I finally got around to ordering issue #3 of Personal Best, Lasse Marhaug’s music fanzine. It’s great. What’s it about? To answer that, you only have to open it and flick through a few pages, and use your eyes. You see lots of photographs of people, especially faces in close up. It’s a fanzine about people. The people happen to be musicians, and many of them also happen to be visual artists, and some of them are involved in even more far-out multi-media and performance activities. They are all certifiable geniuses and half of them also appear to be beautiful eccentrics, if not certifiable loon-boons…once read, the whole magazine will make you laugh in public with the audacity and ingenuity of the artistic spirit, and it cannot fail to restore your faith in humanity and make you rush to embrace the fiery energy of creative madness. Here are a clutch of people who can change the world, and they will. They are stalking the earth right now.
I mention the “people” thing because this may account for why Personal Best is such an instant hit with readers, and why The Sound Projector – which is usually filled with pictures of album covers, or weird alienated drawings by me – appears not to have that same instant connection. Not that I’m envious of Lasse’s global success. Note that he also manages to get it printed in full colour, with financial help from the Norwegian Arts Council, because presumably a lot of what he’s doing is good for Norway’s culture. Lasse, whom I have met a couple times, is also good with “people” generally. He is friendly, approachable, positive, generous and makes friends very easily, very useful qualities when you’re a musician, concert organiser, label owner and publisher. By contrast, I am a malignant dwarf shouting “get off my bridge” to the three Billy-Goats Gruff.
Personal Best is an easy read too. How many music magazines can say that? Maybe it’s because of the chatty tone throughout. These are all interviews conducted in real time with people facing each other, done with enthusiasm and insider knowledge by Lasse and his talented crew of collaborators. Consequently the interviewees tend to respond likewise with a lot of shared enthusiasms. For example, Lasse is a metal fan and he isn’t ashamed of it. Half of his respondents are metal fans too, and the evolving culture of that music and our consumption / understanding of it is vividly reflected in these pages. So, come to that, are many other genres of music, and visual art forms, and other cultural achievements. Music and art come to life on the pages of Personal Best; it isn’t a magazine where music goes to die, nor a mausoleum where culture is being preserved through the slow death of embalming and appreciation by self-styled “expert” critics. Rather, it’s a window on how the world continues to teem with vibrant and dynamic energy; an affirmation of life, full of the wild, the unexpected and the exotic. Recommended!