Four hour Kevin O’Neill 2000AD podcast

One of my absolute favourite British comic artists is Kevin O’Neill, co-creator of characters like Ro-busters, A.B.C Warriors, Nemesis The Warlock, Metalzoic, Marshal Law and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. In this 2 part epic 4.5 hr podcast he tells of his time before, during and after 2000AD in what must be one of his most in depth interviews.

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Lateral or Literal? The KLF Re-Enactment Society

lateral literal
The KLF have just thrown a new curveball in the shape of the KLF Re-Enactment Society and a long tract that seeks to get fans to choose sides in how they express their fandom now that the band have returned to activity.

For those who need to get up to speed; after the Welcome To The Dark Ages event in Liverpool in 2017 and the People’s Pyramid / MuMufication / Toxteth Day of the Dead project the duo largely fell silent. On January 1st this year they announced a five part streaming series starting with their best known hit singles. In tandem with the release of an altered version of their ‘Chill Out’ album earlier this month, The KLF Re-Enactment Society appeared on the web. Some fans took exception to the new version of an old classic (all the major samples had been removed and replaced) and a long response was posted on February 12th that reappraises past history and the fandom associated with the band during the last 30 years.

By recontextualising acts of fandom, tributes (the Wanda D episode in particular) and the duo’s own past actions and dividing these into lateral or literal responses they’ve invited fans to take sides in how they interact with the group and display their affection for their work. Fandom can be a Catch 22 situation with some factions clinging on to every tiny detail and connection from the past whilst anticipating unheard material or revelations to emerge to sate their thirst for the artist in question. This literal kind of adoration is usually steeped in nostalgia and the feelings they originally felt decades past, something that can never be re-enacted as the world, people and places they first transpired in have long since changed.

KLF RES

The literal fans are the historians and gatekeepers of the legacy, preserving the past where the band may not be keen to, guardians of the exhibits, ensuring the collection is complete and in the best quality possible. The literal fan is always searching for something new but complains when a reissue arrives with nothing they haven’t already seen or heard, choosing to then compare and contrast the tiniest of details between the original and new versions. Discogs comments are littered with people talking about the pressing and sound quality merits of multiple versions of the same record rather than the music.

Give the literal fan a new version of a beloved release and chances are they will also complain that the original was better / the new version is inferior / the artist has raped my childhood etc. (see Star Wars fans especially on this front). Damned if they do, damned if they don’t. What they seemingly refuse to accept is that times have changed, people with them, both the artist and the fan themselves. The feelings and shock-of-the-new that they felt the first time round just cannot be recreated but the lateral-thinking artist will try to find new ways to create those moments using the tools of today, just as they used what they had decades before.

Witness the new version of Chill Out, now retitled ‘Come Down Dawn’, shorn of Elvis, Acker Bilk, Fleetwood Mac and more – most likely due to copyright restrictions. 1990 was still open season for sampling although doors were starting to close, an underground, pre-hits, pre-internet band like The KLF could easily fly under the radar with snatches of these artists incorporated into their work. Not in 2021, with audio fingerprint algorithms detecting copyright violations upon upload to any major streaming platforms. The irony of the band’s acronym sometimes standing for Kopyright Liberation Front was not lost on some.

The lateral fan views things with fewer constraints, today’s output and movements don’t have to fit the age-old accepted narratives, concepts can be expanded, changing as the narrator has changed over time. Few of us are the angry, arrogant young people we were 30 years ago and we accept the contradictions – to use a Bill Drummond phrase. The lateral fan will take elements of the artist they admire and make their own versions, tributes, remixes, art and events, referencing with a nod and a wink to the originators, hoping to maybe attract the attention and approval of said artist in the process. The KLF have seemingly added a whole heap of these projects, tributes and re-imaginings onto the Re-Enactment Society website, acknowledging – if not always praising – these past efforts whilst throwing their own recent efforts into the same ring.

In an echo of an old K Foundation poster the duo may have thrown down the gauntlet to those unwilling to move on from the past and invited fans to ‘Divide & Kreate’ – embracing the new versions they’re carving from the old. I’m reminded of Bill’s instructions on preparing my DJ set for the closing party of Welcome To The Dark Ages at the Invisible Wind Factory

DJ Food Bill brief

Mini CDs #5: The The – The Beaten Generation

The The Beaten cover
The The‘s eagerly-awaited single, preceding their ‘Mind Bomb’ album and including the first fixed line up of a band Matt Johnson had assembled to tour with, including a certain Johnny Marr. Released on multiple formats including 7″, two 12″s and a 12″ box set with postcards and badge, it also came as a 3″ CD that downscaled the box set with fold out insert. It’s a cute little item but doesn’t have any material not on other formats and is hard to find in good shape.

