FourFromFoodFridays #17.35

FourFromFoodFridays 17.35Four From Food Fridays – a weekly look at four things I’ve been loving in the last seven days. Old or new, whatever’s been on in the studio. From top left:

Clocolan – Nothing Left To Abandon (BauSatz) 2xLP – Timely reissue of Clocolan’s debut album from January – then digital only – on two blue vinyl discs with extra tracks

Andy Votel’s Typewriter Jazz (Worldwide FM) Radio – Guesting on Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide radio station, Andy plays songs that feature the original journalist’s analogue keyboard of choice as musical instrument.

Annabel (lee) – The Cleansing (Youngbloods) LP – The follow up to their timeless debut, ‘By the Sea… and Other Solitary Places’, this is just as good, out today!

Yves Hayat – Conversation Between the East and the West (Timing) LP – Finally found a copy of this at a decent price, from the man himself, it’s not all on the web but you can sample some of its delights. Someone reissue this please.

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Further goes to Spiritland

With great pride and a lot of effort Pete Williams and I played one of our Further sets last Sunday evening at Spiritland, complete with multiple projections. Thanks to everyone who came by despite the bad weather. We had a great time and are in talks to bring it back there. You can hear our 4 hour set below and sample some of the projections we discreetly added to the sumptuous surroundings.

The next Further excursion is in 9 days at the SYNthesis festival in South Norwood, we’ll be playing either side of The Heliocentrics at Stanley Halls preceded by an afternoon of street art painting, food stalls and a talk by designer, Swifty at 6pm.
Tickets here

(Video nicked from Spiritland’s Instagram, photos © Martin LeSanto-Smith)

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Electronic Sound issue 33

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The latest issue of Electronic Sound magazine is a cracker, a huge interview with Gary Numan, an appraisal of Trevor Key’s artwork and an opening page by me, showing the final Rite of Mu with The JAMs that happened in Liverpool recently. You can also get a great remix of Numan’s ‘My Name Is Ruin’ by Meat Beat Manifesto on 7″ if you buy the bundle direct from their website.

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FourFromFoodFridays #17.34

FourFromFoodFridays 17.34
Four From Food Fridays – a weekly look at four things I’ve been loving in the last seven days. Old or new, whatever’s been on in the studio. From top left:

Quaeschning & Schnauss – Synthwaves (Azure Vista Recordings) LP – Very Tangerine Dream-flavoured synth errrr… waves in this 3rd release from the new ambient off-shoot of El Paraiso.

Gary Numan – My Name Is Ruin (Meat Beat Manifesto Poison remix) (Electronic Sound) 7″ – Only available as a special bundle online with the latest issue of Electronic Sound magazine – the beaty B side is a thing of beauty.

David Sylvian – Camphor (Virgin) CD – Inspired by revisiting Sylvian and Czukay’s work after Holger’s recent death I dug this out, a compilation of David’s ambient work with remixes of ‘Plight & Premonition’ on the second disc.

Rodinia – Ex Anima (Now Again) CD/LP – J.J.Whitefield is back with a follow up to last year’s ‘Drumscape/Dreamscape’ with more in the ambient/krautrock vein.

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RIP Virgil Howe

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I was stunned to learn of the sudden death of Virgil Howe today, a lovely, funny, mega-talented man who I had the pleasure to know for a few years. As a drummer he could straddle the funk, rock and psychedelic genres with ease and was also a mean keyboardist and producer in his own right. Anyone who followed him on Facebook was regaled weekly with anecdotes of his DJing adventures and battles with punters who didn’t want their envelopes pushed in the direction that ‘The Verge’ wanted to go.

His Sunday Hidden Level radio show on Soho Radio was always a smogasbord of funk, soul, rock, psych and everything in between and I’m very proud to have been a guest way back when. I only knew him for a while and can’t say I knew him well but we had loads in common the few times we did meet and I send my condolences out to his family for this awful loss. I feel so gutted for the members of Little Barrie too, on the cusp of a tour, a new album out and finally making it after all these years – I hope they find a way to get over this and carry on but Virgil’s drum stool won’t be an easy one to fill.

