Zev Asher

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Zev Asher
Born(1963-05-09)May 9, 1963
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
DiedAugust 7, 2013(2013-08-07) (aged 50)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Known forDocumentary film, noise music

Zev Asher (May 9, 1963 – August 7, 2013) was a Canadian experimental musician and documentary film maker.[1]


Born in Montreal, Quebec, to a Jewish family. His father Stanley was a compulsive collector of popular cultural artefacts. A mountain of it occupied the basement of the family home. Zev would mine the ephemera; from the pile he found a frame of reference for the media critique implicit in his pioneering noise and multimedia performance group Roughage. He attended M.I.N.D. high school and in 1986 entered the film studies program at Concordia University. He dropped out after being given his first assignment; an essay on Les Unes et Les Autres by Claude Lelouch. Fronting several bands in the city's no wave/punk scene of the early 1980s that he, along with Tim Olive, later revisited in the early 1990s as Nimrod.

Living in Japan with Leah Singer from 1985 to 1987 he became acquainted with the denizens of Tokyo's burgeoning noise scene. Through friendships and collaborations with the artist John Duncan and the noise musician Masami Akita he performed in several noise super groups that were spin offs from Akita's Merzbow project – these included Bustmonsters and Flying Testicle. His Roughage project began here, using a four-track tape recorder he developed techniques for collaging sound recordings. He produced micro editions of these audio cassette collages that were distributed through friends and specialty record stores in Tokyo, a hand made collage was included with each cassette copy. Working with the experimental filmmaker, Mark Nugent, Zev enlarged the scope of Roughage into the multimedia performance unit that included contributions and collaborations with other artists, including Willy Le Maitre, Eric Vasseur. Roughage performances took place throughout Canada, Japan and Europe from the late 1980s to the late 1990s

During one Roughage tour of the newly minted state of Croatia in 1995 he documented and interviewed artists that he met. These interviews provided the basis for his first documentary 'Rat Art: Croatian Independents'. The video looked at artists making art in the context of a society at war.

His second feature was called 'What About Me: The Rise of The Nihilist Spasm Band'. The documentary premièred at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2000. Drawing from the inspiration of finding a copy of the Nihilist Spasm Band's first L.P. No Canada in the pile of 1970s ephemera in his family's basement; the documentary explores the legacy of the Canadian noise music pioneers.

The controversy surrounding an art student, Jesse Powers and his infamous act of killing a cat as an art project formed the basis of his third feature documentary Casuistry: The Art of Killing a Cat. The 2004 work, made in collaboration with experimental filmmaker Linda Feesey, explored the limits of what can constitute an artwork. The video also had its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2004. The first screening was almost shut down by street protesters alleging that the video condoned cruelty to animals.

His sound collaboration with Norway's Lasse Marhaug materialized as a CD release entitled 'The Romance is Over' by The Sleazy Listeners'.

After receiving a diagnosis of CLL in 2003 (chronic lymphocytic leukemia) and going through an ordeal of chemotherapy in Montreal, Zev relocated to Shanghai to work on his documentary on the noise band Torturing Nurse. The work became Subcultural Revolution: Shanghai. Using the social context of the day-to-day lives of the band members; their collective underground project was revealed to be decidedly contrary to the prevailing notions of progress and success that the country was enjoying at the time.

After a relapse of CLL (chronic lymphocytic leukemia), Zev was obliged to return to Montreal for more treatment. Eventually undergoing a stem cell transplant there at Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont . For his final five years Zev struggled with Graft-versus-host disease. His constant ordeal and medical treatments were the subject of his final and incomplete documentary video work Zev Asher:GVH.


