Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Spon 15 - Must Die Records Sampler

Spon 15
A5 Zine. 25 copies

Must Die Records / Sampler

The observant amongst you will notice that my last review came via Headpress. I used to buy Headpress magazine back in the early 90’s when its coverage of all things transgressive appealed to my inquisitive tendencies. Its strap line in those days read ‘Sex, Death, Religion’ and if those things don’t get your taste buds going then there really is no hope for you. I went on the Headpress website to discover that they’d been happily bobbing along without interference from me ever since the day I stopped buying it and had even expanded their empire to include all manner of interesting looking books. Even better, the magazine itself is now available as a free e-zine. It was there that I discovered that the venerable Dr. Adolf Steg had been given mass coverage with added Stan Batcow interview footage for good measure.

When Dr. Steg began sending me his deranged Spon zines I was heartened by the fact that there was still someone out there printing and mailing out madness. Letters arrived that made little or no sense. Spon 15 arrives with a window card containing a squashed fly whilst written inside, in a spidery hand, were the words ‘Sympathy for the Brevil, Dr. Adolf Steg [Swastika] 23x23’. You cannot replicate such industry on internet social networking. You could lump Steg in with the ‘outsider artist’ gang and I guess that would work but as ever I’m uneasy about using such generic tags. His artwork grows out of comic book manure but also includes mixed media work including a marvelous Marylyn Monroe whose visage has been enhanced with various bits of circuit board and wiring. Eat your heart out Andy Warhol.

Spon 15 is a slim A5 comic wrapped in a sleeve that highlights the case of 2000AD, DC Thomson artist Ron Smith who was charged with sexually abusing a 13 year old girl. A curious and upsetting case that took donkeys years to come to light and fell apart the moment it hit court. Inside Steg has cut and pasted all manner of different comics and styles to make his own. Whether this is homage to Smith or Steg just trying to get something out of his system I don’t know. Another baffling entry into the Steg book of work. Not a million miles away from what Evil Moisture’s Andy Bolus has been doing but here replacing disturbing with comic book surrealism.

Somewhere down the line Adolf Steg and Must Die Records must cross paths. Whether they are one and the same remains to be seen but there’s definitely some MDR promo stuff stuck into some of Steg’s work and I dare say that seeing as how they both originate from Blackpool environs that cups of tea and trips to the shops have been shared.

Of the 13 tracks on the MDR sampler the bands to take note of are the Ceramic Hobs, Smell & Quim and The A Band. Thats not to say that the rest is trash; ‘Variable Phantom’s’ shortwave pulse with broken radio transmissions gets the thumbs up as does ‘Uncle Paul’ who sound remarkably like Harbinger Sound faves the Sleaford Mods. ‘Left Hand Cuts Off Right’ chucks out some primitive industrial noise pulses and seeing as how I’ve had a soft spot for chipset music since its inception I can’t let this go without mentioning ‘Archie Wah Wah’. The Hobs sing about beating up baby seals which’ll go down a storm on Rainbow Warrior outings and S&Q give us two tracks in one, the first being a spacey outing called Xanadon’t and the other a short thing of a capella beauty called ‘Desperhardon’. Perhaps the most surprising track of all comes from the A Band who could possibly be the last band I’d have thought of to turn up on a MDR comp. A near 15 minute romp of parping bash and  stomp in which the titular words ‘TV Sets From Winter’ give way to an almighty racket of Nihilist Spasm Band proportions. The longer it goes on the more out of control it gets until it ultimately sounds like a marching Sun Ra Arkestra going round the Rose and Crown picking up other peoples drinks and downing them with merry gusto. Lets hope that something from the A Band appears on MDR soon.

I wont dwell on the stuff that didn’t interest me [think thrapy guitars and guitar noodlings from Bad Suburban Nightmare] but I will dwell on the fact that sticking one of your promo decals onto the front of a plain CD card isn’t what you’d call taxing the art department. But then I get the feeling that this is a cheapie for trades kind of thing and as such should be pushed into the harsh glare of the stage lights for all to see.

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