I was asked if I was interested in writing an article about an event I’m organizing and how this would fit in the wider London art scene. This presented to me a series of challenges.
In first place, I have never written an article that was meant to be published and would be potentially available for posterity. I’m good at summoning up weird sounds from my software, from my synths or from other devices. I’m good at doing wide eyed enthusiastic ravings about the music I’m obsessed with or the political issues that really fire me up. This can end up involving a lot of manic gesticulation and the occasional fleck of spittle. But actually committing my thoughts to metaphorical pen and paper is not really my forte. I don’t have the patience, discipline and instinct not only to proof read, but be willing to do more than one draft.
Although I’ve lived in London for most of my adult life, I’m still very much a detached outsider. I have some interest in art in general, but I’m very much unaware of what’s happening artistically in London. I tend to go out more to gigs than to art exhibitions. But even then I don’t go as often as I wish. So what I can offer is my very limited opinion as an occasional punter.
I’m organising an event called Technicolor Prescription. This is meant to be a celebration of psychedelic music in its myriad forms, from its beginnings at the end of the 60’s to the present day; a love letter to its bold exploratory feel, its weirdness, its ability to reflect feelings of ecstasy or of standing at the edge of a Nietzschean abyss of existential dread, how its effects indirectly permeate certain underground currents that have been absorbed by the mainstream. Another more prosaic reason is that this would be the kind of event that I’d like to enjoy as a punter and that I feel that somehow is not on offer around London. Or if it is available around London is not widely divulged and therefore ends up slipping under my radar.
I want an event where pre-Autobahn Kraftwerk can be heard alongside the joyous celebratory music of Goat; where the hypnotic throb of Spacemen 3 can rub shoulders with the visionary futurism of the Silver Apples; where Can’s Hallelluwah being played in its entirety is considered to be perfectly acceptable; where the pop laden psychedelic confections of the Beatles can coexist perfectly with the brutish sonic onslaught of Comets on Fire, and numerous other examples – a place that can cater for the connoisseurs and those that are dipping their toes in the psychedelic waters.
Of course there are obstacles ahead of these lofty ambitions. I don’t know if I’m being unfair or it is just a case of bad luck, but I sense a certain apathy towards such smaller scale events. I’ve been to a few gigs in pubs which have certainly been entertaining, but it’s heartbreaking to see bands putting on really great performances to practically empty venues. I don’t know if this is down to inadequate promotion; or that the vicissitudes of residing in a city like London with such a high cost of living drive away potential audiences; or the process of gentrification is resulting in a form of cultural homogenisation; or that punters are kind of spoiled for choice so they end up not choosing anything; or that because there is so much on offer, a collective blasé attitude is permeating London, so that people are not willing to see such a kind of small scale event as something potentially special. Then there is this phenomenon of social fragmentation that can happen in large cities where people feel disconnected from a larger community.
Perhaps there is some truth in some of the points made above. I grew up in a period of significant cultural transition in Portugal. When I was a teenager, it was rare for international bands to play in Portugal. I don’t know why tours skipped that odd rectangle on the Iberian Peninsula, but that scarcity made those kinds of gigs seem like very special events, stuff that you had to go and watch because you never knew when or if certain bands would play in Portugal again. Crowds would go absolutely wild. This situation has changed and as I grew into early adulthood prior to buggering off to London, the Summer Festival scene exploded, more bands would now include Portugal on their tours.
When I was a teenager even watching small local bands was exciting. I remember going to watch a local metal band on the suburban town where I used to go to Secondary School. This was an unsigned band, they were only well known locally, they were all still Secondary Students, but somehow they managed to attract around 100 people to watch their gig, myself included. So it could be argued that if you live in the cultural wastelands like I did it can make people more eager for going to a gig, any kind of gig, even if it’s a local unsigned band.
I don’t know whether Technicolor Prescription will be the beginning of something exciting. I certainly hope so and I’m willing to put all my effort to make it happen. If in the past, other over enthusiastic music obsessives managed to create something exciting in a DIY fashion, why could that not happen again? Perhaps they need a gentle nudge; a reassurance that they’re not isolated, that there are other people who share similar sensibilities and are willing to come together. I hope that communal sense of belonging can be summoned and be as equally important as the music, the visuals, the extravagance, where the crowd itself is an integral part of the experience.
25th May 2018, 19:00 The Others 6 Manor Rd London N16 5SA
D minor records is proud to present Technicolor Prescription
An audiovisual exploration of psychedelic delights curated by D minor records and hosted by The Others. A celebration of psychedelic music in all forms from its beginnings at the late 60’s to the present day
Vasco, the Red Menace – countercultural agitator, DJ for the evening
NUKLI – psychedelic veterans of the golden age of free festivals, firm favourites of the psychedelic circut, they will be performing live their own spaced out cosmic jams
Deviant Amps – Essex based psychedelic rockers, they’ll bring out their road tested sonic attack
Plus video projections, liquid lights, fancy dress contest and a psychedelic raffle.