zine, [zeen] noun. 1. abbr. of fanzine; 2. any amateurly-published periodical. Oxford Reference


Saturday, April 28, 2018

Break the Chain, Volume 2

 A5, 44 black and white pages
£2.90 (+£3.62 p&p)

The second volume of Break the Chain is a battle cry from the Jacksonville punk scene. Sequels are always tricky, and so I was eager to see if zine maker Matt Sessions could pull it off.

The first interview is with Dawn Ray’d, a black metal band from the north of England (my neck of the woods, how exciting!). Reading through this interview, I was a little disappointed with myself; my surprise at the band’s articulation and love of poetry (their band name comes from a poem by Voltairine de Cleyre) spoke volumes about my own preconceptions of heavy metal bands. Much of their interview was an exploration of the power and beauty of words, and yet it ended with a reminder of the anarchy at their core - “Fuck the pigs, smash the Nazis”.

This volume also offered fantastic artwork from Matt Jaffe. His images have been created with thousands of dots, each one carefully placed, each one a crucial part of a bigger picture. Jaffe’s artwork is sharply evocative, but more importantly it teases one’s curiosity – each image bears a strange caption (“alienergy”, “sickened”, “radiate”), none of which make sense straight away.

It’s clear that Sessions has held onto the same punk ethos that birthed the fist volume of Break the Chain, and he’s built on this significantly in the second volume. The pages are crammed full of content, each item fitting well within the theme of angry protest whilst offering their own distinct point of view.

Sadly, some items fall a little short. Ed Dantès’ essay “In Prisons We Trust (part one)” is full of angry commentary, but unfortunately offers very little depth or intelligent examination of the points he is criticising. I was really rooting for Dantès – his argument started off well, gained momentum, but the deathblow never came (perhaps it arrives in part two).

This volume is a gripping read, and I think this has a lot to do with Sessions’ obvious love for the music scene in his area. It’s clear that he doesn’t make Break the Chain for profit or notoriety (you won’t find his name anywhere in these pages), but because he loves the Jacksonville scene.

On the whole, the second volume of Break the Chain is a triumph. It it builds on the themes of protest and angst introduced by its predecessor and the result is a zine which is polished and cohesive – clearly, Sessions is finding his groove.

Volume two of Break the Chain can be bought here 

Review by J.L. Corbett

Sunday, April 15, 2018


A5, 20 colour pages
£3.62 (+ £3.62 p&p)

Synaesthesia (the condition) is sensory confusion. Your house tastes like cake. Your lover’s voice smells like fresh cut grass. Your favourite song feels crunchy. The number seven is green, for some reason.

Synesthesia (the zine) dives headfirst into delirium. Stacey Matchett evokes a sense of desperate, inescapable confusion in her pastel colour palettes, bold rainbow scribbles and delicate black linework - it’s a beautiful assault on the senses. 

Usually when poetry and artwork appear together in print, the images end up playing second fiddle; they usually serve as garnish, pretty pictures to illustrate the words. Matchett turns this convention on its head. The bright images dominate the pages of this zine, holding hostage the reader’s psyche and rendering the accompanying poetry somewhat redundant. It’s not that the poetry is particularly poor, more that within the psychedelic pages of Synesthesia its role is secondary to the artwork.

When I first encountered Matchett’s work in volume one of Break the Chain, I described it as “grunge expressionism”. Reading through Synesthesia, it seems clear to me now that her work is too nebulous to fit within that category; her art style shifts throughout the pages, and yet each drawing bears her stylistic signature.

Matchett does a great job of creating a collection of artwork centred upon a theme without falling into predictability – each page explores a different facet of a disorganised mind and does so with a touching vulnerability.

You can buy your copy of Synesthesia here.

Review by J.L. Corbett

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