Gamma Proforma – Rammellzee, Futura, She One and more…

Ramm Brainstorm:Girlfriends
OK, so – Gamma Proforma – UK label dealing in music, art, books and apparel (T-shirts to you and me). I’ve mentioned them before, most notably with the recent Divine Styler album that blew my socks off in January but also with the ReWire kickstarter of last year and the Futurism 2.0 exhibition they put on a couple of years back. Their ‘roster’ – if you can call it that as they seem to deal in a project by project way – is full of name familiar to this blog both new and old: She One, Augustine Kofie, Divine Styler, Futura 2000, Will Barras, Remi/Rough, Delta, Rammellzee, Syd Mead and Ian ‘Swifty’ Swift among many more. If that isn’t enough to get your interest then you may as well stop reading now. I just want to highlight some of the currents releases coming out of this great label who seem to have tapped into my mind at times and assembled items that tick multiple boxes to an extent where it’s just getting silly now.
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Their current big project is a multi-part release of The Rammellzee‘s final album, ‘Cosmic Flush’, incomplete at the time of his death but now finished by producer Jonah Mociun whom he worked on it with. Each track is being released on a single 12″ backed with a remix + instrumentals with a different artist chosen to provide the cover which is also included as a signed print.
Above and below are the first two singles, ‘Brainstorm’ and How’s My Girlfriends’ with art by Futura 2000 and Ramm acolyte Ian Kuali’i and remixes by Divine Styler and Mr Len (ex-Co. Flow). The third 12″ – released next month – will be ‘Crazay’ with art by Delta and Mike Ladd on remix duties. Each 12″ is a pressing of 500 with half of these adding the print, these versions aren’t cheap and the Futura one is already sold out but the quality is top notch. Eventually all the releases will form the album proper although I’m not sure whether that will be collected into a box of some sort or issued on CD.
Ramm Girlfriends
Ramm Futura sig
As you can see, there’s a heavy emphasis on the more leftfield, abstract side of graffiti on these releases and that’s carried over into the books and T-shirts too. The She One book with 7″ picure disc below is a heavy slab of goodness chock full of James Choules’ flaming brushstroke camouflage styles from close ups to sketch book scraps and a beautiful collection presented without all the usual clichés of the genre.

Shebook & disc2 She Book&disc1 PhilAshcroft&printSimilarly Phil Ashcrofts angular spikes take on a more ‘futuristic’ tone in his book of dystopian visions and sci-fi seems the be at the heart of what Gamma produce with Syd Mead T-shirts being an early release. There’s also a shirt series underway too with Kofie supplying the first example on a white shirt below and Will Barras depicting a menacing Rammellzee in his signature style for the second.

Gamma shirts Kofieshirt

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All the pieces mentioned here are immaculately laid out and design forms the subject of another forthcoming book – a retrospective of Ian ‘Swifty’ Swift‘s career titled ‘Full Circle’, due in the autumn but you can pre-order it now. I daren’t even mention the Will Barras book arriving shortly, the prints, magazines, original art or the digital freebies available if you peruse the Gamma site at length…

PS: in a weird act of synchronicity the Has It Leaked site just put up a look at the label too with quotes from me included – read it here and find out even more…

X-Ray Audio book pre-audio

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Soviet flexi discs, ‘bones’ or ‘ribs’, music pressed on old X-Rays due to lack of resources. Stephen Coates aka The Real Tuesday Weld has been collecting and exhibiting these for a while now and Strangeattractor Press are publishing a book of them this autumn. Pre-order is here and there is a limited edition with a free flexi disc which I will no doubt be featuring in the Flexibition at some point.
Next week, Tuesday 30th June, Stephen will be telling the story of the X-Ray Bootleggers at The Last Tuesday Society. More details and tickets here
…and on Friday 3rd July Stephen and Aleks Kolkowski will be presenting a special evening at the Masonic Temple of the Andaz Hotel as part of the East End Film Festival. A new x-ray record will be cut live with a 1940s recording lathe from a live performance by Marcella Puppini of The Puppini Sisters. Go HERE for more details and tickets

Roger Perry ‘The Writing On The Wall’ reissue

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Arriving the morning after the recent UK election result, finally holding the reprinted, expanded edition of Roger Perry‘s ‘The Writing On The Wall’ was a bittersweet experience. In George Melly‘s original introduction he says; “With the ballot box effective why spray walls?” a statement a fair few people would most likely have a bone to pick with right now. Looking through the beautifully printed pages at the replica version I cherry-picked a few shots that struck a chord and prove that not much changes when it comes to public opinion of those in charge.

