X-Ray Audio pop up at Soho Radio

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I recently took part in a radio show hosted by Stephen Coates (aka The Real Tuesday Weld) and his co-conspirator in X-Ray Audio Project, Paul Heartfield for Soho Radio. The pair are doing a takeover for two weeks with a series of themed radio shows and a small exhibition in the front of the station. (photos by Hannah Brown)

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The show I took part in was about flexi discs and we were joined by Barry Cain, the original publisher of anarchic early 80s Flexipop magazine. Other episodes on X-Ray discs, self-made records, bootlegs and a live performance & x-ray cut are also archived on the soho radio site.


I mention the Flexibition during the program so here’s a handy link to all the entries if you’re wondering what it is and want to have a look & listen.

RIP Stan Lee

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Even though I’ve read comics since childhood and continue to consume a healthy amount each month I’ve never been a big reader of Marvel. But it’s impossible to escape the characters from the Marvel Universe as their reach, even in my childhood, snaked from comics out into TV, T-shirts, posters and any piece of memorabilia that could hold an image. Back before comic shops were even a thing the spinner racks in the local newsagent would be overflowing with random issues, frustratingly irregular, making it impossible to read a full run unless you put the work in and were extremely lucky. You knew the characters though, Spiderman and The Hulk had live action TV shows, Fantastic Four was an animated cartoon series (with incredible music, as sampled by MF Doom), Silver Surfer and Thor would appear on T-shirts, pencil cases, rubbers…

Back when Marvel UK published Star Wars Weekly they would fill out each issue with reprints from the lesser known canon of the Marvel Universe to bolster the page count each week. Hence I read Deathlock, The Micronauts (from a toy line I used to play with), Star Lord, ROM- Spacenight, Warlock and more without knowing their place in the scheme of things. But I had little interest in the ‘fights in tights’ kind of superhero stories, instead preferring the pages of British publications like 2000AD, Eagle, Warrior, Scream et al – comics where you could actually get hold of each subsequent issue without a gap in the story line.

So these lesser-known characters were really the Marvel of my youth but where the company came into their own for me was later, at the cinema. Until the first Iron Man, X-Men and Spiderman films only DC‘s Batman had had even a passable effort made at a superhero/comic book movie (OK, maybe the first Superman film too but that belongs to a bygone era). Finally here was the comic transposed to film done properly, with all the fan service embedded, and with a long-reaching plan that intended to do the ultimate crossover event in film, just like the comics. And they did it! 10 years of planning, building characters for new audiences, sometimes faithful to the comics, sometimes not, but what they achieved with Avengers: Infinity War this year was something I don’t think has ever been done in cinematic history. And we know that this is just phase 1, the celluloid universe they’ve created is even mightier than the paper one and it originated with one man – Stan Lee.

Now, I know it’s not as simple as that, not least with the Jack Kirby family struggles to get his contributions recognised, and there seem to be problems with Lee taking a lot of credit for work he maybe oversaw rather than created. But – as in many of these instances – I believe it’s usually the sum of the people involved rather than any one individual that makes these legendary creations happen and it’s indisputable that Stan was at the helm when a lot of what we now know as the Marvel Universe was created. He cleverly assured his place in the scheme of things by putting himself front and centre in many of the comics’ back pages (and sometimes even the covers) and this continued in the films. My kids have never read a Marvel comic but they know the characters from the films and they certainly know who Stan Lee is too from his sometimes blink-and-you’ll-miss-t cameos in each Marvel movie. After years of them being scorned, Marvel have made comic creations acceptable in Hollywood and bought a whole new generation into comic shops as a result.

He leaves behind a huge legacy, a whole universe of characters, many of who ascended into pop culture before the films and many more who no doubt will in due time. RIP Stan ‘The Man’ Lee.

(Image by Butcher Billy)

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Flexibition 2018: Aver, Soho Radio and Wobbly Sounds

Not much flexi disc action this year aside from the odd purchase here and there but there has been a flurry of activity of late regarding our flexible friends.

