Oh yes…and this from Brainwashed; “With very few exceptions, Simon excels at just about everything he tries..”

1989_009-2Lots of new exposure for the Mannequin records CD+2 X LP ‘Bourbonese Qualk 1983-1987’ project and the ‘Lies’ 12″ – from a strange mix of DJ magazine and new ‘industrial’ press…

Resident Advisor

Sentirescoltare (Italian)

“Colonna sonora perfetta della decadenza urbana, tra incubi distopici e sogni libertari, oggi come allora, i Bourbonese Qualk ci mostrano, da un passato mai dimenticato, lo spirito e le forme possibili della resistenza del futuro.”

Igloo Magazine (English)

“Bourbonese Qualk were as difficult as their name suggests: abrasive, uncompromising, highly conceptual and devoted to specific ideals. As one of the early original industrial bands from the UK emerging in the tumultuous wasteland of Thatcher’s England, BQ would influence many other bands to follow”

DJ Broadcast (Dutch)

Hartzine (French)

“…Perfide Albion”

Juno (english)

““God With Us” which originates from their 1983 LP Laughing Afternoon and suggests fragments of their musical legacy has spread deep into the DNA of modern electronic music.”

Bourbonese Qualk 1983-1986

Bourbonese Qualk 1983-1986

It’s taken a while but, the first of a series of official re-releases of Bourbonese Qualk archive material comes out in a few weeks on the Berlin based Mannequin Label. ‘Bourbonese Qualk 1983-1986’ not surprisingly, is a compilation of tracks taken from the first five albums during the early Crab/Stanza/Gilbert period of 1983-86 and will be available as a Vinyl LP and CD.

Track listing is as follows:

Bourbonese Qualk 1983-1986

  • 1. ‘Dream Decade’ Originally released in 1987 on the ‘Bourbonese Qualk’ LP
  • 2. ‘Born Left Hearted’ Originally released in 1986 on the ‘Preparing for Power’ LP
  • 3. ‘Pogrom ‘ Originally released in 1986 on the ‘The Spike’ LP
  • 4. ‘Soft City’ Originally released in 1986 on the ‘Preparing for Power’ LP
    5. ‘Headstop’ Originally released in 1984 on the ‘Hope’ LP
  • 6. ‘Gag’ Originally released in 1984 on the ‘Hope’ LP
  • 7. ‘Outcry’ Originally released in 1986 on the ‘Preparing for Power’ LP
  • 8. ‘Return To Order’ Originally released on the ‘Preparing for Power’ LP 1986
  • 9. ‘Confrontation’ Originally released in 1986 on the ‘Preparing for Power’ LP
  • 10. ‘In-flux’ Originally released in 1986 on the ‘The Spike’ LP
  • 11. ‘Qualk Street’ Originally released in 1983 on the ‘Laughing Afternoon’ LP
  • 12. ‘Backlash’ Originally released in 1986 on the ‘Preparing for Power’ LP
  • 13. ‘Sweat it 0ut’ Originally released in 1987 on the ‘Bourbonese Qualk’ LP New
  • 14. ‘There is No Night’ Originally released in 1984 on the ‘Hope’ LP
  • 15. ‘God With Us’ Originally released in 1983 on the ‘Laughing Afternoon’ LP
  • 16. ‘Blood Orange Bargain Day’ Originally released in 1983 on the ‘Laughing Afternoon’ LP
  • 17. ‘Shutdown’ Originally released in 1986 on the ‘The Spike’ LP
  • 18. ‘Invocation’ Originally released in 1984 on the ‘Hope’ LP
  • 19. ‘To Hell With The Consequences’ Originally released in 1983 on the ‘Laughing Afternoon’
  • 20. ‘Erector’ Originally released on the ‘Hope’ LP
  • 21. ‘Black Madonna’ Originally released in 1984 on the ‘Hope’ LP
  • 22. ‘Suburb City’ Originally released on the ‘The Spike’ LP
  • 23. ‘Workover’ Originally released in 1987 on the ‘Bourbonese Qualk’ LP
  • 24. ‘Deadbeat’ Originally released in 1986 on the ‘The Spike’ LP
  • 25. ‘Insurrection’ Originally released in 1986 on the ‘Preparing for Power’ LP
  • 26. ‘This Is The Enemy’ Originally released in 1987 on the ‘Bourbonese Qualk’ LP

The tracks were chosen by Alessandro at Mannequin to focus, I think, on the more electro-minimal, verging on ‘pop’ style. Not the choice I would have made! – I find my early, er, singing, too awkward and painful to listen to, but, it does seem to be what BQ have become ‘known for’ so who am I to argue?

