The Light Surgeons shortlisted in the Vimeo awards!

The Light Surgeons’ short film about luck, ‘Shimazeltov’, has been shortlisted in the documentary category for the Vimeo awards! The film focuses on the Jewish community and their ideas about luck, it’s insightful, humorous and beautifully shot and framed.

I’m pretty excited about this because not only is it an excellent short but my wife assistant produced it and my kids make a fleeting cameo in it. The Vimeo festival takes place in NYC in October, fingers crossed crossed… You can VOTE for it here and more info about the awards is here and, if you have 10 minutes, please take a look at this beautiful film.

Schlimazeltov! from THE LIGHT SURGEONS on Vimeo.

Posted in Event, Film. | No Comments |

Ninja Tune is 20!

At last the day is here, two decades old and a teenager no more. Ninja is 20 and we celebrate the date – and also the 200th post here – in style with two double CD sets, four 12″s and a lavish box set which is now sold out on the Ninjashop although stores will have it from today.

XXvol1XXvol2Slipcase with contents
The book, ‘Ninja Tune: 20 Years of Beats & Pieces’ has been in the shops a month now, 192 pages and over 1,200 images charting the history of the label from Coldcut’s late 80’s chart hits to today.

This week’s Solid Steel has been given over to celebrating the occasion with an anniversary mix of classics from all the labels by DK and a one hour interview with Coldcut and label manager Peter Quicke about where it all began and where it’s going.
Solid Steel Radio Show 17/9/2010 Part 1 + 2 – DK by Ninja Tune & Big Dada
Solid Steel Radio Show 17/9/2010 Part 3 + 4 – Interview with Coldcut & Peter Quicke by Ninja Tune & Big Dada

After that it’s shows around the world, Berlin, Paris, Brussels, NYC, San Francisco, LA, Tokyo and Osaka, King Cannibal’s ‘The Way Of The Ninja’ mix CD and Zen TV pt.2 on DVD.

Ninja Tune XX box set features on Hard Format

I’m very proud to announce my first design entry on the Hardformat blog. Run for three and a half years now, it’s a site dedicated to “reaching for the sublime in music design”, both past and present. One of the first things I think any designer finding the site would think is, “I wonder if I’m on here?”, the second would be, “I want to be featured here”, if they don’t find their work. The site already published the original mock up image of the set a few months back and we entered into a dialogue about it. That turned into me writing up a lengthy piece detailing some of the process involved in realising the gargantuan project.

www.hardformat.org/5200/ninja-tune-xx/

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Process: The working practices of Barney Bubbles

So, Nigel Peake is in town, fresh from painting a mural and we’re wandering around Pimlico like a couple of tourists. Clutching an A-Z and an iPhone, we’re trying to find the Chelsea Space which is currently hosting the Barney Bubbles exhibition, Process.

Bubbles, born Colin Fulcher, sadly committed suicide in 1983 and has long been an unsung hero of British sleeve design but this has started to change in recent years after Paul Gorman’s book on his work, ‘Reasons To Be Cheerful’, was published in 2008. Quickly selling out and starting to command high prices on the web it’s now been updated and expanded in a new edition.

Possibly one of the reasons Bubbles isn’t as widely know as, say, Neville Brody, Malcolm,Garrett, Hipgnosis, Peter Saville or Jamie Reid is because his work spanned both both ends of the seventies and beyond – the hippy / prog / rock and the punk eras –  and never conceded to one house style for anyone. The two things he’s probably most known for – Hawkwind and Stiff Records – couldn’t be much further apart. Looking at one of his Hawkwind sleeves and then an Elvis Costello or Ian Dury from later you’d be hard-pressed to see any sort of stylistic link, yet he did them both.

After walking up and down the street way too many times, asking in the Tate to a bemused attendant and eventually finding the space via a round-the-houses route through the College of Art we realise we’d walked right past it. Failing to notice the sign outside the inconspicuous door set back from the main road, we should have stopped yakking and paid a bit more attention.

Anyway, once inside we were greeted by walls pasted with vintage music paper ads and posters of late 70’s vintage, a couple of old record players sporting various vinyl rarities, badges, stickers and a gorgeous rack of Ian Dury ‘Do It Yourself’ wallpaper-sleeved LPs. Right in, no messing about. Along the bottom of one wall were various publications all sporting BB covers including a John Cooper-Clark ‘Directory 1979’ an issue of the NME, Nova magazine and a Hawkwind programme.

