Friday, 24 July 2015

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner? The White Rock Defence League And Some Thoughts About Kanye

We’re all racists. We’re not getting anywhere until we admit this.
Oh this isn’t directed at you. You’re white, but you’re alright. I’m colour-blind see.
  I sometimes think this country is becoming divided along very basic lines. Those who will survive, flourish, the big society, the broom-brandishers, those who will keep calm and carry on whether left or right, those who no matter what they say and who they fulminate against will never ever knowingly touch a nerve or threaten the Aspergers-like holistic coherence of their own smugness. And those of us who are a bit more scared, a bit more resigned and consequently more full of idiot hope, because we are those who will be shut out, left to die and silenced in the name of common sense. This is a piece built out of deletions. Arguments I had that I had to abandon and remove. I mean - I’m an old man and a stuck record and it gets tiring. You want, because your skull creaks with the sense of your own repetition, to move on, reach the peace of the playout groove,  slip into a silence more suitable for your age and rest back in your cradle. Difficult to just watch mute though, as so much bullshit is palmed around, hardened into consensus, swallowed. Race and pop have been thick in my mind of late, perhaps primarily because embarking on any discussion of them is such a minefield of hurt feelings, a process whereby your head starts aching with all the people patting it, calming you down, telling you to get over it, refuting your lingering anger with the inarguable logic of their own contentment and satisfaction.
   Gets very tiring to be repeatedly told by white folk that racism isn’t a problem anymore, at least in the music they hold so dear, in the culture they seem to think is so immune to the outside world, the culture they want to remain inured from reality. With the further implication that you’re being paranoid, seeking problems where there are none, that the seemingly blatant unfairness of the way we treat and talk about pop from different sides of the racial tracks is somehow purely an issue of black people’s sensitivity. Gets you doubting yourself, viewing that chip on your shoulder with suspicion, another querulous mindgame to add to the endless mindfuck shitpile that it can mentally be, being not-white in the West. Started and abandoned this piece a dozen times but Taylor Swift has dragged me back to it. Inevitably as a middle class priveliged white female in the industry she would loathe any suggestion that anything other than a meritocracy is operating here and that the only battle is the undeniable one she's faced as a woman in a male-dominated industry. Anyone even remotely interested in black pop knows that isn't the whole case, and never has been. The industry, controlled by white male puppeteers, has a real problem with women, with queers, with black people. It’s folly to proceed as if this isn’t happening, or isn’t getting worse. The industry may pretend those lines don’t exist, it may pretend that music blurs those barriers, is the place in which worldly divisions like race and sex get erased and ‘surpassed’. These are the delusions a neo-liberal culture anoints itself with, the sugar it dissolves its greed and hides its ever-more rapacious cultural imperialism with, as well as its older colonialist moves on art from the old pink bits on the map. Swift, like many who've been pissing me off this month finds herself unable to read principles from specifics or follow abstractions from events - has to egotistically return every wider point to a tight empirically verifiable sphere of self-reference. Must be a white thing. No, not you. You're alright.
   A fundamentally racist musical culture should be an elementary, fairly basic thesis to promulgate but my god, even suggesting as such in recent weeks has lost me friends, angered confederates. It’s funny how many of the most avowedly socialist, left-leaning friends I have are perfectly able in all kinds of areas to cope with the drawing of wider generalities from seemingly isolated incidents but absolutely refute any such collective notions when it comes to interpretation of their own taste. Their taste cannot be questioned apart from in a specific piece-by-piece sense, it’s sacrosanct, free from any taint of jaundice, a pure almost holy communion between the staggering self-avowed equanimity of their outlook and the art they come into contact with. Both the process they come into contact with art, and their response to that art, is a fiercely individual thing. If you talk about taste in any other way than this pure isolated transaction they will get angry. They’ll get angry if you try and suggest there might be elements to their taste that are revealing of something deeper, historical arguments and hierarchies that are older than them. Though they might not be crass enough to ask why there isn’t a white history month, they’re guileless enough to bitterly resent any insinuation that their ‘free’ decisions about what art they like and consume might be at least partly tethered to their background, their class, their race. It remains always a difficult argument to proceed with cos so many people get so offended by any suggestion that personal taste (this sanctified individual choice) can't also be an expression of cultural prejudice. I know my taste certainly is, I'm prejudiced against alot of music for reasons racial (mine) historical and purely sensory, and I think most people are. Part of the fun of pop is getting over some of those prejudices, hardening others. Better to admit it and try interrogating & teasing out the roots of all that prejudice I reck, rather than denying it exists. I know it's tiring to think of taste as more than just 'what I like' but it is. Enabled by the growing wider destruction of solidarity and emphasis on self-actualisation, this clinging to taste as being as personal and unique and an expression of your all-round wonderfulness as your choice of Facebook cover-photo, endures. And so suggesting an underlying extraneous reason why a taste-choice might be made, a reason that goes beyond the individual, is tantamount to identity theft, ad hominem character assassination, slander.

  Like any truly important star, Kanye annoys all the right people but truth be told, it’s not just him who’s made me pause and reflect of late. A few moments have bought that double-standard to the fore in recent weeks, reminded you how often the blatant racial snobbery and patrician bigotry of mainstream pop has nagged at you growing up. Watching TOTP episodes from 1980 reminds me of how early you pick up its scent as a black kid in this country. In 1980, music played by people who look like you isn’t really played on the radio but when black disco is played on TOTP, rock/pop figureheads like Roger Daltrey and Elton John take the piss, make it plain that they consider it less than music, snarky asides, standing up for standards, all the distaste for black-commandeered synthetics and uppity-nigger showiness that has percolated through rock fans attitudes to black music ever since. BBC4 edited out Daltrey's 'watch your backs' (HAHAHALEGEND) warning from his intro to Village People on TOTP t’other night, and his thoughts about immigration were also not part of BBC’s Glastonbury coverage, although unfortunately his band’s bog-awful music was. The fact that the announcement of Kanye’s headline-slot was enough to provoke outrage and dudgeon from the British rock audience should be of no surprise, that the British rock audience is now claiming Glastonbury as their own is perhaps indicative of what happens to diverse environments the more that corporations can become embedded, the deeper that brand identities can be allowed to enter and calcify and ossify the previously more free-wheeling space that Glastonbury was (and in places still is). Whatever Glastonbury was, Glastonbury is now, on your TV, a place of bucolic escape from Britain as is to a Britain as it should be, free of the problems of multiculturalism that threaten everywhere beyond its gates, a safe enclave of middle-class white privelege where people can question whether a black superstar is 'the right type' to perform. The rest of the country is a place where that question wouldn't even get asked cos he'd be by miles the main draw. And this fissure between those who 'know' about musical 'standards', and the masses who don't, this ground of expert insight as maintained and overseen by Facebook and Twitter, BBC radio and TV, the broadsheets etc is precisely why I've felt nigh-on entirely estranged from the music media for so long. The White Rock Defence League. The United Kingdom Indie Party. Blinkered bullshitters. Radio kept the giggles up about Kanye’s show all weekend, a tone of amusement that couldn’t mask the deep distaste that the music beloved by people carefully priced out of Glastonbury had made it onto a main stage. The sound of the 'Now Show' Radio 4 audience applauding some comedian's borrowed phraseology about Kanye's 'egotistical mysogyny' made my skin crawl the following day. The same old nagging wince. They should've played it on Radio 6, that artisan cupcake of a radio station, that place where white music goes on, where black music magically has the pause button imposed on it, at some point in decades past. Some safe point, before it got so uneasy on the ear and soul.

