DJ Food in Liverpool: Graduation Ball & Emotion Wave

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The cat’s out of the bag – I’ll be playing at the Graduation Ball on August 25th after the three day event The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu are holding in Liverpool commencing August 23rd. Greg Wilson will also be playing and, topping the bill (for 3 minutes) will be the mysterious Badger Kull. This is free for the existing 400 ticket holders for the Welcome To The Dark Ages events but additional tickets just for this gig can be bought here. Be there for the birth of FUUK.

The day after, I’m playing at Emotion Wave, a night not a million miles away from my own Further nights in concept. I did a quick Q&A with organiser Neil Grant, aka Lo Five with a recent release on the Patterned Air label. All on the bill is Mark from Loka with a DJ set, Melodien and Neil himself.

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FourFromFoodFridays #17.18

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Four From Food Fridays – a weekly look at four things that have been doing it for me. They can be new or old, any style so long as it’s been getting some rotation in the studio. These are some selections for the first Further event this Saturday. From top left:
Psychick Warriors Ov Gaia – Obsidian (Deconstructure) (KK Records) 12″ – a 20 minute ambient trance classic and Further anthem if such a thing existed
Stereolab – Come And Play In The Milky Night (from ‘Cobra & Phases Group Play Voltage In The Milky Night’) LP (Duophonic UHF) LP – Fabulous album closer from the ‘lab.
Sheila Chandra – One and Mecca (from Roots & Wings) (Indiepop) LP – beautiful vocal drones and harmonies.
Markey Funk – JLM 1913/1921 (no label) – as yet unreleased album of music for two silent documentaries about Jerusalem

What a weekend part 1 – The Orb at the RFH

OrbscreenRFH Friday saw myself and Pete Williams as part of the bill for the Orb‘s extravaganza at the Royal Festival Hall on the Southbank, doing a test run for our Further event on May 6th. Upon being asked to play on the 5th floor balcony area by Alex Paterson, we decided to use a load of our equipment to projection all along the roof of the outside area overlooking the Thames. We got in around 1pm and were just about set up by 7pm when Michael from The Book & Record Bar and DJ Dadaist aka George Holt arrived. Teething trouble with getting the lights turned off or down so that we could see the projections were dealt with as were security who suddenly roped off the public space and would only let ticket holders for the gig in the main auditorium in. As the daylight faded and the projections along the balcony pointing across the ceiling appeared, everything clicked into place.

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Tons of friends turned up and we managed to get a lot of great photos and footage before the 11.30pm curfew. I even managed to see a bit of The Orb with Youth painting a huge canvas live onstage, walking in just as one of my favourite tracks, O.O.B.E. was playing. Strip down of the equipment took two hours by the time we were loaded out, then driving back to unload and retiring to our beds saw that it was 3am by the time I hit the sack. All worth it though, a very memorable night and a success in terms of what we wanted to achieve.
(Many thanks for the photos above: Martin Le Santo-Smith, and below: Mike Oscar)

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ToiToiToi album on Ghost Box

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Up for pre-order and released next month, the latest on Ghost Box is from ToiToiToi – Sebastian Counts from Berlin who has previously had a single on the label’s Other Voices 7″ offshoot. Fans of the Ghost Box output won’t be disappointed, it’s a beautifully assembled work with layers upon layers to discover.

Label heads Jim Jupp (Belbury Poly) and Julian House (The Focus Group and overall GB design) will be some of our guests at Further on May 6th at the Portico Gallery, West Norwood, where they’ll be playing an multi-projection AV set with a ton of label-related visuals. Tickets can be bought here

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Seen out and about in Penge

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I found myself in Penge today, which is a rarity, and there was plenty to see in the quiet South East London suburb. The Penge / Pengeuin paste up above doesn’t really trip off the tongue but it’s always nice to see the orange logo. A little further down the road was a fascinating shop, with a colourful mural outside, that looked like it had been shut for many years. Inside the grilled window were old lamps, bottles, heads and all sorts, stuffed to the rafters but locked up and inaccessible.
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Next were a brace of shops with fresh murals on side walls and shutters.
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The local charity shops threw up a couple of fabulous covers, brilliant in their unstyled glory.
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Later, up the road in Crystal Palace, I came across this amazing stained glass window on a church.
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Posted in Art, Poster / flyer, Records. | 2 Comments » | Tags:

Soundsci at Cavendish Music part 1

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This is the first part of a special visual exclusive on the new Soundsci album, ‘My Boosey Weighs A Ton’, the music of which is made completely (and legally) from samples provided by the Cavendish music library (formerly Boosey & Hawkes). Below are photos by Simon Ashton and recollections from group member Jonny Cuba on their visit to the archive to search for material. These are the last days of the archive as you see it here, shortly after this it was packed up and put into storage so thanks to Simon and Jonny for these pictures and thoughts. Part 2 on Monday will feature more shots by sleeve designer Darrell Krum.

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My pace quickened as we strode towards our destination, High Holborn in the heart of old London. As we crossed the road, I wondered what treasures were stashed just out of sight of the bustling High Road. I ushered my fellow adventurers Darrell and Simon into a grand building. The dull glow of architectural light was in high contrast to the brightly lit area immediately around a smart reception desk. We were surrounded by an aura of quality and affluence. However, before we even reached the desk we took a sharp turn through a set of almost invisible double doors.

