On Thursday 23 Aprll Test Dept’s book Total State Machine was – finally! – launched. The film DS30, which was commissioned for the 2014 AV Festival, preceded the launch at the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton. DS30 features footage of mining communities around the River Tyne as well as Test Dept’s own performances during the mines’ strike, when their ‘Fuel to Fight’ tour saw them hit the road in support of embattled mining communities. Their activities also included the album Shoulder to Shoulder, where they collaborated with the South Wales Striking Miners’ Choir.
The screening was followed by a Q&A with publisher Peter Webb, Test Dept members Graham Cunnington, Paul Jamrozy, Angus Farquhar, and ‘imaginist’ Brett Turnbull, editor Alexei Monroe, Rebecca Shatwell from AV Festival, and musician Scanner, after which the launch itself took place. Scanner contributed his own memories to the book in writing, and at the launch remixed Test Dept tracks (which you can listen to here), while Paul Jamrozy projected images from the Test Dept archive.
It proved to be a moving evening with many people, not having seen each other in ages, catching up and reminiscing. Many of them former members of the band at some stage or another, others having been involved in individual productions. I ended up having a long chat with one of the graphic designers about the long and intense process of selecting and sorting through material for the book, and giving it a coherent presence. The result is an impressive tome with an amazing array of images and a wide variety of texts.
The book can be ordered from PC Press.