   So much displacement going on from those who would disbar Kanye for his illiberality - of course, THEY, the intelligent rock audience,  can listen to misogynist artists, racist artists, so long as those artists keep their real opinions out of their art. Or if they do leave traces of homophobia, racism or sexism in their art it's ok because as white liberals they have the intellectual ability to 'interpret'. Hip hop audiences aren't afforded that intelligence ever - will only absorb those attitudes like a sponge into their malleable consciences, and then replay those attitudes for the rest of their lives. The power of displacement means that all my life never heard a word against Shakespeare or opera (rape, disembowellment, incest, misogyny etc etc) but only working class art. I'd expect that from a ruling class but what's happening now is that those old lines of race and age and class are getting replayed within pop, between a class of people who can interpret art and a perceived underclass of punters who can only swallow and regurgitate. I've listened to hip hop all my life and have always seen it as a diagnosis, of what it is to be male, to be black etc - as one of the only voices touching on political life as lived. The attitudes I've read this month smack of a fundamentally conservative view of what art can achieve, and the audiences ability to use and interpret that art. A total underestimation and denigration of the audience. Especially if that audience is one that ‘real music fans’ wouldn’t feel comfortable in.
  What hip hop, as ever, seems to be getting it in the neck for is actually saying something. "What a piece of work is a man" - Hip hop turns that into a question and answers it with a ruthless honesty. All the squalidness, wretchedness, and wonder.If you listen to Kanye and can reduce him to 'misogyny' then you haven't listened. The man has some incredible lines, deep lines, heavy lines, about race, about sex, about politics, about all sorts of things. In comparison, the music that most of the people I heard/read/saw dissing Kanye listen to can be characterised primarily by its unerring ability to say fuck all about fuck all, talk in vague corporate/self-help spiel about nothing. You'd almost think their definition of 'real music' is 'that music that enables us to entirely avoid any reality bar our own'. Escape, a firming up of their identity, and a lubrication of their own relationships are the only uses these people can see for art. The suggestion that pop can do something more for people, make them dream, make them question their own identity, transform the everyday to the point where the status quo becomes as fragile and destructible as a moth’s hide - this is anathema, and the idea that Kanye promotes - the essential truth that hip-hop is doing what rock and roll SHOULD be doing, angers the white rock mainstream to the point whereby it must permanently cop the attitude of setting that uppity nigger straight. Cue members of Slipknot releasing virally popular videos about how Kanye needs to shut up, a howled chorus of protest from ‘real music fans’ when Kanye even dared to utter the words ‘rock and roll’ from his lips. It’s not yours to claim Kanye. Yes, you’re making some of the most exciting stadium-sized outre works of art of your generation but keep your feet off our turf nigger, know your place.  Arrogance, like a degree of misogyny, see, is fine when coming from a white rock star, in fact it’s part of the make-up, an essential constituent of being a rock star. Arrogance from Noel Gallagher = ok, 'ledge'. Arrogance from Kanye = angrymaking, 'upstart'. From black people, who should remain dignified and humble and who are such an errant disapointment when they don’t - it’s a stain on white historical perceptions. It’s our problem. Black response to white subjugation, its retaliatory and compensatory traits of self-aggrandizement make it deeply difficult for well-meaning white folk to be well disposed towards modern black art.  For alot of people the most frustrating thing about Black music is that it has endured. If only soul had stopped in 75, reggae in 82, hip hop in 95. Back when those musics could be safely turned into a cannon with the right amount of 'conscious' stuff, instead of all that problematic bastardisation of form and illiberality of content that's happened since. If only black music remained purely a source, a contained set of white-appointed 'classics' for white interpretation and elaboration. And if only more black artists sounded just like older black artists. Why those black people gotta persist in moving on? You can almost smell the frustration.

  Part of folks’ problem with Kanye’s Glastonbury appearance was his refusal to soften his modernism. Witness the different treatment of Jay and Beyonce compared to Kanye. In 2008 Jay had his doubters, those like Noel Gallagher (an endlessly-tappable living fount of white-rock prejudice and ‘decent standards’) who insisted he shouldn’t even have been allowed on-site, at least not to perform. Jay, like his wife, did things properly, bought out the big band, conformed to the diktats of proper performance, real music made by real people. History will note him as earning entry to Glasto’s hall of fame in a honking, somewhat overlong and dull blare of musicianship, Kanye as ruling himself out in a blaze of lights and artificial sound. He didn’t ‘respect’ Glastonbury, didn’t doff his cap to its legacy or history or on bended knee (and perhaps with a ukelele) beseech music fans to take him seriously. This isn't just about race, it's about class as well. The real wrinkled-noses come from people for whom Glastonbury is an escape from the diversity they find so uncomfortable when forced upon them back in their home cities. And yet in their attacks on Kanye and their annoyance with his dominance over the weekend's discourse, the predominant impulse was to make sure that everyone knew their distaste had nothing to do with class or race and everything to do with the fact he was ‘just shit/boring/rubbish’. Not an argument worthy of engaging with I reckon (clean the shit out of your ears dumbkopfs) but the utter refusal to have any self-awareness, to in anyway link these tired motifs to the racial backdrop to 'taste', to ideas about 'proper' music, was stunning, and repeated with an urgency and insistence revealing of a real fear, a dim presentiment that if these people’s ‘tastes’ were really held up to the light, the blanched bleached nature of them would become dangerously apparent.  And yet, they couldn’t help repeatedly unpacking themselves in the hysteria & dudgeon once he was announced, and afterwards the fathomless froth about the fact he didn't put on a 'proper' show. Don’t you dare suggest race had anything to do with it. You can’t talk about race and pop, can’t even embark on any such discussion because first you have to wait for everyone to get in their denials, their pre-emptive wafting away of any possibility of accusation. Racism cannot be conceived of in structural or cultural terms because for everyone it’s a thing for individual people to deny, a game in which it's important not to get tripped up, a persistent relic from the past to avow their distance from even if a cursory look at their cultural inputs reveals how often they position themselves to avoid black art, only seek The New from white people and pray that their fondness for vintage black pop will suffice to waft away their deliberate shutting out of what black people are making these days. ‘I just don’t like it’ - yes but WHY? Don’t ask that question. Touches a nerve.

