Monday, 15 February 2010

Vice Singles Reviews 15.02.10

3 Titans
Daptone Records/Dunham Records

0 Wow, these three minutes actually manages to be less fun than sitting in bumper to bumper to traffic with nothing to but the Shipping News or back to back repeats of Sue Perkins doing Just A Minute to listen to for 8 straight hours. Think three 7 year olds rhyming about how they won’t ever drop out of school and will get straight A’s forever on an episode of Sesame Street from the late 70’s and you’re not a million miles off.

Busta Nut

Los Campesinos
Romance Is Boring

2 Despite now being friends with avant-indie types like James Stewart out of Xiu Xiu and whatsisname from Paranthetical Girls these guys are still basically still the same shoutalong indie band now with added weird guitar pedals and less jangle. Strip the effects away and the chorus could be by just about any band played before 11pm and the inevitable endless Smiths and Libertines records start rolling out at your local indie disco. Plus the girl sounds exactly like the guy from Placebo.

Perry Nutkins


1 I almost feel sorry for Creed that Nickleback took their AOR rock and sub-Pearl Jam stadium rock template and ended up selling a bazillion more records than the original purveyors of the totally banal rock-ballad. Can you even remember what that big Creed single was? No, me either.

Brian Blessed

Vice Singles Reviews 08.02.10

Way To LA
Claremont 56

8 Something of a supergroup featuring as it does Holger Czukay, Ursa Major, Paul 'Mudd' Murphy and Benjamin Smith this rumbles along like krautrock via a night-class at Blaxplotation bassline school. The way to LA must be a long road as both sides of this 10” feature the theme of getting to the City Of Angeles. The A side is making it there in the Day and the B side features trying to get there at night.

Barry Bawler

The Macabees (feat. Roots Manuva)
Empty Vessels

6 By some miracle this is nowhere near the dogs dinner the lineup threatens. If anything it’s closer to those spaced out jams that Rodney used to spit over back in the days when his tracks only turned up on things like Kitz’s seminal Countryman LP.

Basher Bishop

You Know I’m No Good/Shakin All Over
Wanda Jackson
Third Man

8 This was kind of a no brainer. Jack White producing a raockabilly legend for his boutique vinyl label. How was it ever not going to be great.

Billy Bunter

NME Radar Piece: Trash Talk

A beer crate comes sailing from the cramped Camden Barfly stage hitting a crowd member squarely in the head. Neither the band on stage nor the seething, surging crowd that are bordering on all-out riot miss a beat. Flying beer crates, and an ability to whip audiences into scenes of cultish adoration and violent chaos within the space of a few chords have become second nature to Californian hardcore malcontents Trash Talk.

While all of the bands’ members have served in hardcore outfits across the Bay Area neither Trash Talk’s hometown nor influences are cut and dried. “We come from all over California and despite none of us living in Sacramento it is still home for the band” says guitarist Garrett Stevenson, “and although we’ve all played in punk acts before if you took a ride with us in the van you’d realise we aren’t a bunch of hardcore purists. Lee (Spielman, vocals) might be playing some nasty hardcore one minute and Sam (Bossan, drums) will play some Lady GaGa the next, then Spencer (Pollard, drums) will play some avant-garde stuff and I’ll probably be dropping some soul or hip-hop”.

Tales of multiple shows at both CMJ and SXSW last year are already legend and the band will happily play anywhere with whoever they can. “Getting to play one show is awesome but to be able to play five or six shows in a day and have people turn up and go nuts is mind-blowing”.

As to the band getting crowds a little too excited Garrett isn’t convinced it’s a bad thing, “people are just having a good time and letting off steam at our shows. Sound & Fury last year might have got a bit much though. We drove there in a U-Haul, parked up and played out of the back of it. There were people kicking all of our stuff over and stage diving in to guitar amps. But it was still really fun.”

The bands’ third album, Eyes & Nines, due this autumn, was recorded with Joby J. Ford of The Bronx. “This time around we sat down and really thought about the songs. Some of them are over two minutes long!” enthuses Garrett and for a band whose catalogue includes titles such as “Just Die” you can expect another dollop of misanthropy. “I think we have the same issues that most people have in the world today. We just choose to vocalise them and people identify with that”.

A band that spends “eleven months a year” on the road inevitably have their share of Black Flag-esque road tales. “The time we were driving out of Cali to go record our second record with Steve Albini sticks out. We got pulled over and locked up for having some stuff in the van we shouldn’t have. We were sitting there thinking, “shit, we’re gonna miss recording with Steve Albini because we’re in jail”.

Jail terms notwithstanding, you’d be a fool to miss Trash Talk’s live onslaught when they return to Britain later this year. Just mind the flying beer crates.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Vice Singles Reviews 02.11.09


7 While hardly scaling the heights of Hunting High & Low or Soundrel Days A-HA’s epitaph of a final album, Foot Of The Mountain, contains enough grand synth-pop to be worth checking out. Plus a band deciding that they are going to split and then sticking to their guns is pretty rare and in these less than dignified times.

Perry Nutkins

Wet Dog
Lower Leg

9 If I could still afford to by lots of records purely on the strength of sleeve quality alone this would be on the top of my stack. Or high up in my Boomkat basket or wherever it is that you buy records online these days. The fact that the tune is a nice, shouty bass lead piece of post-punk perfection doesn’t hurt either.

Strap’em Jones

Paulo Nutini
Pencil Full Of Lead

0 Every morning I wake up to Magic FM. My girlfriend loves the station’s ability to play the same 12 songs incessantly all of which are so inoffensive that they might as well be the aural equivalent of a nice neutral wallpaper: there but hardly noticeable. Nutini has recently made it on to the playlist though and ruins the whole effect by nestling like a poisoned morning-after vomit stain amongst the so-boring it’s OK Tracy Chapman and Wings beige music. Thanks for single-handedly spoiling my morning Nutini.

Billy Bunter

Vice Singles Reviews 09.11.09

Poison Lips

10 Second 12’”from Pascal Arbez-Nicola’s future-disco classic of an LP Flashmob. Ticks all the bleeding edge synth and crushingly well produced beat boxes that you’d expect with added pre-orgasmic breathy female vocal for good measure. The man can do no wrong.

Ellis D

Boy Of Girl
Hot Chocolate Boy
Off The Unceratin

7 Sadly not a gender inverted 2 step garage response to Shanks & Bigfoot’s “Sweet Like Chocolate” but a whole different kettle of enjoyable nonetheless. Fragile, female voxed synth pop by what I am pretty sure used to be a band called Moon Unit. Luckily this duo’s tunes are better than their choice of band names.

Norris Da Boss

Pearl Jam
Got Some/Just Breathe

2 As a kid of about 12 or 13 I had a tape with VS on one side and Vitalogy on the other. Walking back and forth to school was made approximately one million times more enjoyable by that single tape so I have always felt a huge sense of obligation to Vedder, Stone Gossard and the other three. Obligation or not though bad is just bad plain and simple.

Mother Love Phone

Vice Singles Reviews 16.11.09

Ali Love
Diminishing Returns
Back Yard

0 This guy is still alive?

Billy Bunter

Frightened Rabbit
Swim Until You Can't See Land
Fat Cat

2 Could there possibly be a more irritating name for a limp, insipid, jangly indie band that make music that probably came out of a machine set to “incidental music for Zooey Deschanel movie in which mis-matched girl and boy fall in love despite inherent differences”?The only thing that sucks worse than the name is the tunes so it’s loose loose.

Justin Fashanu

Mariachi El Bronx

7 I never really got the big deal with The Bronx. They just sound like beefy, polished hardcore for people whose only exposure to punk was via Grand Theft Auto games to me. That said their new Mariachi incarnation slayed our Vice Presents party last month so what do I know?

Perry Nutkins

Vice Singles Reviews 20.11.09

The Bitters
East General

10 A new 7” from the unstoppable Ben Cook aka Young Governor aka one of the hardest working men in the business of making punk rock songs that are good for your ears. After serving time with No Warning, Violent Minds and Criminally Insane Ben sold his soul to Mike Haliechuck and now plays guitar in Fucked Up. Seeing as Mike and Josh ‘Concenration Camp’ Zucker were already playing guitars in that band Ben must be real good for them to be bothered with a third six string guy. On top of playing sixty bajillion shows that last for twenty hours at a time a year with Fucked Up Ben also finds time to record solo as Young Governer, with the Marvelous Darlings, in a band called the Roomates that I’ve not even heard and with The Bitters who may just be the pick of the bunch. Slacker, sun-kissed, lo-fi, pop-punk anthems all lovingly churned out by Ben and Aerin Fogel. Perfect.

Jelly Bi-Afro

Invasion VS Shackleton
Wizards In Dub
This Is Music

9 If a Shackleton is good enough to warrant a remix by elusive minimal godhead Ricardo Villalobos the a Shackleton remix must be a bit like being refixed by Jesus. Except Invasion would probably be more into crucifying Jesus upside down in a cave on Mars. Either way Shackleton takes apart the bits that make Invasion’s unlikely soul/doom formula great and makes it even better.

Will Bevan

Mayfair Set
Young One
Captured Tracks/Woodsist

8 You know the bit in record reviews where it goes “this sounds like Dum Dum Girls meets Blank Dogs” that you skip to to actually find out what the thing sounds like? Well this actually is the Dum Dum Girls meeting Blank Dogs. There you go.

Anna Bananna

Vice Singles Reviews 26.10.09

Enter Shikari

(1)0 While not quite as far it into the sonic insaniverese as that bastion of total absurdity that was “Zzzonked” (their last nail in the coffin of ‘post-hardcore’ in case you missed it pop pickers) which sounded like Limp Bizkit covering The Vengaboys this one definitely sees the band reach their lyrical zenith. To wit, the first two verses:

I'm gonna paste you up, cover you in wallpaper
Screw shelves into you and call you a wall
Thats all you are to me trying to keep people inside, inside your sordid little house. This is not white abode.

You can have skirtingboard shoes and plug sockets on your knees
I'll hang a painting on your lip
And put tinsel 'round it at Christmas

Billy Bunter

Dim Mak

0 Listening to farty electro-house synths spluttering up and down goves me 2004 flashbacks that make me so glad that sanity won the battle and no one actually listens to this tripe anymore other than people in luminous New Era caps that still thing that Egg is the jump off on a Friday night. Not even Nore can save this abomination.

Teddy Sheringham

J’adore Hardcore

10 This post-modern masterpiece of rabble rousing hedonism is everything that Enter Shikari should dream of being but will never manage. It somehow rips off “Dup Dup” by Mickie Krause, Planet Funk's "Chase the Sun" AND The Pitcher's "I Just Can't Stop” and transform them into a stone cold euro-rave classic. I’m shit you not. Scooter are the sound of genius.

