Prussian Blue: Sensationalist or Censorship?

July 21, 2007 at 10:39 pm (extreme music, politics and society)

Saw that highly odd documentary on 4OD this week entitled Nazi Pop Twins about the music of White Supremesist teen folk duo Prussian Blue. Like most Channel 4 fodder, it’s typical ‘shock doc’ material designed to provoke a reaction. Actually, there’s a healthy debate on C4’s Culture forum about the programme.

Josh 933 comments:
“You can’t solve the ‘problem’ of extremism by simply outlawing it, you have to explain why there’s a better, more fulfilling, ideological alternative to the White Nationalists or whoever. Free speech for all, not some, that’s equality.”

There’s no denying that Prussian Blue’s material is one-dimensional, neo-nazi nonsense, stimulated by their barmy mother who is clearly three swastikas short of an SS Bunker. Teaching three-year-old daughter Dresden (yeah, really!) her ABC (“A is for Aryan, B is for Blood…”) case in point. The oh-so-cute smiley-Hitler T-shirts the girls wear and jig-round-the-swastika is a clever marketing ploy on mom’s part, but although they’ll never achieve commercial success, they’ve clearly already achieved what attention-seeking mom wants through appearances on ABC News etc. She is, after all, just a pushy mom with a copy of Mein Kampf nestled next to Mrs Beeton.

What really offended me about all this, wasn’t the fact that actually the girls couldn’t sing or play, their music was poor and songs mediocre. It wasn’t grandpops cattle brand in the shape of a swastika. It was the utter sensationalist and bias reporting of filmmaker James Quinn. Quite clearly, he had no interest in using his journalist skills to make an objective or intelligent report on the twins and the wider issue of rising anti-seminitism, ‘white pride’ etc, but intended to shoot and edit to portray the family in the worst possible light. The ‘band’ have fans, otherwise they wouldn’t be touring Europe, but the portrayal was they were vilified by everyone under the sun.

Like many of these shock-docs, the subject is the ‘butt’ and the film made under false pretences. The rare exception being the genuinally rounded documentary of Bernard Manning: Beyond the Grave on Channel 4 recently. Gave the self-confessed racist codger enough rope to hang himself while filming his own obituary. Bizarre, yet touching and very funny. Bless him.

I digress. The real danger I’m highlighting here is that censorship, or deliberately sensationalist coverage of so-called ‘extreme’ politics, art or music (remember Manning was a mainstream and highly successful TV comedian in the 1970s, and the National Socialists had a few ‘fans’ in the 1930s so it’s all contextual) is in itself an attack on liberal society. When I googled to try and hear some of Prussian Blue’s music to make up my own mind, I found their website had been temporarily taken down, the only presence on Myspace was an anti-Prussian Blue group and a pro-Prussian Blue group but no profile or music. These ‘closures’ are unlikely to be related. However, there was some material on YouTube including a bizarre ‘white pride’ rant message piece (with no indication of whether it was produced by the band or a fan) and a happy meadow video, which you can judge for yourself. (I’m actually suprised their videos did stay on YouTube given their heavy-handed censorship, I had heaps of trouble trying to post a humorous naked eclair video by John Callaghan). The comments onYouTube are usually dumb-ass and ignorant on a good day, but this one by the “Victory Day” video took it to another level:

“id love to rape them in theyre (sic) mouths and then stab the baby in the head just to show how not cool nazism is. word” – theodoubleg

So when I finally got to check it out, my conclusions:

– A few catchy numbers, bit Alan Morris for my tastes – had they got the souped-up funky production of Joe Ladyboy they might be passable, but I can’t see any of these getting played at the National Front Disco.

There’s nothing wrong with swimming against the sea, running against the grain, and creating controversy with what you do – it’s damn hard and puts you in a vulnerable and weak position in society, so you would only do it if you really believed in your view. As Winston Churchill put it:”You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something.” As I would say, “You’ve never seen enough until you get thrown out“. Or as Prussian Blue say “Stand up for what you believe in” (even if it’s hideously flawed and offends 99% of the globe).

Art and music exist to reflect and challenge conventional views of society. It’s happened in France already with the Paris riots and increasingly in UK and USA, we have increasingly divided communities, fuelled by events and policy (e.g. terrorism, immigration) and between what is perceived to be an inbalance in the treatment of how freedom of speech differs between races and so-called ‘positive discrimination’ policies in society. Some rappers in France openly convey anti-white lyrics. The debate on the merits and flaws of multiculturalism and integration has never run more fierce.

Like Sex Pistols, Throbbing Gristle, Laibach and Ken Livingstone, it can take some extremism to challenge and change society for the better. By cutting short the debate, the many-headed hydra under the surface will bubble and later explode. I would hate it if Babyslave‘s music was ever censored. We’re controversial, but we like to think in a philosophical way, but it’s better to be banned than to be compromised in what you do.

