and that was 2016

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For some reason I started writing my review of the year back in January, determined to keep a record of it as I went along so that I could just press the ‘publish’ button over new year weekend and not sit around for a day trying to remember what I’d seen, done, listened to or read. I couldn’t have picked a worse year, let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first…

“2016 (‘the year that just keeps on taking’ was how someone later referred to it) was a shit year that I will want to forget“. I wrote that in April, just after Prince had died and I was ready to see the back of it before we’d even reached June. I now know I wasn’t alone in this sentiment. No two ways about it, good, creative, innovative people passed away, seemingly on a daily basis while greedy, immoral, ignorant people in positions of power got away with murder at the same rate. If only a few of the bad ones had been taken as well, if only to even things out.

In June (half) the UK voted to exit the EU and the fallout, cop out and subsequent reshuffle in the aftermath defied belief and went beyond satire. Labour’s backstabbing and in-fighting to oust Jeremy Corbyn from the party when they should have been calling the Tories to account just showed them up to be as inept as those in power. The closure of Fabric in September* put yet another nail in the coffin of the city I love, one that’s rapidly having it’s center squeezed of any creativity, individuality and relevance as big business moves in and any form of alternative culture is forced out. Things change, I know that, it’s progress and it has to happen, but when that change feels more like a regression I start to look elsewhere.
* thankfully set to re-opened under new conditions

As the beginning of the lead up to Brexit began and the pound sunk to an all time low, it was hard to feel anything but despair at the idiocy and blatant greed of those in positions of power playing games whilst lining pockets and taking from those who need it most. A friend left for LA over a year ago and I feel he got out in the nick of time.

I had my own family problems this year too and I lost my mother to cancer in early July, a year after she was diagnosed. The photo above was taken the day she died, the last second of the day, a blink of the eye later it was 0.00. A new day, everything reset, now I had one parent, not two. Thankfully I’m very lucky to have a great group of family and friends close by for support and without them things would have been very different. 2016 brought a massive phase of my life to an end and 2017 will see it take a new turn, don’t expect a new record too soon I’m afraid, I don’t have the head space.

And then the unthinkable on Nov 9th (9/11 by our calendar, how ironic)Trump
There have been several times when I’ve woken up to a day when everything has changed, a mental shift in world events which means that nothing will be the same again. The day after 9/11 was one, the birth of my children, Brexit, my mother’s death… Now Trump gets added to that list, sadly my friend jumped from the frying pan into the fire. Early reports show that the youth voted for Clinton while the elderly voted for Trump, much the same as Brexit in the UK then. Satire is no longer a comfort, you couldn’t make this up and it’s certainly not funny anymore.

But despite this, there was plenty of good to be found everywhere, the cliché of the arts flourishing under oppression and depression seemingly true. Looking back over posts from this year, both here and on my Instagram, all I can see is a vintage year for music and a great year for the visual arts. There was SO MUCH great music everywhere that it was a job to get through it all and I seemed to be buying both new and old on a daily basis with a real need to dive into the bins and discover continuing over from last year. So many genuinely great records came out this year with the new easily outnumbering the old, vinyl overtook downloads in sales at one point (largely due to Sainsburys starting to stock it again I suspect) and we’re still being spoilt for sleeve and packaging design too.

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Music:
David Bowie – Blackstar (ISO/RCA/Columbia)
Kosmischer Laufer – The Secret Cosmic Music of the East German Olympic Program 1972-83 Vol.1-3 (UCR)
Cosmic Ground 2 (Deep Distance) (technically 2015)
The Heliocentrics – From The Deep (Now Again)
The Allergies feat. Andy Cooper – Rock Rock (Jalapeno)
Cavern of Anti-Matter – Void Beats/Invocation Trex’ (Duophonic UHF Discs)
The Comet Is Coming – Channel The Spirits (Leaf)
Synthi A – Ignition of the Sun (EBV)
Vactrol Park – II (ESP Institute)
Brain Machine – Peaks (Emotional Response Recordings)
Lost Idol – Chrome Machine Tales (EOE Recordings)
Various Artists – Cosmic Machine The Sequel (Because Music)
S’Express – Enjoy This Trip (Needle Boss Records)
Videodrones – Mondo Ferox (El Paraiso)
Various – I Love Acid 010 (Balkan Recordings)
Om Unit – Underground Cinema (feat Krust) (Cosmic Bridge)
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Robot Stop (Flightless)
Peter Thomas & Mocambo Astronautic Sound Orcestra – Space Patrol (Raumpatrouille) (Mocambo)
Radiohead – The Numbers (XL Recordings)
Foetus on Triple J interview from 1986 (Mixcloud)
DJ Supreme – R.I.P. feat Son of Noise (Backbone Records)
F.S.O.L. – Environment Six & 6.5 (FSOLDigital)
Clipping. – Splendor & Misery (Sub Pop)
Vanishing Twin – Choose Your Own Adventure (Soundway)
The Pattern Forms – Peel Away The Ivory (Ghost Box)
Barry Adamson – Know Where To Run (Central Control International)
The Karminsky Experience Inc. – Beat! (Patterns of Behaviour)
Howlround – A Creak In Time (psyche-tropes)
Graeme Miller & Steve Shill – The Moomins OST (Finders Keepers)*
*technically released next year but I got an early copy