The The Beaten inside 2 The The Beaten insideThe The Beaten back

The New Obsolescents LP cover process 2 – Cover assembly

TNO Printed stack

For the first part of this process and a little back story, see Part 1

TNO selection

Once Jonas Ranson at paperHAUS had screen printed each panel during the summer of 2020 it was down to me to assemble them. Each sheet was 18″ x 18″, sadly not large enough to fold round into a full LP sleeve, so each panel had to be trimmed to a 12” x 12” size and painstakingly glued to each already printed sleeve – 300 of them.

TNO cutting

I’d specified that the designs be printed dead centre of each pattern to take advantage of the symmetrical nature of the cover graphic so there were lots of offcuts (which will be used somehow on future projects).

TNO offcuts

This was all done sometime during the Autumn of 2020 in my studio while we waited for the vinyl to come back from the pressing plant. The original plan had been for Colin at Castles in Space and I to then rent a bigger space for a day and glue the foil panels to each sleeve but I quickly realised that this just wasn’t going to be possible in such a short time. The next lockdown put a stop to any thoughts of that anyway.

Eventually the vinyl turned up and Colin arrived one evening with 17 boxes of covers in the back of his car and, in a socially distanced handover, I hauled them up to my studio.

TNO plain

Just after the Xmas period, during the 3rd lockdown, I began the extremely long task of gluing a panel to each sleeve, padding every cover out with a card square then laying them between newsprint sheets to avoid anything sticking while drying. The glue would start to curl the card within about a minute as it dried and started to contract so it was imperative to press them flat under weights.

TNO sticking beginsTNO sticking 2

I could average two boxes of 17 a day in two shifts by the end; one box first thing in the morning then leave to dry. Once stuck they were inspected for marks, sleeved in PVC outers and then boxed. Clean the area, do another box before bed and leave to dry in a stack overnight. By the end I could do one box in under 50 minutes, below is the last box on the 8th or 9th day.

TNO Last boxTNO Boxes done

As a nod to the site of the original performance recordings at the Museum of London, with moon rock bean bags and a space travel theme, we decided on a silver and black hybrid moon surface effect for the vinyl. The whole process of making the sleeves probably took longer than the whole album but I couldn’t be happier with the results, I doubt it’ll see a repress in this state as I’m told the foil stocks are virtually gone now but it was worth it.

TNO Hyperspace
Hyperspace

TNO Spiral
Spiral

TNO Starburst
Starburst

TNO Cross
Cross

TNO Curls
Swirls

TNO Back

Mixcloud Select 44: Openmind Solid Steel mix 21/01/95

MS44 Openmind mix tape

I’ve been asked for more mixes from 1995 so here’s one from the start of that year that I barely remember, it’s from a show featuring PC and I, possibly Jon More also did a mix too as he’s on the mic at one point but I only have Patrick’s and my mixes. I’m not too sure where this was recorded as there are additional FX in the mix that suggest it was a studio mix outside of KISS FM and we were using Coldcut’s old studio DJ mixer with inbuilt sampler that could pitch shift samples and loops via a trigger button. You can hear me getting way too excited with it at certain points. I can’t remember if Ninja Tune was situated in Clink Street at this point but there was a point where we were doing some work out of Jon’s home studio in Herne Hill as I remember working on bits for ‘A Recipe For Disaster’ there and this may have been one of those sessions. Or it may have been in the Clink St studio as I’m sure we recorded the DJ magazine mix there and that came out late 1994 I think?

Anyway – details, how much of it really matters? There are some great tracks here that I’d forgotten and the front half is loaded with hip hop beats and scratches whilst the second half is more acid, electronic and slowed down jungle beats. There’s at least one mix that is in time but the wrong part of the bar which wrong foots you a bit from the flow of things, I would do this sometimes, get lost in rhythms and lose where the 1 was.

We kick off with a white label promo mailed out at the time with just ‘Lynch Mob Beats’ stamped on it featuring a tripped out psych guitar and FX jam that I loved and realised was the work of Brendan Lynch who went on to produce and mix for Paul Weller and Primal Scream as well as the classic Indian Vibes track, ‘Mathar‘. This was your typical major label trying to get one over on the dance DJs trick of having a white label with no info so as not to prejudice opinion. It was Lynch working over Weller as he would do repeatedly to excellent effect and I couldn’t have cared less who the original artist was but you have to remember that Weller was at a career low in the early 90s and ‘Wild Wood’ was the album that bought him back after years of critical bashing with The Style Council and his early solo work. To me, Lynch is one of the unsung producers of the early to mid 90s who had a unique sound and completely psychedelic production techniques that few else came close to. I’d love to know how he did his mixes, I’m presuming they were free form jams that were edited down later but he dubs a mix up like no other. I put a load of his mixes together 10 years back under the name Lynch Party Mix and there’s enough for a part 2 lurking on the hard drive (I must do that, maybe a subscribers exclusive).