From his solo work (the Drums Series on Breakin’ Bread featuring other drummers like Malcolm Catto and Shawn Lee) to his material with The Killer Meters, The Amorphous Androgynous, The Dirty Feel to Little Barrie he was a versatile powerhouse of a drummer. He played drums on one of the greatest remixes ever, ‘The Amorphous Androgynous Exploding Psychedelic Bubble Mix’ of Oasis’ ‘Falling Down’ and recorded a ton of drums for me to use on my next record, which I still have – waiting to be chopped up and sampled – something that will take on a different meaning when I finally use them.
He was also a total dude, not in a corny way either, he just oozed warmth and cool. RIP Virgil Howe

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FourFromFoodFridays #17.33

FourFromFoodFridays 17.33Four From Food Fridays – a weekly look at four things I’ve been loving in the last seven days. Old or new, whatever’s been on in the studio. From top left:

David Sylvian & Holger Czukay – Plight & Premonition (Virgin) – One of my favourite ambient albums ever, RIP Holger

Acidalius – Acidalius (Acid Waxa) Cassette – Fantastic modern acid from 2014 on Newcastle label Acid Waxa

Videodrones – Nattens Haevn (El Paraiso) LP – Second album of 80s-inspired synth workouts from the Danish duo.

Various – DJ Food at Emotion Wave (Mixcloud) Mix – Live improv on two turntables, sampler and FX, an alternate ‘Chill Out’ if you will

Further at the Synthesis Festival and Spiritland

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Myself and Pete Williams have two Further gigs this month – firstly at Spiritland to celebrate their first birthday this week. On Sunday 10th we’ll be taking over in the evening – it’s a very limited ticketed affair but will be a perfect setting for what we want to do.

On Thursday Sept 28th we head to Stanley Halls in Norwood Junction to be a part of the Synthesis festival, a three-day happening of music, street art and food. We’ll be sharing the bill with the Heliocentrics so it should be a suitably lysergic evening.
The festival is run by Rob Swain, head guy at the Gamma Proforma label and just look at the line up. DJ Krush, Beak>, Delta, Mode2, Swifty, sheOne, O.Two, Will Barras, Mr Jago, Augustine Kofie, Howie B, Andrea Parker, Heliocentrics, Juice Aleem, DJ Food, Ofeliadorme and more TBA!

Tickets available here

Further at Spiritland

FourFromFoodFridays #17.32

FourFromFoodFridays 17.32
Four From Food Fridays – a weekly look at four things I’ve been loving in the last seven days. Old or new, whatever’s been on in the studio. From top left:

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard w. Mile High Club – Sketches of Brunswick East (Flightless/Heavenly) (Pre-order) – Third album this year and another change of direction with a more jazz and downtempo offering, they’re on such a roll right now.

Queens of the Stone Age – Villains (Matador) – LP/CD/DL – Still not sure but better than expected considering Mark R*ns*n’s involvement, the first single was a grower so hopefully the album will be.

Gary Numan – My Name Is Ruin – DL – First single from the forthcoming album, ‘Savage’, excellent electronic pop.

Astral TV – Chrystal Shores (El Paraiso) LP – Superb ambient synth record from Causa Sui keyboardist Rasmus Rasmussen and Keith Canisius.

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Welcome To The Dark Ages Pt.4 – Friday: Toxteth Day of the Dead and MuMufication

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Friday – the day of The Great Pull North, the Day of MuMufication, the Graduation Ball and many other things. At 2pm I was to be at The Florrie, a community centre / flourishing arts lab in the heart of Toxteth to complete my task as ‘Skull Painter’. Trying to second guess what I’d be doing all week I’d run through several scenarios: they had built a huge skull effigy that needed to be decorated? Badger Kull needed a backdrop painting? The JAMs had 400 Toxteth Day of the Dead masks that we would wear that needed customising? I was almost correct with the last one, not masks though, faces – I and 22 others had to face paint skulls onto the 400 and we set to work transforming many friend’s and stranger’s faces alike.

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The Ice Kream Van was parked up outside, now with looped rope attached to the front and graffiti’d Dalek on wheels* behind – so that’s what we were going to pull North then, but what fate lay at the other end? (*Update: see comments below for Dalek origin)

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At 5pm we were ushered upstairs to a church-like auditorium with seating arranged either side, three vertical video screens framed by an arch above the stage at the far end. A ‘hymn book’ was on each seat which contained the words to ‘Justified & Ancient’ inside but on a quick scan some of the words had been changed. “They called me up in Sheffield town, they said ‘Jarvis, stand by The JAMs'” – surely not? Was Jarvis Cocker going to join the JAMs? The room fell silent and all phones were ordered to be turned off (hence no photos for this part), this didn’t deter some people as you may well have seen by now on the web but it did mean that one of the highlights of the week was captured at least in part.

