The latest album from Kanga, You and I Will Never Die, comes out on 26 March 2023. Until then, we have this to dance to: a charged, sleek-but-dirty electronic instrumental and vocals that remind one of Curve at their best.
Page, the Swedish poptronica pioneers, have revealed a striking new EP.
The title track, “Blutest du,” is a German rendering of the song, “Blöder du,” from their current album, Fakta för alla.
Released in a limited edition of 300 copies, the EP also contains an English-language version of “Start,” a cover of Gary Numan’s “Tracks,” and a new instrumental. “Saint Anastase” is named for the street address in Paris of the modern art gallery, Andrehn-Schiptjenko, which is co-owned by Marina Schiptjenko.
Page have released material in English before, but this marks their first foray into German. Like ABBA and Kraftwerk, in whose shadows Page was founded, the duo have discovered that switching languages is not only a way to reach broader audiences; it is also an opportunity to play with the context of a song.
The results are engaging. Page have been moving in the direction of the electronic sound from 1977-1980 for some time, and the shift to German places them firmly in Conny Plank’s kitchen studio.
Order now from Hotstuff for international delivery.
Nash the Slash was an original. Wrapped in bandages, like a mummified prog guitarist, Nash toured with Gary Numan and Iggy Pop and played along to silent films. With a drum box and electric violin, he fired up alternative music crowds with horror imagery and pulsating, processed riffs.
The man inside the mask, Jeff Plewman, died in 2014, aged just 66. He left behind a legacy of music that spanned film soundtracks and pop music, experimental works, and innovative songs from an alternative jukebox.
Nash is the subject of a forthcoming documentary film, And You Thought You Were Normal. The producers, Tim Kowalski and Kevan Byrne, took some time to speak with us about the details they have disinterred.
Nash was raised to prominence by Gary Numan, and he was loved by the electronic music scene, but he wasn’t a synthesizer artist. Why do you think that he was so adored by that scene?
TIM: Nash crossed a lot of boundaries as an artist. He was classically trained, but he made new sounds with conventional instruments in a world infested with guitars – which was very unconventional and punk-as-fuck in spirit. Combine that with the dark imagery and the theatrics, and it’s no wonder Nash ended up meeting with artists like Gary Numan at the fork in the road between rock and futurism.
KEVAN: It’s true that he wasn’t an electronic musician in a pure sense. He played synths on many of his recordings – usually a Korg Poly 6 and Roland D-50 – but overwhelmingly his music centred on electric violin and mandolin which were heavily processed through fuzz boxes and tape delays. He also used drum machines extensively in the early days, and the only other musicians using those at the time were post-punk bands or bands that were entirely synth-based, like Human League, etc.
There were strong electronic music influences on his music. He was a big fan of Kraftwerk, as well as early Tangerine Dream and Hans-Joachim Roedelius, and very much influenced by Eno, as well. I think some of those elements must have resonated with electronic music audiences.
Like Fad Gadget, Nash was a bit of an outsider. What do we know about the man beneath the bandages? Was he like the character he created?
TIM: Nash was the definition of outsider. A proto-nerd, if you will. He had a deep fascination with the macabre, lived in a movie theatre, and wrote scores for silent films that were shown there. Like many great artists, Nash had a complex character with many contradictions. He had a duality in his day-to-day persona, which – oddly enough – I think was amplified with the bandages.
KEVAN: Nash was a real dichotomy. His inner life was volatile and chaotic, and he remained intensely private until his death. The bandages reflected the mystery of his personal life, which was in some ways unknown to his family and friends.
He was generous and patronly, acting as a mentor to some, but could also be vindictive and petulant. His individuality and fierce independence made him an outsider.
His music fell across genres. He rejected the music industry; and he combined performance art and popular culture, which put him at odds with the world.
Besides working with Gary Numan, Nash toured with Iggy Pop and recorded with Steve Hillage. Are you planning to capture their memories?
TIM: I interviewed Steve Hillage at his studio in London. He was very gracious and forthcoming. Gary Numan also did an excellent interview with us last year when he was in Toronto. We’ve tried getting Iggy but we haven’t been as lucky.
