New Demdike Stare coming…

LOVE065_dist_previewIf you like your music deep, dark and heavy then this release is for you. Wheeling out the second of three vinyl only releases this year are Demdike Stare, mutating their own corner of the music world into twilight hours industrial darkstep. Actually, trying to describe this music is nigh on impossible, one track, ‘Regolith’, reminds me of the JAMMs’ classic ‘It’s Grim Up North’, stripped of vocal and synth, slowed down and mixed with the kind of soundscapes Coil or Nurse With Wound turn out. This time they up the stakes with 6 tracks running to 45 minutes total and another superb sleeve by Andy Votel – released on July 26th.

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Ghost Box Study Series 7″s

Coming next month from Ghost Box is the start of a run of 7″ singles under the banner the ‘Study Series’. The first up feature Belbury Poly, The Advisory Circle and, one of my favourites, Moon Wiring Club. Gorgeous artwork as always by Julian House, hopefully this will build into a lovely little set over the coming months. Pre-order at the ghostbox shop and I can heartily recommend just about everything else if you’re a newcomer as it’s one of my favourite labels.

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Posted in Design, Music, Records. | 1 Comment |

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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qemists_hurtslessFInally 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.

Diplo – Florida (limited screenprint edition) (Big Dada)

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An oldie but goody for the last entry in this week-long vinyl series – Diplo’s debut (and only solo) record, the classic ‘Florida’. I’ve been pulling out all manner of releases from the Big Dada, Ninja and Ntone catalogues over the last few months as material for the on-going Ninja Tune book I’m working on and this is the very rare screen printed cover edition.
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As I recall, Diplo actually wanted to have an old Frazetta image of dinosaurs on the cover but it was decided that would be too expensive to license and he found an artist to do the illustration in a similar style. Only 500 were made with hand-stamped labels and a sticker on the reverse stating the number of the edition (you can see mine is 045).

Posted in Art, Design, Music, Records. | 3 Comments |

It’s Time For – Tristram Cary (Trunk)

Tris Cary cover
Possibly one of the covers of the year – how beautiful is that? The usual high stand of Trunk is in full force, unearthing still more treasure from the seemingly endless supply of forgotten British composers. Tristram Cary’s name was familiar to me but I didn’t have any of his work until this record and it’s a mixed bag of music concrete, electronics and found sound.
Tris Cary back cover detailTris Cary cover detail
His repertoire spanned music for Expo fairs, public service films, soundtrack work and even commissions for Olivetti. The LP has just been repressed on clear vinyl due to popular demand – be quick! The CD also contains many more tracks, damn you Jonny Trunk! I had to buy two copies of the vinyl AND the CD on top. More info from Trunk here and the Quietus did a great piece the other day too.

Posted in Design, Music, Records. | 2 Comments |

2econd Class Citizen – Divided Reality (Equinox)

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This is the most gorgeous smelling record I own. i don’t know what they put in the ink they printed this with but it smells like sickly sweets to me. This is a (very) limited repress – only 30 copies – of Aaron Thomason, aka 2econd Class Citizen‘s first release, a four track white label made back in 2005. Half the EP bears the sort of style you’d expect from him today albeit in a more primitive form, the song ‘Wishing Well’ was later reworked for his ‘Wyred Folk’ EP. The other half of the EP is more of a surprise, a couple of tracks that definitely sound of their time and show a different path that Aaron could have taken.

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The sleeve is a wrapround piece of heavy card, screenprinted and designed to look like a private press release with minimal layout by Gunter, the label head at ever excellent Equinox records. Each one has been signed and numbered by Aaron and it’s all housed in a plastic sleeve. I think there are a few copies left if you contact Aaron or Gunter at Equinox but if not then you can still buy the mp3s.

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The Advisory Circle – Mind How You Go (Revised Edition)

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A lovely record from an excellent label and, surprisingly, their first ever issued on vinyl after 12 CD releases. This is a revised and expanded version of GBX05, a 3″ CD originally, and contains two new tracks and two remixes. Nice as the 3″ CD is, the whole ethos of Ghost Box is so suited to vinyl that it’s a surprise it took them this long to get round to it.

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Julian House’s beautiful artwork translates perfectly to the bigger format and I can only hope they do more revised releases, especially their only other 3″ release – GBX01, Belbury Poly‘s ‘Farmer’s Angle’. The music is excellent too – obvious jumping off points are Boards of Canada, Radiophonic Workshop, Library music and Public Service films of the Seventies. All very UK-centric and full of nostalgia for a childhood past.

