Jane Weaver – Modern Kosmology LP

JW_cover
The new Jane Weaver album is absolutely blinding, debuting at no. 50 in the UK charts this week too, the highest selling record in independent shops around the UK last week. Available on limited vinyl, regular, CD and digital, it’s an instant contender for album of the year lists. Buy it here

The artwork by Andy Votel is beautiful too, full of detail and tiny design flourishes, the foil printing being beautiful to touch.

JW_metallicJW_backJW_label JW_poster

Solid Egg 2017

SE_belongs

It’s that time of year again, when my friends Sarah & Leigh of Solid Egg fame – now into their 5th year – lay a new batch of chocolate creations on us, it’s enough to give the Easter bunny a hernia. A pure white one arrived last week, purely in the realms of research you understand, and they’ve outdone themselves this time. Every aspect of the packaging screams, ‘attention to detail!’, from the outer box to the accompanying tea towel to the paper the egg is wrapped in.

As ever, they’re not resting on their laurels and have a host of different flavours including a mega allergen-free one for those with complicated needs. You can buy them here in nine different varieties this year and they’re also available in the Cocoa Amore shop in Leicester. They’ve ramped up the online presence this year too with a bespoke site where you can read all about what’s in them at solidegg.co.uk, a Facebook page in case you want to ask any questions or show off your purchases and an Instagram account so you can peek behind the curtain and see some of the inner workings.

SE_noteSE-ingredients SE-teatowelSE-w.knifeSE cut SE 2 halves

Two new Patterned Air releases

Patterened Air front
I’ve been meaning to post about Matt Saunders‘ new(ish) Patterned Air Recordings imprint for a while now but work is taking over at the moment. Suffice to say that after The Assembled Minds’ debut release late last year he’s just released the second and third in the catalogue back to back. CukoO and Running On Air couldn’t be further apart stylistically but they make sense when tied together in the elaborate CD packaging that Matt assembles for each release. Patterened Air back
Taking up the baton from labels like The Folklore Tapes or A Year In The Country, each pouch contains multiple items that enhance the release in some way, hand printed, stamped, signed, numbered and then tied with a leather strip. They’re a nightmare to store and get into but there’s nothing out there quite like them and the label mission statement on their website reads like a ‘Hauntology 101’. “We are a record label interested in weird things. We like analogue synths, reel-to-reel machines, Radiophonics, music for children, music for falling to sleep by, early electronic experiments, folkloric eeriness, seances, electronic voice phenomenon, old techno, deteriorated music — in a nutshell, soundtracks to get us off this mundane plain and onto an elevated, if creepy, state of euphoria”.

I’ll buy that for a dollar but there’s more at work here than that – the music is just as unique as the packaging, sitting somewhere between earthy folk, spine-chilling electronica and the kind of melodic, stately British nostalgia found in Grasscut‘s records. Labels like this are always fun at the beginning because they’re full of ideas, idealism, experiments and no musical formula in place. These are all still available from the label’s Bandcamp page.

Assembled Minds front Cukoo front Cukoo backRunning On Air frontRunning On Air back

De:tuned Brainbox compilation artwork

BBtop
As you’ll be aware if you read this blog, I’ve designed the artwork for the new 6xLP ‘Brainbox’ compilation from Belgian label, De:Tuned. This was somewhat of a dream job in every sense as not only did I have multiple surfaces to play with but the design brief was an ideal one from the start. Ruben Boons, label manager, came to me over a year ago wanting something that jumped off from my work with Amon Tobin around the ‘Out From Out Where’ album sleeves which is one of my personal favourite designs and was exactly where my head was at this particular time. Using similar methods of assembly and composition I created a main image that everyone was happy with (which became the cover) and then remixed it mulitple times to form images for the rest of the compilation. Everything you see here stems from at least part of the cover image.

From the off it seemed that Ruben and I was on exactly the same page and any suggestions he made always bettered the designs and, as I’d been given pretty much free reign over what to produce, this made the whole process even more enjoyable. There’s nothing worse that presenting a client with multiple variations of a job and them picking the weakest one. From experience I try never to send any examples of prospective designs on a job that I ultimately wouldn’t be happy to see in print but there are always favourites. No such worries on this job, it was bliss from beginning to end and I couldn’t be happier with the final result. There are only 300 box sets out there (I know mine says 304 below, that’s part of a small overun for the artists involved) and each comes with a download code for those who like their music digital – there is no CD though, another godsend as one of the most boring parts of a job like this is reformatting a design down to a small version for a CD.

