More 3A goodness

entreatThis dropped through the post last week, well, it actually arrived by courier, soaking wet, looking like it had been sitting in a puddle for some time, the cardboard around it literally falling off when I unwrapped it. Good job they wrapped it in bubble wrap, and it’s a heavy bugger too at 12″x12″ size. This is Entr3At – a visual celebration of the first 2 years of Ashley Wood and Kim Fung Wong’s 3A toy making company, makers of the best robot toys in the world by a long chalk. This is my kind of book, studio shots of the badly weathered toys, production designs, work in progress, box layouts and logo art for the individual figures. To think that they made all this in just 2 years is incredible and there’s already much more in the pipeline for a follow up later.

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Their latest release is a ‘Heavy’ version of the popular Bramble bot, this time with huge bazooka and tougher build, coming in 4 different colourways. My good friend JP McCarthy managed to score me a Grave Digger variant this week and they sold out on pre-order in hours. Not cheap at $280 a pop but that includes shipping to anywhere in the world (and these bots aren’t small), some of the nicest packaging you’ll ever see and the most detailed paint jobs this side of a film set. These will doubtless not even turn up until around xmas time, if that, as they take a long time to make but a 3A package at the door is always a treat.

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

Ninja Tune book in stores soon

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I finally got my hands on the thing that consumed most of my waking hours for the first 6 months of this year today… the Ninja Tune book I slaved over. I was up at Black Dog Publishing sorting out some things for the forthcoming exhibition and a shipment arrived from Italy, soaking wet, with the card board split down the sides in some cases! Hilariously the delivery man placed them beneath a poster proclaiming “Properly packed parcels please” :) They only had one copy of the hardback edition which comes with the XX box set because all other copies are being routed to the factory where it is being put together but it is a beautiful thing to behold. Also in the pictures you can see some of the exhibits stacked up ready for the opening on the 20th. The paperback version should be in stores by the end or the month, 192 pages, priced £19.95, if you see one, have a flick through and find out what the label has been up to for the last two decades.

Ninja Tune 20 year exhibition in London

Opening in 2 weeks time will be Ninja’s first bonafide exhibition in the UK to celebrate the publication of the book, ‘Ninja Tune: 20 Years of Beats & Pieces’. Black Dog Publishing have generously offered to host a little showcase of the design and imagery that went into it and, after designing the book, the box set and all the paraphernalia that goes with it, I’m curating the exhibition too. It will feature lots of original artwork, models, posters, sleeves, flyers and promo bits from across the years.

e-invite (no party)

It opens Friday, 20th of August at Black Dog’s gallery space, 10 Acton St. London, WC1X 9NG between 12-5pm weekdays and is only on for a month. There will be a special pop up shop on Saturday 11th September where there will be several special items for sale, hand picked from the Ninja archives as well as the new book.

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 |

On Some Faraway Beach – David Sheppard

I can recommend this to anyone with even a passing interest in Brian Eno although there are plenty of insights into many of his associates over the years too – Fripp, Bryars, Cale, Ferry, Bowie, Byrne – they’re all here. The bulk of the book concentrates on the 70’s and the research is impeccable. It’s no rose-tinted ride either, there’s dirt amongst the many platitudes despite this being 100% Eno sanctioned which is refreshing. Occasionally it does seem that he can do no wrong and this isn’t all the writer’s imagination as the hit factor on projects and records involving ‘The Captain’ is remarkably high when you collect them all together. Amongst the reams of info in the book I was surprised to learn that Brian doesn’t drive and that, when he first moved to London in the sixties, he lived about a 5 minute walk away from where I currently live.

Eno

My only criticism of the book is that the ending  feels rushed and lapses into ‘list-mania’ seemingly trying to cram everything Eno has done into a rapidly dwindling page count. We spend 360 odd pages idling through the sixties and seventies up until 1984 and a phone call from U2 and then it’s a headlong dash through the next two decades in less than 100 pages. True that the meat and the more interesting material has been well documented and most fans will want his early career explored to it’s fullest – and they won’t be disappointed – but after the expert job done with the first half the end leaves you feeling frustrated.

