This is Memorial Device | David Keenan

I have no ‘mind’s eye’ or visual imagination (aphantasia – it’s a thing). I can’t visualise. If I read visual details in a book, no image forms in my mind, it’s just so much information. I realised reading ‘This is Memorial Device’ that what I do absorb from reading however is voices and sounds. And this is a book full of voices, and as a book about experimental music, a load of interesting noises. Since I finished it, my inner narrator is a drug-fucked / pissed-up Scot, accompanied by a mad electronic / post-punk soundtrack in my ‘mind’s ear’. It’s pretty cool.

Enough about me anyway. With the caveat of don’t expect any strong/interesting female characters, this is brilliant stuff. A collection of interviews and first-hand accounts of a fictitious legendary underground band in the arse-end of west Scotland in the mid 80s. Loved the concept and form: lots of different voices and memories and perspectives – some poignant, some hilarious, some pretty dark. It perfectly evokes that era that held such promise, briefly – the experimental post-punk years were far more exciting than the dead-end of punk: same DIY ethos but much better music and style, infused by literature, art, cinema, philosophy etc. The book is full of existential / cosmic musings, mad anecdotes and mad characters, and also has the best index you’ll ever read – a work of art in its own right. One to re-read; I missed a lot the first time just trying to keep up with the huge dramatis personae, so didn’t pay enough attention to the deep stuff. I’ll know to skim over the more priapic elements and enjoy the cosmics next time around.