Hans-Peter Goodies

Vice v8n1 Band Piece: Shrinebuilder

Sonic Titans From Beyond

Shrinebuilder Think Supergroup Is A Dirty Word

Supergroup. The word alone is enough to make you shudder. I got a little pukey just typing it out right there. Bouncy castle size egos, nonsensical concepts and consistently awful records are all that has ever come from the meeting of supposedly great musical minds. Velvet Revolver, Audioslave, Zwan, A Perfect Circle, Fantomas. Do we need to hammer this point home any further? Ok, The Travelling Wilburys.

One look at the Shrinebulder lineup though and the rule didn’t seem to matter so much anymore. Between them the four members of this band have served in Sleep, OM, Neurosis, The Melvins, The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan and The Hidden Hand. Oh, and Saint Vitus. In case you are not familiar with these names then you are reading the wrong magazine. Yep, between them Scott “Wino” Weinrich, Al Cisneros, Scott Kelly and Dale Crover have had a hand in a bunch of records that make up a large portion of what most people who like slow, heavy music have listened to over the last quarter of a century.

It was obvious from the outset that this wasn’t exactly going to be Humble Pie but the five tracks that make up Shrinebuilder’s self-titled debut album are so untouchably brilliant that they blew even the expectations of those with sky high hopes to eensy weensy teeny weeny smithereens. It’s basically a masterpiece. Put this magazine down and go and buy it now.

Seeing as all four of the guys in Shrinebuilder play in lots of other bands and live in different cities it was always going to be a chore getting them all together for an interview but we were lucky enough to get Scott Kelly on a the phone for a few minutes so we were happier than pigs in shit anyway. Turns out Scott is a man of few words but they are all good ones so heed them.

Vice: Hello Scott, so how did what basically amounts to every teenage stoner rock fans wank fantasy doom band come together?
Scott Kelly (guitars): Well, originally it was something that Al and Wino had talked about. I think they had actually been talking about it for a long time and I’ve known Al for years so he just asked me if I wanted to play guitar on the record. It wasn’t like I was going to say no to being in a band with Wino.

What’s it like waking up and thinking: “Holy crap, I’m in a band with Wino!” ?
Well, we’d kind of moved in similar circles for a long time but we’d never actually met so it was strange to finally meet him but it was great making the record if that is what you mean. We did it very fast in very few takes and there was a real energy in the room that you can hear on the record. It was something I’ve never quite experienced before and I’ve made quite a few records.

How do you feel about people describing Shrinebuilder as a supergroup?
We don’t use that word.

Circle Jams

Shinebuilder’s self-titled debut album is available on Neurot Recordings right now.

Vice v8n1 Record Reviews

Olafur Arnalds
Dyad 1909
Erased Tapes

9 Olafur Arnalds is in fact an Icelandic composer prone to an output that borders on the R. Stevie Moore side of prolific. If Arnalds’ stuff wasn’t so bonkers-ly eclectic and consistently brilliant the rate at which it turns up would be plain annoying but this Sergei Diaghilev-inspired seven song score for award wining British choreographer Wayne McGregor is as good as anything else I’ve heard this month. Or this year for that matter.

Perry Nutkins

The Bastard Noise
Thumbprint Press

9 Eric Wood’s dogged sonic crusade continues. This CD documents a Bastard Noise live excursion recorded at Atmosphere in Osaka during their Japanese tour, which saw dates with fellow angrier-than-thou noisemongers Corrupted and Unholy Grave. The show consists of a single unrelenting and profoundly disturbing wave of wailing, clunking and screeching that lasts for almost 40 minutes. It is guaranteed to have your girlfriend questioning how anyone could ever call this stuff music and it is titled “Overtures For A Planet Destroyed”.

Pissed Happy Child


8 Have you noticed how Liars records always need a hook? There was the first one where everyone was like “hey look! Karen O’s boyfriend made a record! Even the guys she fucks are creative!”. Then there was the witches one and the last one was self-titled so that had the automatic “this record is just us trying to be us” thing going on. Apparently Sisterworld has something to do with the band moving to LA and becoming obsessed with how people define themselves as individuals in such a morosely homogenised city. Maybe everyone should just forget about punchy one-line summaries and focus on the fact that everything these guys touch turns to gold.

Whippy Milk-Shake

Saxon Shore
It Doesn’t Matter
Broken Factory

8 In a just world Saxon Shore would be as big as former drummer J. Tillman’s other band. That’s Fleet Foxes btw. Or at least as popular as Explosions In The Sky who they make look rank amateurs at the whole really-quiet-then-really-loud game. Maybe they should send their albums to Sir David. Twining epic post-rock with polar bears lounging on melting icebergs worked for Sigur Ros right?

Raymond White

Mordant Music
Mordant Music

8 While the broadsheets, monthly glossies and guitar-centric blogs continue to salivate over post-dubstep (what does that even mean?) it might be a good time to point out that that whole sound has already been handily pre-packaged and co-opted into a new line of Fabric mix CD’s for easy mass consumption. If you want something genuinely strange and exciting that retains the ghost of a two-step beat then you could do worse than throw your lot in with Baron Mordant and his truly of-kilter productions.

Marcus Thatcher

Bass Clef
May The Bridges I Burn Light The Way
Blank Tapes

8 After a barren period for bass music long players (the Silkie and 2562 albums aside) we get sent two odd-ball gems in one month. Along with the Mordant mini masterpiece reviewed elsewhere you might as well pick this one up as well to help restore your faith in UK bass and beats. You’re hardly likely to get Theremin’s, cowbells or the Hackney Memorial Free Jazz Marching Band playing brass on the latest Rusko 12” are you?

Custard Cream Chucker

20-Buck Spin
9 This is technically a reissue but unless you were one of the 200 people who managed to get a copy of the Wild Power vinyl pressing this CD will be your first chance to get a hold of these seven tracks of Pentagram and St Vitus worship so we’ll treat it as a new release. Hope that’s OK? Instead of getting all hot and flustered about Bass Brian from Lightning Bolt playing drums on this album just try putting the record on, staring at whatever that winged and horned thing is on the sleeve and enjoy some true metal.

Ball Scraper

Pyramids With Nadja
Pyramids With Nadja
Hydra Head Records

5 What do you do once you’ve shoegazed yourself into a corner and your post-metal is making even yourself yawn? Buddy up with another band that are having the same problem and hope for the best! The results sadly do not demonstrate this course of action as wholly sound.

James Plot-King

Opiate Sun
Caldo Verde

8 Jesu consistently continues to be the best thing that Broadrick’s touched. Warped, shimmering patina’s of crackling noise and lurching stabs of volume that catch you off guard all topped with a vocal that sounds like it’s being phoned in by Orpheus as he descends.

God’s Flesh

Spin Spin The Dogs
Leave Me In Leicester
Gringo Records

8 British guitar music’s best kept worst secret. A bit like witnessing human birth, a Spin Spin The Dogs live performance is simultaneously disturbing and engrossing. The band somehow manages to make a virtue of sounding like four people playing four very different songs. No mean feat. With the arrival of mythic London avant-garde musician Luke Younger on guitar to complement Dean Hinks’ Seinfeld inspired bass lines, John Wilson’s staccato drums and unhinged front man Vincent Larkin’s bizarre ramblings only a fool would bet against their imminent world domination.

Gypsy Billy

The Soft Pack
The Soft Pack

8 We interviewed these guys in the magazine way back when they used to be called The Muslims. That name proved a little bit of a hot topic so now they’re named after a brand of dildo instead. I scratched my noggin for a good few minutes trying to rustle up a funny dildo analogy or metaphor but came up blank. Sorry about that. Who needs dildo gags when your record sounds like the prefect puzzle of Jonathan Richman fronting the Velvets with nagging Replacements hooks smattered all over the place for good measure though huh?

Sterling Moss

…And Then We Saw Land
Full Time Hobby

4 There’s something far too optimistic and smug about folktronica. Maybe it’s something to do with fusing bucolic and traditional music with forward thinking electronic instrumentation but it’s always seemed like the aural equivalent of owning a Prius to me.

Jam 69

Frightened Rabbit
The Winter Of Mixed Drinks
Fat Cat

3 Someone is forever playing this band on the office stereo then not owning up to it. I guess that says it all. Indulgent, schmaltz stuffed indie that you should be ashamed to own up to liking in public.

Kelis Alimony

Built To Spill
There Is No Enemy
ATP Records

8 If you can’t figure out what the hell Dan Bejar is singing about on the last Destroyer record, you find the guy from Modest Mouse’s vocal like nails down a chalk board and you want to sock the guy from the Mountain Goats for making ever album he puts out like a Catholic act of confession then don’t worry: you are not alone. Just listen to Built To Spill. The faultless indie-rock band that make a Pavement reunion seem utterly pointless.

Peter Shilton

Vice v8n1 Literary Reviews

Edired bu Johan Kugelberg

Sure there have probably been lots of books published about The Velvet Underground. Possibly hundreds. Maybe even thousands. Wait a second, let me look on Amazon. There you go, 2,869 results. That’s a lot of books about one band from New York right there but if there was ever an act worthy of getting eulogized betwixt a pair of heavy duty covers on glossy paper to highlight just how mind-boggalingly good they were then the Velvets get our vote. And, if you are going to buy just one book about the band it might as well be a huge, chunky one with an exhaustive amount of unpublished interviews, images and ephemera that you can leave in your loo and then time how long people spend in there oohing and ahing over it.

Jake Saltiel
Self Published

Jake Saltiel lived for much of the 80’s in squats around Ladbroke Grove with various anarchists, criminals and drug addicts before winding up in Hong Kong and India where he found many other individuals of a similar bent. The body of the book is made up of a mix of snatches of prose and dialogue plonked next to italicized musings. It’s a bit like that guy in the wheelchair in Oz who breaks the fourth wall and addresses the audience occasionally with lyrical bits of philosophy that offer a bit a meta-narrative. Don’t worry though, there’s still plenty of talk of Molotov cocktails and railing against the system, Old Bill and whatever else is at hand at any given time to make it worth a read.

