Saturday, 30 January 2010

TIME FOR VEX

It's time to have a dip into the disorderly world of Vex now - so those of you of a nervous disposition, better look away for a couple of days!
Main man, Mike Kane (above), set Vex loose in Dundee around the late 70's having mutated out of Flux. Although there was no real permanent band line-up, some of those who were involved were - Mike Strachan - Neal Mitchell - Rat - Gary Kidgell and a few other like minded music extremists. There was a bit of cross-pollination going on with fellow radicals, Boo Hooray.
What Vex presented was a kind of mishmash between the ideology of 60's improvisation collective, AMM, and the confrontational attitude of the New York no wave scene of the late 70's, which resulted in an unpredictable collision of ideas leading to lots of experimental freestyle post-punk mayhem!
They were also dab hands at generating their own publicity, distributing Vex literature and splattering the town with homemade flyers.
The artwork below could almost be a Banksy!
Anyway, to give you a sound clip to go with the caption, here is a wee blast of Vex doing a track called "Exorcise Your Thoughts" - in this case, it's all Mike Kane.
At least Vex can't be accused of being a commercial music biz sell-out!


video

21 comments:

  1. They well well before their time . They even decided to leave their mark in South Queensferry, and I had to sweet talk the boabies into not aresting them, and promise they woouldnt get up to mischeif :)
    and damm Mike's forever youthful looks !

    lesley g.

    ReplyDelete
  2. First time I encountered VEX was in 1988 outside John Menzies where him & a guy ( I forget his name) with a suit made of zips were "busking". Mike was playing guitar through a "busking unit" which seemed to a suitcase full of effect pedals and gadgetry while LAW, who I found out later was an artist named Laura Anne Walker drew on the pavement, while Zipper Guy worked the effects in the case. Got to say I was 15 and I had never seen (or heard) anything like it, I stood & watched pretty dumbstruck I wasn't sure if I loved or hated but I knew I had never seen or heard anything like it.
    This totally set me on a path of seeking out unusual music/art & it was a few years before I actually met Mike & Gerry Mitchell. What I always liked about them was their approach, it seemed to be more about getting a noise of some description out & hammering it into an interesting format rather than being hung up on technicalities & technical abilities.

    ReplyDelete
  3. or you could think it was just unlistenable noise.

    ReplyDelete
  4. the gut with zips was an american artist called tENTATIVELY a cONVENIENCE and here is his description of the day that lyken saw

    113. Murraygate Busking

    * Murraygate Shopping Mall, Dundee, Scotland, UK
    * Saturday, August 13, 1988
    * Busking is legal in Scotland. Therefore, buskers are a regular feature of shopping areas in Dundee. On the day that we decided to busk at Murraygate, there was a guy playing acoustic guitar & playing such things as Simon & Garfunkel songs. The only other busker there that day was doing representational chalk drawing on the sidewalk. No-one seemed to pay much attention to them but they would throw them coins. We set up the booed usic busking unit in front of a John Menzies store. I was wearing my zipper clothes & had an infinity symbol shaped hair-do (it looked more like ring worm ouroborous). Vex (Mike Kane) played his guitar amplified thru the busking unit. L.A.W. (Laura Ann Walker) made more original & personalized chalk drawings than the usual fare. Laura A. Trueseal & I alternated between shooting PXL footage & "concrete mixing" with the busking unit. The mixers allowed us to move both our sounds & Vex's guitar playing thru the 4 speakers. We put a white shirt on the ground that had "Yes, This Is Busking!" written on it & I made an attempt to get people to give us money. We attracted a fairly large crowd of curious & baffled people, unlike the other buskers, who actually stayed & watched. However, again unlike the other buskers, only a few people would give us money. Eventually, the John Menzies employees complained to the police about the noise & about the crowd blocking their store without coming in & the police chased us away. We made approximately 2 pounds. Pete Horobin shot a vaudeo quasi-document of all this.