Honourable mentions:
Electronic Sound magazine going from digital to physical – filling a gap somewhere between the highbrow avant gardisms of The Wire and the retro 80s fest of Classic Pop – clean design and original angles + free CDs.

Andrew Harrison and Matt Hall‘s Big Mouth podcast – a weekly look at pop culture from music to TV to comics to films to books, great line up of guests and plenty of good tips to follow up.

The El Paraiso label – everything about it, from the music to the artwork, is spot on, a beautiful roster and catalogue. Hard to pick a favourite release but when I stumbled upon them in May I wanted everything and barely found a dud in the whole roster.

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Clipping. – the trio really knocked me out when I ran across them in October, three albums and a handlful of EPs into their career, taking in all that was a sensory overload. The pure electronic noise coupled with the razor sharp delivery of Daveed Diggs‘ raps felt like someone was operating on my brain while I was conscious. The sonic palette and arrangements felt so fresh in the context of 99% of other hip hop records that they immediately made everything else seem stale. With repeated listens their Splendor & Misery LP revealed just what a stunning concept album they’d created, layers and themes interwoven to perfection, I only wish there was a full film to go with the two promo videos already out there. Album of the year in a year that was awash with great music.

Peter Williams for all his quiet energy, enthusiasm and organisation in and around West Norwood, his great music taste and for being a catalyst for change, hopefully we’ll do good things in 2017…

Lego for severing ties with the Daily Mail, opening a great new shop in central London and making that fab Beatles Yellow Submarine.

Spiritland for making me stretch out and indulge in the musical side of me that rarely gets an airing in my club sets.

Pete Isaac, Scott Hendy and Greg Belson of 45 Live for continuing to build a worldwide brand in clubland and on the radio.

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Another year over and what have I done?
Designed the De:tuned Records 6xLP Brainbox set + forthcoming spin-off 12″ and rejigged a bit of Frankie Goes To Hollywood‘s ‘…Pleasuredome’ LP for reissue. Hosted Jonny Trunk‘s OST show on Resonance FM, written for The Vinyl Factory and been published in the Rough Trade 40 years book,. Performed with Howlround at the Museum of London, done instores in Rat Records and The Book & Record Bar as well as several appearances on the Out of the Wood radio show. Remixed Divine Styler, appeared at The Force Awakens holographic vinyl launch at Abbey Road Studios and created two different mixes of Acid House 45s for the I Love Acid and 45 Live radio shows. Designed and illustrated a brochure for the stage production Songs of Immigrants & Experience and the cover of the next Loka LP (without label deal at present). Plenty more mixes for Solid Steel, GCASFM, Spiritland, Looselips, Near Mint and 45/7 shows – most of which are available on my Mixcloud page. There have been a load of gigs (4 for Big Fish Little Fish alone), plenty of digs and a few things going on in the background but I’ve been too preoccupied with family things this year to add much to the portfolio.

