Author Archives: Peter Webb

Test Dept and Total State Machine Symposium and After-party at Aston University Thursday 28th May

 

 

Test Dept Book Launch Aston jpeg copy 2

Here is the Press Release from Aston University for the event. The event is free but you need to register by contacting Dr Uwe Schütte via u.schutte@aston.ac.uk

The influential radical music group The Test Dept will launch a career retrospective anthology at Aston University next month.

The book, Total State Machine, will reflect on the impact and importance of the band that formed in 1981 and made stridently political and socially conscious music until they disbanded in 1997.

It will feature a series of reflections and evaluations by experts and aficionados of Test Dept, including Dr Stephen Mallinder, lead singer of seminal art-pop group, Cabaret Voltaire. As well as manifestos, excerpts from tour diaries and many previously unknown stories and documents, the book also contains hundreds of photos and pieces of artwork from the band’s archives.

Test Dept were well known for their involvement in various political causes, particularly their support for the miner’s strike of 1984 during which they collaborated and went on tour with the South Wales Striking Miners Choir. The band are also seen as a pioneering industrial music act, using ‘found’ materials such as factory equipment and everyday objects as unconventional instruments to produce a uniquely jagged, metallic sound.

Many of the contributors to Total State Machine will speak at the launch event on 28 May, which will be opened by Aston academic and resident pop music expert, Dr Uwe Schütte. The event will be capped by a Q&A session with Test Dept founders Paul Jamrozy and Graham Cunnington.

Dr Schütte, who convened the first ever academic conference on Kraftwerk earlier this year, said: “It is a real honour to host the launch of Total State Machine. Growing up in Germany, I became aware of the Test Dept for their reputation as political radicals on the left wing of industrial music. I am really looking forward to hearing more about them and reacquainting myself with their work beyond music again.”

Test Dept’s impact on a variety of musical genres is well noted. Throughout the course of their career, they experimented with and influenced house music, break beat, industrial music, synth punk and electronic body music.

Dr Peter Webb, co-founder of PCP Press who will publish Total State Machine, said: “Test Dept were a massive formative influence on me. I was attracted to them by their independent spirit and the way they used sound and force to make deeply emotive music. I have always felt that their influence and importance was unwritten in the archive of popular culture. This book redresses that balance and presents a document that examines their work as well as representing it.”

For more information and to attend the launch of Total State Machine at Aston University on 28 May from 1pm, contact Dr Uwe Schütte via u.schutte@aston.ac.uk

Test Dept Book Launch and Film Event – Ritzy Cinema 23rd April

Brixton Ritzy Test Dept book launchThere will be the first in a series of events launching the book ‘Total State Machine’ at the Ritzy Cinema, Brixton, London on the 23rd April from 6.30pm. A screening of the film DS30 about the 2014 commissioned work reflecting on Test Dept’s ‘Fuel to Fight’ tour with the South Wales striking Miners choir in 1984/85 will begin at 6.30pm. The screening will be accompanied by some archive film of Test Dept throughout their career. A Q and A will follow with three key members of the group: Graham Cunnington, Angus Farquhar and Paul Jamrozy accompanied by Robin Rimbaud aka Scanner who contributed to the book. Following this there will be a book signing with the group and PC-Press and then an after party featuring a Shelley Parker DJ set and a Scanner live reworking of Test Dept material – this will be a unique new performance. The book will be available for the first time at the event and then will get a public release on the PC-Press website. For tickets follow the link below:

DS30 Film and Book Launch 23rd April Ritzy Cinema Brixton

 

PC-Press release Test Dept Record Store Day 12″ single – Vinyl only.

Test Dept - Tested ProductTest Dept; the authentic industrialists, sonic material handlers, utilisers and recyclers of society’s debris have re-emerged to engage with the current cultural and political climate, exploring new ways of expression in a strategic programme of actions and releases.

`Tested Product’ is the first in a series of re-releases in new and adapted artworks through recently formed `DIY’ Independent company PC-Press. This 12” for Record Store Day combines tracks from their first, now deleted, `Compulsion’ single (1983) and mixes’ from their second single ‘The Faces of Freedom’ (1986). The tracks `Compulsion’ and `Pulsations’ were recorded in Metropolitan Wharf, Wapping by Paul Hardiman (noted for his work with Lloyd Cole and The The) on a mobile studio. That Wharf, now a block of luxury flats, is a symbol of Test Dept’s disgust for the transformation of parts of London into a rich elite’s playground since first recording during the recession presided over by Thatcher’s government of the early 1980s. `Compulsion’ produced by Flood and Trigger and `Pulsations’ produced by Richard Kirk and Stephen Mallinder of Cabaret Voltaire are fine examples of the mash-up of Industrial sounds and emerging dance music. European synths and Detroit house rhythms mixed with some of the heaviest industrial metal sounds ever recorded make these tracks timeless and key examples of the groundbreaking music that Test Dept unleashed.

On Face Of Freedom 2 and 3 the voice of Leon Brittan makes an appearance, sampled to show the evasion, attempted manipulation and hypocrisy of politicians in the media spotlight. The music highlights the post-punk/funk sensibility of the group and the sound of a classical industrial aural collage that would later become the hallmark of many experimental and mainstream groups. Brittan was also pictured on the cover, and now on the label of this release, with worms coming out of his mouth…. The `can of worms’ has recently been opened again and makes the contemporary stories around Brittan of continued interest with Test Dept displaying foresight and a keen sense of provocation in their work, highlighting disingenuous behavior within the political establishment.

This is the first in a series of audio releases partnered by a book `Total State Machine’ to be published in May 2015 by PC-Press – www.pc-press.co.uk

 

Test Dept return with an AV performance at Dunston Staiths 27th to 29th March

Test Dept return for an AV performance marking the 30th anniversary of the Miners Strike.

Test Dept return for an AV performance marking the 30th anniversary of the Miners Strike.

Test Dept bring the drama and noise of the monumental Dunston Staiths back to life in a vital sonic, cinematic and lighting intervention. Viewed from boats on the River Tyne over three nights, the event marks the 30th anniversary of the Miners’ Strike.

Seminal industrial music group Test Dept returns with their debut event since they disbanded in 1997. This large-scale outdoor event takes place at the dramatic Dunston Staiths, reputed to be Europe’s largest wooden structure, which was built on the River Tyne in 1893 to ship coal from the local Durham coalfields to the world.

Correction to previous advertised dates. The event takes place over the three nights of Thu 27 March – Sat 29 March 2014. Three slots are available each evening at 6.45pm, 8.15pm and 9.45pm.

For more information visit the programme page here

“Still the Enemy within Film” and miners strike anniversary conference

Saturday 8th March, 30th Anniversary of the Miners Strike Conference

Saturday 8th March, 30th Anniversary of the Miners Strike Conference

Test Dept and Pete Webb of PC-Press will be talking about the New Test Dept book, their work with the South Wales Miners Choir, support for the strike and music and politicalstruggle at the 20th Anniversary of the Miners Strike event at Rich Mix Cinema, London on Saturday 8th March.

RIchMix is at CINEMA AND ARTS CENTRE, 35 – 47 BETHNAL GREEN ROAD, SHOREDITCH / BETHNAL GREEN. Nearest tube – Shoreditch High Street.

This is event is part of the build up to the release of the film about the strike called “Still the Enemy Within” made by production company Bad Bonobo in collaboration with Journalist Mike Simons, see here – http://the-enemy-within.org.uk. PC-Press is proud to support the film and work with the Bad Bonobo team on the Conference.