You can get it here:

watch this space [   ] for more re-release news.


Memories of Lol

August 3, 2012

Lol Coxhill (19 September 1932 – 10 July 2012)

The Recedents Live at the Red Rose, London Feb 6th 2007

In 1984 I attempted to release the first album by Lol Coxhill’s trio ‘The Recedents’* on our Recloose Organisation label. Unfortunately all of the global distributors absolutely point-blank refused to take the LP claiming that even by Recloose standards this was strong meat i.e. no one but the terminally obscure or criminally insane would think of buying such a product. So, to my eternal regret I shelved the project.
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With empire came sugar and with sugar came slaves. Slaves that made the sugar (African) and slaves that brought it to England and processed it (English, Irish, Welsh and Scots). Those that exploited the labour made fortunes and built the city of Liverpool (the irony of Tate Liverpool).

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So after a lengthy campaign of pestering, John Peel finally allowed us to record a session for his show in late 1986 (for the unaware; John Peel’s nightly BBC Radio programme was hugely influential to new music in the UK throughout the seventies and eighties) with the caveat that we weren’t to set foot in the BBC studios. John Walters, Peel’s producer somewhat haughtily claimed that we had such a bad reputation for anarchic trouble making, nicking stuff and smashing things up that we had to use our own equipment…which was a bit rich considering the long list of ruffians who HAD been allowed in.

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Auf einen Augen-Blick

February 11, 2012

‘Auf einen Augen-Blick’ is an animated video piece using sequences of hand corrupted jpg files. If I was a bit smarter i could probably have written a script that batch processed multiple files but I found that there is something important in the laborious process of doing each frame by hand – it introduces some organic element into what should be an efficient process…I like the contradiction of using digital media in such a manual way…especially when the content is all about degradation and corruption of the media itself.

Random Rough Mix

February 7, 2012

Been a while comrades: heres some audio and video of stuff from the studio floor that wouldn’t otherwise see the light of day – edited together in a random fashion. Quite a large dose of Geoff Leigh in there from the work we did together and never quite finished…



November 25, 2010

Towards the end of this video I am being beaten with fish by a very tall Australian woman then lifted upside down by my feet and shaken so that all the coins in my pockets fall on the floor. The location is Clapham Junction railway station in London which at the time (1986?) was partly derelict – the occasion,  a shoot for the Factory Records stars Durutti Column directed by DV8 Physical Theatre Company. Miles makes a ghostly appearance with trademark slouch at  2.46 sadly a surreal dance sequence he did was cut from the final edit.

More Sunseastar video tracks from the album ‘Fjaerland’

bourbonese qualk dma2 bourdeax 1989

bourbonese qualk. dma2 bourdeax 1988

DMA was a record label and music promotion organisation based in Bordeaux who were best known for the annual DMA2 ‘Divergences/Divisions’ music festival during the late eighties. This festival became one of the most respected ‘experimental with an industrial slant’ music event in Europe and featured such stars as as Legendary Pink Dots, Nocturnal Emissions, The Hafler Trio, laibach and of course, Bourbonese Qualk.

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Live series 2 cassette package
Live series 2 cassette package


To Londoners, The old Kent rd  has been for many years a byword for poverty; the cheapest, dismal brown coloured property on the monopoly board and in reality a grimy thoroughfare providing the boundary of two of the most neglected regions of London, Peckham and Bermondsey. Once the heartland of a solid white working class population the area was bombed close to complete destruction during the war and then rapidly rebuilt with monolithic high-rise housing estates which by the 1980s had begun to be abandoned and crumble.

