There’s going to be lots of Star Wars activity this year isn’t there? These polaroids are from the collection of continuity expert Ann Skinner who was on set for Star Wars: A New Hope (as it’s now known). They are on display in London as part of BFI’s sci-fi season, Days of Fear and Wonder, in the Southbank’s atrium until Jan 4th, 2015.
Another day, another legend gone, RIP Demis
a sped up Demis features on Vangelis‘ classic Blade Runner score too
I’ll never forget hearing this track on a tape at school aged 13 or 14. Nick Canning played it to me, swearing blind that his uncle made it and that it was called ‘Flight Through Metamorphic Rocks’. I loved it and only later found out who really made it and the actual title (the track before is called ‘Cloudburst Flight’).
Funnily enough, the tape started the track at about the same place, the first half of the song is pretty average but then it breaks down and comes back with this pre-techno monster, not bad for 1979.
Of course, come the early 90’s and the resurgence of ambient music I was hoovering up LPs like the classic ‘Phaedra’, ‘Zeit’ and ‘Stratosfear’, even ‘Electronic Meditation’ but I lost track around the mid 80’s soundtrack period. And then there was this album where the truth was revealed… RIP Edgar
A decade ago this week (I think it was a Monday or Tuesday) I debuted the expanded ‘Words & Music’ version of ‘Raiding The 20th Century’, this time lengthened to an hour and featuring specially recorded voice overs from Paul Morley. It was an attempt to chronicle a fragmented history of sampling from the advent of music concrete through to tape cut ups, sampling and finally the Bastard Pop/Mash Up phenomenon at the turn of the century.
Paul’s inclusion was through his book, ‘Words & Music’ that I’d read shortly after completing the first 40 minute version of ‘Raiding…’ the year before. The two mirrored each other so closely in places that the opportunity to revisit and revise was too good to pass up. Also the fact that I’d cribbed the title from a piece of text Paul had written nearly 20 years before didn’t go unnoticed, sometimes there are too many coincidences to ignore.
Since then it’s had a cease and desist take down notice from EMI and an attempt made at a video version but still, through the miracle of the internet, it endures. Here’s a collage that I started back at the beginning of 2006 and finally finished this morning, based on the Sgt. Peppers cover, of Paul and I alongside Alvin Lucier and Kylie, surrounded by some of the cast of thousands that make up the recording.
You can still listen to the mix here via UbuWeb but it’s out there in all sorts of corners of the internet.
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)
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)
• 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)
• 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)
• 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 Cinema – How Psychedelia Infected Hollywood Sci-Fi at the BFI
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.
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)
Hope & Greenwood (East Dulwich branch of the sweet shop)
• Looking forward to:
Renegades of Rhythm tour (DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist)
Mad Max : Fury Road
21st Century Tank Girl book
The Writing On The Wall – Roger Perry book
John Carpenter – Lost Themes LP
Create A Mess
Trevor Jackson – Format LP
The The – Hyena soundtrack
Prophet: Earth War
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
As we all know, the life of the international DJ is exciting and glamorous, which is why I was back up at 5am after a 1am bedtime on Friday morning so that I could get to Heathrow for an 8.40am takeoff to Moscow. Add a 3 hour stopover in the airport and another two and half hour plane ride to Yekaterinburg and I arrive at 9.30pm their time (lost 5 hours). I’m met by two mysterious girls in oversize shiny black army-style peaked hats who ask me where my space suit is, what I think about aliens and would I like to do a parachute jump sometime? So far so good.
We’re whisked to the Lynch Club, a warren of cleverly decorated corridors and small rooms at the top of an old cinema complex that smells of sickly sweet popcorn as you ascend the stairs. It’s named after David Lynch as I soon realise when being led into a recreation of the famous dark red curtained room from the final episode of Twin Peaks – the only thing missing is a backwards talking midget. They also have a thing about rabbits taken from Lynch lore, remember the rabbits.
Another room – the library is blindingly white with padded walls and a bookshelf full of design books from around the globe. I’m met by a photographer, Ildar Ziganshin, who has a book open on the table with my face on one page… It turns out that when I was in Yekaterinburg before – six years ago – I had been photographed by him for a project called Photorobot and this was part of the result, a book of faces, split across the middle so that you could flip and combine two different halves to make a third like a children’s book. He had made only 50 copies but saved one for me, still wrapped in its original hessian packaging from six years ago. See here for some examples, it ain’t pretty :). We agreed to repeat the experiment later in his photo studio which is elsewhere in the building and I eat dinner in the white room whilst a beautiful but silent girl sits reading a book opposite and a couple lounge on the nearby sofa.
After a checking into the hotel I return and am led upstairs by the promoter, Stas, to find that the girls from before have transformed into aliens and are silently writhing around in the corridor, whispering in Russian to each other. They want to put me into a large bag, take me down to the dance floor as my guardians and then reveal me to the crowd before I start playing (I’m not making this up).