Saying that it’s only about one fifth of the book and the other four are a gripping read, you really wonder how he managed to fit so much in and be so on top of the game for so long. All his major releases and collaborations are explored in detail with plenty of archive interview material interspersed with modern day recollections from friends and family past and present. The dilemma-solving Oblique Strategies are present throughout and I have one of my own which I keep in mind whenever I get stuck on something – “What would Eno do?”

My Funky Eno mix “More Volts” is also still up on the downloads page if you haven’t heard it.

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Ninja Tune XX box set tracklist announced

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This has been consuming my time for the last 6 to 8 months – mainly the book but recently the box set and all its contents.

The set includes 3 hardback books: one is an exclusive hardback edition of the forthcoming Ninja Tune – 20 Years of Beats & Pieces book by Stevie Chick, published by Black Dog Publishing and designed by yours truly.

The second houses 6 CDs – 2 of them only available in this set, with 90% new and exclusive material specially made for this compilation. There is also a large format 24 pg booklet with a download code for a 7th CD’s worth of material (I can’t say what it is yet but it’s excellent).

The third book contains six 7″ singles with exclusive material not on the CDs, two posters – a Ninja family tree by Nigel Peake and a complete cover gallery by me – and 20 stickers. All this is housed in a heavy slipcase with foil blocking.

Go to the Ninjashop to pre-order at a limited cheaper price until July 8th and see the full tracklist. I’m pretty excited to hear these:

Big Dada Sound ‘Signs’ *

Eric B & Rakim ‘Paid In Full’ (Switch meets Coldcut Remix) *

Diplo ‘Summers Gonna Hurt You’ (Diplo 2010 Remix) *

Quincy & Xen Cuts Allstars ‘I Hear The Drummer’ (Tunng edit) *

DJ Vadim ‘Terrorist’ (Gaslamp Computer Killer Remix) *

Roots Manuva ‘Witness’ (Slugabed Remix) *

The Bug ‘Skeng’ (Autechre Remix) *

King Cannibal ‘The Grind & Crawl’ *

Coldcut ‘Autumn Leaves’ (2010 Budapest Mix) *

Coldcut ‘True Skool’ (Zomby Remix) *

Clifford Gilberto ‘Deliver The Weird’ (Dorian Concept Remix) *

The Bug ‘Poison Dart’ (Prefuse 73 Broke Moog Version) *

Roots Manuva ‘Witness’ (Modeselektor Remix) *

Roots Manuva ‘Join The Dots’ (Cut Chemist Remix) *

Kid Koala ‘3 Bit Blues’ *

Pop Levi ‘Blue Honey’ (Amorphous Androgenous Remix Edit) *

Coldcut & Hexstatic ‘Timber’ (The Orb Remix) *

DJ Kentaro ‘Paid In Full’ *

DJ Food ‘African Rhythms’ (Tom Middleton Remix) *

DJ Food ‘Dark Lady’ (808 State Remix) *

Herbaliser ‘Something Wicked’ (Roots Manuva Dub)

      Two Fingers ‘Bad Girl’ (The Bug Dub) *

      DJ Vadim ‘Bang it Out’ *

      Wagon Christ ‘Sloth Gets Paid’ *

        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 |

        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 |

        There was an old lady…


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        Max in boat 650

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        Bought this book for my boys yesterday (I’m a sucker for beautifully designed childrens books) Such a unique way of presenting the old tale and at the end her eyes close after she eats the horse. We also have another version by Jan Pienkowski (who did Meg & Mog and the classic Haunted House pop up book) in which she turns into a ghost on the last page!

        This book though is illustrated by Jeremy Holmes and available from Chronicle Books from San Francisco, presumable available online but I got mine from Tales on Moon Lane in Herne Hill who have re-installed part of my Where the Wild Things Are Window display.

