on but then I’m about thirty years older and have no hair.

Sophie Cooper has had to cancel because of illness which is a shame as I was looking forward to hearing her off kilter songs for the first time. Daniel Thomas does play and eventually drowns out the chatter with a simple but effective evolving synth throb piece, the likes of which I could happily nod away hours to. Whether this was ‘Extraction Music’ ™ I know not, Rob Hayler wasn’t playing out so I couldn’t get a definitive answer.  

I’m away before Campbell treads the boards in what is enigmatically billed as the last Astral Social Club gig ‘for a while’. I’m in the car and the sight of all this jollity and the groovy tunes from DJ HO HO HO make me pine for liquor, the likes of which must not pass my lips in case of contact with Plod.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Various media.

Reviews of Dr. Steg related work on this blog usually appear after the scans but seeing as there’s about 50 of Steg’s latest offering to look at I thought it best to do the writing bit first. This leaves you to then savour the long scroll down to the bottom of the page without due let or hindrance.

The story so far: Dr Steg has decided to ditch his magazine/mail art project SPON and replace it with SSPONNGG [or various spellings thereof]. SSPONNNGG is whatever Dr. Steg says it is. Here its two A4 zines and in what must be seen to be one of the most over the top SSSPOONNGGG/SPON releases yet: a handmade slipcase containing around 15 A5 zines, various booklets, original artworks, a button badge featuring the band TIRIKILATOPS, a CD of the band TIRIKILATOPS [that refuses to play], an 11 minute DVD collaboration with Andy Paciorek that showcases some of their artwork and has music by Stan Batcow and some hand made postcards. The slipcase itself appears to be covered in lumps of dried meat, tile spacers and other bits of plastic detritus. This has then been liberally daubed in red paint [which was still a bit wet and had the odor of wet paint when it arrived. Dr. Steg moves quickly]. All of this is mind boggling enough as it is and then you look at those tiny booklets and you notice that they are all originals, all of them drawn in Steg’s own spidery hand with a drawing pen whose diameter must be measured in microns. I was in awe.

And still am. There’s no point trying to make any sense of this. It would take a Michael Collins or an Andrew Graham-Dixon or a Brian Sewell to do it justice and wouldn’t you just love to see Brian Sewell take his mind to this lot. For now let us all cast our gaze Steg-ward and hope that the next Ceramic Hob’s single isn’t too far away.