Here's a review of Ted Curtis' book The Darkening Light from the latest Cubesville fanzine.
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It is 1986, two years after Crass have called it a day, and the anarchopunk scene feels like it's falling apart. Heavy metal has ransacked punk like a muscle-bound Viking invader and Crass Utopianism is as murky as the homebrewed lager drunk by The Darkening Light's main protagonist, Frank. In the transition between anarchopunk and UKHC, Frank and his friends tumble into their huntsab group's Sherpa van to journey between Wiltshire and Wood Green for an all-day squat gig featuring Antisect, Atavistic and Heresy. Ted Curtis's writing captures the mood of dislocation and isolation and the tuppence ha'penny hedonism of homebrew and glue as Frank fumbles for answers in a contradictory scene whose protagonists wrap its rules around their own awkward personalities. The anarchopunk preoccupation with veganism chokes in the blue haze of rollup smoke and is muted behind the pandemonium and horror stories that fly around the gig.
As much as The Darkening Light could be a story about DIY culture at its most abrasive, it serves as a prelude to alcoholism and mental health issues. Indeed, its frankness could provide answers to many an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, anger management workshop or cognitive behavioural therapy session.
Ian Glasper's account of the late 1980s UKHC movement, Trapped in a Scene, was possibly the first book that attempted to catalogue this subculture whose authenticity lay in its own obscurity. In an otherwise comprehensive study, Mr Glasper's interviews, band profiles and discographies catalogue the music scene of the time, but struggle to capture the mood. Curtis's worm's eye view peers, totally sozzled, between the fissures of fact and fiction to produce a piece of subculture writing that ranks with the best.