William Blake + Mark Stewart = chaos magic
Or rather it should have done… I loved The Pop Group but missed Mark Stewart’s later work until tonight when I found some from 1985 on KYPP - hear it here
and read it here
Wish I had heard it then - the chaotic sound of this awesome noise evokes that apocalyptic time. Would have been the perfect sound track to bash out chunks of text for chaos mags. Damn. So it goes
John Eden has written up the story of Mark Stewart and the Maffia.
I have just sent off for ‘As the veneer of democracy starts to fade’ from 1985.
Here are a couple of samples from John’s text.
On paper it doesn't sound like it would work. Urban paranoia and a techno sensibility; the positivity of dub reggae gone horribly wrong; dystopian visions mixed with those of William Blake, Donna Summer and William Burroughs; voodoo and ultra-left texts. But it does work, most of the time, and when it doesn't the fractures and fuck ups can be far more rewarding than the gleaming monolith of yet another corporate uber-production. 1982: LEARNING TO COPE WITH COWARDICE perhaps the main reason to get hold of a copy of this album today would be for the last track, Jerusalem.
The scum-sucking politicians of New Labour and the Conservatives have both laid claim to Blake's anthem. In the process there has been an attempt to create some kind of definition of "England" as a nation. The sort of nationalistic distillation which added weight to the manipulations which brought so many working class kids to the trenches of World War One.
Mark Stewart perhaps has more claim to Blake's legacy. It's clear from his texts and the images he uses that he's had visions of "England" that are both beautiful and horrific. The fact that the track is dubbed to fuck also provides a kick in the teeth to people who like things nice and tidy, who hark back to the Empire, the stiff upper lip, nicely clipped lawns and the ordered tyranny against everyone not male and upper class that is "our" proud heritage.