Emile Sercombe

I wanted to write about Emile Sercombe, someone I am proud to have had as a friend and whose generous creativity deserves to be remembered in poetry, prose and artworks everywhere.
While thinking about how I personally might commemorate him, the question, ‘How far are you from a sense of wonder?’ came to mind.
It led to the poem below.
When I first thought the poem was finished, I gave it a too clever title, ‘Dumb, The End’. I also thought it couldn’t really be about Emile. It didn’t mention his gangly athleticism, his trust in people, his surreal imagination and humour, his intelligence or his extraordinary creative courage, that took on seemingly impossible projects, pushing himself to physical limits in his Tennis poem or setting up on the streets of Glasgow to regale bemused passers by with a verbal surrealism that most dared not stop long enough to fathom.

I have had a week to think about this and I now think the poem is about Emile. He was never far from wonder and lived as if he were asking us all the question, so I dedicate this to him. I hope he wouldn’t mind.

For Emile

How far are you from wonder?
Is it in the nearest child?
Is it on the face of a parent
or disguising itself in fact?

Is it in the eyes of a lover
or bubbling under the burble
of a faraway café?
Is it distant in time or just distant?

Did someone steal it?
Did you give it to someone
or just neglect it
and it shrank

and you just kept pretending
everything was OK?
Did you find it incompatible
with your seriousness?

Is it that once you came to understand
wonder is the blue black lid
on this plate of landscape washed by sea,
you knew there’s nothing else?

Was that knee quake,
heart desperate to speak moment,
when you kept dumb, the end?
Are you now cynical, first?

Is that what makes you insensitive?
Is that why it doesn’t matter
how far along the path
pre-worn by animals,

how vaulted the branches
of organic anarchy,
or how locking-on the view,
you will never feel alive
in a skinless moment
or experience woke as a sunrise?

ZQ May 2023

Grass Roots Musician Organisation Under Threat

Why should you help us?

Silo SE8 has been self-supporting for over 30 years and our members have performed for local venues and events but have seen no reason up to now to seek a public profile for the group as a whole.

We are not a label, we don’t specialise in a genre, we are just a group of disparate musicians who trust each other to share the rent and running of a rehearsal and storage space. No one is paid, all the work to keep it going has been voluntary. Over the years the membership has slowly changed as musicians have moved on and been replaced by new members but the ethic has remained the same.

Unfortunately our survival is under threat, our landlord is seeking to double our rent, so we are looking for help.
We have legal advice but if someone could suggest how we could gain support for our cause, perhaps write a letter of support or point us toward an alternative secure tenancy in the Deptford area, please do.

As a group we have been so low lying that we easily qualify as a real grass roots organisation. We do not advertise, we are just known by word of mouth among networks of musicians. Silo SE8’s whole purpose is to share rent in order to make it affordable. Over time we have learnt the maximum number of members who can share one space and give everyone enough rehearsal time in 7 days of 24 hours is about 27. Rehearsal time is obviously of the highest priority for musicians.

Having already reached this number of members, a doubling of rent by the landlord will mean a doubling of membership fee for each musician in SILO SE8. Plainly some of us will not be able to afford this, not just the younger members but others who have to juggle their priorities, when UK music events and venues are suffering economically. This is why the rent increase, while not yet signed off, is looking like a fatal blow.

Through various addresses, the SILO SE8 concept has worked based on the trust and goodwill of its members. It has not needed to organise other than to share a calendar and rely on elected volunteers to work as treasurer, chair and secretary. Members also pitch in to clean, do repairs and provide miscellaneous equipment and sundries. No one is paid.

We need support to show our landlord that we really are a non-profit worthy of a non-exploitative rental space among their tenancies.

Because of the nature of our membership our community contributions have been an inevitable consequence, Silo SE8 Musicians have played in street bands celebrating the annual Deptford Jack In the Green and for the Deptford Anchor Campaign and been deeply involved in the past in Deptford Festival, in Fordham Park Festival and more recently in Party in the Park.
People within Silo SE8 have organised benefit shows for Survivors Poetry, ALD Life, and supported the visit of the MS Stubnitz from Rostock Germany. Silo SE8 musicians have performed in all of these events.

On the one occasion that we did secure a small amount of grant funding, by dint of an extraordinary amount of work from one member in particular, we were able to network internationally and provide space for international acts to perform locally. The bands included
Black Magic Six (Finland)
Harry Merry (Netherlands)
Blackfire/Jones Benally Family (Navajo/native American band)
La Fourche (France)
Boningen (Japan)
Mr Protector (France)
Budosok (Hungary)
Puckston (Germany)
Digep (Hungary)
Pulka (Germany)
Endre Szkarosi (Hungary)
Schmil Frankel (Israel)
Fotomoto (Ukraine)
Sumski (Croatia)
Graph (Germany)
Tudosok (Hungary)
Grassmower (Netherlands)
Vialka (France/Canada)
Guess What (France)
Wahorn (Hungary)
Hanjiro (Japan)
Zoambo Zoet Workestrao (Slovenia)

If you think ours is the sort of non-profit organisation that could do with some help, please share this news of our plight among your friends and social media and perhaps we can shake out letters of support to pass on to our landlords, or someone may have a secure space with a viable rent with 24 hour access we could move to.

