Rammellzee show at Laz Inc. London

Ramm portrait

So, there’s a Rammellzee exhibition running right now in the middle of London at LazInc. until 10th November. Lots of 80’s and early 90s canvases from private collections, the likes of which have never been seen in the U.K. Overall (much like Basquiat) there’s never a full piece which I truly love but I love what Ramm stood for and all the stuff he strung together to make his world. Little details spring out and there were a couple of pieces with with his line drawings in that were nice (see further down).

Really though I went for the opportunity to actually see this stuff in the flesh, to see a largely hidden part of the more abstract end of graffiti that’s not really been documented. You can see him visually searching for things, he’s trying all sorts, even painting on a carpet at one point, and to see that was enough. Sadly no battle suits or letter racers but this is a pretty decent collection for free and I’m not holding my breath for the Red Bull Arts New York exhibition to come to these shores any time soon.
LazInc. Sackville, 29 Sackville Street, Mayfair, London, W1S 3DX

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Posted in Art, Event, Exhibition. | No Comments | Tags:

John Vernon Lord at the House of Illustration

JVL_BeneathTheTreefullThe John Vernon Lord exhibition of Ulysses, Finigan’s Wake and Alice in Wonderland illustrations just started at the House of Illustration in Kings Cross. What I didn’t realise when I visited was that his huge 1966 masterpiece, ‘Beneath The Tree’ was also on display and it was breathtaking to see in the flesh.

The details visible in the original, not possible to see in the version printed in his Drawn To Drawing book, were many, from tiny messages written along tree roots to hidden numbers and miniature details in the shadows. Worth the price of admission alone to finally see this incredible piece which usually resides in the collection of the University of Brighton.

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Sister Corita Kent at Ditchling Art & Craft Museum

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There’s an amazing exhibition on in a very out-of-the-way place at the moment, Sister Corita Kents screen prints (or some of them) are on display in Ditchling, a small village near Hassocks, at their Art & Craft Museum, 10 minutes on the train from Brighton. Sister Corita was a nun, artist and teacher running art classes at the Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles in the 50s through to the early 70s. Her prime medium during these years was screen printing and her works were eventually seen as part of the Pop Art movement.

Her bold, bright, contemporary methods were in perfect step with the times but she became embroiled in arguments with the church over her messages, especially anti-vietnam and civil rights movements posters which ended with her leaving her post and the church for good. Her life and achievements are incredible as a practicing nun and teacher who had everyone from John Cage to Charles & Ray Eames to Alfred Hitchcock visit to take classes.
The exhibition is on until 14th October and is really worth the effort, it’s a 5 minutes cab ride from Hassocks train station and there’s a permanent collection of religious art and more to see.

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Frank Zappa advert + poster collages Pt.2

GUAMBO poster
Continued from part 1
I’m not sure who did the design above but, from the date, I’d guess it was Zappa, regardless it’s a great poster

Around the end of making The Mothers of Invention‘s ‘Absolutely Free’, Cal Schenkel started working with Frank Zappa on artwork (he also appears on the ‘Freak Out’ album as one of the studio voices). From then on he became the graphic artist most associated with the Mothers and some of Zappa’s solo works, his collages, paintings and sculptures adorning many of their classic LPs. Here’s an ad for ‘Absolutely Free’

Abs Free ad CalSchenkel hit parader dec-67e

Cal created several ‘Moop’ ads, odd comic-styled pages, “…yeah, and we also did a series of ads which you might have seen at one point… for MOOP. You ever seen any of the MOOP ads? …but they were the weirdest ads, they were like just funny little surrealistic comic strips…and there’s a bunch of ads that were running–like, Hit Parader, and just the oddest places…” – from this interview

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This beauty below appeared in Marvel comics’ Daredevil #38

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By the 70s, things had started to change graphic-wise in publications and we go into what I call the ‘statement’ era of advertising where text played a big part in hooking the viewer in via an intriguing ‘headline’ and then selling the product in a quirky sales-pitch style similar to these examples below. Crazy graphics, surrealism and excessive detail were out and, as a designer, I can’t blame them. Much the same as the sometimes impenetrable psychedelic posters of the late 60s were only meant for the heads in the know to decipher, their time was up and now the marketing men had to sell this stuff to the masses rather than keep it underground. Cue straight, no-nonsense text in blank space and packshots of the album or group in question.

1969-06-14 Rolling Stone [UK] n35 051970-10-29 Rolling Stone n69 23One Size Fits all ad

Frank Zappa advert + poster collages Pt.1

1967-09-xx Hit Parader Abs Free ad

Lately I’ve been studying the collage art of Frank Zappa and Cal Schenkel from the Mothers of Invention albums. On reading up on this material, including a long interview with Schenkel, I realised that Zappa himself seems to have done a lot of the artwork for the first two Mothers albums, ‘Freak Out’ and ‘Absolutely Free’, with Cal coming in at the end of the latter and doing some of the adverts. What you see below is – as far as I can tell – is mostly the work of Zappa who was a pretty decent visual artist in his own right is seems.

Absolutely Free ad Frank Zappa flyer-2

Freak Out News 1
An ‘official New of the Mothers’ would occasionally get printed in the LA Free Press, below is the first one, a four page digest that includes a poster for a forthcoming gig.

Freak Out News 2

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Freak Out newspaper poster Freak Out Off news Oct Freak Out Off news Oct2

Some variations on gig posters
Freak Out poster blue Freak Out poster red

Collage made to illustrate an interview in a music magazine

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The original paste up for an advert / flyer
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Pulp Magazine archive

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Stuff that’s been clogging up the desktop Pt.4

Toby Whitebread (New Analog Illustration) sent me a link to a pulp magazine archive a few weeks back and I waded through it to find these beauties.