The first of two tracks from the freshly-minted Clear label turns up in the form of Mike Paradinas’ Tusken Raiders ‘Beatnik #3’ and then into Gunshot and a trio of Jazzy Jeff scratch tracks where I get way too excited with the sampler. Jon had hipped me to Trouble Funk’s ‘The Beat’ so I threw that in and then into a couple of Fax label tracks after the break. You can already hear that the ambient content of the early Openmind mixes on Solid Steel are diminishing to be replaced by more trip-hoppy beats and early strains of drum n bass with the electronic content still there via artists like Plastikman, Autechre and Air Liquide. Jon refers to me as ‘Telepathic Kev’ so maybe the Strictly part hadn’t stuck yet. I was still very much finding my feet in the Ninja camp at this point but ’95 would be the year when I really consolidated that position with the design and DJing as well as studio work as I’d left my full time job in a book shop and just worked at weekends at Ambient Soho records.

If anyone can identify the track after DJ Crystl I’d be grateful as it’s alluding me, there aren’t many track lists surviving for most Solid Steel mixes pre-’98 so I have to make these from a combination of memory, Discogs and Shazam and the latter isn’t coming up with anything. It doesn’t help that I’m playing it on the wrong speed either as we used to do with early drum n bass like Photek, Crystl, Smokin’ Drum Recordings and such. Bit of a throwback to the late 80s with Bam Bam and Bomb The Bass, nothing changes there and then playing out with Jedi Knights on Clear which sadly stops abruptly as the tape runs out.

Track list:
Paul Weller – Whirlpool’s End (Lynch Mob Beats)
Tusken Raiders – Beatnik #3
Gunshot – Colour Code
Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince – A Touch Of Jazz
Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince – Hip Hop Dancer’s Theme
Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince – A Touch Of Jazz
Trouble Funk – The Beat
Plastikman – Lasttrak
Air Liquide – Combat Zone
Pulsation – Pulsar
Ongaku – Mihon
Autechre – Bronchusevenmx
DJ Crystl – Let It Roll
Unknown – Babylon
Bam Bam – Where’s Your Child?
Bomb The Bass – Beat Dat (Freestyle scratch mix)
Jedi Knights – Intergalactic Funk Transmission

The New Obsolescents LP cover process 1 – Screenprinting

L1340496
Seeing as The New Obsolescents album is up for pre order today I thought I’d break down how we made the cover as it was quite an involved job using obsolete materials and analogue processes without the aid of automation. Part of the concept behind the group name is referencing the use of largely obsolete practices and equipment and I thought I’d carry this on with the artwork. This post is about the printing and there’s another about the assembly here.
L1340497
I met Jonas Ranson a couple of years back when I got him to print a poster for the De:tuned 10th anniversary exclusive via Bleep (I think they even have some left). It was a complex 6 colour job and I was impressed with how diligently he worked to get it as good as possible using tests to determine the best results and revising screens with me after we both agree the first tests didn’t look right. So the sleeves for The New Obsolescents LP cover required a similar touch as this was printing onto delicate foil covered card that marked if you ran a fingernail across it.

L1340425
To rewind slightly, since discovering the Philips 21st Century Prospective series of French musique concrete LPs on tour in Europe the 90s I’d been fantasizing about one day making a record with a Héliophore patterned silver foil cover. The patterns etched in the covers are achieved by minute differences in the angles of the foil coating which then reflect the light and appear to animate when moved. These legendary and increasingly expensive LPs contain critical works from an international array of leading artists in the tape and electro acoustic field, spearheaded by Pierre Henry who also released many of his own works on the label.

L1340504
Tracking down the company who made the original Philips covers in France led to a dead end many years ago as they had long ceased to exist so I gave up hope. Unknown to me a British company had managed to replicate the process under the name Dufex in the UK. Sadly they’d also wound up business in 2019 but via a chance encounter on a separate project I managed to find the final stocks of card from the business at a lighting company so I filed that away for future use.

L1340505
Once The New Obsolescents’ album was in the bag we started to think about artwork and I knew that this collision of tape loops and turntablism was the perfect record to sleeve in foil as a homage to the Philips series. Those familiar with the originals would immediately make the visual connection and it would set the tone for the sounds contained inside as the group name would be unfamiliar to most. When we sent the album out to record labels it included a mock up of the cover art with foil and that was part of the package we wanted to produce. Colin Morrison at Castles in Space was fully on board with the sleeve idea from the beginning and it’s a testament to his belief in the project that he was prepared to trust me with the whole process despite the considerable extra costs.

