An absolute gem of an album recently surfaced on Trunk Records – ‘Galactic Nightmare’, a kind of low budget War of the Worlds first released on cassette in 1986 and now transferred to a double vinyl album with gatefold sleeve, printed inners and extra art. There’s a nice story behind it on the Trunk website and I love that GN logo above – so 80s. Only 500 copies on double vinyl, sold out on the label website but they have digital if that’ll do you. A real special one-off as only Trunk can do, look out for it, here’s a short preview…
A brand new album of material by John Baker from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop is getting a release on Buried Treasure next month. You may remember me featuring their Rare Psych, Moog & Brass comp over a year ago that I’m still playing tracks out from.
From the press release: “Whilst producing ‘The John Baker Tapes’ albums for Trunk Records, Alan Gubby – Buried Treasure’s label manager – unearthed several reels of music & sound effects from the 1960’s BBC TV series ‘Vendetta’ – an organised crime / mafia thriller starring Italian actor Stelio Candelli (Barbarella, Django, Planet Of The Vampires). John produced a tense, rhythmic & unhinged James Bond style score for the 1st series in 1966 featuring live drums, radiophonic bass lines, taped atmospherics & screaming jazz improvisations.
Available for the 1st time ever, The Vendetta Tapes displays Baker’s legendary skills in combining tape manipulation with live instrumentation. The music is thrilling, sleazy, deranged & very hip. Highlights from the score are presented on this compilation alongside other previously unreleased tracks plus a couple of classics from the hard to find Trunk compilations – all digitally remastered by Mark Ayres from the radiophonic archives.”
Released on LP, CD on the 14th August 2015 via Modulor Distribution (Paris) but you can buy the digital right now from the BT bandcamp page. Unfortunately all CD & vinyl copies have already been swallowed up by the stores such as Rough Trade or Norman Records so hit the links to pre-order.
OK, so – Gamma Proforma – UK label dealing in music, art, books and apparel (T-shirts to you and me). I’ve mentioned them before, most notably with the recent Divine Styler album that blew my socks off in January but also with the ReWire kickstarter of last year and the Futurism 2.0 exhibition they put on a couple of years back. Their ‘roster’ – if you can call it that as they seem to deal in a project by project way – is full of name familiar to this blog both new and old: She One, Augustine Kofie, Divine Styler, Futura 2000, Will Barras, Remi/Rough, Delta, Rammellzee, Syd Mead and Ian ‘Swifty’ Swift among many more. If that isn’t enough to get your interest then you may as well stop reading now. I just want to highlight some of the currents releases coming out of this great label who seem to have tapped into my mind at times and assembled items that tick multiple boxes to an extent where it’s just getting silly now.
Their current big project is a multi-part release of The Rammellzee‘s final album, ‘Cosmic Flush’, incomplete at the time of his death but now finished by producer Jonah Mociun whom he worked on it with. Each track is being released on a single 12″ backed with a remix + instrumentals with a different artist chosen to provide the cover which is also included as a signed print.
Above and below are the first two singles, ‘Brainstorm’ and ‘How’s My Girlfriends’ with art by Futura 2000 and Ramm acolyte Ian Kuali’i and remixes by Divine Styler and Mr Len (ex-Co. Flow). The third 12″ – released next month – will be ‘Crazay’ with art by Delta and Mike Ladd on remix duties. Each 12″ is a pressing of 500 with half of these adding the print, these versions aren’t cheap and the Futura one is already sold out but the quality is top notch. Eventually all the releases will form the album proper although I’m not sure whether that will be collected into a box of some sort or issued on CD.
As you can see, there’s a heavy emphasis on the more leftfield, abstract side of graffiti on these releases and that’s carried over into the books and T-shirts too. The She One book with 7″ picure disc below is a heavy slab of goodness chock full of James Choules’ flaming brushstroke camouflage styles from close ups to sketch book scraps and a beautiful collection presented without all the usual clichés of the genre.
