The Electric Hoax Pt.1

Back in 2009 I wrote a song with Natural Self that I titled, ‘The Illectrik Hoax’, the inspiration for which came from the comic strip by Pete Milligan and Brendan McCarthy‘The Electric Hoax’. This was one of the first (if not THE first) creative collaborations by the pair who (with Brett Ewins) went on to create some of my favourite comics of the 80’s and 90’s – Freakwave, Paradax, Rogan Gosh, Strange Days, Skin, Hewligan’s Haircut, Bad Company, Artoons, Sooner Or Later, various episodes of Judge Dredd and more.

The strip appeared in the weekly UK music paper, Sounds, in 24 parts sometime between mid ’78 and ’79. Each one a half page telling a vaguely coherent, if disjointed, story that seemed to throw up new characters with each episode. It’s a fascinating glimpse into a team’s earliest work and you can see them becoming more confident as the story progresses. McCarthy’s art improves, initially starting out with a lot of collage, and you can see him gain confidence with his figures and many different memes that would reoccur in his work surface for the first time. There are in-jokes and plugs for characters in 2000ad dotted amongst the numerous notes seen floating around in many of the episodes and personalities like Patrick McGoohan and John Lydon make appearances.

The Electric Hoax Pt.1 – click image for larger version

There’s a definite sense of post-punk Britain in the strip, both in the artwork and the tone, a crumbling state gripped by strikes and pre-1984 paranoia. Interestingly, some of the character designs already mirror that of the Mad Max films that McCarthy was later influenced by, even though this pre-dates the opening of the first film by a good 6 months. In a lot of ways his Thought Police could be described as cyber-punks before the phrase was invented, a clear mash up of the then-current punk fashion and the dystopian sci-fi setting of the strip.

Last year saw the publication of ‘The Best of Milligan & McCarthy’ hardback which reprinted selections from many of the titles listed above but not the full run of ‘The Hoax’. After years of searching for back issues of Sounds for episodes and the few instances where they crop up on the web, I lucked out when an eBayer put the complete run up for sale, all neatly clipped from the various issues they originally appeared in. I intend to share these, week by week, here on the blog but I urge you to check out the excellent Dark Horse -published ‘best of’ mentioned above which can be bought HERE.

Both creators went on to bigger things with Milligan writing for everyone from Marvel to DC, Vertigo to Dark Horse – his run on Shade The Changing Man reinventing the character. Since then he’s written just about all the greats: Batman, Hellblazer, Animal Man, Justice League, X-Men (in all sorts of varieties), Spiderman, The Punisher, Thor… you get the idea, he’s a big deal in comics writing. McCarthy went to Hollywood to design and storyboard film and TV concepts for films like Highlander, Coneheads, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Lost In Space and the first cgi TV show, ReBoot. He was also asked by director George Miller to design and co-write the fourth installment of the Mad Max saga, ‘Fury Road’ which has finally made it out of development hell to be released in 2015. Now working back in comics as well with his excellent ‘visual autobiography’, ‘Swimini Purpose’, new episodes and covers for Dredd, a Spiderman / Dr Strange crossover and the psychedelic ‘The Zaucer of Zilk’ all carrying on his unique take on the medium.

NB: My different spelling of ‘electric’ was intentional and the lyrics of the track in question have nothing to do with the strip itself, it was my coded nod to two of my favourite comic creators.

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The Electric Images In My Mind #16

Well, it’s out, as of Saturday, the new single is available in the shops, online and no doubt on eBay at an inflated price. Record Store Day was very exciting for me this year as I was lucky enough to be participating with Ninja Tune releasing this remix by The Amorphous Androgynous on multi-coloured vinyl. It’s not just for RSD though, you can buy it from the Ninjashop or FSOLDigital and all good record stores that reorder stock, Ninja will be repressing it too in the next week or so although that may be on a different colour vinyl. Please don’t pay crazy prices on eBay or Discogs like some of these flippers are asking, this is not a one time only limited edition, it should be available as long as there is demand. Remember also that there is a download available too with extra radio edits and an exclusive 2econd Class Citizen remix not on the 12″.

