Nerbellus Of Blog

2023 marks the 40th anniversary of “Nerbellus of Blog”, a 90 minute rock theatre production (called a Rock Opera back then) which was performed during November 1983 at “The Pit”, Geranium.

The music has been transferred from tape to digital format where it has been broken into 273 separate tracks each of which has been edited and EQed, compressed, saturated etc mixed and mastered in the style of the time.

This is NOT a cast recording. All the vocals where performed by Gavin playing the different characters and were used by the cast to learn their lines and the vocal parts. The performances used a double quadraphonic sound system where the backing tracks minus the vocals were spread around the audience. The live vocals were fed into this matrix as well.

So unfortunately you are not going to witness the powerful rock vocals of John Kearney, or see the hilarious David Smith and Peter Morgan’s Wabbiters, or the mind blowing puppetry of Rob Gravestocks, or the hypnotic 15 year old Janette Dormer’s classical ballet dance as the sacrifice to the monster, or Anne Dormer and John’s live rock stouch as the Chovers and Tartars, or Nick Clothier’s delicate demise as the young Schleerper.

The production utilised the theatre styles of Jerzy Grotowski, Peter Brook and Jean Genet’s theatre of the absurd.

Perhaps in 2023 Nerbellus of Blog is as relevant to us as it was in 1983 as we tussle with the next great monster we have created that may indeed rule us in a manner we could never have imagined.............

Should you decide to purchase a copy of Nerbellus of Blog, you will also receive the free 56 A4 page novella PDF of the play, which was written as a story with the lyrics as dialogue. Illustrations by Anne Dormer.


Cast: Anne Dormer
Janette Dormer
John Kearney
Peter Morgan
Rob Gravestocks
David Smith
Nick Clothier
Gavin O’Loghlen

Lighting : Vin Bullen
Sound : Wynston Ide

Story written by Gavin O’Loghlen
Illustrations by Anne Dormer
Story and Music written between September 1981 and August 1983
Music recorded at Maximo Studio between February and August 1983
All instruments and vocals performed by Gavin O'Loghlen
Additional Tartar vocals by Anne Dormer

“No messiah
No nice theories
All I know is the things I have seen”
© Gavin O'Loghlen 7 August 1983

Transferred tracks to digital,
remixed and mastered by Gavin O'Loghlen
40 years later.........
at Locrian Records, Peramangk Country, Lenswood, SA
6 January 2023 to 17 December 2023
© Gavin O'Loghlen 17 December 2023

Instruments used

Arp Axxe synthesizer
Arp Little Brother synthesizer
Roland RS 202 string synthesizer
Yamaha CP 30 electronic piano
Crumar drawbar organ/leslie
Roland VP-330 Vocoder Plus
Prophet 5 synthesizer

Vantage 6 string electric
Cimar 6 string electric – Seymour Duncan super distortion pick ups
Vantage fretless bass
Fender 6 string acoustic

Maxwin 7 piece kit
Evans hydraulic heads
Zildian cymbals

Boss Distortion DS-1, Compression CS-1
Ibanez Overdrive II
Roland volume pedal, Phase II
D.B.X. Noise reduction
Korg Analogue delay
Effectron ADM1024 Digital delay
Roland SEQ-331 30 band graphic equalizer
Microphones : Shure SM57, SM58
Sennheiser MD441U
A.K.G. D125

Armstrong flute


A Critique by Ashleigh Lower

The search goes on. The pronouncement made, so they came in cars to see this creature that had invaded the sawmill - this Nerbellus.
It's unnerving to be met so stentoriously at the door, having waded through cheek high grass to get to the theatre; to have your ticket examined so officiously. ( One couple found themselves separated - the woman offered a cider - “just a small one thanks", whilst her husband was kept securely in the queue. )

The guerillas had met us and now ushered us to a door that led, not unexpectedly, outside again. It's all part of the softening-up process. You finally enter an unceremonious shed, are told to watch the bolts and are jostled down a sheep race into - “The Pit".
We have stumbled into the bowels of the earth. We had been prepared for the bizarre; we are not disappointed. It's a play within a play ....

Out of the darkness, you soon discern the walls lined with people, mostly young, who are here to subject themselves to the mirrored truth of themselves seen through the eyes of the man Gavin, who, as payment for his time on earth, offers up to God and Man, again, this sacrifice of his own soul.

There's something seering in all of this. It's like a surrealistic children's party where the hundreds and thousands turn themselves into coloured bubbles and float away, and the jellied frogs swallow you live and soft down to their moist and cavernous bellies.

The performance is late, the expectations high, the seats hard. (We hadn't read the small print about the cushions). Lighting and sound are ready. There's a giant cobweb of wires.

Suddenly we are welcomed. We are called 'friends'. Had we been especially chosen to witness this? It is very dark. A Geranium Hell.
The creature, without form or feature is like a Mallee Sisyphus or Job or Oedipus, stoic in it's crudity, noble in pain, submissive in duty.

The play returns forever to the images of blindness, ignorance and truth, death and life. Here is a creature we do not understand, yet one for whom we have compassion.
It is all Genesis and John. "In the beginning was the word.”

Our salvation is the word. Language raises us from the status of the animals . Together with this Nerbellus, this primeval creature, we hope for much - that the Word as Truth will lift us, will illuminate and lift us to the level of the Gods themselves . Our search is a search for meaning - for a belief that there has to be something better.

But to risk one's insecurity is dangerous; to be lured to the ripest berries at the top of the trees, for it is there that the winds are strongest and one is ravaged by sharp beaked birds. Is all of this predetermined? Is life deliberately harsh? The search, our search proceeds from episode to episode, each more curious and worrying.

Travelling in the darkness, with this book he has found, Nerbellus is always on the edge of discovery or believing each new monster, the ultimate in Truth and Power. His God turns out to be a marionette, the puppeteer himself a puppet. "Hopelessly lost.” Do monsters and machines control the pit? Can the mind interpret the mind? Does the truth lie sacrosanct in the cradled choirs of orthodoxy?

The opera prompts all sorts of metaphysical questionings. What is the purpose of life? Is knowledge our salvation? If blindness is limiting, cannot vision be destructive?
Gavin's production is full of urgency and humour. It changes often in rhythm and mood: from a carousel to the Sunday night street-corner Evangelist .
The performance is a fairground of fantasy and fear, of Lewis Carroll and Franz Kafka. It draws on the language of the bible and images from the dawn of man - which is our dawn too.

Visually we are excited. There is so much to see. Gavin has stumbled on the Universe of the mind. What enigmatic creatures. Such a pageantry of oddities.

It is at once cynical and foreboding. We are all vulnerable and the execution of power is the way we survive; there are those who find satisfaction in manipulating and others who find it safer to be manipulated. Here in this world, power is established and reinforced with violence, yet like the first bulb of Spring which declares it's cheerfulness in a hailstorm, Nerbellus has one more vision: a creature of such simplicity and delicacy, so fragile, who dances over his broken dreams and the nightmare of his quest .

“The child needed nothing and no-one. She was in a world of her own, driven on by no more than the delight of life."

So this was it. His excursion into the light had threatened to destroy him. Instead of learning about freedom, his mind is destroyed by what he sees. Knowledge leads to death. Time and time again we destroy the very things that liberate us. We stand in our own way. We create what destroys us. We will end as we began, in the dust of our own survival.

In all of Gavin O'Loghlen's work there is artistry. We have entered this eccentric world of his and have found much to ponder.

Ashleigh Lower
Theatre critic
November 1983


Hear Nerbellus of Blog on Bandcamp