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We traveled along corridors and down numerous staircases. The decor took us back time the further we ventured and at last we reached our destination. The vault. There was a heavy door made of thick steel and as we stepped inside Darrell immediately remarked upon the strong odour, a mixture of musty paper and damp. As we ventured deeper into the labyrinthine cave the smell enveloped us and the damp was clearly manifest on the walls and on some of the treasures contained within.

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Amongst the prizes I saw was a huge leather bound master score, handwritten, of Stravinsky’s ‘The Rite of Spring’. Ledgers and books of ancient share certificates spilt out of numbered boxes. However, all these things were secondary to the real treasures. Shelves and shelves of reel to reel tapes, vinyl LP’s and shellac 78’s. Digger’s Manna.

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The archive has now been packed away and moved to an industrial space outside of town. London changes, but the nooks and crannies where culture and mystery collide are remembered by us in our music and art. – Jonny Cuba

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Listen to Jonny, joined by Ollie Teeba – the other half of the production duo in Soundsci – on Jonny Trunk‘s OST show a few weeks back where they layout how they went about making the album, play cuts and joust with Señor Trunk over who has the rarest library and soundtrack cuts. You can pre-order the album here before it drops on Monday – only 500 copies and half of them are already spoken for apparently.

An Ambient Evening with the Orb and friends

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I’m very pleased to announce that I’ll be part of The Orb‘s ‘An Ambient Evening…’ at the Royal Festival Hall on April 21st alongside The Orb (of course) Youth, Roger Eno, Metamono, Gaudi, George Holt (Cakelab), Micheal Johnson (The Book & Record Bar) and more. As part of the ever-growing local South London crew that have gravitated to the West Norwood Broadcasting Company (WNBC) operating out of The Book & Record Bar, Alex Paterson invited us to be a part of the evening to showcase some of the people within this community. Tickets are on sale now .

Not only that, Pete W (Out Of The Wood radio/WNBC) and myself will be unveiling the first outing of our new venture into sight and sound: Further.

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We’ve been kicking this idea around since last summer, wanting to create a space where music and visuals come together in different social settings to form an environment with as much emphasis on the visual as the musical. We’ve gathered an arsenal of analogue kit to make this happen, multiple slide and oil projectors, 3″ cassette effects and all manner of antique controllers to trigger them, with the aim of going back to some of the pre-digital practices that are being lost as we advance into a virtual world. It’s also a chance to showcase the kind of music we’ve been playing in the record shop, on the radio show and in venues like Spiritland over the past year or more – a willfully obscure blend of anything goes from the deepest, unexplored corners of our record collections.
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The idea is to install Further into different places, working with different layouts to make each one different and fresh. Musical and visuals guests will be invited and given space to do their thing and and we’ll provide the environment for them to fit into. Think the 60s UFO club meets a 70s Arts Lab meets the 90s Land of Oz nights with a leftfield audio/visual agenda. We’re currently talking to various different people about the possibilities of staging one of these events in their venue so if you think this could work for you then please get in touch: [email protected]

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Flexibition 2017: Stephen Coates #4 – Echo magazine No.2

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From the collection of Stephen Coates (The Real Tuesday Weld, Antique Beat, X-Ray Audio), Issue 2 of Echo (“the magazine you play on your phonograph”) arrived in October 1959 containing five off-white, semi transparent flexi discs with features on Steve Allen, Queen Elizabeth‘s Royal Tour, Lady Chatterly’s Lover, the Ahmad Jamal Trio and Le Mans 1959. Art director Tony Palladino did some lovely work in this issue using very modern type treatments, cropped photos and lots of blank space to give it quite a timeless feel.
Echo #2 contents Echo #2 royal tour flexiEcho #2 DH LawrenceEcho #2 Publisher note Echo #2 jazz Echo #2 Riverside recordsEcho #2 flexi stamp Echo #2 Monk stamp2Echo #2 Le MansEcho #2 subscribe2Echo #2 advert2Echo #2 back
Issue 1 was featured a few days back and if you missed a look at issue 3. back in my original Flexibition posts then look no further. To my knowledge Echo lasted for four issues before folding, a potted history of which can be found on Boing Boing by John Wilcock.

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and that was 2016

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For some reason I started writing my review of the year back in January, determined to keep a record of it as I went along so that I could just press the ‘publish’ button over new year weekend and not sit around for a day trying to remember what I’d seen, done, listened to or read. I couldn’t have picked a worse year, let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first…

“2016 (‘the year that just keeps on taking’ was how someone later referred to it) was a shit year that I will want to forget“. I wrote that in April, just after Prince had died and I was ready to see the back of it before we’d even reached June. I now know I wasn’t alone in this sentiment. No two ways about it, good, creative, innovative people passed away, seemingly on a daily basis while greedy, immoral, ignorant people in positions of power got away with murder at the same rate. If only a few of the bad ones had been taken as well, if only to even things out.

