What a weekend part 2 – Record Store Day

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Saturday was Record Store Day 2017 and dragging myself out of bed and down to Rat Records in Camberwell was well worth missing a lie in for. The shop was heaving when I got there after 10.30am with one punter reportedly spending £1,400 already!! The bulk of a huge collection from a Scottish indie collector was making its debut in the shop and there were multiple copies of some sought after items flying out the store. I spotted the 10″ Rephlex 4×10″ Radiophonic Workshop compilation on the wall, a couple of copies of the JAMMs ‘1987′ LP and multiple 45s of The White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’. I ended up spending far too much and all of it secondhand, no official RSD releases at all. Sadly I don’t have any photos of that but it was a blast and it’s always a pleasure to chat to Philippe, Pete and a rare sighting of owner, Tom.

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After a quick lunch break it was over to West Norwood to The Book & Record Bar to score some new releases and play a set in store after Alex Paterson, Andy Higgs, Mr Parker, Dave Laine and Pete Williams. I decided to play something quite ‘up’ and plowed through a pile of beaty hip hop and classic house/acid/rave 7″s to a bustling shop. I also managed to score all my wants and start going through a small collection of German 45s that had just come into the shop before giving way to Oliver Sudden on the decks.

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All in all a fantastic day, not chasing crazy limited editions up in town but staying local and going to the record shops and hanging out in them which is what we should be doing first and foremost. People buying and selling records on the web are missing the point of RSD, it’s called Record STORE Day, go and support yours on more than one day a year. Shops like the ones above are hubs for people to come together and connect, form alliances and get creative, I’ve met so many good people through them, long may they flourish.

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What a weekend part 1 – The Orb at the RFH

OrbscreenRFH Friday saw myself and Pete Williams as part of the bill for the Orb‘s extravaganza at the Royal Festival Hall on the Southbank, doing a test run for our Further event on May 6th. Upon being asked to play on the 5th floor balcony area by Alex Paterson, we decided to use a load of our equipment to projection all along the roof of the outside area overlooking the Thames. We got in around 1pm and were just about set up by 7pm when Michael from The Book & Record Bar and DJ Dadaist aka George Holt arrived. Teething trouble with getting the lights turned off or down so that we could see the projections were dealt with as were security who suddenly roped off the public space and would only let ticket holders for the gig in the main auditorium in. As the daylight faded and the projections along the balcony pointing across the ceiling appeared, everything clicked into place.

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Tons of friends turned up and we managed to get a lot of great photos and footage before the 11.30pm curfew. I even managed to see a bit of The Orb with Youth painting a huge canvas live onstage, walking in just as one of my favourite tracks, O.O.B.E. was playing. Strip down of the equipment took two hours by the time we were loaded out, then driving back to unload and retiring to our beds saw that it was 3am by the time I hit the sack. All worth it though, a very memorable night and a success in terms of what we wanted to achieve.
(Many thanks for the photos above: Martin Le Santo-Smith, and below: Mike Oscar)

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Solid Egg 2017

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It’s that time of year again, when my friends Sarah & Leigh of Solid Egg fame – now into their 5th year – lay a new batch of chocolate creations on us, it’s enough to give the Easter bunny a hernia. A pure white one arrived last week, purely in the realms of research you understand, and they’ve outdone themselves this time. Every aspect of the packaging screams, ‘attention to detail!’, from the outer box to the accompanying tea towel to the paper the egg is wrapped in.

As ever, they’re not resting on their laurels and have a host of different flavours including a mega allergen-free one for those with complicated needs. You can buy them here in nine different varieties this year and they’re also available in the Cocoa Amore shop in Leicester. They’ve ramped up the online presence this year too with a bespoke site where you can read all about what’s in them at solidegg.co.uk, a Facebook page in case you want to ask any questions or show off your purchases and an Instagram account so you can peek behind the curtain and see some of the inner workings.

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Alessandro Alessandroni’s Afro Discoteca

alessandroni 26 webSad to hear of Alessandro Alessandroni‘s passing earlier this week, the Italian film and library composer probably most famous for the whistling on Ennio Morricone‘s theme tunes to ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ and ‘For A Few Dollars More’ scores and being the voice of Piero Umliani‘s famous ‘Ma-na mah-na’.