KEVAN: We’re still hopeful that we can get an interview with Iggy, as a big fan. We also want to interview Bill Nelson, Laurie Anderson and – at the top of the wish list – Brian Eno. Nash reportedly met Eno whole recording “Dance After Curfew” with Daniel Lanois.
What are your plans for the film, once it is completed?
TIM: We intend to shop for distribution and are looking at some festivals. We hope to have the film released late 2019.
KEVAN: Dream release date is Halloween 2019!
You have been provided with some one-of-a-kind Nash instruments to help raise funds for the film. What is the story behind them?
TIM: We have been very fortunate to work with Trevor Norris, Nash’s good friend and holder of his estate. Trevor believes in this project and wants Nash’s story to be told, so he’s donated some one-of-a-kind items to us to fund this film. We have Nash’s bat violin that can be seen on a late 70’s TV appearance. We also have one of Nash’s sawed-up violins. Neither are playable, but they really are beautiful. We had 3 bows but they were claimed immediately.
KEVAN: One of the most interesting rewards is a never-before release of Nash’s first live performance (as Nash The Slash) at the Roxy Theatre in 1975. He played a live accompaniment to the Brunel silent film Un Chien Andalou. This was pre bandaged Nash.
Nash had a keen interest in visual art. Is there any material that he created himself in the archives? Will we get to see it?
TIM: Very true. Nash was very visual, had a long history of working with great artists, was a photographer, and had a very hands-on approach to creating his live shows. This extended into his home life. He had a doorway to nowhere in his garden and he did start to paint later in life.
Nash’s early photos from his days at the Rockpile, like Toronto’s Filmore, are being featured at the Masonic Temple and may come out in a book.
KEVAN: The most notable visual archival materials are the photographs that Nash took in the late 60s at the Rockpile (later named The Concert Hall/ The Masonic Hall). There are pictures of blues artists like Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters, as well as rock legends, such as Led Zeppelin, The Who and Jimi Hendrix, all of whom were playing for the first time in Toronto.
How can fans help to support the project?
TIM: Please support us at: https://igg.me/at/youwerenormal.
KEVAN: we are running a crowdfunding campaign, and we are about 28% of our way to our goal of $50,000. There’s time left to hit our goal, so anything towards that is enormously helpful. Apart from that, like and share our posts on social media!!
The irrepressible Kanga covers Gary Numan’s classic, “Metal.” We’re afraid of the liquid engineers, too.
When Gary Numan first toured Canada in 1980, he stumbled across an eccentric and remarkable performer called Nash the Slash. Numan promptly ditched the support act booked for his tour and took Nash in their place. In short order, Nash was in England, signed to the Dindisc label alongside Martha and the Muffins. His output was produced by Steve Hillage and Bill Nelson, and he appeared on a Smash Hits flexi with label-mates OMD. Nash performed live with Numan at his “farewell” concert and played violin on his single, “She’s Got Claws.”
Artoffact, the Canadian industrial and electronic label, have now re-issued several Nash the Slash releases. The series starts with the first solo Nash the Slash release, Bedside Companion. A four track EP, Bedside Companion reveals Nash’s prog rock roots. The outstanding track on this release, “Blind Windows,” marks the birth of the ambient trance style that is the missing link between Steve Hillage’s solo material and the sound that he later developed for The Orb and System 7. The four songs are presented at the intended speed and 1/3 slower, reflecting the happy accident that occurred when Toronto DJ, Dave Marsden, mistook the 45 rpm 12″ for a 33 1/3 album: Nash realised that the instrumentals could be played at different speeds with equally interesting results.
Marsden’s oversight helped to inspire the release in 1981 of Decomposing, the first album designed to be played at any speed on a conventional record player. Essential for any Nash fan’s collection, and including the magnificent “Womble,” Decomposing is not part of the current Artoffact series. Instead, we have Dreams and Nightmares, the second Nash the Slash release, which collected recordings as diverse as a soundtrack to Un chien andolou and music for late night television. Essentially a compilation of tracks recorded to four-track, this is the kind of material that eccentric electronic artists recorded in their bedrooms in the 1970s and circulated on cassette tape through the Contact List for Electronic Music, but Nash was already a step ahead in releasing vinyl through his own label, Cut-Throat Records.