First thing on Saturday I asked people to tweet pictures of their purchases and I’ve featured the best here. That’s Frederic Toye below, waving a copy outside Music Mania in Ghent, Belgium and I had photos from all over Europe as well as one from the US as well.

Thanks to Alex Koenig, Cheetahbreaks, Dan Doughty, DJ Hombre, Dobshizzle and his united colours of RSD, Frederic, Hang The DJ, Kidavenger, Lemonmeringuesy, Lukestereo, Phil Clarkson, pipeandslippers and Toby Whitebread for posting these and making my day. This is my absolute favourite of the bunch though, sent by David Gorrod, with a little help from Arthur.


The Electric Images In My Mind #15

Here’s the link to the release page for the DJ Food vs The Amorphous Androgynous 12″ remix of ‘The Illectrik Hoax’ for Record Store Day 2012. There won’t be any ‘buy’ links until Monday because it’s against RSD rules to advertise a release with a pre-order option before the day. The ‘Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble’ mix is 17 minutes long and comprises 3 ‘tracks’:

DJ Food‘The Illectrik Hoax’ feat. Natural Self (The Amorphous Androgynous Remix)
DJ Food & The Amorphous Androgynous – ‘Don’t Pray, Don’t Bother (We’re Evil)’
DJ Food & The Amorphous Androgynous‘The Electric Images (In My Mind Never Die)’

Phew – pretty complicated huh? I’m going to be making tracks with one word titles from now on… There are now 1500 copies on multi-coloured, marbled vinyl, pressed at MPO in France, and the three tracks are split across two sides, cut at 45rpm.

There’s also a 4-track download too with the full 17 minute Amorphous Androgynous mix plus radio edits of ‘The Electric Images (In My Mind Never Die)’ featuring Natural Self and ‘GIANT’ featuring Matt Johnson. Exclusive to the download is the remix by 2econd Class Citizen of ‘The Illectrik Hoax’ as premiered at the Planetarium shows in January.

To say I’m pleased with this release is an understatement, everything about it, from the remixes to the artwork to the actual vinyl discs, I’m 100% happy with. For it to be part of Record Store Day too makes it even better. Don’t worry if you can’t/don’t get one on RSD, Ninja will have 70 copies in the Ninja shop for sale on Monday 23rd and they plan to keep it in print as long as there is demand.

The Electric Images In My Mind #14

When we commissioned The Amorphous Androgynous to remix ‘The Illectrik Hoax’ little did we know what we had let ourselves in for. Not only did they produce a 17 minute, 3 part remix, a 30 minute mix for Solid Steel (airing this Thursday night on Strongroom Alive) and another ‘basement jam’ work in progress mix, but also  – this priceless artifact accompanied the remix when it was delivered.

Several people have been asking about a DJ Food release entitled ‘Post Mash Analysis’, but I’m sorry to say, it’s a reference to this text, which we sent out as part of the press release, and some shops have listed as the title. The remix 12″ and download will be available this coming Saturday, April 21st, as part of Record Store Day, and afterwards via the Ninjashop and FSOLDigital online stores. The release page on the Ninja site is taking a bit longer than expected, partly because the titles are too long for the site to cope with (arf) and we’re still trying to find out the position on posting pre-order info before the actual day with RSD, only 5 days to go now though.


The Electric Images In My Mind #13

In the in-box today: a 30 minute ‘Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble’ mix for Solid Steel by The Amorphous Androgynous including a reworking of a Gil Scott Heron track. This will be broadcast live on Solid Steel on April 19th via Strongroom Alive and then out on the web the day after via the usual Solid Steel channels. On the 19th there will be a chance to win a copy of one of these beauties too so tune in: 7-9pm. Also in the mail was an unreleased ‘basement jam’ version of ‘The Illectrik Hoax’, an abandoned version of the remix before they went in the direction you’ll hear on this disc.

