Thursday, 18 November 2010
As Loud As Possible.
After the long wait, the tears and sweat of anticipation "As Loud As Possible #1" is with us. I picked up a copy in London last month and until a couple of days ago I have had my nose and eyes firmly stuck between the pages at every possible moment. I am a notoriously slow reader.
So. What is it like? It is the size of a "Sound Projector" or even "Progress Report" of old. Not pocket sized like "Special Interests", "Feral Debris" or "Terror" magazines. It is as big and hefty as it is definitive, authoritative and oraclatory (1).
To have a bad word against this magazine is like criticizing The Bible or The Koran or something, such is the high esteem and kudos ALAP has picked up since it's release. And pointless.
This (necessary) project has been a labour of love for it's editors (Steve Underwood & Chris Sienko) for the best part (to my knowledge) of three years. This is no rush job or badly researched and written tome. A benchmark has now been set for folk who are serious about "noise" / underground music......
I thought at first I would read ALAP as I would any magazine/book. i.e. from cover to cover (call me old fashioned), but after reading a few pages of "opinion" I started to skip paragraphs to find myself at an article called "The Politics Of HNW". At last I can say I now know what HNW stands for "Harsh Wall Noise" a genre within noise named by the Harsh Noise World".
"Here's another marketing ploy, typical girl meets the typical boy".
It was all getting a bit Wire-esque at this moment, so I skipped the Sewer Election piece (I only have one piece of Sewer Election, a track on the double cassette compilation "Krimkall" that Krimljud released in 2003 b.h.n.w. (2) ), and started to read what I was interested in....The Haters, followed by a piece on Alien Brains. Ahhh Alien Brains, a rare name from my dim and distant past and from the days that I used to write to people like Instant Automatons, Nag & Bendle and Richard Formby. DIY at it's grassy and rootiness. An excellent researched and beautifully informatively written piece by Steve Underwood. I know Steve and his love and passion for this oft ignored but at the same time fucking genius and better than owt else that was going around at the time music comes through in his writing. It is a joy to read. Cheapmachines gets a good hearing and I am looking forward to seeing Phil live in a few weeks time...my collection is pretty thin on his output...but I skipped pages to read the John Smith interview.
Back in the days before the internet (I know, it is hard to imagine isn't it) magazines like John Smith's "Interchange" were the ALAP of their day. Indispensable oracles and jammed packed with information on the bands/artists I wanted to listen to - or be listening to. Small adverts from bands about their tape releases etc got me to hear Seven Horns Da-Ho and Metgumbnerbone and I shall never forget paying for a Mmme Sadie cassette that never showed up. These things stick. I had an inkling John was Ward Phillips (I also thought he was a member of Soviet France...wrong there then), I have the double cassette compilation "Wolfsangel" that Nihilistic Recordings released in 1986. (Yeah...I'm on it too)! It is a fascinating read as is what follows; Thee definitive Putrefier interview by Steve Underwood.
By now (and a week or two in to immersing myself in the writings) I am whetting myself for the mammoth piece on the Broken Flag label. R+G piece looks interesting, later...Giffoni can wait (is he HNW)? I have to read the Broken Flag Story. The collation of research of this piece must have taken years. This piece is a book - a bloody book - it deserves to be a book. The whole Broken Flag story, it's agitants and participants needs the same "treatment" as say "Wreckers Of Civilisation" and/or "England's Hidden Reverse".
It was back in 1983 when I became aware of Broken Flag. Strange story. There was this chap who lived in a squat on the top floor of Charles Barry Crescent in Hulme, Manchester. His squat was the flat that later became "The Kitchen", but then (1983) this guy was just your average Hulme speed dealer. He dressed like a member of A Certain Ratio, Khaki shorts, Hawaiian Shirt - maybe even a whistle(?), I (and my friend Sean) used to like going about in black army drill. This chap approached us, asked us if we liked "Industrial" music. "Yes"! He invited us to his flat. He used to be in to noise stuff but was getting out of it (too dangerous), he was getting in to psychedelic surf sounds like "Pebbles" and "Nuggets" and The Seeds, Link Wray that kind of stuff so he gave us (Sean and I) some Come Org. Kata's and cassettes, some Consumer Electronic and Ramleh tapes. Sean and I split the goods, sniffed our goodbyes and went home to hear this "new" sound. I remember I got "Fur Ilse Koch" and "Live At Nailsea" tapes. Beautiful stuff. It was maybe then reading an "Interchange" that I found an address for BF, or perhaps I just wrote straight off - I can't remember that part. I kind of became disinterested in BF around the time of the Toll release (1986) and didn't really pick up again until the Ramleh "Grudge For Life" LP (I know, it's on Vis-A-Vis, but I'm talking about an interest in Ramleh and that lead me to buying BF tapes again), so to read about what went on in those intervening years is bloody fascinating and essential information.
Now somebody wants to do the same profiling on:
1: Sterile Records.
3: Harbinger Sound.
It still makes me titter to think that 400 Blows were to be on the "Neuengamme" compilation, but got bumped. I now want the Vinyl On Demand Box Set! (And Steve, if you are reading this can you ask Tim Gane about his band Ingrid Slugs (3) and if he has any recordings, please)?
The sub culture of underground noise music, from a grass roots level, from the 1970's to this day desperately needs to be researched and written about. Sod TG, Cabs, Clock DVA etc they have had their tomes, it is about time the "real" meat was documented, the Broken Flag and Putrefier piece together prove this.
By now weeks have passed and so I skipped the "Classic Albums" section - apart from The Lemon Kittens, it is a bloody classic but I do prefer "The Big Dentist", and delved in to the reviews. Thanks Chris for the kind words on the Dieter Muh 7"EP, and honest opinion on the split release with Mnem. Whelmed is a great description, it's not a favourite of mine..but then again, I'm not on it! And if I'd only been a quicker reader I would have found out about Emaciator before buying a couple of his tapes....
Now ALAP is a dipping mag. Something to take to the toilet or flick through whilst spinning discs, playing tapes etc. Nothing wrong with that - all the best magazines have homes in the forakers.
Was it worth the wait? Yes! Even to wait longer and it still would have been worth it! Steve + Chris know their history, it shows and as of today when the greats like "Interchange", "Flowmotion", "Grok", "Industrial News", "N.D.", "Force Mental" are mentioned with saintly breath in the future "As Loud As Possible" will join that list.
(1): I made this word up.
(2): Before Harsh Wall Noise.
(3): Tim Gane's band that used to rehearse in The Carnifex Recordings HQ, William Kent Crescent, Hulme, Manchester 1985
1: Front Cover of "As Loud As Possible".