Favourite gigs:
Cavern of Anti-Matter @ The Moth Club
The Soul-Inn
1st birthday party, Brussels
Record Store Day @ The Book & Record Bar, West Norwood
Rat Records instore with Jonny Trunk, Camberwell
Adam Ant Kings of the Wild Frontier @ Brixton Academy
My first gig at Spiritland, Kings X
The Pattern Forms @ Rough Trade East
Turntable & tape machine improv with Howlround + Jonny Trunk @ The Museum of London
The Karminsky Experience LP launch, Blue Posts
Pascal Savy / Steven McInerney / Howlround @Iklectik
Vanishing Twin / Cherrystones @The Others
Clipping. @ Corsica Studios

Favourite exhibitions:
Alan Kitching @ Somerset House
KAWS / Eduardo Paolozzi @ Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Thierry Noir @ Howard Griffin Gallery
You Say You Want A Revolution @ V&A Museum
Star Wars Identities @ the O2
Secret 7s @ the Sonos Building
Jimmy Cauty‘s New Bedford Rising in America St.

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Favourite comics / books:
B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth
– Mike Mignola / John Arcudi / various (Dark Horse)
Empty Zone – Jason Shawn Alexander (Image)
Heavy Metal – Various
Black Science – Rick Remender / Matteo Scalera (Image)
Low – Rick Remender / Greg Tocchini (Image)
Island – Various (Image)
2000AD – Various (Rebellion)
Saga – Fiona Staples / Brian K. Vaughn (Image)
Drawn To Drawing – John Vernon Lord (Nobrow)
Prophet: Earth War – Brandon Graham / Simon Roy / various (Image)
The Music Library 2nd edition – Jonny Trunk (Fuel)
Tape Leaders – Ian Helliwell (Sound On Sound)
Covers – Alex Bartsch (Kickstarter)
Zentropa – John Mahoney (Heavy Metal)
Pencil Head – Ted McKeever (Image)

Favourite film/TV:
Flowers, Upstart Crow, Rogue One, Steven McInerney‘s A Creak in Time

RIP:
David Bowie, Mark B (technically 2015 but it broke over New Year), Paul Bley, Pierre Boulez, Alan Rickman, Clarence Reid aka Blowfly, Andy ‘Dog’ Johnson, Terry Wogan, Maurice White, The Independent newspaper, Harper Lee, Umberto Eco, Bruce Lacey, George Martin, Ken Adams, Keith Emerson, Phife Dawg, Ronnie Corbett, Zaha Hadid, Tony Conrad, Victoria Wood, Prince, Richard Lyons (Negativland), Isao Tomita, Muhammad Ali, Jo Cox,  Bernie Worrell, Caroline Aherne, Alan Vega, Jack Davis, Kenny Baker, Bobby Hutcherson, Gilli Smyth (Gong), Gene Wilder, Richard Neville (Oz magazine founder), Prince Buster, Don Buchla, Rod Temperton, Steve Dillon, Pete Burns, Jean Jacques Perrey, Leonard Cohen, Robert Vaughn, David Mancuso, Sharon Jones, Fidel Castro, Pauline Oliveros, Colonel Abrams, Andrew Sachs, Al Brodax, Greg Lake, Dave Brubeck, John Glenn, Rick Parfitt, George Michael, Alphonse Mouzon, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds.

Wisdom: “Morph man, morph!” – Otis Fodder

Looking forward to:
The next phase…
Ghost In The Shell
The ongoing unearthing of lost collage works from Australia by DJ HDD
Xodrox
Eduardo Paolozzi @ The Whitechapel Gallery
Pink Floyd @ the V&A Museum
Valerian
XX book by Rian Hughes
The Delaware Road live in a nuclear bunker
The return of the KLF?…
Blade Runner 2049
Star Wars VIII
Further…

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Star Wars Identities comes to London

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The Star Wars Identities exhibition opened last month in London at the O2 in Greenwich. Over 200 props, models, costumes, paintings and designs are collected around a 10 step trail based on building your own personal characters within the Star Wars universe. There have been a few additions and subtractions since I first saw it in Montreal four years ago but it’s essentially the same. Just check some of the pictures below and you’ll get the idea, absolutely essential for any Star Wars fan and very child-friendly. So nice to go into an exhibition that doesn’t discourage photography too. It’s on until September 2017 and you can buy tickets HERE.

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The new Design Museum opens

Science Museum Paolozzi
I visited the new Design Museum off High Street Kensington at the weekend and the permanent collection was full of lovely bits and pieces, including a new film by The Light Surgeons. Perhaps it was because it was teeming with people but the gallery spaces seemed very small and cramped next to the yawning atrium and the cafe was hidden round a corner, almost embarrassed to be seen but packed nevertheless. People were being told to queue as they ascended up the levels to the top floor but we just got in the lift and bypassed all this. An oddly disfunctional design of a space for a Design Museum.

