006 - Weapons for Children - AMEN! - $3.00 - (45 minutes)


From: "Experimental Musical Instruments" - Vol XII #3

- March '97 - us@


Istvan Kantor, aka Monty Cantsin, aka Amen! is an artist born in Hungary who has since also lived and worked in Germany, France, Canada, and the USA. The self-proclaimed leader of the Neoist?! movement, he has been active for around 20 years in the fields of performance, mail art, political art, radio, etc. All during this period he has also been active as a sound performer, and in each stage of his activities, he has combined his revolutionary (anarchist?) politics artistic aesthetics.

This cassette documents 17 excerpts from performances between 1990 and 1992, where he performed using a megaphone through various effects boxes, appropriating a device used normally to control crowds for his own agit-prop noise-making purposes. As he says in the notes to the album, "My intention has been to turn the megaphone into a primitive sound alterating device, a radical accessory of noise performance. By sucking, blowing, licking the mouthpiece of the megaphone I produced unexpected and surprisingly new physio-acoustic sounds. With digital signal processors then I increased the megaphone's limited voice spectra... The megaphone performance is determined by the necessity of intensive physical movements in relation to the body of the sound. Because the megaphone is mostly used by riot police, demonstrators, or street speakers, its image reflects the accuracy of social unrest, frustration and alert."

The sounds made are raucously, screamingly noisy. Those looking for the ultimate in grunge, in its purest essence, without all those superfluous guitars, drums, vocals, or lyrics, need look no further. In the words of tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE, who produced the album, Kantor with his megaphone is "a contemporary trumpeter of doom," [actually a quote from someone else] and his blasting shreds of feedback are an angrier non-verbal analog of the works of anarchist poets such as Hakim Bey. Each of the tracks is short, and surprisingly, there is quite a bit of variety within them. Some of the most interesting moments for me were the sudden shift into phase-shifted sounds in "Ways of talking loud," the third track, and the fragmented scraping sounds on track 14, "Forbidden Philosophers." Older rock fans may also be reminded of the feedback work of Jimi Hendrix, but here the noisebands have a much darker cast to them.

This is clearly an "M" rated album. Don't play it to your 14 year olds. (They'll probably play their copy to you!) And it definitely won't please those who are looking for relaxing lounge music. But if your tastes run ti noizak, live electronic performance with simple, low cost electronics, radical movements in the contemporary visuals arts world, or you're curious to see what could have happened had the revolutionary political and artistic ideas of the early 20th century successfully (?) combined, and not been crushed by Stalinism, Fascism, and Commercialism, you should give Amen! a try.

-Warren Burt


[the following unpublished article isn't exactly a review but it is relevant]

AMEN!: Megaphones: Weapons for Children



AMEN! a.k.a. AMEN. a.k.a. Monty Cantsin a.k.a. Bertolt Bartok a.k.a. Csö Kantor a.k.a. Francesco Stephanus Cantore a.k.a. Piros Pötyi (Red Spotty) a.k.a. Istvan Kantor. Mi mendas omleton. AMEN! might be most simply called an Electro-(anti)P(r)op(agandist) (M)Usician. Then again, maybe not. According to his essay "Sounds Like Neoism?!": "The best term that includes the necessary irony and the double negation of serious music is (f)unmusical."

The etymology of his creation of this term is presented as follows:

"In 1947, in his address to a conference of leading musicians, Andrei A. Zhdanov, member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, stated that music must be tranquil, reassuring, and calm. And he added "your task is to prove the superiority of Soviet music." [..] If muzak(tranquil, reassurung and calm) is THE great Soviet music then what is noizak? Zhdanov's answer: "the infiltrating element of subversion, the sound of the abnormal!" [..] Another one [(f)unmusical term] is nichtmusik, german for no-music. No music is too used, nichtmusik seems to have more irony because of its assonance with nachtmusik which means a pleasent romantic night concert. [..] The best new terms are those already existing words in which you only have to change a single letter to create a new meaning. This new meaning will also include the old one because that's what the new word will always remind you. That's why Neoism?! incorporates all the previous isms. It would be a good idea to put together a (f)unmusical (sic)tionary."