The Electric Images In My Mind #8

Pretty excited about this release and it’s been a long time coming. This is the CD Promo version of the forthcoming DJ Food & The Amorphous Androgynous remix 12″ due out on Record Store Day (April 21st). The 12″ contains the 17 minute long Amorphous (hereafter referred to as AA) remix of ‘The Illectrik Hoax’ featuring Natural Self, from my album ‘The Search Engine’. This will be split over two sides of the 12″, on multi-coloured vinyl and cut at 45 rpm for extra loudness.
The CD (which isn’t available in stores I’m afraid, although a download will cover most of it) contains radio edits of one section of the remix plus a shorter version of ‘GIANT’ featuring Matt Johnson from the aforementioned album. Exclusive to the CD and download is a beautiful ambient/acoustic remix of ‘The Illectrik Hoax’ by 2econd Class Citizen which fitted perfectly into my ambient interpretation of the record at the London Planetarium launch party, he really took it to another place.
AA on the other hand do everything you expect and more, 17 minutes split into three distinct tracks: ‘The Illectrik Hoax’ (AA remix) is a madcap jam session, trampling the original track in the dust, ‘Don’t Pray, Don’t Bother (We’re Evil)’ takes the tempo to half time and grinds without mercy until ‘The Electric Images In My Mind (Never Die)’ ups the ante for full all out sonic battery. Natural Self‘s vocal is rephrased and twisted into a repeat refrain that keeps coming back for more over the last eight and a half minutes.

Taken all together they form yet another of the AA’s ‘Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble’ remixes, the likes of which have graced Oasis, Paul Weller and Pop Levi in the past. I’m very pleased to be added to that list and I’ll post pictures of the vinyl version and details of where you can order it as soon as I have them. The artwork is by yours truly with a little help from elements Henry Flint created for the album cover.

“This is Electric, and man we keep it charged”

Comics nerds fans among you may have spotted my little tip of the hat to one of comic artist Brendan McCarthy‘s first published works, ‘The Electrick Hoax’, in the title of a track on the new album, albeit with my own spin on the spelling. Appearing in Sounds magazine in the wake of punk in ’78 was a half page strip of utter madness, drawn by Brendan and, after a while, written by Pete Milligan, who McCarthy went on to do much great work with.

Packed with cultural references and trademark phrases the adhoc ‘plot’ featured cameos by the like of Jonny Rotten and Patrick McGoohan amongst others. Until recently only a few were available to view on the web, via Brendan’s site, but recently David Hine‘s excellent ‘Waiting For Trade’ blog has bought to light a few more, along with a couple of equally vintage strips from the Cipher anthology. More McCarthy here and here and also to come on this blog, maybe I should ask him to draw a special one-off episode for the cover of my forthcoming ‘The Illectrik Hoax’ remix 12″ in April?

Posted in Art, Comics. | 1 Comment » |

2013 – End of year round up

2013 has been an odd year – I wouldn’t go as far as to highlight the ’13’ as one to be wary of but it was full of ups and downs for me personally. 2012 was always going to be a hard year to beat but this one has been like a yo-yo, full of more uncertainty, doubt, procrastination and frustration than ever before.

There have been plenty of highs, not least with my family, of which my children are a constant source of wonder and pride. I do feel as if something has been holding me back but haven’t been able to pin down any one reason, more a general series of events that just didn’t let me get on with the things I need to do.

The proportion of great music being released has definitely gone up this year on previous ones, I read more comics than ever before, didn’t see half the films I wanted to and had more memorable nights out than I have in a long while. Experiences playing in clubs and with promoters seriously challenged me as to whether I actually wanted to continue DJing at times though. I’ve written more than ever before this year, having several articles published and conducted several interviews under my own steam with subjects whom I wanted to quiz on specific subjects. There are things bubbling for 2014 already, some of them very exciting for me but I need to make some more music and art as that’s been pretty barren this year.