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Edan – Echo Party (Stones Throw)

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This record was all over the net at the end of last year and Edan should need no introduction. This is basically a mix tape on vinyl and the legend has it that Edan was given access to the Traffic Entertainment Group back catalogue to do what he could with. Two years passed and it’s finally here, barely 30 minutes but who’s complaining when it sounds as good as this? There’s a sample with video here to start you off.

The beautiful thing about the covers for this vinyl release is that, much like the ‘Secondhand Sureshots‘ record I posted about earlier, they are all different. Instead of screen printing though you get variations of a rubber stamp and I picked up what I think is a particularly nice version with multiple women on it. Only two pictures here as the sleeve is super minimal, the only other mark on it is a tiny ‘A’ stamped on one of the labels.

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See a little video of Edan customising the covers here.

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The Simonsound – Reverse Engineering (First Word)

Simonsound cover

I’ve been waiting for a finished copy of this to arrive for a while now and it doesn’t disappoint. The Simonsound are Simon James and Matt Ford (aka DJ Format) and I’ve been loving this record since they kindly sent me mp3s months back. Out on May 10th on Brighton’s First Word label this is the perfect marriage of the analogue stylings of the Radiophonic Workshop or Dick Hymen and the funk and jazz sample fodder that served Hip Hop so well in its early years. Imagine Kool Herc spinning the soundtrack to one of the World Expo’s and you’ll be partway there.

Simonsound labelSimonsound credits

Again the music is perfectly suited to the vinyl format and they’ve gone for a Julian House-esque mixture of collage with a sci-fi theme. We have a very special Simonsound Solid Steel Transmission coming up on the radio show on May 14th complete with a 1 hour long video podcast too – a first for a guest mix on Solid Steel. I got a thanks on the back cover too :)

Simonsound back

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Record Store Day / Secondhand Sureshots (Dublab)

The thrill of the hunt, the race from shop to shop, trying to seize a copy of that limited edition release you know everyone else has been patiently waiting for. All that returned today as I ventured out for the third annual Record Store Day and, for the first time ever, had to queue to get into a record shop! Unheard of! Rough Trade East was packed with a line of about 50 people outside when I arrived. It was great to see so many people turning up to snap up the goodies and see bands and RT has the juice and coffee bar to add to the experience.

Weller AA remix Unfortunately, it was such a success that the record I went out specifically to get – the Amorphous Androgynous remixes of Paul Weller on a 500 copy 12″ – was nowhere to be found, sold out everywhere! I went from brick Lane to Soho to Ladbroke Grove – none left. This is obviously good but maybe Island could press a few more copies next time please? I’d been waiting for this since it was announced and they did a remarkable job of keeping it offline so I’ve still not heard it although the cover did get posted the other day and now they’re going on eBay for upwards of £99!.

That buggers up my first post as well as I was going to kick off a week-long series of beautiful records with that, but never mind, I have many waiting in the wings… First up is ‘Secondhand Surehots’ – the deluxe version from Dublab, containing tracks by Daedelus, J Rocc, Ras G and Nobody. In case you didn’t catch this excellent short film a month or so ago as it did the rounds on the net, please check this out for the story.

dublab presents…SECONDHAND SURESHOTS (preview) from dublab on Vimeo.

Now, that’s the trailer, the full film is more like 30 minutes and it’s included in the deluxe vinyl package on a DVD with bonus audio as well. Also within the pack you get a 12″ picture disc, 2 full colour slipmats, stickers and here’s the winner – each sleeve is a unique screen print, utilising old gatefold LP covers as the canvas. Mine was a Dan Fogelburg LP, you can still read the original credits through the ink and one of the sleeves even still has the original LP insert in it!. All in all, a great concept, well executed and lovingly put together, a must for all diggers and vinyl lovers out there.
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Posted in Art, Design, Event, Music, Records. | 1 Comment |

One November Monday

Back in the winter of 2009, on a bleak, windy Monday, I died and went to heaven.

two-tribes-poster.jpgActually, I tell a lie, it was Slough.
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When I think of Slough I see the opening credits to the UK comedy The Office which was supposedly based there. It’s all industrial buildings, dull office blocks and council estates, absolutely nothing to write home about (sorry any Slough dwellers reading this). I’d been invited by my friend Ian Peel to visit him at an address owned by the record label ZTT – home of Trevor Horn, his associated productions as well as the back catalogue of Stiff records, which they acquired in the mid 80’s. Arriving at the address revealed a nondescript ‘premises’ – it wasn’t a house or office in the conventional sense and – while searching for an entrance round the back – Ian popped his head out and beckoned me inside.