In the cold winter of 1984 we – bourbonese qualk and crew – occupied the Ambulance station, an empty five story castle-like building on the Old Kent Road. Our ambition was to create a radical ‘cultural-political centre’ (though we would never have used that term) and a general base for our activities – performance space, recording studio and office for the Recloose organisation label –  in the middle of this piece of un-picturesque South East London. After lengthy renovation (removing 1 meter deep layers of dead pigeons, replacing piping, windows and tiles on the vertiginous roof) The top two stories were converted into artists studios, the middle storey our living quarters. The first floor was taken up as meeting space for anarchist groups, a free cafe and offices for the local squatters organisation, ‘S.N.O.W’ (who housed more people in 1985 than the local council). The ground floor was changed into a large performance space and bar as well as a recording studio, sculpture studios and print workshops.









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adventures in forestry

August 29, 2008

lots of Qualkology this week. This time an mp3 compilation put together by Uncle Spellbinder at  Anomolous Mind – a kind of online label that issues unnofficial bootlegs, mashups and so-on (incuding, strangely, the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith and the Who) .  ‘Adventures In Forestry’ is the title they have given to their selection of early ‘classic qualk’ (not my description) of the 1983-1987 period.

Bourbonese Qualk  is by far one of the most under appreciated bands in my memory. One of the main reasons I created this comp of the early years was with the hopes that others would come to appreciate the wondrous sounds Bourbonese Qualk created over your all-to-short tenure” says kindly Uncle S.

download it here: ‘Adventures In Forestry’ bourbonese Qualk 1983-1987


August 28, 2008

In one of the most drunken fits of my life, I single handedly managed to wreck a Bourbonese Qualk gig. Porto, Portugal, 198…9? 91? I love BQ, I have all their musical output, but I can’t avoid being proud of wreaking havoc that night. For years, people I didn’t know came up to me and asked: “aren’t you that guy who…” yes, that’s me!
haha! not quite what happened…you came on stage and miles strangled you until you passed out – while still playing guitar..
ah well, I MUST have been there…true, my memories are a bit hazy but I definitely don’t recall any drunken Portuguese ‘wreck’ the gig…I suspect that you were so drunk you wrecked the wrong gig.
Simon! Put up some more vids fer god’s sake!!!
um, ok…i’ll see what i’ve got.
Go on ! Bung something up, otherwise this is the only online evidence of your godlike genius… and I stole it off your own website anyway !
its impressive how music and people were so diferent…im 22 years old and a feel so disconected i wish i lived in the sixties
Ok,the whole story to refresh your memories:there was no stage, Labirinto is too small for a stage,and the place was packed.I was right at the front with my mate, and we were so drunk that we started plucking the guitar(bass?too drunk) strings while Miles(?) played on.He wasn’t too happy,so he kicked us a couple of times.I wasn’t too happy either,so when he put the guitar down(in between songs or during a song with no guitar,not sure)[continued on next comment]
Good for you, twat!! You sound like a genuine fucking arsehole. I’m sure your typical British Stag Night shenanigans are exactly what every BQ fan wants to read about. Thanks so much for being pushed out of your mother’s foul cunt!!!

Charming.  Jorge Stretcher WAS at the above mentioned gig (Bourbonese Qualk  at the Labirintho, Porto, Portugal in 1990) and made these recordings of the somewhat chaotic event:

Bourbonese Qualk live at the Labirintho, Porto, Portugal in 1990

bourbonese qualk 1989

Some time ago, well, many years ago, we (bourbonese qualk) were asked to provide some unique material to be broadcast on a French radio show by Tristan Koreya. We put together a collage of work in progress at the time (1989 ?). The result was a snapshot of half finished tracks linked together in typical qualk fashion i.e. semi-randomly. Some of the music made it onto various releases in a slightly more polished form, others didn’t, thank god.  most of the music is Miles Miles and I (where was Owen?) with a focus on twangy guitar tunes and Arabic doodles – The quality is patchy and some of it over-indulgent, sketchy and in need of severe editing, some of it kind-of works – bear in mind, this was intended as a one-off never to be heard again broadcast. Tristan has posted MP3s of the show on His blog ‘nostalgie de la boue‘ which brings a snapshot of the time, and all the accompanying ghosts, back to life:

bourbonese qualk unreleased broadcast 1989

Paris in the spring

March 7, 2008


More qualk nostalgia. This time some recordings made in Paris, April 1991. These recordings date from the ‘Unpop’ period and shortly after the entire group were permanently banned from entering France (…it’s a long story but we each had nice red circular stamps in our passports which said something like ‘banned from France”). We made a few small concerts in Paris, having sneaked over from Belgium (crafty, eh?) and then quickly off to Spain. The idea was to make some quiet, mostly improvised ‘café style’ dance concerts to flummox the usual crowd of noise loving goths. The recordings catch the group in a playful mood – a clear homage to Mahmoud Ahmed and Cheb Khaled. And, as usual the sound quality is pretty rough…