(Partly down to just what voices we were allowed to hear talking about it - sounds pat but I am sick to death of reading only/mainly what white boys think about pop. I want to read what a black girl thinks about Kanye. What eds are commissioning such pieces? What eds are hiring such writers? What eds are hiring writers that aren't their mates? What eds are going out and finding writers who aren't just another fucking white man? Does it ALL have to fucking be this way? Why? I don't need to insert the caveat that 'good writers no matter who they are' is who should be being hired. Yes. True. But is that what's fucking happening? And if that's the criteria why do they all seem to come from the same fucking class/race base? Because only middle-class white people are any good at writing about pop? Because black/asian people don't care about critical culture? For all its faults, Melody Maker took a punt and hired me on my strengths. I like to think I offered a different perspective. Why are those different perspectives so fucking marginalised in the music press now? To save the readers? Or because the eds simply don't care about interesting writing anymore?  The variance between how much good stuff is being made and how oblivious to it the media seems has never been greater as far as I'm concerned - front covers of music press last month: Muse, Fleetwood Mac, Beatles, Beatles, Stones, The Who. Hip-hop has been getting it in the neck all its life about not being 'proper music'. This hasn't happened to other electronic forms because though initially doubted, they're now anchored sufficiently in mainstream memory. Because hip hop fans have never really been part of the mainstream media, this hasn't happened. Hip hop always has to be approached with the air of 'well, lets see if they've learned how to play yet)

  Yeah, but he just sucked didn’t he. He was boring. Race has nothing to do with it. Because racism, to alot of people, needs to announce itself, is found in the far-right, can only be explicit, never implicit or subtextual, at least not in the cultural habits and artefacts the mainstream audience holds dear. But prod even an iota of the distaste towards Kanye and the racism comes rushing out at you like the stench from a kicked dogturd. Just because someone doesn't say 'I don't want Kanye to play because he's black' doesn't mean there can't be massive racist undercurrents to what they're saying, esp when you start asking those people what black music they do like and listen to. It tends to be fifty years old/ by Bob Marley- why is that? Petitions don't really get raised about mere matters of taste. They tend to get raised and signed because people feel there's something fundamentally wrong about something. Why did this happen with Kanye? If the reason is he's arrogant/an idiot/sexist etc then go backstage at any music festival and throw a rock and you'll hit a dozen offenders. The reason is a deeper cultural distaste than mere dislike for someone's persona.I’m not into forbidding anyone from saying anything, or saying that critically there should be some kind of suspension of faculties for Kanye. If you think he's dire/shit, say so, don't worry, you're not alone. I'm just wondering - what is the state of a culture when the biggest complaints it has are not about the govt that's destroying a generation, or the state of its own avowed musical culture (never seen a petition against an indie band playing Glastonbury, or 'ledge' stars coming out complaining) but about a popular black superstar playing its favourite beanfest? That ‘Kanye sux’ shorthand enables taste to remain protected, cut off from anything bar a consumer’s freedom of choice. Nothing to do with race is it? He just ‘sucked’. CAN WE NOT SAY THAT? But ask yourself - what becomes the ‘other’ in Glastonbury coverage, what causes discomfort? What gets serious treatment, what gets laughed at? What class? What races? What types of music forced to the peripheries to the point that their appearance on a main stage gets complaints? What kinds of artists have to 'prove themselves worthy'? Just the way it is? No point fighting it? It's a white festival? Cobblers - It's just fucking snobbery and smuggery. And the fact it’s a sustaining narrative, a snobbery that forms a spine throughout the entire history of popular music in the UK should be a matter of shame, a spur to intellectual action, not a prompt for an endless denial, a digging in of the wellie-heels. 
It’s a big problem for the UK in particular which seems to be bathing in a balm of self-assurance as our cousins over the pond encounter more flashpoints and killings and riots. The smuggery in our reportage about Charleston has revealed just how much the UK is currently coasting along under the impression that we don't have racism in this country do we? We, unlike our less sophisticated American cousins, have 'got over it'. Our record is blemish-free. Remember how we helped out all those old blues fellers in the 60s? How we kept soul shrunk to its proper tin-shack roots on the Northern Soul dancefloor? How we sustained ska and reggae and other music from the ex-colonies? See, we like black music. We like black pop. So long as it’s made by dead people (the prevailing narrative even among those who like hip hop but don't like Kanye is that it'd be better if they'd booked someone much older and wasn’t George Clinton great). Thus, distaste for an artists persona becomes a way of avoiding confronting a harsh truth - that your taste, so worthy of defending, is feeding back to the industry clear data about what needs investigating and boosting, what needs ignoring and marginalising. If you don't think it's infinitely more difficult for new black British music to be heard, playlisted, featured, written-about, than other types of music you’re deluded, and if in your ‘taste’ (no matter how much you might want to claim its purity and untaintedness) you prop up that ongoing dereliction of duty among our cultural industries and arbiters then you are partly and personally responsible for withering notions of what British music is and can, and could, be. Who could object to joke stories about Kanye being wanted for murdering Bohemian rhapsody? No-one. But if I'm expected to chuckle at the comments sections underneath articles across the broadsheet, tabloid and music press board from 'real music fans' about how it was a disgrace Kanye was booked (and these comments were incessant, nigh-on unanimous and unfailingly perilously close to outright racism) then sorry, that joke's not funny any more. I'm sick of British music becoming synonymous with a shutdown of black and working class taste and expression, becoming purely a playground for the white and bourgouise. Which is exactly what it's fucking becoming. If you're happy with that, you're fucking welcome to it.

 Like anyone and everyone, I’m prejudiced about music.  If it wasn’t for mainly retrograde hip hop and doom metal and the further reaches of the avant-garde I probably wouldn’t listen to much new white music at all, an accusation I can't deny and won't attempt to. School me - I won’t listen to bands who look like I won’t like them, I think most of us accept this. I only ask white rock fans this. If you were watching a TV station and noticed that no black people were allowed on, and that the only black people who did appear were dead/filmed 40 years ago, would you have a problem with that? Now take a look at what you listen to, at what you’ve got, and what you plan to get, and where you’re going to hear it. Notice anything? Like I said, not a problem for me, I’m colourblind see. Strange that a disability should become such a badge of pride but I’ve been hearing that alot of late when getting embroiled in arguments about racism and about pop. People hate conflict, like issues that at least on a personal level, can be resolved. Lots of white people have been telling me they’re colourblind about music, sounding like the UKIP MPs they despise. Seems to infer that if they could see colour, then they'd be racist (and be justified in being so) but beyond that it indicates only that whoever's saying it is trying to avoid trouble, is keen on pushing this idea that a pure meritocracy is what's going on in pop when it's blatantly not. As someone who's not white I don't want my race looked through, 'overlooked' with distaste as an irrelevance to my art. It's massively relevant in all kinds of ways to my life and my possibilities. You're defeated as an Asian or black person if you let your race limit your ambitions but I don't want people to pretend that I am anything but what I am. 'Colour blindness' implies getting people to overcome their senses and somehow pretend that different races don't exist, that we're all the same. It's a desperate kind of mental trick that private racists throw out publically to show how they're 'getting over' other peoples uncomfortable insistence on not being white. If you ever hear anyone use that phrase - 'I'm colourblind' - what they're doing isn't embracing difference, rather they're pretending that in some way their mind isn't prone to entirely instinctive & sensory human habits, that as far as they're concerned 'we're all the same'. We're all not the same thank fuck. That's what needs celebrating. In the wake of a month wherein race and it’s crucial place in pop has never been more apparent, the ‘colourblindness’ of music fans, and by extension the music industry, needs interrogation. I’m a gentler soul than I was but some conflicts need starting, not avoiding. I still believe, as I always have,  only honesty, including honesty about our dishonesty, will gain us liberation.

