Sounds : 6 August 1983

Elephantastic days

The Elephant Fayre, Cornwall

Saturday daytime was an opportunity to find our bearings. The covered walkway shopping arcade felt, in the heat, like walking through a greenhouse but offered a wide range of clothes, food, antiques and other paraphenalia. The social, political, religious and welfare organisations were well represented, but seemed to draw few takers. So the most enjoyable activity was to have a drink on the Isles Of Elephant, a constructed platform stretching out into the river Tiddy from which you could watch the swimmers and the mud-people, the latter being some of the stars of the weekend.
As twilight approached, so the beauty of the Elliot estate and the surrounding countryside became less incongruous with the opening rumblings of SPK. I could have been worried about them and their motives: from their publicity material with its pseudo-mystic Psychic TV predeliction for substituting K's for C's just like the Crowleyites and Sixties hippies, and for the possibility of them being another set of Rock Conceptualists whose words outshone their deeds.
But SPK ritually disembowelled the sequence, logic and time of Rock, presenting a vibrant music. Prerecorded rhythms, sounds and textures provided the backdrop and any number of variants could be added, be they trumpet, the eerily phrased voice of Sinan, or the demolition derby percussion exploits of Graham and Derek.
They embody the true spirit of un(en)forced internationalism: New Zealand, China and England are represented in this group and their tri-levelled pipe/metal/machine music is an apposite soundtrack for the holidaymakers from the North who had been hammering down the M5 that day.
SPK can summon up the trance of Tibetan monks, the solemnity of Catholic rites to conduct their own version of the Spanish Inquisition (the drill says it all) and the movement of the Industrial Age, and mould them into an exhilarating danceform. Future recordings may indicate a marked step towards accessibility and club connection but in performance,SPK are a living, breathing trio celebrating the unity of Man and Machine. They can put me in their camp of concentration anytime. 

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