Stephen Drennan (steviecat) wrote in bypasszine,
Stephen Drennan
steviecat
bypasszine

Two from Liver & Lights

These two are my real introduction to the work of John Bently and pals, though I've known the L&L name for a little while now. Liver & Lights # 37 is entitled Van Gig Zine, and credited to Afterrabbit & Friends. The package comes in a plastic DVD case and consists of a film on DVD and a stitch-bound booklet (180mm x 115mm); and the package's overall cover (slipped inside the DVD's case) is of green textured paper which has rubber-stamped titles and a nice red stamp of a trumpet. The 'zine is a 32-pager (plus pale brown paper cover) and is billed as, "A souvenir". It's all about homemade music using instruments made from whatever folk had sitting around in their houses. Photographs show the instruments in action and drawings indicate how they were constructed. For instance, an old radio had its innards removed and a neck added and became a ukulele. Hoses, tin cans, tissue paper, plastic cups and even the Yellow Pages were utilised for the creation of sounds. Red rubber stamps brighten up the b&w pages, including one of a row of bottles with water at different levels, being struck to make music (were these stamps carved from erasers ?) and there's a lyric printed in red too. This project seems to have been an outgrowth of L&L # 36, which concerned camper vans - John had written a couple of songs in his van and decided that when playing them live he'd not be satisfied with backing tracks, drums and guitar alone so invited people to home-make stuff to bring along to the show.
The DVD has a pleasing scrapbooky/fragmenty quality. A camper van motors along country roads; with a little girl, John sings Sweet Home Alabama with an acoustic guitar - his son (?) plays guitar too; there's a cookout on a pebbly beach; and there are the expected live shots, including a recitation by John mentioning 'seventies superstars Rod and Noddy. Towards the end there's John with what might well be glitter on his skin, clad in ridiculous rock star garb of sparkly top and underpants (parody, or homage ?). The disc's most interesting when the camera pans right away from the stage so that the screen's filled with people playing their homemade items, the everyone-join-in part : I love that democratising, you-can-make-music-with-anything attitude. That gives us an indcation of the number of participants. Looks like a special, fun and memorably unique night it would have been good to have been at.
Near the finish of the DVD, there's a glimpse (sadly, just a few seconds) of a kids' band (John's son again ?); and the end titles, written on a series of pages, are held up in turn by a woman with a guitar design jersey.

L&L # 38 (Manifesto Zine) (134mm x 132mm; 20pp plus cover) has red paper covers - the paper's glittery and the 'zine comes contained in a plastic CD wallet - in fact, it includes an eighteen-and-a half-min disc of Afterrabbit's performance on Resonance FM's Sound Out, hosted by Carole Finer. Homemade instruments are to the fore, and Kenny Rogers' classic Coward Of The County is given a fine makeover. A freebie to those present at the UWE/ Southampton University Artists Book Symposium (Winchester College Of Art, 13/7/07), it's black and white with red and green rubber stamping. I really like their attitude : "Three Cheers for hamfistedness !"; "Keep Amateurism Alive !"; "When it comes to Jam, Shoes and Music Hand Made is Best !". Although pro-the handmade, they still "believe in using machines, particularly other peoples old ones they've thrown out." There's a terrific red rubber stamp of two rabbits copulating, which I interpret as symbolic of inspiration from Liver & Lights impregnating the brain of the reader and spurring him/her into action, if that's not too far-fetched a conclusion to draw. A few pages tell you who's who in Afterrabbit, with depictions of the band's members rendered like miniature woodcuts (carved eraser images again ?). Lovely.

Received : 4th July 2007.
Prices : ?
Address : 229 Railton Road, London SE24 0LZ.
Web addresses : http://www.liverandlights.co.uk; http://www.myspace.com/afterrabbit.
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