We start with a trio of lesser-seen Vaughn Bodé covers

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1968-11_IF_0000 Amazing_Stories_v48n02_1974-08_0000

I’m not sure who these next two are by, the first could be Josh Kirby
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Three lovely Mike Hinge covers…Amazing_Stories_v46n01_1972-05_0000 Amazing_Stories_v46n05_1973-01_Gorgon776_0001 Amazing_Stories_v48n04_1974-12_Gorgon776_0001

Brian Lewis doing his Richard Powers / Yves Tanguy impressionNew_Worlds_069v23_1958-03_0001Science_Fantasy_28v10_1958-04_0000 Science_Fantasy_40v14_1960-04_0000

and finally, a couple of Richard Powers properStar_Science_Fiction_v01n01_1958-01_Sam_Hall-sleipnir_edit_0000Beyond_Fantasy_Fiction_v01n01_1953-07_cape1736_0000

Cuphead Posters

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I’m still loving the design of Cuphead, the recent release from Studio MDHR based on the look of the old Fleischer Brothers animation studios. There seem to be lots of great posters for it online, possibly official, it’s hard to tell these days. Many follow the multi-coloured, multi-character model but some keep in line with the look of the game. There’s also merchandise starting to appear, from enamel pin badges to the inevitable Funko toys but the best object so far has to be the 4xLP original soundtrack.

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Housed in a 30’s book-style sleeve with gold leaf cover graphics, separate leaves for each disc and yellowed ‘pages’, it looks like it could have come straight from your grandparents’ vinyl collection. There’s also a lovely 7″ with selections from the near 3 hr LP set. At an eye-watering £71 + postage it’s a bit out of my league at the moment but it looks worth every penny from the photos.

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* Beware of pre-orders of figures from PopInABox – my Cuphead and Mugman figures are now 2 months overdue, one has been dispatched from overseas without a tracking number and the other remains in limbo while they wait for stock, meanwhile I’ve seen them in shops in the UK.

Elzo Durt

couv-livre-elzoThrough an odd set of web links I chanced upon the work of Elzo Durt today, his modern take on collage and psychedelia catching my eye and making me investigate further. This Brussels-based artist works with the Recyclart people (I’ve played for them a couple of times and maybe, unknowingly, seen his work) and runs a record label too. Find out and see more of his work at www.elzodurt.com

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William Stout bootleg covers

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A second reading of Clinton Heylin‘s excellent ‘Bootleg: The Secret History of the Other Recording Industry book led me to these covers and I remember seeing a few at record fairs over the years so decided to investigate and post a collection of the best here. As I dug even further into their history it became apparent that one artist was responsible for almost all of them – William Stout – and mostly for one label too.

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I was aware of his work from several different underground comix in my collection but didn’t realise how versatile he was as an artist, able to switch styles to suit different subject matter, hence why I thought the covers were works by different artists. For instance, who would associate the Rolling Stones style above with the Spicy Beatles one below? But they’re from the same hand. One of Stout’s visual calling cards on the bootlegs was to turn some of the artists he was illustrating into pigs, to tie them to the pig logo of the label (which he later redesigned as a smoking, bespectacled pig which became the logo for a breakaway label).

Beatles SpicySongs bob-dylanmelbourne-australia-1966-jethroTull JeffBeckFast LedZepCalifornia LennonOnoVirginThreeBack McCartneyWingsGreatDane R_SAllMeatMusic R-S-BrightLights R-S-CopsnRobbers

Originally working almost exclusively for the Trademark of Quality company originated by ‘Dub’ and ‘Ken’ out of LA in the early 70s, he gained a wide audience through his sleeve art and went on to illustrate many more, sometimes for legitimate releases by the very artists his images were covering the first time round. Later he moved into film posters and concept art and still works today.

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His website has a fascinating three-part interview about these times, extensively illustrated and peppered with personal photos of many great musicians from back in the day, taken backstage at numerous gigs. His comments about the reality of pre-stadium rock gigs back then are especially illuminating.

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And on my trawl I found a few, later examples that aren’t by William but are worthy of inclusion …

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Posted in Art, Comics, Records. | No Comments | Tags:

Andy Votel exhibition – STOP MAKING SÉANCE

JWArchitectPromodetails One day last Autumn a mystery package arrived containing various Finders Keepers records and one very special, handmade 12″ of Jane Weaver‘s ‘The Architect’ single. One of an edition of 10, it’s a thing to behold; a test pressing hand-labelled with a paste up cover containing one of my favourite designs of last year (see this post).

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Being one of the people urging the designer to make prints of one of his posters for Jane’s Manchester gig I was gutted when my copy got lost in the post over the Xmas period. Luckily a replacement is soon to be on its way. The ‘architect’ of these creations is one of my favourite contemporary designers, Andy Votel, who will be exhibiting some previously unseen self-initiated full size paintings / collages in Manchester from the 25th at Electrik in Manchester.

VOTEL SEANCE INVITE invite

From the press release: “Writer, DJ, designer, broadcaster, label boss and anti-musician Andy “Votel” Shallcross displays a series of original personal works created, at home, in October / November 2017.  
Based around contemporary “fakelore”, reducing influences of European science-fiction art, scholastic illustration, post-pop-art, Plakatstil and mid-century graphic design Andy uses simple methods of painting, collage, deletion and recontextualisation for these one-off, large format placards.
Adopting a recurring patchwork method found in all of Andy’s multi-discipline “magpaic” activities, the running narrative and aesthetic format used in STOP MAKING SÉANCE can be described as pictorial-anagrams, which Votel playfully refers to as Andygrams. Having designed over 200 record sleeves in over 20 years of his graphic design day-job these singular quick-fire situation-abstractions are not intended for large-scale reproduction or as communicative graphic-design thus retaining a freedom previously unexplored in Andy’s visual work and will be on display for short residency in Manchester, Gothenburg and Barcelona in early 2018.”