A long, thin, tall corridor then stretches up before turning into the main exhibition room and one wall is covered with posters and record sleeves, the Hawkwind ones unfolded flat to show off their wares. Frustratingly the sharp viewing angle meant that the higher pieces were hard to see properly, further compounded by spot lighting which caused glare on anything in a PVC protective sleeve.

Into the main room, past a giant hanging Chuck Berry sculpture and here’s the good stuff. Cases of artifacts, portraits, sketchbooks, paintings, paste ups, reference books, even materials like Rotring pens he left behind. One wall is covered in original art paste up sheets, tracing paper with notes covering some of them, all hung with big bulldog clips which is a nice touch throughout. Another wall is full of beautifully presented black and white art, logos, layouts – a mixture of paint, pen, Letraset and whiteout – all of which would have blended into one under the camera later.

It must have been a difficult task for the curators to hang the work because it was so random, finding obvious themes and connections is almost impossible with Bubbles because each piece is so different from the next. Sure he has various tricks and techniques that he employs, his mixture of abstract and 3D shapes to make words for instance, but it’s as if he was always starting from scratch with each new piece. His foldout sleeves for Hawkwind and Elvis Costello are placed behind perspex but even they jut out at points, unable to be contained in such a space.

I’m no expert on Bubbles but this looks like a goldmine of his work for anyone remotely interested in him or the groups he designed for. Also this is a great reminder of how things were done decades ago, pre-digital, everything is hand drawn, painted, cut and pasted and it’s beautiful to see, especially all the whited out parts. Although by no means a complete overview – several pieces are conspicuous by their absence – the curators intend this to be more of a stepping stone to bigger things later and the new edition of the book should help this.

The exhibition is on now until October 23rd at Chelsea Space,

16 John Islip Street,

London, Sw1P 4JU
More details here

and visit Paul Gorman’s excellent blog on all things Barney Bubbles

and a good, quick overview of his work at feuilleton

Posted in Art, Books, Design, Event, Music, Records. | 2 Comments |

Familiar?

Interesting image, looks familiar, seen it before somewhere, can’t place it…

hff_main_strip_site_v2TCO A2 poster (promo)

I’m just kidding, go check this out if you’re in London this weekend, a couple of Light Surgeons’ things are playing:

SCHLIMAZELTOV! dir. Christopher Thomas Allen 11m
Documentary short exploring the concept of luck or “mazel” through London’s Jewish Community.
(this is excellent and beautifully shot)

and a live performance of

TRUE FICTIONS 80m
True Fictions is a live audio-visual spectacle that fuses documentary film making, music, animation and motion graphics with cutting edge digital performance tools. A stunning collage of music and live cinema which explores the themes of truth and myth through a multitude of American and Native American voices; with a original musical score created through the collaborations of 25 New York based musicians and vocal artists.
(you need to see this live, multi-layered screen collage at its best)

More info here

Paris XX

The Paris show on Friday was great fun, packed out, great to see Vadim and Yarah on a Ninja bill again too. During mine and DK’s set someone pulled the fire alarm and all the power went off on stage for more than 5 minutes. Unfortunately we were in the middle of a drum n bass section so that went down like a damp squib. Before the gig I went up to the Galerie Chappe to see the exhibition of Ninja art and sleeve design that had been put on, apparently 1,500 people turned out for the opening! Ping Pong, who have done promotion for Ninja for over a decade now under the leadership of Fred ‘DJ Oof’ Elalouf, did a great job of putting together a show which included original art, paste up sheets, sleeves, huge posters and specially made prints of selected covers. They also made exclusive T-shirts, seats and a huge banner for the gigs which greeted me when I walked into the venue.  See photos from the exhibition here (warning, this is a Facebook photo album), and it’s on until October 2nd. There are 4 more gigs coming up in Paris over the next few weeks including a huge, long sold out line up at La Machine and two gigs at the Pompidou Centre.

XX banner, ParisGalerie Chappe Ninja L'expo

Trax magazine and Paris gig

Trax coverTrax contentsFree CdTomorrow, DK and I do the first of the official Ninja Tune XX gigs in Paris, there’s an exhibition opening tonight with cover art and all sorts of material picked from the archives. I’m looking forward to seeing photos but couldn’t be there myself as we’re gearing up with our live set for the anniversary shows. The 4 deck set with be audio/visual with a heavy bias towards Ninja’s greatest moments from the last two decades.

Also just out in France is music magazine Trax which generously devotes a WHOLE ISSUE to the birthday celebrations and includes a free sampler CD too. Yours truly was interviewed about the artwork side of things and chose my favourite Ninja-related release (the suitably-titled ‘La Prochaine Fois’ seeing as this subject of this post is France). Also there are several of Nigel Peake’s drawings published including his study of the Ninja HQ and a mini version of the family tree poster available with the new box set.