Friday, 19 June 2015



    Zamrock couldn't have been predicted at midnight on October the 24th, 1964. In the Zambian capital Lusaka, at the Independence Stadium, at 12.01 am, the silence was deafening. The drummers stopped drumming. The dancers stopped dancing. Everything went dark. The Union Jack was finally lowered as the Zambian flag rose. Fireworks. Later that day Kenneth Kaunda, ex-teacher and socialist leader of the Zambian African National Congress, who'd canvassed support for the independence struggle by playing 'freedom songs' on his guitar (perhaps influenced by his 1960 meeting with Martin Luther King), was sworn in as president. Speaking to a crowd of 200,000 he admitted how bloody a struggle it had been - security forces had shot, tortured and imprisoned hundreds of freedom fighters. He urged Zambia to 'rise and march forward to peace, progress and human development and dignity'. He then set about, through free education policies, and planned economic policies that tried to drag Zambian business out of foreign hands and nationalise it, to attempt to make Zambia an African powerhouse. Soon, as is so often the case, the freedom fighter became an autocrat and a tyrant, and Zambia never really gained the power or wealth independence had promised. But in 64, with copper profits now rolling into Zambian rather than British coffers, in the cities at least it seemed a boom was on the way, a growing professional middle-class reaping the benefits even as rural Zambians saw next to no change.

   Miners bought suits, new cars, Western-style houses. In 63 the first black Africans had been allowed to move into previously all-white neighbourhoods. Post-independence, Zambia's cities rode a wave of euphoria and modernisation, and a whole generation of Zambians started growing up more urban than rural, whether born in the copperbelt or moving to it from the sticks. In a part of the country where the outside world flowed in, not just in an economic sense but crucially in a political and cultural sense, young Zambians started hearing the Hollies and the Beatles and the Stones and the Kinks and the Yardbirds and Cream and The Who and started seeing Western music as the sound of the modern era. They wanted Stratocasters, amps, drum kits, fuzz-pedals and by the late 60s there were dozens of rock groups scattered throughout Lusaka and the Copperbelt. Alot of the bands just imitated their Western idols but some bands mixed things up, taking on Beatles-style pop, Hendrix-style fuzz-rock and crushing them against the indigenous Kalindula rhythms and instrumentation of Zambia, creating in the process music that couldn't have been made anywhere else on earth. Yes there were love songs, sappy songs, songs that mirrored Western motifs sung in English but there were also profoundly non-Western songs too, songs about slavery, independence, songs sung in any one of Zambia's seventy-two different languages. Amanaz came from the mines, and its members had been anti-colonial freedom fighters and subversives, just like Paul Ngozi, a huge star in Zambia whose solo LP 'The Ghetto' is one of Zamrock's great lost meisterwerks and whose debut LP under the Ngozi Family banner, 76's 'Day Of Judgement' is also now getting a re-release from Now-Again, alongside Amanaz' masterpiece 'Africa'.

Paul Ngozi

    Listening, you can't help thinking that Zamrock bands wouldn't get booked in the West now, were they to arrive new, untainted by the glow of retroism. They simply don't fit with the narrow notions of what constitutes 'world' music, or the way the West thinks music from that part of the world 'should' sound. Of course, the bands involved in Zamrock, the explosion in  guitar rock that followed Zambia's independence in 1964 were well within their rights to legitimately not give a fuck about Western acceptance, be happy to be big fishes in small ponds and not make the moves that, say, Ghanaian Afro-rockers Osibisa made in taking their act to Western stages and cracking those lucrative territories.
   Zamrock bands kept things local, enacted their version of the sex, drugs & rock'n'roll myths entirely within Zambia's borders. Just as in Jamaica, independence proved the spur to create a new national musical identity, an identity that like Jamaica's would prove to be a mix between that which was reclaimed by that new nation, but that also revealed the lines of cultural domination that had pre-dated independence. So just as ska needed mento AND American r'n'b to come into being the way it did, so Zamrock relied on a unique mix of the aged and the current, the old music of Zambia and the new music coming out of America and the UK at the time. Amanaz, alongside the unforgettable Witch (We Intend To Cause Havoc, fronted by Zamrock legend Emanuel “Jagari” Chanda, the 'Jagari' an Africanisation of 'Jagger' - check out their awesome 'Lazy Bones' album also from 75) were perhaps Zamrock's most forceful, visible and controversial figures and 'Africa' is their classic album, salvaged from the cleanest copies Now-Again could find (all masters have been lost and the album originally came out in two mixes, one dry, one slathered in reverb, both versions collated by Now-Again with this reissue). According to those in the know, 'Africa' is perhaps the most cohesive statement of Zamrock belief and attitudes.


     In the case of both of these albums, the fresh-flush of independence is a long-passed echo, dying in the distance of Zambian colonial memory. They're records that attempt escape, but can't help revealing the walls closing in, the whispers and lies behind those walls. Upon independence Kaunda declared a state of emergency in Zambia that lasted until 1991. It took Kaunda just four years from independence (1968) to ban all opposition parties, and his UNIP party exerted horrific revenge on dissidents from across the board in Zambia, always protective of its core supporters, the middle-class civil servants. Like Nkrumah in Ghana, Nyerere in Tanzania and Mobutu in Zaire/DRC Kaunda built a personality cult around himself, replete with his own self-christened ideology ('Zambian Humanism') mixing socialism with older African traditions.  By the mid 70s, post-OPEC-crisis & with the economy in free fall and optimism fading fast, all opposition to UNIP was effectively eradicated by a rewritten constitution. Liberation is no longer what Zambia is about.
    These records are made in the mid-70s, in the first years of effectively what would be Kaunda's two decades of dictatorship.  Zambia becomes a place full of informers, its prisons stuffed with dissidents, naysayers, anyone not willing to buy into Kaunda's myths of progress. 'Africa' and 'Day Of Judgement' are albums that emerge in this new politically-dread ambience. Confidence and independence don't come into it, and you can hear the true circumstances Zamrock finds itself in locked in the grooves of both of these discs. In a country where even by 1975 nearly all the record companies and recording studios were still owned by whites, these are not records of liberation. They are joyful records though, proud, bands being themselves. In a sense, they're records of happiness, happiness at the indulgence they're afforded, that these musicians and their families can afford.  But between the lines and beneath the surface you can hear dreadful presentiments in both records, the dawning apprehension that the dawn and new day are over for Zambia, that all that lies ahead is a darkening, a blinding, a night of terrors.
   Both records are stoned to the bone, fogged up with smoke, and so both records can't be simplified as protest records or statements. It's more like wandering in on a rehearsal, moods pass, change, egoistic control of proceedings seems to have absconded in favour of a mutual noodling, a collective stumble towards form.  Both records seem almost half-aware that the Zamrock phenomenon will soon be destroyed. What's so beautifully moving about both records is how relaxed they seem about it. How they sound like bands trying to find their own voice through their influences. How they both, in their own ways, find that voice. For all the vaunted 'suprise' that exotica promises, the process of Western understanding often lazily reasserts the most basic musicological tropes and cliches about place, time and the art that can emerge from that meeting . But 'Africa', and 'Day Of Judgement' simply won't fit.  They're records that reveal a deep truth about music - People are not just where they're from, what they've heard, a set of abilities. Music isn't always merely what can be executed by the skill of its protagonists. People can just as easily be shells their times blow through, as well as entirely resist their times, retreat from those times into a druggy bubble.
   'Africa' doesn't sound like street music. It sounds like studio music, bedroom music, music that's hiding. For all its vaunted social conscience, it's precisely the wastage and wantonness of Zamrock that's thrilling, the middle-class spoiledness of it. The stuff excessive to requirements, that superfluously goes beyond the narrow Musician + Circumstance = Honest Expression formulations that 'world' music is so oft reduced to. Amanaz are rather snootily disdained in what little you can read about them in world music books, derided as 'internationalist' and overly 'western'. There's no high-life style here, no juju, nothing that can really be tied in with anything else that's going on musically in the entire continent. Precisely what makes 'Africa' so fascinating and enjoyable.