Johnny Ryan

Johnny Ryan is our favourite person who makes comics in the whole wide world. That should be abundantly obvious purely by dint of the fact that we get him to draw a page at the back of the magazine each and every month. I am not going to lie, when we are putting the mag together every month it is Johnny’s page that I take a look at before anything else just so that I can giggle uncontrollably like a three year old for five minutes straight. Our blind faith in everything he touches turning to gold aside you really should go and pick up Prison Pit. You may remember Nick Gazin talking to Johnny about the book in the Moments Like This Never Last issue a couple of months back and Nick knows more about funny books than most people so heed him when he tells you that it’s the best thing Johnny has ever put his name to. It’s a violent, brutal and often truly disgusting black and white romp around what looks like the face of a moon inhabited by barbarian, wrestling aliens with regenerating heads and worms with cunts for faces. Sold? You should be.


Distort is a punk and hardcore ‘zine that comes out of Australia. We actually got sent issues 22 and 23 as well AS ISSUE 24 in a bundle and they were all totally great but #24 is basically a scrap book issue with a tonne of great cuttings from punk pillar to post. It is all photocopied and stuck on the page just like ‘zines are actually meant to be and ends up being like a proper paper version of that Fucked Up & Photocopied book that everyone went bananas for last year. You get fliers, interviews, reviews, photos and letters from the early 80’s through to right now, from Rocky Erikson & The Aliens to Cold Sweat. Distort is one of, if not the, best paper punk ‘zines that has come through our letter box in an age and issue 25 comes with an Extortion 7” in case you needed any more of an incentive to subscribe.

Edited by Jacques Boyreau

While coffee table books eulogizing the lost art of the 12” sleeve as a palette for creativity and oddity are a dime a dozen this may be the first book to pull together sleeves from the arguably odder world of home videos. Fantagraphics have really gone to town ferreting out films you are almost guaranteed never to have seen or heard of including Tentacle (a pre-cursor to Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus), The Toolbox Murders (“bit by bit he carved a nightmare!”) and Stunt Rock (concerning a stunt man who plays guitar in a rock band). As well as scanning in the back of the sleeves as well as the front so you get the blurbs which are often stranger than the covers (“Home safety can be fun with Gary Coleman!”) the whole thing is packaged in a slip-case VHS sized sleeve. It’s a shame Christmas has already been and gone as this would make a bullet-proof gift for anyone with taste.

Vice v7n12 Interview: Iain Banks

Another interview with a big hero of mine for the Vice annual Fiction Issue. Again a longer edit than the version that saw print.


But Iain Banks Still Likes a Drink a Can’t Stand Wars

Even if you’ve never read an Iain Banks novel and think you’ve never heard of the guy, you are familiar with him. You just don’t know that you are. He’s part of the fabric, part of the framework, part of the furniture. Although the belligerent Scot would never like to be considered in that ballpark, his place in the late 20th century order of things was established by his early work, such as The Wasp Factory and Consider Phlebas, his novel’s iconic design and the rate at which they appeared.

His ability to simultaneously forge a career as a successful and roundly applauded writer of both science fiction and books that didn’t have robots and spaceships in them remains unique amongst modern bookmen. His latest novel, Transition, is the first to marry his two disciplines between a single pair of covers and if you haven’t read Raw Spirit, his wild eulogy to his native Scotland’s whiskey industry, then you should stop reading this and go read that instead.

Vice: Let’s start with your latest novel. Transition has no “M” on its cover and despite a distinct lack of Culture, it contains elements that pitch it in “M” territory. Is the “M” gone forever to make way for a synergy of your science fiction and straight fiction work?
Iain Banks:
Nope, the “M” will be back next year, plastered firmly onto the cover of the new Culture novel. Probably. That is, it will be unless I, or my publishers, suddenly decide it really needs to be dropped. Having, with Transition, published what could certainly be seen as a science fiction novel with no “M”, it'd be even easier now to make that leap. I'm pretty sanguine about it; wouldn't bother me either way. As to Transition representing the future, again, no. As I say, it's back to the Culture, improbably spacious spaceships, sarcastic drones and exotic weaponry for the next project. I start writing the blighter in January. No title yet, but the plot is coming along very promisingly. Should be a cracker.

Much like the Culture of your "M" novels, Transition offers the reader a society that seems fairly utopian in the form of the Concern. What is it with the C's and seemingly idyllic societies with complex and often malevolent controlling elements?
No idea. Certainly, the thing with the C's is just coincidence. Anyway, I think there are more differences than similarities between the Culture and the Concern. The Culture is what you might call self-consciously utopian. Utopia is what it's aiming for—what it's continually attempting to exemplify within itself and to promote beyond its borders. It's profoundly and continually democratic and transparent, plus it's run, day-to-day, by the Minds, by ultra high-level AIs with very definite opinions about how a post-scarcity society ought to be run, basically so that those doing the running at all times smell impeccably of roses. The Concern is basically just another managerialist, semi-imperialist, top-down power system run by humans with all the usual human motivations and failings. It espouses liberal, progressive policies, but the reality is more about those in power using that power to keep that power. It just happens to have unparalleled access to other realities, and it has a secret agenda regarding alien intervention, or even contact.

Transition could be read as an attack on US foreign policy. It inverts our reality pitching the Christians as terrorists in an Asian-controlled world. It also dwells on torture, which could easily reflect Guantanamo.
Well, it wasn't meant to be, but I keep getting asked that question so maybe I'm going to have to start saying yes, it was. Let's just say I wasn't especially thinking of US foreign policy when I wrote it. The torture aspect is something I've been thinking about for a long time and finally decided I've got right, so for what it's worth, here's what I think: torture is always wrong, should always be banned and should never, ever be practised or tolerated—even at second hand, as it were by the state. If there is ever genuinely a situation where torturing somebody will directly save lives, and that happens extremely rarely, then the person who might be contemplating doing the torturing should know that they will subsequently be prosecuted and punished for it, even if they get a medal as well. That should concentrate the fuckers' minds. What it boils down to is that a society that condones torture to protect itself doesn't deserve to be protected in the first place.

You have dealt with the concepts of war and its religious justification in Look To Windward, which you also dedicated to Gulf War veterans. Complicity offered shadows of the Gulf conflict. 9/11 is dealt with in Dead Air and The Steep Approach To Garbadale could be read as commenting on the war on terror. Would it be safe to say that you feel pretty strongly about war on terror and the West's attitudes and approach towards it?
Yes, war exerts a certain grisly glamour, and the ways that societies justify wars to themselves fascinates me. Basically, though, I'm against them. If you're a person, don't start fights. If you're a state or a society, don't start wars. You have a right to defend yourself, but that's all. Probably most people would agree with both these statements, but then, in the real world, it gets more complicated. Anyway, for what it's worth I think that the war on terror is about as sensible—and about as winnable—as the war on drugs. Again, I wouldn't want to pile too much this-is-what-I-think responsibility onto Transition's shoulders, but I guess taken with the rest of the books you mention, plus the Culture novels in general, it marks out the fuzzy, arguably woolly, boundaries of my thoughts on the subject.

Within the sci-fi novels, the sceptre of war and the role of the state in leading society to war looms equally large. Despite being set in the utopian-ish world of the Culture, Consider Phlebas takes place in a time of war between the Culture and the Idrian Empire, and the inhabitants of the Culture are often controlled and manipulated. I’m thinking here of Guregh in The Player of Games or Zakalwe manipulating others in Use of Weapons. Special Circumstances have a creepy CIA air to them.
I think you'll find Special Circumstances would find it hard to suppress a snort of derision were the CIA and its activities to be dragged to their attention, but I know what you mean. I think it's made opaquely clear in Phlebas that the Culture agonises for decades over what to do about the Idirans and their programme of conquerance and occupation before finally going to war to stop them and even then, of course, the Peace Faction—forming a significant minority of the Culture—splits off, and nearly a millennium later still thinks of itself as the real Culture, as opposed to these tooled-up interferers everybody else in the galaxy calls the Culture. As for Gurgeh, well he does kind of put himself in harm's way when he messes with Contact and Special Circumstances and when he cheats during the course of a game. The thing is, he's in an extremely unusual situation, and I'd disagree with the notion that Culture citizens are often controlled and manipulated by the Minds. In fact, they almost never are except in the sort of vanishingly rare circumstances that attend Gurgeh and his predicament. Frankly, the average Mind would consider trying to manipulate an individual—Culture citizen or not—way beneath it, and I mean several very deep layers beneath it, deeply dishonourable! Seriously, it would be seen as potentially shamefully demeaning and utterly catastrophic for the only thing a Mind really values, which is its own good name and reputation. If, perish the thought, the individual involved ever found out, or—much, much worse—if any other Minds found out... one shivers to think. So, no, the Culture isn't meant to say too much about our own affairs except, perhaps, to point out how a genuinely benign power would conduct itself. In my opinion, anyway. Your mileage may differ...

You have a reputation for structural complexity, whether it is the unreliable narrators or multiple narrators of The Bridge or Walking On Glass, the parallel worlds that Transitionaries can move between in Transition or the alternate, simultaneously ascending and descending chapters in Use of Weapons. When you come to approach a new novel, is formal innovation and complexity a concern or does the narrative naturally dictate such courses of action?
It has to come from the narrative. Actually, in the case of Use of Weapons, it came from Ken MacLeod; he suggested the ascending/descending chapters idea and in doing so effectively rescued a manuscript I was going to treat as a lost cause and just forget about. Doing that sort of stuff for its own sake means you're just being self-indulgent, or trying to show off. It might look cool to some people but you'll lose more readers than you'll impress.

Alcohol and drugs recur frequently in your novels, from the Culture's drug glands to the lifestyle of Prentice McHoan in The Crow Road and Cameron Colley in Complicity. Transition’s Tarnsitionaries move between alternate dimensions via the injection of Septus and you detailed the world of whiskey in Raw Spirit. As an admitted indulger, did their presence in your work reflect their presence in your life? And now that you don’t indulge, will they disappear?
No, I still drink; I have a reputation as a champagne socialist to maintain, after all. Drugs seem to have lost their appeal. Could be just an age thing, though I still believe our drug laws are stupid, wrong-headed, irrational and almost certainly create net harm. I have tried writing while high, stoned, drunk, whatever, but it doesn't work. You might think it has worked at the time, but when you re-read sober, it's generally just embarrassing drivel. I suspect I'd still do coke now and again but a) my girlfriend is very anti-drugs and b) it's hard to justify, given the amount of violence associated with the manufacture and distribution of the stuff. By indulging you're sending money to some deeply unpleasant people. I miss it a little, but only a little. I guess having taken a few drugs over the years has had the effect of making me confident about writing about them, but I wouldn't want to overstate their importance in either my life or my work.

