Noise pioneer Zev Asher dies

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      A key figure in Vancouver's experimental noise scene passed away last week.

      Zev Asher, who lost his battle with leukemia in Montreal on August 7, performed and recorded here with Nimrod and Roughage during the '90s. His renown was worldwide, however. In a Facebook posting, Scratch Records founder Keith Parry wrote that "putting out the ambitious and respected music Zev was involved with was an honour, and gave us global legitimacy."  

      "Zev was a tall, quiet man who seemed to need to have people around him who were not normal," Parry told the Straight, with an affectionate laugh. "Once he trusted that you were not just a cow out in the pasture of humanity, he certainly opened up and was just a hysterical dude, with a warmly perverse sense of humour unlike any other person that I've ever met."

      Asher's endlessly creative nature wasn't confined to music. He also directed films including RAT ART: Croatian Independents (1997), Subcultural Revolution: Shanghai (2010) and a documentary, Casuistry: The Art of Killing a Cat, that prompted an unholy controversy when it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2004. The Canadian Film Encyclopedia describes Casuistry as "like the punk B-side of an Errol Morris film."

      "He was his art. He just always had an ear and eye for the art that was around him at all times," Parry said, adding that he has uploaded a Roughage full-length and all three of the Scratch-released Nimrod albums (which include the participation of people like the Boredoms' Yoshimi) to Bandcamp. You can grab them here and here.

      Asher's last performance in Vancouver was in 2011, when he presented Subcultural Revolution: Shanghai at the Vancity Theatre. Asked at the time what we should expect from the solo performance following the screening, he answered: “A short sharp shock. A blast of visuals and sonic whatnot!”

      Asher was 50-years-old.



      A. MacInnis

      Aug 12, 2013 at 4:10pm

      I liked Zev a lot. Didn't get to know him that well but we talked at some length when he was in town for Noise Night; very smart, very interesting guy, and he's passed on far too early. Roughage's Yen For Noise, in particular, is a brilliant, very entertaining and approachable album, which will delight anyone with a fondness for Japan... my interview with him about Casuistry: The Art of Killing a Cat, which originally appeared in Terminal City, is online here:

      A. MacInnis

      Aug 13, 2013 at 11:23am

      Hey, in addition to that Nimrod CD on bandcamp, one of Zev's friends has put his collaboration with Lasse Marhaug, released under the name The Sleazy Listeners, up for free download here:


      Sep 5, 2013 at 12:25pm

      R.I.P. Zev. I met him in the 90-ies after his Croatia project, in Germany. a good man in a bad world. he gave me the first album of Nimrod "Grandson Of Ham", which I still like to listen often. an extremely creative mind ... miss you, man ...