We were treated to the 23 minute version of the film ‘2023’, a triptych of dark, menacing imagery and iconography that was beautiful, disturbing, baffling, unnerving and loaded with symbolism, the soundtrack mostly ambient industrial sounds and radio noise finishing with Nilsson‘s ‘Everybody’s Talking ‘Bout Me’ over the end credits.
I’ve yet to read the book so most of the imagery has little context at the moment but I noticed revolving grapefruit and Yoko Ono as the Starbucks logo (already seen on some of the merch and the free paper cups when you bought drinks at the Dead Perch). These are both surely a reference to Yoko’s book ‘Grapefruit’ and could allude to the ‘Grapefruit Are Not The Only Bombs’ book we all contributed to the day before, itself an allusion to Jeanette Winterson‘sOranges Are Not The Only Fruit’ maybe? The Shard blazed, black pyramids turned above seas and rolling corn fields, stormy skies filled with black clouds, a fox padded the London streets and four bullets from North, South, East and West collided in slow motion in the final scene.

What followed was a long presentation / sales pitch by ‘green undertakers’ Claire and Rupert Callender – a very dark, depressing, occasionally humorous but deadly serious meditation of death that served to bring the mood down to rock bottom. The assertion was not to be afraid but that we were already dead, that The JAMs were now in business with them as undertakers to the underworld and we were all invited to take part in ‘MuMufication’. In a nutshell this meant that they had engineered their own house bricks (stamped with the words ‘Mu Mu’) which each participant could have part of their ashes poured into when they died. These bricks would be collected annually on November 23rd which was now designated ‘Toxteth Day of the Dead’ and a ‘People’s Pyramid’ would be built, year on year, until it was 23 feet high. The pyramid will be situated in Toxteth (site yet to be determined) and it will take 34,592 bricks to build it. Participants who sign up pay £99 and get a brick plus Certificate of MuMufication – this is all real, anyone can do it, check out www.mumufication.com for more info. IMG_5118

The ‘MuMufication’ sticker I’d snapped a few days earlier on the side of the Ice Kream Van suddenly made sense, and the 99 Mu Mu Bricks, the signs had been there all along. This was the one point where the internet jokes that we’d all be committing some Jim Jones-style suicide pact by the end of things started to gain some credence and I started to wonder if there was anything in the face paint we’d just all applied. I pity anyone in the crowd who had recently lost a loved one or was preparing for a funeral. It was wrist-slashingly sombre.

But Lo! Suddenly a procession sweeps into the room, standard-bearers holding a Toxteth Day of the Dead banner, monks in Mu Mu gowns, coffin-bearers carrying two no-frills bare wood coffins, gravediggers, I also remember traffic cones worn on heads, a choir, there were more but it’s all a but of a blur. Also a blue robed, hooded figure in their midst, face concealed, who mounted the stage behind the congregation and started to speak; ‘They’re Justified, and they’re Ancient, and they drive an ice cream van’ in a soft northern brogue that could only belong to Jarvis Cocker. As the choir mournfully intoned the lyrics the cloak was pulled back to reveal the man himself, brilliantly hamming it up for all his worth in a slow, understated gospel version of their 1991 hit. The videos on the web don’t do it justice without the proceeding events described above, the song lifting the mood higher and higher as the incredulous crowd joined in with the end chant of ‘All Bound For Mu Mu Land’ before exiting the hall in a procession that followed Jarvis, the choir and all performers from the stage and out into the street.

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Outside the crowd spilled onto the road and a small gaggle of locals had gathered to watch, Gimpo quickly got the first team to man the ropes of the ice cream van and we were underway on the three mile pull North to The Invisible Wind Factory. Heading the procession were a bagpipe and drummer duo, standard bearers, the pullers, the van with Drummond & Cauty inside, the choir, assorted Mu in robes and sacks and then the rest of us spilling out on both sides and behind. Ragwort was thrown from shopping carts at the front and then collected by more carts at the back and run up to the front again.