L1340514
Ordering 300 sheets in five different designs, I gave them to Jonas at paperHAUS who carefully but expertly screen printed each panel with the cover design, making sure not to scratch the extremely delicate foil. I specified that the designs be printed dead centre to take advantage of the symmetrical nature of the cover graphic and asked Jonas to document the process as I wasn’t allowed in the studio due to lockdown restrictions at the time. Many thanks to Jonas, these are his beautiful photos of the job and you can contact him and see his work at www.jonasranson.com/paperhouse

 

L1340521 L1340432

L1340431L1340519 L1340508 L1340509 L1340528L1340527
All photos © Jonas Ranson 2020

Oddities: Camberwell manhole covers

IMG_5155

A set of 9 decorative ‘manhole covers’ found in Camberwell, these are all set into the pavements around the lower part of Denmark Hill, SE5*. I think only one of them is an actual coal hole, the rest seem to be area-specific art installations. If anyone has any info please leave a comment

*Actually I think the Match Girls one is from around Brick Lane

#streetart #lookdown #manholecovers #SE5 #camberwell

IMG_5281 IMG_5340 IMG_5341 IMG_5342 IMG_5510 IMG_8332 IMG_8609 IMG_9207

Mini CDs #4: Yazz & The Plastic Population – The Only Way Is Up

Coldcut Only Way is front
This US CD single is unfortunately missing part of its cover, it was part of a long box as can be seen in the bottom photo. The extended UK mix and the Bam Bam remix feature from both of the UK 12″s but the most interesting thing about this release is the Acid Dub mix by Justin Strauss and Murray Elias which was exclusive to the US releases and not featured on any European editions. It all starts getting interesting around the 3.50 mark

Coldcut Only Way is back Coldcut Only Way is disc TOWIU long back

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Zodiac posters by Funky Features, 1967

FF Sagittarius
(images and text adapted from the pbagalleries website)
A complete set of original 12 Zodiac Astrology Star Sign Posters, commissioned by Jack Leahy (“Funky Jack”), of San Francisco’s Funky Features, in 1967. Funky Features was originally a home recording studio in an Edwardian house that quickly became a popular recording location for Big Brother and the Holding Company, Cold Blood, Steve Miller, and others. Leahy also went on to do artwork for a number of motion pictures, airbrushing the Starship Enterprise for the first Star Trek film. Each poster is by a different artist, uniquely capturing the heyday of San Francisco’s counterculture. Artists include Dick Moore, Tommy Dixon, Lee and Shirley Goddard, Robert McClay, Fred Adams, Primo Angel, Jim Blashfield, and others. Complete sets of all 12 posters are extremely rare, especially in this condition.

Funky Features logoFF credit Robert McClayFF Gemini FF TaurusFF LeoFF LibraFF Pisces FF VirgoFF Scorpio

FF Aquarius FF Aries FF Cancer FF Capricorn

Oddities: Mystery Xen illustrations

xensation
‘Xensation’
Wading through a load of CDRs for something else I found these five images, not sure who did them or how I even came to be in possession of them but I really like them. I’m guessing they date from around 2000 or later as they include the ‘x’ as ‘z’ in titles. Although i’m not sure they totally fit the Ninja style, if they ever did a set of greeting cards these would be the illustrations.xencounter group
‘Xencounter’

xendeleyev
‘Xendeleyev’

xenvy
“Xenvy’
xensual
‘Xensual’

Mixcloud Select 43: Strictly Kev’s US Shopping Trip Pt.2 21/01/2002

MS 43 CD Last week I posted a 30 minute set made from records bought on a 2002 tour to the States and Canada with DK, Four Tet and Bonobo. Given that this was the great tour where we shipped kilos of records back to the UK mid-tour (detailed in part in Stevie Chick’s Ninja Tune history book) and we only had 30 minutes to play with, I had loads more records to plunder so this week’s upload is an hour long part 2 of the shopping trip that aired two weeks after the first. Above is a home made CD label version of the mix which aired in the second hour of the Jan 21st 2002 Solid Steel show. After last week’s upload I was told the sad news that Bop Street in Seattle (where some of these records came from) had to close due to the pandemic. I dug out some photos from the tour including the basement underneath and I think the shot of me in from of a wall of 45 boxes is also from there.

Bop Street Basement

Some great tracks in here, not just from the tour but new promos and oldies too. More Jazz Club samples from The Fast Show in the intro into the Pointer Sisters ‘How Long and a mash up by Matmos of Missy’s ubiquitous at the time ‘Get UR Freak On’. They did it a little differently by sampling the sounds of coins to make the beats I seem to remember and there’s a nice little back and forth between the tracks at one point over the ‘I know you got a chick on the side’ refrain. The same happens between the Bill Cosby and Curtis Mayfield tracks where Cosby is having an imaginary conversation with someone on his track where you can only hear his side, talking about someone called Freddy who died. By chopping in Mayfield’s ‘Freddie’s Dead’ I could make the two tracks have a conversation even though the tuning is a little off in places.