Indeed it would. Not only do words such as those described above remind you of the old word, they criticize & subvert it. In the same essay he writes that his "family life is a noizak friendly production." It seems to me that the implication of this is that encouraging & accepting the potentially joyful playfulness of the chaos of the growth of children (& adults) is less totalitarian than trying to manipulate it into submission with the covert action of Muzak.

I first met Monty Cantsin around a bottle of Bull's Blood in a peaceful field surrounded by grazing brontosauruses during a Krononautic Organism picnic organized for me on my death bed in the year 2153 AD (After Death). We reminisced about our future times together confusedly trying to "improve" the world by establishing a 'patanationalist cultural base for a workable anti-consensus-"reality" consensual total freedom without committing suicide in the process. Kie ne estas bruo. Monty Cantsin as been the (un)disputed archetype of the Open Pop Star Outreach Program to the Masses department of this grandiose project.

The present tense seems like a good time to give an overview of where s/he fits into all this. Kiam mi prenu la kuracilon? I have a sizeable amount of his audio recordings in my archive (both published & unpublished):

01. 3 versions of the "1st neoist phone call - Monty Cantsin 2 David A. Bannister" on the "Great Moments in Odd Ball Sports" side of the Accumulation / Great Moments in Odd Ball Sports cassette - ca. '80 or '81

02. "neoist songs" - Monty Cantsin (with Bill Vorn) - 12" EP - '82/'83

03. "Mass Media" - Monty Cantsin / First Aid Brigade - 12" EP - '84

04. "introductory musics" & "Fake Science" on the SMILE Neoist Music Anthology, 1985 3 cassette compilation edited by Monty Cantsin - '85

05. material in the mix of the "SMILE" side of Neoist Ghosts - Monty Cantsin & White Colours - cassette - '85

06. "Bagdata" - Monty Cantsin - 1 side of a 30 minute cassette - '86

07. material in the mix of Neoism Now - Monty Cantsin & White Colours - cassette - '86

08. "Born Again in Flames" - Monty Cantsin - 12" EP - '87

09. Ahora Neoismus - Istvan Kantor Monty Cantsin - LP - '88

10. 1 or more selections on Fuck Neoism?! Now! - Monty Cantsin - cassette - ?

11. "Fanculo Neoismo" - Phycus (with Monty Cantsin) - 1 selection on a cassette - '91

12. 3 Art's Birthday related pieces of Megaphony on the 1,000,033e Anniversaire de L'Art CD - as: Puppet Government - '96

13. Weapons for Children (& other Vextasy) - AMEN! - cassette - '96

& videos:

A. "Infraduction" - '79/'80

B. "Liason Inter-Urbaine" - '80

C. "Restriction" - '80


E. 30 Days - Preludium Videa - '89

F. "Etude" - '90

G. "Selected Short Megaphones - The Anti-Cycle of Megaphony" - '91

H. "Escape from Freedom" - '87-'91

I. "JERICHO" - '91


K. "Dripping" - '92

L. "Red Shoes" - '93

M. "SLEEP" - '93

N. "Cult of Sex" - '89/'94

O. "BABYLON" - '94

P. "Red Flag" - '96


It could be said (given the theory of Homonymphonemiac Probability) that 1 thing that unites all of these selections is the articulation of Cultural Conspiracy. Momenton. Istvan Kantor has not only passed thru a variety of ways of referring to his self, he's gone thru a variety of ways of audibly revolting against the oppression of those selves he identifies with - in a variety of places preposterously called nations: Hungary, France, Canada, USA, & Germany - to name a few.

He's been a folk musician, in bands, a subway singer, an open pop star, a scrapmetal player, & a contemporary trumpeter of doom. In the oldest of the audio recordings that I have from him, he simulates making a "random" phone call to a "David A. Bannister" in order to announce his invention of a new movement called "neoism". Mi deziras liton en dormvagono. Their conversation goes somewhat like this:

MC: "Do you want to be a neoist?"

DB: "A what?"

MC: "A neoist."

DB: "Buddy, you're either a nut.."