You can hear excerpts from it and more above in this Solid Steel mix I made and buy it from the many links below:
Juno: bit.ly/2eD3NzG Bleep: bit.ly/2dsrXzY Hardwax: bit.ly/2f51Tdr Rushhour: bit.ly/2eN9dsN
Norman: bit.ly/2errQmc Japhy: bit.ly/2eaHxOU Decks: bit.ly/2emIWni Deejay.de: bit.ly/2eN2VwO

NB: Each disc was given a subtitle as well as a number, referring to different parts of the brain: Frontal, Cerebellum, Parietal etc. also, the last image below is of a sticker that comes with the box.

BBnumberBBbottom BBinners3 BBbox+innersBBinners2 BBinnerstext BBinner6 BBinner4Bblabel2BBinner1BBinner7 BBlabel1 BBinner5BBinner5.2BBinner2 BBsticker

Clipping.

3ea10c497589c04e3e852cff90682e82
Clipping. seemingly came out of nowhere and blew my head off last week. They’ve actually been around for a few years but were well under my radar and I’m not the only one judging by the comments I’ve had from various friends I’ve played them to. I was drawn to them by the cover to their latest album, ‘Splendor & Mercy’, which riffs off the Philips Prospective 21st Siecle LPs with silver foil covers that I collect and adds a cosmonaut in silhouette. It caught my eye, can’t remember where, so I thought I’d check it out, assuming it would be a synth-y, spacey kind of thing but then noticed it was on Sub Pop Records, the legendary indie rock/alternative label of old. OK, so maybe I’ve misjudged this. A full album stream on YouTube revealed the broody rumble of deep space, static and star transmissions before a rasping voice interjected, shortly before bursting into double time raps against hyper drive engine throbs – or is it the sound of a star dying?. Crackling distortion, warning sirens and sub bass pulses, this is hip hop, just not like anything I’d heard before.


The trio of Daveed Diggs (vocals), William Hutson & Jonathan Snipes (electronics) have set up camp in their own little corner of hip hop, one that no one else I can think of is inhabiting right now. It’s such a deep corner that few have even ventured near before that I’d say they’ve got a lot of space to move around in right now. One of the most interesting aspects is that the music is entirely free of conventional music samples, instead consisting of noise, fx, found and electronic sound and that it’s entirely subservient to Diggs’ voice. He drives the compositions, weaving in half, double and triple time through the sometimes barely-there rhythms – witness the performance for Moog below.

As an MC he’s incredible, up there with Busdriver, Mika 9 or Andy Cooper in the vocal acrobatic stakes with raps that pull no punches but don’t kowtow to traditional cliche´s of keepin’ it real or playing the game. Equally, Hutson and Snipes’ jagged digital landscapes fight and intrude with the vocal’s restless energy. They’ve previously composed soundtracks for TV and film, most notably the documentary on Stanley Kubrick‘s hidden meanings in ‘The Shining’,Room 237′, on Death Waltz Recordings.

I forgot to mention; it’s a concept album too, from the release page on Bandcamp: “Splendor & Misery is an Afrofuturist, dystopian concept album that follows the sole survivor of a slave uprising on an interstellar cargo ship, and the onboard computer that falls in love with him. Thinking he is alone and lost in space, the character discovers music in the ship’s shuddering hull and chirping instrument panels. William and Jonathan’s tracks draw an imaginary sonic map of the ship’s decks, hallways, and quarters, while Daveed’s lyrics ride the rhythms produced by its engines and machinery. In a reversal of H.P. Lovecraft’s concept of cosmic insignificance, the character finds relief in learning that humanity is of no consequence to the vast, uncaring universe. It turns out, pulling the rug out from under anthropocentrism is only horrifying to those who thought they were the center of everything to begin with. Ultimately, the character decides to pilot his ship into the unknown—and possibly into oblivion—instead of continuing on to worlds whose systems of governance and economy have violently oppressed him.”.

Given some of the toss I’ve read in press releases and reading that AFTER I’ve heard the record I can actually get with it. Oh, and the reason I even checked it in the first place – the cover – it’s a beautiful package on vinyl: a clear vinyl ‘Loser’ edition with faux Philips label designs co-opted to the band name and a reflective silver foil triangle.

Clippingweb

This is pushing things forward, breathing new life into a genre that’s been coasting alternatively on waves of pop commercialism, independent underground hustling or niche nostalgia for some time. This, and the records they’ve made before them, show a new way, give permission to the next generation, are as important as De La‘s ‘3 Feet High…’, PE‘s ‘It Takes A Nation of Millions…’  or NWAs ‘Straight Outta Compton’. You’ll love it or hate it, and it’s not always an easy listen (or watch – their videos are just as uncompromising) but it won’t go unnoticed for much longer. One of the most important albums of 2016. Check some of their other releases too, the ‘Wriggle’ EP, released earlier this summer, is just as raw and possibly just a bit more accessible.

