The return of the Ninja Tune slipmat

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The slipmat has long been a part of Ninja Tune‘s merch lines, alongside the T-shirt, record bag and Ninja Skinz. The last one I designed for them was back in 2007 for mine and DK‘s ‘Now, Listen Again’ Solid Steel comp. At the time sales of vinyl were seriously in freefall, Serato and Tractor were taking over and people were looking at digital as the way forward, slipmats weren’t exactly flying out the door.
By the end of the decade I don’t think the label even considered making any for their 20th anniversary, they just weren’t on the radar anymore. But things have a habit of coming back again and, nearly a decade on, here’s a new twist on an old design – available now from the Ninjashop.

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Kosmischer Debris x9.4

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Some of the recent Kosmischer Debris experiments from my Instagram – not sure about these, there are a couple of interesting ones but nothing I’m super happy with. These images are all generated from one piece, collaged elements of the Musée des Confluences that I took in Lyon last year. I want to see how far I can push them before they look like visual soup. The lower right one is pretty much there I’d say.

Resonance FM fundraiser and radio show

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I’m doing / have done a couple of things for Resonance FM – London’s great station of the weird, wonderful and avant garde. Last week Robin The Fog, aka Howlround, came errrr… round and we spent a hugely enjoyable three hours going through the odder ends of my collection. It rapidly descended into, ‘have you heard this? you haven’t? oh my god, check this out’ etc. etc. We’ve all been there but Robin’s and my tastes are quite acutely tuned to a specific end of the musical spectrum marked ‘miscellaneous’. This is all for a new series on his and station cohort, Hannah Brown‘s ‘Near Mint’ show about ‘excessive record collecting’.

He left with over an hour of audio and a lot more of me wittering on about German concept albums about the body, a children’s alphabet in space LP, one-off record booth finds and cut up psychoanalysis experiments. We touched on old favourites like Ken Nordine, John Rydgren and Marshall McLuhan too but our shared love of Sesame Street‘s more experimental side wasn’t discussed. Below are some examples of some of the delights we explored and you can hear the show next Tuesday, February 9th at 6pm. NOW! (Well, part 1 anyway)

The week after that I’ll be joining both of them. as well as host of the station’s Luck Cat show, Zoe Baxter, at the West Norwood Book & Record Bar to help raise money for the station as part of their annual funding drive. There will be a raffle with prizes, some from my own collection, but most of all, there will be great music (see flyer above for details).

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Updated Openmindesign site

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I’ve been spending a bit of time updating my Openmindesign portfolio website this week as well as making art for the new daily ‘Kosmischer Debris’ series on Instagram, hence the minimal activity on here. The portfolio is now way easier to get around, I’ve taken a lot out and stripped it back to the bare essentials, although there’s still 20+ years of work on there.

There’s a new format series that I’ve been meaning to start on here but I’ve been too busy to implement it and also, The Vinyl Factory made a return visit this week for a second round of the ‘Freaky Formats’ series which should be up shortly. I’m editing a huge 28,000 word interview I did with Mr Scruff for Dust & Grooves and have finished a 45s mix for the 45/7 Vinyl Club which will debut in March. There’s more but I don’t want to shout about it right now…

Kosmischer Debris

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For 2016 I have a vague idea to post a graphic image a day under the title of Kosmischer Debris with the intention of forcing me to explore ideas and avenues I don’t usually have time to. I don’t want to formulate any rules aside from that the images must be self-generated pieces of art or design, maybe some works in progress, some variations of an idea, work with no specific home. I don’t know, let’s see how it goes anyway. I don’t intend to post it all here but to put it on my Instagram account where it’ll be more suitable so follow me there if this interests you.