AMANAZ (Ask Me About Nice Artists From Zambia) formed in 73, playing Country Clubs and Hindu Halls and building a fanbase and fame by the mid 70s. Keith Kabwe (working as dispatch clerk at Caltex Oil Terminal in Ndola)  was the band leader who recruited John Kanyepa on guitar and vocals, Watson Lungu on drums, Isaac Mpofu on rhythm guitar and Jerry Mausala on bass. All of them had been robbed from other fledgling Zamrock outfits like Black Souls, Klasters and Macbeth. They rehearsed at the Copperbelt University, then called the Zambia Institute Of Technology in Kitwe, sealed a deal with Teal and ZMPL, recorded 'Africa' at Malachite studios in Chingola, released it to massive success in Zambia and general international obliviousness, then fell apart soon after.
   First thing you notice with 'Africa' is that though you've been told it 'rocks hard', it doesn't, thank fuck. The opening instrumental 'Amanaz' is like a little tour around their sound, tight psyche beats, nimble bass & rhythm guitar, some gloriously fuzzed-up soloing strafing round the stereoscape. 'I Am Not Far' really unlocks the heart of what Amanaz do over the course of 'Africa'. It's 1975 but the production of the album is firmly rooted in a late 60s, early 70s sensibility and soundworld. It's a gentler kind of rock than you've been led to believe, more like the Velvets circa 'Loaded' than the blatant Hendrix/Sabbath influences that only sporadically reveal themselves. 'Sunday Morning' almost seems sonically and in its title to make that connection explicit although it's difficult to imagine that Amanaz were big Velvets fans, more that through an opportune similarity of cheap recording, naturalism and simple beautiful guitar parts both Amanaz and VU ended up at the same place, a kind of 'Oh Sweet Nuthin' vibe that's uncanny, unmistakable and utterly ravishing. 'Khala My Friend' is just lovely, a ripple of sun-kissed folk-soul redolent of Fairport or the Byrds circa 'Notorious Byrd Brothers', a song about pulling a friend back from the brink in a world that's 'full of misery', as he goes too far down a road 'with no end'.
   Crucial to what makes AMANAZ so great is the searing lead of Kanyepa, the brilliant Richard Thompson-like rhythm work of Mpofu and you can really hear that on 'Khala' and the blistering 'History Of Man' that follows, a fuzzy stomper with a heavy Sabbath influence where the beats are as funky as Bill Ward but the production pushes the percussion to an equivalent loudness so the beat emerges as this weird, hissing, fizzy, almost motorik pulse.  This is all to agglomerate western reference points to explain something that's beyond them though (force of habit)- crucially, Amanaz don't really sound like any other band you've heard, while sounding like every band that they've heard. Their difference, their uniqueness really comes to the fore the further from traditional rock they get - the bewitching 'Nsunku Lwendo' is the first real leap-off point in that direction and is unlike any other guitar rock I've heard this side of the Raincoats, Robert Wyatt, Eno - pure kalindula rhythms and gorgeously ornate guitar lines that then give way to a freaky proggy coda worthy of Goblin. That oddity remains whenever AMANAZ sing in their own Bembe language - the title track 'Africa' is similarly skippy and sinuous rhythmically, as if to reflect the increased ease the band feel lyrically when singing in their mother tongue. Another instrumental, 'Green Apple', seems to hint at another unlikely influence, Captain Beefheart, opening with a sequence of chords and lines so strange as to be some 30-year advance on math-rock.
   One of the most enjoyable things you start noticing about Zamrock is that although the instrumentation, and some of the musical ideas can be traced to Western sources, how these bands go about putting that music together on an album is entirely careless of the strictures and habits of Western pop, noticeably the usual rules of sequencing. Albums aren't really laced together to tell a linear narrative or 'fit'. You get the feeling not that the order's been decided, rather that the tapes started running and this, in this order, is what occurred. It makes both these records sing way more sweetly, work more engagingly on you than more finely honed & upholstered western rock of the time. At first you might not notice exactly how under your skin these records are getting. After a few days, when you find yourself singing motifs and riffs to yourself on an almost constant basis you'll be in no doubt. 'Making The Scene' is as close as 'Africa' gets to an anthem, a blazing celebration of the Zamrock scene, a proud declaration of AMANAZ' purpose and pose.  'Easy Street' is a funky little slice of Beefheartian-boogie and 'Big Enough' is strangely New York Dolls-like in its blatant Stonesiness and stridency. 'Africa' winds up, rather wonderfully (it's that whacked-out sequencing again) on the sublime 'Kale' (pronounce Kah-lay), a broken up and battered downer of a song you just wish Big Star had heard. You know by now you've never heard anything like it. You go back to the beginning. Far more competent albums than 'Africa' were made in 1975. None of them were quite as acutely compelling. Hear it.

   Ngozi Family are clearly not as able as Amanaz. The drums give the game away as much as the fake crowd-noise wonderfully smeared over the opening title-track  'Day Of Judgement' ("All the sinners will go to hell/Some of the Christians will go to paradise/What d'you think about it people/I'm gonna show you people that I'm a HEAVY Christian/I'm gonna blow everything up") , and often you're reminded of The Shaggs rhythmically. Despite/because of this though I prefer it to Amanaz, because it's often far closer to falling apart completely and because when Ngozi himself steps on his pedal and starts covering you in fuzzy honey you damn well KNOW about it - this is an album produced like a demo, played often with a simplicity that sounds like a band's first rehearsal.
   Simple but never slapdash or careless. They sound like they're trying to overcome their lack of sophistication through sheer bloody-minded desire and noise and volume and you instantly want to hear them try. As with AMANAZ you get hints that Zambia's rock audience and artists had been nourished and raised on entirely different bands than the official Western cannon would decree as significant in 75/76. Obviously, Sabbath are important to them (just check out the blatant and totally ace 'War Pigs' rip-off 'Kumanda Kwa Bambo Wanda') but the songwriting on 'Day Of Judgement' recalls garage-psyche from the mid 60s, sloganeering lyrics, dutty dutty blues primitivism a la Electric Prunes, Chocolate Watch Band and The Troggs. Because of this similarity of influence, even though they were mutually unaware of each other, the bands Ngozi Family most closely resemble are proto-punkas like Rocket From The Tombs, New York Dolls, Radio Birdman, Death, even The Damned. Every track has a killer riff, repeated until the band are bored and just start jamming on one chord, or one beat. Every track has guitars that are fuzzed to fuck, and a moment when Paul Ngozi jumps on his pedals and unleashes a howling firestorm of wah and phase that's utterly contact-high-addictive. Check out the brutal fuzz-funk drive of 'Hi Babe' ('I get to town/I meet some LADS/I got to say/ HI BROTHER'), 'I Want To Know' and 'Tinkondane' arriving uncannily at similar places to the Velvets 'What Goes On' and The Modern Lovers respectively. There's less of the difference between the songs sung in English and the songs sung in a Zambian dialect on 'Day Of Judgement' - all the songs are propelled by Ngozi's titanic confidence and irresistible force of will and I cannot stress enough what a thrilling moment it is when he starts soloing - you haven't heard such coruscatingly harsh ac(r)id-rock noise this side of Chrome.

