Pepe Deluxe – Queen of the Wave

Front New crop

This record is (will be) incredible. Pepe Deluxe‘s next album is called ‘Queen of the Wave’ and it expands on territory they explored on ‘Spare Time Machine’ and goes even deeper. If you like concept albums with a Rock/Prog/Baroque/Surf/Pop/Soundtrack/Psyche/Folk bent then this is for you and I’ll bet it’ll be one of the only records to cram all this and so much more in. Pepe (Jari and Paul) have assembled a huge list of both musicians and instruments on this (all too short at under an hour) pop opera including The Great Stalacpipe Organ (apparently).

I’ve been very lucky to have been able to hear the album in various stages as it has unfolded over the past two years and last week received a near complete version along with graphics and sleeve notes which doesn’t disappoint. It’s a complete trip from beginning to end, bursting with detail and unashamed pop songs that will have you humming them absent-mindedly whilst wondering where you heard them. I’m really looking forward to this release, hopefully this year, definitely one for the end of year polls.

While we all wait I’ve dug out an old Solid Steel mix from August 2007 with my Pepe Deluxe ‘Go For Blue Suite’ in it. The mix starts off with some Dragons-related surf psyche, skips into a trio of Pinball Number Count cover versions and then onto a montage of various remixes of Pepe’s ‘Go For Blue’ and various colour-themed classics. Remixes by Viva Voce, Optimo and Lost Idol collide with Blue Monday, Mellow Yellow, Purple Haze and more with plenty of Ken Nordine’s ‘Colours’ thrown in for good measure.
Solid Steel inc. Pepe Deluxe vs DJ Food ‘Go For Blue Suite’ 21.09.07 by DJ Food

Posted in Music, Records. | 2 Comments |

Promo picture

XX Promo CDs

Ninja Tune XX 4xCD promos are in – all watermarked and going out to specific people, even I don’t have one! This is roughly half of what people who buy the box set will get, music-wise. The box is in production as we speak and Ninja are going to release several 12″s off the back of it plus a DVD.

Exclusive box set 12″s (only buyers of box set can get these – the individual code in each box must be given to get them – free! That’s right, free)
a. Pop Levi ‘Blue Honey’ (A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble Mix by The Amorphous Androgynous – full 16 and a half minute version)
b. Coldcut ‘More Beats & Pieces’ (United States Of Audio Remix), Flanger ‘Psy Sound’

a. Roots Manuva ‘Witness (Modeselektor Remix)’, Coldcut ‘True Skool’ (Zomby Remix), Stateless ‘Ariel’ (Rustie’s Pentagram Remake)
b. DJ Food ‘Dark Lady’ (Alix Perez Remix), The Herbaliser ‘Something Wicked’ (Roots Manuva Dub)

12″s for General Sale
a. Two Fingers ‘Fools Rhythm’, Zomby ‘The Forest’,
b. Toddla T & Ms Dynamite “Want U Now’, Diplo ‘Summers Gonna Hurt You (2010 Remix)’

a. The Bug ‘Tune In’ (Version), Poirier ‘Get Crazy’ (Mark Pritchard Vocal)
b. Dj Vadim ‘The Terrorist’ (Gaslamp Computer Killer Remix), Coldcut ‘This Island Earth’ (Joe Goddard Remix)

a. Amon Tobin ‘Lost & Found’, Amon Tobin ‘Foley Versions’ (Kronos Quartet Interpretation)
b. Roots Manuva ‘Dub Styes’ (Michachu Remix), DELS ‘Eating Clouds’

a. Spank Rock ‘Tell Me What It Look Like’ (Todd Edwards Remix), Fink ‘Pretty Little Thing’ (EL-B’s Digital Remix)
b. Dark Sky – Leave, Shuttle – Lion

All in individual XX house bags – there will also be one more special 12” doing the rounds with a couple of mixes of a Ninja classic on either side…

To Kill A Mockingbird – New US 50th Anniversary cover

Mockingbird_Final

There’s a lot of talk about Harper Lee’s classic at the moment being that it’s 50 years since its original publication and I’m going to jump on the bandwagon and declare my love for it. I read this in school and it was probably the first ‘proper’ book to affect me, even though I haven’t read it for 25 years or more I can still remember passages of the book and being enthralled by it.