Highs of 2014 (in no particular order)

• Moments:
Editing the Coldcut meets the Orb 2 sessions and then fine-tuning them with Matt Black
Seeing Kraftwerk in Dusseldorf then making a pilgrimage to their old studio.
Taking part in the Image Duplicator show at Orbital Comics and selling my piece on the opening night.
Being featured in a Judge Dredd strip as part of a Mega City One cult called ‘Strictly Kevs’.
Meeting and interviewing photographers Tony Barratt and  John Stoddart and chatting about their time photographing bands for the ZTT label.
Being photographed for the Dust & Grooves book and then conducting an interview with Kieran Hebden aka Four Tet for it.
Releasing the quadruple ‘Search Engine’ package for Record Store Day with 10 random inserts.
Being asked to remix The Amorphous Androgynous
More large-scale art pieces in my local neighborhood than ever
Remixing, rehearsing and performing with Cheeba and Moneyshot as part of the ‘3-Way Mix’ show – also signing on as part of the Elastic Artists agency with Ben Coghill.
Interviewing Gary Langan about the making of ‘Duck Rock’

• Music:
Boards of Canada ‘Tomorrow’s Harvest’ (Warp)
Spacedog & Belbury Poly – ‘Study Series 10’ (Ghost Box)
Melt Yourself Down – S/T LP (Leaf)
Lone – ‘Airglow Fires’ (R&S)
Mark Pritchard ‘Lock Off’ EP (Warp)
David Bowie ‘The Next Day’ LP
Sinoia Caves ‘The Enchanter Persuaded’
Black Moth Super Rainbow – ‘Dandelion Gum’ LP
John Carpenter & Alan Howarth – ‘Halloween 3’ (Death Waltz)
David Bowie ‘Love Is Lost’ (James Murphy Hello Steve Reich remix)
Boy George – ‘Coming Home’ (Psychemagik remix)
Chop – ‘Illuminate’ LP (Now Again)
Black Swan – ‘Alone Again With the Dawn Coming Up’
Tame Impala – ‘Be Above It’ (Erol Alkan remix)
rediscovering my love of Gary Numan and The Human League

• Books / Comics:
John Higgs – The KLF: Chaos, Magic & the Band Who Burned a Million Pounds
Julian Cope – Copendium
Moebius – Chaos & Chroniques Metalliques
Mike Mignola – Hellboy in Hell
The Judge Dredd Megazine
Brandon Graham – Prophet
B.P.R.D Hell On Earth
Brandon Graham – Multiple Warheads
The Best of Milligan & McCarthy
Jim Mahfood – Visual Funk
Ed Piskor – Hip Hop Family Tree
Batman Black & White no.3
The Wake
Robbie Morrison & Jim Murray – Drowntown
Brandon Graham – King City
Sledgehammer 44

• Films:
Pacific Rim
Despicable Me 2
Bonobo’s ‘Cirrus’ video
Melt Yourself Down’s ‘Fix My Life’ video

• Gigs:
Solid Steel 25th party at Fire, London,
19: Eighties concert at the QEH, London
playing my first gig with my kids in the audience at Big Fish Little Fish, London
DJing between Coldcut and DJ Shadow in Bristol at the In:Motion night
Kosmic Krash at the Herstmonceux Observatory
A Few Old Tunes, London
Adam Ant at the Roundhouse, London

• Firsts:
Finally reading Jodorowsky and Moebius‘The Incal’ and Milligan and McCarthy‘s ‘The Electric Hoax’ in full.
Making my first solo video mix for Solid Steel
Giving my first talk on graphic design in Madrid
Giving blood
Designing a zoetrope 12″ picture disc for Bonobo from Cyriak image sequences.
Having a piece published on The Quietus about Solid Steel and another about Kraftwerk for Clash Magazine
Launching my Art of ZTT website and having a feature on it published in Classic Pop magazine

• Artists / Designers:
Ian McQue / Augustine Kofie / Luke Insect / Giorgio Comolo / Peeta / Khomatech / Julian House / Jonathan Edwards / Andy Votel

• Mixes:
United States of Audio – How High’s The Water Mama?
Doug Shipton – All Will Be Set Right
Hexstatic – Clink Mix
DJ Moneyshot – Solid Steel & The Hour of Chaos
Coldcut meets The Orb – The Return Trip

