I’m three episodes into the New Weird Britain series on BBC Radio 4, which has been airing on Monday afternoons throughout June and blasting the likes of GAZELLE TWIN, GUTTERSNIPE and LONE TAXIDERMIST to listeners lingering after The Food Programme. In
four episodes, The Quietus’ John Doran posits that off kilter, experimental music is having a resurgence in post-austerity, post-Brexit Britain and uses a term coined, possibly satirically (like all the best genres – new rave was a joke after all), within his and these musician’s circles.
I approached the series with an automatic suspicion, remembering how attempts to create The Narrative about a subculture can feel cloying, self indulgent and makes you wonder who’s being left out. Doran at least seems aware of this and is self-deprecating throughout as he spans both major cities and rural hinterlands, letting the microphone run at performances and chatting to bands. There are references to the material
conditions that may have led to these artist’s situations, warnings about the creep of fascism into tedious power electronics nights, and the constant threat of venues disappearing on a landlord’s whim. (It was nice to hear a
different part of New River Studios and Salford’s White Hotel, showing how punk habitats can sometimes take on different lives…)
There is an amount of inevitable navel gazing, humblebragging and name
dropping from Doran – we get it mate, you went to the Haçienda – but that is forgiven through some of the interviews on offer, my favourites being from the artists mentioned above. Urocerus from GUTTERSNIPE mentions the joy of finding other freaks in your city and how the internet and shared scenes can galvanise you – sound familiar?
- There’s a radio column here because Another Subculture started out as an audiozine back in the day following the realisation of DIY Space for London, interviewing some Scunthorpe DIY weirdos along the way. You can listen to the 2013-15 series on Bandcamp for free.
- Realised that New Weird Britain isn’t exactly punk so if you want that listen to Repetitive Strain & A Cellarful Of Noise on Comet Radio, Maximum Rocknroll on Resonance Extra/online, Yesterday’s News & La Vida es un Mus on NTS and Fake Fur through their Mixcloud.