The Null Device


A Graun piece on Colin Wilson, the reclusive misfit who wrote the Great British Existentialist Novel and then squandered his newly acquired status putting out over 100 books on outré subjects such as serial killers, UFOs, cults and Atlantis, as well as the odd Lovecraftean horror story, who has just published his 110th book, his second autobiography:

His philosophy is basically existentialism with non-rational excrescences and characterised by bizarre nomenclature - Faculty X, Upside Downness, Peak Experiences, Right Men, The Dominant Five Per Cent, King Rats. It seems to constitute an attempt to classify human feelings and behaviour as written by a Martian who has never met an Earthling. This is, of course, Wilson's weakness and also, in a way, his charm - he has no understanding of other people whatever. When I ask if he would say he is low in emotional intelligence, he readily agrees: 'That is fair, yes.'
He is exceptionally tolerant of nutters and happy to engage in long correspondence with people who have theories about, say, alien abduction - or with Ian Brady, the Moors murderer, with whom he corresponded for 10 years till Brady dumped him. But ordinary social contact - apart from with his family - seems completely missing from his life. Missing, but not missed. He says that about 10 years ago Joy insisted on going out for a drink on New Year's Eve. 'We finished off drinking champagne at midnight in our local pub and it took me a year to shake off all the people that I'd met!'

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I recently picked up three CDs from local artists and/or labels:

  • Your Wedding Night, s/t -- new-garage-rock with a slutty-bogan-chick flavour. Songs about shagging in panelvans oral sex, and facial ejaculation, as well as mainstays such as crushes and thinking one is cool. The sound is somewhere between The Strokes and AC/DC, only on a garage-rock budget. One of the personnel is Kellie Sutherland, of sugary-twee-pop superstars Architecture In Helsinki; perhaps her next project will be blinged-out hip-hop or something? (Interesting to note that Clem Bastow, who previously took Architecture In Helsinki to task for being too bourgeois, gave this a bucketing in InPress; could that be a vendetta?)
  • Baseball, Gods And Stars, Priests And Kings. This one is Cameron Potts' baby, and if you know anything about Mr. Potts, you'll know that it's rather weird. The booklet is filled with reliefs of Assyrian torture methods, each described in details; meanwhile, the record combines breakdance-electro-hip-hop drum machines, Middle Eastern scales played on punk violin, piano accordion and samples from Islamic prayer calls and a 1978 New York hip-hop radio show. Cameron's manic intensity has a way of not coming out without an audience, and his studio recordings are usually less energetic than his live performances; however, the layered spoken-word treatment on track 1 works quite reasonably, and Cameron's vocals in other places evoke John Lydon circa PIL. In parts of the CD, however, the elements don't so much come together as collide head-on; the dirty garage-punk bass sound doesn't sound quite funky enough for electro hip-hop, and one gets the impression that the elements don't quite jell.
  • Various artists, Wild About You! A Tribute to the Australian Rock Underground 1963-1968. This is a book and CD, put out through 3CR, and co-edited by local troublemaker Iain McIntyre. The book consists of interviews with various people who were in bands at the time, recounting being inspired by hearing the Beatles on the radio, as well as the trials and tribulations of being in the Australian rock scene, which involved being harrassed by the police for having long hair, or beaten up by the local yobs because their girlfriends fancied you. (Australia was a rather rough place back then.) The CD consists of covers of 1960s Australian garage-rock standards by contemporary bands, such as The Drones, Pink Stainless Tail and Digger and the Pussycats. The music is, as you might expect, typically fairly straightforward 3-chord blues-based rock, though not far removed from the stuff that's fashionable now. Most bands play it fairly straight, though The Gruntled bring in a hurdy-gurdy and French bagpipes, whereas Ninetynine give their contribution the usual Casio-and-vibes treatment, making it sound almost like electro-pop. Oh, and the last track was recorded backwards (as was the original).

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