In June (half) the UK voted to exit the EU and the fallout, cop out and subsequent reshuffle in the aftermath defied belief and went beyond satire. Labour’s backstabbing and in-fighting to oust Jeremy Corbyn from the party when they should have been calling the Tories to account just showed them up to be as inept as those in power. The closure of Fabric in September* put yet another nail in the coffin of the city I love, one that’s rapidly having it’s center squeezed of any creativity, individuality and relevance as big business moves in and any form of alternative culture is forced out. Things change, I know that, it’s progress and it has to happen, but when that change feels more like a regression I start to look elsewhere.
* thankfully set to re-opened under new conditions

As the beginning of the lead up to Brexit began and the pound sunk to an all time low, it was hard to feel anything but despair at the idiocy and blatant greed of those in positions of power playing games whilst lining pockets and taking from those who need it most. A friend left for LA over a year ago and I feel he got out in the nick of time.

I had my own family problems this year too and I lost my mother to cancer in early July, a year after she was diagnosed. The photo above was taken the day she died, the last second of the day, a blink of the eye later it was 0.00. A new day, everything reset, now I had one parent, not two. Thankfully I’m very lucky to have a great group of family and friends close by for support and without them things would have been very different. 2016 brought a massive phase of my life to an end and 2017 will see it take a new turn, don’t expect a new record too soon I’m afraid, I don’t have the head space.

And then the unthinkable on Nov 9th (9/11 by our calendar, how ironic)Trump
There have been several times when I’ve woken up to a day when everything has changed, a mental shift in world events which means that nothing will be the same again. The day after 9/11 was one, the birth of my children, Brexit, my mother’s death… Now Trump gets added to that list, sadly my friend jumped from the frying pan into the fire. Early reports show that the youth voted for Clinton while the elderly voted for Trump, much the same as Brexit in the UK then. Satire is no longer a comfort, you couldn’t make this up and it’s certainly not funny anymore.

But despite this, there was plenty of good to be found everywhere, the cliché of the arts flourishing under oppression and depression seemingly true. Looking back over posts from this year, both here and on my Instagram, all I can see is a vintage year for music and a great year for the visual arts. There was SO MUCH great music everywhere that it was a job to get through it all and I seemed to be buying both new and old on a daily basis with a real need to dive into the bins and discover continuing over from last year. So many genuinely great records came out this year with the new easily outnumbering the old, vinyl overtook downloads in sales at one point (largely due to Sainsburys starting to stock it again I suspect) and we’re still being spoilt for sleeve and packaging design too.

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Music:
David Bowie – Blackstar (ISO/RCA/Columbia)
Kosmischer Laufer – The Secret Cosmic Music of the East German Olympic Program 1972-83 Vol.1-3 (UCR)
Cosmic Ground 2 (Deep Distance) (technically 2015)
The Heliocentrics – From The Deep (Now Again)
The Allergies feat. Andy Cooper – Rock Rock (Jalapeno)
Cavern of Anti-Matter – Void Beats/Invocation Trex’ (Duophonic UHF Discs)
The Comet Is Coming – Channel The Spirits (Leaf)
Synthi A – Ignition of the Sun (EBV)
Vactrol Park – II (ESP Institute)
Brain Machine – Peaks (Emotional Response Recordings)
Lost Idol – Chrome Machine Tales (EOE Recordings)
Various Artists – Cosmic Machine The Sequel (Because Music)
S’Express – Enjoy This Trip (Needle Boss Records)
Videodrones – Mondo Ferox (El Paraiso)
Various – I Love Acid 010 (Balkan Recordings)
Om Unit – Underground Cinema (feat Krust) (Cosmic Bridge)
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Robot Stop (Flightless)
Peter Thomas & Mocambo Astronautic Sound Orcestra – Space Patrol (Raumpatrouille) (Mocambo)
Radiohead – The Numbers (XL Recordings)
Foetus on Triple J interview from 1986 (Mixcloud)
DJ Supreme – R.I.P. feat Son of Noise (Backbone Records)
F.S.O.L. – Environment Six & 6.5 (FSOLDigital)
Clipping. – Splendor & Misery (Sub Pop)
Vanishing Twin – Choose Your Own Adventure (Soundway)
The Pattern Forms – Peel Away The Ivory (Ghost Box)
Barry Adamson – Know Where To Run (Central Control International)
The Karminsky Experience Inc. – Beat! (Patterns of Behaviour)
Howlround – A Creak In Time (psyche-tropes)
Graeme Miller & Steve Shill – The Moomins OST (Finders Keepers)*
*technically released next year but I got an early copy

Honourable mentions:
Electronic Sound magazine going from digital to physical – filling a gap somewhere between the highbrow avant gardisms of The Wire and the retro 80s fest of Classic Pop – clean design and original angles + free CDs.

Andrew Harrison and Matt Hall‘s Big Mouth podcast – a weekly look at pop culture from music to TV to comics to films to books, great line up of guests and plenty of good tips to follow up.

The El Paraiso label – everything about it, from the music to the artwork, is spot on, a beautiful roster and catalogue. Hard to pick a favourite release but when I stumbled upon them in May I wanted everything and barely found a dud in the whole roster.