Similarly Phil Ashcroft‘s angular spikes take on a more ‘futuristic’ tone in his book of dystopian visions and sci-fi seems the be at the heart of what Gamma produce with Syd Mead T-shirts being an early release. There’s also a shirt series underway too with Kofie supplying the first example on a white shirt below and Will Barras depicting a menacing Rammellzee in his signature style for the second.
All the pieces mentioned here are immaculately laid out and design forms the subject of another forthcoming book – a retrospective of Ian ‘Swifty’ Swift‘s career titled ‘Full Circle’, due in the autumn but you can pre-order it now. I daren’t even mention the Will Barras book arriving shortly, the prints, magazines, original art or the digital freebies available if you peruse the Gamma site at length…
PS: in a weird act of synchronicity the Has It Leaked site just put up a look at the label too with quotes from me included – read it here and find out even more…
Just uploaded to the Pillage Roadshow YouTube account – the film of DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist‘s recent ‘Renegades of Rhythm’ tour where they played Afrika Bamabaataa’s records and formed a history of Hip Hop from some of the vinyl it was created from. Not sure if this will ever get a legit release due to all the licensing that would be needed to make it legal so this may be the only way to see it if you weren’t there. It was definitely gig of the year so far when I saw it in January. Thanks to Suki Majhail-McLean for the heads up.
A new The The record is always cause for celebration and the first on vinyl for over 15 years (not counting reissues) is an even bigger one. That this beauty appears on Death Waltz in a leather effect gatefold sleeve with 12×12″ booklet, obi strip, lobby card, coloured and etched vinyl is more than anyone could have hoped for. The icing on the cake for me here is that I introduced Matt Johnson to Spencer from Death Waltz, suggesting that he would be the best man to put his music on vinyl and release it to the world. He’s more than outdone himself and the soundtrack is a perfect fit for DW’s style and ethos. You can order it now from Mondo and listen below.
Made me laugh – not sure why Operation Twilight is mentioned though as this never came out on that label.
RIP Shusei Nagaoka – not a name I was familiar with but all of us must know at least a handful of these album covers? ELO, Earth Wind & Fire, Maze, Deep Purple, Boston and more. Big respect.
Soviet flexi discs, ‘bones’ or ‘ribs’, music pressed on old X-Rays due to lack of resources. Stephen Coates aka The Real Tuesday Weld has been collecting and exhibiting these for a while now and Strangeattractor Press are publishing a book of them this autumn. Pre-order is here and there is a limited edition with a free flexi disc which I will no doubt be featuring in the Flexibition at some point.
Next week, Tuesday 30th June, Stephen will be telling the story of the X-Ray Bootleggers at The Last Tuesday Society. More details and tickets here…
…and on Friday 3rd July Stephen and Aleks Kolkowski will be presenting a special evening at the Masonic Temple of the Andaz Hotel as part of the East End Film Festival. A new x-ray record will be cut live with a 1940s recording lathe from a live performance by Marcella Puppini of The Puppini Sisters. Go HERE for more details and tickets
Out today is ‘Hall of Mirrors’, the third album by 2econd Class Citizen aka Aaron Thomason, another beautiful collection of haunted beats, raps and atmospheres that I’ve been lucky enough to hear develop over the last few years. You can hear echoes of parts of ‘Magpie Music’ – the track we collaborated on – in some of the tracks and if you enjoyed his two previous albums you won’t be disappointed as he’s crafted another winner and advanced his sound another notch.
The album (very limited vinyl, CD & download) is out on The Content Label from California since Aaron’s previous label, Equinox, closed its doors two years ago. You can order all formats here in various bundles as well as a T-shirt and I nearly forgot, there’s a remix from The Herbaliser that closes the album too. I helped with the typography on the front cover and the excellent front cover was created by French surreal-collagist Albane Simon. Here’s a 15 minute taster for the album mixed by Aaron and he also has all sorts of free downloads, re-edits and videos over on his revamped website here.