I’ve known Ian for a few years now, initially through a shared love for the Zang Tuum Tumb (ZTT) label and it’s golden period in the 80’s, but also for our fondness of the music of that decade. He regularly writes for the Guardian, Record Collector and the like as well as co-ordinating reissues and releases for ZTT, Stiff and occasionally his own label Karvavena. On occasion he picks my brains for something and disappears back into the ether although this time I’d provided him with much more than a soundbite for a magazine feature. An email arrived one day from Philip Marshall who was helping Ian with the reissue of a deluxe 2 CD edition of Frankie Goes To Hollywood‘s Welcome To The Pleasuredome album for ZTT. Could I help with sourcing images for the release?

For those unaware, (probably most of you) Frankie Goes To Hollywood, and more importantly the whole aesthetic of the ZTT label in the 80’s, had a huge effect on me in my formative years. Most people have one or two bands that they ‘grew up’ with, moments where a bands rise to fame and the mania that surrounded them dovetailed with your own musical tastes and that group becomes forever linked with your memories of the period. For most of ’84 and ’85 I bought little else than the bands on the ZTT roster, Frankie, Art of Noise, Propaganda, Grace Jones‘ incredible Slave To The Rhythm LP, even venturing into contemporary classical waters with Andrew Poppy, and of course, the Frankie Say… T-shirts.

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Jumping 20 years forward in time I was perusing a ZTT fan forum when I chanced upon someone selling the original artwork for the ‘Welcome To The Pleasuredome’ album. To cut another digression short, I ended up buying the paintings of the front, inner gatefold and back from the original artist Lo Cole and they now hang proudly in my studio. Another jump, 5 years to the present, and Ian is trying to source unique images for the 28 page booklet that will accompany the reissue. The ZTT archive is incomplete, a lot of it having either been binned over time or destroyed in a fire at an Island records warehouse over a decade ago and this was where I fitted in.

Being a fan, over the years I’ve been trawling eBay and used magazine shops for copies of the music press from the 80’s and collecting the ads for all the releases – mini graphic masterpieces in themselves that had influenced my design tastes greatly. Ian had seen this collection and asked if I had any more including the scans of the Pleasuredome preliminary sketches and paintings Lo had sent me when I’d been discussing the purchase of his work. I did and photographed various promo and fly posters too big to include in the folders as well as details from the cover paintings. Then he dropped the bombshell. He was spending a couple of days a week in a property owned by ZTT, sorting out all the master tapes from their archive – the fabled ‘ZTT cupboard’ as it’s known to collectors. Because the artwork required from my collection was so valuable, we agreed I should should drop it off in person to Ian whilst he was working there.
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The thought that I would be in a room with boxes of master tapes all connected directly to the label and music I loved was thrilling but nothing prepared me for the sight I saw upon stepping into the room. It was the whole downstairs floor of the building, the size of a small office or a very large living room. Boxes covered nearly every inch of floor space and were piled up to chest height, Ian had started to sort them into stacks relating to each artist and there was a small warren of footpaths between the piles. Half of the room was barely touched and the sheer volume of boxes was overwhelming.

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I looked down and saw a stack marked ‘Grace Jones’, in it were various master tapes for the ‘Slave To The Rhythm’ LP and single, duplicates for different territories but no session tapes, yet. Several boxes of Art of Noise reels revealed 24 track tapes of various ‘Moments In Love’ versions, the ‘Beatbox’ and ‘Into Battle’ 12″s, an early, unreleased version of their first album entitled ‘Worship’, already split into an A and B side for the cutting house. Fairlight discs and studio session sheets where inside the boxes too, containing info on what was recorded when, by whom and, no doubt, the original samples used on the tracks. One had the words “I never want to hear this ever again – A. Dudley” on it, another “Anne in tears” written on the metal reel itself.

