Categories
Experimental Literature Post Punk

The Mark E Smith Guide to Writing Guide (Video & Transcript)

What follows is a short spoken segment which Mark E Smith, reluctant Working Class Autodidact & erratic frontman of The Fall, recorded for Greenwich Sound Radio in 1983. Smith was already becoming respected for the poetic & eccentric content of his band’s lyrics (see The N.W.R.A below), which he whittled down from huge blocks of prose written with a similar methodology to Kerouac’s Spontaneous Prose technique.

Here we hear Smith not only giving an insight into his writing process (about 50/50 chance of being serious) but also some poetry. Please enjoy the audio & the transcript I have provided below. The section which describes the process was taken from here, while the poetry & prose which follows was transcribed by myself.

Hello I’m Mark E. Smith and this is The Mark E. Smith ‘Guide To Writing’ Guide.

Day-by-day breakdown

Day One: Hang around house all day writing bits of useless information on bits of paper

Day Two: Decide lack of inspiration due to too much isolation and non-fraternisation. Go to pub. Have drinks.

Day Three: Get up and go to pub. Hold on in there a style is on its way. Through sheer boredom and drunkenness, talk to people in pub.

Day Four: By now, people in the pub should be continually getting on your nerves. Write things about them on backs of beer mats.

Day Five: Go to pub. This is where true penmanship stamina comes into its own as by now, guilt, drunkenness, the people in the pub and the fact you’re one of them should combine to enable you to write out of sheer vexation. To write out of sheer vexation.

Day Six: If possible stay home. And write. If not go to pub.

Using this method, this is a poem I wrote called London.

(Mock American Accent) I’d just got over to London, get me a pint of your fine old British ale.

London. 

Decadent backbone of former empire.

Spittle chinned Southerner looking forward to next holiday.

Digitale Croydon, fourteen pound per hour.

An immigration backlash type situation here

And there’s  an Indian clerk in the backroom with a literature degree,

His boss is a roofed architect over-bathed, intense.

Project Victoriana Punish,

His clothes are flapping United Nations:

Japanese pants, odd boots, Euro shirts.

Is no shirt, his mind is Parisian 

Fifties situationist 

and ‘neath his designs you have no choice,

Stay where you are.

He is looking down on you from his tech drawing board.

Take the chicken run, run to the bog

You can do it

Do not 

Warning! rumours of grey cancer builders greatly exaggerated 

Manchester.

Dear TV Times,

Your majesties, I have concocted, through the noble invention and the blarney craft of the humble Northener, a system where by constant annoyance by the telephone van be erased. This entails explosive charges, left to me by a dead sailor from Bury, being wired up under every windowsill, close proximity to my ears. When phones ring and are inconvenient to the ears I just press table lamp-like what next to my bed and they blow up. I got the idea from a book. 

Yours sincerely,

Mr Reg Varney.

Please note: all herbs is available from P.O. Box 935 GTV Manchester. Once you get a bit of pain I was splitting myself, them hilly-billies.

Manchester is

Manchester ship 

cringing for punishment 

As promise above. It’s good to read the lyrics as you listen. The Annotated Fall also has some great notes on them.

When it happened we walked through all the estates, from
Manchester right to, er, Newcastle. In Darlington, helped a large
man on his own chase off some kids who were chucking bricks and
stuff through his flat window. She had a way with people like that. 
Thanked us and we moved on.

‘Junior Choice’ played one morning. The song was ‘English
Scheme.’ Mine. They’d changed it with a grand piano and turned
it into a love song. How they did it I don’t know. DJs had
worsened since the rising. Elaborating on nothing in praise of
the track with words they could hardly pronounce, in telephone
voices.

I was mad, and laughed at the same time. The West German
government had brought over large yellow trains on Teeside docks.
In Edinburgh. I stayed on my own for a few days, wandering about
in the, er, pissing rain, before the Queen Mother hit town.