Check out this interview with Oi Polloi for more info and images

Seance detail 1 Seance detail 2 Seance detail 3

7Up – the UnCola posters

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Browsing eBay over the Xmas holiday, a friend came across a psychedelic Submarine poster not a million miles away from Heinz Edlemann’s classic Yellow variant, created for The Beatles‘ film of the same name. In the same brightly-coloured, cartoonish style of the late 60s and early 70s – much popularised by artists like Edelmann, Milton Glaser, Nicole Claveloux and Peter Max – this sub was in fact green and advertising the drink, 7Up – billing itself as ‘The UnCola’. What was remarkable about this eBay listing though was that it was for an original 60″x36″ poster, not the sort of thing that turns up every day.

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Indeed, further investigation revealed that the seller, Dallas resident, Robert Trent, is the foremost collector of this era of 7Up advertising and was selling off duplicates from his collection. Even crazier was that he was also selling huge billboard versions of some of the designs, some as an un-pasted set of 12 panels over 12 meters in length. Over the course of many entries he had compiled a huge resource of information, links and imagery, all expertly checked and presented without fuss and in meticulous detail. These kind of posters don’t come up every day and he has the whole history up there to give context to the images. After seeking his permission I hereby reproduce some of the imagery and details before it’s lost.

From Robert’s listing: “‘Wet Un Wild (green submarine, aka yellow submarine) 60” x 36” horizontal poster by Ed George

Note:  This is made of thick quality poster paper, not dimpled yellow plastic tablecloth material (modern-day Tyvek construction wrap vapor barrier or “paper dress” nylon material) like the other “Wet Un Wild” posters occasionally offered on eBay. 

This one is in excellent, but not perfect condition. This illustration is highly sought after and may be the holy grail of all 7Up UnCola poster images. Ed George illustrated this in 1969, (he) held multiple posts in-house at the J. Walter Thompson [advertising] Co. in Chicago (JWT) over many years.”

Below: 28 of the billboards in Robert’s collection as of writing…7Up UnCola Virtual Billboard Museum (28) 3x10_011518_2

7UP 4xposters7UPButterfly

From Robert’s listing: “Most of these images actually graced highway billboards and dorm rooms. They were so popular that the Seven Up Company offered them for sale – few survived. The first batch of billboard sized images were up nationwide when colorful VW vans full of hippies drove to the Woodstock Festival in August of 1969. A “Fallpaper Poster Offer” on the bottom of page 8 of the October 5, 1969 Chicago Tribune Sunday Comics offered a set of (4) 34″x21″ reproductions of their famous billboards seen earlier in the year for, read it and weep – ONE DOLLAR TOTAL (plus 6 bottle cap liners). That offer expired on 12/31/69. The sizes also ranged from small Size “D” posters to giant Size “A” 21’x10′ billboards. These are all ORIGINAL vintage posters – NOT modern giclee photo reproductions.”

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From Robert’s listing: ‘The Light Shining Over The Dark’  This is a vintage 33″ x 20″ horizontal poster that is in excellent condition and VERY RARE.  I’m only aware of 2 or 3 other copies, some of which have passed through my hands. The artist’s signature can be seen at the right center in the bottom of the girl’s white dress. 

The artist was Pat Dypold who illustrated this by 1973 as a free-lance artist.  She did the bulk of the other outdoor ads (billboards) for the J. Walter Thompson [advertising] Company of Chicago (JWT) that orchestrated the famous UnCola ad campaign from about 1968 through 1975.”

 

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From Robert’s listing: “‘See The Light’ (psychedelic bicycle) 60″ x 36″ horizontal poster by the late Tom Kamifuji (1922-2015) (original concept by Bill Bosworth)

“Hiroyuki “Tom” Kamifuji ran a design studio in San Francisco. He was an illustrator, poster designer, typographer, art director and designer. Yet, for all his legacy of brightly-colored works, there is very little biographical information available. Perhaps his most universal success was the inspiration for the rainbow swath of color within the Apple Computers apple. The concept for this image came from Bill Bosworth who worked in-house at the J. Walter Thompson [advertising] Co. in Chicago (JWT) over many years.  However, the actual finished artwork was done by California artist Tom Kamifuji. There is no signature on this “Size B” poster, but the larger “Size A” 21’x10′ “See The light” billboard in my possession has Tom Kamifui’s signature.”

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From Robert’s listing:‘UnCannny In Cans’ This is a vintage 33 3/4″ x 20 3/4″ poster that is in excellent, near mint condition. This is an authentic, traceable representation of late ’60s, early 1970’s pop art advertising. The artist was John Alcorn who illustrated this in 1969 as a free-lance artist. His signature is in the bottom middle brown band. At the age of 24 Alcorn was the 4th person to join Push Pin Studios which was the place to be in the graphics community at the time.

The Seven Up Co. sold 4 different sizes of most images to the general public. BTW – My collection also includes one of the “UnCanny In Cans” Size “A” billboards plus a 60″ x 36″ Size B” version. The poster for sale here is a 34″x21″ Size “C”.

John did a number of well known illustration advertisements in the prior years for Pepsi and Campbell’s Soup and his career flourished for many more years. These outdoor ads (billboards) were commissioned by the J. Walter Thompson [advertising] Company of Chicago (JWT) that orchestrated the famous UnCola ad campaign from about 1968 through 1975. Most of the 53+ extremely colorful billboard & poster images were illustrated by invited outside freelance artists who were allowed to sign their names on the originals if desired – not all did. Only a few images were produced in-house, and never with the artist’s name on them. JWT wisely chose to invite only up and coming artists and not well known graphic stars so as not to let the notoriety overshadow the product itself.

Many of the artists have gone on to great fame in the graphics community Milton Glaser (I [heart] NY logo) (Mad Men final Season 7 poster; co-founder of Push Pin Studios), Seymour Chwast (co-founder of Push Pin Studios) with Isadore Seltzer, John Alcorn (Push Pin Studios), Kim Whitesides, Barry Zaid, Jacqui Morgan, Simms Taback (1st Happy Meal Box in Smithsonian & Caldecott Honor for children’s books), Skip Williamson, Robert Abel (Tron movie), Charlie White III (permanent collection at MOMA), John Craig, Ray Lyle, Heather Cooper, Nancy Martell, Roger Chouinard, Pat Dypold, Bob Taylor, Tom Kamifuj, Bill Bosworth, Ed George, Joanne _ and probably several others.