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First up, Aver from The Natural Curriculum contacted me with a super limited lathe cut flexi promo from his new album, ‘Dressed For CCTV’ – out today. The track is cut onto x-rays of his dad’s broken pelvis from an accident years ago, each one is unique and you can see the various different cuts on his Instagram. There’s only one feature on his largely instrumental album but it’s a big one, Cappo – say no more. You can get the album here

Next up, earlier this week I joined Stephen and Paul of X-Ray Audio fame at Soho Radio to pre-record a one hour show all about flexi discs. We were also accompanied by Barry Cain, one of the original publishers of Flexipop magazine, the anarchic early 80s pop monthly that came with a free disc each issue containing exclusive music from some very big artists of the day (The Jam, Adam & The Ants, Soft Cell, The Cure, Spandau Ballet…).

We all bought a handful of favourite flexi’s to play and Barry showed us a super rare promo compilation of some of the flexi’s the mag had featured, cut onto a vinyl LP. The programme will air mid November as part of a week-long residency by the X-Ray Audio team including five themed shows and an installation in the front of the station.

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Lastly, I’m pleased to be involved with a forthcoming book from Four Corners Books called ‘Wobbly Sounds’ which will form part of their Irregulars series of esoteric collections. Jonny Trunk (Trunk Records), Shane Quentin (Garden of Earthly Delights) and myself have pooled our collections of UK-manufactured flexi discs for a selection of these playable plastic curios and it should be out in the Spring next year.

New mix for The Word radio show Brokers

I was asked to contribute a guest mix to Belgian radio show Brokers on The Word radio station in Brussels, which just aired on Monday morning. It’s a little glimpse into what’s currently floating my boat from recent releases with the odd old gem thrown in for good measure.

Hinterhof – Molecular Love With A Molecular Sound (Deep Distance)
Trevor Jackson – Machine Worshippers (Pre_)
Correlations – Resistance Is Underground (Spun Out OF Control)
Todd Rundgren – Born To Synthesize
Meat Beat Manifesto vs Terry Riley – In C (Version 4.2) (Electronic Sound)
The Tomorrow Syndicate – A Glitch In Time (Polytechnic Youth)
Kallaste Elektrooniline Muusika – Pohjast Pinnani Aina Lomalla)
Silke Schwinger und Fatty George – Sexsong (Digitone)
Concretism – Black Special (Castles In Space)
The Tomorrow Syndicate – Altered State (Polytechnic Youth)
Rodinia – Neusi (Now Again)
Nicola Spiromarino – Senza Titolo Uno (Delights)
Popera Cosmic – Batman (Finders Keepers)
Silke Schwinger und Fatty George – SchluBmusik (Digatone)
The The – Occupy Your Mind (Lazarus)
The Natural Yoghurt Band – Satellites (Black Milk Music)
Embryo – Tausendfussler (Wah Wah)
Popera Cosmic – Etreinte Metronomique (Finders Keepers)
Nicola Spiromarino – Senza Titolo Due (Delights)

Rat Records instore to mark Pete’s last day


A little 7″ only set I did instore at my local, Rat Records in Camberwell, this summer to mark Pete’s last day after working there for years. It was sweltering hot and we were all dripping with sweat but it was a fun, laid back day just hanging out and drinking on a Saturday. Rat is one of my favourite record shops in London, always something new in there to find, cheap prices and weekly rack restocks keep me coming back regularly.

Spun Out of Control label

SOOC frontThe Spun Out Of Control label  – purveyors of limited cassettes featuring synth-heavy soundtracks to real and imaginary films – has started releasing vinyl. The first is a reissue of Steve Nolan‘s ‘Sodium Party’ soundtrack, originally the third release from the label in 2016 and the second, a new outing by Correlations, ‘Aftermath’, a sort of follow up to his previous ‘Night Acquisitions’ album of last summer. This release features a few names familiar to readers of this blog, Simon James (The Simonsound / Akiha Den Den) and Pablo Clements (The Psychonauts / Toydrum) both contribute on certain tracks and the whole album is mastered by the busiest man in electronic music, Jon Brooks.

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Musically the label leans towards synths and dark ambience in the Carpenter/Howarth, Vangelis, Tangerine Dream vein without sounding completely retro. With over 20 releases in under three years, usually limited to 100 copies, the label is just testing the water with vinyl. Their latest tape arrives this weekend for Cassette Store Day in the shape of Stefan Bachmeier‘s ‘The Infernal Machine’. Hiding behind a back story of an author who wrote soundtracks to accompany his books and then disappeared leaving his tapes to Stephen Buckley (Polypores), this is the second of Bachmeier’s archive excavations, with a beautiful clockwork skull in pink and green cover.