Sidney Pointier made several spoken word albums in the 60s, his voice reminiscent of Rosko or Ken Nordine, reciting poetry over jazz and he flows into a curious 7” picked up in Toronto by The Casuals. ‘Moonbound’ is a novelty trip to the moon travelogue with a stewardess delivering the journey’s progress over a lovely easy listening ditty. When I met my current partner nearly 15 years later she was the only other person I’d ever met who had a copy. At the time the show went out, the first promo from the forthcoming Boards of Canada album, ‘Geogaddi’, had turned up, untitled. I now know that this was the track ‘Alpha & Omega’ and weirdly, I put some recordings of children from a Tony Schwartz album over parts of it only to find out later that the Japanese CD of the BoC album had a bonus track sampling voices from the same record.

kev digs

Kousik’s debut 45 had been given to me by Kieran on tour, released on his Text label and that slips easily into Edan’s excellent ‘Adrenalin Rush’ – beautifully capturing the original excitement of 80s golden era hip hop without sounding retro. After this the mix bounces all over the place through jazz, electronics, spoken work and soundtracks. The David Pritchard track is from a great but odd Canadian electronic experimental album I’d picked up called ‘Nocturnal Earthworm Stew’, which has since been reissued and you can find here https://davidpritchard.bandcamp.com/
One of the phone messages is from Malachi aka Flying Fish and now head of the Dynamite Cuts reissue label although I don’t remember the mix he’s talking about. Spot the DJ Food samples in ‘The Stripper’Nervous Nervous made loads of novelty singles and ‘Dig’ had to be bought just for the vinyl collecting connection.

More Jazz Club over an excellent cover of ‘So What’ by George Benson way before his smooth 80s soul period and then into electric Bo Diddley with ‘Bad Trip’ – so good! I have no idea why there are two Adam & The Ants tracks at the end as I most definitely didn’t buy them on tour, ‘Zerox’ was the first record I ever bought so maybe these two were filling up the hour and I know DK has a thing for this era of the Ants too.

MS43 PRS

Track list:
Solid Steel intro
Pointer Sisters – How Long
Dry Hustle – Do It Very Sloppily
Bill Cosby – I Know I Can Handle It
Curtis Mayfield – Freddie’s Dead
Sidney Poitier – Only The Brave Are Wise
The Casuals – Moonbound
Boards of Canada – Alpha & Omega
Koushik – Battle Rhymes For Battle Times
Edan w. Skillz Ferguson – Adrenaline Rush
William S. Fischer – Electrix
Bob Keeshan – A Child’s Guide to Jazz
David Pritchard – An Admission of Guilt
Cosmic Sounds – Taurus
Ken Thorne – Car Chase
John Keating – The Unknown Planet
Werner Muller Orchestra – The Stripper
Nevous Norvus – Dig
George Benson – So What
Bo Diddley – Bad Trip
Adam & the Antz – Zerox
Adam & the Ants – Ants Invasion

The KLF – Come Down Dawn

KLF CDD cover
The second part of The KLF / JAMs / Timelords streaming programme for 2021 debuts today on Spotify and YouTube with something that starts out as ‘Chill Out’ with the bigger samples removed (Elvis, Fleetwood Mac, Acker Bilk, Hendrix) and then, midway adds in some of the darker depths of the material they were using around the time of the Stadium House Trilogy and the Pet Shop Boys remixes.

Also, facsimile posters of the designs posted in East London on Jan 1st are now available from L-13

KLF-Streaming-POSTER-A1-for-print

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The Mercier Press record label design

Challenge of Change

Hipped in part to this label last year by collector Andrew Divine, I have been collecting images of the Irish imprint’s output from all the sources I could find on the web. Mercier Press, the famous Irish book publisher founded after WW2, also released many religious spoken word records from the 60s onwards under its own name and under their Mercier Catholic Record Club banner. In the 1960s and 70s the Mercier paperback books had a distinctive cover style which usually consisted of an illustration, in both pen & ink and brush & ink, and always in two colours.

The Dutch designer Cor Klaasen who had studied in Germany and Switzerland before coming to Ireland was Mercier’s main cover designer as well as the artist John Skelton (1925-2009) – Skelton worked as an art director and book illustrator before concentrating full-time on painting in 1975. The record labels mirrored this beautiful sense of design and graphic identity of the books with clean cut illustrations and vertically or horizontally split covers delineating each side of the album. There are even more on this Flickr page

Facing Up 2 Vocation is 2 Is Community necessary Single Mindedness Understanding our vocation Lightening Out Burden Hazards 2 God Loves Us Adaptation & Renewal

Community Worship blue Community Worship red Death & Resurrection Folk songs 1 Folk songs 2 Light of the World Message from the manger Mary, her role Our Christmas Religion Today
Euchrist 2 copy Seeking New Forms The Church Authority & Obedience yellow The Church blue The Church Christ among us orange The Church Kingdom of God greenNot My Will The Midnight Court The West WindWhat Is a religious Why The Old Testament Theology Issues Today green Theology Issues Today pink Theology Issues Today purple Theology Issues Today yellow True Prayer orange True Prayer pink

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Mini CDs #3: Coldcut – Stop That Crazy Thing

CC Stop That front

An early example of packaging that attempted to forma the 3″ CD into a 5″ size, sadly destined to fail but a beautiful attempt nevertheless. The mini gatefold sleeve housed the CD and then one flap was supposed to be inserted into the slit just below the COLDCUT logo and this would secure the cover to the plastic border. A nice idea but in practice the weak cardboard sleeve would weaken and tear at the corners, weighed down by the rest of the cover.

