Thursday, June 09, 2005

Massaccesi and the Genesis of pHinnWeb



(John "Massaccesi" Fanning as he used to be.)

It was spring 1995 when I received an e-mail from the United States by a person who called himself DJ Entox. As far as I can remember, he had spotted my address from the 313 Detroit techno mailing list on Hyperreal, and noticing I was from Finland, he asked if I was interested to write something about Finnish electronic music scene for his techno fanzine. I don't remember if I had posted something to 313 about Finnish scene, but I said "why not", and soon sent the text to Entox.

Those days Finland's Sähkö Recordings, with releases from Mika Vainio, Pan(a)sonic and Jimi Tenor, was very much in demand in the international techno circles, but it was very hard to find any information on their activities. Using as background the articles from 1993's short-lived Finnish techno magazine ex (for which I had contributed too) and info from my friend Samu Mielonen (one of the leading forces behind ex), who knew all local techno people, I had written a sort of "report" which then appeared in Entox's fanzine called The Skreem, edited in his hometown of Hampton, New England, USA.

The fanzine was a joy to behold for an underground connoisseur: a black and white, cheaply xeroxed schizophrenic-looking thing with messy, collaged images from horror movies, war, mass destruction and anything else that keeps the diet of a growing anarcho-punk balanced, and with loads of interviews and reviews written with a total bang-your-head-to-the-wall attitude, of obscure musical artists doing hardcore techno, gabber and nihilist-death-speed-whatever-core; the sort of stuff that was in vogue in early-to-mid-90s. In other words, electronic hardcore punk, fast and nasty. Not exactly my sort of thing in those days, but I loved The Skreem's agenda which just spelled a-n-a-r-c-h-y to me. I think its visual style was also a big influence on me when I started to work on the stuff of my own.

We got in e-mail correspondence with Entox, and soon I found out to my amazement that this guy who I had thought was in his 20s or even 30s, was in fact just a 16-year old highschool kid called John Fanning. John also asked me to write an update of my text for another issue of The Skreem.

Through John I got to know one Keith "Stevvi" Simpson from the UK who maintainted The Skreem zine's Web presence on his own site called C8 ("Circuit 8", which got its name, as far as I remember, from the 8-Circuit Model of Consciousness I had introduced to Stevvi). Whereas those days John was a sort of kooky and restless teenager, Stevvi was an old punk in his 30s, who liked to provoke, irritate and wind up people the best he could. He was a handful and got me pissed off more than once, and I quite liked the guy. We published my Aural Expansion interview for The Skreem on his site, but then we had a row concerning another planned interview of mine, for Scanner (a.k.a. UK's Robin Rimbaud), which John and Stevvi did not think would fit to their agenda.

Something good came out of this quarrel, though, since it made me seriously consider opening up my own Website, where I could be able to say whatever I want without no one censoring or editing away my stuff, dammit! So, in April 1996, the first version of pHinnWeb was born as my personal homepage at the server of the University of Tampere, with the assistance of my friend Kaj Mäkelä a.k.a. Kaitsu.

Now when I had my very own turf to roam, everything was again OK with me and John & Stevvi, and I got to use the texts I had written for The Skreem as the basis for pHinnWeb's FinnScene and FinnScene 2. The discography I had compiled for the zine of Sähkö, Dum and other Finnish labels and artists became FinnDiscog. The rest of the site thus started its swelling up, and soon my diskspace at university's server proved to be not enough, so I hired myself a site from Sci.Fi (which then became Saunalahti). In 2001 I got for the site its own domain name pHinnWeb.com (which was in existence till 2005), and in 2004 started the new domain pHinnWeb.org. pHinnWeb's Mailing List started in June 2002 and this blog in May 2004.

I got to meet John, still called DJ Entox, in January 1998, when he visited Tampere. We arranged here a party called Cocktail Stealth. Afterwards John got to write on yours truly a story for De:Bug, a German techno magazine, where he described his impressions of his Finnish visit, telling he had been shocked by my appearance which he called of "a depressed zoo animal". Well, after that I learned that with Americans you're supposed to small-talk all the time and constantly smile like hell (at least, from our point of view); because they don't understand Finnish people's tendency to melancholia and our stoic taciturness, obviously. (As for me, I thought the skinny and small John looked in live like a teenage Woody Allen, heh heh.)

Later on, John buried his DJ Entox alias, and donned the artist name Aristide Massaccesi (which was since shortened to Massaccesi only), as a tribute to an Italian horror film director of the same name, and started to produce experimental noise/collage/glitch sounds, recording among all for LA's Phthalo label an album called I Never Fall Apart Because I Never Fall Together. Massaccesi has also appeared on numerous compilation albums, among them a remix for CTNERMX, a 2003 remix album of the tracks of our own Club Telex Noise Ensemble (you can hear it as MP3 here), and done tons of gigs around the world. He also has his own fashion line, does art projects and whatever!

Massaccesi's Website is visually a logical continuation to the schizophrenic DIY graphics of The Skreem. A consumer dream gone all wrong, with recycled material from candy cartons and cartoons, etc., as one messy psychedelic trash potpurri. Not to forget the Chicken & Monkey puppet shows by John & John. Plus of course MP3s and videos of Massaccesi's recordings and live appearances.

So, every time you browse the pages of pHinnWeb, don't forget the guy who gave an initial spark for it all, John "Massaccesi" Fanning, formerly known as DJ Entox.

Massaccesi bio @ Phthalo

The Skreem interviews with Alec Empire