The reason for this post though is that my friend Sarah ‘Inkymole’ Coleman was asked to illustrate the cover for the American 50th anniversary edition I just found out. Being that it is one of her favourite books, this is a lifetime dream and I was really pleased for her when I found out. Even more impressed when I saw what she’s come up with for it, love the detail of the hole in the tree trunk where Boo Radley leaves his gifts on the spine. More info with work in progress on Sarah’s site and you can buy the book from Barnes and Noble as well. I’ve included a selection of other covers from across the years too.

killamockingbird covers

Posted in Art, Books, Design. | 3 Comments |

On Some Faraway Beach – David Sheppard

I can recommend this to anyone with even a passing interest in Brian Eno although there are plenty of insights into many of his associates over the years too – Fripp, Bryars, Cale, Ferry, Bowie, Byrne – they’re all here. The bulk of the book concentrates on the 70’s and the research is impeccable. It’s no rose-tinted ride either, there’s dirt amongst the many platitudes despite this being 100% Eno sanctioned which is refreshing. Occasionally it does seem that he can do no wrong and this isn’t all the writer’s imagination as the hit factor on projects and records involving ‘The Captain’ is remarkably high when you collect them all together. Amongst the reams of info in the book I was surprised to learn that Brian doesn’t drive and that, when he first moved to London in the sixties, he lived about a 5 minute walk away from where I currently live.

Eno

My only criticism of the book is that the ending  feels rushed and lapses into ‘list-mania’ seemingly trying to cram everything Eno has done into a rapidly dwindling page count. We spend 360 odd pages idling through the sixties and seventies up until 1984 and a phone call from U2 and then it’s a headlong dash through the next two decades in less than 100 pages. True that the meat and the more interesting material has been well documented and most fans will want his early career explored to it’s fullest – and they won’t be disappointed – but after the expert job done with the first half the end leaves you feeling frustrated.

Saying that it’s only about one fifth of the book and the other four are a gripping read, you really wonder how he managed to fit so much in and be so on top of the game for so long. All his major releases and collaborations are explored in detail with plenty of archive interview material interspersed with modern day recollections from friends and family past and present. The dilemma-solving Oblique Strategies are present throughout and I have one of my own which I keep in mind whenever I get stuck on something – “What would Eno do?”

My Funky Eno mix “More Volts” is also still up on the downloads page if you haven’t heard it.

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The Light Surgeons – LDN 24

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If you’re in London, around the Barbican, you can witness 24 hours in the life of the city in 30 minutes. The Light Surgeons have produced an installation of visuals and rolling statistics about the city around a 360 degree LED curtain installed in the Museum of London’s benugo Sackler Hall café. This short film of the installation shows it in situ but you really have to see it in the flesh so to speak, there are some simply breathtaking shots from all over, at all times of the day as the film begins and ends at midnight, speeding through an average day in half an hour.

I have to declare an interest at this point as my better half worked on this as Producer but I’d be posting this regardless as I view the Surgeons as one of the few film makers who have transcended their beginnings as club visual specialists (sorry, I can’t say VJs, they’d kill me). They have a unique sense of space and composition which can bring out beauty in the most mundane objects and situations, coupled with a great ear for the perfect soundtrack, often composing it themselves.

The Museum has just reopened it’s doors after a major refit and it’s no longer the stuffy place of old, the items they have on show are many and span centuries of London’s history right up the present day. Have look if you’re in the area and then grab a drink and relax whilst the Surgeons’ installation speeds you through a day in the life of the Big Smoke.

Posted in Design, Event, Film. | No Comments |

Spiderman meets Dr. Strange by Brendan McCarthy

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Just finished reading this short, 3 part series where everyone’s favourite wall crawler teams up with Dr. Strange in a story called ‘Fever’. I’m not a big superhero comics fan, Superman, Batman, X-Men etc. don’t do much for me. I generally prefer the more leftfield end of things, in fact I think this is the first Spiderman comic I’ve ever bought outside of the watered down kind for my boys. So, why the special occasion? Brendan McCarthy. One of the demi-gods of UK comic book art, 2000ad veteran and, in the last 2 decades, storyboardist and character designer to Hollywood.

