Bernard Szajner ‘Rethinking Z’ mini album

iF3034_Rethinking_ZOne of my albums of 2014 was Z aka Bernard Szajner‘s ‘Visions of Dune’ reissue on Infiné, a 1979 electronic LP based on Frank Herbert‘s ‘Dune’ series. Now Infiné release ‘Rethinking Z’ a remix mini album that includes reworks from Scanner, Ghosting Season and more as well as Bernard himself. As with many remix albums, the results vary but there are several gems here including new collaborations by Szajner and remixes by label mates Clara Moto & Tyler Pope and Siavesh Amini.

You can listen and buy the album here (digital only) and there’s an offer on for a CD version of the remix plus a vinyl version of the original ‘Visions of Dune’ LP for just €20 + postage via Bandcamp.

There’s a documentary just previewed over on The Quietus about Szajner and he’s playing a handful of live dates in France over the next month as well as appearing in conversation with White Noise‘s David Vorhaus at Rough Trade East on Friday 13th at 6pm.

Matt Johnson ‘Hyena’ release and ‘Soul Food’ interview

Hyena1
A new The The album is always a cause for celebration and today is such a day. As usual with Matt Johnson, you think he’s disappeared and then there’s a flurry of activity that confirms that he’s been very busy indeed. His brother, Gerard’s new film, ‘Hyena’, is out on general release in cinemas today after showings at selected film festivals and already winning a couple of European awards. The Brothers Johnson, as they are fast becoming known (call the lawyers!), are appearing at the Watershed in Bristol on Sunday March 8th for a Q&A with Mark Cosgrove about ‘Hyena’ and the power of the score in cinema.

the_the_CINEOLASERIESMatt’s own Cineola label is releasing the soundtrack on CD in the usual hardback book format which is slowly forming a beautiful series of releases. The 20 track album comes with an 84 page photo book and is available now from the The The shop. A vinyl version will follow shortly on Death Waltz Recordings.

Hyena2

Last summer I interviewed Matt at Rough Trade East about his classic album, ‘Soul Mining’, and today you can get a free download of ‘Soul Food’, our one hour chat, newly edited by myself with added instrumental accompaniment. Also check out the previous installments of Matt’s Radio Cineola series which contain all sorts of rare and unreleased moments from The The‘s back catalogue as well as interviews with his collaborators.

the_the_MJDJ

The photos above and below were taken by Gerald Jenkins, during the interview and on Brick Lane shortly after.

Matt Johnson Rough Trade Soul Mining Release

Trevor Jackson ‘F O R M A T’ launch

FORMATtext
Thursday night saw the launch of Trevor Jackson‘s first release in 14 years, ‘F O R M A T’, hosted at the Vinyl Factory space under Brewer St. car park on the heart of Soho. The release consists of 12 tracks and is initially being made available on 12 different kinds of media with 1 track per format.

These range from 12″, 10″ and 7″ vinyl, CD and mini CD, DAT, VHS, Cassette, USB card, Minidisc, 8-track cartridge and 1/4″ tape reel. The numbers of the edition drop as the format gets more obscure so while the 12″ is pressed up at 500 copies the 1/4″ reel is in an edition of only 10 available with the complete box set of all 12 formats. Prices start at £10 and slowly creep up as the numbers get more limited until you get to the full box set at an eye-watering £850. There is also a poster of all 12 formats available in an edition of 100 with each piece signed and numbered. See, hear and buy the full line up at www.formatvf.com

FORMATscreens2
At the opening last Thursday guests were directed into the car park and downstairs to a space with a free bar at one end and a table selling the various formats that make up the album at the other. A second dark, enclosed space housed a wall of 12 huge screens opposite corresponding plinths with two sets of headphones. Each format and track was represented by a different film of it being played on the corresponding equipment, not a one shot YouTube-style video but varying close ups of the act of loading the format as well as associated graphics such as time displays, VU meters, rotating spools and platters etc.