The irresistable Paul Ngozi
   Sometimes though Ngozi Family abscond from trad rock rhythms entirely and as with AMANAZ the results are novel and delightful. Check 'Bwameawe', messy fuzz ladled over an endless slo-mo drum-roll, rhythmically like nothing else on Planet Rock at the time, the coda a riff as fat as The Dictators. It's at times like that you realise just how odd it is, what's going on here. That here is a music based on African American music, which itself is based on African music, transplanted back to the motherland and being played by Africans again. And the joy, the unique sound of that faltering reclamation, is utterly thrilling.'Let Me Know' is a three chord gospel song where the drums nigh-on entirely fall apart - you can hear the strangeness of the drummer's technique, the way the hi-hat and kick are too tied together, you can hear the drummer get bound up and tangled in himself - it's sublime, and it's sublime that a band let you hear it happening. 'Day Of Judgement' sets itself up as an album that's done, dusted, but really what makes it so enjoyable is that you're hearing discovery, you're hearing rock in a two-dimensional sense find a new three-dimensional reality in new hands in a new land. The Velvets-demo feel continues on 'We Wonna Give It To Her' - two minutes of song and two minutes of fucking about wherein Ngozi's gippage is given full freedom. A thing you start noticing as the album progresses (again, there's no sense of carefully-considered sequencing here, more that Ngozi Family are gonna keep playing their ace songs until they've got an album's worth of stuff) is just how Reg-Presley-sharp Ngozi's lyrics are - arch ('I never knew you could do such things girl/I'm trying to get into the church hall with you') snottily self-righteous ('I'm screaming so high/I know you're hiding somewhere/ I don't want to see you, you're messing around with some other men in the street/you're showing me a VERY BAD WAY' ), bratty ('Your dad really hates me''), absolutely dead-on throughout. Play this album to musicians and they'll probably tell you it's inept. Play this album to human beings and watch them smile and fall in love. 'Day Of Judgement', for all its apocalyptic imagery, is a bold and brave and brilliant boy howdy to a future. It sounds like the opening clarion call of a new movement and a new crusade. 
   That future never arrived for Ngozi, AMANAZ, Zamrock or Zambia. Instead the country was devastated by a series of crises, external and internal, economic and epidemic,  that would render it a basket case of the international community by the 1980s. Zamrock, like many of its players and figureheads, died, never to return. We're lucky that before that happened, albums like 'Africa' and 'Day Of Judgement' were made, and even luckier that thanks to Now-Again we get to hear them again. Both these reissues come stuffed with extra goodies and information but it's the albums themselves that you'll keep returning to. Uniquely odd, uniquely spirited transmissions from a lost moment of hope. Acquaint yourself immediately.

 You can buy AMANAZ here , and pre-order Ngozi Family here

Friday, 12 June 2015

Album Review - The addictive soundworld of Adrian Younge

(Linear Labs) 

'PPARENTLY (according to the pros) 'Los Angeles' is to be seen as a compilation, a 'best-of' gathering of Younge's best work thus far, in the few years he's been visible. Younge, if you don't know is an L.A-based hip hop producer born in 78 who's made some astonishing 33s and 45s.  A hip-hop producer in the most sophisticated non-DJ sense - he's an arranger and composer, works with alot of real analogue equipment, presents himself somewhere between a young Quincy Jones and an old Teo Macero, old school in alot of ways,  heavily into 60s and 70s music, especially the more psychedelic soul, the funkier soundtracks, the most sumptuous soul.  His sound is a gorgeous mix of Schifrin/Axelrod-style lushness and determinedly golden-age beatmaking. The music he's made includes albums with Ghostface Killah (2013's superb 'Twelve Reasons To Die' soon to gain a sequel in this year's 'Twelve Reasons To Die II'), the stunning Phryme album last year with DJ Premier & Royce Da 5'9" (a gloriously offensive yet wonderful album that slipped out towards the tail end of 2014 and under nearly everyone's radar, seek it out, it's incredibly addictive) as well as working with the legendary Souls Of Mischief on their comeback album last year and producing a couple of tracks for Mr Carter on Jay's 'Magna Carta . . . Holy Grail' set. Rappers appreciate his musical depth and knowledge. He makes them sound at least 25% better than they actually are.

   But for these ears, 'Los Angeles' is the most consistent set he has put out, a trembling, tremendous bolt of summer glow and glimmer that has had me strung out for most of 2015 so far. This aint a compilation, fuck that - enjoy it like it's fresh, like it's all new, like this is the only album you need by Younge, and that it was conceived and recorded in this order as an entirely self-contained statement.

   We start on Venice beach with a cresting wave, and then that Rhodes Mk-1 sound he gratifyingly uses alot and then beats of exquisite phatness and the kind of sweet vintage cine-psyche that recalls the High Llamas and the voice of Letitia Sadier crooning the bleak forlorness of 'Memories Of War' like Nico got herself Can as a backing band. Younge's music, if you're of a nitpicking mindset, instantaneously asks questions about place and space - where was this made? Where were people stood in relation to each other? What was the process? It's impossible, merely by listening, to figure any of this out, and most people will be so transported by the music it perhaps won't occur but to me it's part of the maddening insolubility of Younge's music, and therefore part of what makes it so great.  It's difficult often, to conceive of the physical studio space Younge makes his music in because he gets fiddly stuff like equalisation and compression so blissfully right his music seems to occupy a bigger, earthier, lusher, heavier place than a laptop, a vocal booth, or any of our usual imagist cliches we rush to when visualising modern music making. You can hear, and you see, old sound-stages, cost-inneffectiveness, old Hollywood but it's not as simple as being able to say this music sounds 'dated' - it doesn't, it manages through lyrical freshness and unique attention to detail to sound entirely from 2015, a studied, stylised response to the paucity of our own age, a conjuring of a fantasy past that never coincided as perfectly as much of 'Los Angeles' sounds.