        Posted in Books, Design, Oddities. | No Comments |

        Ah yeah…

        I was in the Ninja office today, sifting through boxes of press archive, found some amazing things, hilarious photos of old and some situations I don’t even remember. Lots of weird and wonderful people have passed through Ninja over the years and there are a lot of memories attached to it for me. I’m currently deep into the design and ongoing picture research for the Ninja Tune book which will be published this summer by Black Dog Publishing.

        It’s a gargantuan project and one that we are not taking lightly – don’t expect the usual spread of press shots you’ve all seen before, we’re digging deep for lots of unseen material and it turns up in the most unlikely places. There’s no way it will all make it into the book but I promise to share some of the bits and pieces that don’t make it at a later date via this blog.

        Also, these turned up today… :) Better res than Vimeo, I promise.
        L&L DVD 650

        Capsule 01

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        Capsule is a new venture from Rob Lynam – the man who bought you online design magazine Multilink. It comes in the form of a slim A5 perfect bound volume packed with some of the finest illustrators around. Artists like France’s Duster, the UK’s Doug Bowden (aka Pandayoghurt) and my good self all have space to showcase designs past and present in full colour.

        Rob plans to do prints of some of the selections at some point and if you want to sample the kind of exquisite taste he has then take a look through the free online magazines on his Multilink site.

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        Posted in Art, Books, Openmind designs. | 1 Comment |

        Synth Porn

        I’ve been having a reacquainted love affair this year with all things analogue, seventies and sci-fi. It seems to happen every few years and all I want to look at are curved edges, computer fonts, muted tones and airbrushed images from the days before computers made everything virtual. I’ve been doing a T- shirt design based on the Moog and whilst doing some research I stumbled upon this site.

        Someone has scanned several issues of a synth mag from the mid seventies called Synapse. It contains interviews with people like Eno, Zappa, Kraftwerk, Herbie Hancock, George Duke, Bob Moog, Pat Gleeson and a whole lot more. In amongst all this are reviews, how-to’s and loads of ads for what are now vintage synths.

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        The Kraftwerk interview is great, at one point they talk about a comic they’ve made where small plug-in systems try try to make contact with all these inputs and outputs, coming together to make a group. They talk about doing a book where they present more of their work to people in ways it can’t be shown on record. Shame it didn’t materialise.

        What has materialised at long last though is the fabled reissues of their albums from 1974 -2003 – known to fans as ‘the catalogue’ – and originally meant for release in 2004. Some promo copies even slipped out but then nothing, now they are finally available via Mute in the UK. Now that’s one set of remasters I’ve been looking forward to whilst everyone else bangs on about the other Fab Four.

        Posted in Books, Kraftwerk, Music. | No Comments |

        Warp 20

        Just arrived at the door, what a lovely package, congratulations to all involved and Happy 20th Warp. My only gripe is that I could have been part of the package as they asked me to do the mix last year but I simply didn’t have the time so I passed them on to Osymyso. Looking forward to digesting it all.

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

        Food For Mahfood

        Just received a bumper package from my man Jim Mahfood aka Food One in LA. We did a swap of goodies and he really outdid me with the contents of his box. Aside from the comic books, T-shirt, stickers, cards and mix CD he also signed the inner covers of all 3 Mixtape collections AND included the limited edition Paul’s Boutique comic he did about the Beastie Boys’ classic album. Yep, I’m gloating here…

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        Posted in Art, Books, Comics, DJ Food. | No Comments |

        17

        17-200x200I just finished Bill Drummond’s book 17 at the weekend, it affected me quite a bit and opened up a can of worms I think will be a running theme for some time. The third DJ Food EP – ‘Finyl : The Death of Vinyl’ – was already going to deal with some of these thoughts but I feel it will become much bigger than that.

        Posted in Books. | 12 Comments |