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Clipping. – the trio really knocked me out when I ran across them in October, three albums and a handlful of EPs into their career, taking in all that was a sensory overload. The pure electronic noise coupled with the razor sharp delivery of Daveed Diggs‘ raps felt like someone was operating on my brain while I was conscious. The sonic palette and arrangements felt so fresh in the context of 99% of other hip hop records that they immediately made everything else seem stale. With repeated listens their Splendor & Misery LP revealed just what a stunning concept album they’d created, layers and themes interwoven to perfection, I only wish there was a full film to go with the two promo videos already out there. Album of the year in a year that was awash with great music.

Peter Williams for all his quiet energy, enthusiasm and organisation in and around West Norwood, his great music taste and for being a catalyst for change, hopefully we’ll do good things in 2017…

Lego for severing ties with the Daily Mail, opening a great new shop in central London and making that fab Beatles Yellow Submarine.

Spiritland for making me stretch out and indulge in the musical side of me that rarely gets an airing in my club sets.

Pete Isaac, Scott Hendy and Greg Belson of 45 Live for continuing to build a worldwide brand in clubland and on the radio.

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Another year over and what have I done?
Designed the De:tuned Records 6xLP Brainbox set + forthcoming spin-off 12″ and rejigged a bit of Frankie Goes To Hollywood‘s ‘…Pleasuredome’ LP for reissue. Hosted Jonny Trunk‘s OST show on Resonance FM, written for The Vinyl Factory and been published in the Rough Trade 40 years book,. Performed with Howlround at the Museum of London, done instores in Rat Records and The Book & Record Bar as well as several appearances on the Out of the Wood radio show. Remixed Divine Styler, appeared at The Force Awakens holographic vinyl launch at Abbey Road Studios and created two different mixes of Acid House 45s for the I Love Acid and 45 Live radio shows. Designed and illustrated a brochure for the stage production Songs of Immigrants & Experience and the cover of the next Loka LP (without label deal at present). Plenty more mixes for Solid Steel, GCASFM, Spiritland, Looselips, Near Mint and 45/7 shows – most of which are available on my Mixcloud page. There have been a load of gigs (4 for Big Fish Little Fish alone), plenty of digs and a few things going on in the background but I’ve been too preoccupied with family things this year to add much to the portfolio.

Favourite gigs:
Cavern of Anti-Matter @ The Moth Club
The Soul-Inn
1st birthday party, Brussels
Record Store Day @ The Book & Record Bar, West Norwood
Rat Records instore with Jonny Trunk, Camberwell
Adam Ant Kings of the Wild Frontier @ Brixton Academy
My first gig at Spiritland, Kings X
The Pattern Forms @ Rough Trade East
Turntable & tape machine improv with Howlround + Jonny Trunk @ The Museum of London
The Karminsky Experience LP launch, Blue Posts
Pascal Savy / Steven McInerney / Howlround @Iklectik
Vanishing Twin / Cherrystones @The Others
Clipping. @ Corsica Studios

Favourite exhibitions:
Alan Kitching @ Somerset House
KAWS / Eduardo Paolozzi @ Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Thierry Noir @ Howard Griffin Gallery
You Say You Want A Revolution @ V&A Museum
Star Wars Identities @ the O2
Secret 7s @ the Sonos Building
Jimmy Cauty‘s New Bedford Rising in America St.

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Favourite comics / books:
B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth
– Mike Mignola / John Arcudi / various (Dark Horse)
Empty Zone – Jason Shawn Alexander (Image)
Heavy Metal – Various
Black Science – Rick Remender / Matteo Scalera (Image)
Low – Rick Remender / Greg Tocchini (Image)
Island – Various (Image)
2000AD – Various (Rebellion)
Saga – Fiona Staples / Brian K. Vaughn (Image)
Drawn To Drawing – John Vernon Lord (Nobrow)
Prophet: Earth War – Brandon Graham / Simon Roy / various (Image)
The Music Library 2nd edition – Jonny Trunk (Fuel)
Tape Leaders – Ian Helliwell (Sound On Sound)
Covers – Alex Bartsch (Kickstarter)
Zentropa – John Mahoney (Heavy Metal)
Pencil Head – Ted McKeever (Image)

Favourite film/TV:
Flowers, Upstart Crow, Rogue One, Steven McInerney‘s A Creak in Time

RIP:
David Bowie, Mark B (technically 2015 but it broke over New Year), Paul Bley, Pierre Boulez, Alan Rickman, Clarence Reid aka Blowfly, Andy ‘Dog’ Johnson, Terry Wogan, Maurice White, The Independent newspaper, Harper Lee, Umberto Eco, Bruce Lacey, George Martin, Ken Adams, Keith Emerson, Phife Dawg, Ronnie Corbett, Zaha Hadid, Tony Conrad, Victoria Wood, Prince, Richard Lyons (Negativland), Isao Tomita, Muhammad Ali, Jo Cox,  Bernie Worrell, Caroline Aherne, Alan Vega, Jack Davis, Kenny Baker, Bobby Hutcherson, Gilli Smyth (Gong), Gene Wilder, Richard Neville (Oz magazine founder), Prince Buster, Don Buchla, Rod Temperton, Steve Dillon, Pete Burns, Jean Jacques Perrey, Leonard Cohen, Robert Vaughn, David Mancuso, Sharon Jones, Fidel Castro, Pauline Oliveros, Colonel Abrams, Andrew Sachs, Al Brodax, Greg Lake, Dave Brubeck, John Glenn, Rick Parfitt, George Michael, Alphonse Mouzon, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds.