Thank you for reading this far.

If you would like to send a letter of support or have another helpful suggestion please email: quobsilose8@gmail.com

If you want to support and you are not sure what to say, something along these lines may suit:
“Silo SE8 is an essential part of the arts ecosystem in South East London. The demise of this non-profit, modest, self-organised association of musicians would have repercussions way beyond, just its membership, which is why I’m writing in support. I would like to urge, whoever sets the rent to really consider whether they wish to support the local culture or damage it.”
It would really help if you could give your name and at least a postcode with your email. Thank you from SILO SE8


These headphones are a revelation to me. I needed to upgrade to something I could really trust. In theory I understand the ideal of a balanced, open response across the frequency range in a pair of headphones but I have now experienced what that can mean and it’s brilliant. I had no idea I had been missing so much. I have been told, you’d have to pay at least four times the VERUM price for equivalent quality elsewhere. The phones look beautiful and are very comfortable.They are hand made in Ukraine, so it’s not surprising you have to wait months for delivery but I’d say it’s absolutely worth it. https://www.verum-audio.com/

Thank you VERUM

(I saw VERUM recommended by Venus Theory on YouTube)


Drink it all in. Let the blood darken

your face. You are breathing

language substrate. You are walking through

so many parts per million of undiscovered expression,

a hemisphere of unvoiced sound.

The smallest unit of meaning is a germ

and germs lurk everywhere,

ink spit and typeface in mirrors.

They always did. They always will

tempt you to assign value.

When you do, you inhale invisible language dust,

delusion molecules, fantasy atoms, fact iotas

and inflate yourself with them,

build dreams, hang hope off them,

act on them

and then you fall.

There’s frenetic mutation

and any number of misunderstandings

but if you’ve tried to make sense before,

you may have some immunity

or an addiction, incipient or chronic?

There is peril in pulped data,

bits and bytes,

the d.n.a. of sentences:

adenine, the letters, guanine,

cytosine, syllables, thymine,

pulverised alphabet, spores of flower verb,

proglottids of emotional worm,

‘a’s and ‘z’s, silent and transparent as air in air,

illness heralds, single cellular life.

A body clearing its throat of irritant,

life sentences pour from the mouth.

Fine numerals, hair breadths, fractional tolerances

in creation soup, gamete ideas meeting,

generating plagues and paradise,

bugs, bug fixes, zygotes, cons and lies,

health bestowing stories, awesome description,

vaccines and poisons, inoculation and possession,

abrasive punctuation, transmogrifying radiations of fear and hate,

the syntax of oppression, granular imperatives

all swirling inaudible, intangible in the bubble

that surrounds you, caught in the filters

for understanding, clogging their mesh,

short circuiting nerves.

The thread leading back through the maze

into tree clean air, is fraying, is spat on and rotting,

is being chewed by sentiment, untied by pride

and going up in smoke.

The signs billow, flutter and flow like substitute oxygen.

You need to absorb some and live for a while in delusion,

drink embarrassment and boost your signifying anti-bodies,

take the rumours and the paranoias like strychnine tonic,

the fantasies as sugar, the lies as creative,

the fear as a warning, the half truth as a half truth.

You are breathing language substrate.

You are walking through an atmosphere drenched

in undiscovered expression,

a hemisphere of the unsaid becoming extinct.

ZQ 170317 (UD June 2022 – was Drink The Embarrassment)

Hit By Debris

Which came first,
the sperm or the egg,
God or the ape
or the Ape God?
Which was it,
the nose coming round the corner
or the fingers on top of the wall?
Was it foot prints
filling with water
or an elbow holding the door
for the tray carrying tea
from India
or linen for a guest’s bed,
a cry or a crown
of the head,
hairs plastered with baptism juice?

In the procession of birth,
the shockwave, the flash of bright
heat, the skin cells falling
in sheets, the cushion of fat,
the pneumatics of breath,
hydraulics of blood, mechanicals
of tendons, muscle and bone,
lights industries – lungs and entrails –,
the wonders of anatomy,
was it
the working of a mind
on a float by of consciousness,
day’s scalpel piercing the curtains
to a blackbird accompaniment
that was first
or was it
the hair in the meeting places,
odour of bio-electric magnetism,
a new hard and a new soft,
rolling hills, cliffs,
water drum kits on rocks,
lighthouses like oak trees
all caught in one breath.

In the parade of delivery,
is it the leopard skinned band leader
juggling his wand
or the wound round of a rod
as a yarn is told
that precedes?

