Industrial Evolution * Mick Fish (2002)

During the 25th Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig (2016) Loki-Found decided to not rent a 2 metre stand at the Agra market, but a cellar somewhere in the city: a “pop-up store”. There my eye fell on a book with “Cabaret Voltaire” on the cover, so I thought: “A book about early industrial, interesting” and took it home.

There is a long story to this book. The author is a weirdo living in London. However he went to university, his interests mostly laid in drinking a lot of beer and talking about strange music, such as punk which had its peak halfway the 1970’ies. When he saw an announcement of a concert of Throbbing Gristle, Fish expected this to be a punk band and he rattled up some friends to check it out. “TG” proved to be something wholly different: electronic noise terrorism. He did not even know if he liked it or hated it, but lateron he came to think that this sort of music could well be ‘the next thing’.

One of Fish’ drinking buddies moved to Sheffield to study. “Paul” (Widger) would grow into the upcoming experimental Sheffield scene and would later become involved in Clock DVA. Travelling to Sheffield often, Fish also got involved in the Sheffield scene and became friends with “Mal” (Stephen Mallinder) and the rest of Cabaret Voltaire. “The Cabs” were more Fish’ taste than TG, but he and his buddies started to dive into the world of industrial and experimental electronic music.

Cabaret Voltaire set off in 1978 and already a few years later Fish took up the idea to write a book about them. This would take another couple of years and in a way, “Cabaret Voltaire, the art of the sixth sense” is the basis of the current book, since the first book was reworked once and would become a wholly different book for the third version. Whereas the original book really was a book about Cabaret Voltaire, lateron Fish not only wrote about “through the eighties with Cabaret Voltaire” (as the subtitle goes), but also his own life and his occupation (“and the local government” as the subtitle ends on some websites), as the got an occupation in the local government and remained more than a decade between his weird colleagues. This results in a strange book with a chapter about Fish himself and then a chapter about music, etc.
Fish shows himself to be a fanatical consumer of beer. Lateron he starts to use different kinds of drugs and describes how this heavily influenced his life. With a lot of humour and a lively style we follow a strange guy tumbling into a strange musical world about which he can be both praising and critical (he does not spare “The Cabs” either). He also describes his own musical efforts, how he the book came to be and how he became a publisher. Of course you also learn about the early experimental music scene in the UK and a bit the USA.

I learned a few things too. The upcoming experimental scene did not so much come after punk, but (almost) simultaneously. Also, it seems that the UK may have been earlier experimenting with extreme electronic music than the “no wave” scene in New York. Brian Eno might have been the person to bring over the virus.

When you like reading about early experimental music, this is a nice book to get. Also to get an idea of the strange days of the 1980’ies under Tatcher seen through the eyes of a person with a somewhat hippie upbringing.

2002 SAF Publishing, isbn 0946719462

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