MEGADETH!

One my oldest friends, Steven Baker, found this in a box of stuff this week. I painted it for another friend, Cliff Purtell, back in 1988 I think, maybe later, I don’t really remember. He was going to Donnington (the rock festival) and wanted to show his appreciation of the band. I can’t quite remember how long it took but it was somewhere in the region of 2 weeks I think due to the fact that a lot of it was painted with modeling paints watered down, you know, the tiny pots you can buy to paint up Airfix kits and the like. We didn’t have money for proper paints and figured that these wouldn’t run if the weather was wet. We also only had an old tablecloth or bed sheet to paint it on as you can see from the not-quite-finished-yet bottom corner.

Megadeth banner

Anyway, I would troop round to Cliff’s place each morning (it was the summer holidays) and he would furnish me with tea and biscuits all day and blast out heavy metal. This was my introduction to thrash metal primarily although I think I bought a fair bit of LL Cool J, Beastie Boys and Public Enemy with me to even things out. Anthrax, Metallica, Megadeth (obviously), Slayer, G.W.A.R. probably a lot more that didn’t stick too, all were played on repeat throughout the making of this banner, a tiny picture of which ended up in Kerrang the week after the festival. Cliff swore that, during their set, Dave Mustaine of Megadeth quipped, “You’ve got some fucking nice banners out there”.

Posted in Art, Oddities. | 2 Comments |

To Kill A Mockingbird – New US 50th Anniversary cover

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There’s a lot of talk about Harper Lee’s classic at the moment being that it’s 50 years since its original publication and I’m going to jump on the bandwagon and declare my love for it. I read this in school and it was probably the first ‘proper’ book to affect me, even though I haven’t read it for 25 years or more I can still remember passages of the book and being enthralled by it.

The reason for this post though is that my friend Sarah ‘Inkymole’ Coleman was asked to illustrate the cover for the American 50th anniversary edition I just found out. Being that it is one of her favourite books, this is a lifetime dream and I was really pleased for her when I found out. Even more impressed when I saw what she’s come up with for it, love the detail of the hole in the tree trunk where Boo Radley leaves his gifts on the spine. More info with work in progress on Sarah’s site and you can buy the book from Barnes and Noble as well. I’ve included a selection of other covers from across the years too.

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Posted in Art, Books, Design. | 3 Comments |

Spiderman meets Dr. Strange by Brendan McCarthy

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Just finished reading this short, 3 part series where everyone’s favourite wall crawler teams up with Dr. Strange in a story called ‘Fever’. I’m not a big superhero comics fan, Superman, Batman, X-Men etc. don’t do much for me. I generally prefer the more leftfield end of things, in fact I think this is the first Spiderman comic I’ve ever bought outside of the watered down kind for my boys. So, why the special occasion? Brendan McCarthy. One of the demi-gods of UK comic book art, 2000ad veteran and, in the last 2 decades, storyboardist and character designer to Hollywood.

I’ll buy pretty much anything with Brendan’s name on it as he’s a unique talent, rarely repeats himself but has a visual language all of his own. Sometimes copied – Jamie Hewlett’s early work owes much to McCarthy – but never bettered, he is one of the few comic book artists who can portray psychedelia effectively on the printed page, Savage Pencil being another example. He mainly left comics behind after getting his foot in the movie making door and who can blame him, I’m sure the pay is better. But recently he’s been active again here and there and this Marvel Team Up is his first major comic book for some time.

This time round he’s writing as well as illustrating too and seems to have been given quite free reign with the character, something he dives head on into conjuring up a Spider-themed story that incorporates magic, other dimensions, soul-snatching and even references Spidey’s origins quite neatly. It all serves to provide material for a great big acid trip of a story with nods to Steve Dikto and a thinly veiled Alistair Crowley. If you like your comics dark, camp and sporting all the colours of the spectrum then this is for you. In fact one of my only criticisms (aside from the shortness of it all) is the colouring ,which has been done via computer. Some of it works but, knowing McCarthy’s painted work from the past, there’s something lacking in some of the pages. Also for some reason, I’m guessing meddlesome middle management, the covers are pretty awful, really badly laid out with muddy colours which is a shame as his work is usually so bright and bold.