Music de L’atomium, made for Expo ’58, also known as the Brussels World’s Fair. 7″ on President Records with Structures Sonores played by Y. Lasry, F. & B. Baschet, J.P. Cotte and J. Chouet – you can hear one side of this single on the Cacophonic compilation of Lasry / Baschet recordings, ‘Instruments Non-Electronique’
I found this Carl Oglesby album with a cover illustrated by Dave Sheridan, the comic artist who worked on titles like Dealer McDope, The Leather Nun and some of The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. Now sadly deceased, Dave’s work is always hyper detailed and tripped out, I featured another of his covers some years back, an Impulse Jazz compilation – I wonder if he ever did any more record sleeves?
The Gamma Proforma label is on fire this year with the Divine Styler album, a new T-shirt series featuring Augustine Kofie and Will Barras plus retrospective books of Will’s work as well as graphic design legend Ian ‘Swifty’ Swift. Not only that, their ‘Cosmic Flush’ series of 12″s and prints based on The Rammellzee‘s last work now reaches it’s third installment. Delta is on the art and Mike Ladd on the remix and I’m starting to suspect Rob Swain from Gamma is mining some telepathic mind link with me as all the releases so far push all the right buttons for me. Pre-order the third part, ‘Crayzay’, here.
If you’re lucky there may still be some copies of the first and second releases with prints by Futura and Ian Kuali’i with remixes by Divine Styler which will form part of the full box set to the ‘Cosmic Flush’ album release. Check out Will’s Rammellzee graphic for the second T-shirt in the X99 series below too, in fact check out the whole site as there are loads of free mp3s, plus a selection of books, magazines, prints and T-shirts, they even have Syd Mead designs!. Gamma’s shaping up to be the label to watch in 2015.
Not content with issuing his ‘MuSIC FOR THOMAS CARNACKI’ album from his own Café Kaput label on vinyl earlier this year, Jon Brooks albums are cascading out of the woodwork this year. His latest, ‘Walberswick’, on Canada’s More Than Human Records is sold out on vinyl and two more reissues are about to hit the shops. His ’52’ album for Clay Pipe Music gets an ‘evening edition’ repress at the end of June with a new version of the sleeve picturing the house during the twilight hour, a clever way of presenting a second run. Pre-order here – be quick!
The last album from his Ghost Box discography to get the vinyl treatment also arrived last week with 2008’s ‘Other Channels’ under his The Advisory Circle alias, Brooks at possibly his most ‘hauntological’, it’s a favourite. Another of the GB back catalogue getting a vinyl outing for the first time is ‘The Seance At Hobs Lane’ by Mount Vernon Arts Lab, their sole release so far on the label and itself a reissue from 2001. Order them both here (free download only with GB shop orders too!)
This is pretty special, passed me by when it was released in April as a co-production between If Music and Ninja Tune. Annabel (lee) qualifies for a raft of clichés to be employed – haunting, fragile, beautiful, widescreen, string-laden – it sounds like a lot of things but still manages to sound unique. I’m not sure if the orchestration is sampled or has been played and put through processing to sound like it but there’s a vintage quality to it, not dissimilar to The Caretaker’s crackly 78’s drenched in reverb, although way cleaner.
Think of Nina Simone‘s darker moments with Lou Rhodes‘ folkier ones but backed by an orchestra ripped from a 60s Bernard Herrmann score. I know nothing about her or the record’s origin but her voice is exquisite and I love it. I’ll never make a decent music reviewer, have a listen and make your own mind up. The sleeve is beautiful as well, some sort of distortion process added to old black and white photographs that perfectly match the audio they cover. No credit for the artist or photographer at all unfortunately but with my Ninja contacts I can reveal it was done by my old mate Doug Bowden aka Pandayohurt. Listen and buy it here.
This is the stunning new album from Jaga Jazzist, not only contender for cover design of 2015 by a very long margin but also heading for top 10 album of the year status too. It’s taken a while for me to fully appreciate Jaga but with each album they’ve crept further into my orbit so that now each release has to be checked out. ‘Starfire’, after only a few listens, I can quite confidently say, is my favourite so far and it sees a slightly more electronic mission statement than before whilst still retaining the uber-tight Zappa-like syncopation of previous work.
