20 May 2009

Notes From The Underground: RE/Search

I just received a parcel yesterday and it contained a book which was published by RE/Search, entitled: RE/Search #4/5: W.S. Burroughs, Brion Gysin, Throbbing Gristle. Looking at the cover and its familiar-looking design and layout brought back memories of the good old days when we could take a bus or MRT ride down to Scotts Road, walked into Pacific Plaza and taking the elevators up to Tower Books (R.I.P.). I would definitely take a peep at the shelf where the store displayed copies of the publications from this exotic sounding printing house, RE/Search. What captured my attention and to made it a point to look out for books from RE/Search was the subject matters of these strange books: J.G. Ballard, Burroughs, Industrial Culture, Incredibly Strange Music, Incredibly Strange Films, etc. Esoteric. It makes one want to pick one copy off the shelf and read it to find out more.

The books are almost all A-4 sized so they look and feel more like magazines which I think they are: periodic spurts of rarefied gems from the counter-cultural underground. Over the years I picked up quite a few books from this amazing publisher and I became a fan till today. Run by V Vale and his partner for the past twenty over years, they are true icons and models of independent minded individuals who believe in reaching out, doing it on their own regardless of trends and fashion, and keeping the news coming from some of the most brilliant minds for the twentieth century.

My favourite one from RE/Search is Industrial Culture Handbook: a must-have manual into the post-punk spokesmen of this post-modern dystopian age. (The fact that so many noise, psych rock, electronica, weird folk musicians today are actually fans of Throbbing Gristle, SPK, Non, etc just tell us how influential the riveting noise emitted from the Industrial-ists were back in the late 1970s/early 1980s.

In today's increasing "all-branding-no-brain-needed" world, independent publishers like RE/Search are beacons of resistance and they serve as reminders to us that we need to be alert and not slide into the void which all the sit-coms, reality dramas, manufactured pop stars and simulacrum are perpetuating. Of course, not forgetting that they are true models of the modern small but staunchly-devoted cells committed to the ethos of "cottage industry": they teach us one important lesson which is think, think for yourself and make informed choices for whatever you do and consume lest you slide into the cul-de-sac of the bland and empty consumeristic trap of today.

Check these books out here:

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