The Seven Up Company executives chose rough “comps” without the artist’s names attached to the submissions. If 1 or more sketches were chosen, the artist would eventually earn up to $2,000 per completed piece. I’ve spoken with some of the retired ad execs from JWT and they reported that this was a fantastic assignment with a dream client that encouraged bold moves. These Midwest Mad Men boosted sales by anywhere from 30-60% under their highly creative reign from 1968 until the mid-seventies.”

7UP The YouthFare 7UPAirship

From Robert’s listing: Bob Taylor was an art director at the famed J Walter Thompson [advertising] Company based in Chicago – the Midwest Mad Men.  An American Contemporary Graphics Exhibit booklet from about 1972 featured Bob and a different “cartoony” billboard image of his on pages 9-10.  Bob was one of the driving forces behind “The UnCola” ad campaign from the beginning in 1968 until the end in the middle 1970’s. Bob also illustrated “The Youth Fare” in a similar “cartoony” style depicting a green bottle of 7Up as a bi-plane.

This is the 21’x10′ Size “A” billboard version of this blimp image by Bob Taylor available as Design #10 for $7.00 in the billboard and poster offer that expired on 5/31/72.  A small 21″x11″ poster was available for FREE if you responded to the poster offer that expired on 12/31/70.  Another folding billboard and poster offer that expired on 5/31/72 offered this billboard as Design #12 for $8.50.

As of today, I only know of one other copy besides the 2 billboards in my possession. This piece of advertising history is in NEAR MINT condition and ready for display. To get a sense of scale, a standard sized vehicle would not cover up the blimp itself if laid out flat on a driveway.”

7UP free poster offer

The American Contemporary Graphics Exhibit book laid out profiles of some of the artists along with their contributions and the aim of the campaign.
7UP3xposters7UP2xposters 7UPbookBobTaylor 7UPbookCharlesWhiteIII 7UPbookJohnAlcorn 7UPbookKimWhitesides 7UPbookMiltonGlaser

From Robert’s listing: Milton Glaser (b. 6/26/29) This image was created during his Push Pin Studios era which is the firm he co-founded with Seymour Chwast.  It would be another 6 years before he created the most copied “I [heart] NY” logo on the planet in 1977. Scans from 2 different booklets from about 1971 independently attribute this work to Milton Glaser.  Here are his own words about the concept for the image: 

“Well, basically the idea of being ‘turned on’ by 7Up was buried somewhere in my consciousness, and I transferred that feeling into a visual pun.  The word ‘can’ was my focal point.  To make something extraordinary happen out of this particular can seemed like the right attitude to have at the time.  Graphically, it’s an interphasing of two phenomena – electricity and 7Up”. 

My extensive collection includes the ONLY 2 KNOWN COPIES IN ANY SIZE of this particular image. The originals are 21’x10′ Size “A” billboards acquired from someone in the Out Of Home (OOH) [billboard] business that set these aside in the early 1970’s thinking that they might be something special.  They are.  Even world famous graphics guru Milton Glaser doesn’t have any copies in his vast collection per his archivist.  I’ve never seen ANY other copies in ANY other size.  I also collect 7Up UnCola “poster offers” but I’ve also never found any offering this image to the general public.  Most of my other billboards were offered to the general public for prices between $3.50 and $8.50.  For some reason, this one and a few others were not made available although a few like this one were squirreled away. “

 

7UPbookPatDypold

Pat Dypold seems to be the unsung heroine of the piece, contributing many illustrations in various styles but she’s not a name I’m familiar with. Robert had a class reunion and hung several of the billboards from the balcony at the venue they held it at, you get a sense of scale with these photos plus some close up details.

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From Robert’s listing: “Giant 21′ x 10′ 7Up UnCola original unused vintage paper billboard illustrated in 1971 by Kim Whitesides. An American Contemporary Graphics Exhibit booklet from about 1972 featured Kim Whitesides and this image on pages 11-12.  He did at least 3 other billboard images for The UnCola ad campaign, 2 of which were issued in billboard and/or poster formats.

The billboard itself consists of 12 thick paper panels, each 43″ wide x 59″ tall.  There’s about a 1″ white margin on the top and right edges of each panel so it can be installed in an overlapping “rainlap” pattern designed to shed water like shingles on a roof (see last image). These were only meant to last outdoors for 30-60 days, and then the next billboard would be pasted over the top – destroying the paper underneath.  The only way any of these survived for nearly 5 decades was for them to be set aside and not used as intended.  This is one of the rare examples of that being done.  Although rare, I have 3 copies of this billboard image in my collection.  All 210 square feet of my copy has been painstakingly reinforced with acid-free scrapbooking tape on the rear side, but only as needed to stabilize small rips, week fold lines and other minor imperfections.  Any small holes have been patched with matching paper from donor panels from the same era and are barely noticeable up close.  In places, colored pencils or markers have been used to refresh missing ink.”

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There are examples of many order forms including this fold up mail out, such great thinking going into something so ordinary.
7UPOffer47UPorder form27UPButterflypasteupinstructions 7UPfallpaper7UPorder form7UPposter selection
There are two very good articles / interviews with Robert on the web: one with Collector’s Weekly
and one with the ever-reliable Dangerous Minds so head there if you want more info. You can follow Robert on Instagram, view his whole collection on Flickr or peruse his eBay entries for yourself. Masny thanks to Robert for letting me repost these pictures and info.

Posted in Art, Design, Poster / flyer. | 1 Comment |

2017: WTF was going on?