MC: "No.."

DB: "You.."

MC: "..you might be someone who might want to change their life.."

DB: "Ha!"

MC: "..I'm not sure how to.."

DB: "You know how I'd like to change my life Buddy? I'd like to, to, to get rid of people like you. I've had a hard day at work."

MC: "Well.."

DB: "You're either a nut, you're a salesman, or you're a prank caller, & I don't like.."

MC: "Don't work, don't go to work, quit your job & start a new life.." [etc..]

This fictional exchange sets the tone for future conflict. Miaj okulvitroj estas rompitaj. In "Catastronics" (sometimes called the neoist anthem) we find the following:


The period from about 1982 to 1988 is a stream of p(r)opaganda splashing in a canal of electro-pop. Kie estas apoteko kie oni komprenas angle? Serious in his pursuit of reaching a mass media audience with anarchic enthusiasm for the "Great Confusion", he utilized the electro-musical skills of Caca-Nadians Bill Vorn, Tristan-Stephane Renaud, & Gaetan Gravel (amongst others) to provide the musical table-cloth pretty enough to make his recommended change of diet more palatable. Targetting the club scene(s), his first 3 records were EPs convenient for DJ spinning for people in pursuit of happiness thru dancing, sensory alteration, & sex. In the song "Mass Media" he states:

"I refuse any & all authority from judges & establishment idiots

& I take my case directly to the jury of my peers - the real jury.. This, I truly believe."

- all the while with the steady rousing of pop music. This is not dry "radical" rhetoric thinly marketed as hip ideology (or is it?). Kie estas la plej proksima banko? While the music may often be simple & "direct", the lyrics are quite an uneasily categorizeable mish-mash of auto-biography, sloganeering, megalomania, mythstory, & a general "poetic" attitude to life. Take, for example, the words to the song "I Am Monty Cantsin" on the Ahora Neoismus album:


"Yes, I am Monty Cantsin, neoist open pop star, immortal hard-art singer,

self-appointed leader of the people of the Lower East Side


El Sol, Tu Corazon Y El Neoismo!


I was only four years old when I swallowed down a few nails,

because I wanted to know what is pain




You know I'm working full time for the 14 Secret Masters of the Universe.

I never watch the clock, it's always six o'clock


We love to horrify the good little children of bourgeois bureaucracy,

we love to terrify all the lying leaders of stupifying politics,

we love to play with blood & fire, we are the virus in your computer,

we make you swing, we make you smile, join us & never die




Say what they don't want to hear! Show what they don't want to see!

Do what they want to stop!


Is the height of your ambition to be good & willing slaves?

Should you kneel in deep submission from your cradle to your graves?


All the wealth you make is taken by exploiting parasites.

Workers of the world, awaken! Break your chains, demand your rights.


I am to lead You are to follow I am today You are tomorrow


Beauty, that idol of imperial aesthetics, has repeatedly shown itself to be a

calamity for all revolutionary creativity & it will remain so until

it is overthrown for ever by the people of the lower east sides


So dont talk beside the point









Stop Misery! All or Nothing! Neoism Now! Total Freedom! Suck Tits! 6 o'clock!


On the jacket of the same record he writes "The basis of Neoism is, was, & always will be the song." But even in the midst of all this Electro-(anti-)P(r)op(agandist) (M)Usic, we find the hints that he may drop the pop & start emoting a revolution without the deadbeat - exploring, instead, an evolution into a more direct amplification of everyday life. Malsupre. The song, from circa '87, entitled "The Frigidaire of Marcel Duchamp" may've pointed to his later interest in what he calls "Frigophony" & what I called the "school of the importance of refrigerator sounds" (see my review, "egnekn's fridge", in MUSICWORKS #63). In this recent proposal/manifesto he writes:

[..]"That's why I think it would be appropriate to pay tribute to the refrigerator, the world's greatest household "classical" drone instrument, icon of aural ambiency and kitchen-noizak. Therefore I propose a project, intitled FRIGOPHONY, that puts the refrigerator back into revolution (aka everyday art and life)."[..]