New reissue of Frankie’s ‘…Pleasuredome’ album

WTTPHollyquote
I still get buzzed off the fact that my name is on the design credits of the recent reissues of this classic album which meant so much to me as a 14 year old and still means so much to me 32 years later. Not two years after the huge ‘Inside the Pleasuredome’ box set that I worked on with Philip Marshall comes a standalone vinyl reissue of the LP contained inside the set.

WTTPcreditThe music is the same but there are some slight differences to the packaging: mainly the actual vinyl itself which now has the original label designs with the F, G, T and H restored (I had to remake them from scratch) and white vinyl instead of black. Eagle-eyed collectors will also notice that the fig leaves have been restored on the back cover image to cover the animal’s modesty whilst in the midst of their orgy. Philip had to remake each one from scratch too.

WTTPFlabelWTTPTdiscWTTPSainsburysThis edition will be available exclusively, I’m told, from Sainsburys – that bastion of record emporiums where we all go when we need our fix of the black crack. Whether this is just the white vinyl version or whether there will be other colours available elsewhere, I do not know.

WTTPcover
WTTPback

I do know that this is the nicest looking vinyl reissue since the box set version though; heavy card, full colour inner sleeves, coloured vinyl, different labels etc. Also, high quality images, not the anti-aliased, bitmapped, jpegged, over-saturated coloured version that the Music On Vinyl issue had some years back – quite possibly the worse reissue of any album I’ve ever seen, an insult to this album’s legacy and one of the only undamaged records I’ve ever thrown away.

WTTPinnercreditWTTPexploit

Mongrols – Attack The Monolith ltd LP & London show

KidAcne flyer
Great line up at one of my local venues this Saturday when Mike Ladd, Strange U, Juice Aleem and Mongrels (Kid Acne & Benjamin) rock up in support of Scotty Hard, the legendary producer currently partially paralysed and facing huge medical bills in the US. Loving that Battle of the Planets-referencing flyer there.

I’ve been meaning to post about Mongrels’ recent ‘Attack The Monolith’ album – the limited vinyl of which is a thing of beauty and still available here. It comes in one of 3 alternative colourways (Gold, Silver or Bronze) hand-pulled screen printed sleeves + risograph insert, inner sleeves plus embossed and numbered on the back. The album features multiple appearances of Sebash from New Kingdom who is now an honourary member. Back in July, on the 20thh anniversary of NK’s 2nd album, ‘Paradise Don’t Come Cheap’, Mongrels made a special celebratory mix

730244a3-7cfb-4569-8a32-3c6819017f25

Ennio Morricone – Paura Vol.1 & 2

Paura2.jpg
I remember seeing the cover to volume 1 of this Ennio Morricone collection last year and liking it, now there’s a second will another great image to continue the series. Both on trnasparent vinyl in an edition of 499 copies on Rustblade Records. Showcasing “the darker experimental side of Ennio” vol. 2 contains “Frightening orchestrations, dark jazz tapestries and unsettling piano movements…” apparently on vinyl for the first time. Both volumes and much more are available from OneWayStatic.com.
Paura

Paolozzi from the Edinburgh Beer Factory

PaolozziBox
On my trip to Edinburgh last weekend, one of my missions was to track down a bottle or two of the Edinburgh Beer Factory‘s Paolozzi – mostly for the design of the bottle it has to be said. I only managed to find it on draught in one bar but was surprised at how nice it tasted, a superbly light, clean beer with a slightly sweet taste. On returning home I was sent a link to the EBF website where they sell not only the beer in bottles, but glasses too, in various numbers, all wrapped in glorious Eduardo Paolozzi designs.
You can get boxes of just beer or get them to swap out bottles for glasses and some sets come with coasters and a poster. I ordered a box and it arrived in less than 24 hours and all for under a fiver postage, excellent service and a beautiful set to behold with design touches like the ‘Ta Da’ when you open the box. The box and bottles are so nice you don’t want to throw them away when you’re finished. Find them all here in a multitude of combinations including a tour of the brewery.PaolozziTaDaPaolozziBoxOpen PaolozziBottlesPaolozziBottleTop PaolozziBottleBack PaolozziGlassunwrappedPaolozziWrapperPaolozziGlassTopPaolozziGlassFrontPaolozziGlassDetail2PaolozziGlassDetail

Record Roulette #17: What did the Hippie have in his bag? 45

Hippy7front I picked this up a few weeks back, a short book with a record by Cornershop called, ‘What Did The Hippy Have in His Bag?’. It’s a lovely little thing with a simple song going through the content of said bag (not what you’d expect), perfect for kids and with an instrumental on the B side you can learn it and then sing your own version. Released a few years back on the band’s Ample Play Records’ Singles Club, you can still find copies in their shop for £12.
Hippy7inside3 Hippy7inside2