As Nimrod[edit]

with Tim Olive and Sam Lohman

Year Title Label Notes
1991 Cuntrroll Bron Records single-sided Flexi disc
1991 Grandson of Ham CD
1992 Grandson of Ham Scratch Records CD reissue
1993 Getting Rained On 7" split with Roughage & Masonna
1994 The Mighty Hunter CD / Picture LP
1996 Nimrod CD

As Roughage[edit]

Year Title Label Notes
Mystery Dick self-released cassette
1991 Same Vanilla Records VHS
1991 Shitsure I Vanilla Records single-sided cassette
1992 Travel the Globe G.R.O.S.S. cassette
1993 Fuckaraoke Coquette double 7" acetate split with Masonna
1993 Calendar Girl Scratch Records 7" split Nimrod
1993 G.R.O.S.S. cassette
1995 Benny's Audio Pt. 2 & 9 / Live at "Edison Electric Gallery" Earwing Records cassette
1995 ¥en for Noise Scratch Records CD
Year Track Compilation Label Notes
1989 "Roughage in Paradise (Excerpt #1)", "Roughage in Paradise (Excerpt #2)" Canada Harsh Reality Music cassette
1990 "Last Paradise" Identification See///.Saw Tapes cassette
1991 "16 RPM" Death of Vinyl DOVe CD
1994 "Hex Marks the Spot" Optional Ingredients from a Vile Recipe Trackshun Industries 7"
1995 "Pseudo-Rapist" Kiling Ha Muerto...Cuantas Veces? Climax Records LP
1996 "Vacas" Sidereal Rest "The Sleep Vehicle" Scratch Records CD
1996 "Aerobics Pt 1–3" Tinker Compilation Tinker Recordings CD
2002 "Brumbrum au Tashkent" Дичь Авангарда Insofar Vapor Bulk CD
2003 "United Nations" No Tribute: Music of the Nihilist Spasm Band Carbon / Sunship / Breathmint / Little Mafia CD
2003 "Don't Stop Bleedin' (Glitch mix)" Hurts So Good: The Cock E.S.P. Remix CD V/Vm Test Records CD
2006 untitled Noisemass 2005 Topheth Prophet / T'an! Kaven!! Ash!!! CDr

As Zev Asher[edit]

Year Role Track Album Artist Label Notes
1995 Featuring "Urasia Circ (excerpt)" Hafted Maul Dead Voices on Air Invisible Records CD
1996 Production "Hafted Maul" Shap Dead Voices on Air Invisible Records CD

As Bustmonster[edit]

with Masami Akita, Shohei Iwasaki, Fumio Kosakai, Masahiko Ohno, Tetsuo Sakaibara, Yamazaki Maso

Year Title Label Notes
1992 Weedhead E.P. Wild West Records 7"
1993 Whitehouse RRRecords 7" split with Xper Xr
Year Track Compilation Label Notes
1992 "Live at Donzokohouse, Kyoto, 14. Dec, 1991" Oh! Moro Volume 5 Maru ka Batsu (○か×) VHS

As Flying Testicle[edit]

with Masami Akita and Yamazaki Maso

Year Title Label Notes
1992 Lamerican Sextom ZSF Produkt 7" acetate
1993 Space Desia Charnel Music CD
Year Track Compilation Label Notes
1993 "Testicle Rider" Come Again II Silent Records CD

As The Sleazy Listeners[edit]

with Lasse Marhaug

Year Title Label Notes
2004 "The Romance is Over" Squirrelgirl Records CD

As Starlet Fever[edit]

with Sanja Živković

Year Title Label Notes
1996 Stars on 33 Earwing Records 7" split with Trailing Arm


Title Year Duration
RAT ART: Croatian Independents 1997 47 min.
What About Me: The Rise of the Nihilist Spasm Band 2000 76 min.
Casuistry: The Art of Killing a Cat 2004 78 min.
Mission Holiday 2006 25 min.
Aqua Alta 2007 70 min.
Subcultural Revolution: Shanghai 2008/10 71 min.


  1. ^ "Zev ASHER Obituary: View Zev ASHER's Obituary by The Gazette". Legacy.com. 2013-08-07. Retrieved 2013-08-31.

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