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Posted in Art, Comics. | 4 Comments |

Montreal

On Adam Ant’s solo album from 1983, ‘Strip’, he has a song called ‘Montreal’. It was always my favourite track on what was a pretty patchy album and it shares its name with is one of my favourite cities in the world, second only to my hometown of London. I love it mainly for its unpretentious, multi-cultural, wildly artistic inhabitants and this last weekend I was there playing at the Jazz Festival on a bill with Spank Rock and The Slew in one of two Ninja Tune XX shows. It was a pretty laid back affair as I flew in on Friday, played Saturday night and flew out on Sunday evening, a rare treat in my usual touring schedule. The weather was perfect and I got to catch up with lots of friends from the North American Ninja office which is based there as well as catching tons of amazing art dotted around the downtown district where the venue, Metropolis, was.

The gig was good, Spank Rock were nuts and the Slew were just amazing, virtually playing their 100% album in its entirety. British Airways managed to forget my mixer in London so there was a mild panic for a minute to source a duplicate – I can’t do my video set without the Rane 57 – but this seemed no problem. It eventually turned up 20 minutes before I finished playing, being brought on stage by the soundman much to my relief.

On Sunday I visited the Museum of Fine Arts to check out the Miles Davis exhibition which was stunning and is on until the end of August, make the effort if you’re in the city. It is laid out immaculately, chronologically guiding you through his life and work room by room. The late 60’s and 70’s rooms were the ones I’d come for and I wasn’t disappointed as they had the Mati Klarwein originals of the Live/Evil LP cover, Corky McCoy sketches for On The Corner and Water Babies and some hilarious memos to record company staff from Teo Macero. One for Filles De Kilimanjaro ended, “Also Miles would like all the titles on the album translated into French. HELP!”. The whole thing was suberbly put together with original LPs, magazines, sheet music, stage wear, instruments and even some of Miles’ art amongst much more – highly recommended.

After this I met up with ex-Ninja staff, Phillipa Klein and Pat Hamou and Eric San (Kid Koala) who took us to a great Chinese dumpling spot nearby the museum. It’s not widely known but Eric is the number one food stop diviner when on tour. If you’re in a strange city and you need to eat, Eric will know somewhere that will usually turn out to be exceptional. After stuffing our faces we went back to Eric’s with his wife and daughter and marveled at his studio, chock full of amazing kit, 3D models of miniature towns they’d built for a forthcoming project and his own, personalised record cutter. In the basement there was a full size robotron ‘costume’ made out of metal and his studio boasts a massive model of a swordfish sitting atop a bookcase. He played me a new track he’s just finished for the Ninja Tune XX compilation and revealed that he’s recording the first parts of a new Slew record next week in between tour dates.

My time was up so we drove back to my hotel and said goodbyes, a great way to spend a weekend for sure, the flight back was overnight and the week ahead sees me tying up the last parts of the Ninja box set artwork, starting a 4 deck AV set for the 20th parties and finishing a track for the compilation.

Posted in Art, Event, Gigs, Ninja Tune. | No Comments |

3A books launch today

headerbeiOne of my favourite artists and certainly my favourite toy-making company – Ashley Wood and 3A – launch their new book range today on the eve of a massive art and toy show in Beijing. Two hardback books with work from Phil Hale and Ashley Wood are available for $25 each but the one I’m most excited about is ‘Entr3At’, a 282 page celebration of the first 2 years of 3A toys. Packed with paintings, photos, works in progress, designs and box art, it’s going to be one of my books of the year for sure. Order any or all of them from bambalandstore now.entreat-cover

Posted in Art, Books, Comics, Design, Robots, Toys. | 1 Comment |

New Qemists LP cover by Glenn Fabry

Herbaliser - Wall Crawling..

Ninja Tune artists seem to have a love of comic art and one particular comic in particular has played host to various artists who have also graced Ninja Tune sleeves – 2000AD. The first was The Herbaliser’s ‘Wall Crawling Giant Insect Breaks’ 12″ back in 1998 with a cover painting by Jason Brashill -aka graffiti artist Jase – who used to paint with Req and She One in Brighton. His design of a robotic bug perched on a pair of decks and a mixer is one of my favourites of that era.

DJ Food - ...Weird...World EP 12"cover (72 dpi)My own DJ Food EPs from last year featured new work from Henry Flint who has been a regular on both the weekly comic and monthly Judge Dredd Megazine for over 10 years. He kindly gave me some of his personal work, highly detailed abstract ‘doodles’, to colour for my sleeves (you can see one to the left of this post) and there will be more for the third EP and album.

