New Qemists LP cover by Glenn Fabry

Herbaliser - Wall Crawling..

Ninja Tune artists seem to have a love of comic art and one particular comic in particular has played host to various artists who have also graced Ninja Tune sleeves – 2000AD. The first was The Herbaliser’s ‘Wall Crawling Giant Insect Breaks’ 12″ back in 1998 with a cover painting by Jason Brashill -aka graffiti artist Jase – who used to paint with Req and She One in Brighton. His design of a robotic bug perched on a pair of decks and a mixer is one of my favourites of that era.

DJ Food - ...Weird...World EP 12"cover (72 dpi)My own DJ Food EPs from last year featured new work from Henry Flint who has been a regular on both the weekly comic and monthly Judge Dredd Megazine for over 10 years. He kindly gave me some of his personal work, highly detailed abstract ‘doodles’, to colour for my sleeves (you can see one to the left of this post) and there will be more for the third EP and album.

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FInally we have the latest addition: The Qemists have enlisted none other than Glenn Fabry to paint their new ‘Spirit In The System’ LP cover in what looks like a homage to Stanley Mouse’s Grateful Dead work. If you’ve been paying attention to the recent Qemists releases you’ll notice that the first two are sections of a large ‘logo-ified’ version of the painting, I hope Ninja press a vinyl LP of the album too.

Ah yeah…

I was in the Ninja office today, sifting through boxes of press archive, found some amazing things, hilarious photos of old and some situations I don’t even remember. Lots of weird and wonderful people have passed through Ninja over the years and there are a lot of memories attached to it for me. I’m currently deep into the design and ongoing picture research for the Ninja Tune book which will be published this summer by Black Dog Publishing.

It’s a gargantuan project and one that we are not taking lightly – don’t expect the usual spread of press shots you’ve all seen before, we’re digging deep for lots of unseen material and it turns up in the most unlikely places. There’s no way it will all make it into the book but I promise to share some of the bits and pieces that don’t make it at a later date via this blog.

Also, these turned up today… :) Better res than Vimeo, I promise.
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A Shape Of Things Reader – a 70 minute EP mix

Shapes track images A Shape Of Things Reader by DJ Food
I’ve just uploaded last weeks’ Solid Steel mix to Soundcloud – it’s a trip, it’s got a funky beat, and I can… oh, wait, that’s not right, (although it does include an old Beastie Boys track). As with the last ‘reader’ that accompanied the first EP, it showcases the tracks from the new record alongside, influences I was listening to at the time, the odd sample I used in it’s original form and also some of my favourite tracks from the tail end of 2009.

• Tracklistng:
The Simonsound – Tour De Mars (Project Blue Book)
John Murtaugh – Slinky (Unknown)
Anti Pop Consortium – The Solution (Big Dada)
DJ Food & DK – Sentinel (Shadow Guard) (Ninja Tune)
2econd Class Citizen – A World Without (Equinox)
The Slew – Robbing Banks, Doing Time (Ninja Tune)
Dudley Moore Trio – GPO Tower (Decca)
DJ Food – Brother John (Ninja Tune)
Alan Parker – The Free Life (a) (Whr)
The The – Tender Mercy (Lazarus)
DJ Food – Extract From Stolen Moments Too (Ninja Tune)
Beastie Boys – Do It (Grand Royal)
Anti Pop Consortium – Capricorn One (Big Dada)
King Cannibal – A Shining Force (Ninja Tune)
DJ Food – All Covered In Darkness (Mr P Beats/Vocal Remix) (Ninja Tune)
Deckard – Dignity Of Men (Equinox)
DJ Food – Giant (instrumental) (Ninja Tune)
Juice Aleem – Higher Higher (Big Dada)
The Slew – Battle Of Heaven & Hell (Ninja Tune)
DJ Food – Sentinel (Lunar Defence) (Ninja Tune)
Mulatu Astatke & The Heliocentrics – Anglo Ethio Suite (Strut)
DJ Food – All Covered In Darkness (Mr P In 3 Remix) (Ninja Tune)
Imogen Heap – Just For Now (Deep Design Just For Later remix) (Mp3)
Skylab – ? Pt.3 (Eye Q)

Colouring Henry Flint

So, my new EP – The Shape Of Things That Hum – should finally be in shops today (Jan 11th) after a pressing plant mistake led to the whole lot being repressed, missing the Dec 14th release date.

You’ll find a poster wrapped around the vinyl and inside is another of Henry Flint’s amazing illustrations – done specially for this release. He only provides the line work though and I colour each image in Photoshop using a combination of photos, transparency and colour balancing.