CC Stop That back

The plastic would bend at the corners too and it must have been a pain to assemble. This release has the exclusive ‘vocal dub mix’ of the title track and lovely design by Mark Porter using the illustration by Michael Bartalos who later also made the original Ninja Tune logo in a similar style. It was also released as a mini CD in Germany but in a mini CD case with inlay and the same tracklist as the 12″.

CC Stop That inside 2 CC Stop That inside 3C Stop That inside 4

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Announcing: The Superceded Sounds of… The New Obsolescents

Presented for your delectation, a brand new deep space travelogue from the collective minds of DJ Food and Howlround. A new collaborative group release that I’m part of…

The Superceded Sounds of… The New Obsolescents

Format: 12” Coloured Vinyl LP in Screen Printed Foil Board Sleeve. Hand Assembled by DJ Food

Cat No: CiS069

Released: 26th February, 2021 – Pre-order Feb 12th (I’ll post the link when it’s live)

Genre: Electronic / Turntables / Tape Music / Psychedelic / Ambient / Experimental

This album began life four years ago when the trio of Strictly Kev, Robin The Fog and Chris Weaver were tasked by Jonny Trunk with providing an all-night immersive soundtrack for the mammoth ‘Museum Of Last Parties’ extravaganza in the Museum of London’s Torch Room. Setting up their vintage reel to reel tape machines, turntables and various FX units in the very shadow of the torch that became the icon of the 2012 Olympics, the trio set about creating a soundtrack worthy of champions.

Strange new worlds conjured from obsolete media, a vision of the future constructed live using nothing but vintage analogue technology and a sense of adventure.

With a constant stream of revellers stopping by to lounge on moon-shaped cushions and enjoy this interstellar soundtrack being woven right before their ears, the trio amassed almost four hours of improvised oddities that night. It wasn’t until the spring of 2020 when they suddenly each found themselves at home with all plans cancelled and a LOT of spare time that the tapes were resurrected and the album started to take shape.

The album is presented in an extraordinary sleeve, hand assembled by Strictly Kev, who explains, “Since discovering the Philips 21st Century Prospective series of French musique concrete LPs on tour in European the 90s I’ve been fantasising about one day making a record with a Héliophore patterned silver foil cover. The patterns etched in the covers are achieved by minute differences in the angles of the foil coating which then reflects the light and appears to animate when moved. These legendary and increasingly expensive LPs contained critical works from an international array of leading artists in the tape and electro acoustic field, spearheaded by Pierre Henry who also released many of his own works on the label.

Tracking down the company who made the original Philips covers in France led to a dead end as they had long ceased to exist so I gave up hope. Unknown to me a British company had managed to replicate the process under the name Dufex in the UK. Sadly they’d also wound up business in 2019 but via a chance encounter on a separate project I managed to find the final stocks of card from the business at a lighting company.

Once The New Obsolescents’ album was in the bag we started to think about artwork and I knew that this collision of tape loops and turntablism was the perfect record to sleeve in foil as a homage to the Philips series. Those familiar with the originals would immediately make the visual connection and it would set the tone for the sounds contained inside as the group name would be unfamiliar to most.

Colin at Castles in Space was fully on board with the sleeve idea from the beginning and it’s a testament to his belief in the project that he was prepared to trust me with the whole process despite the considerable extra costs. Procuring 300 sheets in five different designs, I gave them to Jonas Ranson at paperHAUS who carefully but expertly screen printed each panel with the cover design. Each sheet was then cut to a 12”x12” size and painstakingly glued to each sleeve, pressed while drying and sleeved in PVC outers, making sure not to scratch the foil which is extremely delicate.

As a nod to the site of the original performance recordings at the Museum of London, with moon rock bean bags and a space travel theme, we decided on a silver and black hybrid moon surface effect for the vinyl. The whole process of making the sleeves probably took longer than the whole album but I couldn’t be happier with the results, it was worth it.”

Kev has tagged the five variants of the foil board sleeves as “Spiral’, “Starburst’, “Cross’, “Swirls’ and “Hyperspace”!

This extraordinary and unique album is available to pre-order directly from Castles in Space from 12th February for a full release on 26th February.

Mixcloud Select 42: Strictly Kev’s US Shopping Trip Pt.1 07/01/2002

MS42 CD Prompted by a message from Martin (kudrnacek79) who was looking for a track ID from this set I dug it out and the memories flooded back. Above is a home made CD label version of the mix, below is one of the official CDs made for licensees of the radio show back in the 00s.

We began the new year in 2002 with a stonker of a show on Solid Steel, comprising the best vinyl finds of a recent tour to the States and Canada. Food & DK’s ‘Solid Steel: Now, Listen’ was released in September 2001 and Darren and I embarked on a trip stateside in November, accompanied by Bonobo and Kieran Hebden who, although not on Ninja Tune, had just released his ‘Pause’ LP on Domino and was looking to tour. Everyone hit it off immediately and it soon became obvious that record shopping was the order of the day during downtime. Several spots still linger in the memory – The Princeton Record Exchange (pictured below), a store in a mall in Ottawa whose name I forget and Bop Street in Seattle. This last store has two big rooms, the owner’s private office with the pickings for eBay and a huge basement that runs under the shop and next doors’ too, full of thousands of records.