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The vinyl reissues we actually want this Black Friday

8Slightly late as I had a crazy weekend but still relevant as the consumer chaos and pressing plant queues will testify. I canvassed opinion from various DJs, collectors, sellers and artists as to what their top reissues/represses would be come the next Record Store Day and presented them to The Vinyl Factory.

You can see and read our choices HERE

Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill samples mix by Bobafatt


It seems anniversaries are everywhere these days, this week alone sees three decades since the release of both The The‘s ‘Infected’ LP and the Beastie Boys‘Licensed To Ill’ album. DJ Bobafatt has put together a little sample mix of the latter complete with original samples and interview snippets to mark the occasion.
Whilst never my favourite Beasties album, I was a fan and saw them on the Raising Hell tour opening for Whodini, LL Cool J and Run DMC in ’86 as well as the Licensed to Ill tour in ’87.
Looking through old sketch books this morning in search of something else I ran across this, done May ’87 during ‘Beastie Mania’. D-Vice was my first graffiti tag at the time and 3DGrafX was our crew (it was the 80s).
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Black Friday releases

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Now that Black Friday (25th Nov) seems to be ‘a thing’ in this country we have what’s become known as ‘Record Store Day 2’ creeping in just before the Xmas rush with yet another date to cram the pressing plants as the vinyl reissues keep flowing. The list got released this week and I’m very pleased to see these two on it.
Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner and Richard Alpert‘s hard-to-find-cheap outing ‘The Psychedelic Experience’, originally on Broadside Records and later, Folkways, and chock full of spoken word that has been plundered by many over the years in sampled form. Pressed on magenta splatter vinyl apparently.

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A great-looking reissue of an underrated but utterly essential hip hop classic is the Jungle Brothers‘Done By The Forces Of Nature’ from Get On Down. Originally released in 1989 and featuring a post ‘3 Feet…’ De La Soul, Queen Latifah, Monie Love, Q-Tip and DJ Towa Tei (just before he found worldwide fame with Deee-lite), this is the whole crew at the height of their powers and possibly the moment that the Native Tongues posse were most united. It’s a sample smorgasbord too from a time when you could still ransack the past for the finest funk, jazz and afro beats imaginable. For me, this is up there with De La Soul, Beastie Boys and Public Enemy as one of the finest rap albums of all time. Originally pressed on a weedy single disc, it always suffered from poor sound quality and a new double vinyl edition has been a long-standing want within the hip hop community.

You Say You Want A Revolution exhibition at the V&A, London

GrannyNewly opened last weekend, the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington plays host to a celebration of the latter part of the psychedelic 60s under the banner, ‘You Say You Want A Revolution: Records & Rebels 1966-1970’. It’s an often stunning and inspiring look back at a small section of the counter culture that we now think of as ‘The Swinging Sixties’, encompassing music, art, fashion, politics, advertising, product design, expos and the space race. What was interesting, in the light of the recent drug-related deaths forcing Fabric to close, was that LSD was mentioned copiously in the quotes as you entered the exhibition and kept popping up throughout, as a catalyst for the many strands of the hippy movement. One national institution celebrates drug-fuelled counter culture in the heart of the richest part of the city just as another is closed in the East End – the irony.

The exhibition isn’t just about the beautiful flower children chanting ‘hari krishna’ and wearing threads from the Kings Road via India either (*slight spoiler alert!*). A middle section brings you down to earth with a bump, confronting you with the more political side of events at the end of the decade, the Vietnam War, racism, The Black Panthers, police brutality, feminism, gay rights and more. The starkness of this section, largely in monochrome, against the multi-coloured blossoming of earlier rooms, is a reminder that it wasn’t all peace and love man, and that the curators weren’t wearing rose-tinted spectacles the whole time.

It was worth the price of admission alone to see Mati Klarwein‘s original ‘Grain Of Sand’ painting up close. I’ve always loved this piece, never thought I’d see it in the flesh but there is was, nestled behind the entrance as I walked in. Absolutely wondrous.