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It’s not all socio-political commentary though, there are oddities, messages of love, the inevitable football allegiances and more bizarre offerings. Often there are some poignant juxtapositions on either side of a spread, the ‘God Is Love’ / ‘Clapton is God’ example below being just one of them. New forewards by Bill Drummond and George Stewart-Lockheart (who organised the whole project via Kickstarter last year) bring context via hindsight to the photos. and while Drummond is the name you’ll recognise, Stewart-Lockheart’s essay is a fascinating, expertly-researched history of much of the content, something the original book lacked.

Expertly laid out by Pearce Marchbank – the original designer and Time Out art director in the 70s – the reprinted facsimile of the book has a yellowed, off-white tint to the pages which distinguishes it from the clean white of the new material. The end section features profiles of those involved in the making of the original volume as well as a host of newly discovered images and negatives from the archives which expand on and reveal how the book came together. It’s a lovingly put together edition with its cloth-bound, foil-blocked front cover and I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in seeing 70s London and the marks made by ordinary people in the days before the art of Hip Hop graffiti writing came to these shores. More info about where you can obtain a copy is here at the rogerperrybook site or you can buy it direct.

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Record Store Day 2015

WNBARB_RSD2015I didn’t go into town for RSD, instead I stayed south of the river, went to smaller, local stores like Rat Records in Camberwell, Casbah and The Music & Video Exchange in Greenwich and The Book & Record Bar in West Norwood (above). Much calmer atmosphere, no crush or crazy queuing, no crowds. I saw some scenes in the centre of London on the day and it looked like Carnival was on. Read what happened to Mr Thing at his set on Berwick St. in the middle of Soho… not cool.

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I went to West Norwood first, got there at 10am, walked in and pulled one record straight away from my list (the Amorphous Androgynous ‘Wizards of Oz’ comp above). No fuss, no crush, no queuing. They also still had records from RSD 2014 in the racks. I will go to Rough Trade at some point in the next few weeks to see what they have but I joined a queue there on RSD about 3 years ago and never again. It’s not for me, I don’t enjoy buying records that way. If people are all looking in one place I want to be somewhere in the opposite direction.
In all on Saturday I did four records shops, only two of which had RSD records, but I got plenty of vinyl, both old and new (plus books, magazines and a CD).

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Also had time to see an exhibition (Snub 23, see previous post) and meet up with friends and family in the park. A relaxing day that involved going to record stores/shops and helping support them plus the artists and labels. No fretting about whether a record I wanted was going for stupid money on eBay, there’s plenty of time to hunt the one that got away down, I don’t need anything so badly that I have to pay those kind of prices. I should probably also add here, that this is pretty much the same as any number of other days in the year when I go shopping for records rather than making it a one-off.

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Epiphanies book from The Wire

acb161e5Love the cover of the ‘Epiphanies’ collected from The Wire‘s back pages. A simple concept: an artist is invited to recall an epiphany in their life, these used to run (maybe they still do) as the last feature in the Wire before the back cover, effectively the end of each issue. The cover illustration in by Reuben Sutherland who is the graphic half of Sculpture who will be playing tonight, April 10th at the Yard in Hackney Wick.

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Food Favourites of 2014

This isn’t a ‘best of 2014′ list – just the things that I liked more than most, they’re not definitive or in an order other than the one I thought of them in.

• New Music:
The Soundcarriers – Entropicalia LP (Ghost Box)
Ghost of a Sabre Tooth Tiger – Midnight Sun LP (Chimera)
Jane Weaver – The Silver Globe LP (Bird)
Heliocentrics & Melvin Van Peebles – The Last Transmission LP (Now Again)
Jeremy Schmidt / Sinoia Caves – Beyond The Black Rainbow LP (Death Waltz)
Jokers of the Scene – End Scene LP (Throne of Canada)
Nico Motte – Rheologia EP (Antinote)
An-I – Kino-i 12” (Cititrax)
The Advisory Circle – From Out Here LP (Ghost Box)
Temples – Sun Structures / Sun Restructured LP (Heavenly)
Andy Votel / Doug Shipton – Polivox Orthodox mixtape (Finders Keepers)
Daniel Haaksman – Duck Rock – A Sonic Essay (mixtape)
tUnE-yArDs – Water Fountain 7″ (4AD)
Pye Corner Audio – The Black Mist EP (Front &Follow)
Mac McRaw feat. Audessey & Oxygen – B-Boy Bionics / Dust 12″ (Cold Rock Stuff)
Ukkonen – Change Time EP (Uncharted Audio)
Syd Arthur vs The Amorphous Androgynous LP (Monstrous Bubble Records)