Your work rate is very high. In these uncertain financial times, do you think that more writers will have to take a more workmanlike approach to the craft of writing novels? You are releasing an abridged audio-book version of Transition on iTunes. Do you think that similar methods will become standard operating procedure?
Hmm. That might be an effect. Equally possibly, people—writers and readers—might turn to wild fantasy to escape the grimness of reality. I wouldn't claim to be an authority on the state of the novel, but it still looks pretty healthy to me and I think the idea it will somehow cease to be is just silly. Theatre didn't disappear when cinema came along and paintings didn't stop being painted because somebody invented the camera. The iTunes version of Transition is an interesting experiment, but not really that different from a standard CD audio book. I guess if it's judged to make money—either directly or by selling more copies of the CD audio or paper versions—then it will become standard procedure. The Sony eReader and the Kindle represent a more radical change; how those affect book buying will likely be profound.

What were the kind of things that set you on your way to creating the Sacrifice Poles in the early-80s?
Lots of influences—many of them literary, including a lot of science fiction novels and short stories, many not—Marx Brothers movies, The Goon Show, Monty Python and various films and TV, as you'd expect. My parents were always very loving and supportive and my extended family—especially on my dad's side—meant a lot. Plus I was lucky to have some very good English teachers—they made a difference too. The Sacrifice Poles? Frankly, I can't remember where they came from.

Vice v7n12 Interview: Alan Moore

An interview with one of my heroes for the annual Vice Fiction Issue. This is a longer edit than the one that made the magazine.


Alan Moore’s Fictions Show Us What Could Have Been (And Still Might Be)

Alan Moore should need no introduction. But on the miniscule off chance that you don’t know who he is, it is fairly simple. Moore is the one guy that just about anyone who has ever read a comic agrees to be the best writer in the fictional form’s entire history. Period. He was the person who near enough single-handedly made it OK for grown-ups to admit that they liked funny books and legitimised the concept of comics being works of fiction that should be taken just as seriously as books that didn’t have pictures in them to go with all the words.

A proud son of Northampton who still lives near the area he grew up, Moore cut his teeth in the early 1980s at 2000AD, the leading British comic factory of science fiction and fantasy. His Judge Dredd strips re-imagined the character with hitherto unexplored complexities. His own creation, Halo Jones, was the first title in the medium not to portray a female character as a big-boobed super lady or a victim. They remain peerless within 2000AD’s output and British comics in general.

By the mid-1980s, he had revolutionised American comics first by jump-starting stagnant DC title Swamp Thing and turning it in to a book of existential examination with ecological concerns and then by creating something called Watchmen. Let’s assume you know all about that.

Several legal tussles over ownership and rights to his creations later, and Moore’s comic output narrowed to work on his own line, only half-jokingly entitled America’s Best Comics. Of the glut of genius that sprang from ABC, The League of Extraordinary Gentleman seems to have captured Moore’s imagination and it has become a mammoth, sprawling beast of a book that happily mixes fictional and imagined history with versions of our own reality.

On top of all that, Moore has managed to find time to produce a formally complex novel, Voice of Fire (1996) and a long form poem that deals with girls who like girls and guys who like guys called The Mirror of Love (2003). He also published 25,000 Years of Erotic Freedom, which examined pretty much what the title suggests, and Lost Girls (2006), which he created with Melinda Gebbie and involves Wendy from Peter Pan, Alice from Alice In Wonderland and Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz having lots of fairly explicit adventures. It’s a real hoot.

Moore is currently working on Dodgem Logic, an underground magazine, his second novel, Jerusalem, and a guide to magic. Because he is a practising magician. Who also worships a Roman snake deity called Glycon. We called him at his home in Northampton and, after assuring us that he had a cup of tea and “as many more cups on the way as it takes”, it soon became apparent that as well as being a genius of the written word, Mr Moore is also really in to talking. A lot.

Vice: Hello Alan, so Dodgem Logic is your new thing. Why don’t you tell us about that.
Alan Moore: Dodgem Logic is an aggressively random collision of all sorts of things from absurdist pieces of fiction by Steve Aylett to new bits of work by Savage Pencil and Kevin O’Neill. Aesthetically and in terms of form it came from a fascination with the underground press, which is a culture that dates back to before the printed press itself but came to popular fruition in the 1960s and 1970s when it was a vital part of the counterculture. In the UK, the main papers were The International Times and Oz – which started out as a satire magazine in Australia and then moved here, where it became a much more controversial and psychedelic affair. Those were intoxicating times and it was the underground press which acted as the glue keeping that whole element of society together and in touch with each other. Without that glue you would have just had a few people who wore similar clothes, liked similar music and took similar drugs. You would have had no coherent political or cultural discourse. We decided to make Dodgem Logic a very brightly coloured, 48-page magazine that is trying to reinvent the notion of underground publishing for the 21st century. We were constantly trying to leave it with some rough edges, we didn’t want it to be slick because there can be something intimidating about slick. It can put up a barrier between the magazine and its audience so we’ve gone for a deliberately rough look.

It is fairly cut and paste in places, which makes it seem like a hybrid between an underground paper and a zine.
I take that as a compliment. Fanzines used to be such a vital part of the culture that I grew up in from the poetry fanzines of the 1960s to the comic book, science fiction and fantasy fanzines in the 1970s that produced so much of the talent that now dominates the comic and science fiction genres. They were incredibly productive little publications and they contained such a lot of energy. Perhaps that came from how easy they were to produce. They were nowhere as easy as they would be to make these days, but now that all of the technology is there to make something far more ambitious than we ever dreamed possible the impetus is no longer there. Perhaps the degree of passion that was put in to something like Sniffin’ Glue or any of those zines associated with the punk movement does in fact exist now, but online. I don’t know. I may sound old-fashioned, but I still believe that there will always be a difference between something that you can look at on a screen and something that you can hold in your hand. There is more of a sense of an artefact that is part of a community and part of a culture.

A general dissatisfaction with government and the inexorable decline of civilization, as well as a concern with the erosion of local community and culture, is a recurring theme in your work, from Swamp Thing to Watchmen. Dodgem Logic seems a more direct means of addressing those issues, as opposed to the more oblique method of tackling them via comics.
To tell the truth, I am pretty much out of comics. I am pressing on with The League and I am drawing some strips for Dodgem Logic, but I am detached from the comics industry and I no longer consider myself a part of it. These issues could be addressed in comic form. However, while doing that might delight my comic book audience, it wouldn’t be addressing the wider world, which is where these issues need to be. I should initially point out that Dodgem Logic isn’t a magazine specifically about Northampton. That just happens to be where myself and some of the contributors are from. However, we look at it from the point of view that Northampton is in the exact centre of the country geographically, economically and politically. It is a fairly good model representation of an every-town. The high streets are being boarded up, the people are being abused by the council and there is garbage everywhere.

What prompted you to address these issue so directly now?
There were the social concerns of the general decline of society, but those issues constantly loom large. It was really more specific events that prompted us to start the magazine. A couple of years ago I was contacted by a group of ex-young offenders who hade been working on their music down in the Burrows area of Northampton. That is where I was born, where I grew up and where most of my forthcoming novel is set. They had decided that they wanted to do a film about this deprived and neglected area where they were living. Since they knew that I came from the area, they asked me if maybe I’d like to be interviewed for the film. They were working with the Central Museum in Northampton who got in touch with me and I went down there, met them and we got on very well. I wanted to stay in touch with them beyond the duration of that initial project, so I went down every week to the offices of a local community support organisation called CASPA that was doing brilliant work in the area. I met up with the boys and their wrangler, who was a wonderful young woman called Lucy, and I’d inevitably tell them about the local scene and the underground culture and arts clubs that were around when I was growing up and had done so much to shape me in to the person that I am today. I would also tell them about how we’d produce magazines and fanzines and hold poetry readings and things like that and I’m sure it was very boring for them hearing all these stories, but the ideas seemed to stick. They decided to produce a magazine of their own, which I contributed to. Both myself and the boys wanted to talk about some of the genuine problems that afflicted that area and how it was a shame that we probably couldn’t talk about them in the magazine because it was council-funded. We discussed the possibility of doing an independent magazine and decided to give it a go. The issues seemed so important to the people of that area that we couldn’t keep them from the local community. I wrote an article that was called The Destructors. It was about an old incinerator that was in the Burrows area. It was where, in days gone by, the entire city would bring its rubbish and crap to be disposed of. Now that gave a pretty clear message as to what the council thought of people who lived in that area, and while the incinerator was torn down in the 1930s, that message remains applicable to the area. It is where the council sends things that it doesn’t want to have deal with: immigrant groups, ex-convicts and people who have been in care homes. All the problematic people are shoved down into this neighbourhood, often in accommodation that has been condemned by the fire services and where horrific things happen every day. We were unsurprisingly told that we could not publish the article as it was critical of the council, so Lucy and I worked it out that she could drop down to three days a week at CASPA and spend the other two days working on an independent magazine with me. The council swiftly told her that if she was going to spend two days a week working on an independent magazine then she wouldn’t have her job at the council on the other three days, at which point I decided that I’d had enough and I invited Lucy to work on the magazine full-time. The issues we are talking about are important and the magazine offers a place where these things can be discussed. We’re not bound by any constraint and we can say whatever we want. However, we don’t just want to depress the hell out of people, so we have tried to get as much stuff in there as we can that is genuinely entertaining as well as the social and political. These are both strategies of getting people through difficult times – give them the information that they need, but also give them something to cheer them up. I hadn’t done much more than pass through that area for many years. Meeting the good people that lived there in this rotten situation actually made me decide that I wanted to do something focused on that area and areas that are like it all over the country. The Burrows is in the top two percent of depravation in the United Kingdom and there are areas like it all over the country but they are swept under the carpet. I also felt an emotional attachment to the area, which I’ve always had, and I saw an opportunity to produce something beautiful and useful out of that environment while at the same time creating a model for other areas like it.