• Exhibitions:
David Bowie  (The V&A)
Mark Bodé (London West Bank Gallery)
Ralph Steadman @77 (The Cartoon Museum)
Pop Art (The Barbican)

• Labels:
Deathwaltz (undisputed label of the year), Trunk, Ghost Box, Themes For Great Cities, Civil Music

• Sleeve / Packaging design:
Dark Seed ‘Nocturnes’ 12″ (Ohmega)
Various ‘A Psyche For Sore Eyes’ 7″ comp (Sonic Cathedral)
The Simonsound – ‘The Beam’ 10″ (Pilot Pack) (Project Blue Book)
Broadcast – ‘Berberian Sound Studio’ (Warp)
Clone – ‘Hallowe’en 1976’ cassette (Finders Keepers)
Machinedrum ‘Vapor City’ LP (Ninja Tune)
Christine ‘Death On Wheels’ 12″
DJ Format & Phill Most Chill ‘The Foremost’ LP (Project Blue Book)
Various ‘Classroom Projects’ (Trunk)
Various ‘Cosmic Machine’ comp
Kid Acne ‘Council Pop’ 10th anniversary edition
The Focus Group ‘Elektrik Karousel’ (Ghost Box)
Madlib ‘Pill Jar’ LP (Rappcats)
John Carpenter – ‘Assault On Precinct 13’ (Death Waltz)
Drums of Death ‘Waves Series Remixes’ (Civil Music)
Serato ‘Thre3style’ 10″ controller series

• Lows:
Being taken for a ride over payment by the promoter who booked me to give my first talk on graphic design in Madrid
More cancelled gigs and promoters messing me about than ever before
My laptop failing the night before a gig, necessitating a repair session until 3am
More people expecting me to do something for nothing than ever before, time to make a stand against this culture of people expecting people to work for ‘promotion’ in 2014.
‘The Persistence of Vision’ – a great documentary marred by sound and vision quality so bad it was virtually unwatchable.

• RIP:
Martin Sharp, Nelson Mandela, George Duke, Storm Thorgerson, Carmine Infantino, Claude Nobs, Dome Club Mk.1, Equinox Records.

• Things to look forward to in 2014:
Ghost Box night at the ICA in Jan
3-Way mix tour in Australia in Feb
Dirk Wears White Sox at the Apollo in April
The Dust & Grooves book released in April
A Very special Record Store Day release I can’t talk about yet in April
another big graphic project that I should be involved with for Autumn 2014 that I also can’t talk about yet


Posted in Event. | 3 Comments » |

Recent comic purchases

BatMan_BLKWHT_Cv3_I seem to have been buying an inordinate amount of comics recently, far more than usual, so I thought I’d share my best buys on here. I recently saw a statistic that said that comic sales had risen 1000% in the last decade – largely I assume because of comic-based films now being big business in Hollywood. I’ve bought, or have been bought, comics since as long as I can remember but recently I’ve been buying some that I never thought I would – issues from the big two. Marvel and DC titles are rarely on my shopping list, superheroes don’t interest me that much unless they’re being subverted in some way and I’ll usually only buy these kind of books for a particular guest artist.

Batman B&W1

This is the case with recently purchases of Batman, Superman AND Spiderman comics, a highly unlikely trio for me to want to read at the best of times. The Batman book (Batman Black & White #3) is something I’ve been waiting for for months now, mainly due to Rian Hughes‘ excellent typographic take on the character. He deconstructs language, both literally and visually and breaks down the story to incorporate the black & white theme via the print process. Adding in digs at Post-modernism and New Brit Art, it’s a unique, hilarious and very British take on Batman, seen through the eyes of a designer and illustrator – of which Hughes is both.

The next major super hero book to catch my eye was Spiderman: Marvel Knights – mainly because of the incredible interior art and some of the most inventive page layouts in years. Artist, Marco Rudy, channels the multi-dimensional angles of Alex Nino and the psychedelia of Brendan McCarthy on the page as Spidey has to battle 99 different foes to prevent a bomb going off. There seems to be a different style on each page and the writing is rapid-fire and light, I’ve included some sample spreads here to show what I mean.