I’m Joe Totale
The yet unborn son
The North will rise again
The North will rise again
Not in 10, 000 years
Too many people cower to criminals
And government crap
The estates stick up like stacks
The North will rise again X4
Look where you are
Look where you are
The future death of my father

Shift!
Tony was a business friend
Of RT XVII
And was an opportunist man
Come, come hear my story
How he set out to corrupt and destroy
This future Rising

The business friend came round today
With teeth clenched, he grabbed my neck
I threw him to the ground
His blue shirt stained red
The north will rise again.
He said you are mistaken, friend
I kicked him out of the home

Too many people cower to criminals
And that government pap
When all it takes is hard slap

But out the window burned the roads
There were men with bees on sticks
The fall had made them sick
A man with butterflies on his face
His brother threw acid in his face
His tatoos were screwed
The streets of Soho did reverberate
With drunken Highland men
Revenge for Culloden dead
The North had rose again
But it would turn out wrong
The North will rise again

So R. Totale dwells underground
Away from sickly grind
With ostrich head-dress
Face a mess, covered in feathers
Orange-red with blue-black lines
That draped down to his chest
Body are a tentacle mess
And light blue plant-heads
TV showed Sam Chippendale
No conception of what he’d made
The Arndale had been razed
Shop staff knocked off their ladders
Security guards hung from moving escalators

And now that is said
Tony seized the control
He built his base in Edinburgh
Had on his hotel wall
A hooded friar on a tractor
He took a bluey and he called Totale
Who said, “the North has rose again”
But it will turn out wrong

When I was in cabaret
I vowed to defend
All of the English clergy
Though they have done wrong
And the fall has begun
This has got out of hand
I will go for foreign aid
But he Tony, laughed down the phone
Said “Totale go back to bed”
The North has rose today
And you can stuff your aid!
And you can stuff your aid!

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Ambient Art Pop Electronic Music Experimental Song of the Day Triphop

Song of the Day (Chaotic Neutral): Björk – All Is Full Of Love

Day 29. The video for this great tune by Björk is sadly age restricted. I do include it below though you’ll have to be logged into YouTube to watch it. The official audio on YouTube is also included below.

It’s one of my favourite tunes by Björk, a sensual downtempo piece which calls to mind the halftime rhythms of Dubstep as much as the murky electronica of Trip Hop. Great video too.

You’ll be given love
You’ll be taken care of
You’ll be given love
You have to trust it

Maybe not from the sources
You have poured yours
Maybe not from the directions
You are staring at

Twist your head around
It’s all around you
All is full of love
All around you

You just ain’t receiving (All is full of love)
Your phone is off the hook (All is full of love)
Your doors are all shut (All is full of love)
And be the little angel (All is full of love)

All is full of love (All is full of love)
All is full of love (All is full of love)
All (All is full of love)
All is full of love (All is full of love)
All (All is full of love)

Looking for some great music? Check the Song of the Day (Chaotic Neutral) Spotify playlist.

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Ambient Experimental Post-Rock Song of the Day

Song of the Day (Chaotic Neutral): Mogwai – Helicon 1

Day 22.

This entry is as much for the video as it is for the song. The aching nostalgia conveyed by the grainy, stop motion footage is supremely powerful. Especially when paired with the grandiose melancholy of the song.

Due to this song being an instrumental, I decided it might be both amusing & informative to quote the Wikipedia page for the song’s description of its composition:

The song begins with almost inaudible guitar, heavily delayed and reverberated, playing a descending three note melody. At (0:25), a bass riff (based around the chords of D major and B minor) enters. At (1:00), slightly distorted, heavily delayed and reverberated guitars begin playing along to the bass riff, swooping in and out. At (1:34), a relaxed, slow drum beat begins. At (2:50), all of the instruments pause for a brief second, then explode into loud guitar-driven noise, backed by a steady, heavy drumbeat (to which every snare drum beat is accompanied by a tambourine clash). At (4:28), the distorted guitars and drums end, leaving the soft bass riff to close the song, aided by the guitar melody heard at the start of song, all of which gradually fade out.

Live versions of the song are performed at a substantially slower tempo.

Looking for some great music? Check out the Song of the Day (Chaotic Neutral) Spotify playlist.

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Art Pop Experimental Folk Indie Rock

Song of the Day (Chaotic Neutral): The Beta Band – Inner Meet Me

Day 20.