A surprise is the inclusion in this series of Hammersmith Holocaust, a reproduction of one of Nash’s rarer recordings. Lifted from the sound board at a support show for Numan in 1980, it begins with “Wolf,” in which Nash uses a motif from Prokofiev, stretched and distorted over simple bass patterns. A cover of “Smoke on the Water,” rewritten as “Dopes on the Water,” plays with Deep Purple’s classic tale of jazz venue immolation. “Children of the Night,” the title track for the Hillage-produced album that would follow the show, starts with an ambient intro that signposts the template that The Orb later lift for “Blue Room.” Nash is in full stride during a cover of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” that also strays into ambient trance territory, before a nitro-fuelled version of “Danger Zone” wraps proceedings.
Things really get interesting with the reissue of Children of the Night, Nash’s sole album for Dindisc. Recorded at Britannia Row, the London studio owned by Pink Floyd where New Order created “Blue Monday,” the album has cover artwork by Martyn Atkins, who also worked with Joy Division and Depeche Mode. In the studio, Hillage, who was getting ready to produce Simple Minds’ legendary Sons and Fascination, was supported by engineer Michael Johnson, who also worked on some of Joy Division and New Order’s best-known recordings. The result was an alternative classic, packed with essential tracks like “In a Glass Eye” and “Reactor No. 2;” but, even with the inclusion of a jukebox-friendly remake of Jan and Dean’s “Dead Man’s Curve,” the commercial success of those other artists eluded Nash, who returned to Canada and revived his Cut-Throat imprint. Always ahead of his time, his next album would feature input from the Martha and the Muffins producer, Daniel Lanois.
When Nash died in 2014 from a heart attack, the tributes were led by Gary Numan. Numan has contributed liner notes to Hammersmith Holocaust that re-tell the story of how he met Nash, as well as his feelings about working with Jeff Plewman, the man beneath the bandages. Even if Nash’s absence leaves a hole in the heart of alternative music, the material assembled in these recordings lives on.
We hardly knew Jeff Plewman, the man behind the bandages. Nash the Slash, on the other hand, had a global following. In his top hat and suit, Nash was a silent film star in an age of noise; widely appreciated for his misuse of electrified violins and mandolins. Fed through effects pedals and played over drum machines and keyboards, Nash’s instruments yielded shrieks and drones that could mute a banshee or echo Prokofiev.
Gary Numan stumbled across Nash in a Toronto nightclub and immediately dropped his scheduled support act. Nash accompanied him on tour, gaining exposure, a UK record deal and even a place on a Smash Hit flexidisc (alongside OMD); however, unlike Canadian label-mates, Martha & The Muffins, Nash failed to achieve commercial success in the UK. Dindisc, the Branson-funded label run by Carol Wilson, promoted Nash as a post-punk novelty act, playing on his horror-film imagery and clever covers of songs by The Rolling Stones and Jan & Dean. Frustrated by the lack of appreciation for his inventive original material, Nash returned to Canada.
From his base in Toronto, Nash released records on the Cut-throat imprint. The label’s distinctive logo included a skull, and one of the eye sockets was positioned over the spindle hole on Cut-throat releases. Listening to a Nash album therefore required listeners to impale the skull and rotate it around the violated socket. That dark sense of humour and his attention to detail were constant features of Nash’s work, whether in songs like “Vincent’s Crows” or in the production of a Nash the Slash comic book.
Nash played to packed arenas and small clubs. He warmed up for The Who but also for The Spoons. He toured with Iggy Pop and played along to silent films in local cinemas. He composed albums that could be played at any speed and practically invented the sound of The Orb and System 7 with “Blind Windows” in 1978.
He retired from music in 2012, leaving a note charting his accomplishments and lamenting the consequences of file-sharing:
A journalist once asked me to describe a typical Nash the Slash fan. I replied, ‘They just get it’. They get my references to Ray Bradbury, Boris Karloff, and even my opening quote from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It was my intention to shock, but not offend.
Nash had a full stage name – Nashville Thebodiah Slasher – but his family and friends knew him as Jeff. His passing last weekend leaves a hole in the heart of alternative music.