'1969 Organ' which follows sounds like a heavier, even noisier Silver Apples, or an outake from 'The United States Of America', a stunningly executed slab of prog funk with a hooked change that'll haunt you in your dreams. With vocalists, Younge proves sensitive to the song and to the voice, even though instrumentally he pushes everything into the red, always toying with overload but always knowing when to hold back. 'Feel Alive' is like a longlost sublime 70s funk-soul single, Loren Oden adding a fantastic vocal as sweet and strong as Betty Davis, or something off Badu's 'Return Of The Ankh'. She repeats that trick later on the stunning spectral thump of 'Turn Down The Sound', the Portishead-like 'To Be Your One' (with a similarly tremulous William Hart) and Toni Scruggs delivers pure soul-fire on the utterly staggering 'Chicago Wing'.   When things are left entirely to Younge they get seriously bad-assed - check out 'The Sure Shot Pt.1 & 2' for some of the most evocative and suggestive instrumental hip-hop you've heard in decades.

  The tracks where rappers are allowed into the party are absolute fucking barnstormers. From his Souls Of Mischief collabo we get the freaky and fabulous 'The Last Act', with Ghostface we get the downright terrifying horrorcore of 'Return Of The Savage' and the whole stunning suite that is 'Los Angeles' winds up on 'Sirens' with Balil, an indescribably astonishing track that somehow manages to hint at what Stereolab jamming with DJ Premier might sound like before actually surpassing that in warm lambent waves of wonder. I haven't rewound, replayed an album as much this year. It absolutely hits upon a sound simultaneously smooth n gritty, harsh yet heavenly, that I just can't get enough of. Younge has a way of using old sources and new playing to create tracks that you KNOW are new but you can't quite believe aren't old classics, so strong is the writing, composition and production. Because it's impossible to nail the exact mix between the found and the created in his music it occupies a unique place, fits like an old Crombie worn by a robot. I commend it to your bosom immediately.

WEEDEATER - 'God Luck And Good Speed' & 'Jason . . . The Dragon' reissue album reviews.

God Luck & Good Speed
Jason . . . The Dragon
(Seasons Of Mist)
Hope they can keep this up on the newie, ‘Goliathan’. It’s out soon but I ain’t heard it. I won't use 'full album' youtube links with stoner/crust/doom stuff cos despite all the usual critical conversation about Weedeater being all about 'filth' and 'noise' and 'sludge' and 'bong scrapings' (music hack cliche #4080 - laboriously prove that yes indeed you have taken drugs) the tinny bleating of a computer, even through a headphone socket, is not the ideal way to hear this. You need big speakers. This is not careless, filthy music. It's as carefully produced and put together as the most painstakingly assembled electronica - though much Weedeater swings like it's recorded live, it's actually the way every single empty socket and crevice in your headspace is filled and packed tight with molten heaviosity that really makes these records creme de la spesh. I am already intently studying ways I can beg, borrow, steal or maybe even buy the newie cos these two reissues are so damn good. 

Weedeater, eating their greens. Good boys. 

So much stoner/crust/doom out there why should you be listening to Weedeater? I suppose it’s about authority, whether you feel a band are sufficiently imprinting the template with their own sense of space and place. That will ultimately decide the select few important criteria for judging this music on - is it heavy? And the next most important - is it memorable? In other words, is it something more than stoner-by-rote, something that in some way rises above the endless tidal wave of this stuff seeping out in a brown-note-seeking miasma on a constant basis from all kinds of fugged-out fugged-up corners of Planet Dearth. And on all counts, yes, Weedeater’s second and third albums, originally out in 2007 and 2011 respectively and reissued in the past few months by Season Of Mist, compel your attention like fat melting pocketwatches dangled in front of your eyes. You aren't feeling sleepy. You're feeling deliciously comatose.

Are they heavy? Fuck yeah, more importantly, they’re funky too, riven with a southern-boogie pulse that puts you in mind of Masters Of Reality and Raging Slab and even Helmet, but with a renegade rage and wit that also recalls older more oddball avatars like Fugs & Groundhogs. Even at their slowest a Weedeater song doesn’t come across like the kind of artful deliberate experimental slowness of an Earth or Sunn O))). It still sounds kinda sexy, heatstruck, natural, wild, like fucking in a mudbath, like building a buzz that can last a whole weekend with only minimum sips, drags, snorts to keep it going. It develops its own energy, pushes on irresistably. There’s something utterly badass about the stomp behind Weedeater’s music, possessed by spirits from the wood and swamp, something polyglot in its bastard birth that stops it being so white, makes it music anyone with a brain and a booty could respond to. It helps that the melodies behind the riffs are so damn strong throughout both of these albums. You ain’t heard such tuneful doom in a long time -  really revealed on lovely little detours like ‘Alone’ and ‘Palms & Opium’, somewhere tween Faust and the Palace Brothers - at times like Fu Manchu at their grooviest but just always attaining a deliciously frictive rubbery-ness thanks to the oceans of fuzz and the bassy clarity of the rhythm section - nothing is blurred, smeared or obscured here. Albini brings clarity, not excess, because he wants to bring out what a magnificently lubricated machine this band can be at both full pelt and death crawl. When words can be heard they’re bracingly angry, stunted, irresolvable, pissed off, bliss-free: “Untied, we stand/ Long live dirtweed/ Mankind is unkind, man”. 

Taken together, these two albums should be thought of as strongly as the recent work of Primitive Man, Watchtower, Mammoth Wizard Weed Bastard and Monolord’s mighty ‘Vaenir’. (Here comes cliche #4080 I mentioned) Weed, honestly, won’t necessarily help, at least not on its own. Booze will, a few little speedbombs as well, crucially volume will not only make this music work better but will reveal more the more you pump it up, and once you’re in to Weedeater’s addictive spiral you will pump the volume steadily up until you’re as close as dammit to purely being the space that exists between the noise. A fine, crushed, fucked up place to be. Get in on it.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015


   Since Xmas I've been listening to Cameron, as opposed to blotting him out, as I'm intrigued as is anyone, with someone who so thoroughly presents the fiction of conviction while their anorexic soul long-since leaked out of their cells and pooled around their sandals. Not a single thing Cameron has said or done since Christmas has been anything but gas. He can't even present the ghost of hope or belief anymore. Like David Cameron, I too saw Christmas as a chance to reaffirm those 'christian values' so many Stalinists and apologists for Johnny ISIL want to see destroyed in our national life. I hoped 2015 bought more censorship of sexual content in the media and arts, a tightening of laws against induced abortion, an encouragement of sexual abstinence outside of marriage, the promotion of intelligent design in public schools and colleges as an alternative to evolution, laws against same-sex marriage & support for laws against the acceptance of homosexuality into mainstream society as well as an increase in the desirability of organized prayer in state schools . . .