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The police turned up within half an hour to escort us along the busy riverside road and contain traffic, at one point trying to stop the procession but failing – did they have a permit to march? FUUK knows.
Halfway along the route a car parked up and helpers proceeded to throw yellow kagools out to the marchers, emblazoned with the pyramid blaster and JAMs logos and the legend ‘Delivering Sustainable Death’. The sea of yellow with black and white skull masks moved forward at a brisk pace…

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Finally we reached a waste ground, opposite the Invisible Wind Factory, the sunset earlier was a blazing orange sky which would have framed the occasion all the better had we arrived an hour before. A wooden pyramid / pyre was erected in the centre of a circle and the wooden coffins in the back of the Ice Kream Van (I did mention those didn’t I?) were ceremoniously loaded into it. Bill and Jimmy, Mu Mu horns now on their heads, wasted no time, lit long torches and quickly set fire to the structure, it catching almost immediately, going up in a yellow blaze against the night sky as the robed 400 watched and cheered. I’m not going to lie, I was hoping they’d pile the Dalek, the T-Speaker and the van onto the pyre too, cleanse their past in one fell swoop and put the lid on it once and for all but it wasn’t to be.

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Some said the plan was to drive the van into the Mersey but I don’t think that happened. After this events got confused, Daisy Campbell, megaphone in hand, struggled to make herself heard to the widely assembled crowd, some of who wanted to eat and drink after the fun and games and some who made for the toilets nearby. The undertakers were in the Ice Kream Van signing up people for ‘MuMufication’, bricks on display, but now wasn’t the time for this on a dark patch of wasteland with the light gone and the temperature dropping. A huge queue formed but with only a small window to explain the process from they were fighting a losing battle.

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I retired to the club opposite to set up the decks for my set later on and grab some food backstage. Pete Wylie was there in the dressing room, having schooled Badger Kull half the week and we could see the gathering outside winding down from our high vantage point on the top floor. Punters started arriving at 10pm, a mixture of the 400 and paying public who could also buy tickets, you could tell who was who from the face paint. Greg Wilson was on stage whipping the crowd up with pumped up versions of electronic classics like Gary Numan‘s ‘Cars’, The Human League‘s ‘Being Boiled’ and ‘The Message’ and Kermit from Black Grape was dancing around in bunny ears.

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The T-speaker was behind the merch table, selling Badger Kull T-shirts to the faithful and the bemused and it was all about their impending one and only performance at 23 seconds past midnight, a fitting end to the proceedings. The mood was electric as they took to the stage, four guys, all on bass guitar, in face masks and robes with yellow and black warning tape decorations, playing their one note riff over and over to strobes, chanting ‘Toxteth Day of the Dead’ repeatedly, leaving the stage three minutes later to a squall of bass feedback. It was never going to win any prizes for subtlety but it was all the crowd needed.

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Lastly it was my turn, pretty daunting to step up to the decks after that performance to a club packed to the rafters with JAMs fans on a total high after what they’d just witnessed I can tell you (I took the photo above as I stepped up). When Jimmy asked me to play at the Ball my first question was, ‘Should I play any JAMs / KLF?’ and the answer was an unequivocal ‘no’, which was fine. Bill wanted ‘no revisiting of one’s acid house days’ and gave me a superb brief to play dangerously, wide and lateral. They also provided me with a glimpse at a page from ‘2023′ where it lists the line up for a fictitious Xmas day episode of Top of The Pops.

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(photo by George Stewart-Lockheart)
I took that list fairly literally and decided to source as many original samples that The JAMs, Timelords and KLF had used as possible, I wouldn’t be playing their records, just the records they’d played with. I opened with the MC5’s ‘Kick Out the Jams’ (of course) and proceeded through Abba, The Monkees, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, various TOTPs themes, Tommy Vance spoken word, The Sweet, the Dr Who theme, The Human League‘s version of ‘Rock n Roll’, themes from Jesus Christ Superstar, Sly & The Family Stone, James Brown and more before dropping a ton of club classics and a full final hour of downtempo tunes including ‘Wichita Lineman’ and ‘War Is Over If You Want It’, ending with ‘In The Ghetto’ at just shy of 3am.

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(photo by George Stewart-Lockheart)
As gigs go, it was a milestone in my career that I’ll never forget. As an event it was a success on so many levels I doubt the participants will ever fully get their heads around it. As a comeback it was unparalleled, everything and more that a fan of this duo could have wanted but never dreamed up. As an exercise in the closing of one chapter and the opening of another, with the fans helping to write that chapter from the building blocks the JAMs had put in place, it was genius. That they closed the event with the opportunity to eventually place part of those fans and others inside the blocks and build a People’s Pyramid to commemorate the event on the very ground it took place in was another nice touch. Best graduation party ever…

 

Saturday, the aftermath:

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Some graduated early that night and received their certificates at the club, for most though it was one final trip to the Dead Perch Lounge on Saturday morning to be met by an unexpected series of posters that had been plastered up outside overnight. Someone had expressed their displeasure at the events in a very JAMs-esque way, enough to make most question if these weren’t an elaborate double-bluff by Drummond & Cauty themselves.