2014 Music

• Reissues:
John Carpenter / Alan Howarth – Halloween III (updated version) LP (Death Waltz)
Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Inside the Pleasuredome box set (ZTT/USM) (biased obviously)
The The – Soul Mining box set (Sony)
Z – Visions of Dune LP (Infiné)

2014 reissues

• Sleeves / Packaging:
Astralasia – Wind On Water LP (Fruits De Mer)
Jack White – Lazaretto LP (Third Man)
(Not so much for the cover but for the whole package and vinyl cutting extravaganza)
Joe Mansfield – Beat Box: A Drum Machine Obsession (Gingko Press)
Andrew Lilies – The Equestrian Vortex 10″ (Death Waltz)
Temples – Sun Restructured LP (Lenticular sleeve) (Heavenly)
Various – Wild Style Breakbeats (7″s + book) (Kay-Dee)
Sage Francis, B. Dolan, Buddy Peace – Epic Beard Men 7″ (Blunt Force Trauma)
Rave Wars 3 – The Return of the Old School (7″ + Star Wars figure) (Balkan Vinyl)
Clone – Son of Octabred (Finders Keepers)
Sculpture – Plastic Infinite
The Soundcarriers – Entropicalia LP (Ghost Box)

2014 sleeve art

• Books / Comics:
Prophet – Simon Roy & Brandon Graham / various artists (Image)
B.P.R.D. – Various (Dark Horse)
Punks – The Comic – Joshua Hale Fialkov & Kody Chamberlain (Image)
God Hates Astronauts – Ryan Browne (Image)
Black Science – Rick Remender, Matteo Scalera, Dean White (Image)
Hip Hop Family Tree 1&2 – Ed Piskor (Fantagraphics)
Sandman: Overture – Neil Gaiman & J. H. Williams III (Vertigo)
Discovering Scarfolk – Richard Littler (Ebury Press)
Dust & Grooves – Eilon Paz (self-published)
The Art of Smallfilms – Oliver Postgate, Peter Firmin, Jonny Trunk (Four Corners Books)
Urban Archaeology – 21 Years of Mo Wax – James Lavelle (Rizzoli International)
2000 TC – John Higgs (self-published)
2000ad / Judge Dredd The Megazine – Various (Rebellion)
Moosekid Comics – Various (self-published)
For Whom The Cowbell Tolls – Dan LeRoy (6623) (biased again)

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• Films: (I didn’t watch too much this year sadly)
Blade Runner (finally saw it at the cinema)
Guardians of the Galaxy
Jodorowsky’s Dune documentary with Jodorowsky Q&A
The Cobbler & The Thief with Richard Williams Q&A
Future Shock: The Story of 2000AD documentary with Pat Mills, Kev O’Neill & crew Q&A
The Lego Movie
Ghost Box Night at the ICA
Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys
Jet Propelled CinemaHow Psychedelia Infected Hollywood Sci-Fi at the BFI

2014 films

• Moments:
Touring the 3-Way Mix with Cheeba & Moneyshot
Cosmic Trigger – The Play
Meeting Brian Eno
Kid Koala‘s ‘Nufonia Must Fall’ show at the Roundhouse
Interviewing Matt Johnson at Rough Trade East
Future Shock gig at the Watershed, Bristol with Cheeba & Tom Lumen
Designing for Frankie Goes To Hollywood / ZTT
Space In This Place gig at the ArcelorMittal Orbit in London
Welcome To The Pleasuredome playback at Sarm West Studios
Digital Revolution exhibition at the Barbican with the family
Visiting underground caves in Switzerland
4 deck AV show at Madrid Espacio with DK
One of my sons getting a drawing printed in the Phoenix comic
Ryoji Ikeda‘s ‘Spectra’ installation in the Queen Victoria Park
Adam Ant playing Dirk Wears White Sox at the Hammersmith Odeon
Crazy DJ weekend in Eketerinberg and Samara in Russia
Mike McMahon finally finishing my Dredd commission after 2 years.

