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Rest in peace Pauline Oliveros. A pioneering heroine : https://t.co/2hnUAiFhFI— The Bug(official) (@thebugzoo) November 26, 2016
I dedicate this show to the memory and work of Stephen Gordon aka The Spaceape.– Kevin “The Bug” Martin
I still vividly remember Kode 9 playing me his earliest broadcasts from the abyss, alongside Stephen Gordon aka The Spaceape. Floored I was… even tho I had also previously embarked upon similar ideas with my album Pressure. Here was a duo, who were splicing together dissidence, science friction and sonic sorcery for their immaculate cover of The Specials’ “Ghost Town” or Prince’s “Sign o’ the Times”. Much later, when I asked Stephen to record my poem “At War With Time”, he didn’t just ice it, I completely froze when I heard the result. Goosebumps. And when I remembered how I used to read the numbskulls on ‘dubstep forum’ moaning about The Spaceape’s words interfering with the mood of the dance, I remembered how much I used to seethe, at their blinkered vision and closed ears, as he did too… for sure… lol!
For me, Stephen’s poetry and prose had knowingly inherited Linton Kwesi Johnson’s dread delivery, and tipped a hat to Roger Robinson’s baritone blues, but had blazed its own futurist path to a scintillating, bewitching void. The Spaceape had re-ignited my interest in the idea of combining language with cosmic tones, and for a tremendous wordsoundpower.
Other than being smitten by Sylvia Plath’s Lady Lazarus at school, poetry didn’t register on my radar till I saw Linton Kwesi Johnson fearlessly recite “Inglan is a Bitch” on national British TV’s Old Grey Whistle Test. Unplugged and a capella, his tale of alienation, indignation and the two-faced brutality of British colonialism resonated with me deeply. At that time, I knew I was pissed off at everything, and here came an angry man who verbalized my inner fire, albeit from a cultural opposite. But it was after hearing Roger Robinson’s appearance on the Chocolate Art EP that I subsequently invited Roger to guest with Techno Animal on the track “Dead Man’s Curse” (re-recorded here). I had found a meeting place for music and poetry in my soundworld. But I wasn’t the first, and certainly won’t be the last, I hope. And when I recently heard Rider Shafique’s fantastic “I-dentity” on Young Echo, it was great to hear the virus spreading still further, again.
And likewise, with drone, it went from what I guess had been Eno’s mesmeric wash of sound for Bowie’s Low or John Cale’s relentless electric viola fueling The Velvet Underground, which had alerted me to the immersive appeal of sonic minimalism. And for me, the more I submitted to the magnetic foundation of drone music’s hypnotic core, the more I became addicted to its best players/composers/producers’ heart of spaciousness. When Justin Broadrick and I began work on the first Techno Animal album, and subsequently on Re-Entry, we had well and truly become disciples of drone, in our quest to explore anti-music, and the possibility of melting down conservative song structures. We wanted to get wasted on waveforms, and get suspended by endless loops of fx.
Whilst many of us have lost faith in words and language due to misuse, political abuse and floods of imagination stealing ad-rushes, it’s a pleasure to put together this show with its slow musical evolutions and psychological revolutions. And with the shockingly depressing rise of the far right globally, and countries scrambling to close borders, it was crucial for me to bring together disparate voices from disparate cultures, united in their protest, passion and affirmation of life. Drone is the weapon, words are the ammunition. Enjoy the meditation.