The welcome return of The Empty Quarter…

The welcome return of The Empty Quarter…and the re-issue of a definitive compilation.

Many moons ago, certainly prior to the creation of the internet, those of us interested in music would gravitate to their local decent record emporium; you know the sort of place – the record store that became a focal point for the cities musicians, where gigs would be advertised, all manner of fanzines and imported magazines could be bought, where the staff would be able to make further recommendations based on your purchases.

Some of these stores, sadly too few still remain; Rough Trade in London, Piccadilly in Manchester, Monorail in Glasgow, Crash Records in Leeds, and Probe here in Liverpool.

I recall back in early 1991 during yet another visit to Probe Records, my attention was drawn to a magazine on display; ‘Music From The Empty Quarter – Issue Zero’ which bore the strapline; ‘Electronics, Weird & Industrial Music’s’ – flicking through I was delighted to discover an article concerning Portion Control a band I had first discovered even further back in late 1980 whilst shopping at Rusty Egan’s Kensington Market record shop The Cage; I was in search of an Alan Vega import but the brutal pounding beats produced by Portion Control on their epic ‘Gaining Momentum’ was enough to have me hooked for life;

Issue Zero also featured HARD CORPS who were riding high on the as then Indie Chart along with features on Eyeless In Gaza, and the Legendary Pink Dots – for the cost of a £1 I was introduced to an entire world of weirdness; the opening editorial stated;

The welcome return of The Empty Quarter…

A place where you can delve deep into the heart of man-made, manipulated machines, be spaced by wacky, outer-mind warping’s, or simply driven over the edge by a sheet-white noise.”

Well if that wasn’t encouragement to delve deeper?

Above, the opening words of the Zero issue of MUSIC FROM THE EMPTY QUARTER written in the first days of 1991 as Deadhead emerged into the public eye. Inspired in part after the closing of The Terminal Kaleidoscope in 1986 – a mail order distribution network operated by Martin Bowes of Attrition (who is still making the most glorious sounds today) and the resurgence of interest in Industrial and ‘leftfield’ electronic and experimental music.

Previously, due to a love of Third Mind Records and similar, a couple of cassettes were released on the short-lived For All And None label. The Empty Quarter was planned as a source of reference, an area to buy varied sounds from around the world as there were very few outlets at the time and above all a space for information.

Information was key. Nudge people into listening to all kinds of sounds, try things. Open minds and hear something new.

MFTEQ within its pages more than comfortable in the knowledge Nurse With Wound would sit lap-happy with Depeche Mode. Without ever kneeling to outside financial backing of any persuasion it would delve wherever it pleased, always true to the main spirit, giving people information to decide for themselves. No high-brow lecturing and therefore, no boredom threshold ever reached!

The welcome return of The Empty Quarter…

From 1991 to 1996 The Empty Quarter built with its mail order the foundations.

MFTEQ the written entity running from Zero, through to the final Issue 12 with the label arm TEQ MUSIC? releasing CD’s by Portion Control/Solar Enemy, Lagowski, Vanishing Heat (Psyche), Arthur Loves Plastic, Drift Pioneer plus a cross-border Book/CD compilation package ‘MFTEQ¦Ghafran’.

The magazine gained something of cult-status, selling copies all around the world, given the tag of ‘Bible Of Industrial’ in the U.S.A.

Each issue had a print-run of between 1500-3000 copies and by the time of Issue 12 going to press all back issues had sold. Issue 12 itself had a one-off 3000 print-run and soon sold out; from Issue One I had taken the sensible option to subscribe, and so began a relationship with not just the music but the staff – a relationship I am delighted to say remains to this day. MFTEQ introduced me to the diverse sounds of Controlled Bleeding, Numb, Blue Eyed Christ, and featured releases from Skinny Puppy, Front Line Assembly; some of these bands remain active to this day and despite the instant availability of their music via the internet, I miss the considered opinion of TEQ.

MFTEQ12 was very much not as initially planned and in a very short space of time a beast of an issue was put together after events which after all these years aren’t worth going into detail over. Rather perversely Issue 12 was really the perfect swansong, very much in keeping with the ethos of why The Empty Quarter was founded in the first place.

A thirteenth was planned but by this time energy levels were sapped and the writers felt the need to move on.

It has taken a long long time to feel proud of everything achieved with The Empty Quarter. A wonderful, diverse grouping of people helped out with writings along the way (to whom many now established bands should be forever grateful) but TEQ was in reality just Deadhead; in one room, an Apple Mac, scanner and printer surrounded by shelves and boxes sustained by all manner of varied sounds. If you received a mail-out, magazine or CD/LP/other then it was Deadhead who packed and took it to the post office!

Thankfully after a long absence Deadhead has re-emerged; he contributes reviews for Louder Than War and has now begun an online archive of The Empty Quarter – at this point the site houses a few Test Pages but will shortly expand to include long lost features and reviews; if you have ever been interested in electronic music, industrial music, neu-folk or just the downright weird then take a look at The Empty Quarter; a whole world of music awaits.

The welcome return of The Empty Quarter…

A small box of the GHAFRAN books which were print over-runs has been discovered, these are available to purchase complete with a quality real-time CDR copy plus a facsimile of the original CD insert

PLEASE NOTE: the Psychic TV track was withdrawn prior to release and is NOT included here or the original release.

Available now Incl. P&P – UK £10.00, ROW £13.50

Order now via Paypal:


124pp book & 16-track CD, exclusive interviews and tracks (MFTEQ93/1 Ltd 2000 edition officially released 3/12/93, distribution via Pearl)


2. NEW MIND Oilgod
3. BLACKHOUSE Journey To The Son (single edit)
4. CHRIS & COSEY On The Precipice Of Devil’s Canyon
5. LYCIA Nine Hours Later
6. SCORN Lâ argent
8. BLACK TAPE FOR A BLUE GIRL The Glass Is Shattered
10. SHOCK CORRIDOR Satanik Teknological Rebirth
11. LAGOWSKI Vection
12. EYELESS IN GAZA She Tries On The Jewels (remix)
13. MAIN Clear
15. SOLAR ENEMY Lord Of The Universe / PORTION CONTROL All Present And Correct (Hilversum 82)

CD compilation mastered at Sonoscope Studios by Hugh Ashton (Hard Corps)

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Phil Newall is 47, from The Wirral - he earns his living not writing about music nor playing music...though sorely wishes he could. He was fortunate enough to see many of the first generation punk bands when they played the U18's matinee shows at Eric's, Liverpool. As an attendee at Eric's he was exposed to punk rock, dub reggae, art rock, and all manner of weirdness; as a customer at Probe Records he was variously served and scowled at by Pete Wylie and Pete Burns - he has written for Record Collector, Whisperin & Hollerin, and Spiral Scratch and wanted to write a book detailing the Liverpool punk scene; however with 'Head-On' Julian Cope beat him to it...and frankly did a much better job.


  1. Great article, very well written and conveying all the goodness that MFTEQ brought at the time. I was a subscriber too, in France it was the only way to buy it. Found it through Attrition. Even in these internet days, we need this kind of talent and dedication to discover new artists and appreciate their creation. Glad to see a return, even if my musical tastes have evolved in other directions, this still matters


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