‘Battlestation Z’

BattlestationZ_Front2 Some detailed shots of my (late) entry to the Cosmic Flush exhibition at the Magda Danysz Gallery just before Xmas. This has now been taken down but will hopefully be traveling to New York in the spring with the other pieces for the second leg of the show. ‘Battlestation Z’ is inspired by Rammellzee‘s homemade Garbage God outfits, built from parts of old model kits, toys, records, CDs and even a turntable head shell into a 3D construction that partly takes its title from his old home studio. Including laser-cut perspex discs spelling out his name, album and Iconoclast Panzerism / Gothic Futurism theories, it builds in layers of debris towards a futuristic insectoid/robotic shaman character at the head.BattlestationZ_Full
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23 Million Mu notes

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A lovely package arrived just before Xmas from the people at the Cube Microplex in Bristol who recently put on the KLF-themed night. In amongst rafts of logos, printouts, programmes, DVDs and a USB stick was this packet of Million Mu notes I’d designed for the event. Two wads of 23 (nice) White and Black Room editions plus matches and a certificate topped off with part of a burnt fiver and the simple note, ‘enjoy!’. I have to say, the notes are beautifully printed and the same size as regular dollar bills. Top work all round.

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20 years since the first Ninja Tune ‘Stealth’ club night

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Yes, 20 years ago today (although it was a Thursday back then) Ninja hosted their second party at the Blue Note in Hoxton Square, London and the first with the title ‘Stealth’ (the original party was a launch do for the ‘A Recipe For Disaster’ album). Great times ensued, pretty sure I met my future wife that night too…

X-Ray Audio & The Flexibition at the Horse Hospital

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Above is the flexi disc that comes free with the limited edition version of Stephen Coates‘ new book on Soviet Bone Music, ‘X-Ray Audio’. The book and exhibition launches this Saturday at the Horse Hospital in London showing discs, films and images that tell the story of how these strange artifacts came to be.

On Dec 5th at the same venue I’ll be in conversation with Stephen showcasing some of my flexi disc collection, playing selections and telling the stories behind them. First through the door will get a random flexi and Stephen will also bring some of his Soviet 78rpm discs too no doubt.

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Images from the KLF night at the Cube Cinema

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Scenes from last weekend’s KLF-themed night at the Cube Cinema, Bristol. John Higgs gave a talk and there was an hour-long video montage by Mr Hopkinson of which this is but a short segment.

Below my friends Phil and Stuart prepare to burn part of their entrance fee which was given back to them upon entry. Jonathan Harris led several money burning rituals outside and writes about the experience on his blog here.

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Several attendees purchased the One Million Mu notes that I designed for the night and posted their acquisitions afterwards, sorry for the lack of credits but I know the last one is DJ Moneyshot‘s copy. I’m still waiting for my copies in the post but will post shots when they arrive.

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KLF night with John Higgs at the Cube, Bristol

Bank of Mu front v.2This Sunday at The Cube microplex in Bristol there will be a very special event centered around The KLF and their burning of a million pounds over 20 years ago. EntitledKLF : Chaos, Magic and the band who burned a million pounds, the night takes its name from John Higgs‘ recent book and he’ll be talking about Discordianism, Doctor Who, ‘The Illuminatus! Trilogy’, Alan Moore’s Idea Space, the number 23 and more amidst talks, screenings, loops and rituals in The Black Room. More info here, tickets are limited.
Cube KLF bannerI was asked to provide some sort of musical accompaniment but this weekend’s gig schedule means I’d never make it back to the gig in time unfortunately. Instead I’ve fashioned this fictitious One Million Mu note for them to ‘do what thou wilt’ with. Click each note for a larger version and see how many easter eggs I’ve put into them – whoever spots them all wins something interesting.

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20 Years today since the 1st Ninja Tune party at the Blue Note

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Yes, that’s what it says on the flyer above. 20 years ago today Ninja Tune held a launch party for the DJ Food album ‘A Recipe For Disaster’ at a small club called The Blue Note in a little known part of London called Shoreditch. Metalheadz hosted a club there every Sunday and a few others had done nights there at the time but such was the success of this one-off it was decided that the label should make it regular. Two months later ‘Stealth’ was born and Ninja became the second label to host a regularly monthly night at the club which, it’s no exaggeration to say, brought people to Shoreditch and spearheaded the interest and popularity of the area as we know it today.

Inside The Pleasuredome is nominated in the AIM awards

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I’m very pleased to announce that the Frankie Goes To Hollywood box set I co-designed last year with Philip Marshall and Ian Peel for Union Square Music has just been nominated for an award in the ‘SPECIAL CATALOGUE RELEASE OF THE YEAR’ category in the AIM (Association of Independent Music) awards. We’re up against Oasis, Bjork, Imogen Heap, The Pretty Things and the Cities of Darkscorch boardgame – fingers crossed. Regardless of whether we win or not it’s also been announced the Ninja Tune HAVE won the ‘Innovator Award’ so well done Matt, Jon, Peter and everyone involved in the label.