After initially laughing it off and then getting a little scared after realising they were serious (they had the bag and everything) I settled on a different plan – I would wear a plain face mask with my hood up and they would lead me through the (smoke-filled) room to the decks and do their alien thing in front of the crowd as I set up before revealing my face and letting rip behind the decks. It was surreal but fun and they had gone to so much effort with their costumes that I couldn’t not play ball.
The gig was great, tiny room, decks set up on a table on the floor in one corner, proper underground house party style and really great fun. One drunk guy who wouldn’t stop bumping into the decks with his crazed dancing was pinned to the floor at one point by another punter (thanks :)) and I had to school another who wanted to stand at the front and tell me how to play half the night. After I’d finished, a friendly face appeared out of the crowd, Mr Armtone aka Anton Kibeshev, from St. Petersburg who had come all that way to check it out and was traveling on with me to also play in Samara the next day.
After a quick drink in the library it was up to the photo studio to have some more snaps taken for Ildar’s next project. Finally one of the girls appeared and asked me to come upstairs as there was a final surprise waiting (yeah, I know what you’re thinking, glamorous international DJ life). As we made our way upstairs into the tungsten lit corridor above the dancefloor and rounded the corner I was confronted with a life size rabbit, standing silently against the wall, waving. It’s now 4.30am, I’m coming down from the high of the DJ set, the sleep deprivation is starting to kick in and I’m seeing a Donny Darko-like apparition in front of me. There was only one thing to do, hug the rabbit, grab a quick selfie and head for bed. I made it back to the hotel and checked my watch, 5am, I had to be up at 8.30 to grab some breakfast before leaving at 9 for the airport.
Anton arrives for breakfast, feeling like death from the night before (too many cocktails) and we grab a ride with his friend whilst checking out his latest toy – a telescopic stick with a camera holder on the end which enables you to take photos from over a meter away. The iSelfie stick was used all weekend in various ways and became the source of much amusement, I predict it won’t be long before they’re everywhere. Anton is feeling really rough and sleeps on the flight with a sick bag at hand and when we arrive in Samara we have to wait an hour in the lounge as the pick up had the wrong time of arrival. The taxi drivers there are like vultures, hovering in packs as you come into the baggage area from the runway, muttering ‘taxi?’, ‘taxi?’ and working the crowd. Eventually Basil and Alex arrive to pick us up, apologising profusely, we are nearly dead from lack of sleep (and alcohol in Anton’s case). Alex is the designer of the excellent poster and flyer for the gig which he tells me has been made into some 2m x 2m posters too. This is one of the best flyers I think I’ve seen for one of my gigs, promoters take note, this is the standard to beat from now on. They offer to take us on a sight-seeing trip of the city but we have to decline as we will surely die of sleep deprivation if we don’t get to the hotel rooms soon.
It’s good to travel and visit new countries and cities but sometimes you don’t see much of them, half of Saturday in Samara was spent asleep in the daytime and we were a little more refreshed by 8pm by which time it was dark. Actually Anton wasn’t feeling refreshed at all, in fact he was really feeling bad, so bad we had to pull over on the side of the road to let him out on the way to the gig a few times. Then he complained that he couldn’t feel his hands and we realised we had to get him to a doctor before anything else. Close to 2 hours driving around to find someone who could help (the first hospital refused, apparently common in Russia) and we finally got him some medication and headed to find food. I had a nagging travel headache which had started in my shoulder, worked it’s way up one side of my neck and was making its way to my left eye but I tried to keep it in check. So, we’re not in great shape but the venue is as they have a huge screen for the AV show and we meet the promoters Vadimir and Alex (DJ Proton) who has bought some records to trade.
Anton was, by now, feeling better and played first, rocking it with a great mix of garage and UK Funky (joke Anton) – definitely taking his cues from classic DK sets and with top quality visuals too. By the time it’s my turn to play it’s 2am and my head feels like it’s about to take off my headache is so bad, but I build up to a thundering drum n bass set which the crowd lap up. By 4.15 I’m fit to die though, the headache so bad that I can hardly think (sometimes it goes but not this time) and I step down so that Alex can take over. I don’t think I’ve ever had as many people asking for photos and autographs after a gig than in Samara, it was relentless for about 10 minutes, a pretty great end to the night even if I did feel like death. Eventually Anton and I are in a taxi by 5.15am speeding towards our out-of-town hotel with some of the worst RnB rave pop I’ve ever heard playing on the radio.
Next morning at 11am we’re met at the hotel by Alex with a bag of records and a Soundburger portable turntable for an hour of listening and music trading. He gave me some excellent 45’s and an LP and I traded a couple of albums for a 45 by a band called Modo which has three killer funk / jazz /psych cuts on it.
At midday it’s the start of the long trek back home – 3.30pm flight to Moscow, change for London and arrive at 7.15pm (bear in mind all the hours the clock went back during this journey). Unfortunately I ended the trip by leaving my laptop on the plane but luckily realised before I was too far back into London on the tube and was reunited with it within the hour thanks to the excellent BA baggage staff.