I’ll buy pretty much anything with Brendan’s name on it as he’s a unique talent, rarely repeats himself but has a visual language all of his own. Sometimes copied – Jamie Hewlett’s early work owes much to McCarthy – but never bettered, he is one of the few comic book artists who can portray psychedelia effectively on the printed page, Savage Pencil being another example. He mainly left comics behind after getting his foot in the movie making door and who can blame him, I’m sure the pay is better. But recently he’s been active again here and there and this Marvel Team Up is his first major comic book for some time.

This time round he’s writing as well as illustrating too and seems to have been given quite free reign with the character, something he dives head on into conjuring up a Spider-themed story that incorporates magic, other dimensions, soul-snatching and even references Spidey’s origins quite neatly. It all serves to provide material for a great big acid trip of a story with nods to Steve Dikto and a thinly veiled Alistair Crowley. If you like your comics dark, camp and sporting all the colours of the spectrum then this is for you. In fact one of my only criticisms (aside from the shortness of it all) is the colouring ,which has been done via computer. Some of it works but, knowing McCarthy’s painted work from the past, there’s something lacking in some of the pages. Also for some reason, I’m guessing meddlesome middle management, the covers are pretty awful, really badly laid out with muddy colours which is a shame as his work is usually so bright and bold.

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Posted in Art, Comics. | 4 Comments |

Aupheus – Excavated EP

Aupheus 7" packageAupheus stamp detailAupheus paper

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while now, Aupheus’ Excavated 7″ arrived the other week and a beautiful thing to behold it is. The cover comes on papyrus paper which is then hand stamped and stickered! The release showcases edits of two tracks from the full download EP, a code for which is contained in the 7″ –  available from 2600 Recordings now but hurry, only 250 were made (assembled by Aupheus himself no less). The music is downtempo, atmospheric, leaning heavily in the older realms of DJ Shadow’s work, Sixtoo and DJ Signify and very good too.

There’s a great little trailer for the EP here too

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DJ Shadow Remix Project teaser

Remix Project Teaser-CD Coming Soon! by djshadow
Interesting selection of snippets from an up-coming CD of fan made remix of DJ Shadow’s work just posted on Soundcloud. I was lucky enough to score the full version of the DJ GodBeing mix of Scatter Brain some months back and have been playing it out in sets since. Also, Bristol’s Awkward has done a heavy mix of Blackalicous’ ‘Halfway Home’ which stretches out and improves the original. More details on Shadow’s site soon…

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Ninja Tune XX box set tracklist announced

Full boxset mock up 1

This has been consuming my time for the last 6 to 8 months – mainly the book but recently the box set and all its contents.

The set includes 3 hardback books: one is an exclusive hardback edition of the forthcoming Ninja Tune – 20 Years of Beats & Pieces book by Stevie Chick, published by Black Dog Publishing and designed by yours truly.

The second houses 6 CDs – 2 of them only available in this set, with 90% new and exclusive material specially made for this compilation. There is also a large format 24 pg booklet with a download code for a 7th CD’s worth of material (I can’t say what it is yet but it’s excellent).

The third book contains six 7″ singles with exclusive material not on the CDs, two posters – a Ninja family tree by Nigel Peake and a complete cover gallery by me – and 20 stickers. All this is housed in a heavy slipcase with foil blocking.

Go to the Ninjashop to pre-order at a limited cheaper price until July 8th and see the full tracklist. I’m pretty excited to hear these:

Big Dada Sound ‘Signs’ *

Eric B & Rakim ‘Paid In Full’ (Switch meets Coldcut Remix) *

Diplo ‘Summers Gonna Hurt You’ (Diplo 2010 Remix) *

Quincy & Xen Cuts Allstars ‘I Hear The Drummer’ (Tunng edit) *

DJ Vadim ‘Terrorist’ (Gaslamp Computer Killer Remix) *

Roots Manuva ‘Witness’ (Slugabed Remix) *

The Bug ‘Skeng’ (Autechre Remix) *

King Cannibal ‘The Grind & Crawl’ *

Coldcut ‘Autumn Leaves’ (2010 Budapest Mix) *

Coldcut ‘True Skool’ (Zomby Remix) *

Clifford Gilberto ‘Deliver The Weird’ (Dorian Concept Remix) *

The Bug ‘Poison Dart’ (Prefuse 73 Broke Moog Version) *

Roots Manuva ‘Witness’ (Modeselektor Remix) *

Roots Manuva ‘Join The Dots’ (Cut Chemist Remix) *

Kid Koala ‘3 Bit Blues’ *

Pop Levi ‘Blue Honey’ (Amorphous Androgenous Remix Edit) *

Coldcut & Hexstatic ‘Timber’ (The Orb Remix) *

DJ Kentaro ‘Paid In Full’ *

DJ Food ‘African Rhythms’ (Tom Middleton Remix) *

DJ Food ‘Dark Lady’ (808 State Remix) *

Herbaliser ‘Something Wicked’ (Roots Manuva Dub)