Wisdom: “Morph man, morph!” – Otis Fodder

Looking forward to:
The next phase…
Ghost In The Shell
The ongoing unearthing of lost collage works from Australia by DJ HDD
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Eduardo Paolozzi @ The Whitechapel Gallery
Pink Floyd @ the V&A Museum
Valerian
XX book by Rian Hughes
The Delaware Road live in a nuclear bunker
The return of the KLF?…
Blade Runner 2049
Star Wars VIII
Further…

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John Jacobs – Inside TV VHS collage, 1984

After the amazing feast that was Foetus on Triple J – the John Jacobs plunderphonic interview with JG Thirwell from 1986 on Tim Ritchie‘s show – we rewind even further back to 1984. In a continuing series of lost Antipodean radio-phonic works unearthed by DJ HDD, and preceding a series entitled The Worx, we have another Jacobs piece, ‘Inside TV‘.
“A comedic cut-up/critique of Australian television thrown together by John Jacobs with a pair of domestic VHS decks… The edits are rough and jumpy, an analogue pause-button aesthetic. The sync rolls, the loops swing. The image is smeared and lurid as it goes down the grimey tube of VHS generations. Not having any outlet for these pre-Internet video cutups, John took the moniker ‘Built in Ghosts’ and secretly dubbed them back onto the ends of hire tapes for random late-night discovery by fellow video junkies.
Hopefully more to come…

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Two new Patterned Air releases

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I’ve been meaning to post about Matt Saunders‘ new(ish) Patterned Air Recordings imprint for a while now but work is taking over at the moment. Suffice to say that after The Assembled Minds’ debut release late last year he’s just released the second and third in the catalogue back to back. CukoO and Running On Air couldn’t be further apart stylistically but they make sense when tied together in the elaborate CD packaging that Matt assembles for each release. Patterened Air back
Taking up the baton from labels like The Folklore Tapes or A Year In The Country, each pouch contains multiple items that enhance the release in some way, hand printed, stamped, signed, numbered and then tied with a leather strip. They’re a nightmare to store and get into but there’s nothing out there quite like them and the label mission statement on their website reads like a ‘Hauntology 101’. “We are a record label interested in weird things. We like analogue synths, reel-to-reel machines, Radiophonics, music for children, music for falling to sleep by, early electronic experiments, folkloric eeriness, seances, electronic voice phenomenon, old techno, deteriorated music — in a nutshell, soundtracks to get us off this mundane plain and onto an elevated, if creepy, state of euphoria”.

I’ll buy that for a dollar but there’s more at work here than that – the music is just as unique as the packaging, sitting somewhere between earthy folk, spine-chilling electronica and the kind of melodic, stately British nostalgia found in Grasscut‘s records. Labels like this are always fun at the beginning because they’re full of ideas, idealism, experiments and no musical formula in place. These are all still available from the label’s Bandcamp page.

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Daydreaming with Stanley Kubrick

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The Daydreaming With Stanley Kubrick exhibition started a few weeks back at Somerset House in London’s West End and it’s well worth a look. Curated by James Lavelle, it features many familiar names that hint that his phone book must be a thing to behold. Artists, film makers and musicians from around the world have contributed but with over 40 pieces to look at there’s always going to be some stronger than others.

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For the most part, I enjoyed the more literal, graphic interpretations; the hexagon-patterned floor from The Shining, Space Invader‘s Rubix-cubed Alex from A Clockwork Orange and Doug Foster’s homage to the stargate scene in 2001, ‘Beyond The Infinite’ – a mesmerising widescreen kaleidoscope that constantly shifted to a soundtrack by UNKLE. I was surprised there wasn’t more reference to Hal from 2001 outside of some of the graphics for the exhibition branding though and there was a missed opportunity to do something with Kubrick toys seeing as James has had an affinity with them for so long.

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One of my favourite pieces was Philip Castle‘s 70s airbrushed illustration for the original film of Alex with dentures in a glass. Unfortunately this was represented as a slide blown up rather than the original painting but it still had enough presence, menace and period textured beauty to outshine most of the other exhibits.

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Elsewhere, several installation pieces were the most successful in invoking Stanley’s spirit. A vertical pulsing strip of LED lights by Chris Levine burned images onto the retina from the end of a corridor so that, when you looked away, you saw split second flashes of Kubrick’s face. A ‘breathing’ camera by Nancy Fouts, sat eerily in another corner, rasping in and out to itself. A room of 114 wireless’ all tuned to the same channel in a dimly-lit workshop created a WWII-like atmosphere and the exhibition guide revealed that a huge cast of celebs had made the soundtrack playing through the tinny speakers. Peter Kennard‘s ant-war collages were further bolstered by additions from Dr. Strangelove although it felt largely transplanted from his recent Imperial War Museum exhibit with some added Kubrickisms.

