Liverpool 2017, the JAMs and the Dark Ages

Instagram Mu notesMy Instagram page at the moment – follow me there for images from Liverpool later this week, I will put some sort of report together once I’m back but I won’t be posting properly until next week once I’m in Liverpool. I’ve been posting KLF-related bits that I’ve done in the past all week and here’s a selected recap of The Sound of Mu(sic) mix and poster series jape that I made with Mr Trick back in 2003. For the full story download the pdf here

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The Delaware Road at Kelvedon Hatch

IMG_4535It’s taken me an age to get round to posting this because – basically – school holidays. That preventer of progress, that eater of time, time you actually get to spend with your kids before they grow up and only want to be with their mates. The snatches of work, social media catch-up and the day to day running of a household don’t leave too long to write extended blogs about how one night was one of the most memorable of the year so far.

Back in the Autumn of 2015 Alan Gubby of the Buried Treasure label put on a night based around a narrative he’d written with David Yates (aka Dolly Dolly, seen with Alan below). It told the story of a woman and a man who work for The Corporation making electronic music and their journey through the middle of the 20th century in sound, sex psychedelics, occult and sound phenomena. The narrative held together a compilation called The Delaware Road, which just so happened to be the site of the original Radiophonic Workshop, and the groups and sounds on the album helped sonically place the story in time, starting with tape loops, jazz and spoken word, progressing to analogue synths and later, digital.

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I went to the event as a punter and it was fantastic, mostly for the herculean effort that everyone put into it and how Alan and Dolly’s narrative pulled it together to make sense with eight (I think) bands on the bill plus film interludes. So when an offer to play at a second version staged inside a Nuclear Bunker in the Essex countryside came up I didn’t have to think twice. The Kelvedon Hatch ‘Secret’ Nuclear Bunker descends four storeys underground with entry gained via a bungaow-like frontage nestled in a wood a 20 minute drive from Brentwood station. See photos here from a reccy I did a few months back to get an idea. With twelve acts on the bill spread over four floors this time the whole ante was upped considerably, not least by just getting to the venue in question.

Ticket holders who had bought early got to travel in a green double-decker bus from Brentwood, were given packs containing maps of the bunker, flyer and ‘Delatab’ radiation pills and arrived in style to be greeted by costumed players looking like Morris Dancers from the dark side in the shape of the Mummers & The Pappers. Soundtracking this were Glitch, Saunders & Hill who had set up outside on the entrance balcony and regaled them as they entered the long, concrete tunnel that led down into the bunker proper. From there it was up to the audience to explore the rooms and levels and find acts nestled in strange habitats for the duration of the night.

I kicked the night off in the top room, which I shared with Dolly and Ian Helliwell, Dolly at his table with anglepoise and notes and Ian later working his way through a table of self-made gadgets and boxes with names like ‘Hellitron Modulator’. Earlier we’d found a chrome mannequin in pieces whilst setting up projectors and lights and added her to the ensemble decorating the room. I’d brought oil wheels and video projectors plus mixer with effects and we were lucky enough to be by the cafe next door and have a room full of seats so people stayed with us.

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Having finished my first set I was free to explore and further down in the levels below there were more delights to encounter, Radionics in the sick bay, decked out in white labs coats – nice touch. Nearby were Jez and Polly aka the 12 Hour Foundation who also bought oil wheels and a full live kit to play their John Baker-inspired tunes. Hidden away in his own little office area was Simon James, playing a 3 hour improvised Buchla set to a small but rapt audience, politely seated in rows in front of him.

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Deeper down in the communications and map room were Loose Capacitor who I could get no decent photos of so you’ll have to do with the glowing, neon map. They had bought TV sets complete with old BBC idents and in the engine room Concretism played a fab set whilst films played over the industrial piping behind him. Nearby, Robin The Fog, representing Howlround, nestled in the broadcast studio complex, used some handy mannequins as tape loop holders. At the very bottom of the bunker, in some sort of generator or power room, were Teleplasmiste with their modular synths where we noticed a certain Steve Davis – ex snooker champion and current electronic DJ – enjoying the sounds. Davis, apparently local to Kelvedon Hatch, was present from beginning to end, keeping a low profile but checking out all the acts.

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Back upstairs, Dolly’s last performance was coming to the end and I took to the decks again to close the evening with a mixture of psychedelia, lounge and radiophonics, finishing the night with a track from Alan Gubby’s Revbjelde album. Punters were filing out be now to catch the first of two buses back to Brentwood station whilst we were in the bunker until midnight, packing up before heading to Theydon Bois to catch the central line back into London where I got in just before 3am, exhausted but happy to have been a part of it.

It was unique, it was an amazing venue and I doubt Alan and crew will be in a hurry to repeat the performance but there was plenty of filming going on during the night. The main niggle was that there was so much good music going on concurrently that no one could catch enough of it without missing some of the twelve other acts. If you want a rough idea of what you missed though you can check out the original Delaware Road compilation album containing at least half the assembled players on this date.