Yet it’s the so-called liberals who tend to be the most reluctant to have their viewpoints challenged. In the UK, it’s more socially acceptable to be a Communist, Anarchist or Animal Liberationist than a Fascist or British Nationalist – though all are forms of extremism that have been linked to the rise of violence and terrorism. There’s no peace and love in the ALF. Are Screwdriver a better or worse band that Chumbawumba? The later, of course, having ‘sold out’ to EMI to have a chart hit which served as a drinking song more than political rally. Personally, I believe the world is greater enriched by exploring both ‘extreme’ points of views. Paradoxically, porous ideas and cultures are, after all, what changes the world.

I myself have stood in the face of Eastbourne’s liberals for standing up for an alternative view point, to start a debate following the aftermath of the London 7/7 bombings. Those coming to the gig to be ‘shocked’ (as it claimed in advance publicity) by extreme art, Foxtrot Echo, Tony Wakeford et al, turned out to be easily offended (I faced fairly limp-wristed threats afterwards), as this ‘exhibit A‘ recording testifies…

In hindsight, I may not have said and did what I did at the gig, but it was an immediate and direct response to the political and society ‘demons’ dancing publicly at the time of recording. And I think Prussian Blue, when they get over their angst, testostorone adolescence will probably make some more tempered music, less skewed to holocaust denial and maybe something a bit happier, like chasing butterflies in that pretty meadow. Then no one will care about them anymore, their time will be done.

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Musings on “I Confess”

July 9, 2007 at 11:53 pm (Babyslave recordings)

Babyslave are going to do something clever soon involving download EPs – it’s the new 7″. Or cassette-only release fad. It may involve the colours pink and blue and it may involve a tribute to the luminary Industrial Records, but it’s all a bit hush-hush for now. It’s gonna be great – trust me!

Last week, myself and Mr Ladyboy gathered on his home turf ‘oop north’ to plan phase 2 of the Babyslave mission, and, as industrious as always we spanked out a few hits between Match Of The Day and Dr Who.

One that turned out rather nice was a 21st century rendition of that long-lost industrial classic, “I Confess” by Dorothy. It’s a sort of post-modern, self-referential, Serge Gainsbourg-esque effort at a jolly pop song by Dorothy Max Prior and Alex Fergusson who went on to join Psychic TV. It’s got that paedo-pop style ‘is she/isn’t she’ underage thing going on. Anyway, great article appeared on ‘tinternet via Kid Shirt’s blog to over-analyse this pop vignette in fine detail.

Blow me, if Miss Dorothy herself didn’t reply herself for what makes an intriguing post script to the “I Confess” story. It turns out that it was submitted (but sadly not shortlisted) for entry in Eurovision! I like the idea of her scrabbling together lyrics based on the contents of her floor. Very like Babyslave’s mode of operating, even for re-working this number.

It also seems that around 2005/06 was a year of syncronicity for “I Confess” coming back into the public’s consciousness, including a recall at an art show curated by Foxtrot Echo (former member of Coum Transmissions). Surely not the same controversial art show in Eastbourne where Hypnotique’s Pact With The Devil live album was recorded?

Anyway, when it’s all ready to sink your sweet teeth into, our version, packed full of contemporary references to a just-past culture (the namecheck of Kenny Gee had Joe in convulsions), will be up there as UK’s answer to ‘My Lovely Horse‘. Null point.

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Giving birth to Babyslave’s first gig

July 9, 2007 at 11:20 pm (Babyslave shows)

Subterfuge Flyer

15.06.07. 8
These numbers have such symmetry. Etched forever on our soles as the date when Babyslave came out of their back bedrooms and gave birth to a pool of kaos into the world.

Well it started like this…

I met up with the boys in Stockport for our first (and only) rehearsal. They say: ‘it’s grim up north’ and Manchester has ‘so much to answer for‘. Well Stockport, by comparison, has definitely been sent to Coventry.

After walking miles of dilapidated take-aways and industrial retail units, we finally arrive at our glamorous rehearsal studios in an imposing industrial mill. Furniture retailers and a dangerous looking gym (think: Krays personal suite). We get in the freight lift with our gear. It’s a bit erratic, jerky, never quite getting to the floor we want until….
Yep, we’re trapped in a lift waiting for the fire brigade. We have our instruments and beers so not all bad. Had ET moment peering out of the window to see men approaching in yellow helmets and what looked like atomic suits. Rescued by burly chaps with all the necessary equipment – how dramatic! I thought they’d cut us out with big chainsaws and stuff – but not so dramatic. They found the ‘security guard’ and fiddled with the leavers til out we scuttled. Bit of an anti-climax, but we lived to tell the tale. Rock and roll!

babyslave. lift in Stockportbabyslave. lift in Stockport

Above: Here we are, stuck in a lift awaiting our rescue in Stockport

The next night at the gig – repeat same. Salford Mill, an industrial mill-cum-artists hang out, this time in Salford, a similarly scenic and charming spot of the world where they are going to built the UK’s first Media City on the watery quays. On the less aquatic back streets, you’re more likely to feel the cool metallic sensation of a knife on your throat heading to the off license. A city of contrasts.