Possibly equal to Foster’s AV piece was Toby Dye‘s small room showing four different scenes from The Corridor, each one using a Kubrick technique of focus pulling in or out of a centralised corridor. This, when shown full frame on each of the four walls, gave the viewer a sense of unease or vertigo as the walls appeared to shift around them. Very effective if off-balancing. David Pellam‘s classic Droog design featured twice, once in the show branding and once in Paul Insect‘s updating of his work, ‘Clockwork Britain’. An iconic design, connected with Kubrick by the simplification of his visualisation for the Droogs, it sits alongside the Shining carpet as a graphic motif instantly connected to his films. A VR headset with interior 2001 space station scenario was also installed but the queue was just too long so don’t head to it at peak weekend hours if possible.

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Green Party local election leaflet

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Very pleased to see Sadiq Khan win the post of Mayor of London over the weekend but also this campaign leaflet from the Greens raised a smile. With a tagline of ‘Make Your Vote Go Further’, the leaflet can be folded into a paper plane, complete with a note that they’re not so keen on extra runways and please recycle this leaflet. Kudos to the designer who came up with this idea, nicely done.

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Posted in Design, Event. | No Comments » | Tags:

Near Mint show Pt.1 & 45 Live Show mix


For all those who won’t see the updated posts further down the feed; here’s last night’s new Resonance FM show, Near Mint, that I featured on with some highlights of my collection. Plus here’s the 45Live Radio Show I had an all-45s guest mix slot on with Greg Belson last Friday night/Saturday morning on Dublab.

Jamie Hewlett ‘The Suggestionists’ at the Saatchi Gallery

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I finally got round to checking out the Jamie Hewlett exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery just before Xmas. Split into three sections – colour renditions of the Tarot, Russ Meyer-esque posters of his wife as ‘Honey X‘, and B&W tree studies – it was good to see him pushing out of his comfort zone. The huge tarot images are in the style we know and love him for but all the pieces looked like prints rather than original art which was disappointing.

Hewlett_HoneyX2The Honey X fake film posters were enclosed in a black draped section that added to the seedy B-Movie vibe, their luminous glow alluding to the kind of dimly lit emporiums that would show such films. It’s hard to equate Hewlett with them as there’s so little of his established style visible. They weren’t bad per se, but I found it hard to care too much about them aside from the odd nicely observed graphic design placement here and there.

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Much has been made of the tree studies and they are a revelation in that you can see his hand in the execution but they couldn’t be further from his usual source material. In recent years there’s been a stripping down of Hewlett’s style, a minimizing in detail and the stark contrasts of the tree images and some of the tarot remind me a lot of Mike Mignola’s work about 20 years ago when he first started drawing Hellboy. Since then Mike’s stripped his own style back even further and it will be interesting to see where Hewlett is in two decades time.

Hewlett_Tree
Is this the point where comic artists in the UK finally start to be accepted into the fine art world? What with this and the Comics Unmasked exhibition at the British Library last year could this be the tipping point that sees the UK catch up with our friends on the continent? Could we one day see major retrospective shows of the likes that Crumb, Hergé and Moebius have been afforded overseas in some of our major galleries? It’s been happening for years in comic shops and minor spaces but the Saatchi is a big player and tastemaker. The exhibition has been extended until January 3rd so there’s still time to catch it and it’s free.

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Flexibition #49: ‘X-Ray Audio’ book, disc and exhibition

X-Ray AudioBookFlexi2
I gave a post over to Stephen Coates and his collection of Soviet ‘bone discs’ back in October but this is the perfect week to return to the subject matter. The second time round is to celebrate the release of his ‘X-Ray Audio’ book which comes with a free flexi for the first run (pictured above and below). The exhibition of the same name opened last weekend at The Horse Hospital and I already featured images from it earlier this week. The flexi contains three tracks including a Real Tuesday Weld original and you can get a book from Strange Attractor Press.

X-Ray AudioBookFlexidetailX-Ray AudioBookcover
The book is a delight too, a thoroughly researched document of the phenomenon of bootlegging illegal music onto X-Rays, poetically etching the music onto the bodies of the public. It goes further and shows postcard discs and weird finds from the flexi genre which were used when X-Rays were in short supply. Highly recommended for any format fetishists, lovers of the arcane and the underground subcultures that thrive under repression.

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I also have to plug my event this coming Saturday at the Horse Hospital – ‘A Night At The Flexibition’ – where I’ll be playing and talking about selections from my collection. Stephen will be doing the same and we’ll have Aleks Kolkowski, his X-Ray cutting engineer on hand too (also interviewed in the book). Come and see the exhibition at the same time.

Flexibition flyer webThe first 20 people through the door will receive a random flexi disc for their trouble in some special screen-printed sleeves I’ve had made from the poster design above.
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They were printed by the lovely people at the Sonsoles Print Studio in Peckham over recycled 7″ sleeves. They run a great little studio near to where I live and have screenprinting courses as well as doing limited runs – highly recommended. There will also be four 10″ ‘Soviet Mystery Discs’ that I was given in Russia on my last visit, courtesy of Mr Armtone, I’ll be playing these and trying to find out more about them from Stephen and Aleks on the night. I never guessed that, when I started this weekly feature nearly a year ago, this would be one of the outcomes.