Finally got home at 10.15pm Sunday night, phew, what a weekend, seems like half of it was a dream which is why I felt I had to write this all down. The final words from Boney M‘s disco classic ‘Rasputin’ echoed in my head more than a few times over the course of the weekend, “oooh, those Russians”. Except in my mind I always had it that he said, “ooh those ‘crazy’ Russians”, which would be very apt for what turned out to be a weird and wonderful weekend.
It’s been 15 years since the release of the first ever Scrawl book. Curated by Ric Blackshaw (with some contacts from yours truly) and Liz Farrelly, it was one of the first books to collect what later became known as ‘urban art’ or ‘street art’. Work that was informed by graffiti, comics, Hip Hop, film and more but strayed outside into new places. Vol.1 boasts an incredible line up of artists: Mode 2, Futura, She One, Kid Acne, Delta, Will Bankhead, David Vallade, Oscar Wilson, The Light Surgeons and some chancer called Openmind.
Shortly after compiling the first book (there were 2 volumes) Ric formed the Scrawl Collective, a loose affiliation of some of the artists in the pages to help them get work. Now, three of the artists who also came to prominence from the book – Mr Jago, Will Barras and Steff Plaetz are holding a ‘Scrawl Collective’ reunion exhibition of sorts. It’s called Triumvirate and opens Dec 4th at Rockwell House, 10-14 Hewett St, London, EC2A.
More details here:
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 Drummond – 5 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.
Following on from the brief exhibition at the Southbank (featured here) ‘Build & Destroy’ is an exhibition of rare art works, proofs and merchandise from the Mo Wax archive. It will also feature new works and limited editions by various artists like Swifty, (who has been posting things on his Instagram recently) Futura and 3D who have worked with Mo Wax over the past 21 years. Build & Destroy also coincides with the major survey exhibition Post Pop: East Meets West at the Saatchi Gallery.
All of the works are available to buy and the exhibition is a rare opportunity for people to obtain original works and limited editions produced throughout the history of the label to date alongside newly commissioned pieces. More details here
Here’s a short film of what went on at the Sarm Studios playback event of ‘Welcome To The Pleasuredome’.
For people who didn’t get a copy of the box set or were restricted by territory (N. America and Japan were excluded because of licensing laws) you can now order it through Am*z*n and elsewhere (although beware, some places are taking the p*ss with prices).
This opens on Thursday at The Print House in Stratford and stays up for a month. I was drawn to it be Nick Stewart Hoyle‘s inclusion but all the other artists’ work looks amazing too. I’ll be checking it out – more details here.
Another perfect DJ setting, playing Afro Futurist beats and electronics at the Watershed before a screening of Sun Ra‘s ‘Space Is The Place’ film last week. Sitting down, accompanied by visuals manned by DJ Cheeba and Tom from Lumen which had been also been mapped across the roof above. No dancing, just punters sitting, drinking and taking it all in and a great applause at the end. Thanks to everyone who came down – more gigs like this please. (Photos by Gareth O’Neill, DJ Cheeba, Ross Chester and Maddy Probst)
Here’s the 3hr all-star electronica mix I contributed to as part of Terminal Radio 22 – curated by Nmesh – and featuring FSOLDigital (aka Yage / Brian Dougans with an “Electric Brainstorm 10: Micro Edition”), Mixmaster Morris, Neotropic, Youth, Akkya, LMS and Surface 10. There’s a long 5 minute intro before the mixes start and my section starts around the 1:12:45 mark
Just announced: ‘Crate Expectations’ – a celebration of vinyl through music, film and record shopping at The Lantern in Bristol on February 7th, 2015. Myself, Cheeba and Moneyshot will be performing our newly AV’d up 3-Way Mix reconstruction of ‘Paul’s Boutique’ alongside DJ sets from DJ Format and John Stapleton. There will be the Colston Hall record fair in the day along with a showing of the Stones Throw documentary ‘My Vinyl Weighs A Ton’ and a record collecting Q&A featuring some of the guests playing. There’s also an after party at Start The Bus which could have a very special guest playing too…
Before that, this Thursday to be exact, I’ll be at the Watershed to take part in the BFI‘s Sci-Fi season by presenting a Future Shock AV set before a screening of Sun Ra’s 1974 film ‘Space Is The Space’. Expect lots of space funk, solar system synth work and more with Cheeba helping Lumin on the visuals. This set is free but you have to buy tickets for the film and ticket holders will be given priority if the place is full. Also look out for Cheeba and Ollie Teeba live-rescoring Plan 9 From Outer Space and War of The Worlds respectively over the coming weeks too.
A month later and I’ll be going back to back all night with Boca 45 for an all 7″ vinyl set at the Big Chill Bar on the 29th of November.
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.
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.