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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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.


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.

Moog T-shirt from Chalk Brighton

This has been in the pipeline a while, I think I did the design last autumn but had been collecting the contents for longer. Chalk Brighton, the brainchild of old friends Dean Ricca-Smith and Simon Skevington, is a new company specialising in limited edition T-shirt prints with a difference. One of their debut designs spelt out SOUL in bold letters entirely made up of titles of their favourite soul records and was a big hit. They plan to continue the series and I submitted my entry in the form of Moog. Not an obvious follow up but Chalk isn’t an obvious kind of company.

Moog shirtMoog designThe tracks within my design either refer to records with Moog in the title or famous songs which feature the Moog somewhere in the kit list (did you know that the bassline to Donna Summer‘s ‘I Feel Love’ was played on a Moog?). Anyway, the shirt is big on design but minimal of contrast so it blends together nicely when printed and is actually a lot more subtle than these photos suggest. Also you have to love the attention to detail with the names on the neck tag :)  Get them while they’re hot…

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Moog detail
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Moog covers

Moon Wiring Club

I first heard of Moon Wiring Club through Jim Jupp’s Belbury Parish blog associated with the Ghost Box label and then later they cropped up on Jonny Trunk’s Original Soundtrack radio show with a very entertaining hour long interview. Their website is a joy to behold and contains all manner of info and pictorial lushness associated with the project. I snapped up the three CDs already released and entered into a correspondence with ‘the Club’ with a view to securing an exclusive Solid Steel mix.

And here it is, entitled ‘Confectioners Radiogram for Home Entertainment’, coupled this week with my own ‘Time For Tea’ mix (For Tea – 40 – geddit?) which also features copious lashings of their tracks as well as a trio from the Simonsound who will be guests on next weeks show. But more of that next week.

Solid Steel Radio Show 7/5/2010 Part 1 + 2 – Strictly Kev by Ninja Tune

Solid Steel Radio Show 7/5/2010 Part 3 + 4 – Moon Wiring Club by Ninja Tune


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Life begins…

I hit the big 4-0 today so I thought I’d reminisce…

I remember when (in reverse order):young Strictly

The Blue Note was the place to be every night of the week

Coldcut couldn’t get a gig in the main room of any club because they were too ‘chilled’

The KLF were the greatest pop band in the world

Cynthia Rose’s ‘Design After Dark’ was the bible for dance music related artwork.

The smiley face badge from Alan Moore’s ‘Watchmen’ was copied by Bomb The Bass and kicked off the whole Acid fashion for smileys.

Big Black called it a day

The DMC finals were held in the Albert Hall

Mike Allen ruled the airwaves for Hip Hop in the South East via Capital Radio

12″ singles were £1.99

Kraftwerk were number 1 in the charts

Thatcher got in (please not again)

2000ad was 8p

Star Wars was everything

‘The King’ left the building

Epiphanies in sound:

These are songs or albums that I remember vividly having a profound effect on me when I heard them first, the ‘Shock of the New’ if you will. Most of these I remember having a hold over me whereby I had to play them again and again because I couldn’t get enough of the sounds each contained. They gave a rush of excitement that I’d been looking for that cannot be described, a feeling so alien from everything else I’d heard before that it was all I could do to keep pressing the rewind button. These are kind of in the order I heard them rather than the order they were originally released. Some of them occupy the same place because a friend made me a tape with both on or something.

chart-singles 82&83Kraftwerk – Autobahn – this has been documented before in my Kraftwerk Kover Kollection piece but to paraphrase – one of the first songs I remember, even though I didn’t know what it was until later.

The Police – Message in a Bottle – I loved the drums and the whole energy of it, one of the first pop songs I consciously remember liking.

Adam & The Ants – Dog Eat Dog – My dad liked the drums so taped it off the radio, little knowing that my 10 year old ears would want to listen to little else for the next 3 years

Kraftwerk – Computer World – perfect in every way, an alien world and forerunner to electro.

The Human League – Being Boiled – pretty creepy pop to an 11 year old

Malcolm McLaren – Duck Rock – After hearing ‘Buffalo Gals’ and not knowing what was going on I was seduced by the ghetto blaster on the cover and Worlds Famous Supreme Team patter.

Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Relax (Maida Vale mix) For some reason, when I came to tape ‘Relax’ off the radio the version I got was a special remix made by Dave Cash (a Capital Radio DJ) and this was on repeat play every day after school for the first few months of ’84.

Art of Noise – Beatbox – The DMX is still my favourite drum machine.

Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Two Tribes (Annihilation) After what seemed like an eternal wait for the follow up to ‘Relax’ (all of 6 months) this 12″ mix blew away everything in the charts and was a landmark in reconstructing a pop single until Coldcut made over Eric B & Rakim’s ‘Paid In Full’ 4 years later.

Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Welcome To The Pleasuredome (LP version) 16 minutes of Prog Pop perfection.

Double Dee & Steinski – Lesson 2 – A milestone (with the other Lessons) in cut and paste excellence, still stands up today where others sound dated.

Arthur Baker – Breaker’s Revenge – Something about this grabbed me and it was probably the Latin Rascals’ edits as much as the melody, when I discovered the remixed 12″ after hearing the Beat St. soundtrack version I flipped.

Grandmaster Flash – Adventures on the Wheels of Steel – Much like the Lessons, this was an even earlier example of how to mix and match (literally with the Queen and Chic basslines)

Word of Mouth & DJ Cheese – King Kut – The first time I tuned into Mike Allen’s hip hop show this was amongst the selection he played and still remains one of my top 10 favourite beats ever.

DJ Cheese – Capital Radio live session for Mike Allen ’86 – a scratch showcase as part of the set by Cheese (at the same time as he won the DMC championship) made me want to learn how to scratch.