bourbonese qualk live Paris ‘EPE’ April 1991 8MB MP3


bourbonese qualk. RRV, Lisboa 08-12-1987

Some unreliable recollections and rough recordings of the gig we (bourbonese qualk) did at the Rock Rendezvous in Lisbon in the 80’s, (December 8th 1987 to be exact…my memory triggered by recent comments on this blog): At the time Portugal was undergoing a minor renaissance in new music – the Fascist dictatorship of the seventies had given way to a state of attrition between the traditional conservative catholic mainstream versus an ad-hoc collective of revolutionary groups, eccentrics and newly active youth. This polarization resulted in a profusion of new music groups such as (amongst many others) electronic experimentalists SPQR (who supported us at this gig), dark surrealists ‘Mão Morta’ and the cerebral pop of Pop De’ll Arte. Our gig was organized by the hyperactive João Peste of the Ama Romanta label – responsible of promoting much of the new Portuguese underground and hosted by Rock Rendezvous, the epicentre of live music in Lisbon at the time.

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Is it worth it?

January 30, 2008

Next week i’m talking at a seminar discussing ‘the value of creativity’:

Economies of Value: A Seminar interrogating the roles, levels and definitions of value in media arts practice and partnerships.

SPACE, 129-131 Mare Street, Hackney, London E8 3RH

Tuesday 5 February
2008 10.30 am – 5 pm

Distributed South invites you to join us in a seminar which will examine issues of value and its measurement, paying particular reference to Media Arts sector and partnership working. We will focus on resource exchange and the value of research conducted by artists and organisations, through the development of work, residencies and placements.

Contributions from key economists in the field of cultural and creative management will enable us to look at systems that are being modelled to measure value in networks and groups. Alongside these systems, projects designed to focus on measuring value and exchange through social networking and information/resource exchange will demonstrate new methods of measurement

Economies of Value will be of interest to those working in the media, media arts, ICT and business people looking at new models of working.Like all events related to Distributed South it aims to move and inform policy in the media arts sector to drive forward new approaches to working and developing the field.

Some years ago we put the entire Bourbonese Qualk back catalogue online for anyone to download for free and do what they like with it. This wasn’t a Radiohead style marketing exercise but a statement of value – something is worth much more if it is free. Music has always been ‘free’ until it became fixed as a commodity i.e. when the gramophone was invented which triggered the notion of ownership, control and IP. Releasing records for us wasn’t a commercial exercise but a way of distributing our ideas and we’re sold as cheaply as possible (Crass’s ‘steal this record’ analogue equivalent of mp3 downloads).
Someone sent me a link to a discussion about the Radiohead campaign that mentioned our ‘give-away’ (making me feel worthy and smug):
“…as a follow-up example, bourbonese qualk put their entire catalog online for free a while back. i was ecstatic, since their stuff was very hard to find anyway. i DL’d all of it, and got hold of them to see what i could do in return. they asked for a donation to Médecins Sans Frontières rather than any payment to them. a few minutes later, MSF had $50 from me.”
Help yourself from here:
…or all the albums from this single torrent file:

SE London 1986(Not really a sound from memory more the memory of an imagined sound…)

The ideal city is a city with mountains – Naples, Lisbon, Sarajevo, Phoenix Arizona even. The flat and claustrophobic city of London lacks this topological quality but tries to make up for it in the form of council tower blocks (not quite the vertical exuberance of Hong Kong or Shanghai but it will do…) and it was to these buildings that i was drawn in a skyward search to try and ‘understand’ the city and the London landscape.

In the early Eighties council housing was in chaos and these blocks had been more or less to fend for themselves; the original tenants had moved out (except for a few aged ” i’ll only leave here in a coffin” types identifiable by heavily armored front doors) leaving the run of the place to a colorful mix of smackheads, the smackhead’s drug dealers, ‘antisocial’ families and the dregs of the squatter population.