Family TreeVisual Food

Posted in Books, Event, Music, Ninja Tune. | 6 Comments |

Ninja Tune XX boxset is here finally

I was having a shitty day with nothing going right when this was hand-delivered from the Think Tank offices out of the blue this afternoon. Eight months of hard slog, revisions, deadlines, corrections, proofs, more revisions, changed constructions and over 50 GB of information went into this.

A slipcase containing 3 hardback books – ’20 Years of Beats & Pieces’ was actually started back in July 2009 and completed just under a year later with a solid six months spent on it and little else. The other two, containing 6 CDs, 6 45’s, 2 posters, a booklet and a sticker sheet (which should have been straight forward but I had no end of hassle with) took another 2 months at least with meetings and discussions as to how the packaging would work going on since March. I even managed to find time to write a new track to go on the damned thing which is on one of the exclusive CDs.

When I look back at 2010 and think what I did that year, this is what will sum most of it up. If you have one on the way then you’re in for a treat believe me, want one, didn’t get round to buying one yet or were maybe sitting on the fence then there are still some available to buy before the big release day on September 20th.

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Ninja Exhibition and Pop-up Shop this Saturday in London

Black Dog Publishing open their doors on a Saturday this weekend for people who haven’t been able to make it to the Ninja 20th exhibition in the week. Between 12 and 5pm they will be open and Ninja will have a special pop up shop there selling selected items. I’m not entirely sure what will be available yet but there might be some of the new Ninja Tune XX releases and you will be able to buy the 20 years of Beats & Pieces book for £15 which is a fiver cheaper than the shops. It’s free and at 10a Acton Street, London,WC1X 9NG. This is the last week of the exhibition so it’s now or never…

Pop up shop invite (web)

US gigs line up and new early Japan show flyer

Here are the line ups and details for the US gigs, also DK should be joining me on the Japan leg too which should also be taking in Osaka and possibly Kyoto as well as Tokyo (which has two shows). Got a nice hook up with Converse for the US gigs including a free party in San Francisco that they’re sponsoring. For free entry please send an RSVP  here, also XLR8R are doing a big Ninja piece too.
xxflyerNEWYORKfinal_v7xxflyerSANFRANCISCO_v10xxflyerNEWYORKfinal_v7NINJAXX_Toyko early

Ninja Tune XX gigs and events

Back from holiday and ready to kick off the Ninja Tune 20th autumn in fine style. The array of gigs, press, releases and events is staggering, there are now 20 different things happening over the next two or so months and plenty of magazine coverage to come shortly. Be on the look out for a 6 page feature on rare Ninja releases in Record Collector, a 6 page design feature in Blueprint, a 70-odd page tribute issue of Trax magazine from France and an 8 page pull out supplement from Clash magazine amongst many more. The ’20 Years of Beats & Pieces’ book by Stevie Chick is now out, the exhibition in London is on until September 16th and the run of dates in France, organised by Ping Pong, start next Friday, the 10th, in Paris.

Djouls and Grant Phabao – the Paris DJs – have been doing some excellent podcast mixes of rare, remixed and psychedelic Ninja Tunes from the past two decades and have contributed to the Trax magazine articles too, find more info here.

There are gigs being set up in the US and Japan for late October and early November plus a huge line up for the Bristol show on November 13th. This weekend I’ll be doing three shows in Russia, one in St Petersburg and two in Moscow – the Migz festival and a special show after at the Dome Bar between 1 and 3am.

At some point in the next week. the box set should arrive at the Ninja office along with the six 12″s and there’s still a mix CD and DVD to come after that. Keep checking here for more info, shots of the packaging and related material…
PrintFLYER ParisNINJA TUNE XX_ Bristol Ninja WebNINJAXX_Flyer14

Posted in Books, Event, Gigs, Music, Ninja Tune. | 6 Comments |

Ninja Tune Exhibition opens today

Well last night’s book launch at Black Dog’s gallery in Kings Cross was a lot of fun, a huge turn out of artists, staff, friends and family made it a massive success. Thanks to everyone at Black Dog for a supreme effort in turning the exhibition round in three days, also everyone who came down, there were a few old faces I’d not seen in years and some who I’d only known via email but never met in person. Photos by Martin LeSanto-Smith, on form as ever to capture the event.

Record wall

The exhibition is open to the public, free, between 12-5pm Monday-Friday until September 16th. It’s situated at 10a Acton St, London, WC1X 9NG, nearest tube is Kings Cross and then it’s a 5 minute walk, press the buzzer and you’ll be let in.