Nihilist Spasm Band
Zev Asher, "What About Me: The Rise of the Nihilist Spasm Band" (2000)
In 1965, Greg Curnoe, an artist and experimental filmmaker living in London, Ontario, needed a musical score for his latest project, a film entitled No Movie. Curnoe gathered together a group of like-minded artists and close friends, and formed an ensemble called the Nihlist Spasm Band to perform the film's soundtrack; none of the members were proficient on a musical instrument, and several had constructed their own noise-making apparatus rather than use conventional instruments. While the few that witnessed the group's willfully dissonant initial performance condemned them as talentless noisemakers, the group stuck to their guns, performing once a week at the same Ontario art gallery, where bassist Hugh McIntyre described their philosophy by asking, "When you eliminate the scale, the key, the repertoire, the category, the traditional rules, and even breaking the rules, what is left?" After years of laboring in obscurity, The Nihlist Spasm Band began to develop a modest cult following in the 1980s; in 2000 they had a loyal fan base in Japan and continued to perform regularly in their native London between periodic international tours, and have won the admiration of such pillars of the noise rock avant-garde musical community as Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth and Jojo Hiroshige of Hijokaidan. What About Me: The Rise of the Nihilist Spasm Band is a documentary that traces the first 35 years of the group's inarguably remarkable career; the film received an enthusiastic reception at the 2000 Toronto Film Festival