Weirdly I was listening to a very different type of Alessandroni the week before, this new release from Four Flies Records that collects unreleased music from his vault under the title,‘Afro Discoteca’. It’s a 4 track EP of library cues from the 70s that the title sums up perfectly with a disco beat underpinning congas and synths in equal measure. Sadly it was released only two days before his death. Jonny Trunk is dedicating the whole 2 hrs of his OST radio show to Alessandroni this week so tune in if you want to know more.

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Further at the Portico Gallery trailer

Here’s a trailer for what to expect at Further on May 6th at the Portico Gallery

DJ Food & Pete Williams present a new, irregular evening by creating an audio visual space to enjoy. Films, slides, oil projections, food, drink and plenty of seating form the environment to soak up the sights and sounds.

Programme:
7.30 – 8.30: Doors, there will be a record stall with stock picked to compliment the evening by Micheal from the nearby Book & Record Bar and delicious food from local café Pinterdera served alongside the fully licensed Portico bar with beers & ales

8.30 – 10.00: Ghost Box Records in the form of Jim Jupp (Belbury Poly) and Julian House (The Focus Group) will be playing an audio visual DJ set.

10.00 – 10.3: Howlround will perform a live score to ‘A Creak in Time’, a film by Steve McInerney (Psyche´-Tropes), via tape loops and reel to reel machines.

10.30 – 12.00: DJ Food & Pete Williams will open and close the evening with their multi-projection Light & Sound Designs.

Location: Portico Gallery, 23B Knight’s Hill, London, SE27 0HS, UK

Tickets here: (limited cheaper early bird price nearly gone)
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/further-at-the-portico-gallery-tickets-32880361045

Travel:
Train: West Norwood overground station (1 min walk)
Buses: 2, 68, 196, 315, 322, 432, 468, 690

Pierre Henry’s Liverpool Mass completed after 50 years


Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral is to host ‘The Liverpool Mass’ (Messe de Liverpool) by Pierre Henry on May 13th.

Developed by one of the godfather’s of musique concréte for the Cathedral’s inaugural mass in 1967, it wasn’t completed it in time and another work was substituted. Now, 50 years on, in a unique collaboration between Henry and Bluecoat, the piece will be staged in full at the Cathedral, in an immersive experience. With a sound design created especially for the space using 40 speakers arranged around its circumference, The Liverpool Mass will be presented as a live mix by Henry’s collaborator Thierry Balasse.

Consisting of six movements – Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei and Communion – the work interprets the traditional mass through recitation of its texts, accompanied by musical instruments ‘treated’ by Henry to produce a composition fitting for the ceremonial and celebratory occasion of the Cathedral’s inauguration.

This will be the first time The Liverpool Mass has been presented with Henry’s cooperation and a new sound design in the setting for which it was originally intended: a mid-20th century modernist structure with distinctive ‘brutalist’ architecture of concrete and stained glass. Henry’s electronic score was intended to complement this daring new building, as the sound would resonate in the magnificent, cavernous, light-filled circular interior. Watch this fascinating short film about how the stained glass was made for the top tower.

The evening programme will begin at 7.30pm with a set by Vincent Epplay and Samon Takahashi, made in response to Henry’s music in the Cathederal setting. Tickets cost £10 or groups of ten or more get a discount of £7 per head – on sale here.

The Delaware Road At Kelvedon Hatch Audio Apocalypse Survival Kit on OST

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(Mark, Robin, Dan, Chris, me, Ian – out of shot Zoe, Hannah and Alan – who was taking the photo)

On Saturday I was invited to be a guest on the OST show on Resonance FM – this time with Robin The Fog ably sitting in for an absent Jonny Trunk (away on Basil Kirchin business in Hull). Joining us in the studio were Alan Gubby (Buried Treasure), Mark Pilkington (Strange Attractor Press), Dan Wilson (Radionics), Hannah Brown (Kvist), Ian Helliwell (Tape Leaders book and so much more), Chris Sharp (Concretism) and Zoe ‘Lucky Cat’ Baxter who stayed on after her show beforehand.