Princeton x3

On returning to the UK, we all agreed we should commemorate the occasion with something on the show as soon as possible. The brief was simple: make a 30 minute mix of the best records you bought on the tour and come into the studio to present your section. I’m not going to lie, I was seriously trying to impress and pulled out all the stops for this set going to extra lengths to chop, scratch, re-edit and overdub tracks and make it as exciting as possible with the records I had.

Kicking things off with an answerphone message from Dom Smith, a Ninja employee who later went on manage Flying Lotus and join the Cinematic Orchestra, I think there was a party going on and they needed more content but it’s a hazy memory. A Busta Rhymes/Queen mash up over the Solid Steel theme (remember this was 2002, it was all going off for bootlegs around then) leads into a host of funky rock breaks, Beatles and Led Zep cover versions, jazz, spoken word and… Britney Spears. Now there had been a thing for Britney during the tour as ‘Slave 4 U’ was just out – produced by The Neptunes on a roll at the time – and three of the four of us bought copies (for the instrumental you understand).

MS 42 CD 2

Kieran had hipped me to several of the original sources for his classic ‘Glasshead’ track which we’d featured in our set each night and I rather ham-fistedly strung them together. Shopping still involved hoovering up jazz, electronics, soundtracks, spoken word (I finally managed to score a copy of Ken Nordine & Robert Shure’s ‘Twink’ on this trip) and dipping my toe into funky rock. Aynsley Dunbar was picked up because of the Frank Zappa connection and contains the excellent ‘Watch n Chain’ and the Fred Astaire LP was bought for a feature by Ken Nordine but contains this little skit on the beat. We were still all about buying vinyl for beats both to sample and play out and you can hear that The Fast Show’s ‘Jazz Club had debuted in British TV by the inclusion of a sketch mid-mix taking samples from it, “nice!”.

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The Bill Cosby had been on the wants list for a while and I tracked down a copy in Seattle at Bop Street – the whole album is Bill doing skits on different drugs with a very odd cover where his head appears to be pasted on to the photo. “Oh, that’s a thunderous break, a beautiful break!” it cries in the middle which was pulled from The Crepitation Contest LP which is basically a farting contest on vinyl. Listening back to this mix it encapsulates part of what Solid Steel was always about for me, aside from showcasing the latest tunes it was also about digging and chopping things up to make new forms, sprinkled with humour and nods to other records or scenes. Lord knows how long I spent on this 30 minutes but I had more time in those days, pre-kids and with the downloading downturn of the music industry not yet making itself felt.

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MS42 PRS

Given that this was the great tour where we shipped kilos of records back to the UK mid-tour (detailed in part in Stevie Chick’s Ninja Tune history book) and we only had 30 minutes to play with here I had loads more records to plunder so next week’s upload will be an hour long part 2 of the shopping trip.

Tracklist:
Strictly Kev – Solid Steel intro (new year remix)
Busta Rhymes – As I Come Back (instr.)
Queen – We Will Rock You
CCS – Whole Lotta Love
Elephants Memory – Madness
Drum Drops – Intro
Aynsley Dunbar – Watch ‘n Chain
Bud Shank – Blue Jay Way
Fred Astaire – The Afterbeat
Lincoln Mayorga – Peace Train
Norman Harris – Zach’s Fanfare
Dexter Wansel. – Theme from the Planets
Jean Vanesse / Miroslav Vitous – Thanks Billy
Bob Keenan – A Child’s Guide to Jazz
Ken Nordine/Robert Shure    – Clock
Paul Bley – Gesture Without Plot
Robert Kenyatta – Werewolf / Gypsy Man
Britney Spears – I’m A Slave 4 U
Grace Jones    – Operattack
Bill Cosby – Dope Pusher Song
Hair – Coloured Spade
Stanley Myers – End Title
Ken Nordine/ Robert Shure – Blotter

Nick Taylor Space Is The Place and Synthesizer zines

Synth coverSynth 5Synth 4Synth 2 Synth 3Synth 6

Nick Taylor at Spectral Studio has recently put up a load of new items for sale in his shop including the long-time-coming Brief But Electrifying History of the Synthesizer zine and a new tribute zine to various sonic pioneers entitled ‘Space Is The Place’. The former is a gorgeous green and red screen printed landscape booklet covering key sound synthesizing inventions from the last 100 or so years including QR codes that link to YouTube or Spotify to listen to the instruments.
The latter is a black and silver square, concertina folded look at six different sonic pioneers from Sun Ra to Moondog, each with a small piece on the reverse and sealed with a tracing paper strip. Nick has published several things like this before, namely the ‘Sisters in Sound’ zine from 5 years ago – all of which (and more) can be found in his Etsy shop here.