You have advocated anarchy both in your work and personally in the past. Would that be your answer to the social problems discussed in Dodgem Logic?
Well, in the second issue I will actually be writing an article introducing anarchy and explaining how it could practically be applied to our current situation. So yes. One of the things that I will be looking at is the principle of the Athenian lottery and the concept of sortition. Sortition basically dictates that on any issue that needs to be settled on a national or administrative level you appoint a jury by lottery. They can come from anywhere within the culture and they are appointed purely at random. The pros and cons of the case are then presented to the jury, which they then listen to, debate, then vote on. After the decision, they are no longer part of the jury, they melt back into society and for the next issue another jury is appointed. That system seems to me like it might be approaching something like democracy, which is something that we do not have at the moment. The word democracy comes from “demos”, the people, and “cratos”, to rule – “the people rule”. It doesn’t say anything about the elected representatives of the people ruling, which is the system that we have at the moment. By moving to something closer to sortition, we would create a system safe from many of the abuses of our current model of government. It is quite difficult to buy people’s favour if you don’t know who the people you need to be buttering up are going to be. It would also be difficult for the temporary ruling body to act in their own interest, as it would make more sense for them to act in the interest of the society that they would be returning to. It would also square the circle between the ideas of anarchy and government. My definition of anarchy is the Greek one: no leaders. It is difficult to think of an ordered society that conforms to that ideal and yet with the Athenian lottery you wouldn’t have leaders, you would have individual people making balanced decisions. It would take an enormous amount of constitutional change, but I like putting the idea out there so that it is a possibility and something to be discussed. Our current form of government clearly isn’t working and we can’t just keep trying to make quick fixes on a model that is inherently flawed. It might be the time for a new model rather than putting continual patches on the radiator of the old Model T Ford that has come to the end of its natural lifetime.

Dodgem Logic deals with the your local environment very directly. Your forthcoming novel is also set in the area, as was your first. Will you be tackling these themes through your long form fiction?
To a certain degree; both methods complement each other. Dodgem Logic and Jerusalem essentially deal with the same neighbourhood and territory, albeit in wildly different ways. Reading an issue of Dodgem Logic will be a very different experience to reading a chapter or two of Jerusalem. Dodgem Logic is me trying to do something intelligent yet accessible. Jerusalem – I don’t care if anyone likes it or not. I am just trying to do the best possible piece of writing that I can. Jerusalem is between myself and the world. If nobody reads it that is a problem for me, whereas Dodgem Logic is important in a different way. It is important in terms of the issue that it raises about the area and those are issues I want people to hear about. They are both attempts to reinvigorate and reinvent that neighbourhood in different contexts. Dodgem Logic is attempting to literally and practically re-invigorate the area and give something back to its people. Jerusalem is more akin to what Iain Sinclair achieved with his wonderful book Hackney, That Rose- Red Empire. He captured the rich snow globe of Hackney that was vanishing under his feet. He managed to get all of the broad characters and lost eras captured in that book before they are flattened and steam-rolled over to make way for the Olympic Village. With fiction, you have a means – and perhaps the only true means – to either resurrect or preserve the places that are going to disappear if not today then tomorrow.

The concept of preserving the past through fiction is one that you embrace in The League of Extraordinary Gentleman to a pretty huge degree. Every cell is crammed with tonnes of cultural references.
With The League…, which I can tell you that I have just finished writing book three of today, we are attempting to create, through fiction, a cultural Noah’s Ark, within which all of the great writers and the great fictions that Kevin and myself feel are worthy of preserving can be kept alive through The League… for a little bit longer before they sink in the depths of ignorance.

The League… also exists in a strange space between fiction and reality and carves a very convincing fictional reality. Was that intentional from the outset?
Absolutely. We have a very well-defined reality and it is something that gets stronger as the story goes on. It has probably got to be, by definition, the single biggest continuity in literature of all time because it has all of the characters individual continuities subsumed within it. That world is interesting in the way that we are trying to fit in all of the fictional inspirations from certain eras into our final continuity so you have a world where the Nazis did invade and Fu Manchu was real, but at the same time it mirrors our own world and our own world’s development. It may be a distorted glass but it helps order our perception of our own world. It is like a dream glass. Our reality wasn’t like that of The League’s, but it might have been what we were dreaming of in our fictions and in ourselves. It allows us to see what might have been and what we might have aspired to. It is the other half of the story. There is actual history, as in what actually happened, but that in itself is a kind of fiction. Then there is the kind of history presented in our art, books and literature. Which, in a peculiar and psychological sense, is truer and more dependable than supposedly factual, conventional history, which might not in fact be true in any sense at all. Throughout The League… we have established a sense that fiction is in fact the bedrock that mankind is standing upon and that our real world is ultimately based upon fiction.

How do you continue to shove so many literary and cultural references into The League…?
They are my interests, Kevin’s interests and a result of the research that we did when we hit upon the concept. Then we started to think seriously about what would happen if this was a story in which everything in the fictional world could be included. This meant that it would need its own geography, which we dealt with in the appendix to the second volume. It would also need its own history, which was dealt with in The Black Dossier. For example, we didn’t have an Adolf Hitler in our fictional reality, we had an Adenoid Hynkel from Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator. It’s nice to be able to tie up a few of these things and have them based upon self-contained real events. In our reality, the M figure, who is the leader of MI5, turns out to be Harry Lime from The Third Man, which was written by Graham Greene, who based that character upon his life-long friend and a real spy who defected to the Soviets Union called Kim Philby. The Harry Lime character we decided to in fact just make a pseudonym for Robert Sherry, who was one of the characters who attended Greyfriars school in the Billy Bunter books. We then decided to make George Orwell’s big brother into Harry Wharton, who was the leader of the gang at Greyfriars. We also turned Greyfriars into a British public school that was recruiting for the spy service, which in turn fades nicely into real history. What clinched it was discovering that there had been a brief spat between Frank Richards, who had written the Billy Bunter stories, and George Orwell, who had written an essay about how the Bunter books represented everything that was bad about the British Empire. Frank Richards disastrously attempted to write a riposte to Orwell, where he replied to the accusations that he portrayed foreigners as being in some way comical simply by saying: “They are.” That link between reality, fiction and the fiction being discussed in reality makes the uses all the more piquant. There are many links like that within The League… that Jess Nevins, The League’s annotator, will unravel. The subtexts are just interesting little avenues the reader might want to investigate and help enrich the world that The League… takes place in.

The League… and V For Vendetta both portray fascist dystopias. In light of the rise of the BNP and the English Defence League, as well as Nick Griffin’s appearance on Question Time, do you fear that the fictional futures you have created may come to pass in your lifetime?
No. I could of course be completely wrong and I do think that fascism is still set to cause us a lot of trouble, but I genuinely think that it comes from a place of such ignorance that it cannot adequately cope with the realities of the 21st century. It is too simple a concept and lacks the complexity necessary to deal with the fairly chaotic daily realities of our current situation. It is only really effective on a thuggish street level, which can cause trouble for marginalised minority groups. That is a terrible reality for a lot of people but as a political force they cannot be taken seriously. I agree with Reginald D. Hunter who says, “You have to let the fascists talk.” Allowing them to speak in public will do them no good at all, as their voice is so shrill, unpleasant and off-putting that I don’t think it will in any way aid their electoral prospects. If you attempt to silence them you allow them to claim oppression by the liberal elite. Have you seen what Nick Griffin looks like? Now, I know that our politicians are no oil paintings, but even in that environment the BNP are particularly repulsive. Most parties put at least some thought into their presentation and allow some consideration of who will be their focal point. The BNP clearly do not have that luxury; they have to take whatever they can get. As to Griffin being on Question Time, I have never watched it so it will hardly bother me. Aside from that time that Brian Eno was on. That was rather good

What can we expect from Jerusalem? Will it pick up the themes dealt with in Voice of Fire?
Jerusalem will certainly have elements in common with Voice of Fire and there will still be elements of formal experimentation, but it will not be quite the same structurally. Jerusalem will be divided into three books. It will hopefully come in one volume with three parts. The first part will be reminiscent of Voices of Fire in that it will jump about from character to character in different times in the third-person past tense. There will not be an individual from each age in order, it will be jumping about from differing perspectives and from time to time. The second book involves a continuous linear narrative from chapter to chapter, but does peculiar things with language and perspective and it’s certainly where some of the more fantastic elements of the novel take place. It is rather akin to a mad children’s story due to the majority of the protagonists either being children or the ghosts of dead children. The third part, which I’m currently trying to finish and is about nine chapters from completion, is the most experimental and demented piece of writing I have ever done. Thus far it is all in the present tense and each chapter is written in a wildly different style. The chapter that I have just finished is entitled “Round the Bend” and it deals with the St. Andrews hospital, which is a marvellous place where my wife and I had our wedding. Its patients include Spike Milligan, Dusty Springfield, Patrick Stewart, Sir Malcolm Arnold the composer, JK. Stephen, the ripper suspect, and Lucia Joyce, who spent 35 years there as a mental patient. The chapter I have just finished involves Lucia Joyce wandering around the grounds of the hospital while she is also wandering in her mind where she is meeting other patients from other times who she could not possibly physically meet. It is a hallucinatory tour around the hospital grounds and around Lucia’s mind and it is all written in what I am sure is a lousy attempt at her father’s language, which takes you through this hallucinatory angelic state that Lucia is in. William Blake is another figure that is of course hanging over Jerusalem, even though he doesn’t directly appear in it, as well as John Bunyan, who does. They both helped inspire the visionary aspects of the novel. Part two involves a working-class paradise with working-class angels who play billiards with human souls, which is an idea I am keen on, but the chapter with Lucia Joyce took me forever to write, which is why I needed a break after chapter 26.

Is your book of Magic still in the works?
It certainly is. Once I’ve finished the final book of The League… and Jerusalem it will be time to tackle that.

What is it about magic that you find so interesting?
Magic to me is a new perspective with which to look at the world, your life and reality, as well as a new approach to your relationship with your own consciousness. It is a much more interactive approach to consciousness that offers far greater possibilities. I was initially very sceptical about magic due to the enormous number of idiots associated with it. However when I came across people like Dr. John Dee I realised that I was dismissing people who were clearly, or at least apparently, far more intelligent than myself. I didn’t come up with the theories of navigation or mathematics or astronomy or the concept of the British Empire and apply it to the whole world. You can’t really dismiss people who have achieved things like that so I started to study magic and I discovered that it was the most effective way of examining your consciousness. Science is a very powerful tool for examining reality, but there is a whole section of the mind that it cannot examine or explain. I think it is a fairly safe assumption to make that my consciousness is real and that I am currently talking to you on this telephone as opposed to a talking hologram that my consciousness is projecting. However, science cannot explain or rationalise the concept of consciousness because it cannot replicate it in a laboratory. That leaves the single biggest area of our experience of the world unexplained. We experience reality through our consciousness, so if we don’t accept that it exists what do we have? Science does a wonderful job of explaining many facets of reality but it is not its place to make pronouncements regarding consciousness because it cannot do the job of explaining it. Attempting to say that it doesn’t exist is an admission of failure. With magic, all sorts of possibilities are offered as to what consciousness might be, what areas of consciousness might have strange qualities and what may be practical applications for those qualities. Magic is entirely to do with the world of the mind and I happen to believe that things within your mind are real. They are just not real in the same way that things in the physical, material world are real. It is not a difficult distinction to make – we are talking about two different categories of reality here. We exist in the material world in the same way that a rock in the garden exists in the material world, but we also exist in this other world that seems to be purely cerebral. Magic is simply a way of exploring that world. It involves following concepts that certain individuals have been exploring since humanities inception. Some of them were charlatans, some of them were deluded maniacs or attention-seekers, but some of them are the pillars upon which our entire reality is based. Paracelsus basically put forward the concepts of modern medicine, as well as being the first person to explore the concept of the unconscious centuries before Freud or Jung. He was also a magician. He wouldn’t have used that term himself and probably would have thought of himself as a natural philosopher. Many of the cornerstones of our culture have roots in the occult. The earliest writers and artists came from the shamanic culture and science comes from alchemy. Isaac Newton was an alchemist. When he said, “We are standing on the shoulders of giants,” the shoulders he was talking about were those of John Dee. Einstein apparently died with a copy of Madame Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine on the corner of his desk and there are certainly similarities between The Secret Doctrine and Einstein’s theory of general relativity. However, magic tends to be viewed as the deranged relative of the family that we don’t want to bring up this far in to the advancement of our culture. The idea for the book came about when I decided, along with my magical partner Steve Moore, it was time to lay our cards on the table and explain what magic was, how to do it and why you probably shouldn’t do it in a book that wasn’t hiding behind pseudo-creepy imagery or incomprehensible occult jargon. So watch out for it.