GrainOfSandfull GrainOfSand GrainOfSanddetailGrainOfSandcentreGrainOfSandMarilyn

There is a LOT to see and take in, an associate who works at the museum confided that the curators wanted ‘everything’ but were restricted by time and conservation rules. There was some padding in parts, a section about consumerism and advertising sees corridor walls plastered with ads, interspersed with huge mirrored sections which give the impression of much more in the reflections but ultimately can’t conceal that not much is actually on display. Film and TV is given fairly short thrift aside from a section about Blow Up, a selection of experimental shorts in a walled-off cinema area and the Woodstock footage (although it has to be said that the Woodstock room is very well put together). Underground comics were almost entirely missing aside from one interior spread used to comment on the Manson murders, no Robert Crumb, Zap, Furry Freak Brothers... The Oz trials were mentioned but I didn’t see any copies of the magazine, or IT, or Ink. There was a lot in it but some omissions were glaring.

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Leaving, to the strains of Lennon‘s ‘Imagine’ and a fast cut montage zooming through the decades up to the present day, you’re depressingly but inevitably taken via the gift shop where you’re confronted with sanitised, consumable versions of the era to take home. Most of it is utter tat and the price tags are enough to burn a huge hole through the Levi jeans they seem to think were a good idea to have on sale. Cleverly, and as a sign of the vinyl-resurgence times we currently live in, they’ve released a compilation album alongside the usual book of the exhibition. Unfortunately the cover – a denim jacket covered in band logo badges – is so horrendous it looks like the kind of three quid compilation you’d find in a service station. There are some beautifully executed repro posters but the prices are so exorbitant I’d rather seek out an original, they’d probably only be a little more.
Still, there may not be many revelations or things you’ve not seen before in an era that’s been to widely celebrated already but it’s well worth the entrance fee. It runs until Feb 26th 2017 – more info here.

 

Out of the Wood radio at FEAST this Sunday

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Above are some of the records I’ve pulled out for this Sunday’s live session of Out Of The Wood radio hosted by WNBC London from the Book & Record Bar in West Norwood. I’ll be on with Pete W. before Alex and George take over for their monthly afternoon Cakelab session. Pete and I will be playing selections from his recent digging finds in the French countryside along with some new pieces of recently acquired vinyl. You can listen live here and it will be uploaded to Mixcloud later. As usual, it’s FEAST weekend which means loads of food stall dotted around West Norwood, food, craft and vintage markets too, all for free and loads of music to soundtrack it all.

*UPDATE* – and here’s the mix (with very low mic. levels) and a photo by Pete of me playing, check his mix after mine, so many great tracks.

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FEAST this Sunday and Out of the Wood radio

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The monthly FEAST in West Norwood is upon us this Sunday with myself and Pete Williams back for the Out of the Wood show on WNBC radio (West Norwood Broadcasting Company). Broadcast live from the Book & Record Bar from 12 midday until 2am when Dr Alex Paterson and George Holt wheel out the 2nd edition of Cakelab for the afternoon. Not sure what I’m going to be playing as yet but I have half a mind to do an El Paraiso Records special as I’ve played little else at home recently. You can listen in live here

Elsewhere it’s well worth coming down in person as there’s all kinds of luscious food, craft and vintage stalls, live music and more – all for free.

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Daydreaming with Stanley Kubrick

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The Daydreaming With Stanley Kubrick exhibition started a few weeks back at Somerset House in London’s West End and it’s well worth a look. Curated by James Lavelle, it features many familiar names that hint that his phone book must be a thing to behold. Artists, film makers and musicians from around the world have contributed but with over 40 pieces to look at there’s always going to be some stronger than others.

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For the most part, I enjoyed the more literal, graphic interpretations; the hexagon-patterned floor from The Shining, Space Invader‘s Rubix-cubed Alex from A Clockwork Orange and Doug Foster’s homage to the stargate scene in 2001, ‘Beyond The Infinite’ – a mesmerising widescreen kaleidoscope that constantly shifted to a soundtrack by UNKLE. I was surprised there wasn’t more reference to Hal from 2001 outside of some of the graphics for the exhibition branding though and there was a missed opportunity to do something with Kubrick toys seeing as James has had an affinity with them for so long.

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One of my favourite pieces was Philip Castle‘s 70s airbrushed illustration for the original film of Alex with dentures in a glass. Unfortunately this was represented as a slide blown up rather than the original painting but it still had enough presence, menace and period textured beauty to outshine most of the other exhibits.

