Neumusik fanzine 1979-82
A potted history
Inspired by punk, it seemed everyone in late 70s UK was producing music fanzines. I was less into punk but loved the weirder, electronic, industrial end of new wave and particularly the more experimental, electronic, post-krautrock stuff coming out of Germany and France. I'd written a few reviews while still at school, but on arriving at Sussex University in September 1979, the sense of freedom, free time and full grant, encouraged me to produce my own fanzine. It was called Neumusik, more to represent a wide sweep of European music than any particular homage to Neu!
I'd been inspired by other fanzines like Aura, Face Out and Mirage in the UK and Eurock in the US - pretty much the only sources of information (bar the odd album review in Sounds or NME) on an exciting, expansive scene. Occasionally Peel would play something: I remember hearing Conrad Schnitzler's Ballet Statique one night, Schulze's Body Love, some Popol Vuh even, but it was the tip of the iceberg.
It was a life-changing first term. Aside from the zine, I hosted a campus radio show (also called Neumusik), formed a 'group' (MFH) with fellow student Andrew Cox, and a label (YHR) to release the weird bedroom doodlings that resulted as well as cassettes by other artists (see YHR page). Neumusik lasted just six issues, though each was quite chunky, the last of which came out in April 1982.
Neumusik 1 Nov 1979
The first issue took about a fortnight, using a clapped-out manual typewriter, letraset and the university library photocopier - which only catered for A4 paper meaning that, folded, Neumusik started off, and would remain, A5. The first issue featured an 'article' on Ash Ra Tempel, some not very good reviews of albums by mainly German artists, and a piece on the rudimentary Wasp synthesizer, as well as how to make basic electronic music on a calculator. But it was a start. A small ad was placed in Sounds or Melody Maker, I forget which, and the orders came trickling in. The print run was 200 copies.
Neumusik 2 March 1980
Issue no.2 was a big step forward. 60 pages, heavily focussed on the Berlin scene following a trip there a fortnight into the new decade, accompanied by my friend Andrew Cox. We took the ferry to Holland, a train the rest of the way and stayed in a youth hostel. It was freezing, perpetually dark and incredibly exciting. In those days artists' addresses and phone numbers were often on the backs of album sleeves and so I just contacted them direct and arranged to meet them in their homes: Edgar Froese, Conrad Schnitzler, Michael Hoenig, Manuel Göttsching and Gunter Schickert (the last two didn't make it into print) and checked out Peter Baumann's Paragon Studios. For a naieve 18 year old it was an eye-opening experience.
Neumusik 3 July 1980
The 3rd issue was more focussed on the French scene following a trip to Paris in April '80. It was meant to be a holiday with my girlfriend but she forsook the capital's romance and gamely tagged along to meet Richard Pinhas, Gilbert Artman of Urban Sax, Gerard Nguyen (editor of Atem magazine) and Jean-Baptiste Barrière and even transcribed the taped interviews. By this time I'd moved off campus and into a flat in Brighton and it was hammered out on an even older manual typewriter. It had expanded to 78 pages, was photocopied in Miss Selfridge of all places and ran to 300 copies. I invited my friends round to staple them all together.
Neumusik 4 Jan 1981
No.4 was created halfway through my second year at college, and was a mixed bag of the usual stuff from Germany (Klaus Schulze interview, Conrad Schnitzler, Sky Records, Art Attack) and France (Patrick Gauthier interview, Illitch), plus rather more from the UK (Eno's Ambient series, United Dairies label, Groovy Records) and loads of album and live reviews. It was typed on A4 and then reduced to A5, and the print run had now increased to 400 copies. I think it was photocopied in the university admin building when everyone had gone home.
Neumusik 5 July 1981
Issue no.5, complete with Chris Franke mugshot on queasy colour card (a first!), was typed up on a borrowed electric typewriter in the summer of '81 in the midst of riots and a Royal wedding. It saw substantial contributions from my good friends Wolfgang Fenchel (interviews with Vangelis, Chris Franke & Wolfgang Düren) and Gary Scott (a meeting with Florian Fricke, reviews), together with articles by Andy Garibaldi (Francois Bréant & Neuronium), the Freeman Brothers (Swedish scene) and I pitched in with a Chris Carter interview (just as Throbbing Gristle were splitting up), a short piece on Italian industrial music and lots of album, cassette & live reviews. It was printed (500 copies) in a shop on Bond Street. Bond Street in Brighton that is.
Neumusik 6 April 1982
The 6th and final issue was produced halfway through my 'academic' year abroad where I was supposedly enrolled at Strasbourg University, but in reality spent most of it travelling around France and Germany visiting musicians. Neumusik 6 benefitted from being closer to the Euro scene and again featured major contributions from my friend Wolfgang Fenchel. Together we reported from Berlin, Paris and even a village near Dijon where the little-known keyboardist Richard Vimal lived. Wolfgang also wrote articles on Asmus Tietchens, Jasun Martz, Mike Garrison and part 2 of the Vangelis interview. The rest comprised pieces on Austrian group Monoton, Canadian synthesist Pascal Languirand, Naked Pygmy Voles and scores of album, cassette and live reviews. By this time the print run was 600 and the zine had distributors in the US, Canada, France, West Germany, Norway, even Mexico.
With the final year at university looming, I put Neumusik on hold (while continuing YHR Tapes), thinking to start again after the exams in the summer of 1983. It didn't happen. The real world beckoned, I moved to London and by Spring of 1984 was writing freelance for Sounds before finding a proper job at the British Council. Looking back, it was a great adventure and through it I met some great musicians, travelled, made some lifelong friends and learned how to write. A bit.
Rock Writ podcast from April 2023 in which I'm interviewed by Armen Svadjian about Neumusik, YHR, MFH / Pump etc. Click here to listen.