Psychedelic Indie madness from The Beta Band today. Taken from their excellent second EP, The Patty Patty Sound, Inner Meet Me is a messy, glorious mix of frazzled lo-fi folk, subby bass & bleepy, delayed Dub sirens.

I was reminded about the band because they, & the video for this song, are the subject of a poem I have been writing over the last few days, which should see the light of day on my other blog, Slow News City.

Inner Meet Me, oh you can’t decide (repeated) 

Last night I dreamt somebody fell asleep between my knees. 
I couldn’t help it that the facts were rejected by a boy who called me (repeated 3 times) 

She said to me,  
keep your head up,  
never show up, 
keep it all in 
never dream alone 
Play on a star 
Moves too far 
Say what you feel 
Speak when you kneel 
Never dream alone 
Never dream alone 

If you were feeling that the light is on the ceiling then you can’t see past your nose. 
Cos what you’re seeing is the man underneath the beam she’s a fool below low. 
I never listen but the people they were christened I wonder who was the one. 
A better placement for the basement when he’s chasing Mrs Mason when they’re facing on the relation  

She said to me,  
keep your head up,  
never show up, 
keep it all in, 
never dream alone 
Play on a star 
Moves too far 
Say what you feel 
Speak when you kneel 
Never dream alone 
Never dream alone

Last night I dreamt somebody fell asleep between my knees 
I couldnt help it that the facts were recjected by a boy called me (repeated 3 times) 

She said to me,  
keep your head up,  
never show up, 
keep it all in, 
never dream alone 
Play on a star 
Moves too far 
Say what you feel 
Speak when you kneel 
Never dream alone 
Never dream alone

Looking for some great music? Check out the Song of the Day (Chaotic Neutral) Spotify playlist.

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Art Pop Electronic Music Experimental Pop Song of the Day

Song of the Day (Chaotic Neutral): múm – Green Green Grass Of Tunnel

Day 19.

I just love this great tune by múm & was shocked to see it hadn’t made it into any of my previous Song of the Day series. It’s glorious, melancholy, Scandinavian Electronic Pop music par excellence. Skittering percussion, lush melodies & sugar sweet vocals combine to create a warm, inviting atmosphere.

Interestingly, the YouTube video titles the track as ‘Green Grass Of Tunnel’ instead of ‘Green Green Grass Of Tunnel’. A favourite band of mine, British Sea Power, also recorded a cover version of the song & they used the former, shorter title.

Down from the ceiling leaks a great noise

It drips on my head through a hole in the roof

Behind these two hills here there’s a pool

And when I’m swimming in through a tunnel

I shut my eyes inside the cupboard

I make sounds and through the tubes I send this noise

Behind these two hill here I fall asleep

And when I’m floating green grass of tunnel

It flows back down from the ceiling, leaks a great noise

It drips on my head through a hole in the roof

Behind these two hills here there’s a pool

And when I’m swimming in through a tunnel I shut my eyes

Looking for some great music? Why not check out the Song of the Day (Chaotic Neutral) Spotify playlist?

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Electronic Music Experimental

Shameless Self Promotion: Home Taper – The Breakmagos Collection Vol.1 – Sleeve notes

Sleeve notes:

The Breakmagos Collection Vol.1 comprises of two EP’s I originally released under the Breakmagos moniker in 2014 & 2016: The Lovecode EP (tracks 1-6) & The Brinkmanship EP (tracks 7-11). The tracks on the Lovecode EP were created between 2011-2013, the name came from the artwork (see below). The Brinkmanship EP was created from some some files I found of finished tracks from before my laptop died in 2015. The original files were all lost but I’d uploaded these tracks to Google Drive so that I could play them through a BlueTooth speaker. I named the EP Brinkmanship because I felt that the tracks had been rescued from the brink of being lost. Several songs were in fact lost during this laptop death, though I recently recovered more on an old iPod which eventually made it onto another release, Shit From An Old iPod.

The artwork for the collection is a photograph of a safety sticker on a Low Level Order Picker (LLOP) truck where I work which I have digitally manipulated in a piece of software called Hyperspektiv and layered in another piece of software called SnapSeed. I thought that there was a quasi-religious vibe to the image & therefore named it, before selecting it for the cover of this album, Worship False Idols.

