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The Darkening Light

The Darkening Light

Tales of drunk punx, hunt sabs, Conflict gigs and the rest from someone who was there, partly!

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In the spring of 1986 nine young punks travelled from Swindon to Wood Green in a beat up old van, to see atavistic, eat shit, heresy and others blow the socks off the London borough of Harringey. In the 24 hours that followed their lives would be forever changed. What was going to happen? Would it be the vegan revolution? A declaration of world peace? Or something more sinister? This cavort through the anarcho punk and hardcore scene of the mid 1980s pulls no punches. From the very first page, once you start reading this coruscating tale you won’t be able to stop, and by the time you finish your life will be changed too. If you think you were there, you weren’t. Whatever you think happened, whatever you remember, this wasn’t it. This is something else entirely, a perfect snapshot, a disheveled stream of consciousness yielding a surprisingly moving and unabridged account of blackouts, nightmare bogs, and hardcore corrosion. It is an invaluable addition to the canon. Chaos with a heart.

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James' review:

Ted's written something that you can pick up to glance at and discover that a good hour has gone by as you flipped from page to page. It's a return to the good-old-days of drop-out punk, where homebrew was so bad it was... still bad - but, you know, not worth throwing away because you'd spent time on making it. Where vans were always beaten up and cleanliness belonged someplace else - preferably far far away.

 

And from Rich Cubesville;

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. 

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