Public Enemy – Son of Public Enemy – The sound of the JBs’ ‘Blow Your Head’ sampled over this made it as strange then as when I first heard ‘Buffalo Girls’. Plus I heard this version before the rap, making it seem even more odd.

Public Enemy – Rebel Without A Pause – When Terminator X scratched in the ‘rock n roll’ line I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up it was so cool, still one of the funkiest, but simplest scratch patterns ever.

De La Soul – 3 Feet High & Rising – A blast of fresh air that seemed like it was beamed down whole from another planet.

You’ve Got Foetus On Your Breath – Hole   / Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel – Nail – Classics – early sampling, great wordplay and catchy songs too.

The The – Soul Mining / Infected – Two of my favourite records ever

Coldcut – Beats n’ Pieces – Heavy beats and breaks, spoken word and scratching – the blueprint for so much and by two British guys to boot – unheard of quality at the time.

Big Black – Atomizer / Songs About Fucking – Power and precision with a drum machine instead of a drummer – awesome.

Slayer – Reign In Blood / South of Heaven – I was never really into thrash metal but spent several weeks one summer at a mate’s house painting a Megadeth banner for him to take to the Donnington festival. During this time I was played everything from Metallica to Slayer, Anthrax to G.W.A.R. Some grew on me more than others but these two particularly stood out.

Stakker – Humanoid – I was never much into house music but I ‘got’ acid when I heard this and it still stands up as one of the greats.

Fishbone – Truth & Soul – Ska, funk and thrash metal, what a combo, Fishbone were one great live band but never got their dues. A friend taped me this in college and it was stuck in my walkman for months.

Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique – Unjustly rubbished on release, I never understood why, I suppose everyone wanted ‘Licensed to Ill’ part 2 but couldn’t they see that this was a much more complex beast?. Rightly acclaimed as an ahead-of-it’s-time classic years later.

Jungle Brothers – Done By The Forces of Nature – One of the funkiest hip hop records ever, supreme layers of samples and totally on point raps. I never tire of hearing it.

Depth Charge – Depth Charge – Sonar ping industrial ‘trip hop’ before the phrase was even invented.

808 State – Cubik – Heavy metal techno, the bassline is so simple and stupid it’s brilliant.

Coldcut vs The Orb – KISS FM ’91/92 – actually my introduction to the Orb and hugely influential as a signpost for where I was heading in the 90’s.

The KLF – Chill Out – a real soundtrack without a film kind of record, made just before they went stratospheric

Brian Eno & David Byrne – My Life in The Bush of Ghosts – no.1 in a field of 1

Future Sound of London – KISS FM radio mixes ’92/3 some of the best crafted ‘mixes’ ever, more like virtual worlds inside the radio, also opening up a whole heap of new music to my ears.

This Mortal Coil – Filigree & Shadow / Blood – I got played this after a friend heard me playing a FSOL record that had sampled it and I loved the concept, breadth and execution of them.

David Sylvian & Holger Czukay – Plight & Premonition – possibly my favourite ambient album ever.

Cocteau Twins – ~Victorialand / Treasure – Their pinnacle (along with their collaboration with Harold Budd, ‘The Moon and the Melodies’)

Aphex Twin – Didgeridoo – Changed the face of techno at the time, it was a good 10+ bpm faster than anything else at the time and sounded like it came from an alien planet.

Ken Nordine – Word Jazz vol.1 – Mixmaster Morris played me this in ’93 during one of my epiphanic visits to his house, little did I know I would end up actually working with Ken later.

Zimbabwe Legit – Doing Damage (Shadow’s Legitimate mix) Alongside ‘Entropy’ and ‘In/flux’ this pointed to a new way of presenting hip hop.

David Shire – The Taking of Pelham 123 – just an amazing suite of music based on a few simple themes, unavailable for years but now deservedly given it’s place amongst classic soundtracks.

DJ Zinc – Super Sharp Shooters – Stealth anthem and one of the best fusions of hip hop and drum ‘n’ bass ever

DJ Shadow – Changeling – if any track of Shadow’s is worthy of the label ‘prog hop’ then this one is it, Sublime, switching time signatures, mood building, he’s never bettered this.

Dick Hyman & Mary Mayo – Moon Gas – I searched high and low for this after reading Mike D rhapsodise over it in Grand Royal, it didn’t disappoint, a very unique record.

Boards of Canada – Skam EP – Beautiful and otherworldly, another record beamed in fully formed from somewhere else yet seemingly familiar.

Cut Chemist – Lesson 6 – the only other Lesson that measures up to the original three

Evolution Control Committee – The Whipped Cream Mixes – the origins of what we now know as the mash up, a complete comedy record from start to finish as all the best ones are.

Mr Bungle – California – stunning

Britney Spears – Toxic – a perfect pop song with a great video too

If you made it to the bottom of that I applaud you for indulging me, thanks to Steve Baker for the scan of the tape cover, possibly the first Strictly Kev mix tape? And congratulations to DK and family who had a new addition on Monday.

Posted in Event, Oddities. | 11 Comments |

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.

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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)

Edan 1

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.

Edan 2

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 |

Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck Cookbook

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It was my better half’s birthday yesterday and a friend of ours got her this lovely Heston Blumenthal cooklbook. The big difference between this and any cookbook I can think of it that it’s illustrated by Dave McKean, he of Arkum Asylum, Signal To Noise, Cages and the Sandman comic covers amongst many others. This has to be a first surely? The book is gorgeous both in content and quality and very heavy too! Check the gallery for some of the spreads, there are many more although I’m not sure how much my wife will actually be attempting to serve up.

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Starting tomorrow, because it’s Record Store Day, a week long, series of daily posts on vinyl worth buying for both the cover and content.

Posted in Art, Books, Design, Oddities. | 2 Comments |