Hippy7inside1 Hippy7inside4Hippy7back

Oxygen aka MC Just Divine – new 45

oxygen_149_with_sticker
Out today, another banger from Soundsci – this time concentrating on Oxygen. ‘1-4-9′ is under two minutes and comes with an instrumental to match on the same side, surely a first for a 45? This is the second in a trilogy of 45s from the crew before they drop their LP, ‘Walk The Earth’ and features a great cover from Paul ‘Sub2’ Trewin who also did all the character designs for the 45 Live roster earlier this year. Buy it here before it goes

45 Live Roster

Posted in Music, Packaging. | No Comments | Tags: , ,

Jodorowsky’s Dune LP packaging

JodoDuneLPfront2
One of my favourite releases of 2015 and one I’ve been meaning to photograph for ages, the pre-order version of Kurt Stenzel’s ‘Jodoroowsky’s Dune’ soundtrack. Everything about this release is top notch, the design (by Signalstarr), the quality of the sleeve, the obi strip and insert with sleeve notes. The coloured vinyl is stunning, one of the best examples of its use I’ve seen and the music – which let’s not forget is the reason to buy such an item – is excellent too. One point deducted on an otherwise 10/10 release though, there was no 27″ x 40″ folded film poster as promised on the pre-order and sticker – did anyone else get one or was it just me?. I’ve mailed Light In The Attic about this and they’ve promised to send one though which will complete this as one of the best record packages released last year. * See below for update
JodoDuneLP3JodoDuneLPcontentsstrictlykev_JodoDuneLP1-4

JodoDuneLPback
*UPDATE* – and here’s the poster, newly arrived from those lovely people at Light In The Attic – it’s huge and makes this my favourite piece of music, design and packaging of 2015.

Dune poster

Freaky Formats at the Vinyl Factory: 3D sleeves

Various 'A Psyche For Sore Eyes' webI’m pleased to announce that I’ve collaborated with the good people at The Vinyl Factory for a monthly look through the weirder reaches of my record collection. After the short film on flexi discs they made this summer we’ve got together to produce an irregular look at the weird & wonderful world on vinyl and the myriad forms of pressings and packaging it can come in, dug directly from my collection. The first post just went live and focuses on 3D sleeves, photographer Michael Wilkin shot the sleeves.

Ghost Box ‘In A Moment’ compilation

GB10front
I was very pleased when one of these popped through the letterbox the other day – a present from one of my consistently favourite labels. Ghost Box records are 10 and what does any self-respecting label do when they reach that anniversary? They compile some of the best bits and that’s exactly what ‘In A Moment’ showcases.

GB10 inside GB10gatefoldGB10back
Nestling in the credits as well… that’s very serious company to be keeping. The comp is out on 9th October on double vinyl, CD and DL with sleeve notes by Simon ‘Hauntology’ Reynolds.

GB10credits

Sunday digs: 7″s and obsolete formats

Pelham front
Obsolete formats: I have no way to play these first few items and already own them in several other forms but I couldn’t resist picking these up today.
The ‘…Pelham 123’ release is a Video disc in a huge plastic ‘cartridge’, bigger than an LP, I originally thought this was the same as the Laser disc system but it seems it’s an earlier, failed format that was read with a physical needle rather than a laser! – more info here.
I was amazed that the Derek & Clive release was even on 8-Track – this one almost as dirty as the audio it contains. The Curtis Mayfield cart is just a beautiful object.

Pelham backD&C8trackfront D&C8trackback SweetExhorcistfront
This is Toolshed‘s first ever release from 15 years ago, a 2 track 7″ in a ziplock bag with screen-printed, folded card cover. Toolshed is Graham Massey‘s occasional all-star experimental supergroup featuring the likes of Paddy Steer, Seaming To and many more.
Toolshed1st7
‘Punk Funk’ was my favourite track from The Brotherhood‘s Elementalz album back in the mid 90s and I never even knew this existed on 7″. With a great heavy remix by 12 Rounds (who included Atticus Ross among their members) exclusive to this format it’s probably my favourite find of the day. This particular version is not on YouTube so you’ll have to take my word for it.
PunkFunk7
Finally found this Psychedelic Furs 7″ with a flexi stuck to the cover, play the sleeve as well as the 45 inside!
PsyFurs7
This Jona Lewie single is actually only 6″s in size and includes a funny little disclaimer about the realities of automatic turntables trying to play it. Stiff Records up to their old tricks again, strange that they should do a 6″ and a 7″? This one was bought purely for its odd format and joins the tiny ranks of my irregular-sized vinyl collection.

JonaLewiewarning JonaLewie6inch

Inside The Pleasuredome is nominated in the AIM awards

FGTH_ITP_Box_contents
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.

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 00.10.03