The pre-order for Cosmic Ground‘s ‘Cosmic Ground III’ just went live, there’s CD and digital available via their Bandcamp page but if you want the vinyl version you have to order if via Adansonia Records‘ website which is mostly in German. A tip for those wanting to order in the UK, the country to select in the drop down menu is “Vereinigte Königreich” = United Kingdom apparently! The vinyl comes in black or marbled blue as well. You’ll be able to hear for yourself on the Bandcamp page but this doesn’t break with the mould of the previous two, four near-20 minute synth workouts that recall Tangerine Dream‘s best moments.
My latest Freaky Formats piece for The Vinyl Factory just went up – this time it’s about handmade sleeves, above and below are a couple of shots that didn’t make the cut.
Here’s my latest mix for Solid Steel – the third installment of my Future Shock series, largely culled from the performance I created for last month’s Videocrash night in London, it’s a mixture of old and new with an emphasis on the trippy analogue side. There’s a video version coming too…
Four From Food Fridays – a weekly look at four music releases that have been doing it for me. They can be new or old, any style so long as it’s been getting some rotation in the studio. From top left:
Videodrones – Mondo Ferox LP (El Paraiso Records)
The Gaslamp Killer – Instrumentalepathy LP (Cuss Records)
Peter Thomas & Mocambo Astronautic Sound System Orchestra – Space Patrol / Picciacto In Heaven 7″ (Mocambo Records)
The National Curriculum – The Best Fertiliser Is The Gardener’s Shadow LP (TNC)
I’m still trying to digest the output from Manchester group, The Natural Curriculum after DJ Format put them in touch with me last month. For the new initiate there’s a lot to take in, just check out their Bandcamp page for releases going back five years now. Their take on hip hop is well left of centre with deep layers of lyricism and untrodden sampling paths whilst staying true to the spirit of the classic rap blueprint.
Rather than being reverential to the past they’re pushing it forward, even their new album title, ‘The Best Fertiliser Is The Gardener’s Shadow’, recalls the absurdity of early De La productions and the cover image (above) isn’t something that immediately jumps out as signalling a hip hop record. With their videos you can also see tongues firmly embedded in cheeks, not afraid to send themselves or anyone else up, again, not your standard hip hop fodder. They have a super limited vinyl pressing of the new album out right now… be quick!
A little off-the-cuff mix I did on Monday evening at the Market Place pub in Brixton for the Loose Lips Radio Show, was going to play a load of acid and then decided to go into outer space instead. Their Meat Transmission venue in Old Street was shut down just the week before so they quickly relocated to the back of the pub and we squeezed into a tiny DJ booth to do a Q&A before I took over to play to the rapidly-filling room of drinkers and diners. There’s a little teaser about a night I’m doing next year plus a couple of tracks that I picked that signpost my musical influences. The Loose Lips guys, Fred and Dan, are up first and then my bit starts around the 52 min mark onwards.
Newly opened last weekend, the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington plays host to a celebration of the latter part of the psychedelic 60s under the banner, ‘You Say You Want A Revolution: Records & Rebels 1966-1970’. It’s an often stunning and inspiring look back at a small section of the counter culture that we now think of as ‘The Swinging Sixties’, encompassing music, art, fashion, politics, advertising, product design, expos and the space race. What was interesting, in the light of the recent drug-related deaths forcing Fabric to close, was that LSD was mentioned copiously in the quotes as you entered the exhibition and kept popping up throughout, as a catalyst for the many strands of the hippy movement. One national institution celebrates drug-fuelled counter culture in the heart of the richest part of the city just as another is closed in the East End – the irony.
The exhibition isn’t just about the beautiful flower children chanting ‘hari krishna’ and wearing threads from the Kings Road via India either (*slight spoiler alert!*). A middle section brings you down to earth with a bump, confronting you with the more political side of events at the end of the decade, the Vietnam War, racism, The Black Panthers, police brutality, feminism, gay rights and more. The starkness of this section, largely in monochrome, against the multi-coloured blossoming of earlier rooms, is a reminder that it wasn’t all peace and love man, and that the curators weren’t wearing rose-tinted spectacles the whole time.