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5 Psychedlic Sushi logos

PsychSushi logos x5Here are 5 prospective logos I knocked up for the Psychedelic Sushi night I’m doing with Matty Skylab. The top two were deemed too obvious, my favourite was the mouth although it wouldn’t translate easily into a black and white logo. Matty liked the coloured eye but thought it was too cartoon-y so I swapped it for a photographic one instead. The night is on July 24th, 8pm -1.30am at Brilliant Corners and is free – turn up, tuck in and freak out as we play anything we deem psychedelic enough whilst they serve from their lovely Japanese menu. More info here

Brand new Solid Steel website by antipattern

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We have a brand new Solid Steel website, built for us by antipattern, which finally does all the things we wanted it to do with the vast archive of mixes we’ve accumulated from the last 27 years. We’re very pleased with the results as the site is full of easy to navigate touches that leave plenty of room for a gallery of artwork and photography to grace your desktop, tablet or phone whilst you listen.

Here’s a quick walk through: (above) Main landing page with Featured mixes bar on the right – just tap Featured to close it. (Below) Once a mix is selected just hit play on the Solid Steel logo on the left, you can jump through the mix once it’s loaded or pause by tapping the logo again. Click Tracklist to open a side bar with a scrollable tracklist.
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(Above) Click the Synopsis tab to bring up details of the mix plus a link to Soundcloud where you can find the mixes and leave a comment or download. (Below) If you fancy finding an old mix there are several ways of accessing them: the good old Search button in the middle of the three top left circles or the Timeline button next to it which brings up a new graphic showing the decades from 1988 to the present.

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(Above) Click the Year you want and a side bar will appear with a scrollable list of all the shows from that date. You can also then scroll vertically through the years too. (Below) Finally there’s an A-Z directory down at the bottom left so that you can see if an artist you love has contributed a mix to the show, hit the name and all their mixes will appear in a scrollable side bar.
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Big thanks again to Suki and Paul at antipattern, go visit their new site, DK for producing the whole project and Tom and James at Ninja for the behind the scenes help.

Solid Steel logo process

Solid_Steel_logo+1_2015The start of the new Solid Steel site was the creation of a new logo for the show, from which we determined where we were going design-wise. A clean, modern look was wanted that also had to work alongside an image of the mix artist featured each week. I decided on a very thin, san-serif font that would leave plenty of space for an image, show date and artist name, all within a circle or square that would work at thumbnail size.

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(Above) I started off with variants of the existing single ‘S’ logo which looked OK but lacked that certain something.

(Below) I won’t bore you with all the endless font and weight placements but there were many and I ended up with a central ‘o’ which aped a record or CD appearance from a distance and a very thin font on which I did a lot of work kerning and re-sculpting letters to sit at different weights. There were many subtle variations on the ‘S’s and by extending the ‘L’s and ‘T’ the text was suddenly no longer floating and a unique, eye-catching logo had been formed.

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(Above) Variations in a heavier weight as well as an off-centre ‘O’ were needed for use at smaller sizes.
(Below) I then started experimenting with different ways to unify the weekly artist images – toning or tinting the images and discarding an oblong title card inside a square as it looked too much like existing mix show graphics.
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(Below) A brief flirtation with breaking the circle which was discarded because it would cause too much trouble when placed onto a coloured background or image.
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(Above) Different weights of type for readability. (Below) By moving the artist name out of the centre circle we freed up space and gave ourselves room for longer names. I have to be creative with the image placement each week but the date is readable and there’s plenty of room for the artist names in the top right section.
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Ninja Tune 25 Expo, Charleville-Mezieres, France

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I keep forgetting to post this – there’s a Ninja Tune 25 Year retrospective currently showing at the Médiathèque Voyelles, 2 Place Jacques Félix, 08000 Charleville-Mézières in France. It’s been curated by Jais Elalouf aka DJ Oof (that’s him below, at the opening night) from his own personal collection and some of my archive. It features many record sleeves, promo posters, proofs and some original artwork and finishes on April 30th so if you’re in the area check it out.

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