New York-based Graphic designer Mike Joyce made a whole slew of super-cleanversions of old punk, post-punk, hardcore and indie flyers which he appropriately titles “Swissted.” The concept comes from “his love of punk rock and Swiss modernism, two movements that have absolutely nothing to do with one another.”
Over the years, the Variety Bar near Charing Cross, Glasgow has been a hotbed for artists and musicians: from painters, such as Steven Campbell, Peter Howson, and Adrian Wiszniewski, to the legendary AC Acoustics (one of John Peel’s favorites), Happy Particles and now, Pioneers of Anaesthetic.
Pioneers Of Anaesthetic is the name by which musician Steven Cossar writes, records and releases his music. Since 2000, Steven has recorded almost 400 songs, which he compiles onto “albums” of 30-40 tracks each, these are then sold or given away at gigs.
“I try not to use the same guitar tuning twice, although there are many identical tone intervals with transposed sets of strings. I have played occasional shows around Glasgow, which typically consist of 2 sets - One written and one written on the spot ; Instant Composition Improv, if you will.”
So successful is Steven’s Instant Composition that many of his audience have asked after shows if he is “actually lying and have pre-written the Improv sets.” For the record, he doesn’t, which makes Steven’s talents all the more exceptional and impressive - “Apparently, the less writing I do… the better.”
“I’d describe the music as short songs for a long attention span. The ideas and melodies are repetitive but usually dissolve quickly enough to (hopefully) warrant repeated listening.
“A recurring structural trait is to leave the flourishes and embellishments out until the last phrase or chorus, so that the song seems like a short glimpse of it’s potential and there is plenty left to the listener’s imagination.
“Lyrically, I rely on home-truthing and coming clean about stuff I’d usually shy away from in ‘real life’.”
It is this that makes Pioneers Of Anaesthetic’s music deliciously addictive, the songs, none of which last much more than 1 minute 30 seconds, are short enough to catch interest, but finish before that interest is sated.
Steven’s interests and influences include Guided By Voices, Red House Painters, and Lou Barlow. He’s also claims he is “Inspired by the approach of the late Hip-Hop producer, J Dilla more than any other artist. His influence on urban and all alternative musics is staggering.”
Over the years, Steven has been a well respected ‘Gun For Hire’ around Glasgow, contributing his musical talents to several bands.
I am a multi-instrumentalist, but have a heavy slant towards guitars and drums. I guess most of the bands I’ve played with never really wanted to commit fully and it’s always been a case of not taking it too seriously.
“I play in Larmousse (City Slang) with Cliff Henderson and David Gow (Sons & Daughters), I’m recording an album with Steven Ward (Empire Builder), I play in Mandrake Shepherd who’ve just completed a 3 song Demo session at my house in the preperation for Studio Album.
“I’m rehearsing a new Band, tentatively called Mussel Memory, with two friends I’ve played with for years, Iban Perez (Tut Vu Vu, Sparkling Shadazz, Rags & Feathers) and Ben Ashton (L Casio Immunitas, Sparkling Shadazz) and we’re incredibly excited by the material we’ve garnered thus far. I’m preparing to release a split 10” and Download with fellow Glasgow Bedroom Savant, BLOOD BLOOD. We have a mutual appreciation for the processes we share and the slightly off-kilter side to each other’s songs.
“I’m also rehearsing a full band version of Pioneers Of Anaesthetc for some shows this Winter. The band will feature Paul Foley (Eva, Vaselines, Mandrake Shepherd), Gordon Farquar (Stapleton, Happy Particles), and Cliff Henderson (Larmousse).”
But all this other fruitful activity won’t mean a lessening of his creative work as Pioneers Of Anaesthetic.
“I am continuing my current exercise in high volumes of output. It’s what I call ‘Quantity Control’.
“The idea is that I limit myself to one hour to write and record each song. I feel that once an initial idea leaves your head, with every passing second - it’s being compromised and re-thought. I just want to try to minimize the interference I have with the imagination’s melody-writing process.
“Quite often, It makes me laugh out loud, as the stuff that comes out is nowhere near what I’d usually shape it into, but that’s got to be healthy.”
Yet another essential recent BBC music doc, this time a fascinating glimpse into the history of the seminal indie label/empire Rough Trade. More beloved late 70’s post punk records are touched upon than would be wise to list, but I was particulary awestruck to see footage of the original lineup of Scritti Politti sitting in a dilapidated bedsit earnestly hand-assembling the epochal “Skank Bloc Bologna” single. Founder Geoff Travis comes across as a passive aggressive faux-naif with faultless taste and a talent for the elusive right place/right time nexus. Watch, learn and listen. above photo : Genesis P-Orridge delivers the 2nd Throbbing Gristle L.P. D.O.A. to Geoff Travis @ Rough Trade HQ, 1978
This issue features on the current Los Angeles and New York music scenes (and this stuff is actually GOOD. I hate most music and especially indie crap but editor Kelly McKay is an adept at finding and publicizing Truly New and Exciting and Interesting bands that people haven’t heard of and really should. This stuff WILL expand your cultural knowledge base about 17 chess moves past the party line.)
Bands featured in this issue:
From LA: We Are The World, Weave, Rainbow Arabia, Marfa and Ne-af, Fancy Space People, Hard Place, Hecuba, Jer Ber Jones.
From NYC: Preacher and the Knife, Bellmer Dolls, Lights, New York Night Train, Golden Triangle, Patrick Cleandenim, Rebecca Cherry, The Nasties, Electric Tickle Machine, The Beets, Light Asylum, Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, White Diamonds, Class Actress, Bunny Rabbit.
My very good friend Kelly McKay’s fashion magazine Swoon is launching its latest issue, a split publication devoted to the New York and Los Angeles music scenes. Issue five, arriving immanently, is available for pre-order?