Sounds : 30 April 1983
The dark and dingy recesses of the Brixton Ace were no place for the
werak at heart tonight, as two support acts struggled against an unethusiastic
crowd and their own inabilities.
...[Big Combo and UT part]...
The tried and tested and ultimately tedious trappings of 'rock' were soon to be laid to rest however. With a stage setting somewhere between a battered scrapyard and a tribal playground, SPK began their own personal rhythmic ritual.
Three in number - a nimble young lady, stage left, rungs her fingers across a synth while Brian and lynchpin Graeme attack metal and machinery - SPK hammer out hymns over a backing track that merges (what sounds like) Arabic chants and anything from dirge-like noise to disco synth.
But this ritual is more caveman than religion; like music after the bomb's dropped, from some tiny pocket of survivors. Pieces of metal - oil drums, boxes, sheets, gass cylinders - have become instruments and the strenght of a nation being rebuilt (and screaming for recognition) draws you in.
Graeme is a tower of strength, pulling everything together and sweating profusely as he thunders metal tubes down on a couple of oil drums. He is control, he is in control.
As a contrast, Brian is the wild man of the tribe, throwing down the gauntlet, destroying his treasured instruments, beating his bare hands on the floor when there is nothing else to destroy. Like a lion in heat, he smashes housebricks together. He is chaos.
It was an exhilirating experience. A real punk spirit, a destruction of the 'rock' ethic which, for so long, has ruled the roost with its limitations of denim and leather.
SPK are a volatile spark that has been ignited in a most positive manner, they transcend fashion and routine. Without doubt, they are one of the most important groups to have emerged for a long time; a Westernised alternative to the religion of the Burundi drummers and a vital force in these pos-industrial days.
Give them recognition.
OUT OF THE METALWORK:
The audience for last week's SPK gig at the Brixton Ace was wall to wall with talent.
Struggling sets from both the Big Combo and UT were endured by the masses before SPK took the stage.
Seen mingling in the audience were members of Portion Control, the Legendary Pink Dots, Nurse With Wound, Konstruktivits, Nocturnal Emissions, Test Department, David Tibet from Psychic TV, Chris And Cosey, Bushido and numerous others.
Surprise guest and impressed onlooker was soul man Billy Ocean - famed for his 'Love Really Hurts Without You' single a few years back - who was mightily impressed with the Antipodean percussionists.