DJ Food Bill brief

The above photo was my brief from Bill Drummond for the set I was to play at the JAM‘s Welcome To The Dark Ages event in Liverpool. I stuck it above my mixer as I was preparing the set, it’s something to keep in mind as we go forward into 2018. I spent most of the year in limbo, waiting in a chain for a property to come through. When it finally did in mid September, I pretty much ate, drank and slept it in between jobs as it needed a lot of work doing, hence no posts for the past two odd months. I’m in now and can see the wood for the trees but it did mean I largely dipped out of social media for the latter quarter of the year (probably not a bad thing).

Seeing as 2016 was such a shitter, in 2017 I wrote down all the good things that happened as the year progressed:

Events 2017

Got implicated in the KLF/JAMMs/K2 comeback media scrum because of an innocent quote in my 2016 round up
Started Further with Pete Williams – a multimedia music & projection night playing non-dancefloor sounds with analogue-based visuals plus food and a record stall – and founded a studio/ HQ in S. London
Pete Isaac (45 Live) found me a perfect copy of a long time wants list staple, Bam Bam’s ‘Where’s Your Child’ on 7″ for free
Got asked to play as Further at The Orb‘s ambient evening at the Royal Festival Hall in April and lit up the 5th floor balcony with 20 projectors
Mixed a Death Waltz Originals CD which was given away free at Halloween with Mondo/DW orders
Appeared on the Big Mouth podcast and played at the opening of Orbital Comics‘ exhibition, both celebrating 40 years of 2000AD
Found a set of Thomas ‘Eclipse’ plates, cups and saucers for a bargain price from an eBay seller
Pete managed to find a broken 6k projector for free and fixed it for £50
My kids got into the secondary school we wanted them to go to and aced it in their first term
The first Further event at the Portico Gallery was sold out and a great success with Ghost Box and Howlround as guests
Played the first Big Fish Little Fish in Athens which promptly sold out
Played three different street food festivals in the summer, love those sort of gigs, more please
Found a huge Barbara Brown dinner service in the charity for £15 – find of the year
Played at The Delaware Road performance in July inside a nuclear bunker with a host of electronic artists – a very special night

Further 2017

Asked to play the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu happening in Liverpool, which turned out to be one of the events of the year – who’d have thought it? A career highlight that saw me playing many of the tracks they’d sampled in their career alongside acid house classics and ending at 3am with a version of ‘In The Ghetto’.
Further went to Spiritland and we supported The Heliocentrics as part of the SYNthesis festival, both very special occasions even though we worked our balls off to set them up
The return of The The in musical, film and live capacity
Scoring a long time wants list LP – Yves Hayat‘s ‘Conversations Between The East & The West’ – direct from the archive of the composer himself and meeting him in London to receive the record.
Blade Runner 2049 was actually amazing and a worthy follow up to the original
The second major Further gig at the Portico Gallery featured Simon James playing a Buchla set to bespoke visuals we made and Sculpture slaying the place with their AV act.
Asked to support the Art of Noise at the British Library next March
Further featured twice in Electronic Sound magazine and I had an opening spread printed of my end of night image of the funeral pyre from the JAMs event in Liverpool
Taking my boys to the Colourscape on Clapham Common
Finally moved in and moved on
Asked to play a very special run of shows in 2018 that I’ll reveal soon…

Music 2017

Music:
OK, so 2017 was the year of the Lizard for me, I listened to more hours of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s music than any other band, but considering they released 5 albums this year alone it ‘s not surprising. Each album was different and they steadily got better with each release as the year progressed (disclaimer: I can’t speak for album no. 5 ‘Gumboot Soup’ as it came out today but ‘Polygondwanaland is probably my album of the year)
Brian Eno – Reflection (Warp)
Cavern of Anti-Matter – Blood Drums (reissue) (Duophonic)
Clocolan – Nothing Left To Abandon (Enpeg)
Run The Jewels – RTJ3 (Mass Appeal)
Revbjelde – Revbjelde (Buried Treasure)
Thundercat – Them Changes (Brainfeeder)
Jamiroquai – Automaton (the single)
The Dandelion Set – A Thousand Strands (Buried Treasure) (technically 2016 but copies got held up by distribution and it was more widely available in 2017)
The Heliocentrics – A World Of Masks (Soundway)
The Heliocentrics – The Sunshine Makers (Soundway)
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Flying Microtonal Banana (and still playing the hell out of Nonagon Infinity and It’s In My Mind Fuzz)
Klaus Weiss – Time Signals (reissue) (Trunk)
Vanishing Twin – Dream By Numbers EP (Soundway)
The Allergies – Entitled To That (Jalapeno)
Jane Weaver – Modern Kosmology (Fire Records)
Ulrich Schnauss & Jonas Munk – Passage (Azure Vista Records)
Ilia Gorovitz – Turmoil/Simmering With No End (Rassh Records)
John Brooks – Un Autre Directions (Clay Pipe Music)
King Gizzard & The Wizard Lizard – Murder of the Universe (Flightless)
Markey Funk – Witch Doctor / The Brew (Delights)
Nevermen – Mr Minute (Boards of Canada remix) (Lex)
The The – Radio Cineola Trilogy (Lazarus)
Hans Zimmer & Benjamin Wallfisch – Blade Runner 2049 OST
King Gizzard & The Wizard Lizard – Sketches of Brunswick East (Flightless)
King Gizzard & The Wizard Lizard – Polygondwanaland (Flightless)

Exhibitions 2017

Exhibitions:
Future Shock – 40 Years of 2000AD – Cartoon Museum (London) / Paolozzi at the Whitechapel Gallery (London), Will Barras at Sector 25 (London) / Barbara Brown and Lucienne Day at the Whitworth Gallery (Manchester) / Franco Grignani at Estorick Collection of Italian Art (London), We Are Watching: Oz Magazine – Chelsea Art Space (London) / Delta – Mima Museums (Brussels) / Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains at the V&A (London), British Underground Press of the 60s at the A22 Gallery (London) / Can Graphic Design Save Your Life? – Wellcome Collection (London) / Snub 23 at the Boz Boz Gallery (Brighton)