It would be fair to say Subterfuge was fairly low-key and casual. I wouldn’t say the organisation was lacking, just beyond opaque. Apparently the sound guy was having his dinner or something – we never saw him all night so we just did it ourselves. Still, it made for a nice communal vibe between the acts – and what a fun line-up.

The Matinee Orchestra enchanted the select crowd with some lovely, unexpected summery upbeat jazz-tinged numbers. Aspects of The Cardigans, but full of energy and optimism – in contrast to the sawdust-filled grimy surroundings.

Next up were two burlesque dancers. I just don’t get burlesque. Yes, it is an art, but to do art you have to be an artist, not an imitator. And to do burlesque you’ve got to be able to ‘do sexy’ even if you don’t look conventionally sexy. The men (and women) seem to look on in horror when she was undressing from a puffball party frock with a teddy bear to ‘Truly Scrumptious’. Truly excruciating. But in some ways, appropriately ‘industrial’ in its method and reaction, to ‘do sex’ and make it utterly unsexy – almost mechanistic.

Then Babyslave rocked da house. The line up being:

Hypnotique (voice, sax, theremin)
Charles Mansion (laptop, sax, violin, voice)
Joe Ladyboy (laptop, guitar and sorting the whole musical shebang out. Cheers for that).

We went for a mix of ‘hits’ and noise. Highlights being ‘To Each Their Own‘ (role-call of those beyond good and evil) and Joe’s latest ‘anthem’ ‘We Hate You Little Girls Aloud‘ – a tribute to Throbbing Gristle, 2007 style. Lots of ad-hoc madcap stuff in between featuring dualing alto saxophones, invention of a new high octane language for ‘Little Girls’ and opportunities to rock out and make a lot of pleasantly noisey feedback.

And the feedback from our small posse of pals who’d braved it to Salford was positive. Yay! We survived our first gig! Next time, hopefully we’ll dare to do a bit more of the music live, add some live visuals and be a bit more challenging – to ourselves and audience. It’s all very well doing confrontational music, but you have to know the audience is with you (helps if you’ve got an audience too), and know what you’re doing, so these low key ventures are a good thing – for now. Afterwards we were buzzing – must have been the vibe, or maybe the effects of the ‘chinese medicine’ Charles thrust in my paw before the show.

After us, there was an interesting turntablist act from Hull called Slippedisco. Kind of playing records from charity shops with bits of tape stuck to them to create lock grooves. Intriguing (unlistenable) stuff. Reminded me of Project Dark who I once gigged with, they made records out of materials (hair, sand, metal) and played them on gramophone records. Peel loved em. Apparently it was Slippedisco’s first gig outside of their hometown. Joe was keen to point how offensive I was to them to say “What you’ve never left Hull?”. I actually meant to say “you’ve never played outside Hull” but it obviously came out wrong. Apologies if any offense taken. Now it’s not often I apologise so lap it up, northern boys. I’m sure it’s very nice in Hull. Gotta be better than Salford.

The whole event, and surroundings, although skewing on Nathan Barley, was a suitably fitting place for Babyslave’s first gig. As always, I was operating on wing-and-a-prayer mode-da-operatus. Didn’t have anywhere to stay but the lovely Caro Snatch saw I wasn’t running the streets of Salford, Morrissey-style.

Today Salford, tomorrow – Salt Lake.
Or Budleigh Salterton?
Actually, we’re looking for some more shows, so even that would be OK. If you’re a promoter in Budleigh looking for a dada-inspired electro-noise act, please do get in touch…
Miss H

x

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Slave Neu World

July 2, 2007 at 12:18 am (Uncategorized)

Good morning, and welcome to the Lair of Eros.  Can we tempt you with tea?  Martini?  Martyrdom?

This is the appropriately collective blog of Babyslave – a music and performance art micro-collective in an industrial tradition who take inspiration from the work of Marcel Duchamp, William Burroughs and Luigi Russolo.   We are based in Manchester and Nottingham in England.

Blah, Blah, Blah…
For all the blurbs, discography and biogs see the Babyslave website

The purpose of this blog is to transmit, with the purpose of creating a record and archive,  our activities, philosophies and inspirations as we moved further into the internalised rituals of music-making…

So as to ensure we don’t move too far into our nether regions without making contact with what they call the ‘real world’.

Babyslave currently are – core members:

Hypnotique (voice, sax, theremin)
Joe Ladyboy (guitar, samples, synths)

…we recently have the pleasure to be joined by:

Charles Mansion (voice, sax)

Here’s some pretentious blurb on what our first mission is about, which we call The Lair of Eros:

“A circular journey into a world both seedy and corrupt, yet a reflection of that which lurks behind the gaudy shop front of the modern, apocolyptic-era consumerist society. The musical technique is one of oblique strategies yet also reverse psychology – where seemingly literal images create a sense of known narrative yet a converse, darker journey is undertaken, where beautiful landscapes sooth an aural picture of decay, and happy melodies dance folly a circus of bloody, human horrors.”

Join Us.

Ms Hypnotique

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