It all comes first.
It’s a wave front of birth.
Under thunderous samba clouds
knees pull shins and feet
over hurdles of beats,
hands hold together in prayer
or cradle water
to splash
a closed face awake,
an eye begins to open
small as a splinter of tear drop
on a lash, a tarn
in a mountain of other,
looking continues to find,
blows up a thin film of lick
of the world, of sky
and dark matter,
like a bubble on a pipe
of optic nerve.

Disturbing the blast fronts
your friends should be known as,
your birth is an explosion
that’s still going on
and long may it continue
to do so.

(1st read at Nick DD’s Birthday Celebration 11/06/2011)

A Visit to G-Remover Studios


In The Airgasmatron

In The Airgasmatron

“To prevent alien materials interfering with our engineering, anyone entering the workshop must undergo a decontamination.” I had slipped past this ‘small print’ on the invitation. ‘Decontamination’ meant stripping to nothing and having air at body temperature blasted at me from all directions. After that I was given a one-piece plastic suit to wear. It was grey, opaque, soft and so thin the drafts in the corridor insinuated I was still naked. The engineer’s suit was milky and translucent.

“If you’ve any interest in sound, you’ll enjoy this experience. It’s proof of Marcus’ theories.” She pointed me toward a chair, loosely upholstered in a thin, mustard coloured plastic. The chair was ringed with folds of material; some folds were rubbery, some looked like flesh and others were dark as shadow. In front of the chair was a matt black box like the bonnet of an old car. Beside the chair were two solid, column speakers. Like a studio there was a glass screen with a warm yellow light behind it and the walls were padded.
“OK, the speakers are just speakers but when you sit in the chair your body will become surrounded by little resonance chambers. The seat itself will adjust, as will all the spaces round you. Each resonance chamber corresponds to an organ or interstitial space and will move and change shape till their resonance pairs with a part of your body. It’ll take two minutes.
“Someone, when they sat in this, only then discovered they were claustrophobic. So now we have two kill switches: one in that glove and one activated by a kick. The chair opens immediately and completely. Please don’t worry though. Most people find this device a pleasurable experience.

“The way the chambers grow, move and weave into each other is very beautiful. I have film of it, I can show you afterwards.”
I sat in the chair. The engineer pushed the box toward me. As she did so the folds of material rose up and folded over, so that the moment the box reached my chin was the moment I became enveloped with the softer textiles. It was difficult dealing with the sense of vulnerability. Though the pneumatics were gentle, they were insistent and strong, nudging my arms away from my body and moving my legs further apart. My tension was just turning inflammatory, when she said, “You can stop the process at any time. It will work with the chambers in the position they are but if you can bear with it, these last tiny adjustments make an important subtle difference.
“If it’s dark, it’s better, if that’s alright with you. I’m just going to play a short recording from one of Marcus’ talks.” She switched off all lights apart from a grid of domino l.e.d.s.

The light tenor washed into me and buzzed just below my heart: “Even in a live performance, if you’re not careful, the visuals form a barrier between you and the music. That’s why I close my eyes. Sometimes it’s to cut out other audience distracting themselves and consequently me, sometimes I need to stop myself imagining the psycho-dynamics between performers.” My body moved with a new slow pulse, it was in the same breath pattern rising and falling through his sentences. Each word idea caught a fierce cold energy that shot up from my ribs through my neck to flower round my skull. “There is also a smug look that crystallises on some performers faces, as if music is an intellectual exercise. I absolutely have to shut that out. Mostly I close my eyes just to feel the music in my body.” I was definitely feeling the dance of his words. There was a bass note that he kept hitting, it hadn’t been there at first but now it was setting off a bubbling pulse through my lower back.
“Thinking about this and the impossibility of really capturing the vitality of live sound, I realised that sounds have skin. If you play back a recording, it doesn’t matter how careful or logical you are, you are going to be affected by the format. It is going to have a psychological effect. The warmth of vinyl is a psychological effect. The impurity feels organic but it’s still an impurity. The clinical reproduction of high resolution digital playback has its own connotations, which also interfere with listening. The point is you close your eyes to hear music in your body. Everything I have done in G-Remover is to analyse and then enhance exactly those qualities that resonate physically. We don’t just record the sound. We analyse the body resonances of the sound, so we can enhance it in the mastering process. It means that everything we produce, it doesn’t matter what you play it back on, gets straight under your skin.”
The words stopped. All I could hear was fast panting. I was annoyed. The breathing was breaking through into the hot, whole body pleasure, I was lost in. With embarrassment I realised the heavy breathing was mine.

When I congratulated Marcus on building an ‘Orgasmatron’, he looked pained. “You were breathing air at the time. You don’t call it ‘airgasmatron’. Equating the psycho-physical, autonomic reaction, you had, with sex says more about your small mind than about my acoustic analysis. Get out of here!”

He phoned me later to apologise, explaining he had been having a bad day. He did think my view was a trivialisation but asked me to write it up anyway. “That’s what you press do. What should I expect? I just hope some people see through it.
“It’s ‘G-Remover’ because glistening is evidence of surface.”

Thanks to Mullzimmer for commissioning the visit and VJ flickering light for visualising the effect.