The design on the sleeve is magnificent here as well and really compliments the futuristic feel of the music perfectly. Browsing the new releases in Fopp the other day I was struck by how little of the current crop of album designs stood out, possessed any kind of classic iconography or would make me want to look at them twice. So much of the ‘style’ of the last few years of the kind of music that racks up kudos from the critics seems to be about minimal, safe, almost nonchalant anti-design, designers afraid to go all out and make a statement or content to reference past styles.
The Jaga sleeve, besides being striking yet minimal, has a clever trick up its sleeve – or should that be on it?. It comes in a screen printed transparent outer cover of evenly spaced vertical lines that animate keys graphics underneath on both front and back as you slowly pull the inner cover out. This effect is being billed as ‘anamorphic’ in the press releases but that’s more about stretching an image, this process is closer to the ‘moire effect’ that tricks the eye into believing that objects are moving as the black and white lines move past each other, much like a TV screen flicker.
Aside from the outer cover gimmick, the typography on it is stunning, look at those titles above, that must be a custom made face that works with just the right dose of sci-fi and heavy metal styling to make it unique. The labels and second inner sleeve work beautifully to counterpoint the blackness of the outer as well, as does the companion single, ‘Oban’.
Coming from the Bridget Riley school of Op-Art the single’s sleeve is right in your face, begging you to pick it up. I take my hat off to Martin Kvamme who is credited with the design just for the elegant graphic solution to the 33 rpm speed text on the label, so few designers would bother devising something different these days.
Both releases are out now on Ninja Tune – go and grab them, music that needs to be held as much as heard.
I’m reliably informed – by curator Sean Phillips – that the sleeve of my last album,‘The Search Engine’, features in this forthcoming exhibition of 60 album sleeves drawn by 60 comic artists. Phono+Graphic opens at the Kendal Museum in, errr… Kendal this October. Check out Sean’s blog for more info nearer the time.
I made time to actually visit the Keith Haynes ‘Art Pop’ show at Gallery Different in London last week after posting photos friends had taken on the opening night. I really wanted to see the cut up Bowie and Beatles sleeves and I wasn’t disappointed, they are beautifully executed and what becomes apparent when you view them up close is that Keith has selected covers with differing print qualities so as to make the contrast between the same sections more apparent. The same covers printed 20 years apart can be quite noticeable, especially in this digital age where the original films or photos might have been lost and an inferior scan used in their place. This is especially noticeable on the ‘Hunky Dory’ image below, try and check them out before the show ends on May 30th and there’s another surprise in the basement of the gallery that I knew nothing about.
Roger Miles has installed his version of a 70’s record shop underneath the gallery entitled, ‘Resonate – Generate’, complete with vinyl, 8-Track machines, vintage posters and more. Having just read Roger Perry’s ‘The Writing On The Wall’ it was a timely coincidence that evoked memories of the same era. His jogroglog blog is full of fascinating artifacts and information on his various art projects (one was in a local dump where he could use anything that was bought in – including a speed boat on a trailer!). Anything one best viewed in the flesh.
The Moomin 7″ from Finders Keepers was certainly one of the most popular releases of RSD 2015 in the UK and it’s an item of beauty, both musically and sleeve-wise. The cover is made of felt, hand-stitched and colour printed, I’ve never seen anything like it (there are also two different cover images to collect). The music is pure analogue electronics, being the UK-specific soundtrack by Graeme Miller and Steve Shill.
Happily for those that didn’t score a copy on RSD and now that the fuss has died down, Finders Keepers are allowed to sell it on their site. So don’t feed the flippers on eBay, pay the label direct. Whilst you’re there you could do worse than also pick up Bruce Ditmas‘ ‘Yellow Dust’ album – I did, he plays a Moog Drum and it’s mental in the best possible way.