    ReplyDelete
  5. i know there must be tolerance and room for experimentation in music/arts bur seriously this is pure rubbish.and the more articles etc that are posterd just gives you a better insight into the fact that they were blagging the whole thing.and the drummers review tells you more about him/them than a million words can. sorry guys, you were a bunch of fake duffers

    ReplyDelete
  6. Promised myself I would not comment on the vex stuff, but, "fake duffers" got to me.
    I may have been young and naive in 1981 - this site IS called "Retro Dundee" but I was never fake.
    I also realise "there must be tolerance and room for experimentation in music/arts"
    I have seen the shit the DCA call, "Kill your Timid Notion," and have hosted local alternative fringe events, I have been involved in experimental music for years in Dundee, so, I respect your opinion, but don't call me fake, I have lived this shit, from the Satan Slaves ripping the PA out of the sockets at Cafe club to bar staff refusing to work upstairs when we played at westport bar, then to see that now that "Experimental Music" is fucking trendy! Check out Mono in Glasgow the descriptions of the bands sound like shit I did years ago.
    Bastards/Flux/Vex/AAGA/Wilderness Children/Cabbage/Novus then...the Mighty Gerils...fake my arse and yes you got to me !!

    mike kane

    ReplyDelete
  7. "santa's slaves pulling out sockets" - "staff refusing to work when your on" FFS mike , can you no tak a hint like ?????????? :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. PS - if all you wanted to be was "trendy" you only had to say ;)

    ReplyDelete
  9. your right , could never take hint !!
    and I thought I was trendy , shit!!

    mike

    ReplyDelete
  10. Some of this is harsh.

    There is a difference between Vex and Mike Kane. Blimey we are talking about thirty years ago.

    Mike was, in my opinion, a brilliant creative musician who tried hard to make people think about music. Remember this was just after Yes, ELP and all that bollocks. He would be the first person to admit that a lot of what he did was not that great, but some stuff was really, really good. I have on my itunes brilliant Aaga, Flux, Wilderness Children and Gerils tracks. Not so fond of Vex, but, hey, who cares?

    I suppose what makes me irritated most is the "Carpers". A good name for a band that includes everyone that couldn't be arsed...

    ReplyDelete
  11. Although I saw Vex a few times, I never really liked them. Far too arty/noisy for me. The fact that I didn't like them, or any of Mike's other bands, doesn't mean he wasn't genuine. No one could keep up that pretence for so many years! So whether you like them or not, at least Vex tried and were different.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Well said Craig.. Isnt it bizarre Mike / Vex continue to provoke 30 years later ha ha. I was never a big Vex fan BUT am a fan of Mike, Jock Ferguson and ANYONE from Dundee who made the effort to DO IT YOURSELF... Dundee would have been a much grimer place without them. Thank you all!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I beg to differ, as soon as someone outwith has a different opinion, (all be it a wee bit harsh) the usual suspects turn up yet again with their predictable replies. You can nearly name who's going to post next depending on topic , bye,

    ReplyDelete
  14. Surely cynicism has no place with your righteous comments???

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi jim
    I would not take it all to seriously , the site is aimed at memories of old dundee and particular topics interest particular people , which is why the "usual suspects" turns up , as people comment on stuff they knew about or where involved with, I have personally been slated and defended but it is just opinions !
    and i try not to let anything bother me ,but....Im not very good at that (did not like the "fake" comment - but if your on a public site - tough shit)
    as for Cynicism , the packages I left in the library (see retro 2nd entry this page) i had printed , with a john bull printing kit "Cynicism is killing our projects " "AAGA" - the police did not like this !!

    anarchy and peace

    mike

    ReplyDelete
  16. Indeed Mike. Jim, if you look through Retro Dundee you will no doubt see that the Vex/Junkies/Punk/Music/Tayside Bar etc. posts have the most comments, and are therefore of the most interest to people. It's just good memories from a long time ago which are great fun to look back at again now that we are all adults....or supposed to be!

    ReplyDelete
  17. bugger aff, i'm no an adult !

    lesley g.

    ReplyDelete
  18. and they comments wernae baith me!!!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  19. It seemed obvious Vex weren't about music as standard Rock n Roll and I think that's what annoyed the traditionalists most. In fact, I'd say they were too far ahead of their time as listening to bands like Sonic Youth, The Boredoms, Zu, The Wavves, etc, they remind me a lot of Vex.

    The problem they got was the people trying to categorise them into the Rock n Roll pigeon hole.

    I remember seeing them a few times and thinking it was the most brilliant thing ever. A big thanks to Mike Kane and Vex.

    Matthew Stevens

    ReplyDelete
  20. Yes, but they were just interpreting the avant garde, anti-art dadaist nonsense of the likes of Throbbing Gristle, so, ultimately no more progressive or better than anyone they slagged off! I personally like a nice verse and chorus.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Reading all this Vex stuff, seems like they were much more interesting than anybody else in Dundee at the time. Wish I'd been there.

    ReplyDelete