It’s a painstaking process involving many layers, minute mouse work and multiple options and variations. I did several screen shots of the work in progress as I went this time (see below) and I’d estimate it took roughly 2 weeks of intense work.
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It wasn’t helped by Photoshop bugs flattening the image for no reason after saving a session. I’d wake up the next morning to find a whole session had been lost and I had to use Time Machine to go back a stage to un-flatten the thing.

Another setback was ‘the orange juice incident‘ after a weeks work on it in the evenings on holiday. That seems an age away now and I’m at work on the final installment, due out around May. Not sure what the cover to that will be but I have plenty more of Henry’s work available to use and then there’s the album cover…

There will be a Shape Of Things Reader mix up on Soundcloud later this week featuring music from the EP plus influential tracks I was listening to whilst making it and other favourites from 2009.

‘Brother’ John Rydgren

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On my new EP, The Shape Of Things That Hum, there’s a track called ‘Brother John’, a tribute of sorts to a remarkable man with a remarkable voice. He appears in the form of samples taken from records, air check recordings and station idents for his LOVE radio show. Most will never have heard of him but I’ve been collecting his recordings for many years now and thought this would be the ideal time to write up a proper introduction for those wanting to know about the man behind the voice.

I’m not sure how I first found the work of John Rydgren, it may have been via Otis Fodder and his 365 days project or maybe the single vinyl bootleg of his ‘Silhouette Segments’ album that began circulating around 2003. I can’t remember what drew me to it, it may have been the psychedelic cover (I’m a big advocate of judging a record by it’s cover).

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Anyway, as soon as I heard that baritone voice, the hip but sometimes dark delivery and the selection of music he chose to recite over, I was hooked. Many compare Rydgren to Ken Nordine and they certainly do have a lot in common. The crucial difference is that Rydgren was a man with a message and that message was spreading the word of the Lord. “Oh, he was a preacher”, I hear you cry, well yes – he was a Pastor and the American Lutheran Church‘s Director of Radio/TV and Film – but not in the clichéd fire and brimstone sense that we picture when one thinks of such things.

Rydgren – who also went by the moniker Brother John – was much subtler than that and chose to integrate God’s word into his radio shows, intertwined with subjects that the youth of the day could relate to. Sex, drugs, rock music, fashion, cars, it all went in with a Lord’s eye view on each and every one. The creation of the world was turned into a psychedelic trip with allusions to heavy rock and growing weed, a girl with thigh length boots he was checking out suddenly gets him thinking about who had made the girl – “quite a design”.

As well as weekly radio shows Rydgren was broadcast to Vietnam for the troops, intermingling his playlists of rock and pop of the day (Stones, Beatles, Byrds) with short segments he’d written and narrated. Over easy listening backing tracks he planted seeds for the listener to think about the relevance of god within their everyday lives. It was never heavy-handed or overblown and certainly never preachy. His messages were usually slipped in after setting a scene a teenager could relate to, bringing the church into the present day as opposed to the stuffy idea of it being something your parents foisted upon you. One of his often used motifs was, ‘they say…” before going off to quote an example of a commonly held belief before turning it on it’s head.

He was always playful but deadly serious, especially when talking about the Lord, almost to the point of morbidity on occasion as his voice dropped lower and lower in register. He was also very anti-drugs, regularly interviewing musicians of the day and quizzing them on the need for weed or LSD to gain enlightenment. As a Pastor for the Lutheran church he tirelessly spread the word in the form of spoken word radio plays and stories ranging from Moses to Elijah to Xmas tales of Theodore and the Angel, most of which he wrote and co-narrated.

All of his records are promo only radio station issues or were sold at church meetings and, as a result, are incredibly hard to come by. Originals, if you can find them, fetch a high price. Ridiculously rare interview 7″s for radio shows occasionally turn up, flexi discs, religious tales, Xmas stories and sampler records of radio inserts are among the unknown quantity of recordings he made over the years. The best of these is the double album ‘Silhouette Segments’ – literally segments from his radio show ‘Silhouette’. This includes the ‘Dark Side of the Flower – a meditation on the decline of the hippy movement over what sounds like a lost David Axelrod track.