Books / Comics:
Out Of Time – Miranda Sawyer / Ian Helliwell – Tape Leaders (Sound On Sound) Book + CD / British Underground Press of the 60s (Rocket 88) / The Process Is The Inspiration – House Industries / B.P.R.D.: Hell On Earth (Dark Horse) / Barbarella (Dynamite) / Swifty – FunkyTypo Graphix (Gamma Proforma) / Boris Tellegen – 86/97 – a black book (A Paper Book) / Batman: White Knight (DC)

RIP: Jaki Liebezeit, David Axelrod, Alan Aldridge, Dick Bruna, Clyde Stubblefield, Larry Coryell, Toshio Nakanishi, Chuck Berry, Skip Williamson, Jay Lynch, Mika Vainio, Adam West, Brian Cant, Pierre Henry, Anne-Marie Bergeron, Glen Campbell, Bruce Forsyth, Holger Czukay, Virgil Howe, Sean Hughes, Christine Keeler, Keith Chegwin, Dennis Dragon, Jim Baikie

The Colourscape on Clapham Common

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Back in 1999 I went to Colourscape on Clapham Common and took a ton of photos, some of which ended up on the cover of the ‘Kaleidoscope’ album. 18 years later, with my two children in tow, I revisited it and was as wowed as I was nearly two decades before. If you get the chance, it’s a beautiful environment to wander around in for an hour, there’s contemporary classical music in the centre chamber and these photos don’t do it justice because it’s impossible to photograph and sends camera phones into convulsions. For more info where Colourscape is going to be next ,check them out on Facebook.

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East London street art

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A recent trip to East London to see the British Underground Press exhibition (see previous post) yielded a wealth of great street art including the new Banksy homage to Basquiat at the Barbican (the former street artist’s show was booked up but you could see the Banksy for free – just how it should be)

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Down the road on Coin Street there was a huge installation that was a companion to another in a park near Spitalfields market, unfortunately I didn’t get the name of the artist.

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Over in Brick Lane there was almost too much to see and it’s hard to process the good from the bad. A huge Shok 1 I’d not seen before covered an entrance gate and there are plenty of paste ups of strange animals.

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Hasworld, who’s work I’ve been enjoying for about a year, had been busy with some new posters too.

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A Space Invader cemented to a wall on Brick Lane and, for no apparent reason, a stencil of Adam Ant.

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Pink Floyd at the V&A Museum

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It’s taken me an age to post these because life is currently getting in the way in the form of moving and renovating a new home. The Pink Floyd exhibition, ‘Their Mortal Remains’ at the V&A Museum, is very much worth seeing even if, like me, Pink Floyd don’t mean much to you. I swore off them for a long while due to ‘Another Brick In The Wall Pt.2’ being no.1 for so many weeks as a child and finding myself utterly sick of it.

But the fickleness of youth only lasts so long and I found myself gradually checking back through their back catalogue, picking up the odd cheap LP here and there and finally realising why everyone raves about ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’. This exhibition highlights exactly what a forward-thinking, visually aware band they were, adapting as their fame and venue sizes increased, their sleeve concepts becoming ever more outlandish as budgets made pre-photoshop surrealist montage possible. The amount of artwork and props present attest to a group with a very strong concept behind each album, courtesy of the Hipgnosis team of course.

Starting at the beginning and travelling chronologically through their career we enter a time tunnel and emerge inside a version of the UFO club circa ’67 complete with pulsating liquid light ceiling, psychedelic poster gallery and films. Rooms concentrating of Syd Barratt, Wish You Were Here, Dark Side of the Moon and more eventually give way to a stunning display of Animals and The Wall-era stage props and art. The 80s side of things were less my bag but the concepts were now reaching gigantic proportion and are impressive as last bastions of the sort of excess that just doesn’t happen any more now that we can do all these things digitally. The final room with a surround performance of their reunion at Live8 was very moving and a perfect way to end this retrospective. Go and see if before it ends on October 15th!

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Further goes to Spiritland

With great pride and a lot of effort Pete Williams and I played one of our Further sets last Sunday evening at Spiritland, complete with multiple projections. Thanks to everyone who came by despite the bad weather. We had a great time and are in talks to bring it back there. You can hear our 4 hour set below and sample some of the projections we discreetly added to the sumptuous surroundings.

The next Further excursion is in 9 days at the SYNthesis festival in South Norwood, we’ll be playing either side of The Heliocentrics at Stanley Halls preceded by an afternoon of street art painting, food stalls and a talk by designer, Swifty at 6pm.
Tickets here

(Video nicked from Spiritland’s Instagram, photos © Martin LeSanto-Smith)

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Further at the Synthesis Festival and Spiritland

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Myself and Pete Williams have two Further gigs this month – firstly at Spiritland to celebrate their first birthday this week. On Sunday 10th we’ll be taking over in the evening – it’s a very limited ticketed affair but will be a perfect setting for what we want to do.

On Thursday Sept 28th we head to Stanley Halls in Norwood Junction to be a part of the Synthesis festival, a three-day happening of music, street art and food. We’ll be sharing the bill with the Heliocentrics so it should be a suitably lysergic evening.
The festival is run by Rob Swain, head guy at the Gamma Proforma label and just look at the line up. DJ Krush, Beak>, Delta, Mode2, Swifty, sheOne, O.Two, Will Barras, Mr Jago, Augustine Kofie, Howie B, Andrea Parker, Heliocentrics, Juice Aleem, DJ Food, Ofeliadorme and more TBA!

Tickets available here

Further at Spiritland

Welcome To The Dark Ages Pt.4 – Friday: Toxteth Day of the Dead and MuMufication

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Friday – the day of The Great Pull North, the Day of MuMufication, the Graduation Ball and many other things. At 2pm I was to be at The Florrie, a community centre / flourishing arts lab in the heart of Toxteth to complete my task as ‘Skull Painter’. Trying to second guess what I’d be doing all week I’d run through several scenarios: they had built a huge skull effigy that needed to be decorated? Badger Kull needed a backdrop painting? The JAMs had 400 Toxteth Day of the Dead masks that we would wear that needed customising? I was almost correct with the last one, not masks though, faces – I and 22 others had to face paint skulls onto the 400 and we set to work transforming many friend’s and stranger’s faces alike.