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qemists_hurtslessFInally we have the latest addition: The Qemists have enlisted none other than Glenn Fabry to paint their new ‘Spirit In The System’ LP cover in what looks like a homage to Stanley Mouse’s Grateful Dead work. If you’ve been paying attention to the recent Qemists releases you’ll notice that the first two are sections of a large ‘logo-ified’ version of the painting, I hope Ninja press a vinyl LP of the album too.

Diplo – Florida (limited screenprint edition) (Big Dada)

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An oldie but goody for the last entry in this week-long vinyl series – Diplo’s debut (and only solo) record, the classic ‘Florida’. I’ve been pulling out all manner of releases from the Big Dada, Ninja and Ntone catalogues over the last few months as material for the on-going Ninja Tune book I’m working on and this is the very rare screen printed cover edition.
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As I recall, Diplo actually wanted to have an old Frazetta image of dinosaurs on the cover but it was decided that would be too expensive to license and he found an artist to do the illustration in a similar style. Only 500 were made with hand-stamped labels and a sticker on the reverse stating the number of the edition (you can see mine is 045).

Posted in Art, Design, Music, Records. | 3 Comments |

2econd Class Citizen – Divided Reality (Equinox)

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This is the most gorgeous smelling record I own. i don’t know what they put in the ink they printed this with but it smells like sickly sweets to me. This is a (very) limited repress – only 30 copies – of Aaron Thomason, aka 2econd Class Citizen‘s first release, a four track white label made back in 2005. Half the EP bears the sort of style you’d expect from him today albeit in a more primitive form, the song ‘Wishing Well’ was later reworked for his ‘Wyred Folk’ EP. The other half of the EP is more of a surprise, a couple of tracks that definitely sound of their time and show a different path that Aaron could have taken.

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The sleeve is a wrapround piece of heavy card, screenprinted and designed to look like a private press release with minimal layout by Gunter, the label head at ever excellent Equinox records. Each one has been signed and numbered by Aaron and it’s all housed in a plastic sleeve. I think there are a few copies left if you contact Aaron or Gunter at Equinox but if not then you can still buy the mp3s.

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Posted in Art, Design, Music, Records. | 1 Comment |

Edan – Echo Party (Stones Throw)

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This record was all over the net at the end of last year and Edan should need no introduction. This is basically a mix tape on vinyl and the legend has it that Edan was given access to the Traffic Entertainment Group back catalogue to do what he could with. Two years passed and it’s finally here, barely 30 minutes but who’s complaining when it sounds as good as this? There’s a sample with video here to start you off.

The beautiful thing about the covers for this vinyl release is that, much like the ‘Secondhand Sureshots‘ record I posted about earlier, they are all different. Instead of screen printing though you get variations of a rubber stamp and I picked up what I think is a particularly nice version with multiple women on it. Only two pictures here as the sleeve is super minimal, the only other mark on it is a tiny ‘A’ stamped on one of the labels.

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See a little video of Edan customising the covers here.

Posted in Art, Design, Music, Records. | No Comments |

Record Store Day / Secondhand Sureshots (Dublab)

The thrill of the hunt, the race from shop to shop, trying to seize a copy of that limited edition release you know everyone else has been patiently waiting for. All that returned today as I ventured out for the third annual Record Store Day and, for the first time ever, had to queue to get into a record shop! Unheard of! Rough Trade East was packed with a line of about 50 people outside when I arrived. It was great to see so many people turning up to snap up the goodies and see bands and RT has the juice and coffee bar to add to the experience.

Weller AA remix Unfortunately, it was such a success that the record I went out specifically to get – the Amorphous Androgynous remixes of Paul Weller on a 500 copy 12″ – was nowhere to be found, sold out everywhere! I went from brick Lane to Soho to Ladbroke Grove – none left. This is obviously good but maybe Island could press a few more copies next time please? I’d been waiting for this since it was announced and they did a remarkable job of keeping it offline so I’ve still not heard it although the cover did get posted the other day and now they’re going on eBay for upwards of £99!.

That buggers up my first post as well as I was going to kick off a week-long series of beautiful records with that, but never mind, I have many waiting in the wings… First up is ‘Secondhand Surehots’ – the deluxe version from Dublab, containing tracks by Daedelus, J Rocc, Ras G and Nobody. In case you didn’t catch this excellent short film a month or so ago as it did the rounds on the net, please check this out for the story.

dublab presents…SECONDHAND SURESHOTS (preview) from dublab on Vimeo.