The reason was twofold – to try and present a sonic picture of all the artists who would be contributing / playing at The Delaware Road event at Kelvedon Hatch Nuclear Bunker on July 28th. If you’re not up to speed on exactly what The Delaware Road is then please go here.

The gathering was also to highlight a very special prize bundle assembled from all who’d be taking part that’s being auctioned off in aid of Resonance FM’s annual funding drive. Here’s a photo of most of the items to be included:

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Here’s a link to The Delaware Road At Kelvedon Hatch Audio Apocalypse Survival Kit auction in aid of ResonanceFM

Here’s a link to buy tickets for The Delaware Road gig on July 28th

and here’s a link to the 2 hour show featuring music from a lot of the prizes featured above.

Future Shock 2000AD art at the Cartoon Museum photos

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I finally got a chance to see the Future Shock exhibition of 2000AD classic original art the other day at the Cartoon Museum, tucked away in the back streets near the British Museum. It costs £7 and once you’ve navigated past some of the most miserable/bored looking staff you’ll ever see you can peruse the galleries of comic and political art.

As far as pieces by key artists of essential stories and characters go, this is one of the best collections of art you’ll see aside from Rufus Dayglo‘s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it exhibition this coming weekend at Geek 2017 in Margate. The bulk of it comes from long-time collector Wakefield Carter who runs the Barney database and regularly trades or sells original art. All the major names are here, with examples from some of the classic stories too (Dredd Cursed Earth and Dark Judges to name but two) and there’s a lot of it. Shown here are just a few of my personal highlights.

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Upstairs, the regular exhibition is full of classic images, characters and artists too inc. Dave GibbonsLichtenstein-baiting ‘Whaat?’, Watchmen, Batman, Dan Dare and V For Vendetta art and original Leo Baxendale pages.

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An Ambient Evening with the Orb and friends

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I’m very pleased to announce that I’ll be part of The Orb‘s ‘An Ambient Evening…’ at the Royal Festival Hall on April 21st alongside The Orb (of course) Youth, Roger Eno, Metamono, Gaudi, George Holt (Cakelab), Micheal Johnson (The Book & Record Bar) and more. As part of the ever-growing local South London crew that have gravitated to the West Norwood Broadcasting Company (WNBC) operating out of The Book & Record Bar, Alex Paterson invited us to be a part of the evening to showcase some of the people within this community. Tickets are on sale now .

Not only that, Pete W (Out Of The Wood radio/WNBC) and myself will be unveiling the first outing of our new venture into sight and sound: Further.

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We’ve been kicking this idea around since last summer, wanting to create a space where music and visuals come together in different social settings to form an environment with as much emphasis on the visual as the musical. We’ve gathered an arsenal of analogue kit to make this happen, multiple slide and oil projectors, 3″ cassette effects and all manner of antique controllers to trigger them, with the aim of going back to some of the pre-digital practices that are being lost as we advance into a virtual world. It’s also a chance to showcase the kind of music we’ve been playing in the record shop, on the radio show and in venues like Spiritland over the past year or more – a willfully obscure blend of anything goes from the deepest, unexplored corners of our record collections.
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The idea is to install Further into different places, working with different layouts to make each one different and fresh. Musical and visuals guests will be invited and given space to do their thing and and we’ll provide the environment for them to fit into. Think the 60s UFO club meets a 70s Arts Lab meets the 90s Land of Oz nights with a leftfield audio/visual agenda. We’re currently talking to various different people about the possibilities of staging one of these events in their venue so if you think this could work for you then please get in touch: [email protected]

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Touched / De:tuned ‘Covert II’ EP

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Today 04.02 is World Cancer Day, Belgian label, De:tuned have got together with Touched (first ever vinyl release for them) to bring the ‘Covert II’ EP with all proceeds donated to Touched – Music for Macmillan Cancer Support. The five artists on the EP are all unnamed, can you guess who they are? Order digital or limited vinyl here
All artists, The Designers Republic & Matt Colton at Alchemy Mastering offered their work for free.