(a friend of mine who lived in the top flat of a fourty storey building, hacked a head sized hole through his bedroom wall so that when he was lying in bed he could remind himself that the only thing between him and the void was a thin layer of breeze blocks. His occupancy of the flat was cut short when a pirate radio station gang persuaded him to leave by dangling him out of the kitchen window…)

Access to the buildings was unrestricted, I spent happy hours exploring and climbing these imitation mountains – walking up the stairwells, climbing scaffolding or directly up the exterior of the building, balcony to balcony to sit, dangling my feet of the top. Much of the mid-period bourbonese qualk imagery derives from this architecture (not as commonly supposed an ‘industrial’ affectation but a search for the echo of a more rural landscape) as video, album covers, posters and photographs. But more and more the focus of my climbs became the attempt to record the fall from a high building; Sitting on the edge of the top of a tower block caused me an almost unstoppable physical urge to leap off – i was sure the falling sensation would be worth it, however brief. I decided to try and capture a simulation of falling by dropping microphones and video cameras off high buildings creating a series of short, very short, films and audio recordings (and smashed equipment). I never came close to matching the imagined sound, a sound which has to be experienced to be fully appreciated: in a short six seconds the sound of televisions, and children crying changing pitch though doppler distortion as i drop past the balconies, the noise of the city – traffic, car alarms, sirens fading as the range decreases to a single point of impact on a concrete surface bringing the short journey full circle from solid to void and back again.

Some tips on falling:

“The Herald of Free Enterprise sinks, Piper Alpha and Kings Cross burn. These temporarily grab the headlines that sell the newspapers that fund the next catastrophe. Elsewhere the scientists sell us failsafe mechanisms that snap, the artists cast over us the spell of beauty, the shopkeepers flog us shoddy goods. The Religious meekly offer up tolerance and all the time the politicians remind us we’ve never had it so good. Four screws instead of six for maximum profit, and the wing drops off. Lest we forget, we should try the war criminals of the future now.”Summer 1988.

“On Saturday the fourth of June 1988, as the sun set on the Bluecoat courtyard in central Liverpool there occurred an hour long incident. A monumental barrage of sound, light, image, daring, dance, fire, music, speech and performance. A spectacle based on the African Vimbuza ritual, designed to strengthen us all in the fight against those evil and negative spirits that have polluted the world sporting the brand names of Colonialism, Market Forces and Incentive, but all the time disguising the real sponsors: Greed and Negligence.”

…I’m sitting with Miles Miles on top of a high empty plinth outside St George’s Hall in the centre of Liverpool. A swarm of military vehicles followed by a troupe of Ghanaian dancers and manacled slaves slowly process around the ornate Victorian buildings. My friend Artmy Troitsky (Russian rock journalist, author of several books, one time boss of Playboy Russia and now head of MTV Russia) is standing, a little nervously, Nelson like on the top of a fifty metre high column declaring sections of ‘Das Kapital’ in Russian through a megaphone (the synbolism!). Bourbonese Qualk supply the soundtrack to the event -Miles and I are playing guitars lying flat on top of the plinth and manipulating the sound with some basic technology:

1. Take 1 old Mirage Sampler (The Bourbonese Qualk 8 bit standby of the day).
2. Sample random bits of live guitar…
3. Overload the basic sequencer function by pressing the ‘play’ button repeatedly in quick succession…
4. All going well the Mirage starts generating random granular type sequences based on live guitar samples.

‘Urban Vimbuza’ was a series of urban performances ( hate that word) in Liverpool during the late Eighties. The fact that they were in Liverpool (Liverpool was a long way away during the eighties) and that they were focussed on controversial and confrontational subjects meant they were ignored by the rest of the country -this was during the height of the Thatcher regime. Vimbuza scrutinised racism, capitalism, slavery, terrorism, violence, hypocrisy and threw it back in the face of an ever widening consumer society. The spectacle (i use the word knowingly) succeeded because it drew on genuine anger and spontaneity while remaining completely independent from political or artistic control. The events were co-ordinated by the ‘Stress Block’ a loose conglomeration of Liverpool musicians, artists and activists overseen by ‘Kif’ at his Bold Street apartment and studio – Kif’s other role was the policy maker and policy upholder, sound engineer and DJ for Bourbonese Qualk, more of him later…
Here’s a recording of ‘Rhythmic Stress’ from 1989:

“Rhythmic Stress” (9,614kb MP3 File)