murderous, telepathic, golden eyed, alien children the world over recommend the barrel nut #13!

April 15, 2015 at 9:58 am | Posted in art, no audience underground, not bloody music | Leave a comment
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the barrel nut issue 13 cover

Fellow travellers, pilgrims, pray sit and give thanks for the latest issue of The Barrel Nut.  It appears from nowhere today, like manna from heaven, and offers a morsel of psychic sustenance in this desert of unsatisfying blandness.

Yep, the microzine voted ‘most likely to go through a spin cycle’ by The Agitator (samizdat journal of the anarcho-launderette network) is back to blow your mind for an instant, then be stuck in the back pocket of your jeans, then forgotten about, then washed, shredded and ruefully picked out of your soggy undies whilst sat on the kitchen floor.  Life affirming stuff!

In lucky #13 you will find beaked appliances on the cover by me, a digi-kaleidoscope view of The Barrel Nun by zanntone‘s Paul Walsh (a fat-fingered Google search mistake treated as artistic opportunity), a hyperkinetic collage of speed and muscle by Dr. Adolf Steg culled (mainly) from the 2000AD comic strip Nemesis the Warlock – an ever relevant satire on intolerance and xenophobia, and and art/collage double-whammy combo cheerfully reminding us that life is full of pain by the Hiroshima Yeah! brothers Gary Simmons and Mark Ritchie.  On the reverse, I am delighted to present a full-page poster by ace illustrator Jake Blanchard of Tor Press inspired by John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos (a key text for RFM, of course) and the film version Village of the Damned.

For those who might be new to this publishing phenomenon.  Here’s the standard blurb:

The Barrel Nut is a single sheet of A4 paper cleverly folded to make an eight panel (per side), A7 pamphlet. Paper copies will be distributed to anyone who wants one, or who has expressed an interest in the past. I’ll bring some to gigs I attend and a bunch will be passed around by those with a similar love of the post.

Should you be so inclined then you are very welcome to download and print out your own. Links to the latest issue in jpeg and pdf formats are below (you may need to trim the print-out down one edge to make it fold properly). Some more context, assembly instructions and previous issues can be found on The Barrel Nut’s own page (tabbed above).

Should you wish to contribute artwork then I would be very grateful indeed. Submissions need to look OK when reproduced as a black and white photocopy and be 7cm by 10cm in size (or scalable to roughly those dimensions). Good quality scans attached to an email are fine, originals sent in the post ideal. Please get in touch.

Contributor and subscriber copies will be in the post ‘in due course’.  For those who can’t wait, or don’t mind a bit of salt-and-shake style DIY, then print out your own from the links below:

The Barrel Nut issue #13 FRONT as a pdf file

The Barrel Nut issue #13 BACK as a pdf file

The Barrel Nut issue #13 FRONT as a jpeg file

The Barrel Nut issue #13 BACK as a jpeg file

Artwork for future issues always welcome – please feel free to drop me a line.

the barrel nut #5: hyper-signage, gargle-score, saturated doodle

January 18, 2014 at 9:22 am | Posted in art, no audience underground, not bloody music | 2 Comments
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barrel nut 5 cover

Attentive readers will know that I have recently been ill, enduring an episode of the depression that fouls my life every so often.  Sadly, I remain knacked though some progress has been made.  I have, in part at least, been attempting to fight it off with creative endeavour – discovering that getting busy with the glue-stick then folding tiny zines can be a meditative, therapeutic exercise…

Hence the return of North Leeds’s premier oddness-aggregator: The Barrel Nut.  The latest issue, #5, is something of a showcase for regulars.  Check out the pan-dimensional, hyper-signage – pointing god knows where – by Stephen Woolley of joinedbywire and the text score (feel free to send recordings of your interpretation) and line drawing by Yol, champion art-growler.  Dr. Adolf Steg of Spon contributes a page of ballpoint mental cacophony and Dex Wright of Tape Noise concludes matters with a mysterious portrait in the naive style.  Cover collage, ‘migrating birds’, is by yours truly, as is the freestyle sudoku on the back.

For those new to this type of silliness, a microzine is a single sided, single sheet of A4 paper cleverly folded to make an eight panel, A7 pamphlet.  Paper copies will be distributed to anyone who wants one, or who has expressed an interest in the past.  I’ll bring some to gigs I attend and a bunch will be passed around by those with a similar love of the post.