Swifty Book launch at the Exposure Gallery

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Ian ‘Swifty’ Swift and Gamma Proforma launched the book they’d been working on for 2 years last night at the Exposure Gallery on Little Portland Street, London (opposite the Heavenly Social). Packed to the rafters with faces I recognised from over the years (Ross Allen, Neville Brody, Chris Allen…) it was a resounding success even though I couldn’t stay long. The book in question is huge and everything you’d want in an overview of the man’s career – go get it here now before it sells out.

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What is The Delaware Road?

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The Delaware Road currently exists in several forms; an actual road in London where the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop was originally situated, a compilation released in 2015 by the Buried Treasure label and a multi-faceted performance piece based around a story created by the label’s founder, Alan Gubby and David Yates aka Dolly Dolly. The Radiophonic connection is no coincidence, being that the piece that ties the music contained on the album and play together is loosely based on two key figures working at the BBC Workshop at the height of its powers. Gubby describes it as, “…a work of fiction based on actual events & some unusual anecdotes gathered whilst researching for archived electronic tape music albums released in recent years”.

The story is situated in London, the possibilities of technology and tape are being stretched by inquiring minds and the swinging sixties are upon us. “Two pioneering musicians compose electronic themes for television & radio. They discover a recording that leads to a startling revelation about their employer. Fascinated by the occult nature of the tape they conduct a studio ritual that will alter their lives forever.” Add in dashes of psychedelics, orgies, spirits summoned via stone tape theories and the relentless march of progress and you have the ingredients for a wild ride through the middle of 20th century London, from analogue to digital as the 80s approach and new ways replace old.

The live staged version of the concept album is narrated by the incredible Dolly Dolly, sitting stage right at his desk throughout the performance, suit and tie in place, illuminated by a single anglepoise lamp. His earnest delivery ties the acts together that sonically illustrate the different chapters in the piece, his speeches becoming more animated as the story progresses, enhanced by oil and video projections. The first performance was held at the South Street Arts Centre in Reading and featured a host of acts using tape manipulation, analogue synths, ancient percussion and home-made electronic devices, each in roughly chronological order as the years played out. There was even some jazz on the menu and the whole thing was book-ended by Jonny Trunk and Pete Wiggs playing suitably-themed tunes for the occasion, I covered the night for Shindig! magazine at the time and you can read my review here.

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The album suffered distribution problems upon initial release, as did other Buried Treasure output, but a new deal should mean greater availability and a re-release is planned, there’s even talk of some kind of illustrated version too with various artists being commissioned to bring scenes to life. I can’t recommend the record enough as it perfectly soundtracks the piece put together to showcase it and there’s nary a bad tune in its 20 tracks. Listen to it and buy via Bandcamp.

Which brings me to the reason I’m writing this now as a second performance will be taking place on July 28th, this time at the Kelvedon Hatch Nuclear Bunker site in Essex. Tickets are on sale now but places are limited, there’s even a chance to book a place on a double-decker bus that will take you to the venue from the nearby Brentwood station and discounts for groups of four people. I’m also delighted to reveal that I will be opening and closing the event in a DJ capacity too! I’ll be bringing visuals and delving into my collection for a suitable selection to mark the occasion.
Follow the event and the bands playing it on Facebook, this is going to be a very special evening.
The line up so far is: DOLLY DOLLY, HOWLROUND, TELEPLASMISTE (Mark O Pilkington & Michael J York), RADIONICS RADIO, IAN HELLIWELL, GLITCH, SAUNDERS & HILL, CONCRETISM, SIMON JAMES (The Simonsound), THE TWELVE HOUR FOUNDATION, LOOSE CAPACITOR, DJ FOOD.

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Daydreaming with UNKLE exhibition at the Lazarides Gallery

F2T5The James Lavelle-curated Daydreaming with UNKLE show opened last night at the Lazarides Gallery in London. Full of original Futura 2000 and 3D canvases, prints, toys and record sleeves, video rooms and virtual reality headsets. The last was heavily oversubscribed so I didn’t get a look but Doug Foster’s arched videos accompanying new UNKLE material were beautiful, enhanced by a mirrored floor which gave the work another dimension. Favourite exhibit was the robotic Pointman figure from the 2010 video to ‘Runaway’. The show is on until February 23rd, worth it just to see the many iconic Futura pieces that have graced so many MoWax sleeves.

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