   I misunderstood apparently. Not THOSE Christian values, He meant the carey sharey 'Christian values'. The essentially humanitarian ones that aren't Christian in origin at all. The ones that he and his party have absolutely set their govt in opposition to like caring for the poor and vulnerable. The ones like compassion and empathy that he's actually driven out of public life in preference of greed and divisiveness. The 'Christian values' of that man who existed called Jesus Christ whose ideas and principles would surely be deemed idealistic and inadequate in 'dealing with the deficit' and 'addressing the real concerns' of the people? In the temple busy with the money lenders Cameron  spent Xmas bleating and mewling before deciding what particular brand of lying slime he should annoint himself with in 2015, what bullshit he shall grease his tentacle treads with as he continues to sell-off and destroy anything and everything we still have left. Like many,  I wished him a shitty Christmas and an absolutely fucking nightmarish new year. I hope this continues on Friday. 

   Welcome, everyone, to the minority voting experience. We vote Labour on 7th May out of fear. Real, close, fear. Fear that if the Tories get in and we have another five years of these lunatic asset-strippers selling off what little we have left in the UK, people we know, friends, lovers, students, parents, neighbours, brothers, sisters - are going to die. Are going to be killed by neglect. Welcome, everyone, to the minority voting experience. Exercising your prerogative as an expression less of hope, purely of fear. Vote Labour. Leaders come, leaders go, but public services cannot be left in Tory hands for another five years or there'll be nothing left to fight for. 
This is not hysteria, or over-reaction. The inconvenient poor must be silenced somehow, pushed to a margin and who cares what precipice they fall over so long as they're safely out of the way, so long as their demise can't fuck with the narrative. 

Winning the global race like Zola. 
No time for falling Deckers. 
Spikes in the calves. 
Bring them down, slowly, rakingly. 
Make it look like an accident, not a plan. 
Because after all, it's not a plan.  

   The paperwork goes walkabout before a link can be made. The UK press, owned and run by oligarchs and barons, ignores the fact its government is killing its people, instead rushes to anoint Cameron's suppurating anus with the sycophantic balm-drool of their greedy lies and diversion tactics. This is called press freedom and we are proud of it.  Everyone in a position of deniability. No-one plans for these fatal consequences, this isn't about heartlessness, for who castigates a money-counter for not having a heart, who condemns a hole in the wall for its lack of largesse? These are machines. A Tory is a machine whose sole self-appointed role on this planet is to please the greedy, appease the selfish, enable the destruction of the weak. And the poor keep dying faster. This is Tory success, the buffeting back and forth of an endless creative destruction, an undying howling Schumpeter's gale. Of course they and theirs wont fall. Of course, we're in the path. That's what we're here for. To feed the cyclone. 

   Ask anyone who works in public services. We've SEEN people die because of what this government has done. We know that if they get in, they'll feel enabled to make that process even faster and crueller. Poor people, disabled people, young people, vulnerable people, people with mental health problems, single people, married people, black people, white people, living people, dead people. We all know people who will be killed by another Tory government. Killed by them. 


Killed. And if you think I'm exaggerating, what fucking country are YOU living in? Driven to a point where death is inevitable, or the only option for escape. This is what the Tories want to do. Dispense with all of us who seem unwilling to join in with our own endless flaying and salting, including the 'hardworking'. It doesn't matter to them. You are a number, an income, a credit rating. Humanity is only extended to the wealthy. And the greedy. The humans who are just like them.

A prime minister who can exploit his own son's death to prove his 'committment' to an institution he wishes to destroy. Nothing is beneath him. For when it's all about PR, when you don't believe a word of it, it doesn't matter anymore what's right or wrong. All that matters is how it sounds. Whether it's sellable to the biggest number of cretins. Cameron has always known this, it's the full extent of his concern about 'politics'. He may end up being a victim of democracy, although his dissolute indifference to whether he gets elected or not has always been massively apparent. Revealing, as was all Western Europen governmental reaction to South European political change. ‘Democracy’ is the value that Cameron always totes as the ‘reason we fight’, the British value of freedom at the ballot-box (yeah, it’s a British idea, didn’t u know?) that yr terrorists and yr tyrannical leaders don’t understand (unless they have oil we need in which case shush yr mush yeah?). The moment that voters in Europe actually exercised that right in the interests of change, in the interest of challenging the dominant political narrative of austerity, the narrative that sustains Cameron’s self-appointed remit of overseeing & finessing asset-stripping and victimisation, it becomes a different matter. A faint wrinkle of the nose. A ‘regrettable outcome’. As if any electorate who refuses to ‘understand’ the ‘harsh realities’ that GDP is all that matters, that happiness and humanity have no place in post-crash politics, aren’t exercising their democratic rights ‘properly’. It sickens Cameron and his friends that there remains a section of the European people who haven’t been successfully bludgeoned into dazed submission by the “realities of the marketplace” i.e we fucked up, YOU PAY. 
   The idea that ‘austerity’ won’t solve the problems but IS the problem is not so strange to most of us, here at the sharp-end where the most vulnerable are tortured daily for the mistakes of the rich. To Cameron and his class such an idea is anathema because in truth, their ‘clients’ are not us but the financial and business interests they collude with in carving up and destroying whatever hasn’t been sold off yet. Fuck the Troika, and fuck austerity and god bless the Greek people for reintroducing a strange thing to European political life that night: hope. I don’t think I’m being stupid to feel it, still. And to be hopeful going into this election. Hopeful for chaos at the least. The chance for the Torys to flail, and shame themselves even more. Because their words condemn them, always. 

"You’ve got to get out there and find people, win them over, get them to raise aspirations and get them to think that they can get all the way to the top".

Always with Dave, there's the patrician tone of a P.E teacher waiting at a pummel horse. Keen to praise. Eager to also humiliate. Send to the wall, fingers on lips, until the wall can swallow them up. Take up thy bed and walk type shit is all Cameron can rhetorically throw at the weak because unlike the rest of us, he doesn't have to worry about the way his words translate in the street. 'Raise our aspirations' means 'take any old shit to get you off JSA, here's a workfare placement at Poundland and don't come back to the Job Centre". The less he can turn on the belief, the emptier, the more desperate he sounds. He's Blair without the glassy-eyed belief. A new kind of emptiness of character and soul. The kind of man who can forget he has children, unless they die in which case they become useful totems, things that prove his belief in the state. The kind of man who works on a schedule and has never really had to think about what he believes in, only what belief he believes it would be beneficial to pretend to believe in. A word of truth on his lips would sting his sinus, overwhelm his senses. Make him gag. Campaigning hasn't suited him at all. The time when he most has to appear like he cares. Everything he's said of late has seemed to evaporate in a puff of hot air. Cameron, like Bojo, is a terrible campaign politician because it involves having to argue, defend positions, which absolutely requires belief, something Cameron will never ever be able to convincingly simulate. A liability, perhaps worse than Major, just marginally better than Michael Howard/IDS/Hague. Gratifying to be reminded of this. Utterly out of his depth. A floundering, mediocre PR man. Remember him this way. And remember this government's emblematic moment - Thatcher's funeral. As Cameron starts reading from the Gospel of St. John, inside the coffin her eyes flare open, thinning slowly, a smile crossing her face. If they win on Friday she will still rule the country. We don't want that. We want her to continue to roar and rot in hell for all eternity. 

Vote Labour. We'll sort out the leader afterwards. But vote Labour. It's the only way to kill the beast. For her minions are still with us. Her evil still lives. It is our duty as human beings to always seek ways of destroying it.