Should you be all internet-enabled n’ that then you are very welcome to download and print out your own.  It’s well salt-and-shake!  Links to the latest issue in jpg and pdf formats (in colour!) are below.  Assembly instructions and previous issues can be found on the Nut’s own page (tabbed above).  You’ll need to trim the print-out a bit down one edge to make it fold properly.  Apologies for the size of the pdf this time – I managed to save it in an unnecessarily ultra-high quality setting.

Should you wish to contribute artwork then I would be very grateful indeed.  Submissions need to look OK when reproduced as a black and white photocopy and be 7cm by 10cm in size (or scalable to roughly those dimensions).  Good quality scans attached to an email are fine, originals sent in the post ideal.  Please get in touch.

The Barrel Nut issue #5 as a pdf file

The Barrel Nut issue #5 as jpeg file

the barrel nut #4: punk rock, richard gere, vegetarian black pudding

October 26, 2013 at 9:01 am | Posted in art, no audience underground, not bloody music | Leave a comment
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The Barrel Nut issue 4 cover

Ladies and gentlemen,  RFM is delighted to announce the publication of the fourth issue of the North’s cutest noise/art microzine: The Barrel Nut.  This latest number has something of a theme as most (all?) of the contributions were created semi-automatically during blank or stolen time.  ‘Doodles’ I believe they are called.  Hence the dense, cartoony feel created by the scrawling ids of RFM’s own Joe Murray (Posset), Pete Cann (Half an Abortion) and Dr Adolf Steg (Spon) and the wry list of work distractions admitted to by Mark Ritchie (Hiroshima Yeah!) in the poem that closes the issue.

Coincidentally, the latest issue of Spon, Steg’s alternate-world-describing zine/mail art project, is titled ‘#35: The Doodle Issue’ and comprises many more fully worked up examples of his febrile, scatological and multi-dimensional imagination.  Thus I’ve taken the liberty of twinning the two publications.  Please consider TBN#4 to be a vestigial outgrowth sprouting from the side of Steg’s more substantial mutant offspring.  Contact him to get on his mailing list.

For those coming to this raw, a microzine is a single sided, single sheet of A4 paper cleverly folded to make an eight panel, A7 pamphlet.  Paper copies will be distributed to anyone who wants one, or who has expressed an interest in the past.  I’ll bring some to any gigs I attend and a bunch will be passed around by those with a similar love of the post.

Should you wish to get all 21st Century about it then you are very welcome to print out and create your own.  It’s well DIY-techno-punk, innit?  Links to the latest issue in jpg and pdf formats (in full colour!) are below.  Assembly instructions and previous issues also in downloadable formats can be found on the Nut’s own page (also tabbed above).

Should you wish to contribute artwork then I would be very grateful indeed.  Submissions need to look OK when reproduced as a black and white photocopy and be 7cm by 10cm in size (or scalable to roughly those dimensions).  Good quality scans attached to an email are fine, originals sent in the post ideal.  Get in touch.

The Barrel Nut #4 as a jpg

The Barrel Nut #4 as a pdf

all thee beast from dr steg: recent ‘issues’ of spon

April 19, 2013 at 7:40 am | Posted in art, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Dr Adolf Stegs Spon 25 The Late Christmas Present Issue

Spon 26 The It Came From Across The Pond Issue

Spon 27 Dr Adolf Stegs Pocket Sized Survival Kit

happy christmas from spon

Who doesn’t love the post, eh?  An unsolicited parcel is one of life’s simple joys and, despite knowing that it takes an insane amount of energy and the exploitation of a gigantic workforce by a class of numbskull management idiots, it still seems magical that a stamp and a pillar box are all you need to teleport your object to a handwritten destination.

The mysterious Dr. Adolf Steg (perhaps not his given name), the artist and compiler of Spon, is fully aware of these pleasures and possibilities.  The items he troubles my postman with have mutated from eyeball-challenging neon coloured zines into intricate collections of detritus and slices of personal history, all re-figured into letterbox sized bundles.  What, for example, would you make of coming home from work to find a parcel encased in jolly, celebratory wrapping paper that contained this:

steg survival kit frontsteg survival kit back

Front and back pictured.  It is one of those plastic boxes containing little compartments that ‘handy’ people have fuses and bolts in and sick people have on their bedside table full of pills.  This one, in contrast, is rich with the rubber letters from a John Bull printing set, a shoelace, a dog biscuit, rawplugs, various plastict trinkets, bottle caps, tiny tubes of unguent and so on.  It is an unnerving, strangely personal object, brimming with voodoo power.  Oddly moving, very funny too.  Somehow this comprises Spon issue 27.