This artwork was created by right clicking on a photo of the Beatles playing All You Need Is Love & opening it in TextEdit. I then took a screenshot of a random selection of code.
This is a photograph of a halloween themed dog toy which my dog, Titch, was playing with. It was inspired by the cover art of two Sonic Youth albums: Bad Moon Rising & Dirty.
  1. Take Up Thy Plasma Caster & Vape

The groundwork for this track was begun in 2011 when I was trying to wrap my head around sidechaining in Logic Pro. Its original title was SidechainExperiment. As such, it is built around rhythmic patterns created by sidechaining kick drums to fuzzy pad sounds. The title is a homage to two disparate influences: Fallout: New Vegas (which I was probably playing at the time) & Pink Floyd (specifically their song Take Up Thy Stethoscope And Walk). I don’t think I was aware of vaping as an alternative to smoking at this point & definitely didn’t use it as a verb. I use the word here as Sci-Fi slang for vaporising someone (usually with an energy weapon).

2. Synaptic Disintegrator

I don’t remember much about the production of this tune except for the fact that the main bass tone is created by running a sampled 808 boom through a VST distortion effect called CamelCrusher. The track is named after a weapon from the tabletop wargame Warhammer 40,000. Synaptic Disintegrators are the sniper rifle-type weapons wielded by Necron Deathmarks, a kind of sentient robot sniper to the uninitiated. Think Joe Pineapples from A.B.C. Warriors. I remember uploading this track to Soundcloud as a free download/Christmas gift on Christmas Eve 2012.

3. Cyber Analogue Steam Punk

This track begun life as part of a suite of tracks I composed as part of a community music project centred around the concept of journeys. The suite was based on the journey from Earth to Mars in the Alastair Reynolds novel Blue Remembered Earth. This track was originally entitled Martian Railroad & did not include the vocal sample. The vocal sample is taken from a news broadcast about American politicians debating cybersecurity. The snare sound is sampled from the clack of a steam trains runners in motion & the main textures are sampled from the noise of a cassette tape. At one point the working title was Steamtape, but after adding the vocal sample, it became Cyber Analogue Steam Punk to encompass the disparate elements.

4. Reanimation Protocols

Another one I remember very little about, except for playing around with tiny slivers of noises loaded into a drum machine VST. The title comes from a rule for Warhammer 40,000 Necrons which allows them to return to the field after being destroyed, a kind of advanced autorepair. I remember the synths are all made with a VST called Magical 8Bit by YMCK.

5. Space Powder

I believe this was just an attempt to recreate some of the futuristic Hip Hop tunes I was hearing by artists like Flying Lotus & Samiyam. The synth parts are semi-improvised & the beats are intentionally a bit wonky. The title came from a poem I wrote when I was about 17.

6. Guncrawl

Another one with little memory. The title comes from a table top boardgame/RPG which is a kind-of Sci-Fi version of classic dungeon crawlers like HeroQuest & Descent. I thought it was a great title so I stole it.

7. Cyber Swamp

Cyber Swamp is built around a swirling, evolving mess of sound which is created by a simple sine wave (generated by the aforementioned YMCK Magical 8Bit VST) played through a long, complex signal chain of filters & delays. I think I named it Cyber Swamp because it sounded like swarming cybernetic insects. I added a halftime beat and a squelchy bass synth because it just felt right.

8. Disconnect

This tune is a hamfisted first attempt at emulating the ‘phasing’ techniques pioneered by avant-garde composers like Steve Reich. The general concept is that you have multiple versions of the same part, usually a melody, playing on different tape players. The minute differences in speed between the different tapes would cause the parts to drift in and out of phase with each other creating interesting melodic & rhythmic variations. In this instance I created three instances of the same synth part & time stretched one to be a bar shorter than the original & one to be a bar longer. Despite not quite achieving what I set out to, I was still pleased with the result. Originally made for Week 8 of Weekly Beats 2014.

9. Polystyrene

This is another track which began life as part of Weekly Beats 2014. Week 35 this time. This was a last minute experiment where I, with a massive case of writers block, cut up the intro to an older song into small slices & loaded them up into a drum machine. I programmed rhythmic patterns with them & treated each slice independently with delay, distortion etc. It was a satisfying, if random, experiment & I enjoyed it a lot. I was more pleased with the result than I’d anticipated.

