Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Consumer Guide

Simon Morris Consumer Guide (2016)
Simon Morris is the vocalist and - so far as I can tell - principal creative drive behind the Ceramic Hobs, a sort of Dadaist rockabilly band with whom you will be familiar if you've ever come into contact with the Mad Pride movement. I suppose you might also call him a raconteur, at least based on Bang Out of Order - a novella as fanzine about an imaginary version of the power electronics scene which I now deeply regret having sold on eBay - and the material he regularly secretes upon facebook and the like. Anyway, we may as well call him a writer because someone at Tegenaria Press enjoyed his writing enough to commission this, which is nice.

I've actually already read about half of the essays assembled here, but it's not a problem as there's something quite different about reading them as part of this collection. Aside from the obvious aesthetic appeal - just one hundred numbered copies of this lovingly produced hardback - the assemblage of this material brings out a personal quality I never noticed whilst picking this stuff out from amongst the digital detritus of Donald Trump, Kanye West and dresses which might be black or possibly blue.

Consumer Guide is autobiographical, although the lion's share of the page count is taken up by a series of annotated lists. The lists include overviews of the oeuvre of various bands, writers, film makers, artists, and so on, then lists of favourite pubs, drinks, and even just relationship tips. There's no really obvious progression or logic beyond these subjects being what Morris felt like writing about at the time. Some of it I skipped - although I should probably stress that I refer here to a page count in single figures - due to it seemingly having derived from a period during which Morris was channelling Mojo magazine - Pink Floyd, Neil Young, Morrissey, Jimi Hendrix, Sonic Youth, Lou bastard Reed - almost surprised that he missed out Rod Stewart and ELfuckingO; although to be fair, he finds something interesting to say about even the most militantly beige of their brethren. He also writes on Skullflower, Consumer Electronics, and his own band, most of which is fairly engrossing. Then there's the air-punchingly cathartic Your Favourite Band Are Shit which correctly identifies Billy Bragg, Primal Scream and other deserving sacred cows as the irredeemably useless wankers they are, and for which I happily forgive the author his banging on about Morrissey and Sonic Youth elsewhere.

This probably makes Consumer Guide sound a little like Steve Lowe and Alan MacArthur's Is It Just Me Or Is Everything Shit? - nice try but still just one of those books you keep next to the toilet - but it really, really isn't. Whether dissecting obscure noise albums or comparing books written about the Moors murderers, the Morris testimony feels a lot like autobiography, something akin to mapping a room by describing its contents. It feels very much like a complete work, despite the scattered origination of the material, and might even be read as though we're following some kind of narrative. You might even call it educational.

There's not be much point trying to find a copy of this now as I understand the limited run to have sold out, but hopefully this spring will yield more of its like.

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