AON Beatbox 12" master AON Beatbox diskette AON box 1 AON box 2 AON early tape AON Moments master AON Worship 1 AON Worship 2

“Here’s the Frankie pile”, offered Ian, pointing to about 50 boxes, each stuffed with reels of master tape, cans of film used for videos, VHS, Hi-8, DAT and cassettes. There were session tapes for the ‘Liverpool’ album, I think I saw at least 50+ reels, mixes upon mixes, vocal sessions from actors like Joanna Lumley, Pamela Stephenson and Jeff Palmer. A version of ‘Two Tribes’ finished on my birthday in 1984 marked ‘mix 115’. The reels of an unreleased 7 & 12 inch remix by Paul Morley of their last single, ‘Watching The Wildlife’, ready for the cutting house to master. A ‘Welcome To the Pleasuredome’ ‘continuous wacky jam’ between Trevor Horn Steve Lipson and JJ Jeczalik entitled ‘the shit mix’. This was like entering one of those lost temples in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the ultimate digging in the crates session with the added appeal of teenage nostalgia.

FGTH Pleasedome shit mix FGTH Pleasuredome Palmer vox FGTH Rage Hard Lumley vox FGTH Rage Hard Stephenson vox FGTH Relax 7" master FGTH Relax Sex mix master FGTH Two Tribes mix 115 FGTH Two Tribes Video destructo master FGTH Wildlife Morley 7 & 12" mixes FGTH Wildlife Orchestra mix FGTH Wildlife:Waves 12" mixes

After four hours my hands were black and I had to get back to London but I felt I’d barely scratched the surface. A couple of boxes were filled between the two of us, full of interesting or important tapes that needed to be baked and transferred to DAT for future compilations. Pleasuredomes indeed as an old Paul Morley-penned sleeve note read.

The deluxe reissue of Frankie’s ‘Welcome To The Pleasuredome’ is out April 12th from ZTT / Salvo / Union Square Music. It comes with a second CD of unheard works in progress, rare alternate 12″ and cassette only cuts including a completely unheard extended version of ‘Ballad of 32’ from the original album. Included is a 28 page booklet featuring text by Ian, design and layout in the style of the original releases from Philip and many picture contributions from myself. Ian even let me have a hand in the track selection and order on the bonus CD, running it past me and taking on board suggestions for inclusions and omissions. Last but not least, I get a nice credit inside :)

Buy it here

More design, visuals and tape shots in the gallery below, click to enlarge. I’ve been writing and researching a long piece entitled ‘Who’s Afraid of the Art of ZTT?’ for about 5 years now, it’s nearly finished and will make an appearance someday…

Posted in Design, Event, Music, Records. | 25 Comments |

The Simonsound – LP and Solid Steel mixes on the way…

I’ve been raving about this LP from the Simonsound – aka Matt Ford (DJ Format) and Simon James – for a while now, and a test pressing dropped through the door last week. It’s a fantastic mix of moog funk, radiophonic workshop atmospherics and downtempo soundtrack beats with a smattering of vocals. First Word have picked it up for release after two 7″ singles appeared on the duo’s Project Bluebook label covering Kraftwerk’s ‘Tour De France‘ and Jimmy Casto Bunch’s ‘It’s Just Begun’ to brilliant effect, backed by their own compositions.

The good news is that the LP will be out on May 10th and the even better news is that we will have an exclusive hour long mix from them on Solid Steel on the 14th. Even better news is that they have not only done a mix but have put together an hour long video podcast as well!!! We’ll be hosting both and word is that DJ Spinna and Gilles Peterson have been digging it too…

SS LP TP

Posted in Music, Records, Solid Steel. | 3 Comments |

Edward Willliams’ Life On Earth soundtrack

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I only got this last week, a shameful admission as I’m usually first in line with my tenner when the Trunk mailout pops in the In Box, and yes I have done the funny drawings Jonny asks for too. Had I bought it when it was released though then it would have instantly made my best of 2009 list – what a soundtrack! A mixture of classical wind and strings sections with occasional gamelan-like percussion and electronics. One track even has snatches of David Attenborough’s narration dubbed into it with full echo, was that in the series?

Best of all it invoked one of my favourite sensations upon first listen, something I only experience on rare occasions and frustratingly fleeting at that. The sense of a door in my childhood that has been locked for decades suddenly being opened again, remembering something entirely forgotten but has been sitting patiently for the right code to active it again.