Vice v7n11 Band Piece: Joy Orbison


Joy Orbison Made The Tune Of The Year Without Even Trying

Back when we featured Skream in the Horror Issue of Vice way back in 2005 no one gave a crap about dubstep. You could go to FWD at Plastic People on a Thursday and there would be twenty people nodding their heads in the dingy basement.
Nowadays what came bubbling out of Croydon in the early 2000’s is the nations default main room club music. Skream’s remix of La Roux’s “In For The Kill” basically launched pointy hair smurf’s whole career and FWD got so popular that it had to move to Fridays before moving to Sundays in an attempt to shake off the coked up, white-shirts-and-shiny-shoes, weekend warrior brigade.

With the need to move huge rooms filled with gurning , sweaty masses of people much of what made the sound good in the first place has been lost along the way. Loefah’s stripped back masterclasses in minimal halfstep, the swinging 2-step of Horsepower Productions and the weird synth explorations that typified Kode9 have all been thrown overboard in favour of huge, derivative, squelching mid-range wobblers. Walk into a rave these days and it’s like being in the middle of a who-can-build-the-biggest-sonic-bouncy castle competition. Last time I checked Caspa and Rusko were way out in front.

Praise Todd Edwards above and Ghost Records almighty then for a bunch of young kids like Ben UFO, Untold and Ramadanman who are as much in thrall to Omar S and Basic Channel as they are understanding that the roots of the music they make lies in J Da Flex and El-B as opposed to Bad Company and Twisted Individual. Pick up a release on Hessle or 2nd Drop and you’ll soon get the idea.

“Hyph Mngo” came out of nowhere to close Ben UFO’s Fabric Live mix and suddenly this wave of producers had their anthem and the rest of us had a hands down track of the year. It was made by a guy called Joy Orbison who it turns out is actually called Pete and he has a record label called Doldrums that you should all start getting exited about.

Vice: Hi there. I feel a bit silly addressing you as Joy. Can I call you Roy?
Joy Orbison:
It’s OK you can call me Pete. I just chose the name because I liked the sound of it. It wasn’t really anything to do with Roy Orbison.

Ok, how did a skinny white kid called Pete wind up making bass music?
I got in to drum&bass when I was like 10 or 11 mainly because my uncle made it, he’s called Ray Keith.

Ray Keith is your uncle?
Yeah. I thought everyone knew that already. He probably only actually listened to my stuff about a month ago though. For years I was into punk and collecting 7”s and I’ve always liked bands. It is difficult explaining that you like Josef K to people who just assume you are a garage kid. I started producing mainly because I was DJing and no one was putting out the kind of stuff that I wanted to play.

The day you made “Hyph Mngo” did you feel all inspired like Keats and know that you were about to make this big piece of work?
Not really it was one of the first things I made actually on my really basic set up. No one that comes round can believe how crap my speakers are. They are just kind of PC Workshop ones. It’s really cack-handed. I keep getting offered all these huge amounts to do remixes for people like VV Brown and I don’t think people realise how basic the approach is.

So you made everyone’s favourite tune of the year by mistake on some PC Workshop speakers?
Sort of, yes.


“Hyph Mngo/Wet Look” is available now on Hot Flush Records. “BRKLN CALLN/J DOE” is forthcoming on Doldrums.

Vice v7n11 Record Reviews

Life On Earth (Music From The 1979 BBC TV Series)
Edward Williams

9 These days Sir Lord Attenborough may have the co-operation of the US Air Force and sixty bajillion dollars worth of camera equipment trained at a snow drift in Antarctica right now on the off chance that a silver eyebrowed Arctic marsupial might yawn. What he doesn’t have is Edward Williams unique music to soundtrack it. Williams fed his orchestral movements through early synthesisers to create unique and haunting pieces with names like “The Sex Life Of The Fern”. They are available here for the first time thanks to everyone’s favourite curate of lost classics Jonny Trunk. In a just world Jonny would be a “sir” too.

Alan Titmarsh

Hush Arbors
Yankee Reality
Ecstatic Peace!

7 Anyone would have thought that hanging out with David Tibet as a fully paid up member of Current 93 would leave you moping around weeping blackened tears under a cold, full moon. Not Keith Wood though. His second album for EcstatiscPeace! as Hush Arbors finds him hooking up with J Mascis and rolling through a hazy, warm and decidedly mellow approximation of somewhere between Laurel Canyon and that bayou that Creedence were always banging on about.

Judas Moth

Big Ripper
Riot Season

2 Todd make chunky, riffy metal for people who say they like the Melvins but don’t know who Joe Preston is. Which is a bit like buying a Misfits shirt in Urban Outfitters. There is nothing awful about this. There’s just nothing good about it either.

Andy Peters


9 Saint Vitus, The Obsessed, Om, Sleep, Neurosis, The Melvins. Collectively the four people in this band have played in all of those things. Yep, you get the picture: it’s the stoner rock Travelling Willburys! Except that instead of being an excuse to get away from the missus and have a bifta or two under the pretence of ‘writing some songs in George Harrison’s garage’ this is has turned out to be just about as good as anything that Dale Crover, Wino, Al Cisneros or Scott Kelly have played on so far. Seriously.

Evil Gypsy

Molina & Johnson
Molina & Johnson
Secretly Canadian

7 Hardly the Morecombe & Wise of alt-folk, this not-so-merry merger of the guy with the voice like a lifetime’s worth of broken hearts from Magnolia Electric Co. and the fella who sounds like he’s about to do an Eliot Smith from South San Gabriel was never going to be a barrel of laughs. But, when you’re singing songs called things like “All Gone, All Gone” Jason and Willy are basically the A-Team.

Jennie Blackbird

Foot Village
Anti Magic
Upset The Rhythm

8 It’s a shame that there are no high street record shops left because this has a picture of a guy with his dick out stabbing someone in a hajib with a missile on the cover. Fifteen years ago that combination would have got you banned from Our Price at the very least which might just have generated enough press for a few people to actually hear this wholly unhinged and chaotically great album.

Glen Picton

Accelerated Living

7 Ignore this album’s title. It conjures sub-Progidy early 90s big-beat rave music you’d hear on a free covermount Max Power CD. Fortunately Saviours pedal thick-necked, doom metal that they are probably listening to in the Cro-Bar right now.

Circle Jams

Lightning Bolt
Earthly Delights

5 Fives are a pretty unacceptable score. They are a cop out. A five means that the guy reviewing the record has no real opinion on the thing he’s supposed to be writing about and is just going to sit right there on that fence. Well, for once I’m slapping down a five where a five is due. Like a noise-rock Marmite, if you love Lightning Bolt and think that they redefined the boundaries of rock music then you will of course think this is the best thing since bread full stop and give it ten out of ten and a gold star before whacking it at the top of every year end list you get within 100 paces of. If however you think they are a pair of art-school drop outs who randomly smash their drums and play annoying high pitched bass figures on repeat forever then you’ll think it’s as two dimensional as ever.

Brian Brianson

Schnitzel Records

8 Howdy! Here’s twelve cuts of rock & roll like they used to make it back when people made things and didn’t get them from China or the internet. Dead Weather and Queens Of The Stone Age guy Dean Fertita has even managed to rope fellow Detroit maven Brendan Benson as well half of the Queens lineup and Michael Horrigan from the Afghan Whigs in for the ride to boot.

Jack Blight

You Are The One I Pick

8 You know those adverts for Centre Parcs that make it seem like there will be Nordic hot springs in the middle of the middle of a verdant, green forest in a place of total calm and isolation when you get there? Well, I’ve been to Centre Parcs and it’s nothing like that but if I’d had this album during the three hellish days I spent there I could have at least closed my eyes and pretended I was in that place for a few brief moments.

Alexis Petri-Dish

King Khan & BBQ Show
Invisible Girl
In The Red

8 The hardest working kook in garage rock hooks back up with Mark Sultan for another round of fuzz, soul and endless innuendo. It is probably not possible for music to be any more fun than this without spontaneously combusting like when you put a Capri-Sun in the microwave.

Klaus Thinger

Viceland Rhys Chatham Interview

An interview I did with Rhys Chatham for Viceland.


From this Saturday the ICA will be overrun for a whole nine days by people making weird noises. Calling Out Of Context is a haven of workshops, talks, shows and recording sessions for people who take things like modulating the sound of a nail scraping down a black board very seriously indeed. If that's your bag then you probably got your tickets months ago. However, if you're yet to book and want in on the action then fear not as we have a pair of tickets for the Lucky Dragons performance tomorrow which kicks the whole thing off. First person to email in and tell us which fancy pants art festival Lucky Dragons played last year gets those. If you miss out on the freebies though don't cry, you should go check out the festival anyway as a lot of the day time lecture-y type stuff is free and in the evenings there are a bunch of performances by guys like Aaron Dilloway, The Red Krayola, Chocolate Monk and Gravetemple aka Stephen O'Malley, Oren Ambarchi and Atilla from Mayhem. It's basically a Wire readers wank fantasy come to life. Oh, Rhys Chatham is playing too so we had a chat with him earlier in the week about what to expect from his show. Click on for that and all the details and stuff are here.

Viceland Gallows Interview

An interview with Lags from Gallows for Viceland.