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‘Worlds of Youth’ and ‘Contata Of New Life’ are two similar releases and it’s this last one that Rydgren is ironically best known for, although it’s by default and not actually for any of his vocal work. An internet debate has raged for years over where DJ Premier sampled the main hook from for Nas‘Nas Is Like’ and it appears that crate diggers have honed in on the backing track to one of Brother John’s pieces on the aforementioned album. The track is question, ‘What Child Is This?’, has John reciting over a version of ‘Greensleeves’ and Premier himself has said that the label of the record he sampled was pink with a fish on it, the same as the Lutheran church record label. (side note: my copy of Contata has plain black labels with silver lettering and is 12″ sized, i’ve never seen a Lutheran 10″ record but I’m sure they exist). Where John took this version of Greensleeves from is still open to debate but it’s a shame that most internet searches of his name will bring this up rather than any detailed information of his life and work.

Sadly John suffered a stroke whilst on air in 1982. Over time, with therapy, he was able to recover somewhat but had to relearn to read and speak from third grade level. He returned to work in the 80’s for a few years but died in 1988 aged 56. I was lucky enough to track down John’s son, Shane, and obtain his permission to use the voice of his father and am very excited to be able to release such a song knowing it has the blessing of a family member.

You can hear the track Brother John, as well as the rest of the EP, here:

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The Shape Of Things That Hum EP out today

Shape logo & stickerWell, it’s part 2 of the trilogy that hits the web today – not the streets as projected because of a manufacturing cock up that saw the 12″ run pressed on lightweight vinyl. The physical format will now be available in shops from Jan 11th 2010. But, for those that can’t wait there is a place to order it and it should arrive before Xmas if you hurry – the Ninja shop has copies and will be open until Friday the 19th.

For a fiver you get a 5 track 12″ housed in a full colour inner sleeve, wrapped in an A2 double-sided poster cover, all held together by a snugly fitting plastic sleeve. Not only that, you get a code that lets you download all 5 tracks PLUS 3 remixes by Mr P (aka ex-Fooder PC) of ‘All Covered In Darkness’ – not a bad deal by any means. Alternatively, if you only do the digital thing then the 8 track package is available from all good download stores from today.

Lots going on this week; as well as the 12″, last week’s ‘Now, Look & Listen’ AV mix with DK there’s the first part of my Warp mix – Blech 20.1 dropping on Tuesday, a mixed guide to the new EP’s contents and a second Warp mix that are both nearly finished. I also have a very special post scheduled about one of the artists I sampled on the new record. You wait for ages and then 6 come along at once…

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The Shape of Things That Hum EP Soundcloud Promo

Here are 3 tracks from my next EP, streamable via Soundcloud – there 5 tracks in all with a further 3 remixes on the download. Sentinel is a collaboration with DK and GIANT is a cover of The The without the vocal which will be added to a remixed version on the album. If you want to buy it and click the link it will take you to iTunes but the EP isn’t out until Dec 14th now so you’ll have a bit of a wait…
DJ Food – ‘The Shape of Things That Hum’ (Promo) by Ninja Tune

Posted in DJ Food, Music, Ninja Tune. | 5 Comments |

More King Cannibal downloads

Adding to the post below and, on the eve of Dylan ‘King Cannibal’ Richards‘ first full length release:

Both Dylan and I were pretty gutted when Ninja said they weren’t going to do a last 12″ single from the album (not a physical one anyway) as we wouldn’t see the cover image any bigger than CD sized. All that effort and work, lost on a format little bigger than a coaster! I’ve taken the step to have them available as a series of desktops and a high quality jpeg of the cover, twice the size of an LP sleeve, at a resolution that you could make a poster from on the Downloads page.

Let The Night Roar is out now on Ninja Tune

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King Cannibal desktops

Various King Cannibal desktop wallpapers in progress. There’ll be a big post about the artwork soon as the album drops on Monday and hopefully a big pdf file of the cover will be available to you all so that you’ll be able to see it in all it’s pervy, fetishistic glory.

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The Shape Of Things That Hum

Shape EP poster

This will be the next DJ Food EP in the trilogy, released Dec 7th as a 12″ with poster cover and download with 3 bonus remixes.

Side A
1. Sentinel (Shadow Guard) – DJ Food & DK, mixed by King Cannibal
2. extract from Stolen Moments too – variations on a theme
3. Brother John – featuring the voice of John Rydgren,  a tribute of sorts
Side B
1. GIANT (instrumental) This is a cover of the The The classic, there will be a vocal version on the album next year by Matt Johnson himself
2. Sentinel (Lunar Defence) – a reprise / reversion of the main track

8 track Download + pdf booklet
All Covered In Darkness (Mr P remix suite) 3 remixes by PC totalling 13 minutes.

Artwork is again by Henry Flint on the inks and me on the colours, here’s the main cover / poster image.