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The Ice Kream Van was parked up outside, now with looped rope attached to the front and graffiti’d Dalek on wheels* behind – so that’s what we were going to pull North then, but what fate lay at the other end? (*Update: see comments below for Dalek origin)

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At 5pm we were ushered upstairs to a church-like auditorium with seating arranged either side, three vertical video screens framed by an arch above the stage at the far end. A ‘hymn book’ was on each seat which contained the words to ‘Justified & Ancient’ inside but on a quick scan some of the words had been changed. “They called me up in Sheffield town, they said ‘Jarvis, stand by The JAMs'” – surely not? Was Jarvis Cocker going to join the JAMs? The room fell silent and all phones were ordered to be turned off (hence no photos for this part), this didn’t deter some people as you may well have seen by now on the web but it did mean that one of the highlights of the week was captured at least in part.

We were treated to the 23 minute version of the film ‘2023’, a triptych of dark, menacing imagery and iconography that was beautiful, disturbing, baffling, unnerving and loaded with symbolism, the soundtrack mostly ambient industrial sounds and radio noise finishing with Nilsson‘s ‘Everybody’s Talking ‘Bout Me’ over the end credits.
I’ve yet to read the book so most of the imagery has little context at the moment but I noticed revolving grapefruit and Yoko Ono as the Starbucks logo (already seen on some of the merch and the free paper cups when you bought drinks at the Dead Perch). These are both surely a reference to Yoko’s book ‘Grapefruit’ and could allude to the ‘Grapefruit Are Not The Only Bombs’ book we all contributed to the day before, itself an allusion to Jeanette Winterson‘sOranges Are Not The Only Fruit’ maybe? The Shard blazed, black pyramids turned above seas and rolling corn fields, stormy skies filled with black clouds, a fox padded the London streets and four bullets from North, South, East and West collided in slow motion in the final scene.

What followed was a long presentation / sales pitch by ‘green undertakers’ Claire and Rupert Callender – a very dark, depressing, occasionally humorous but deadly serious meditation of death that served to bring the mood down to rock bottom. The assertion was not to be afraid but that we were already dead, that The JAMs were now in business with them as undertakers to the underworld and we were all invited to take part in ‘MuMufication’. In a nutshell this meant that they had engineered their own house bricks (stamped with the words ‘Mu Mu’) which each participant could have part of their ashes poured into when they died. These bricks would be collected annually on November 23rd which was now designated ‘Toxteth Day of the Dead’ and a ‘People’s Pyramid’ would be built, year on year, until it was 23 feet high. The pyramid will be situated in Toxteth (site yet to be determined) and it will take 34,592 bricks to build it. Participants who sign up pay £99 and get a brick plus Certificate of MuMufication – this is all real, anyone can do it, check out www.mumufication.com for more info. IMG_5118

The ‘MuMufication’ sticker I’d snapped a few days earlier on the side of the Ice Kream Van suddenly made sense, and the 99 Mu Mu Bricks, the signs had been there all along. This was the one point where the internet jokes that we’d all be committing some Jim Jones-style suicide pact by the end of things started to gain some credence and I started to wonder if there was anything in the face paint we’d just all applied. I pity anyone in the crowd who had recently lost a loved one or was preparing for a funeral. It was wrist-slashingly sombre.

But Lo! Suddenly a procession sweeps into the room, standard-bearers holding a Toxteth Day of the Dead banner, monks in Mu Mu gowns, coffin-bearers carrying two no-frills bare wood coffins, gravediggers, I also remember traffic cones worn on heads, a choir, there were more but it’s all a but of a blur. Also a blue robed, hooded figure in their midst, face concealed, who mounted the stage behind the congregation and started to speak; ‘They’re Justified, and they’re Ancient, and they drive an ice cream van’ in a soft northern brogue that could only belong to Jarvis Cocker. As the choir mournfully intoned the lyrics the cloak was pulled back to reveal the man himself, brilliantly hamming it up for all his worth in a slow, understated gospel version of their 1991 hit. The videos on the web don’t do it justice without the proceeding events described above, the song lifting the mood higher and higher as the incredulous crowd joined in with the end chant of ‘All Bound For Mu Mu Land’ before exiting the hall in a procession that followed Jarvis, the choir and all performers from the stage and out into the street.

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Outside the crowd spilled onto the road and a small gaggle of locals had gathered to watch, Gimpo quickly got the first team to man the ropes of the ice cream van and we were underway on the three mile pull North to The Invisible Wind Factory. Heading the procession were a bagpipe and drummer duo, standard bearers, the pullers, the van with Drummond & Cauty inside, the choir, assorted Mu in robes and sacks and then the rest of us spilling out on both sides and behind. Ragwort was thrown from shopping carts at the front and then collected by more carts at the back and run up to the front again.

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The police turned up within half an hour to escort us along the busy riverside road and contain traffic, at one point trying to stop the procession but failing – did they have a permit to march? FUUK knows.
Halfway along the route a car parked up and helpers proceeded to throw yellow kagools out to the marchers, emblazoned with the pyramid blaster and JAMs logos and the legend ‘Delivering Sustainable Death’. The sea of yellow with black and white skull masks moved forward at a brisk pace…

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Finally we reached a waste ground, opposite the Invisible Wind Factory, the sunset earlier was a blazing orange sky which would have framed the occasion all the better had we arrived an hour before. A wooden pyramid / pyre was erected in the centre of a circle and the wooden coffins in the back of the Ice Kream Van (I did mention those didn’t I?) were ceremoniously loaded into it. Bill and Jimmy, Mu Mu horns now on their heads, wasted no time, lit long torches and quickly set fire to the structure, it catching almost immediately, going up in a yellow blaze against the night sky as the robed 400 watched and cheered. I’m not going to lie, I was hoping they’d pile the Dalek, the T-Speaker and the van onto the pyre too, cleanse their past in one fell swoop and put the lid on it once and for all but it wasn’t to be.