That code was the rising crescendo of notes that finish the ‘theme’ to Life On Earth, music I haven’t heard for 30 years but that is still etched into my memory. As soon as I heard them I was transported back to being a 9 year old, getting ready for bed on a (Sunday?) evening as the closing credits of the series faded. I didn’t watch it, I was more interested in Star Wars and life in outer space than watching life on this planet, but my parents obviously did and something must have stuck. So, thankyou Jonny Trunk for releasing it (and sending me one of your remaining copies too), it really made my day.

You can read more here and listen and buy the CD here

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10 favourite sleeves / packages for 2009

Looking at my favourite records for 2009 made me think of my favourite sleeve designs as well, as several were represented in the selection. I’ve noticed a definite resurgence in sci-fi imagery this year, particularly of the 70’s Roger Dean / Heavy Metal / Moebius fantasy variety. Dan McPharlin is probably the best exponent of this style and has two designs in the selection. Julian House is still mining the collage aesthetic although seems to be leaving the Penguin cover design style behind more and more. Warp’s 20th boxset was a beautiful piece of work, making for a great celebratory object in the age of the download and Jeff Jank continues to innovate over at Stones Throw.

12 x favourite covers 2009 650

Oasis -Falling Down (Amorphous Androgynous remix)(Big Brother)
Designed by Julian House

Various Artists – The Byg Deal (Finders Keepers)
Designed by Liars

Roj – The Transectional Dharma of Roj (Ghost Box)
Designed by Julian House

Various Artists – Warp 20 boxsert (Warp)
Designed by YES / Bernard Ryan / Metropolitan Works

Anti Pop Consortium – Flourescent Black  (Big Dada)
Designed by Ron Croudy Illustration by Mark Evans

Mr Chop – Light Worlds (Now Again)
Designed by Dan McPharlin

Prefuse 73 – Everything She Touched Turned Amphexian (Warp)
Designed by Dan McPharlin

Madlib – Beat Konducta vol.5-6 (Stones Throw)
Designed by Jeff Jank Photo by Ernesto Yerena

J G Thirlwell – The Venture Brothers vol.1 (Adult Swim /Williams St)
Designed by unknown

Various Artists – Studio G – G Spots (Trunk)
Designed by Flack

Posted in Art, Design, Music, Records. | 1 Comment |

Music Top 10s for 2009

2009 music picks

I don’t usually do this kind of thing because it’s largely meaningless but a friend asked me to round up some favourites for the year so here they are. I have to say I’ve been very uninspired by a lot of new music in general this year hence the fact that a lot of this is retro sounding or backward looking and this list is by no means definitive, I’ll probably think of a load more tomorrow.

10 favourite new records for the year 2009 (in no particular order)
Oasis – Falling Down (Amorphous Androgynous – A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble Exploding In Your Mind Remix) 12″ (Big Brother)
The Slew – 100% LP (Ninja Tune)
Mr Chop – Lightworlds EP (Now Again)
The Simonsound – Reversed Engineering LP (CDR)
Antipop Consortium – Flourescent Black LP (Big Dada)
2econd Class Citizen – A World Without LP (Equinox)
Proof of Concept – X As In Box (reprise)
King Cannibal – Let The Night Roar LP (Ninja Tune)
Juice Aleem – Jerusalaam Come LP (Big Dada)

6 reissues / compilations of the year 2009:
Amorphous Androgynous – A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble Exploding In Your Mind Vol.2 CD (Platipus)
The Beastie Boys – Audio commentaries for Paul’s Boutique, Check Your Head, Ill Communication and Hello Nasty mp3 (Grand Royal)
Studio G – G Spots LP (Trunk)
John Hill – 6 Moons of Jupiter LP (Finders Keepers)
Foetus – Limb CD/DVD (Ectopic Ent.)

10 favourite DJ Mixes for the year 2009:
DJ Moneyshot – Beastie beats – Check Your Head sources
DJ Moneyshot – Rotten to the Core ’77 – John Lydon’s Capital Radio show recreated
DJ Cheeba – Solid Steel radio part 3
The Simonsound – Have You Heard?
Skywave Systems – A Boards of Canada mix
Grohs – Plundering Zizek
Lazy – Mind The Gap (KLF soundscape)
Zoon van Snook – Solid Steel mix April 09
The Broken Keys – Engine Oil & Elbow Grease mix
Passing Time with Lazy Pt.2 (Orb megamix)

Posted in Music, Radio, Records. | 1 Comment |

‘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…

Shape 12" + inners