What’s different about how this album came to be is that Trevor had over 100 tracks that he’d worked on over the past 14 years but only finished last year. This isn’t an album in the conventional sense, none of the tracks were intended to work together, they’ve been cherry-picked from the archive and exist in isolation from each other at the exhibition, preview-able via the headphones. Likewise (at the moment) each track exists in isolation if you buy it physically. Even the spaced letters of the ‘F O R M A T’ title suggest a disengagement from each other or maybe that’s just the graphic designer in me reading more into it. There was no playback of the full record and it will be interesting to see how the tracks hang together when the collection is released in two months time.


.
FORMATscreens3
About the music, as it’s not been mentioned as much as the packaging and concept yet: everything I heard was instrumental, electronic, stark, minimal and very brittle sounding. Knowing Trevor’s methods and tastes I’d guess that a lot of this has been made using original kit rather than samples and his ‘Metal Dance’ compilations point the way to the sonic palette he’s using. Baring in mind I’ve only heard approximately two thirds of the record (it was a very busy night with only two heaphone sets per track) my description above may be a little skewed.
TJFORMAT7"
The 7″ track, ‘They Came From NY’ for instance, features an unidentified voice intoning a few lines and the ending disintegrates into random background sounds that slowly coalesce into a mutant jazz ensemble before being abruptly cut off. ‘In Your Hands’ - the VHS format that also includes the video – was my favourite from what I heard, an edit of a 7 minute plus ambient piece with a film of a dancing form that had been forced through some sort of video distortion technique.

FORMATVHS
My friend Frode Heieren pointed out that if you added up the 11 separate formats they would cost over £300 and yes, the pricing is crazy if you look at it like that. It aligns the work with the art and fashion worlds rather than the music industry, way out of proportion to the majority of similar objects sold elsewhere. The way each piece is sold is in the same manner as the art world too, these won’t be available in shops, only at the show and online, and each piece comes with a signed, numbered card that states which number you have and there’s the difference.

You’re buying part of an edition and the art world dictates that the lower the edition the higher the price. If you want to get into that side of things then you’ll spend the money – personally I bought a 7″ and cassette as well as a poster, certainly the most I’ve ever spent on either of those formats new. You’re getting 1 track per format and I don’t think anyone is under the illusion that that’s a good deal but you’re buying an artifact here on a format of your choice and it’s more about your preferred media than the track it contains.
TJFORMATcassette
If you don’t want to get into that then the whole album will be released in 2 months on vinyl, CD and download. Realistically very few people are going to be able to play a DAT, tape reel or 8 track cartridge so the editions are low and the prices high. That’s going to frustrate the completists but it’s also a very clever way to stop the album leaking in full as it’s unlikely that anyone is going to buy the box set and stick it online.

FORMATreel
The full box set is inordinately expensive though, I thought it would be £2-300 tops and that’s the only bit where the pricing seemed out of whack to me. It puts it into the realms of the 1% and that’s something I’m personally not a fan of. But then again I have no idea how much it all cost to make, source and produce and the Vinyl Factory have never been known to be cheap which is why they’re one of the best at what they do. Trevor has said that there is no way he’s making a penny from it unless the box sets sell as sourcing things like 1/4″ reels and 8-Track cartridges aren’t exactly cheap or easy. Anyone who has experience of pressing records will also know that the lower the pressing, the higher the cost per item. From my own experience, I made 30 playable postcard records for the launch of the ‘Search Engine’ album exhibition in 2012 and, even selling them at £8 each, I only just broke even. But let’s not get into the crass subject of money and costings…

FORMATTrevor
Most of all, the whole concept and execution is excellent and has had me thinking about music packaging from a different perspective in the same way that a good exhibition or film leaves you questioning things. I found the most successful presentation of the set was actually a framed version hanging on the wall, displaying each format rather than hiding them away in a box. I’d wager that those who bought items on the night probably acquired them more as artifacts of the show and, after a cursory listen, are more likely to display them than play them, certainly with the limited numbered formats. This has been happening for a while now if you speak to record shop owners who quiz their customers on their buying habits with many physical releases.

It will be interesting to see how much makes its way to the secondary market and how they appreciate in value over time, something I don’t think we can discount in this age of investment buying and flipping. A quick web search shows nothing on eBay or Discogs which is refreshing but will these prices seem like chicken feed in years to come? I know that Trevor’s intention couldn’t have been further from any thoughts of long term fiscal appreciation and would have been focused on the concept and presentation and ‘F O R M A T’ is a love letter to the physical in a time when more and more people are interested in owning a tangible manifestation of what they’re paying for again. In terms of innovative ways to present an album Trevor has broken new ground here and, despite the elitist pricing, I think that makes it a success.