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Some said the plan was to drive the van into the Mersey but I don’t think that happened. After this events got confused, Daisy Campbell, megaphone in hand, struggled to make herself heard to the widely assembled crowd, some of who wanted to eat and drink after the fun and games and some who made for the toilets nearby. The undertakers were in the Ice Kream Van signing up people for ‘MuMufication’, bricks on display, but now wasn’t the time for this on a dark patch of wasteland with the light gone and the temperature dropping. A huge queue formed but with only a small window to explain the process from they were fighting a losing battle.

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I retired to the club opposite to set up the decks for my set later on and grab some food backstage. Pete Wylie was there in the dressing room, having schooled Badger Kull half the week and we could see the gathering outside winding down from our high vantage point on the top floor. Punters started arriving at 10pm, a mixture of the 400 and paying public who could also buy tickets, you could tell who was who from the face paint. Greg Wilson was on stage whipping the crowd up with pumped up versions of electronic classics like Gary Numan‘s ‘Cars’, The Human League‘s ‘Being Boiled’ and ‘The Message’ and Kermit from Black Grape was dancing around in bunny ears.

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The T-speaker was behind the merch table, selling Badger Kull T-shirts to the faithful and the bemused and it was all about their impending one and only performance at 23 seconds past midnight, a fitting end to the proceedings. The mood was electric as they took to the stage, four guys, all on bass guitar, in face masks and robes with yellow and black warning tape decorations, playing their one note riff over and over to strobes, chanting ‘Toxteth Day of the Dead’ repeatedly, leaving the stage three minutes later to a squall of bass feedback. It was never going to win any prizes for subtlety but it was all the crowd needed.

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Lastly it was my turn, pretty daunting to step up to the decks after that performance to a club packed to the rafters with JAMs fans on a total high after what they’d just witnessed I can tell you (I took the photo above as I stepped up). When Jimmy asked me to play at the Ball my first question was, ‘Should I play any JAMs / KLF?’ and the answer was an unequivocal ‘no’, which was fine. Bill wanted ‘no revisiting of one’s acid house days’ and gave me a superb brief to play dangerously, wide and lateral. They also provided me with a glimpse at a page from ‘2023′ where it lists the line up for a fictitious Xmas day episode of Top of The Pops.

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(photo by George Stewart-Lockheart)
I took that list fairly literally and decided to source as many original samples that The JAMs, Timelords and KLF had used as possible, I wouldn’t be playing their records, just the records they’d played with. I opened with the MC5’s ‘Kick Out the Jams’ (of course) and proceeded through Abba, The Monkees, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, various TOTPs themes, Tommy Vance spoken word, The Sweet, the Dr Who theme, The Human League‘s version of ‘Rock n Roll’, themes from Jesus Christ Superstar, Sly & The Family Stone, James Brown and more before dropping a ton of club classics and a full final hour of downtempo tunes including ‘Wichita Lineman’ and ‘War Is Over If You Want It’, ending with ‘In The Ghetto’ at just shy of 3am.

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(photo by George Stewart-Lockheart)
As gigs go, it was a milestone in my career that I’ll never forget. As an event it was a success on so many levels I doubt the participants will ever fully get their heads around it. As a comeback it was unparalleled, everything and more that a fan of this duo could have wanted but never dreamed up. As an exercise in the closing of one chapter and the opening of another, with the fans helping to write that chapter from the building blocks the JAMs had put in place, it was genius. That they closed the event with the opportunity to eventually place part of those fans and others inside the blocks and build a People’s Pyramid to commemorate the event on the very ground it took place in was another nice touch. Best graduation party ever…

UPDATE: After thinking the audio for my set was lost when only an 11 minute file appeared on my laptop after saving the recording I’d made, it turned out that I found the rest of the set as an untitled file a few months later. Here is the set, re-instated to its full length.

Saturday, the aftermath:

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Some graduated early that night and received their certificates at the club, for most though it was one final trip to the Dead Perch Lounge on Saturday morning to be met by an unexpected series of posters that had been plastered up outside overnight. Someone had expressed their displeasure at the events in a very JAMs-esque way, enough to make most question if these weren’t an elaborate double-bluff by Drummond & Cauty themselves.

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Inside, The JAMs were handing out signed Certificates Of Graduation with stern handshakes and little banter and we stayed for a drink and an explanation on how exactly The People’s Pyramid was going to be constructed by the architect who had drawn up the plans, now displayed in the gallery. Finally we were ushered into a previously hidden back room where a tower of TV sets showed video loops whilst the choir’s A cappella from Friday’s ‘Justified & Ancient’ quietly played in the background.

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Whether Bill and Jimmy ever do another event, make another record or create any more art together ever again (and there were rumours that this could happen elsewhere in the future) doesn’t matter. They and the team around them pulled off an incredible experience that could have crashed and burned (pun intended) so many times and in the process must have inspired many of the participants to go forth and continue this kind of work and thinking in their daily lives from this point on. There were rules, there always is with Drummond, but these were also guidelines to break out of conventional thinking and you have to know the rules before you can break them – always accept the contradictions with The JAMs. Worth the £100 ticket price? Many times over. The experience was priceless and SO much more thought-provoking, entertaining and genuinely life-changing than most of what’s happening in current music, literature and art at the moment.

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Travelling back home, to ‘real life’, was surreal, what had happen constantly churning around in my head, the NEED to get this all down and make some kind of sense of it for my own selfish reasons of paramount importance. The desire to talk to people about it burns bright, to those that were there and friends who witnessed it secondhand via the web. The urge to look further into The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift, the Green Funeral Company and, of course, read ‘2023’ – things that were completely alien to myself and many others a week ago – is strong and will no doubt point to other people and places as The JAMs begin a new chapter…

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