Now, that’s the trailer, the full film is more like 30 minutes and it’s included in the deluxe vinyl package on a DVD with bonus audio as well. Also within the pack you get a 12″ picture disc, 2 full colour slipmats, stickers and here’s the winner – each sleeve is a unique screen print, utilising old gatefold LP covers as the canvas. Mine was a Dan Fogelburg LP, you can still read the original credits through the ink and one of the sleeves even still has the original LP insert in it!. All in all, a great concept, well executed and lovingly put together, a must for all diggers and vinyl lovers out there.
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Posted in Art, Design, Event, Music, Records. | 1 Comment |

Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck Cookbook

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It was my better half’s birthday yesterday and a friend of ours got her this lovely Heston Blumenthal cooklbook. The big difference between this and any cookbook I can think of it that it’s illustrated by Dave McKean, he of Arkum Asylum, Signal To Noise, Cages and the Sandman comic covers amongst many others. This has to be a first surely? The book is gorgeous both in content and quality and very heavy too! Check the gallery for some of the spreads, there are many more although I’m not sure how much my wife will actually be attempting to serve up.

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Starting tomorrow, because it’s Record Store Day, a week long, series of daily posts on vinyl worth buying for both the cover and content.

Posted in Art, Books, Design, Oddities. | 2 Comments |

Colouring Henry Flint

So, my new EP – The Shape Of Things That Hum – should finally be in shops today (Jan 11th) after a pressing plant mistake led to the whole lot being repressed, missing the Dec 14th release date.

You’ll find a poster wrapped around the vinyl and inside is another of Henry Flint’s amazing illustrations – done specially for this release. He only provides the line work though and I colour each image in Photoshop using a combination of photos, transparency and colour balancing.

It’s a painstaking process involving many layers, minute mouse work and multiple options and variations. I did several screen shots of the work in progress as I went this time (see below) and I’d estimate it took roughly 2 weeks of intense work.
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It wasn’t helped by Photoshop bugs flattening the image for no reason after saving a session. I’d wake up the next morning to find a whole session had been lost and I had to use Time Machine to go back a stage to un-flatten the thing.

Another setback was ‘the orange juice incident‘ after a weeks work on it in the evenings on holiday. That seems an age away now and I’m at work on the final installment, due out around May. Not sure what the cover to that will be but I have plenty more of Henry’s work available to use and then there’s the album cover…

There will be a Shape Of Things Reader mix up on Soundcloud later this week featuring music from the EP plus influential tracks I was listening to whilst making it and other favourites from 2009.

10 favourite sleeves / packages for 2009

Looking at my favourite records for 2009 made me think of my favourite sleeve designs as well, as several were represented in the selection. I’ve noticed a definite resurgence in sci-fi imagery this year, particularly of the 70’s Roger Dean / Heavy Metal / Moebius fantasy variety. Dan McPharlin is probably the best exponent of this style and has two designs in the selection. Julian House is still mining the collage aesthetic although seems to be leaving the Penguin cover design style behind more and more. Warp’s 20th boxset was a beautiful piece of work, making for a great celebratory object in the age of the download and Jeff Jank continues to innovate over at Stones Throw.

12 x favourite covers 2009 650

Oasis -Falling Down (Amorphous Androgynous remix)(Big Brother)
Designed by Julian House

Various Artists – The Byg Deal (Finders Keepers)
Designed by Liars

Roj – The Transectional Dharma of Roj (Ghost Box)
Designed by Julian House

Various Artists – Warp 20 boxsert (Warp)
Designed by YES / Bernard Ryan / Metropolitan Works

Anti Pop Consortium – Flourescent Black  (Big Dada)
Designed by Ron Croudy Illustration by Mark Evans

Mr Chop – Light Worlds (Now Again)
Designed by Dan McPharlin

Prefuse 73 – Everything She Touched Turned Amphexian (Warp)
Designed by Dan McPharlin

Madlib – Beat Konducta vol.5-6 (Stones Throw)
Designed by Jeff Jank Photo by Ernesto Yerena

J G Thirlwell – The Venture Brothers vol.1 (Adult Swim /Williams St)
Designed by unknown

Various Artists – Studio G – G Spots (Trunk)
Designed by Flack

Posted in Art, Design, Music, Records. | 1 Comment |