As we've already mentioned Vice Presents is happening on the 18th of December. Tickets are disappearing quicker than Jordan leaving a jungle so best to get yours here before they're gone for good. We decided to have a chat to Lags from Gallows about how he feels about the lifetime highlight we've offered his band by allowing them to headline our event. Click on for that and a few videos of the last couple of times Gallows laid waste to The Old Blue Last.

Alphabet Mix Part B

Here is Part B in a series of mixes chronicling the letters of the alphabet that I did for my friend Ali's website.

OK, OK, I know I said I’d do one of these a month and I have been super slack even getting to part two of what now seems a hugely ambitious 26 part series but I will try and be more prompt in the future. Promise. Anyway, I am currently laid up in bed with gastroentiritis which I can guarantee you is not much fun but it has left me with not much to do other than puke and crap every 15 minutes which gave me the perfect excuse to sit on the toilet and compile this. I have made it a bumper selection to make up for the tardiness of its arrival so without further a do here is entry “B” of my ongoing alphabet mixtape series. The tracklisting and download links are below and there is a commentary on the tracks below.

1. “Pay To Cum” – Bad Brains
2. “Whispering Pines” - The Band
3. “Baby Let Me Bang Your Box” – The Bangers
4. “Black Heart Man” – Barrington Levy
5. “Q-Loop” – Basic Channel
6. “Defective Chain” – Bastard
7. “Hydraulic Beehive” – Bastard Noise
8. “In Conspiracy With Satan” – Bathory
9. “In Between” – Beat Happening
10. “Child Of Darkness” – Bedemon
11. “Voices Green & Purple” – The Bees
12. “We Love You Michael Gira” – Ben Frost
13. “Down On Penny’s Farm” – The Bently Boys
14. “Blues Run The Game” – Bert Jansch
15. “The Model” – Big Black
16. “Thirteen” – Big Star
17. “Omega Day” – Bill Fay
18. “The Actor And Audience” – The Black Dog
19. “Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie” – Black Flag
20. “Supernaut” – Black Sabbath
21. “Ritual” – Blasphemy
22. “Summertime Blues” – Blue Cheer
23. “Tomorrow Is A Long Time” – Bob Dylan
24. “She Sings But Once” – Bob Tilton
25. “Stone Mountain” – Bong
26. “You Want That Picture” – Bonnie “Prince” Billy
27. “Star” – The Boredoms
28. “Mount The Pavement” – Born Against
29. “Shivers” - The Boys Next Door
30. “Ass Fucking Murder” – Brainbombs
31. “Dunkelheit” – Burzum

1. “Pay To Cum” – Bad Brains
What could I possibly say that hasn’t already been said? One of the most perfect examples of hardcore punk and the first side of the first Bad Brains 7” which was released all the way back in 1980. Proof that even when white people develop the whitest form of music of all time black dudes will be still be able to play it better than them. Oh, I thought of something I can say that might not have already been said or at least widely mentioned: “Pay To Cum” briefly makes and appearance in Scorcese’s slightly odd 1985 film After Hours.

2. “Whispering Pines” - The Band
As a pre-teen Bob Dylan acolyte I devoured everything the bard of Minnesota even vaguely had a hand in. As his backing band, co-conspirotors, friends and fellow Woodstock refugees the band once known as The Hawks who went on to become The Band loomed large over a lot of my early listening. The early rock & roll grounding they had accumulated as backing band to the legendry Screamin’ Ronnie Hawkins was combined with an interest in the gnarled roots of American music which Dylan galvanised during endless sessions in the basement of a house in Woodstock they lived and practised in called The Big Pink (recordings of which which would become the oft-bootlegged and poorly commercially released Basement Tapes). These sessions gave rise to two hugely influential and indisputably classic records which still resonate today in everything from Bon Iver to the Fleet Foxes to the late, great Jack Rose who sadly left us not so long ago. Part of what made The Band so uniquely special was that every member was adept at playing anything and had a voice to match anyone at any point in the contemporary canon. For my money though it was Richard Manuel with his ethereal and plaintive vocal who always stole the show. It was a huge shame that he didn’t vocal more cuts during The Bands prime and an even greater shame that he was never able to conquer a life-long addiction to booze and drugs that saw him take his own life alone in a room at a Quality Inn motel in Orlando, Florida in 1986. Pick up Music From Big Pink, The Band or Scorcese’s great documentary The Last Waltz and remember Manuel in his prime.

3. “Baby Let Me Bang Your Box” – The Bangers
Like a whole heap of great garage, doo-wop, rockabilly, rock & roll and R&B I discovered this track via the Lux & Ivy’s Favourites compilation series. The series is put together by a person or persons unknown and is composed of songs that The Cramps would play before they came onstage, as they left stage or mentioned in interviews that they were fans of. There are 12 volumes that I am aware of and every track is a gem so get a hold of them. Research on this track reveals that is was something of an r&b standard originally cut by The Toppers way back in 1954 and covered by everyone from Billy Ward & The Dominoes to Daddy Cool Ross Wilson and Doug Clark & The Hot Nuts (allegedly the group the Animal House band were based on). This version was released in 1965 on the R&B label and is a prime example of innuendo laced rhythm & blues. I’ve struggled to come up with any more on The Bangers so if you know anything about them leave a comment.

4. “Black Heart Man” – Barrington Levy
A track from Levy’s third LP Englishman which was released in 1979 by Greensleaves. Levy’s career has been long and varied but I always liked the roots sound on this album that has hints of lovers rock and strange dubby wobbles here & there.

5. “Q-Loop” – Basic Channel
At this stage only sheer ignorance could possibly fail to recognise the importance of Mark Ernestus and Moritz Van Oswald within the realms of electronic music and beyond over the last twenty years. While their myriad aliases, projects and labels (Chain Reaction, Rhythm & Sound, Maurizio, Replay, Burial Mix etc) have always had some footing, however tenuous, in the twin camps of dub and techno it would be short sighted to limit the pairs work by simple genre pigeon-holing. It was by establishing themselves sonically with perhaps their most abstract and innovative work in the form of their initial Basic Channel project that has allowed them to operate outside of any such confines ever since and long may they continue to do so. Rhythm & Sound live at Fabric a few years back remains one of the most enjoyable nights of my life.

6. “Defective Chain” – Bastard
Bastard were a Japanese punk band who operated in the late 1980s early 1990s and had it all. They played fast, were a little d-Beat, had a Cro-Mags swagger (and those little Age Of Quarrel-esque guitar solos), great gang vocals and a bit of blown at crusty distortion. They released a 7” in 1989 entitled Controlled In The Frame and an LP entitled Wind Of Pain a year later that are pretty hard to get hold of but you can pick up a discography CD that the band themselves put out called No Hope In Here easily enough. I was shocked to see that the band have reformed for a one-off show at Chaos In Tejas. Looks like I’ll finally have to go to Austin.

7. “Hydraulic Beehive” – Bastard Noise
I was going to leave all Man Is The Bastard related stuff until we hit “M” but then I figured fuck it, I love every stage of what Eric Wood has done so much and they all sound different enough to warrant covering every incarnation of one of the greatest sonic legacies of this or any other era. Plus how could I pass up putting a song entitled “Hydraulic Beehive” in the mix? In case you are unfamiliar with Man Is The Bastard they are the band that inspired the name, ethos and attitude of the early 90s ‘powerviolence’ movement, a genre which has been horribly misunderstood and, ahem, bastardised by ignoramuses ever since. At its best though it could be argued that powerviolence is one of the purist forms of musical expression as, rather like grindcore, it takes every element of punk and drives it to (and occasionally beyond) its logical endpoint. Listen to anything by Infest, No Comment or Crossed Out and you will soon understand. While they were very much part of the movement Man Is The Bastard always stood apart. Not only due to their defined, monochromatic skulls and slogans aesthetic but also their unique instrumentation which consisted of drums, dual bass guitars and home made electronics units and speakers made by Henry Barnes (now of Amps For Christ fame) which made them sound like nothing else imaginable. The Bastrad Noise initially began life to explore the electronic side of Man Is The Bastard’s sonic assault and while the lines between Bastard related projects constantly blur and realign it remained a mainly electronic entity until recently when the whole shebang came full circle and The Bastard Noise now resembles Man Is The Bastard all over again. Confused? Don’t be. Just embrace THE SKULL.

8. “In Conspiracy With Satan” – Bathory
While Venom might have coined the term ‘Black Metal’, Quorthon (and his enigmatic producer known only as ‘The Boss’ who may or may not be his dad) gave the genre just about everything else from the production sound to riffs, fonts, artwork and a preoccupation with Satan. This track is from the band’s self-titled 1984 debut LP which featured the infamous drawing of The Beast by Joseph A. Smith that you will probably be able to see on a t-shirt any given Thursday night at Jaguar Shoes worn by a kid who’s never listened to a Bathory record in his life.

9. “In Between” – Beat Happening
What with the ginormous resurgence in ‘lo-fi’ poppy garage music that we’ve seen in the last few years I expected this band to be on everyones lips, have the whole reunion, ATP Don’t Look Back special and everything. The whole works. But, nope, no sign so far. They’ve remained as strangely overlooked as ever. Good news for me though as I can put one of my favourite songs of all time on this mix and not look like a band-wagon jumping whorebag.

10. “Child Of Darkness” – Bedemon
Bedemon found themselves in the odd position of being regarded as a pioneering doom-metal band purely by being the offshoot band of another pioneering doom-metal. Randy Palmer, Bobby Liebling and Geof O’Keefe were all members of Pentagram (who formed in 1971 and were thus one of the first US doom bands to form in the wake of Sabbath) when they decided to start recording a few songs as Bedemon in 1973. Despite bootlegs of their early demos rattling around for years it wasn’t until 2006 that Bedemon material finally made it out into the public realm officially. Here’s one of their finest odes to the darkness.

11. “Voices Green & Purple” – The Bees
Not to be confused with either the tepid soft-rocking Bees from the Isle Of Wight who play at festivals like The Secret Garden Party or the San Francisco garage band of the same name these Bees are a far more unhinged proposition. From La Varene, California this band cut only one 45 to my knowledge but it is this psych-rock classic that found its way on to the Nuggets compilation and chronicles an LSD trip that’s not going all that great.

12. “We Love You Michael Gira” – Ben Frost
I once wrote a review of the excellent Australian born electronic musician Ben Frost’s fourth album, Theory Of Machines, that is somehow utilised on Wikipedia to describe the guys sound. I’m not sure how I can trump that so I’ll just repeat it here:

"...The compositional complexity of Arvo Pärt and the sonic nothingness of Wolf Eyes...Yes, it is that good."