      Two Fingers ‘Bad Girl’ (The Bug Dub) *

      DJ Vadim ‘Bang it Out’ *

      Wagon Christ ‘Sloth Gets Paid’ *

        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.

        Posted in Music, Records. | No Comments |

        Montreal

        On Adam Ant’s solo album from 1983, ‘Strip’, he has a song called ‘Montreal’. It was always my favourite track on what was a pretty patchy album and it shares its name with is one of my favourite cities in the world, second only to my hometown of London. I love it mainly for its unpretentious, multi-cultural, wildly artistic inhabitants and this last weekend I was there playing at the Jazz Festival on a bill with Spank Rock and The Slew in one of two Ninja Tune XX shows. It was a pretty laid back affair as I flew in on Friday, played Saturday night and flew out on Sunday evening, a rare treat in my usual touring schedule. The weather was perfect and I got to catch up with lots of friends from the North American Ninja office which is based there as well as catching tons of amazing art dotted around the downtown district where the venue, Metropolis, was.

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        The gig was good, Spank Rock were nuts and the Slew were just amazing, virtually playing their 100% album in its entirety. British Airways managed to forget my mixer in London so there was a mild panic for a minute to source a duplicate – I can’t do my video set without the Rane 57 – but this seemed no problem. It eventually turned up 20 minutes before I finished playing, being brought on stage by the soundman much to my relief.

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        On Sunday I visited the Museum of Fine Arts to check out the Miles Davis exhibition which was stunning and is on until the end of August, make the effort if you’re in the city. It is laid out immaculately, chronologically guiding you through his life and work room by room. The late 60’s and 70’s rooms were the ones I’d come for and I wasn’t disappointed as they had the Mati Klarwein originals of the Live/Evil LP cover, Corky McCoy sketches for On The Corner and Water Babies and some hilarious memos to record company staff from Teo Macero. One for Filles De Kilimanjaro ended, “Also Miles would like all the titles on the album translated into French. HELP!”. The whole thing was suberbly put together with original LPs, magazines, sheet music, stage wear, instruments and even some of Miles’ art amongst much more – highly recommended.

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        After this I met up with ex-Ninja staff, Phillipa Klein and Pat Hamou and Eric San (Kid Koala) who took us to a great Chinese dumpling spot nearby the museum. It’s not widely known but Eric is the number one food stop diviner when on tour. If you’re in a strange city and you need to eat, Eric will know somewhere that will usually turn out to be exceptional. After stuffing our faces we went back to Eric’s with his wife and daughter and marveled at his studio, chock full of amazing kit, 3D models of miniature towns they’d built for a forthcoming project and his own, personalised record cutter. In the basement there was a full size robotron ‘costume’ made out of metal and his studio boasts a massive model of a swordfish sitting atop a bookcase. He played me a new track he’s just finished for the Ninja Tune XX compilation and revealed that he’s recording the first parts of a new Slew record next week in between tour dates.

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        My time was up so we drove back to my hotel and said goodbyes, a great way to spend a weekend for sure, the flight back was overnight and the week ahead sees me tying up the last parts of the Ninja box set artwork, starting a 4 deck AV set for the 20th parties and finishing a track for the compilation.

        Posted in Art, Event, Gigs, Ninja Tune. | No Comments |

        3A books launch today

        headerbeiOne of my favourite artists and certainly my favourite toy-making company – Ashley Wood and 3A – launch their new book range today on the eve of a massive art and toy show in Beijing. Two hardback books with work from Phil Hale and Ashley Wood are available for $25 each but the one I’m most excited about is ‘Entr3At’, a 282 page celebration of the first 2 years of 3A toys. Packed with paintings, photos, works in progress, designs and box art, it’s going to be one of my books of the year for sure. Order any or all of them from bambalandstore now.entreat-cover

        Posted in Art, Books, Comics, Design, Robots, Toys. | 1 Comment |