The previous dispatch was no less impressive:

spon 25

Spon 25 (which also arrived wrapped) is an A4 plastic wallet containing Spon 26…

spon 26

…an augmented reprint of American zine-review-zine Media Junky #17, plus a badge, a Smell & Quim CD-r, and various items appropriated from the Steg archive: ink drawings, watercolours, comix, a lino print, letters, the Christmas card that heads this post and other paper oddities.  Given that most of these articles are originals, each of these ‘issues’ must have been unique.  I’ll let the pictures do the talking.  Here are some highlights:

spon watercolour 2spon lino cuti love thomas hamiltonspon watercolour 3trousers underwear fleshspon watercolour 1bloptal cover

…and, as they used to say in adverts, much, much more.  Extraordinary.  All sent unannounced, unsolicited and at his own expense.  It blows my mind.  Perhaps you should contact the chap and see about getting yourself onto his mailing list?  Visit World of Steg and drop him a line.

recent zinery, part one: hiroshima yeah!, spon, crow versus crow

July 17, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Posted in art, new music, no audience underground, not bloody music | Leave a comment
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Hiroshima Yeah! #89

Spon #18 – The Object Issue, #19 – The Junk Mail Prog

Crow Versus Crow and Posset – Seaweed of Silk

Late last night I lay prone on the ottoman, the air around me a sweet opium fug, a tattered and much re-read copy of À rebours thrown across the room.  I was stiff with ennui.  Jabbing my beautiful Turkish boy awake with a riding crop I keep handy for the purpose I barked a demand that he jog down to the gates to see if the last post of the evening had brought me anything interesting.  French decadence is usually enough, but what I really needed was a zine.

It has been a quiet time for the booklet, the pamphlet, the stapled photocopy.  I wondered if the urge to hand-craft and distribute a non-downloadable object was being sublimated instead by all the cassette tapes I’ve seen and heard recently.  This seemed like an interesting possibility so I recharged my pipe and was looking for my best thinking fez when my boy returned beaming from ear to ear and clutching multiple packages for me.  A deluge!

The first opened were unmistakeably from current zine-masters Hiroshima Yeah! and Spon.  Midwich had been the subject of two separate reviews in the last issue of HY! – one by each of the editors Gary and Mark – and the multi-ball, extra play delight that this sent ricocheting around my bonce made it impossible to fully grasp the other content.  Luckily they kept me out of this one (#89) so I could take a cooler look.  This issue has punch: short poetry (‘lowetry’) by Mark, howls of rage at an indifferent God from Gary, a series of txt messages reducing tragedy to bullet points and a hypnotic gig review in which Mark details another day-long slice of the Tom Waits song he seems to live in.  Great, as ever.  Gary even included a crepe bandage with a green plastic monopoly house taped to it as a ‘housewarming’ (geddit?!) present.  Contact HY! via:

Spon, the zine/mail-art project of Dr. Adolf Steg, continues marching to the inexplicable rhythm that only its creator can hear.  Spon #18, the object issue, took the form of a nodding scooby-doo toy for me (I see Mark at Idwal Fisher got a jawbone – he has a stronger stomach than I) with accompanying greetings card.  Spon #19, the junk mail prog, is a puffy magazine mainly comprised of leaflets, promo material and other unwanted detritus of modern life.  This recycling of binnable crap into an object of contemplation gives the banality a surreally humorous context.  The accumulation of crass design and incongruous bullshit becomes almost psychedelic.  I laughed out loud to turn a page and encounter an advert for dental services for dogs.  We’re fucked as a civilization, aren’t we?  Fucked.  Anyway, these objects are hand crafted – the very idea of the time and effort that goes into them makes me want to lie on the floor – and sent out to the lucky few have expressed an interest.  If you haven’t, you should.  Contact via the World of Steg.

Next up is Halifax based Crow Versus Crow which is, to my shame, new to me.  However, it is likely to be something I will follow with interest in future.  As well as producing physical objects, the organisation puts on gigs and hosts a Sunday evening community radio show on Calderdale’s 96.7 Phoenix FM (podcasts available).  Eminently supportable.

This was sent to me on spec by Andrew Wild, CvC head-honcho, with a polite covering letter (take note potential submitters – manners cost nothing).  Seaweed of Silk is a collaboration between Andy and Joe Posset, RFM’s North East correspondent and all round good egg.  It takes the form of a 20 page A5 booklet with card cover – a satisfyingly classic zine format.  The content begins with a brief stream of consciousness prose poem then ditches text completely, instead presenting us with a series of illustrations, one per page.

