Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Special Interests

This summers reading has included the latest edition (Number 6) of Finnish magazine "Special Interests". "Special Interests" is produced by Mikko Aspa of Freak Animal Records. As long as I have been aware of the activities of Mikko he has always been behind a magazine. Freak Animal Magazine (in which issue #12 carried an in depth Dieter Muh interview) followed by "Degenerate" (Co-Edited with Jukka Matilla of Kaos Kontrol label), and now "Special Interests". Mikko also administrates the web forum board of the same name as well as recording, releasing and performing as Grunt, Nicole 12 and Alchemy Of The 20th Century. Where does the bugger find the time?
I must admit to not being too enamoured with the first few editions of "Special Interests". The print was tiny, the projects interviewed were pretty bland and there were too many reviews, and a section asking folk what their personal top-ten releases are. (This item still runs in #6, but is limited to only three folk). The other day I was sent a link to a website that tells you what "rock stars" buy at a certain record store in Los Angeles, a kind of "what's in their bag" feature with video footage. Andy Gill of Gang Of Four told us what was on his shopping list, then came the opportunity for me to "buy" the same discs. Be just like my favourite rock star - only difference being that I doubt whether Andy Gill actually paid for his fucking CD's! The item in "Special Interests" reminds me of this....
So, issue number 6 and all is improved. The print is larger, the magazine is larger, there is clarity in the print. (I must go to Specsavers). The essential reading starts off with an interview with Tommy Carlsson. Tommy runs Abisko as well as performing as Treriksroset. He used to operate the fine label Segerhuva Records. The interview covers the beginning of Tommy's interest in experimental / noise music as well as the beginning of Segerhuva and his Trerisksroset project. Tommy comes across as a fascinating and honest chap with great intellect and insight. I have met Tommy, just the once, at The Fylkingen in Stockholm. He fascinated my wife with his knowledge of the graphic novel and comics.
I will not give away too much of the interview - which is extensive - but I do concur with alot of what Tommy says:
Old artists reunions: Some of the new Mauthausen Orchestra stuff would never have been released if it wasn't under a recognised name. Some of the MB stuff is pathetic, just a waste of plastic. Seeing Sutcliffe Jugend live last year was knee-slapping laughable. Blood Ov Thee Christ did a couple of brilliant tapes in the 80's but what does the current incarnation of BOTC have to do with any of that? And yet, we revere these people who should have been out of the door a long time ago. And of course it's a problem. But, when you have a scene where you offer people, "sure you can come and play, just bring your laptop, we'll have a free trip around the world, it doesn't have to be good, just be there under your old name, we'll pay for it". I think all these reunions and all these - well, Sutcliffe Jugend is a perfect example. It's clearly something else touring with a name of a band christened as a teenager devoted to a UK serial killer in the 1980's - that was then! (Laughs). So you're away for a while, you do something else, and then you come back. And you're welcome to play, everywhere around the world and to do luxury LP releases. If it was someone else, under anybody else's name these people would maybe get harsh criticism that they need. But instead they're just given a license to just go on a paid vacation, all because of some weird misguided need for nostalgia.
Tommy. Well said.
After Tommy comes a great career overview and exploration into the mind of Boyd Rice. It is quite an exclusive as Boyd doesn't give that many interviews these days. I don't know whether or not the interview has been "syndicated" or is exclusive to "Special Interests", but it is a must read. The American noise-artist Slogun gets an interview. I saw Slogun a few years back and like Tommy at a Sutcliffe Jugend gig I found his live set knee-slappingly laughable. Slogun played at the Fenton Arms in Leeds and came out all bravado and "hard", he got jostled and pushed about a bit and continued the gig behind the safety of "his band". A lesson learnt Mr. Slogun, you don't mess around with Yorkshire folk. Slogun now seems to be maturing in sound and approach, we are probably not far off a John Balistreri "ambient" album. Then comes an interview with Finnish artist Mika Taanila. For me this was a great read. Whilst in Helsinki earlier in the year I bought a tape ( a double tape) by Musiikkivyory (AKA Mika Taanila). I had no idea what the sound was like, the packaging, the look of the tape just hit a chord with me. The lady who sold me the tape told me it was of a Finnish film-maker's tape recorder experiments from the early 1980's. Mika Taanila. It is an excellent listen and now it makes sense:
Recording these tracks enabled to get certain frustrations out of my system. I guess I was vaguely inspired by This Heat, Dome, Cabaret Voltaire, Glaxo Babies, Tuxedo Moon and so on, and wanted to create sounds like them. Maybe somewhat unconsciously Mass was the closest thing I was aiming towards......H.S. Tuominen gave me a copy of their LP Labour Of Love. It's an amazing record. For somebody interested in the zeitgeist of the era, I recommend it.
There speaks a man after my own heart, and maybe Steve Underwood who follows as "Special Interests" interviews the two chaps behind the magazine "As Loud As Possible", a noise magazine will eat itself situation? It is an interesting insight, the magazines' "manifesto" is laid out for all to read and Steve Underwood's parting shot of;
I still find more excitement and adventurous experimentation locked into the four sides of the Swell Maps' Whatever Happens Next ... set than I do in the entire back catalogue of whatever chump is churning out ten CDrs a month at the moment. I have a preference for those artists and labels that release less rather than more.
There speaks a man after my own heart.
The Belgian group Militia are also interviewed. I like Militia, I have the split tape with Con-Dom and the recent tape on No Visible Scars and they have a real interesting sound. I remember after the Con-Dom split that their next release was a triple LP box set that was way too expensive to experiment with. The power electronic super-duo Ke/Hil give an interview, again interesting to read - I have yet to hear their sound but I imagine it to sound like Anenzephalia, for that's who it is. There's also a lovely little piece written by GX Jupitter-Larsen entitled "For Little Box (Cassette Is French For Little Box)". Here GX writes about cassette only releases that mean something to him and how the cassette culture is still alive and well and thriving. The piece would not have been out of place in "As Loud As Possible".
There's also some interviews/articles on Control (Nice man, met him), Black Boned Angel, Ilios, Gnaw Their Tongues and the New Force of American PE. I haven't read these yet as now the magazine has become a dip in to magazine.

Print magazines are essential, and they don't come much better than this - or at least I haven't seen one this year. Mikko has the knowledge. Chris Groves, who produces the excellent "Night Science" magazine also writes and reviews for "Special Interests". The magazine is stocked in the UK by Second Layer, Unrest Productions and Cold Spring (who have a knee slappingly laughable advert on the back page). I imagine RRR and Hanson in the US and from Freak Animal in Europe.

1: Special Interests #6 Cover.
2: Musiikkivyory Sleeve.
3: Steve Underwood.

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