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Elsewhere, several installation pieces were the most successful in invoking Stanley’s spirit. A vertical pulsing strip of LED lights by Chris Levine burned images onto the retina from the end of a corridor so that, when you looked away, you saw split second flashes of Kubrick’s face. A ‘breathing’ camera by Nancy Fouts, sat eerily in another corner, rasping in and out to itself. A room of 114 wireless’ all tuned to the same channel in a dimly-lit workshop created a WWII-like atmosphere and the exhibition guide revealed that a huge cast of celebs had made the soundtrack playing through the tinny speakers. Peter Kennard‘s ant-war collages were further bolstered by additions from Dr. Strangelove although it felt largely transplanted from his recent Imperial War Museum exhibit with some added Kubrickisms.

Possibly equal to Foster’s AV piece was Toby Dye‘s small room showing four different scenes from The Corridor, each one using a Kubrick technique of focus pulling in or out of a centralised corridor. This, when shown full frame on each of the four walls, gave the viewer a sense of unease or vertigo as the walls appeared to shift around them. Very effective if off-balancing. David Pellam‘s classic Droog design featured twice, once in the show branding and once in Paul Insect‘s updating of his work, ‘Clockwork Britain’. An iconic design, connected with Kubrick by the simplification of his visualisation for the Droogs, it sits alongside the Shining carpet as a graphic motif instantly connected to his films. A VR headset with interior 2001 space station scenario was also installed but the queue was just too long so don’t head to it at peak weekend hours if possible.

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Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth uncensored signing

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The Gosh Comics signing of the new Judge Dredd ‘The Cursed Earth uncensored’ book was smash hit on Saturday. When I arrived the queue snaked out of the shop, across the road and round the block and they’d just sold out of the graphic novel in question. A quick run to the nearby Orbital Comics revealed the same and Forbidden Planet too. No joy but I did manage to get a snap of the legends, Mike McMahon and Brian Bolland inside the shop before I departed – not a wasted journey at all.

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In case you’re wondering what all the fuss was about, the story in question was the first ever Judge Dredd ‘epic’ (ie. a multi-issue story that spanned over 20 issues) that ran in 2000AD back in 1978. Several episodes featured characters from the McDonalds, Burger King and Jolly Green Giant companies who swiftly slapped the comic with a legal warning that these properties were their copyright. Since the original issues, all reprints of the story have been missing these episodes but recent changes in the law meant that they can now be restored because they fall into the parody category and thus, don’t infringe on copyright as they once did.

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From what I’ve seen, the new hardback version is beautifully restored and features both character and career-defining artwork from McMahon and Bolland, the only artists on the strip, alongside writer Pat Mills. Co-incidentally, the first issue of the comic I ever picked up, as an impressionable eight year old, contained the first episode of the story and I was hooked. I even went so far as to commission Mike to recreate his cover for that prog (61) for me a few years back. The initial print run is now apparently sold out so good luck in tracking one down.

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Funki Porcini’s Conservative Apocalypse

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Last night I played at the launch party for Funki Porcini‘s new album, ‘Conservative Apocalypse’, at the BFI (never a more apt title that in the last two weeks). He showed his rescore to the Russian film, ‘Chemi Bebia’ which was crazed and dark and hilarious in equal measure. You can now see the new short that goes with the album of the same name via the magic of YouTube too…

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Lots of old faces came out for the night, it was like a small reunion of people from the last 20 years, back when Ninja Tune was in Clink Street, London Bridge. Graeme Ross took this photo of me with a strategically placed BFI notice.

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You can now buy Funki’s new album as a rather nifty box set and he has a new website too

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Rat Records instore Soundtrack set w. Jonny Trunk

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Lo, and did the hordes descend onto Rat Records in Camberwell like a plague of locusts and the music flowed freely, from the decks to the racks and into the bags of the hungry vinyl scavengers. Sometimes it didn’t even make it into the racks, being bagsied whilst still on the turntable by eagle-eared punters inquiring, ‘what’s this playing?’. Jonny Trunk and I played whilst Lucy and Pete (behind the camera below) served and a wonderful afternoon was had by all.
Rat has a policy of restocking their shelves with new stock every Saturday and several hundred discs make their way onto the floor each and every weekend for the regulars who are at the door at the 10.30 opening time. This past weekend they had an additional box of soundtracks, library and weird music to add to that, the difference being that no one knew what any of it was until Jonny or I played it so the music stood or fell on its own merits. A collection they’d got in recently was put aside specially for this purpose and most of what was played in the two and half hour set you can hear below was sold. I even added a clutch from my own collection to the box.