10. Enigmatic Hive Mind

This is yet another song from Weekly Beats 2014, Week 21. This is a slightly more successful experiment with the avant-garde phasing technique. In this instance I have multiple versions of the same drum track playing simultaneously with the tiniest variations in speed. The drum tracks drift in & out of time with each other causing some fairly chaotic rhythmic variations. One Weekly Beats user described the sound as like ‘hesitant sandpaper’. I was, & remain, exceedingly proud of this comment.

11. While My Synthesiser Gently Bleeps

This was another experiment with the same wall of randomised, swirling noise as Cyber Swamp. Recorded entirely in one take, this track was just a fun, experimental jam I performed & recorded one night. I never anticipated that it would be good enough to keep. I think you can all guess what I’m satirising with the title.

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Categories
Ambient Electronic Music Experimental Hauntology

d a r k w a v e – P R A X I S

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Electronic Music Experimental Hauntology Philosophy

Ruptures In The Fabric Of Everyday Life

So many dreams of collectivity have died in neoliberal London.

Now they are incarcerated in hospitals, or languishing in the gutter.

‘territories of commerce and control’.

Once those spaces are enclosed, practically all of the city’s energy is put into paying the mortgage or the rent. There’s no time to experiment, to journey without already knowing where you will end up. Your aims and objectives have to be stated up front. ‘Free time’ becomes convalescence. You turn to what reassures you, what will most refresh you for the working day: the old familiar tunes (or what sound like them). London becomes a city of pinched-face drones plugged into iPods.

No Pedestrian Access To Shopping Centre.

a bombed-out city, full of chasms, caverns, spaces that could be temporarily occupied and squatted.

The struggle here is not only over the (historical) direction of time but over different uses of time.

The whole city is forced into a gigantic simulation of activity, a fantacism of productivism in which nothing much is actually produced, an economy made out of hot air and bland delirium.

The eroticism here is not primarily to do with sexuality,

Fugitive time, lost afternoons, conversations that dilate and drift like smoke, walks that have no particular direction and go on for hours, free parties in old industrial spaces, still reverberating days later.

the city as a site for drift and daydreams, a labyrinth of side streets and spaces resistant to the process of gentrification and ‘development’ set to culminate in the miserable hyper-spectacle.

Cool Britannia. Old joke. ‘Space’ becomes the over arching commodity. Notting Hill. New Age cranks peddling expensive junk. Homeopathy and boutiques, angel cards and crystal healing.

ruptures in the fabric of everyday life.’

A new kind of human being was supposed to live here, but that all had to be cleared away so that the restoration could begin.

Haunting is about a staining of place with particularly intense moments of time,

trapped inside the drearily glossy spaces imagined by advertising and regeneration propaganda, sometimes free to drift.

Perhaps it is here that the space can be opened up to forge a collective resistance to this neo liberal expansion, to the endless proliferation of banalities and the homogenising effects of globalisation. Here in the burnt out shopping arcades, the boarded up precincts, the lost citadels of consumerism one might find the truth, new territories might be opened, there might be a rupturing of this collective amnesia.

Words by Mark Fisher &/or Laura Oldfield Ford

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Art Pop Experimental Pop Song of the Day

Song of the Day (Chaotic Neutral): Peter Gabriel – Games Without Frontiers

Day 1.

After a brief hiatus (& my first week back at work following furlough) I have settled on a new format for Song of the Day for going forward. Basically, this is just a roll of the dice. The songs are going to be ones I hear or think of throughout the course of my day. Songs heard on the radio, mentioned in a book or magazine or even spontaneously popped into my head. I may explain in the post why I’ve chosen it, if it seems interesting or will draw attention to other blogs or writers I want to promote. If I miss the odd day please bear with me. I’m calling this series Chaotic Neutral, hope you enjoy.

Today I am choosing Peter Gabriels sinister Cold War hit Games Without Frontiers. I am currently reading K-Punk, a collection of blogposts & magazine articles by the late culture writer Mark Fisher. Today I read this review of cold war thriller The Americans, in which he mentions this paranoid Pop masterpiece due to its appearance during the finale of the shows first season.

