The Simonsound – ‘The Beam’ 10″ + live recording
At long last, after featuring it here months ago and then a pressing plant quality control issue meaning that the release was delayed, it’s finally here. The Simonsound‘s new single, ‘The Beam’ in all its 10″ clear vinyl, ‘Pilot Pack’ space age glory. After the wait it more than lives up to the expectation, this is one of the most amazingly packaged records I own, how much it must have cost is beyond me.
Designed by Emily Macaulay at Stanley James Press who has done all the artwork for the band so far, the photos here really don’t do it justice. Firstly – the material the sleeve is made of is a silver textured card with a silky smooth finish, I’ve never seen a record jacket like it. The cover is plain with a high quality sticker wrapped around it and reminds me of an instruction manual from the 60′s, which I’m sure is the intention.
Inside the gatefold you’re treated to several pockets, each holding a different item, before we even get to the vinyl: A NASA-styled Simonsound Transit Authority embroidered patch, a numbered, signed ticket to ride, a double-sided tour map of the Monorail route, a 20 page booklet about the Monorail and, last but not least, a unique tape loop from the project.
The attention to detail here is absolutely stunning and spot on for the subject matter, the blue, white and silver colour scheme is the perfect mix of transport design meets pilot of the future uniform. When we finally get to the 10″ record – extractable via a tasteful thumb cut in the back half of the sleeve – lo and behold, it’s on clear vinyl! A great final touch but one that delayed the original release date because of warped pressings from the original plant tasked with making them.
What about the music though? ‘The Beam’ is a modular trip through different worlds via the Monorail at a fantasy science park, taking in Outer Space, Robot World, Underwater World and more. The tour guide takes you through the different stages and the soundtrack changes to suit (the original idea was to get Ken Nordine to narrate but he wasn’t available). Simon has used the manufacturing delays to recut the vinyl with more material than the original pressing so we get a montage of various sounds and effects he’s generated on the reverse of the disc in addition to the second track.
The B-side is actually my favourite, ‘In The Shadow of the Skylon’, an ode to the iconic structure that was built for the 1951 Festival of Britain on London’s Southbank. This track has shades of Kraftwerk circa Man Machine with a definite feel of ‘Neon Lights’ about it, my only criticism is that it’s too short. It was commissioned for Musicity – a location specific music project featuring tracks inspired by buildings and structures around the World. The track itself is also accessible on the site where the Skylon used to stand, using the free Musicity web app.
I’d also recommend checking out the video for ‘The Beam’ below as it really fleshes out the concept of the whole thing being that it’s a soundtrack more than a club track.
A few weeks ago, I journeyed down to St. Leonards-on-Sea for an event called Kosmic Krash at the Herstmonceux Observatory where Simon was playing live inside one of the domes with his new Buchla modular synth. He has kindly put up a 45 minute excerpt of the set on his blog for us all to enjoy, it was the highlight of the evening for me, sitting inside one of the domes next to a giant telescope, listening to this electro musique concrete.
Posted on Wednesday, September 4th, 2013 at 12:26 am under Design, Music, Packaging, Records. br> br> You can follow these comments using the RSS feed. You can trackback from your own site or leave a comment below..