It was worth the price of admission alone to see Mati Klarwein‘s original ‘Grain Of Sand’ painting up close. I’ve always loved this piece, never thought I’d see it in the flesh but there is was, nestled behind the entrance as I walked in. Absolutely wondrous.
There is a LOT to see and take in, an associate who works at the museum confided that the curators wanted ‘everything’ but were restricted by time and conservation rules. There was some padding in parts, a section about consumerism and advertising sees corridor walls plastered with ads, interspersed with huge mirrored sections which give the impression of much more in the reflections but ultimately can’t conceal that not much is actually on display. Film and TV is given fairly short thrift aside from a section about Blow Up, a selection of experimental shorts in a walled-off cinema area and the Woodstock footage (although it has to be said that the Woodstock room is very well put together). Underground comics were almost entirely missing aside from one interior spread used to comment on the Manson murders, no Robert Crumb, Zap, Furry Freak Brothers... The Oz trials were mentioned but I didn’t see any copies of the magazine, or IT, or Ink. There was a lot in it but some omissions were glaring.
Leaving, to the strains of Lennon‘s ‘Imagine’ and a fast cut montage zooming through the decades up to the present day, you’re depressingly but inevitably taken via the gift shop where you’re confronted with sanitised, consumable versions of the era to take home. Most of it is utter tat and the price tags are enough to burn a huge hole through the Levi jeans they seem to think were a good idea to have on sale. Cleverly, and as a sign of the vinyl-resurgence times we currently live in, they’ve released a compilation album alongside the usual book of the exhibition. Unfortunately the cover – a denim jacket covered in band logo badges – is so horrendous it looks like the kind of three quid compilation you’d find in a service station. There are some beautifully executed repro posters but the prices are so exorbitant I’d rather seek out an original, they’d probably only be a little more.
Still, there may not be many revelations or things you’ve not seen before in an era that’s been to widely celebrated already but it’s well worth the entrance fee. It runs until Feb 26th 2017 – more info here.
Forgot to put this up on Friday – Four From Food Fridays – a weekly look at four music releases that have been doing it for me. They can be new or old, any style so long as it’s been getting some rotation in the studio. From top left:
Akiha Den Den – S/T (Castles in Space)
Cosmic Eye – Dream Sequence (Light In The Attic)
The Pattern Forms – Peel Away The Ivy (Ghost Box)
Various – I Love Acid #10 (Balkan Recordings)
“SPACE PATROL (“Raumpatrouille – Die phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffes Orion”) was the first German science fiction television series. Its seven episodes were broadcast by ARD TV, the first episode being aired on September 17th of 1966. Being a huge success with audience ratings up to 56%, the series acquired a distinct cult status in Germany and worldwide.
Peter Thomas composed and recorded the original score, which has become a soundtrack classic and collector’s item among rare groove aficionados since its original release on Philips. The music, floating between avant garde jazz, big band beat and spaced-out psychedelia, set a new benchmark in the history of film music and science fiction scores and became one of Thomas’ best known works. The title theme is the first known piece of music in pop history to feature a vocoder, a device that until then had exclusively been used for voice encoding in military warfare. Peter Thomas borrowed a device from the Siemens factory to process his voice for the recording of the countdown.
The composer remembers: “When producing the score, I had complete creative freedom. No one had ever been into space, so no one would dare to tell me how the music should sound like.”
Now, 50 years on, The Mighty Mocambos teamed up with the legendary musical mastermind a recorded an up to date, truly global and funky 2016 version in tribute of the original theme. “Space Patrol (Raumpatrouille)” is the only official recording of the track released for this anniversary and authorized by Peter Thomas, who even plays on it himself. To give this 50 years version a new twist, the specially formed Mocambo Astronautic Sound Orchestra adds steel band orchestration to the massive brass and funky rhythm section.”
