Even in my ripening older age, I’ll still find myself hitting these exciting musical-discovery inflection points in which entire worlds open up, and I spend an inordinate amount of time frantically collecting, downloading, studying and of course listening to sub-genres I’d neglected.
It’s usually through the influence of one or more curators, whether that person is a friend, a writer, or a “disk jockey”. There’s the friend – several friends and correspondents, actually – who sent me deep down a dub rabbit hole when those incredible Blood & Fire CDs started popping up in the late 90s. There’s Erika Elizabeth’s Expressway to Yr Skull WMUA radio show, which I listened to religiously circa 2010-13 and discovered an appreciation for music (to quote myself) “…at the perfect intersection of deep-underground pop; 70s-80s British DIY and post-punk; 90s shoegaze and twee (stuff from lost 45s and cassettes that no one’s heard for two decades, I’m serious); garage punk; and a lot of noisy girl-helmed bands that had been lost in a patriarchal fog of several decades of disregard.” In fact I probably started the Dynamite Hemorrhage fanzine in 2013 because I’d been so re-invigorated by this particular radio show taking place across the country from me, and for the first couple issues she was the only other person I’d allow to write for it, so indebted was I & so complete was my trust.
Then there’s Matthias Andersson’s Fŏrdämning, easily one of the finest fanzines of the 21st century. He wrapped it up a few years ago, yet in 2017, when Fŏrdämning #11 came out, I could feel my own tastes and tolerances expanding simply by virtue of Andersson’s heavy influence. As I read his dissections of modern and past experimental, noise, and rock-adjacent (sometimes barely) sounds, I developed a much deeper appreciation for the weirder edges of the sub-underground, and my own podcast and fanzine evolved accordingly during the mid/late 2010’s (i.e. a few years ago). It turned out that as Matthias was moving somewhat closer to more rock-oriented sounds – i.e. he talks about his admiration for The Suburban Homes and Cheater Slicks in this very issue – he was helping me move closer to his personal original starting point in noise and formless free-form not-even-music. If it weren’t for him, I’d have known nothing about Neutral, Leda, Amateur Hour and Enhet För Fri Musik, for instance.
Fŏrdämning, you may not be surprised to find out, was a Swedish fanzine, albeit one written in perfect English. Better than perfect, even, in that there’s nothing stilted nor dumbed-down in the least, the way some English-language fanzines emanating from the European continent have often been (and listen, if I tried to attempt a fanzine or even a paragraph in Swedish or any other language, it would easily be the worst thing you’d never read).
From his perch in Gothenburg, Andersson celebrated his collector obsessions, yet in a manner not at all redolent of the stench that can often emanate from the mania of collecting. Fŏrdämning #11 opens with an essay about a beautiful year at his local record store in which a nameless collector has unloaded an insane collection of Fŏrdämning-approved gems: New Zealand 90s lathe cuts; Majora 45s; the Siltbreeze back catalog; Flying Nun rarities; Urinals and Fall singles, Twisted Village records and so much more. The essay is about how Andersson and his pals frolic in the abundance and in their amazement at their own good fortune. It’s the stuff dreams are made of – no seriously, my dreams. You can actually read the piece here.
This intro serves as a prelude to an issue that focuses on micro-labels of the past, including Bill Meyer’s Roof Bolt, Mike Trouchon’s gyttja, and two noisy tape labels I wasn’t familiar with: Thalamos and Vigilante. Roof Bolt was a terrific – and terrifically unsung – 1990s American label focused on New Zealand that put out fantastic Alastair Galbraith, Roy Montgomery and Terminals records, along with the only 45 ever from Brown Velvet Couch, a total high-water mark of the NZ underground. Andersson also carries on his back-page column about lathe-cut records “Speaker Crackle In The Garden”, which this time focuses on Sandoz Lab Technicians. In the reviews section, there are the exact reviews that turned me on to Stefan Christensen and Blue Chemise. A top-drawer issue all around.
You should also know, if you don’t already, that Andersson is the fella behind the I Dischi Del Barone, Fördämning Arkiv and Discreet Music labels. He’s been on a hell of a run the past decade.