The Wire also compared him to Arvo Pärt after my review had gone to print so someone over there must be a big fan of my comparisons I’ve always liked to think.

13. “Down On Penny’s Farm” – The Bently Boys
As mentioned above I’m a pretty big Bob Dylan nut and this song is interesting in Dylan terms beacuse Bob ripped it off wholesale (as he did so often in his early folk career) for his own composition “Hard Times In New York” (which you can pick up on The Bootleg Series: Volumes 1-3). It is likely that he heard it on one of his major sources of inspiration/goldmines for plagiarism: Harry Smith’s Anthology Of American Folk Music. The version here was recorded in 1929 by The Bently Boys. Again I can tell you little about them other than they hailed from North Carolina and cut this side on a 45 for Columbia Records with a track called “Henhouse Blues” on the flip. The song itself is likely a traditional called “Hard Times” that the Boys adapted. Some commentators have observed that this track may in turn have influenced Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm” although of this I remain dubious.

14. “Blues Run The Game” – Bert Jansch
Another fella who, like Bob, I have long been obsessed with. Along with fellow travellers such as John Renbourne, Davy Graham, Wizz Jones and later his own group Pentangle, Jansch was instrumental in the British folk revival and in particular a huge influence on generations of acoustic guitar players to come. There is Neil Young quote that goes along the lines of: “what Hendrix did for the electric guitar Jansch did for the acoustic”. Bombastic comparisons aside Bert continues to perform and record great albums, I have seen him several times over the last few years and he is never less than spell-binding. This track is from the long out of print (though recently re-issued) Santa Barbara Honeymoon LP from 1975 and it is a cover of a song by the American singer songwriter Jackson C. Frank, a friend of Jansch’s and another prominent figure on the London folk revival scene who suffered from tragic mental health issues and sadly remained relatively unknown in his own lifetime.

15. “The Model” – Big Black
While neither as visceral as Rapeman or as polished as Shellac Big Black always were my favourite Albini related project. This cheeky Kraftwerk cover has a guitar tone that sounds like sheets of metal reverberating inside an oil drum.

16. “Thirteen” – Big Star
Big Star are probably best known to a whole generation born post 1982 as the band who wrote the theme tune to That 70s Show, which has always seemed an unfitting epitaph for one of the greatest groups to ever craft bittersweet pop-drenched rock & roll. A bit like The Byrds playing with The Allman Brothers, Big Star, the brainchild of former Box Tops frontman Alex Chilton, released a trio of well received records, #1 Record, Radio City and Third/Sister Lovers, during a short period between 1971 and 1974 before disintegrating. They reformed in the mid-90’s and continue to play but the magic lies on those three records. This track recalls the day Chilton saw The Beatles play at the age of thirteen on their first US tour in 1964. It was also covered, to devastating effect, by Elliot Smith.

17. “Omega Day” – Bill Fay
Another sublime track by a somewhat forgotten genius (are you sensing a pattern here?). Bill Fay was an English singer-songwriter who cut two LP’s for the Deram label in the 1970’s, a self-titled effort and a sophmore album entitled Time Of The Last Persecution from which this track is taken. Both are masterpieces but sadly they failed to sell and Fay went largely AWOL for several decades until his third album saw the light day in 2005 on David Tibet of Current 93’s Durtro Jnana label. Eagle eared Wilco fans may have realized that the track Tweedy, Stiratt and Glen Kotchke sing backstage together in the film I Am Trying To Break Your Heart is “Be Not So Fearful” by Fay. I felt immeasurably blessed to witness Fay actually get onstage and duet on a rendition of that song with Tweedy when he played a solo acoustic show at the Shepherds Bush Empire in 2007.

18. “The Actor And Audience” – The Black Dog
The Black Dog was an acid techno project formed in 1989 by Ken Downie, Ed Handley and Andy Turner. While Downie continues to DJ, perform and produce records under the Black Dog moniker both Handley and Turner went on to form Warp Records mainstays Plaid. This track is taken from the outfits’ superlative and incredibly titled second LP Temple Of Transparent Balls which was originally released in 1993.

19. “Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie” – Black Flag
Again, there is little I can say about these guys that you haven’t already heard. I have the bars on my skin forever so it’s safe to say they mean a little to me. I will say that while Rollins was a great frontman I’d take Chavo, Keith Morris and Dez Cadena over him in that order. In line with that sentiment here’s “Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie” as it should be: with Chavo on vocals. If you want to hear what Black Flag is all about go listen to The First Four Years and Everything Went Black. If you want to know what Black Flag with Henry Rollins is all about then My War and Slip It In is you. Damaged, as fantastic as it is, sits somewhere in between these two periods a little uncomfortably to me.

20. “Supernaut” – Black Sabbath
Choosing a single Sabbath song was hard but I went with this one as it has one of the most immediate and brilliant riffs of all time and I play it almost every time I play records out and am still not bored of it. It could have been any one of about 30 masterpieces that they wrote though.

21. “Ritual” – Blasphemy
Fenriz knows about Black Metal. Being a founding member of Darkthrone means that that’s just a fact. It also makes it safe to say that the track he chose to open his Best Of Old School Black Metal compilation would be none to shabby. Going with “Winds Of The Black Gods” by Blasphemy may have seemed a bit of a curve ball to some, placed as it was next to established hordes such as Celtic Frost, Mayhem and Sarcofago but as we’ve already established: Fenriz knows what’s up. Blasphemy were formed in Barnaby British Columbia and have been spewing forth ugly, putrid, grim, war metal since 1984. That’s longer than I’ve been alive. Members have also played in such great black/death/thrash acts as Revenge, Conqueror and Domini Inferi and the band occasionally still play live. In fact they played two shows in 2009. This track is taken from their classic 1989 demo Blood Upon The Altar.

22. “Summertime Blues” – Blue Cheer
This Eddie Cochran cover was track one, side one of Blue Cheer’s debut LP, 1968’s Vincebus Eruptum. Sitting as it does at track one, side one of the bands debut LP it is also considered by many to be the first heavy metal song of all time. It beats the first Zeppelin LP by almost a year, the Sabbath LP by two years and even pipped Steppenwolf’s debut LP by a month which was the first record to mention the words “heavy metal” in the lyrics of “Born To Be Wild”. Whatever though, it’s a great track by a great band. Check out any of Blue Cheer’s 70s records for lots more psychedelic, loud blues-rock that would pave the way for metal to come.

23. “Tomorrow Is A Long Time” – Bob Dylan
This decicion is another impossible one and while “Visions Of Johanna”, “It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Bleeding”, “Desolation Row”, “Highway 61”, “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue” etc etc ad infinitum may all be better songs, this is simply my favourite.

24. “She Sings But Once” – Bob Tilton
Bob Tilton remain one of my favourite British bands of all time. By about 1997 I had realised that a lot of the metal that had been fed to me by Kerrang was awful and reading one of those “My Top Ten” list thingy’s by someone (to this day I can’t remember who and it irks me daily as I owe them a hell of a lot, I think it may have been Jello Biafra) I happened upon Black Flag, Minor Threat and Crass in one go. From there I crash coursed my way through late 70s punk, early 80s hardcore and soon hit mid 80s emo. Rites Of Spring, Embrace and Dag Nasty all sounded like the greatest thing on earth when I was 16 (they still do) and discovering things like Moss Icon, Evergreen, Hoover, Navio Forge, Merel and Indian Summer was literally better than discovering drugs at around the same time. The one thing that seemed strange to me was that there were no bands in England making this music. Then I discovered Bob Tilton. The band were from Nottingham and released records on the Subjugation label all of which looked incredible and had the full blown emo buff-card, typewriter, bits of tracing paper and faded old photos thing going on and the music and lyrics were a match in my mid-teen mind for the best Fugazi had to offer. This track is taken from their debut LP, 1996’s Crescent.

25. “Stone Mountain” – Bong
Bong are from Newcastle and they play heavily down tuned doom-metal with, as the name suggests, a leaning towards the stoned end of things. This track is over 20 minutes long and it was one of the best things I heard in 2009.

26. “You Want That Picture” – Bonnie “Prince” Billy
Who’d of though that “B” would chuck up so many people who have made hundreds and hundreds of great songs? Will Oldham is another everything-he-touches-turns-to-gold guy so it was a real lottery and I just went with a favourite of mine that was under the Bonnie alias. This track is taken from the 2008 album, Lie Down In The Light which is my favourite long player of his since the Superwolf LP with Matt Sweeney. It has a nice vocal counterpoint by Ashley Webber that makes the tale the song tells strikingly poignant.

27. “Star” – The Boredoms
I kind of felt I had to include a Boredoms track because in the same way that discovering Minor Threat, Black Flag and Crass at 16 had a pretty big effect so did discovering things like Boredoms, Black Dice and Lightning Bolt a few years later. I am not even sure what you would call all of that stuff. I guess, avant-art-rock or something equally non-sensical. I don’t even like everything those bands have put out but discovering them certainly opened things up a great deal and led to lots of other things for which I have a lot to thank them for. Vision Creation Newsun is a wonderful album that if you have never heard you should go and listen to in its entirety right now.

28. “Mount The Pavement” – Born Against
Possibly my favourite punk band of all time. Born Against had it all and then some. And then Sam McPheeters on top like an angry, screaming cherry. I could bang on about their great graphics and political polemics but just listen to this track instead. It is perfect.

29. “Shivers” - The Boys Next Door
The Boys Next Door were the band before the band before Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. Occasionally they sounded a lot like The Birthday Party aka the band they were about to become but this closing track from their 1979 debut LP Door, Door, which opens with the line “I’ve been contemplating sucide”, looks forward to Cave at his balladic best with The Bad Seeds.

30. “Ass Fucking Murder” – Brainbombs
The Brainbombs were formed in 1985 in a place called Hukidsvall in Sweden and have trodden an abrasive path ever since. Kind of like the Whitehouse of noise-punk they have chosen offense and total disregard for and confrontation with taboo as a medium in itself. And in that they have been hugely successful. This track is taken from their 1999 album Urge To Kill which was released by Load Records.

31. “Dunkelheit” – Burzum
A fitting way to finish. Burzum are a band more spoken about than listened to. Which is a shame because the musical project of the undoubtedly slightly unhinged Varg Vikernes is so far ahead of what now passes for black metal and equally what passed for black metal at the time it was made that The Count had and has every right to feel superior to those around him in many ways. It is difficult to describe what makes Burzum so special but hopefully a quote from my good friend Jonothan Rockwell should help clear it up so I’ll leave you with that: “it isn’t like anything else, it’s its own genre of music, it’s just Burzum”.