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The Instant Automatons - So It's Come To This
Links - Most of the following are the "official" websites - whatever that means - but are by no means the only ones. These are really only meant as a starting point.
STREET LEVEL - First and foremost, the definitive website concerning the Street Level dis-organisation. MEANWHILE GARDENS - The Meanwhile Gardens events were made possible by the (uneasy and not always very willing) cooperation between the Gardens workers and association and, initially, the HERE & NOW band.
Noisy music caused a certain amount of alarm with the Meanwhile Gardeners who were presumably aware of their precarious and miraculous existence. As the festivals continued throughout the 80s Westminster Council achieved notoriety with their casual disdain and disregard for the lives and activities of ordinary people. Who knows what discussions went on? The Boat Club across the canal in that borough were certainly not amused by the echoes of "Fuck Thatcher!" from the green chipboard PA system. By this time the garden folk had already taken the stage away (hence sand in the drum machine switch) - but then we brought our own. You can see from the link above they are still fighting for survival.
After the last concert the green chipboard PA system did there (the Here & Now pre-Turbo rig having been sold on or lost somehow) we heard that busybodies were doorstepping in Trellick Tower trying to get a petition going against the events, but most of the residents thought the gigs were cool.
It was time to move on. People had started to attend the counter-commercial space with sandwiches to sell.Other worthies with whom we rubbed shoulders and who are still ploughing their own off-centre furrows are as follows:
The unstoppable KIF KIF LE BATTEUR is now a member of ICI MAINTENANTS (Easy Maintenance, geddit?), which also includes ex GONG/HERE & NOW members STEFFE SHARPSTRINGS, TWINK and MIKE HOWLETT. There are downloadable MP3 snippets and various CDs available - details on the site. STEVE LAKE - the multi-talented ex-Zounds frontman has his own site, and there is also a sister-site devoted to the marvellous ZOUNDS (then and now - find out what Protag is up to at the moment) THE ELEPHANT BROTHERS, the latest band to be graced by the mighty mighty MIC WOODS, have pulled their clapped-out Ford Transit out onto the Information Superhighway at WHIZZBOMB.COM - and they've got a CD out! BLYTH POWER - no introduction needed, surely? MARK PERRY - likewise. Also on Mark's site, you can find out more information about the re-release on CD of THE DOOR AND THE WINDOW's classic Detailed Twang LP. On the subject of TDATW, there's also an excellent CD of previously unreleased live recordings from 1983-1987. Titled Dr Egg, it is available directly from BENDLE for the very modest sum of £5. JUSTIN ADAMS - time-served multi-instrumentalist and Street Level luminary THE ASTRONAUTS - still crazy (and still together!) after all these years THE LEMON KITTENS don't appear to have a website, but KARL BLAKE has, and there are a number of links available to information about DANIELLE DAX COLIN POTTER is still at the helm of the ICR organisation. LEN LIGGINS, who appeared on No Platform For Heels, is a member of the fantastic UKRAINIANS Invading the World Wide Web by stealth is PHILIP SANDERSON, one-time member of DIY electronica duo STORM BUGS and the mastermind behind SNATCH TAPES. Philip's partner in Storm Bugs was STEVEN BALL JONATHAN COLECLOUGH, who once released a cassette on the Deleted Records subsidiary Fashionable Trousers, is now a well-respected "dronecore veteran". Appearing on this links page will no doubt ruin his reputation for good! THE MYSTIC UMBRELLAS, who contributed the marvellously dreamy Journey To The West to the Deleted Funtime cassette and also had a cassette due for release on Fashionable Trousers (although it never happened), was the brainchild of MARK VALENTINE. Recently, the long-lost master tapes of these compositions were discovered and have now been remastered, remixed and released as the CD Langton Freeman's Summer-house Tomb. Mark is also now a well-respected writer, author of several tales of mystery in the same vein as M.R. James and Arthur Machen. Well worth checking out, I think: you can start here. MIKE SINCLAIR , one-time member of THE MIDNIGHT CIRCUS (featured on Angst In My Pants) is currently a member of the wonderful SUGARBOX. Mike also tells me that a Midnight Circus retrospective CD is planned in the near future, in association with Hyped To Death (see below).
These sites are also of interest, for one reason or another:
WFMU is an independent freeform radio station broadcasting at 91.1 fm in the New York City area, at 90.1 fm in the Hudson Valley, and live on the web in Realaudio, or in Windows Media, as well as two flavors of MP3, and all programs archived in Realaudio.
Features The Automatons on a regular basis, and tons of other stuff you're unlikely to hear elsewhere.
ANOTHER NICE MESS is a weekly internet radio show broadcast (in English) on DFM Radio in Amsterdam by DJ Marcelle van Hoof.
HYPED TO DEATH have undertaken the Herculean task of releasing on CD as much post-punk DIY music as they can get their hands on. Check out their Messthetics series for some real gems (including a number of ex-Deleted Records tracks). This site also has a reprint of Johan Kugelberg's Top 100 DIY Records that originally appeared in UGLY THINGS magazine. I'm proud to say that the Weird Noise EP is listed at No.3, Peter Paints His Fence is No.10 and Angst In My Pants is No.34, and described as "the second greatest compilation in the history of rock". Well, I don't know what to say! PAUL ROSEN has written an incredibly well-researched and scholarly paper on the late 70s/early 80s independent record boom. Someone give this man an MA! (Paul has recently written to me to say that he's already got an MA. Well, how about a Nobel Prize, then?) CHAINSAW FANZINE was one of the few fanzines to feature an Instant Automatons interview - I remember Charlie Chainsaw driving all the way from London to Scunthorpe in his clapped-out Mini just to interview us. What a hero! Incidentally, Charlie is still on the go and running WRENCH RECORDS, a punk record label and mailorder concern. Protag has requested a special mention for Bill T Miller's CIRCUITBENDING.COM site. "Doing well - and beautifully, what I only ever did badly" says Protag, and who am I to argue? WIKIPEDIA, the open-content online encyclopaedia, is interesting anyway, but it also has a short article on Cassette Culture that mentions The Automatons. P.J. Peanutz, one of our correspondents, has suggested links to two sites that may be of interest to musical obscurists (and if you're not a musical obscurist, what are you doing here?). MY FIRST BAND is an American site dealing with amateur garage bands from the 60s. If you're hungry for information about bands like Sojourner Wolf's Cathouse Band, The Bark Of Paper Mulberry or Banana Cream Weather Balloon, then this is the site for you. The second site is VINYL VULTURE, dedicated to the sort of records you find at car-boot sales. An absolute must for all of us who love trudging round muddy fields on a Sunday morning, vainly searching through cardboard boxes for that elusive Top Of The Pops LP with the cheesy cover version of Pretty Vacant...
Normally, I don't have any time for web logs as most of them seem to be an accumulation of esoteric, self-indulgent rubbish. One notable exception. however, is Jay Hinman's AGONY SHORTHAND - a nicely opinionated, literate and informative column with a musical theme. He's mentioned The Automatons a couple of times, so I can't fault his taste. A couple of classic-style fanzines that have made the leap into cyberspace are PART TIME PUNK and NO CLASS In case you have arrived here while searching for information about actual 18th century automata, you may want to check out Automates-Anciens.com, a very informative site with versions in French, English, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.
If you discover any other links which you think should be included in this list, then please do not hesitate to contact me.