You’ve dropped the kids off and now it’s just you and the open road. You take the Little Mix CD out of the player and slip one of your own choosing in, intending to relive your misspent youth. Despite the fond memories it may provoke, half-hour into your “rave anthems” you feel a headache and need a little lie down.
If you’re the forty-something who spent their younger days bopping in a field with a posse you only just met, grinding teeth and sporting eyes like saucers, but now the shebang is reduced to a couple of rave tapes you couldn’t bear to bin and a head swirling with shards of misplaced memories, then this could be the way to glimpse those heady days without menacing the family with a chewed-up 91 Easygroove mixtape whilst washing the dishes.
Spannered by Bert Random, is a book which lacks plot but compensates by sculpting a literary representation of an era habitually mislaid by media. Photographically records are scarce, videos rarer; unlike modern generations who take being filmed as regular, free ravers shunned anyone pulling out a camera. So, we’re left with muddled stories passed down like Uncle Albert with a glow-stick, and Human Traffic, a film which although had the potential to be our Easy Rider, turned out too paisley to truly define the period.
For Spannered centres first person narrative around a single Bristol free party, set in 1995 it spares no mercy from eloquent, expressive depictions of the music, culture and mad party people surrounding him, as well as chronicling the views, sentiments and highs sloshing around in the protagonist’s intoxicated mind.
It offers a uniquely accurate portrayal of the rave generation and would be suitable, as I suggested, for all once-party people looking for a stick to poke at their memories, but also anyone interested or researching the mood of the period.
It’s no textbook, reveals no factual data of certain events and makes no claim to be a bible of statistics; just an account of pure hedonism. Although a few memorable parties are referenced, it’s basically an elucidation of an illegal gathering and its aftermath through the eyes of an attendee. It leaves those in the know tingling to return to that happy place through gorgeous descriptive representations, acute observations most would have forgotten in the mists of a comedown, and realistic portrayals of that once popular scene.
At times, Spannered contains experimental syntax, with word repetition or expanded terms to assist you visualise their status, if you’re knowledgeable of rave culture, it works. It dips a toe into humour, in so much as the free party was nothing but fun, and it washes the story out with the gradual return to reality in such a way you feel like crashing out on a sofa with a tinny or three, and perpetual beats rinsing your neurons.
A homage to life in the 90s, Spannered is a petite pocket of psychedelic exposé, uncensored and definite, with musical references and some appealing illustrated chapter divides. You need to digest this, whistle posse.