The last of the big three is Superman Action Comics with a story called ‘Krypton Returns’, this is purely because the artist, Kenneth Rocafort, is on the book and I’ll buy pretty much anything he draws. The story is crap but it’s beautiful to look at, as is ‘Brainiac #1’, drawn by Pascal Alixe, a Superman spin-off issue where his many villains take over a book for the month of November, each with an eye-catching lenticular cover.

These are by no means the best of the bunch this month, I’m just highlighting them as they’re not the norm. The really good stuff is, as ever, happening on the smaller labels and independents like Image, Dark Horse and IDW. Huge mention for Brandon Graham‘s incredible Prophet, now up to issue 40, which continues to confound and amaze with every page. There are so many ideas packed into the dialogue that you can imagine multiple worlds, races and histories within every page. His scope is huge and I think this will, one day, come to be held up alongside works like Jodorowsky and Moebius‘The Incal’ for its vision.

More Graham goodness via Image comes with the reprint edition of his early Multiple Warheads strips and a compilation of sketchbook material called ‘Walrus’ via Picture Box. Scott Snyder’s ‘The Wake’ is an excellent underwater creature siege on a secret oil rig adventure with incredible art from Sean Murphy, they’re up to issue 4 but have just put out a ‘director’s cut’ of issue 1 with extra material, something that seems to be a new trend.

Over at Dark Horse the new Hellboy hardback, ‘The Midnight Circus’ by Mignola and Duncan Fegrado is beautiful, B.P.R.D. continues to intrigue and the Abe Sapien solo title is very good. Jeff Darrow is back with a new series of Shaolin Cowboy – always a joy to look at although the print size at the start of issue no.1 was enough to try the most persistent reader. The Star Wars is an interesting concept for a series too, taking the original screenplay for Star Wars from George Lucas and adapting it into comic form, complete with Ralph McQuarrie-esque early designs for the characters, makes for an alternate retro SW universe.

In the 2000ad universe the weekly Prog, which has been going through an incredible second golden period for the last decade, has suddenly hit the skids with it’s latest run of stories. But taking up the slack is the monthly Judge Dredd Megazine which is on fire at the moment with every story an absolute winner. I’ve recently started writing a monthly 2000ad vs Megazine post on the Everything Comes Back To 2000ad website which pits the Prog against the Meg on the week they are both released. Still in Dredd-world but over at IDW, their monthly take on the Judge has been more miss than hit but the cross-over Mars Attacks Judge Dredd title (yes, you read that correctly) has been good, largely because Brit writer Al Ewing is lashing on the black humour.

Lastly I must mention two more independent titles with connections to 2000ad: firstly Si Spurrier‘s 6 Gun Gorilla – a future war western with a tooled-up gorilla as star, sounds like it shouldn’t work but does. Secondly Gordon Rennie and PJ Holden‘s Dept. of Monsterology via Renegade is worth a look, kind of a Brit take on B.P.R.D. with enough strong characters to take it further after the first four issues finish. Phew! and that’s only the best of what I bought this month, there’s more but that’s enough for tonight, I have a Tooth vs Meg report to start as well as the complete run of Milligan and McCarthy‘s ‘The Electric Hoax’ strips from late 70’s Sounds to read.


Posted in Comics. | 1 Comment » |

British Council ‘The Selector’ radio mix now online

The 30 minute mix* I did for The Selector is now on Soundcloud featuring a section of the forthcoming Amorphous Androgynous remix of ‘The Illectrik Hoax’ plus a new unreleased 2econd Class Citizen track amongst others
Show 547 – DJ Food in the mix by British Council


Neil Norman – Re-Entry
DJ Food Vs The Amorphous Androgynous – The Electric Images In My Mind (Never Die)
DJ Food – Prey feat. JG Thirlwell
2econd Class Citizen – Stop 2 Wonder
Jane Weaver – The Fallen By Watchbird
Plug – Mind Bending
Fracture & Neptune – Trapped In Time

*This is actually only half of the mix, the full, hour-long mix will go online in two weeks