Violence And The Sacred ‘Dull Knife Dull Life’ 7”

01 Dull Knife Dull Life; Sharp Knife Short Life (6:53)

Graham: vocals
Michael Fitzgerald: synthesizer
Potemkin: guitar & synthesizer
Robert Kennedy: Farfisa organ
Sri (Scott Kerr): drum machine, synthesizer & tapes

02 Now a God Dances Through Me (1:52)

Text from ‘The Writing of the Disaster’ by Maurice blanchot
St. Deborah: voice
Sri: recording & mix

7” Released 1988 on Freedom In A Vacuum (Toronto)

The first disc by this Canadian collective after several self-released tapes, this time on Robert Olver’s Freedom In A Vacuum label. In 1988, Olver also released the Michael Snow cassette titled ‘2 Radio Solos’, short-wave improvisations recorded 1980. Violence And The Sacred were active between 1985-1992, with an erratic membership and continuous discord between members. Their name comes from an anthropological book and their pretentious references could have doomed the band as pretentious intellectuals, though they actually opened for Chris & Cosey in 1985, David Thomas in 1986 and Eugene Chadbourne in 1987. Their style varied from post-industrial to collage music, from renaissance music on keyboards (on ‘Hare, Hunter, Field’, the Portuguese Johnny Blue label compilation) to plain electronic music (on ‘The Song of Labrador’ CD). This single’s A side is a collective drum machine+sampler assault with vocal cut-ups, reminiscent of American cultural terrorists of the times, like Negativland – remember Violence And The Sacred were included in Tellus #20 ‘Media Myths’, as well. The B side is a reading from a Maurice Blanchot text on cancer by St. Deborah, whose monotonous voice is heard along electronic treatments. More info on their website.


8 Responses to “Violence And The Sacred ‘Dull Knife Dull Life’ 7””

  1. 1 stiv April 15, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    Hi Continuo, discovered your blog recently, very nice!
    Years ago i was in love with the industrial/mailart/homemade music network productions (ah, those lovely ADN tapes….. :-\ and now it’s really wondeful see them reappearing on the web !
    Unfortunately i haven’t an internet connection at home so i can’t down or upload anything.. :-(
    But i still have some original tapes from the period (i had a big collection, mainly sold…..that’s life….) ……….so i ask you, are you interested in some kind of trade? It would be wonderful, because i’m still curious to hear some tapes that at that time i was not able to get……..
    I’m from italy, where are you?

  2. 2 continuo April 16, 2008 at 7:06 am

    What is it you want to trade: tapes or mp3s? I could be interested, anyway. Reach me at:
    I’m blogging from France. Thanks for visiting.

  3. 3 Maxi October 22, 2008 at 10:58 am

    Oho, they used logo of Acéphale.

  4. 4 Robert Olver October 27, 2008 at 2:44 am

    Hi Continuo,

    Very nice blog you have here. It’s great to see this music being made widely available this way. I did what I could.

    Just wanted to point out that Freedom In A Vacuum was independent and never an imprint of anyone other than me, though there are some connections between it and the Music Gallery, ie some of the artists (Snow, Kaiser Nietzsche) and the concert series I used to curate there. Music Gallery never had anything to do with the running of the label.

    All the best and thanks for all your effort and generosity. You are truly everyone’s friend.

  5. 5 continuo October 27, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    Thanks a lot for your kind comments, Robert, and for pointing to inaccuracies in the post. I corrected it accordingly. Thanks for dropping by.

  6. 6 Ted Parkinson January 11, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Hey, good blog. I played guitar in VATS for over a year, including opening for David Thomas (and the Pedestrians). Really neat gig. He said he liked our band, perhaps he was just being nice? It was at Larry’s Hideaway in Toronto where many excellent bands played, but has long since been consigned to dust.

    Not all of us were “pretentious intellectuals”; but 2 or 3 of us were studying semiotics and other arcane matters at U of Toronto at the time. I always liked the name because it described some of the music quite well, in addition to being a nice artsy reference.

  7. 7 continuo January 11, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Hi Ted. Regarding David Thomas’ comment on your music, he might have been sincere: after all, he included the incredible keyboard sounds of Allan Ravenstine in Pere Ubu.
    I’m no adverse to ‘intellectual music’ as such, and this blog champions many examples of it. What I find interesting about VATS is the collective/communal project, embarking different personalities as well as critical relationships. A bit like the Surrealists Group.
    Thanks for dropping by.

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