2014 moments

• Heros:
Ben Coghill (agent)
DJs Cheeba & Moneyshot
Philip Marshall (designer), Ian Peel (writer) & Steve Bunyan (USM organiser)
Eilon Paz (photographer)
Carlos Ezquerra (artist)
Rob Williams (writer)
Jamie Smart (childen’s comic creator)

• RIP:
Rik Mayall
HR Giger
Robin Williams
Tony Benn
Idris Muhammad
Bob Hoskins
Hope & Greenwood (East Dulwich branch of the sweet shop)

MUSEUM, ALIEN, EROEFFNUNG, AUSSTELLUNG, SCHLOSS

• Looking forward to:
Renegades of Rhythm tour (DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist)
Mad Max : Fury Road
21st Century Tank Girl book
The Writing On The WallRoger Perry book
John Carpenter – Lost Themes LP
Create A Mess
Trevor JacksonFormat LP
The TheHyena soundtrack
Black Channels
Prophet: Earth War
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Dust & Grooves book 2nd edition + postcard set

D&G_2_postcardsThe 2nd edition of the Dust & Grooves book by Eilon Paz arrived just before Xmas along with a beautiful set of 48 postcards, both in sturdy slipcases. Of course I’m biased but the quality in these are beyond the usual and when I say ‘postcards’ it’s a bit of an understatement because these large format cards are only one step away from an actual print in terms of quality. I’d be splitting up a great set if I ever actually sent any out into the world – you can get a set here along with the 2nd edition of the book (with extra Questlove interview) here.
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Graffiti: Kings on a Mission documentary

Here’s a really good half hour documentary from the BBC World Service about graffiti which interviews original NYC writers and has a great selection of relevant music rather than the usual well-worn tunes. Unfortunately they won’t let you embed the programme so here’s the link.

There are quite a few vintage New York-centric graffiti items popping up at the moment. The ‘Training Days’ book is out which I mentioned a while back, a ‘where-are-they-now?‘ book which interviews old writers and finds out what they’ve done in the past 40 years.

The Seen book, ‘They Call Me The Godfather of Graffiti’, finally shipped out last week too and it’s a treasure trove of unseen images or different views on old classics from one of the undisputed Kings. Also the restored ‘Style Wars’ Blu-ray is finally ready after years of work on the original reels which adds 40 minutes of unused footage from the original shoot.

 

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Andy Partridge ‘Powers’


I’m not so up on Andy Partridges‘ solo work (I mainly know him from his XTC days) but this album swam into my field of vision the other day after a search for the book of collected Richard M. Powers‘ artwork. Apparently Partridge was fascinated by Powers’ book covers as a kid and later made a whole album of ambient / electro-acoustic sound pieces to soundtrack the fantastic worlds he saw on his library loans. The 500 copy CD is long sold out but you can still buy the 12 tracks as downloads from his Ape House imprint. Think Raymond Scott, Louis & Bebe Barron or Tod Dockstader and you’re in the right area.

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Cosmic Trigger – the play


The crowdfunded play ‘Cosmic Trigger’ opens in Liverpool and London this weekend and next week, based on Robert Anton Wilson‘s follow up to the Illuminatus trilogy but also taking in his life story. It’s being staged by Daisy Eris Campbell, the daughter of Ken Campbell who staged a version of Illuminatus in Liverpool back in 1976 that was pivotal for many people involved.

Being that I already mentioned Liverpool and the Illuminati then it follows that The KLF can’t be too far behind and Bill Drummond built the scenery for the original play. Jimmy Cauty is also somehow involved in the new version. There are a little too many intersecting factors in all of this so here’s some further reading if you’re interested:

The Cosmic Trigger Play – sets out what’s about to happen, it’s complicated.

Bill Drummond5 Things I learned from Ken Campbell – essential read, very funny.

Greg Wilson The Gateway Drug – extensive, make some tea and settle in for the long haul

John Higgs‘ – Chaos, Magic and the Band Who Burned A Million Pounds – absolutely fascinating book chronicling the KLF‘s history from before and after they formed/disbanded, taking in the Illuminati, Dr Who, the number 23, JFK, Alistair Crowley, the banking crisis and much more.  Buy it, even if you’ve no interest in the KLF, they’re just the springboard for a romp through the latter half of the 20th Century.