Soviet Mystery Discs

 

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The Art of Curation at ADE in Amsterdam with Mixcloud

RecordPalaceOpArt A couple of weeks ago I was in Amsterdam, taking part in discussions about ‘The Art of Curation’ with Mixcloud co-founder Nikhil Shah. The chat was hosted by the electronics company Sonos as part of the annual ADE music conference that takes place there, the biggest in Europe. I chose five tracks that linked with the subjects of Music, Art, Sci-Fi, Comics & Design which largely tie into the things I collect and post about on this site. This is the part where the blog eats itself as I blog about myself talking about blogging and readers will hear some familiar names and sounds during the interview.

Raze7frontThe trip was a fruitful one in terms of digging for new things in my time off and I went with a mission for 45s, underground comics and sci-fi paperbacks. Things got off to a poor start with my first stop at Record Palace (Op Art -themed wall display at the top) which is on the outer rim of the centre of the city. I’ve shopped there a few times and it’s always yielded treasures but this time it wasn’t to be. Of the two 7″s I bought (a substandard late 80s Dickie Goodman break-in record and Raze‘s ‘Break 4 Love’) when I returned home to play them I discovered that the disc inside the Raze cover was in fact a Thompson Twins single. My fault for not checking the disc but they were only 50c and there was a strict ‘no playing’ rule on records from the cheap bins. The only good thing about it was the Trevor Jackson-designed cover which, when you look at the ‘dancing’ figures, is actually quite dirty.

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From here I visited Lambiek a few roads away, the oldest comic shop in the world if their website is to be believed and, on the strength of their stock, I can believe it. The shop is about to move to a new premises and their usual gallery space was now a large dumping ground for what looks like all manner of random stock. Very little of it was priced apart from the odd penciled number on an inside cover and many of the piles can contain anything, very little order exists as you can see below.

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But there was some gold there and I soon had a little pile building, the owner unable to direct me to the undergrounds as everything was mixed up due to the impending move. They closed at 5pm and at approximately 4.45 I glanced under a shelf and saw a box that looked like it was exactly what I was looking for. Going through it my suspicions were confirmed and I started pulling out handfuls of British and American underground and independent press comix as fast as I could, some in not-so-good condition but still a lot that you only find on eBay these days.Oz39
This copy of Oz magazine was nestling in the box, looking like a Robert Crumb comic, copies usually go for £10-20 and up.ImagineFoss SubvertComicsx3
These three Subvert comics by Spain were a bit water-damaged but I’d never seen copies before aside from being reprinted in other mags.Skull_TwoFistedZombies MotherOats1&3
No.s 1 and 3 of Mother Oats Comix by the late, great Dave Sheridan.
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They had five copies of this Radical Rock comic, all badly water-damaged but readable. You can easily find these for about $5 on eBay, but the postage triples the price as they’re always from the States.
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I wasn’t going to leave a comic behind with a cover like the Bizarre Sex one, the issue of Tasty has some really nice abstract acid trip visuals inside although the cover isn’t up to much.
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That Dutch NIMFKE comic on the right is probably one of the filthiest things I’ve ever seen in comic form.
CrackedMadStarWars SickThere was more but here’s a lot of it. I’d been tempering my choices, thinking that this was adding up to quite a bundle but some of this stuff just doesn’t come around in Europe that often, even in this condition. Upon taking them to the counter I couldn’t quite believe my luck when the assistant proceeded to charge me one Euro for each comic with only two for some slightly over-sized books like Imagine and Heavy Metal. Digs like that don’t happen every day.

On then, with a spring in my step, to a couple more comic shops further north near Centraal station. On my way I passed a shop with a big sign outside, ‘Used Books, English Language’, and took a quick peek to see what it was like. Once inside I inquired if they had any vintage sci-fi paperbacks and the guy at the counter pointed to eight large apple boxes stacked in the aisle. “Four for ten Euros“, he quipped, “How long until you close?”, “20 minutes!”. I probably got through about two thirds of them, given that they were two rows deep inside but it was worth it.
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Lambiek

Flexibition #44: Bone Music from the Soviet Union

This week I turn over the Flexibition to a very special guest, someone who is in the midst of researching and documenting some of the weirdest flexi discs in the world. Stephen Coates aka The Real Tuesday Weld has been collecting ‘bone discs’ from Russia for the last few years and, due to the subject matter with Halloween approaching, I thought he’d be the perfect choice to feature some of his collection.

“Some of the strangest flexis ever made were created secretly in the Soviet Union during the cold war era.
In a culture where the recording industry was completely controlled by the state, music-mad bootleggers used an extraordinary alternative means to spread the music they loved – they re-purposed used x-ray film as the basis for making records of forbidden music.

THE WINE OF LOVE (Вино любви) Pyotr LeshchenkoTHE WINE OF LOVE

But why would a song like the ‘The Wine of Love’ on this ‘bone record’ be forbidden? Its innocent, romantic lyrics don’t seem anti-Soviet in any way, but emigre singers like Leshchenko who lived abroad outside the Soviet Union rather than returning to help the great march forward, were considered traitors and so all their repertoire became banned, though it remained hugely popular.