These pictures look like early experiments with X-rays, or an attempt to document the very large or the very small with faulty optical equipment, or like the photographic experiments of Bauhaus artist László Moholy-Nagy.  Their slight fuzziness and rounded corners lend an air of mysterious antiquity.  I like them very much – I could imagine comissioning something similar for a midwich cover – and my favourite is reproduced above.

On the final page is affixed (with one of them foam blobs) a 3” CD-r containing three tracks by our friend Joe. ‘You’ll never make an impressionist, son’ starts with some lightly sautéed chanting to hyper-oxygenate the blood, then a gaggle of indiscreet geese orgy in a skip filled with discarded clown-car-bulb-horns, then a couple of the more morally aware fowl sob quietly at their transgression. ‘Damp Leafy Path’ is balls-out racket.  A tooth-loosening riff/loop is paired in unholy union with percussion that suggests a seizure in the kitchen department of British Home Stores.  The third and briefest track ‘Sonic Reducer Reduced’ (no idea if is bears relation to the Dead Boys song) is a guitarish chang-a-lang subjected to the skwee and scribble of Joe’s beloved micro-recorders.  And that is that – dictaphonics as she is wrote.

This appealing package can be had for a mere £4.  Buy here.

Stuff from Yol and Simon Morris of Ceramic Hobs in part two…

the spon with the wrinkled knees

November 21, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Posted in art, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Spon 11: The Cultural Detritus Issue

(Cover and selection of inside pages pictured above – click on thumbnails for full size scans)

The venerable Dr Adolf Steg, oft mentioned in these august pages, has truly surpassed himself with the latest issue of Spon.  By taking his usual working method of collage and appropriation to some sort of logical end point he has produced a meta-fanzine that is part scrapbook, part time-capsule and part snapshot/print screen of Steg’s mental state.  This satisfyingly hefty tome elevates a traditional fanzine format – stapled A5 booklet – to the realm of handcrafted outsider art object.

When poring over this compendium of magazine articles, comics, letters, photographs, drawings, pages cannibalised from other fanzines with post-it notes and other detritus ‘tipped in’ it is tempting to reach for metaphors like ‘a core sample revealing the layers in sedimentary rock’ but this is inappropriate for something so chaotic and atemporal.  A child’s (baby Steg?) drawing dated ‘May 1971’ is stapled to a Judge Dredd comic from the 80s which in turn rubs up against a letter from Simon Morris which must have been written in the last few weeks which is overleaf from a fanzine review of an early 90s Seefeel record etc. etc.

Remarkably this stuff is not copied, you are looking at the actual ephemera itself.  As such, each of the 25 copies that Steg tells me he has assembled is unique and can contain scraps that have been in his possession for much of his life.  Some parts seem even more poignant for having the years of accumulated meaning shorn away by juxtaposition, some are mysterious, some fascinating, some dull and/or nonsensical.  It is an intriguing, hypnotising object. 

I have no idea if any more of these are available, nor whether the good Doctor might want anything in exchange, but there is no harm in asking.  Contact details can be found on The World of Steg website.

the hiroshima yeah! at spon corner, plus bonus musings on gadget enslavement

July 30, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Posted in art, musings, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Amongst the doormat-fodder that greeted our return home from Venice were two welcome and generous parcels containing the gubbins below:

On the left, stuff from the venerable Dr. Adolf Steg of Spon.  On the right, stuff from the honourable Gary Simmons of HY!  Cool, eh?

The parcel from the latter included the usual papery detritus (which I pore over like runes or entrails trying to deduce facts about Gary’s mysterious existence), the latest issue of HY! and the Shy Rights Movement CD-r mentioned below.  I am also in receipt of certain HY! back issues which were originally sent to William Bennett of Whitehouse via Susan Lawly, but which were returned to sender due to troubles the label had with their postal address.  Presumably a curious postie opened a couple of the parcels they were getting and the police were called immediately…  Anyway, being sent Bennett’s cast offs, complete with cap-doffing covering notes, is disproportionately pleasing too.