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As the box emptied and more friends arrived at the shop it was decided that a drink was needed and the nearby Stormbird bar was chosen, partly because it’s the only place in London you can get a bottle of Pastelism, a beer brewed by Domino Records band, The Pastels. Much was consumed and many words were spoken of the crate-digging, vinyl-hunting nature alongside Tom Central (Keep Up!), PC (DJ Food), Graeme (Frenchbloke & Son) Ross, Zoe Lucky Cat Baxter and more. Robin the Fog and Hannah Brown from Resonance FM were also on hand to conduct an impromptu recording for their Near Mint show and the results can be heard below. The results of the alcohol consumption can also be heard as the show progresses too! It was great to see so many friends and play in my local record shop among like-minded punters and there are plans to do a rematch at Audio Gold in Crouch End soon. If any other record stores want to host this kind of event in the future then get in touch…

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Beautiful typography on one of Adam James Seth-Ward‘s purchases.

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The Force Awakens holographic vinyl release

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Several boxes were ticked last Monday night when I was invited to Abbey Road Studios in North London to feature on a panel to talk about Star Wars and its influence on music over the last near 40 years. It was part of the launch of a new vinyl edition of the soundtrack to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, complete with holographic Tie Fighters and Millennium Falcons etched into the surface of the two discs by Tristan Duke.

Abbey Rd StormtrooperJournalist Andrew Harrison (Your Empire Needs You T-shirt) chaired a small panel of myself, Tristan Duke (peeking over my shoulder) – the man responsible for the holograms, and Alex Milas (centre back, editor of Metal Hammer magazine and life-long SW fan). After plenty of nerdy fan banter two First Order Storm Troopers strode in to deliver the LP to Tristan who then played it as it was projected onto the screen above. Food was served, vinyl was cooed over, photos were taken with Storm Troopers and much was discussed of a fanboy nature.

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TFALP_Holo

A few days later I took on trying to capture the holograms from my vinyl copy at home. This was easily achieved with just direct sunlight or you can use a torch or lamp in dark conditions. This is what the hologram looks like in normal light (above) and this is what it looks like when having direct light pointed at it (below)

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TFALP_embossThe LP sleeve is printed on thick mirror board card which makes the star field sparkle when light hits it and the cover logo is embossed. It’s a beautiful package that Disney/Universal have really gone the extra length to get looking and feeling special. There’s also a 16 page 12″-sized booklet with a forward by JJ Abrams and stills from the film.
It’s released worldwide on Friday, June 17th.

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On the panel I remarked on how the new release is so like the original OST in layout – minimal and tasteful. That made be want to dig out my 1977 copy, check the poster and gatefold. I’d forgotten how big the poster was!SWvsTFALP_ SWLP +poster SWposter

How many Millennium Falcons? Early John Berkey concept painting when the Falcon was a rebel fighter – there’s a fascinating glimpse at more Star Wars Berkey prelim paintings on his siteSWgatefoldSWLPback

Funki Porcini album launch at the BFI

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I’ll be joining my old friend and label mate James Braddell aka Funki Porcini on July 7th for a night of film and music at the BFI in London. As well aa launching his new album, Conservative Apocalypse, he’ll be showing his re-score to Kote Mikaberidze’s silent film Chemi Bebia (65min). Full of clever camera trickery, this Georgian film appeared for only a few days in January of 1929 before being banned for 39 years, and is little known in the West.

James will be talking through some of the new film work he’s been making these past years, some of which will be shown for the first time in the UK. If you’ve ever heard him speak before you’ll know he’s a joy to listen to as he has some of the best anecdotes you’ll ever hear. I’ll be playing in the Benugo bar on the Southbank after the film showing and there will also be some very limited edition versions of the album on sale. Tickets are on sale now here

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Olivetti at the ICA

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The Olivetti exhibition currently at the ICA in London is small but perfectly formed, much like its contents. Blink and you’ll miss it (tucked away in a little room under the stairs to the bar), it’s a beautiful collection of vintage typewriters and word processors supported by original posters, promo material and historical documents.
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Inspired by this tiny treasure trove of gorgeous design I raided my archives of Graphis Annuals and Architecture Aujourd’hui magazines and snapped a few quick shots of Olivetti adverts contained within.

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