FORMATcollection

Instructables – Blooming 3D printed Zoetrope

Fibonacci Zoetrope Sculptures from Pier 9 on Vimeo.

This mesmerizing blooming zoetrope sculpture is designed using the golden angle — 137.5º. The infinite blooming effect is achieved by spinning the sculpture very fast and photographing it with a camera with a fast shutter speed.

And again, lit by a strobe at the right speed.

Fibonacci zoetrope sculpture under strobe light from Pier 9 on Vimeo.

For more fascinating info on the technical aspects of this go to this page.

Food Favourites of 2014

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)

2014 Music

• Reissues:
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)

2014 reissues

• 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)

2014 sleeve art

• 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)

2014_Books_comics

• 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 CinemaHow Psychedelia Infected Hollywood Sci-Fi at the BFI

2014 films

• Moments:
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.

2014 moments

• Heros:
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)

• RIP:
Rik Mayall
HR Giger
Robin Williams
Tony Benn
Idris Muhammad
Bob Hoskins
Hope & Greenwood (East Dulwich branch of the sweet shop)

MUSEUM, ALIEN, EROEFFNUNG, AUSSTELLUNG, SCHLOSS

• Looking forward to:
Renegades of Rhythm tour (DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist)
Mad Max : Fury Road
21st Century Tank Girl book
The Writing On The WallRoger Perry book
John Carpenter – Lost Themes LP
Create A Mess
Trevor JacksonFormat LP
The TheHyena soundtrack
Black Channels
Prophet: Earth War
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Alien activity

There’s been lot of online activity surrounding the Alien film franchise recently, specifically aimed at the original film. I don’t seem to be able to go a day without some new spin-off popping up, I’ve updated this post three times already.

Alien_Isolation_Screens
You might have seen the recent Alien: Isolation game that takes the look of Ridley Scott‘s version and goes to great lengths to emulate it. The Art of the Title website has an extensive feature on what went into creating the look and design of the game here with some fascinating info and behind the scenes stuff. Just the opening title sequence alone is worth a watch (above – click the image to be taken to the site).

On the Alien: Isolation website there’s a whole host of Alien advent calendar goodies to get into, most pleasing to me being that you can now download parts of the comic that Henry Flint drew for the release around the time of SDCC. As well as that there are posters, concept art, game play tips and add-ons.

AlienIsolationPromoComic_pt1_Pins-5
Poster posse have a great gallery of tribute posters to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the original and most, predictably, centre on the mood and tone of the debut. They’ve split the posters into three different phases and they can be viewed here PHASE 1 / PHASE 2PHASE 3.

alien-doalyPaulAinsworth-Red-768x1024 Nostromoposterpossecredits2-783x1024 Alien-poster-NEW-410x1024If sound is your thing then Ambient Sleep Aids in the form of looped atmospherics and sound FX from Sci-Fi films are at your fingertips. Want to drift off to the sound of the Nostromo or the Death Star drifting through space? Someone called Crysknife007 has posted 20 minutes loops of just that.

Cheesy Nirvosa site
and there’s more… check out this gorgeous fan image by Lord Mishkin which reminds me of John Bolton‘s work. Just look at that light source casting shadows and the reflection in the helmet, beautifully realised. She must be really knackered not to have clocked the Alien hanging from the rafters though…

lordmishkin.deviantart.com:
I’ve saved the best post for last, I hope you have some time on your hands because this one goes way deeper than most. Dave Addey‘s Typeset In The Future site has published a feature on the graphic design of ‘Alien’ after his exploration of the typography in ‘Moon’ and ‘2001’.

0_04_13_full
It’s beyond nerdy in all the best ways – going from the opening titles to signage and on screen read outs on board the Nostromo. Clothing insignia, food packaging, warning signs and even keyboard labeling is covered, the last of which reveals some telling details about what the designers were reading at the time.

semiotic_01_full composite_keyboard_full