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Inside, The JAMs were handing out signed Certificates Of Graduation with stern handshakes and little banter and we stayed for a drink and an explanation on how exactly The People’s Pyramid was going to be constructed by the architect who had drawn up the plans, now displayed in the gallery. Finally we were ushered into a previously hidden back room where a tower of TV sets showed video loops whilst the choir’s A cappella from Friday’s ‘Justified & Ancient’ quietly played in the background.

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Whether Bill and Jimmy ever do another event, make another record or create any more art together ever again (and there were rumours that this could happen elsewhere in the future) doesn’t matter. They and the team around them pulled off an incredible experience that could have crashed and burned (pun intended) so many times and in the process must have inspired many of the participants to go forth and continue this kind of work and thinking in their daily lives from this point on. There were rules, there always is with Drummond, but these were also guidelines to break out of conventional thinking and you have to know the rules before you can break them – always accept the contradictions with The JAMs. Worth the £100 ticket price? Many times over. The experience was priceless and SO much more thought-provoking, entertaining and genuinely life-changing than most of what’s happening in current music, literature and art at the moment.

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Travelling back home, to ‘real life’, was surreal, what had happen constantly churning around in my head, the NEED to get this all down and make some kind of sense of it for my own selfish reasons of paramount importance. The desire to talk to people about it burns bright, to those that were there and friends who witnessed it secondhand via the web. The urge to look further into The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift, the Green Funeral Company and, of course, read ‘2023’ – things that were completely alien to myself and many others a week ago – is strong and will no doubt point to other people and places as The JAMs begin a new chapter…

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DJ Food live set from Emotion Wave

Emotion Wave pano webIt’s been very quiet here because I’ve been on a holiday of sorts in Liverpool. A holiday of the most bizarre, intense and pleasurable kind taking part in the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu‘s return to the public eye with their ‘Welcome To The Dark Ages’ 3-day situation. You may have seen some photos if you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen parts of it on the news or in the papers and I’m still writing up the whole episode for this blog. In the mean time, here’s my set from Emotion Wave last Saturday – a night not dissimilar in concept to my own Further nights, so much so that I even brought along some of my projections. Run by Neil Grant aka Lo Five it runs every two months at 81 Renshaw on Renshaw Street, Liverpool (which has a great little secondhand record shop down in the basement).

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As I’d just played the closing party for the JAMs the night before I had a laptop of KLF-related samples and pieces and decided to play an ambient set with them. Imagine a version of the KLF’s ‘Chill Out’ from an alternate dimension, completely improvised live on turntables, sampler and FX with all sorts of additional oddities chucked in and you have the idea.
Check out the other sets by Lo Five and Melodien on Mixcloud too – both excellent – and follow the Emotion Wave facebook page for info on the next night.

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Deep concentration – photo by Andrew Bates.

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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UNKLE vs Super7 splatter 45, middle and toy

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Never shy of releasing music by his UNKLE project in ever boundary-pushing formats, James Lavelle has outdone himself with three 45s from his latest album, ‘The Road Part 1’. Available in July at the San Deigo Comic Convention, the collaboration with West Coast-based toy company Super7 has yielded the craziest 7″ packaging yet.

IMG_4976For $50 you get a clear vinyl w. splatter single with dinked middle and Futura 2000 camo label featuring a track from the album and instrumental on the flip. Not only that but there’s also a Pointman figure with moveable head, arms and legs that fits into a clear plastic stand that doubles as a middle for the 45 and comes engraved with the UNKLE logo. These are housed inside a huge plastic clamshell Pointman ‘head’ that could double as a mask if you cut some eyes out of it.

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There are three different tracks available in different colours: blue, green and pink with corresponding shells, splatter effect and figure colourways. I was lucky enough to get a green one via Daniel Barassi, 45 collector and infamous modifier of the Fisher Price kid’s turntable into a fully functional portable player, who was at SDCC and collared all three versions himself when I gave him the heads up before sending mine over to the UK.