Discovering Scarfolk – the book

The Discovering Scarfolk book arrived today and it’s a beautiful object, perfectly realised and presented. The dark humour that runs through the website of the same name is here in physical form, looking just like a government handbook from yesteryear as is the intention. Having not had time to fully digest it I can see that pieces from the website are reprinted but there’s possibly other new material too. Well worth a look and no doubt a read too. Perfect Xmas present fodder.

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The Art of Smallfilms book launch

Yes, that is the original Bagpuss puppet and an original Clanger with what looks like a bootleg friend. All were at the Art of Smallfilms book launch I attended on Tuesday night, hosted by Jonny Trunk at the Raven Row gallery in Spitalfields.

The book is excellent, huge and heavy with chapters ranging from Bagpuss and the Clangers to Ivor The Engine and Pogles’ Wood and beyond. The photos are beautiful as you can see from some of the spreads below. Many of the props and puppets have survived and have been sympathetically photographed to show how they were animated as well as the skill with which they were made.

Peter Firmin, who made and designed most of the objects, was also in attendance along with the little girl, Emily, who featured at the start of each Bagpuss – now obviously a grown woman.

And here’s me with my friend Liz who I went to college with over 20 years ago, in the style of the old Bagpuss titles. Photo by David Vallade. The book should be out now, priced £25 for a 320 pg hardback from Four Corners Books – bargain.

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The Writing On The Wall book kickstarter

My good friend Scraffer is involved in putting out a reprint of Roger Perry‘s ‘The Writing On The Wall’ book, a long out of print collection of photos of graffiti around London from 1976. A Kickstarter has got off to a great start and will see the book expanded with new photos and text plus an intro from Bill Drummond. You can pledge HERE with optional extras of T-shirt, postcards, print, hardback version and more.

Paul’s Boutique 25th anniversary Visual Companion

Photo © Eilon Paz of Dust & Grooves, taken in my studio April 2013

Yes, it’s 25 years ago today that ‘Paul’s Boutique’ was launched into an expectant world only to be met with a mixture of acclaim, incomprehension and disappointment from critics and fans alike. ‘Licensed to Ill’ pt.2 it wasn’t and was such a departure it alienated a large proportion of their (newly acquired) audience immediately. The Hip Hop landscape had moved on by the summer of ’89 and the militant beats and rhymes of Public Enemy rubbed shoulders with De La Soul‘s newly planted Daisy Age or the emerging gangster rap of NWA. Suddenly the Beasties were back after a two year break in LA, sampling Disco, The Beatles, Psycho and rhyming about throwing eggs, street bums and plastering the album with stop-start skits instead of the Rock Rap they’d become known for.

Of course this was intended but it was largely out of step with what was happening in their field at the time. Hip Hop was still fiercely about looking forward as far as its own history was concerned and here were snatches of Afrika Bambaataa and Lovebug Starski. Also DJs and producers were still in the mindset of the rare and unknown sample, Rose Royce, Chic, The Beatles and the theme to Jaws weren’t exactly obscure yet here they all were. In fact the inclusion of The Beatles drew some discussion as no one had been so blatant before and it was speculated that their signing to Capitol was on the condition that they could sample liberally from the label’s huge back catalogue.

But time and hindsight are a great thing and here we are, a quarter of a century later, with the album acknowledged as an ahead of its time classic. To celebrate we have SM&A from Italy who have put together a‘Visual Companion’ to the album, made from existing videos, film clips, ads and other footage to make a long playing video. This has been a labour of love for months now and we met with Paolo from the team in Italy earlier this year on one of our 3-Way Mix excursions for the same album. I can’t embed it in the site at the moment so you’ll have to go to the link above to watch it.

DerekLangille BB PB

Not only is there a film but now there’s another book from Dan LeRoy – author of the brilliant 331/3 book on said album – this time entitled ‘For Whom The Cowbell Tolls’. I was interviewed by Dan earlier this year for an updated version of the 331/3 book but this new title appeared out of nowhere on several sites last week and is something else altogether it seems. Having come across a huge stash of PB-related memorabilia in his research it seems Dan has now teamed up with a pop archeologist named Peter Relic and written a follow up book that reveals previously lost treasures and info about the album that will also be released on the 25th anniversary. I’m really looking forward to this as it’s come out of nowhere and promises much, it’s available through Amazon as a digital book initially though. In related news, Cheeba, Moneyshot and I continue with our tribute to the album and begin a series of weekend runs at festivals this summer before heading to Canada for a show at the SAT in Montreal on September 19th, our own mix not even 2 years old but having clocked over 150,000 plays.