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And finally, for those who couldn’t make it but want a souvenir of the occasion – the Delaware Road Bunker Pack is now available, including the flyer, the map (designed by Nick Taylor and Luke Insect), badges, a pack of Delatab anti-radiation pills and the download of the full Delaware Road compilation. All for only £5 and limited to 45 sets  (only 7 left when I just checked)get one here.

DJ Food in Liverpool: Graduation Ball & Emotion Wave

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The cat’s out of the bag – I’ll be playing at the Graduation Ball on August 25th after the three day event The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu are holding in Liverpool commencing August 23rd. Greg Wilson will also be playing and, topping the bill (for 3 minutes) will be the mysterious Badger Kull. This is free for the existing 400 ticket holders for the Welcome To The Dark Ages events but additional tickets just for this gig can be bought here. Be there for the birth of FUUK.

The day after, I’m playing at Emotion Wave, a night not a million miles away from my own Further nights in concept. I did a quick Q&A with organiser Neil Grant, aka Lo Five with a recent release on the Patterned Air label. All on the bill is Mark from Loka with a DJ set, Melodien and Neil himself.

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25 years ago – UFOrb

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Twenty five years ago my friend David Vallade and I traveled to Brixton to see The Orb, being poor students we ended up buying last minute tickets from a tout outside. When it came to entering the venue David got in and I didn’t as my ticket wasn’t deemed valid. Gutted, I returned home and David was left to do the all-nighter on his own. Above is the flyer, found online earlier this year, a fly poster version of which I had on my wall for years with its early typography by The Designers Republic that was later changed for the album artwork.

Kelvedon Hatch Nuclear bunker visit

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Seeing as it’s half term this week I thought I’d get my two out of the house and the city so, naturally, I opted to visit a secret nuclear bunker out in the countryside near Brentwood. The Kelvedon Hatch Nuclear Bunker is a spooky place and also soon to play host a second version of Alan Gubby’s play / album / gig, The Delaware Road (for more info on exactly what that is – please go here).

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For those lucky enough to see the first incarnation at the Reading Arts Club some 18 months ago I can assure you it won’t be a repeat performance but something else entirely. The line up has swollen to twelve artists, the venue will have several spaces operating simultaneously with performers on rotation on different levels and the audience will very much be entering into something to be explored and experienced rather than the narrative-led musical presentation of old. Think of a Cold War setting channeling the Radiophonics and music concrete of the sixties with added pagan and occult references, it’s going to be like some sort of underground (literally) happening where the DJs use tape instead of turntables.

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The story will still be a part of the night with Dolly Dolly‘s turn as Director General of The Corporation, a state controlled media organisation happening in one of the spaces, one he’ll be sharing with Ian Helliwell and myself throughout the night. There will be no headlining act, no support or warm up, every artist will contribute to the whole with the star of the night most likely being the venue itself. It’s spooky enough in the day, heaven knows what it’ll be like at night.
Tickets are selling steadily and are almost gone with at least one of the two double decker buses put on to ferry people up from London directly to the site having long sold out. Get yours here

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DJ Food & Pete Williams at Further, May 6th

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Pete Williams and I opened and closed our first Further at the Portico Gallery on Saturday. We’d spent the past six months or more preparing for this, creating over 350 hand painted slides, video loops, chaining projectors together to automate them remotely and working out the best way to transform the gallery into a canvas for our work. During my set I looked around and finally relaxed, feeling dwarfed by the encompassing visuals, most of which I’d been painting under a microscope only a few weeks earlier. This is just the beginning, we have plenty more to show and do…

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I’ve been posting photos of each of the acts every day here and we’ve set up a new Facebook page for the venture where you can get a peek at all the photos right now, please ‘like’ our page if you do that sort of thing whilst you’re there. Martin LeSanto-Smith took the photos and without him we wouldn’t have been able to physically set the thing up. John Price from the Portico Gallery let us make it happen and was supportive all the way – massive thanks to both of them and also for Hannah Saunders from Big Fish Little Fish who gave advice, loaned projectors, helped on the door and bar and was generally a hero on the night.

What a weekend part 2 – Record Store Day

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

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

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

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What a weekend part 1 – The Orb at the RFH

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

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

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Further at the Portico Gallery trailer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diggers Dozen vs Soundsci mixes

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The Diggers Dozen vs Soundsci ‘My Boosey Weighs A Ton’ launch party at Joyeux Bordel in Old Street the other week was as nerdy and bloke-centric as you’d expect with frequent outbreaks of ‘breakface’ and clusters around the decks as library oddities were pulled out left, right and centre. Various old heads were in attendance and new acquaintances were made until 1.30am when it wound down. Much chatting obscured indepth appreciation of the musical treats going down but Maxwell from DD has kindly snipped some of the sets out of the melee and uploaded them to the cloud of mixes. If you listen carefully you can even hear the faint sound of chatter coming through the needle in the quiet parts. First up, Jonny Cuba (above left, below right) with his ‘spy jazz’ set, then Jonny Trunk (above right).

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My mix, alongside more from Ollie Teeba and Mr Thing can be heard here