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You can now order these online via the Super7 website but non-US buyers beware – the postage is an absolute killer and only the rich or the mega-fans are going to want to stretch that far. Aside from the postage and the possibility of also incurring customs charges on top there are some drawbacks. Firstly – the size, the clam shell is huge and doesn’t sit upright without support. Secondly, both the 45 and the dink are in there super tight, I thought I was going to break the single getting it out. The toy is nicely moulded but compared to the original Ben Drury-sculpted Pointmen from back in the 90s they’re not quite as special – but for the money and what you’re getting they’re just fine.

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I was slightly dismayed to find that the A side of my 7″ seems to have been cut slightly off-centre so the needle really has to track the groove back and forth and you get a wavering effect on the strings in the track which really rendered it unplayable unfortunately. I have no way of knowing if they’re all like this but the B side seemed a lot more stable if not entirely movement-free. As an object of desire for the price it’s certainly worth it if you can get round the postage costs in some way but maybe next time vacuum-packing the figure and centre to the front of a thick card 7″ sleeve (like the Rave Wars 45s) would be a better solution.

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FourFromFoodFridays #17.31

FourFromFoodFridays 17.31

Four From Food Fridays – a weekly look at four things I’ve been loving in the last seven days. Old or new, whatever’s been on in the studio. From top left:

Xordox – Neospection (Editions Mego) LP/CD/DL – JG Thirlwell mutates into yet another alias, this time for deep space instrumental pieces recorded on the Buchla and Serge synths at EMS, Stockholm. Get the CD/DL for an extra 14 min track too.

Can – The Lost Tapes (Mute) 5xLP box + poster/booklet – Incredible ‘outtakes’, jams, demos and live collection from a few years back. Better than some official album releases.

Pink Floyd – Dark Side Of The Moon (Harvest) LP – Seeing the Their Mortal Remains exhibition at the V&A Museum last Sunday made me want to revisit parts of the Floyd back catalogue.

Simon James – Akiha Den Den/The Panathrope (Castles In Space) CD – Bonus disc of extra material that comes with vinyl LP – 70 minutes worth of quality material.

Can : The Lost Tapes box set

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I only just got round to buying and listening to this, a five disc collection of unreleased jams, live tracks and early versions from the 50 hour archive of tapes in Can‘s studio. It’s incredible, barely any filler across the ten sides and comes with a poster and 12″x12″ booklet, all designed by Julian House. Released by Mute and with notes by Irmin Schmidt it was put together and edited by Jono Podmore from Metamono – worth every penny if you can track one down at a decent price.

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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.

FourFromFoodFridays #17.30

FourFromFoodFridays 17.30

Four From Food Fridays – a weekly look at four things I’ve been loving in the last seven days. It’s been a funny old week. From top left:

Andrew Lloyd-Webber & Tim Rice – Jesus Christ Superstar (MCA) 2xLP – next to Hair you have this proggy, funky, hippy epic, there are certain moments where it’s incredible.

The Miles Davis Quartet – S/T (Prestige) LP – Miles still in Bop mode with Max Roach on drums.

Phil Lynott & Midge Ure – Yellow Pearl (Phonogram) 7″ – The early 80s Top Of The Pops theme tune, remixed to beef it up, check the dance troup Zoo on YouTube for some eye-opening footage of how it used to be.

Jesus Love You – After The Love (More Protein) 12″ – Boy George’s Acid House phase produced some decent and some dodgy, this belongs in the former category.

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FourFromFoodFridays #17.29

FourFromFoodFridays 17.29Four From Food Fridays – a weekly look at four things I’ve been loving in the last seven days. They can be new or old, any style so long as it’s been getting some rotation in the studio. I missed last week because I was at the Delaware Road gig and that’s as good an excuse as any. From top left:

Adrendalin M.O.D. – Four Tunes EP (MCA) 12″ – Four tracks of vintage acid from back in the day, looks like a bad cash-in, sounds amazing.

Simon James – Akiha Den Den (Castles In Space) LP – Long-awaited soundtrack to the radio play of the same name from The Simonsound.

Looped For Pleasure / I Monster – Made In Sheffield (Electronic Sound) 7″ – special Sheffield-centric single only available with the latest issue of Electronic Sound.

Belbury Poly – The Owl’s Map (Ghost Box) LP – A vinyl pressing reissue for the second BP album, aging well after 11 years – contains one of my favourite Belbury track, ‘The People’.

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