Even before the revolution of 1917, the arts were subject to some control in Russia and during the Soviet period, particularly from 1932, a censor decided what could be published, exhibited or performed. By the time the cold war kicked in in the late 1940s, a lot of music was very difficult to get hold of – until the x-ray bootleggers got to work.  Originally they were really just music fans and audiophiles doing a bit of private business by copying records from before the war or the odd gramophone disc smuggled into the country, but up until around 1964, as the technique of making the bootlegs spread, something like a million of these ‘bone’ discs were cut. They weren’t pressed like conventional flexis but written, laboriously in real time at 78rpm with home made recording lathes, and so, incredibly, each is an edition of one –  sounding and looking different from all the others.

MISHKA Pavel RudakovMISHKA

They are nearly always single sided, very thin and the sound quality varies hugely depending on the skill of the bootlegger and the quality of the film. They didn’t last long but were cheap and sold pretty much like soft drugs are now – in dark corners or parks. Another big genre of music cut onto them was Russian music made inside the Soviet Union but which, as the censor tightened, had also became forbidden because it had certain rhythms (like the foxtrot or the tango) which were considered licentious or was in a style or with lyrics that were considered uncouth or shallow. Basically anything that the authorities didn’t like or was thought unhelpful in developing a communist state of mind was out.

But the official stuff on offer was often very boring and worthy and so of course, as well as the homegrown music they loved, young people in particular wanted to listen to cool Western music, which although completely banned, might be caught on the odd radio broadcast from Europe. So jazz, rock n roll, boogie woogie and latin dance tunes increasingly began to appear on bone bootlegs.

MAMBOunknown  MAMBO

From the late 1950s, there was another sub-genre of soviet flexi bootlegs on ‘audio postcards’ or ‘sound letters’.  These were picture disc recording blanks made for and sold in official shops – usually in tourist areas. People could go into these shops and pay to use a machine to record a novelty greeting for the folks at home or select one from a menu of official tunes to be pressed onto one of the picture discs. Of course, after hours or under the counter, much more interesting tunes could be cut and sold. These discs carried on being made right up until the 1970s.

But the ‘bone era’ of x-ray recordings ended around 1964, not because the authorities wiped it out or because of the brutal punishments they inflicted on the bootleggers when they caught them, but because in the more open climate of the sixties, ordinary citizens were allowed to have reel to reel tape recorders and immediately there was no longer any need for the laborious process, poor quality and unpredictable results of the x-ray flexis made by hand.

THE X-RAY AUDIO PROJECT
I first came across one of these discs a few years ago after I had been performing in Russia. Fascinated, I set up the X-Ray Audio Project with photographer Paul Heartfield to research, record, collect and publish their images and sounds and to tell the stories of the people who made and listened to them

For more information check out www.x-rayaudio.squarespace.com or my TED X talk”. (below)

The X-Ray Audio exhibition will be at Vivid Projects in Birmingham in November and will return to The Horse Hospital in London in December before traveling to further venues in 2016.

On December 5th I will be in conversation with Stephen at the same venue, showcasing various examples of the flexis I’ve been posting in the Flexibition, playing them and maybe even handing them around so that people can get a closer look. More details for ‘A Night at the Flexibition’ are here.

The book ‘X-RAY AUDIO – The Strange Story of Soviet Music on the Bone’ will be published in December by Strange Attractor Press and a Special Edition of 500 copies come with a flexidisc insert containing original Bone music.

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Radioland: Radio-Activity Revisited by Matthew Bourne

Radioland Earlier this year I headed to Village Underground to experience Radioland‘s Radio-Activity Revisited gig, accompanied by Matt Johnson. The trio of Matthew Bourne, Franck Vigroux and visual artist Antoine Schmitt were reinterpreting Kraftwerk‘s classic album in a mix of stark analogue electronics and monochrome graphics. From the previews I’d seen online I was really looking forward to it and, drinks in hand, we congregated near the front of the crowd awaiting the performance.

The sound that greeted us was so loud that after one number I suggested to an equally uncomfortable Matt that maybe we should move further back. By the end of the second number we were right at the back of the room and bumped in Leaf label boss Tony Morley who had seen them perform the night before and cleverly invested in some ear plugs for the occasion. As the volume seemed to increase with each track we decided to make an early exit which is why I’m relieved to see that Leaf are now releasing an album of the rework so that I can finally hear the full thing in the comfort of my own home with the volume level set to ‘wuss’.

Available on LP, CD in 20pg hardback book or DL, with sleeve notes by David Stubbs, no earplugs needed.

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Rick & Morty season 2 trailer

If you haven’t been watching Rick & Morty on Adult Swim then you’re in for a treat and there’s a whole season to wade through before diving into the second. Essentially a riff on the professor and Marty McFly from Back To The Future it’s an animated, NSFW time travel adventure that always goes two steps further than you think it will.
Definitely not child-friendly in parts either and I wish these figures were real. Here’s a favourite clip from season 1 that has nothing to do with the main characters…

and a psychedelic music video from season 2…

…and a Simpsons intro cameo.

 

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