Posts Tagged ‘Stewart Home’

22nd of April 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

I can’t help but think of Stewart Home’s riotous 90s novels with wild tales of skinhead antics around London penned in parody of Richard Allen’s seminal pulp youthsploitation ‘Skinhead’ series of novels from the 1970s when I see ‘Sta Prest’. In Home’s early novels, there’s a skinhead dropping his Sta-Press trews to receive a blowjob every ten pages, and it’s high comedy and the pages are infused with the sounds of punk rock and ska.

Essex snappy-dressers Sta Prest can genuinely claim to have been there, having started life in the 1970’s. Their return after a LONG time out follows the retrieval off their demos from ‘78 from the vault at Abbey Road Studios.

Back in the day, they only released a brace of singles, with a retrospective compilation emerging in 2010, and it’s only now that they’re finally getting to release their debut album proper, Shadow Boy, with ‘Keep Drinking’ being the first cut released to the world.

They describe it as ‘a modern drinking shanty’ and it’s a rough and ready, choppy, jaunty slice of punk that sounds like the school of 78, only with references to conference calls at lunchtime;’ and various other contemporary markers. Ultimately, as much as it’s a shanty or a punk rock tune, it’s an anti-capitalist, anti-organisational song that’s delivered with a fist-pumping energy. And the sentiment – the desire to ditch it all and fuck off down the pub – is timeless. It’s energetic, it’s fun, it’s relatable, and I’ve got time for one more.


Sta Prest - Artwork

Editions Mego – EMEGO226 – 24th February 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

The latest work from Florian Hecker, A Script for Machine Synthesis is described as ‘an experimental auditory drama and a model of abstraction’. The press release continues, explaining that ‘A Script for Machine Synthesis presents a complex simplicity that spirals in an unending manner as an audio image of the uncanny valley. It is the third chapter in the trilogy of text-sound pieces Hecker has collaborated with the philosopher Reza Negarestani. A resynthesized voice outlines procedure as procedure itself unfolds… The suggestive encounter with a pink ice cube is a conceptual point of departure for a scene in which linguistic chimeras of descriptors are materialized through synthetic trophies, mental props and auditory objects. Exeunt all human actors, A Script for Machine Synthesis is an experiment in putting synthetic emptiness back into synthetic thought.’

I’m reminded of a number of theory-based text works centred around automation and abstraction, ranging from William Burroughs’ cut-ups and Brion Gysin’s permutations, to Philippe Vasset’s 2005 novella, ScriptGenerator©®™, via Stewart Home’s experimental audio piece, ‘Divvy’, which used computer-generated voices to read the two simultaneous narratives. The concept of the removal of the author from the creative process is nothing new, and while a robotic takeover may have been more greatly feared in science fiction works of the 1970s and 1980s, the fact of the matter is that the threat is greater now than ever before – but people are generally too wrapped up in reality TV or killing themselves just to make ends meet and to pay the bills that the technological developments of the last decade or so have gone largely unnoticed: instead of a seismic shift, the takeover has been gradual and insidious.

A Script for Machine Synthesis exists in a strange territory between territories, or, more specifically, times. While drawing heavily on the paranoias – and, by its sound, technologies – of preceding decades, it’s very much a contemporary work in terms of its concept if not so much its rather retro-sounding execution.

A Script For Machine Synthesis is not an album one listens to for its textual content: it is a drab, monotonous work which centres – aside from the introduction and credits – around a single track some fifty-seven and a half minutes in duration. Slightly fuzzy monotone voices narrate the process of the process in the style of technical manuals, and lecturing a highly complex theory in the driest, dullest of styles, while bubbling synths and electronic scratches and bleeps provide distracting incidentals which aren’t quite distracting enough to break the monotony. It’s hardly riveting from a sonic perspective, either. At points, the words become practically inaudible as digital distortion and file corruption disrupt the audio. Skittering, warping interference do more than interfere with the audio flow, but create a certain cognitive dissonance which engenders a sort of subliminal tension: I find myself growing twitchy and jittery, manifesting in increasingly awkward head-scratching, and a difficulty in sitting still. It could just be a unique individual response, ad of course, any experiment will produce different results with different subjects, but sitting by candlelight with a relaxing pint, I can’t readily identify any other factor which may explain my growing discomfort.

This is, of course, the ultimate synthesis of theory and practice, and more than anything, the experience of listening to A Script For Machine Synthesis bears strong parallels to the digitally-generated screeds of text published by Kenji Siratori in the late 90s and early years of the new millennium. That is to say, it’s a concept work which, while far from enjoyable, is undeniably admirable in its audacity and its absolute commitment to explore the concept at its core to its absolute end. This is art.


Hecker - Script