Jeux sans frontières
Jeux sans frontières
Jeux sans frontières
Jeux sans frontières

Hans plays with Lotte, Lotte plays with Jane
Jane plays with Willi, Willi is happy again
Suki plays with Leo, Sacha plays with Britt
Adolf builds a bonfire, Enrico plays with it

Whistling tunes, we hide in the dunes by the seaside
Whistling tunes, we’re kissing baboons in the jungle
It’s a knockout

If looks could kill, they probably will
In games without frontiers, war without tears
If looks could kill, they probably will
In games without frontiers, war without tears
Games without frontiers, war without tears

Jeux sans frontières
Jeux sans frontières
Jeux sans frontières

Andre has a red flag, Chiang Ching’s is blue
They all have hills to fly them on except for Lin Tai Yu
Dressing up in costumes, playing silly games
Hiding out in treetops, shouting out rude names

Whistling tunes, we hide in the dunes by the seaside
Whistling tunes, we’re kissing baboons in the jungle
It’s a knockout

If looks could kill, they probably will
In games without frontiers, war without tears
If looks could kill, they probably will
In games without frontiers, war without tears
Games without frontiers, war without tears

Jeux sans frontières
Jeux sans frontières
Jeux sans frontières
Jeux sans frontières
Jeux sans frontières
Jeux sans frontières
Jeux sans frontières
Jeux sans frontières
Jeux sans frontières
Jeux sans frontières
Jeux sans

Looking for some great music? Roll the dice.

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Experimental Folk Indie Rock Song of the Day

Song of the Day (Movie Soundtracks): The Beta Band – Dry The Rain

Day 10. I’m not really sure how I feel about the movie adaptation of Nick Hornby’s The High Fidelity. I remember enjoying it somewhat, but the smug, salesman-like smarminess of the scene in which Dry The Rain by The Beta Band plays really grates on me. I guess it does highlight how amazing the song is, even if it does so in such an aloof & arrogant way. What did you folks make of this scene?

Dry The Rain was the lead track on The Beta Band’s 1997 debut EP Champion Versions (& later The Three E.P.’s). This acid-soaked, Psyche Folk melancholia was a blast of invigoratingly fresh air when it first emerged. It was millions of miles away from the late Britpop which was just about hanging on to relevance in 1997.

Late afterthought: While adding The Beta Band to the ‘tags’ on this post I was surprised to see I haven’t written anything about them before. Expect this to be addressed soon.

The scene

This is the definition of my life
Lying in bed in the sunlight
Choking on the vitamin tablet
The doctor gave in the hope of saving me
In the hope of saving me

Walked in the corner of the room
A junk yard fool with eyes of gloom
I asked him time again
Take me in and dry the rain
Take me in and dry the rain
Take me in and dry the rain
Take me in and dry the rain the rain
The rain the rain the rain now

Dusty brown boots in the corner
By the ironing board
Spray on dust is the greatest thing
Sure is the greatest thing
Since the last since the last

Walked in the corner of the room
A junk yard fool with eyes of gloom
I asked him time again
Take me in and dry the rain
Take me in and dry the rain
Take me in and dry the rain
Take me in and dry the rain the rain
The rain the rain the rain now

I asked him time again
Take me in and dry the rain
Take me in and dry the rain
Take me in and dry the rain
Take me in and dry the rain
The rain the rain the rain now

If there’s something inside that you want to say
Say it out loud it’ll be okay
I will be your light
I will be your light
I will be your light
I will be your light

If there’s something inside that you want to say
Say it out loud it’ll be okay
I will be your light
I will be your light
I will be your light
I will be your light

I Need Love, yeah
I Need Love

If there’s something inside that you want to say
Say it out loud it’ll be okay
I will be your light
I will be your light
I will be your light
I will be your light

If there’s something inside that you want to say
Say it out loud it’ll be okay
I will be your light
I will be your light
I will be your light
I will be your light

I need love
I need love

Looking for some great music? Check the Song of the Day (Movie Soundtracks) Spotify playlist.

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