{Yet another reference to the cultural significance of the fridge is on page 53 of Douglas Davis' book Art and the Future where he credits artist Martial Raysse of "The New Realists" with saying "I wanted my work to possess the serene self-evidence of mass-produced refrigerators."}

Throughout most of this, (Istvan Kantor) Monty Cantsin? AMEN. has developed his use of one piece of sound apparatus, the MEGAPHONE, in a way potentially relevant to all his audio-political concerns. Iru. Wanting to take his ideas to a large variety of social situations, he not only performed his electro-(anti-)p(r)op in clubs as spectacles, he took them to the streets, to apartments, to parties, to bridges, to ruins, etc.. In the '80s he'd carry a boom-box & a megaphone & play the electro backing tracks & sing the vocals thru the bull-horn - a very convenient portable PA. Perhaps, gradually recognizing the intrinsic qualities of the megaphone for expressing the revolution of everyday strife without the need for the pop music with lyrics structure that he'd previously worked within, he wrote in "The Anti-Cycles of Megaphony":

"The strong character of megaphone performance is determined by the necessity of intensive physical movements, the close contact of body convulsions and the alarming sound, the heavy breathing of the performer and the absurd detournement of the megaphone as a radical accessory of noise-music, a contemporary trumpet of doom. Because the megaphone is mostly used as a tool of low-tech mass communication by riot police, demonstrators, or street speakers, its image reflects the accuracy of social unrest, frustration and alert."

The vaudios that quasi-document his Anti-Cycle(s) of Megaphony are "Etude", "Selected Short Megaphones - The Anti-Cycle of Megaphony", "Escape from Freedom", "JERICHO", "BARRICADES", & "BABYLON". These range from the fairly simple ("Etude") to the fairly elaborate ("BABYLON"). This latter is described as "Noize Stanzes & Sonic Tanzes / The Anti-Cycles of Negaphony". Mi havas kapdoloron. A promotional blurb for it describes its plot as follows: "A superhuman creature learns about the vanishing world of XXth Century, its social icons, mythological events, technical means, chaotic & bloody history, while taking a shit in a scrap yard." The megaphony performances strike me as an attempt to create an aural correlative to such a plot without having to rely on many words.

In the notes for the Weapons for Children cassette he says that the selections "should not be considered the bests of the Anti-Cycles. Any selection would be just as great as this one." With this in mind, it seems somewhat pointless to develop much critical criteria for appraising them individually. Al kiu fenestro mi devas iri. Perhaps it's just best to appreciate megaphones as Weapons for Children (no matter what age) & find out the ways in which we can defend ourselves from mass media with them.

Most recently, AMEN! has been using file cabinets as his main instrument. He, & his usual "Puppet Government" collaborator Krista Goddess Ceres, play the cabinets in 2 main ways: by either banging the drawers open & shut with "mindlessly" repetitive vehemence or by humping them. Kiu estas tiu sinjorino? Perhaps AMEN! has moved from the street into the office. One or more of the cabinets have been motorized in such a way that the cabinet(s) tip forward - sliding the drawers out, & then tip back - sliding the drawers back in again. Imagine the poetic justice of the thumping sound of this being required by law to be noizak in all lawyers' offices. AMEN!


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The reviews are not necessarily copied verbatim from the original. Usually, small apparent typos are corrected & obsolete addresses are removed. In some cases, I may choose to leave misspellings, misinformation, etc intact to demonstrate how sloppy the reviewer is. Of course, there may be times when the original packaging was confusing (deliberately or otherwise) which may effect the reviewer's comprehension. The more recent the tapes are, the less likely this is to be the case. Most of the recent tapes provide fairly extensive liner notes. In some cases, reviewers whose native language isn't English may be writing in English anyway for the sake of 'internationalizing' their reviews. Obviously, this may lead to what strikes native English speakers as 'bad' English. Hopefully, equally obviously, this should not be interpreted as a lack of intelligence in the writing. Editorial notes may be inserted into the reviews in [brackets]. In many instances, I (tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE) replied to reviews that I disagreed with strongly. These replies are included here. In some cases, I may add additional retrospective comments.