The content of HY! is split between a) Gary’s gonzo reviews of noise, the nihilistic sneer tussling with obvious love, enthusiasm and an encyclopaedic knowledge of rackets from the Rite of Spring to Cold Spring, and b) Mark’s heartfelt reviews of songs and hypnotically comprehensive, day-long, pint-counting gig reviews.  I read its four-or-five pages ‘cover to cover’ pretty much the moment it arrives.  Did I mention Mark’s misanthropic stories and poetry too?  How about this for a title: “The Slightly Sozzled Thoughts of a Bitter Old Fuck”, first line: “Young people bore me – “.  Heh, heh.  I think anyone who reads this blog regularly should probably check them out too:

The parcel from Adolf included issue 7 of Spon – The Stan Batcow Issue, various small-press comiks from the World of Steg archive, a bunch of Pumf flyers, and a charming laminated membership card for the ‘I Am A Cunt Club’.  He also included the Ceramic Hobs CD-rs mentioned below and an entertaining label sampler of crunchy electronic braindance from Must Die Records.

Those hoping to read Stan’s side of the Ceramic Hobs story will be disappointed, I’m afraid, but not too heartbroken because what you get instead is a terrific double-page tirade titled: ‘The Only Good Mobile Telephone is a Dead One’.  In the interests of full disclosure I must admit to owning a mobile myself but have had this ‘brick’ (referred to by one charmless techno-runt as a ‘refugee phone’) for many years and use it almost exclusively as an alarm clock.  With that confession out of the way, I’d like to nod in vigorous agreement with almost every word of Stan’s article.  He says:

Mobile telephones, as they evolve and develop ever more functions, are regressing the intelligence and capability of the world’s population.  People are becoming more and more dependent upon them, and essential life skills are either being forgotten or simply not learned because ot this dependence

…and later, whilst bemoaning the use of these devices to record and comment on events at which their owners are actually present:

…instead of experiencing life, they’re only experiencing the recording of life and separating themselves from reality … none of them are really at the event – all they’re doing is focussing all their attention on a small electronic device.

Well, exactly.  Stan’s point is not just that we are losing the ability to stride manfully across the glen with nothing but an OS Pathfinder, a compass and an intention to be home in time for tea.  It is more serious than not being able to provide, or act on, directions.  The issue is the creeping infantilisation entailed by the ability to just opt-out of retaining knowledge.  That is: to let your phone do your thinking for you.  The default mode of being for a gadget-enhanced citizen of decadent late-period capitalism seems to be obliviousness, except in the case of their own immediate needs to which, of course, they are hypersensitive.  Like babies.

And not only does it think for you, but it has your fun too.  Fun you might miss at the time it is actually happening but, hey, don’t worry – you’ll be able to upload it to Youtube later.  I vaguely recall seeing a documentary about Madonna in the early 90s in which Warren Beatty says to her “why do anything if it’s not on camera?”  Here was a world famous sex symbol of the not too distant past chiding a currently world famous sex symbol for the casual way in which she was forsaking her privacy.  Part wryly amused, part horrified, it was an interesting comment on the changing nature of celebrity.  Less than twenty years later Mr. Beatty’s question seems, appallingly, almost universally applicable.

I was struck by this phenomenon during our recent holiday.  Venice is by far the most remarkable man-made place I have encountered and, unless you simply do not own a device capable of doing so, taking photographs is irresistible.  We came back with over 100 despite only being there seven days.  However, apart from a few documenting our surprisingly lovely hotel, there are none taken indoors.  Most were views taken once we had sat down somewhere to gather ourselves together, or exteriors of places we had just visited, or pictures taken very early one morning when we left the hotel before breakfast with that purpose in mind.  On several jaunts we left the camera in the hotel, happy to wander and just drink the place in.

This approach was, to say the least, unusual.  Most of our fellow tourists had no qualms about taking photos constantly, within places where it might be considered inappropriate, and prior to actually looking at the thing being photographed.  During the two holidays I have spent in Italy I have noticed, and abided by, the many signs forbidding various activities whilst everyone else, including the immaculately uniformed official posing nearby, pays them no mind at all.  The sign we saw everywhere in Venice read: ‘No Photos’ (or at the very least ‘No Flash Photography’).   By this stage in the blog post you can probably guess how well this injunction was respected.

Picture the scene: we are in the gallery of the Basilica di San Marco and the lights illuminating the gilded Byzantine mosaics have just been turned on.  This is a sight that can make even a scoffing, heathen unbeliever like me quiver with spirituality.  At this very moment a women positions her child immediately to the left of the inevitable sign that reads ‘No Photos, No Videos’ and videos the girl taking a photo…

<author sighs deeply and wishes his current medication allowed the consumption of alcohol.  A lot of alcohol>

Anyway, you should really get hold of Spon 7 from Dr. Steg –  not only in order to read Stan’s whole argument, but also to get the great cover portrait and the unnerving collages that accompany it.

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