Orion 2016 is available as a 7inch single in a deluxe picture sleeve on Mocambo Records and as a digital download on Légère Recordings. There’s a v. ltd. 50 copy edition in gold too.
Inspired by seeing some of my old TCA photos crop up on Facebook via my Flickr account I did something I’ve been meaning to do for years. Back in 1986 I went down to Victoria Park (I think?) for the Capital Fun Day where TCA, Non Stop Artists and more were painting boards whilst Mike Allen and Ritchie Rich played out.
Mode 2 and Scribla were representing from TCA and painted an amazing ‘Roc So Fresh’ piece. It was hard to get photos but I managed a few from the back of the crowd that had gathered to watch. I remember that, almost immediately that they’d finished it, they totally destroyed it, going over it so that, either it couldn’t be taken or so they’d got there before anyone else did.
There’s just enough in the photos I did get that you can assemble an approximate picture of the whole piece untouched. I’ve put several of the photos together in Photoshop so that you can see this lost piece as complete as I have it. If anyone else has better photos I’d love to see them, it’s a classic IMO. Original in-progress shots and more are here
Simon James (The Simonsound) and Neil Cargill have created a 6-part audio drama which begins this Thursday. It centers on a radio ham (Ian McDiarmid) who picks up a mysterious voice which belongs to a girl (Joy McAvoy) trapped in an abandoned amusement park called Akiha Den Den. A whole community resides there, whose words and music become woven into a plea for help and when one of the trapped inhabitants finds a way into our
world his impact on us could be as devastating as an unknown virus. I’m lucky enough to have heard the first episode and it is extremely weird.
After a preview on Glasgow’s Radioprenia this weekend just gone and a very limited, 50 copy 7″ on Castles In Space selling out in hours (see below), the full radio play launches online on Thursday 15th September at 7.45pm at www.akihadenden.com. There is also a special launch event open to everyone – at Underdog, 1 Union Street,
Aberdeen on Thursday 15th September, doors open 7pm, starts 7.30pm. It features exclusive
excerpts from the series’ soundtrack performed by Simon and insights behind the scenes by Neil. Free, but you need a ticket – available from www.aberdeenperformingarts.com or The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen, or His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen or phone 01224 641122, and also on the door on the night.
Artwork featured here is by the excellent Nick Taylor
A collection of Lego control panels that I posted daily over the last week or so over on my Instagram for no reason other than I like them – stay on target!
Here’s something new I’m going to attempt to do: Four From Food Fridays – a weekly look at four music releases that have been doing it for me. They can be new or old, any style so long as it’s been getting some rotation in the studio. From top left:
The Mesmerizing Eye – A Musical Light Show (Mercury)
Pye Corner Audio – Stasis (Ghost Box)
Lost Idol – Chrome Machine Tales (EOE Recordings)
Juice Aleem – Warriors (lead single from his new album VooduStarchild) (Gamma Proforma)
It’s a big year for 2000AD – in 4 weeks time they hit Prog 2000 – that’s issue 2000 to the uninitiated. Now in their 38th year, that’s a feat only rivaled by The Beano and The Dandy (to my knowledge). It’s already an institution but, given the comic’s title, it’s 2000th issue has always been a landmark in waiting. They’ve got multiple signings on October 1st all over the UK, a choice of three different covers and several high profile artists have returned for one-off stories. But that’s not all…
Last week I dutifully lined up with the other Squaxx inside Orbital Comics to meet Steve MacManus, the editor who helmed the comic through it’s first golden age in the 80s and who has just published his memoir of his time as Tharg, The Mighty One, the alien editor of the comic since its inception in 1977. He genially signed my copy as well as one for Steve Cook, aka Robo-Cook, the designer in his charge at the time, who designed the logo they still use to this day and now resides in LA as head of book design for DC Comics. The book is out today, published by 2000AD/Rebellion and you can order it here – it promises to be a real warts and all collection too.
There was a special significance for me too as, when I walked in, I recognised a selection of part of my collection of 2000ADs that I’d sold to the store this Spring, adorning the back wall of the shop in honour of the signing.