SITP cover SITP 2 SITP 3 SITP 4 SITP 5

Mini CDs #2: Todd Terry productions

Swan Lake front:CD

A couple of Todd Terry productions licensed to Champion in the UK with unique design once again by Trevor Jackson at Bite It!. Unlike the Eric B & Rakim single last week, the Swan Lake release is in a 5″ CD sleeve with an adaptor ring to play the CD in a regular machine and the cover has just been shrunk wholesale from the vinyl artwork. A sticker has been applied over the original catalogue number with a new CD prefix and the text is so tiny it’s virtually indistinguishable. The CD repeats the regular 12″ tracklist, there’s also a German mini CD single but the artwork has been replaced with something else.

Swan Lake CDSwan Lake back

The Black Riot ‘A Day in The Life’ CD is in a mini 3″ sleeve and I’m yet to find one of these so have nicked images from Discogs. The chances of ever finding one of these in the racks is remote and it repeats the standard 12″ tracklist as well. Look at that tiny text though, you can see why they didn’t catch on, these were pocket-sized, although we can now carry our whole music collections around in our pockets if we choose. Certain CD players had a 3″ dip in the tray that would accommodate the smaller discs and with some modern day players you just fit the disc over a centre spindle.
Black Riot frontBlack Riot discBlack Riot back

Zodiac Posters by Simboli Design, 1969

Full set 2 In my periodic searches for graphic material from the late 60s I came across several sellers on eBay offering these lovely zodiac posters for sale. I did some digging and found decent resolution copies of most of them and a bit of info about their origins. In 1969, Poster Prints commissioned Simboli Design Gerry & Joe Simboli – to create a line of graphically strong and colourful zodiac posters, which were sold worldwide. There seems to have been two different designs for Gemini for some reason but finding an original of the fire-headed twins seems impossible, their website seems to suggest it’s a new design.

Gemini 2

Paul Smith, the UK fashion designer, found the posters on a website and used them for a line of casual clothing for Neiman Marcus in 2004. Recently, the posters were also used on the set of the HBO series, Vinyl, produced by Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger.

1 Abstract Leo 2 Abstract Cancer poster 3 Abstract Taurus 4 Abstract Virgo 5 Abstract Scorpio 6 Abstract Libra poster 7 Abstract Aries 8 Abstract Pisces 9 Abstract Sagittarius 10 Abstract Aquariius 1969 Astrology Gerry & Joe Simboli 11 Abstract Gemini 12 Abstract Capricorn

Simboli have a website and they sell some of the originals and Gicleé repros via Etsy, dimensions are 12″x18″ with additional 1″ border for matte. They also have other sets themed around Anti-War, Tea, Coffee, some great logo designs, toys and this lovely robot which was created at some point in the 70s.
There are several more zodiac set by different designers from this era out there that I’ll be posting as I find complete sets.

Robot in Love 1970s

Mixcloud Select 41: Strictly’s 2 hr Rub 10/08/97 Pt.4

DJFoodMixcloudSelect41After the hip hop and turntablism of Pt.2 and the heavy beats and Drum n Bass of Pt.3 we take this down a bit for the last section. Paul Jason Fredericks was a friend of Riz ‘Neotropic’ Maslen and collaborated with her on a number of things on both her records and Council Folk label as well as putting this solo EP out on Oxygen Music Works. We all went to play at one of the first Coachella festivals in the US around this time and he did guest vocalist during Riz’s set. I’ll never forget him coming out onto the stage in an amazing kind of long drooping ballgown tutu, we were all sweating so much as the heat was insane and he didn’t seem to care one bit.

Another track from the only Ntone release by Tom Withers (aka Klute) in his Override guise comes next and then we’re into jazz territory with Freddie Hubbard’s classic, ‘Red Clay’. When I supported the Beastie Boys in 1998 at the Brixton Academy I remember them doing a track that sampled the famous riff from this throughout but, to my knowledge, it’s never been released. Maybe they had sample clearance problems or maybe it was just a tour thing? The theme to ‘Midnight Cowboy’ by Ronnie Aldrich precedes a short interlude track that I just can’t identify then another tune from Paul where we hear his stunning voice again.

Depeche Mode’s ‘Home’ plays out which is a very odd choice for me although I used to get sent promos for their singles all the time as they were always keen to get contemporary remixers of the day to do versions. Did you know that the song was produced by Tim ‘Bomb The Bass’ Simenon and was remixed by Air, LFO, Skylab, The Jedi Knights and Grantby? This version is the original though.

Thanks very much to Mr Armtone for helping me with this last section as I only had a portion of it in my archives, it’s nice to complete the set.

Track list:
Paul Jason Fredericks – Monday Morning
Override – Tubular Barriers
Freddie Hubbard – Red Clay
Ronnie Aldrich – Midnight Cowboy
Unknown interlude
Paul Jason Fredericks  – From Where He Stands
Depeche Mode – Home