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If you’re looking at the Bandcamp page and wondering where to start I can recommend the Correlations and Bachmeier releases obviously, the Jan Borré and Turquoise Moon too, ‘WASP’ by Bryce Miller, Steve Nolan and the Repeated Viewing releases have some great moments too and that’s about as far as I’ve dug in so far. The design for the label is spot on too (yes, that’s a real obi strip, not printed on the sleeve), provided by Eric Adrian Lee who has the whole Mondo / Deathwaltz horror genre down pat with his beautiful work. Check more of it here.

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New music recommends Sept / Oct

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There’s a lot of great music coming out at the moment so I thought I’d stick it all in one post.
Above is Trunk’s reissue of David Shire‘s ‘The Conversation’, a minimal piano-led score available on vinyl for the first time. Initial ‘transparent overcoat’ copies are already scarce and completely sold out at the label but some shops may have them, otherwise it’s standard black vinyl only, no download on this one.

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One of my favourite artist discoveries of the year so far is Regal Worm aka Jarrod from I Monster / Cobalt Chapel. His new album, ‘Pig Views’ is a contemporary prog masterpiece as is its forerunner, ‘Use & Ornament’check out his Bandcamp page and dive into the world of Regal Worm.

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After buying the initial yellow CD version of ‘System’ from Trevor Jackson at the Indie Label Market earlier this year I’ve been playing it non-stop at home. I’m glad he didn’t leave it to languish as just a limited edition CD because the reworked white design must be contender for one of the best-looking releases of the year and musically it’s too good to only be heard by the few. Some of the most sublime techno you’ll hear this year, I think the 2nd edition CD is sold out but there are still some cassettes left.

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Markey Funk‘s Delights label releases its tenth serving in two weeks time and this one’s from a mystery artist, Nicola Spiromarino, with two slices of giallo soundtrack electronica and beats, a top notch release, both tracks killer, let’s hope there’s more to come. Pre-order here

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A new release from Dinked Records sees Run DMC‘s Hair-sampling, Pete Rock & CL Smooth-featuring ‘Down With The King’ paired with an instrumental in a beautiful gatefold sleeve (perfect for storing doubles if that’s your thing).   Pre order now

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Buried Treasure come up trumps with a comp of Amphonic & Soundstage library music, ‘Moodsetters’,  featuring Keith Mansfield, Alan Parker, Paddy Kingsland, Jim Lawless and the Art of Noise‘s Anne Dudley among others. Library seems to be the word at the moment with the recent KPM Allstars gig, the release of the Library Music Film that Shawn Lee’s been making for years + forthcoming complimentary compilation as well as a companion disc to the recent ‘Unknown Sounds’ book about to hit.

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Finders Keepers, always with one foot in the opposite direction, release the excellent ‘Popera Cosmic ‘Les Esclaves’ French musical concept album from 1970 and adds a no-stone-unturned account of its genesis and demise, penned as ever by that fount of all leftfield musical knowledge, Andy Votel.

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Julius Vanderbilt has so far (to my knowledge) only cropped up as a footnote on the LP by The Dandelion Set, A Thousand Strands’ (seriously – grab a copy of this, there are a handful left, it’s the ‘Dr Z’ of 30 years time plus it’s great!). Julius may or may not be closely related to a member of the Set and he’s released a cassette and CD of library (it’s that word again) cues in a beautiful little package called ‘Action Catalyst’. Purchase herewith.

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And last but not least (because I’ve devoted a whole other post to the label but you might not see that) Spun Out of Control, the limited edition cassette label specializing in real and imagined soundtracks, has started pressing vinyl!

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Rammellzee show at Laz Inc. London

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So, there’s a Rammellzee exhibition running right now in the middle of London at LazInc. until 10th November. Lots of 80’s and early 90s canvases from private collections, the likes of which have never been seen in the U.K. Overall (much like Basquiat) there’s never a full piece which I truly love but I love what Ramm stood for and all the stuff he strung together to make his world. Little details spring out and there were a couple of pieces with with his line drawings in that were nice (see further down).

Really though I went for the opportunity to actually see this stuff in the flesh, to see a largely hidden part of the more abstract end of graffiti that’s not really been documented. You can see him visually searching for things, he’s trying all sorts, even painting on a carpet at one point, and to see that was enough. Sadly no battle suits or letter racers but this is a pretty decent collection for free and I’m not holding my breath for the Red Bull Arts New York exhibition to come to these shores any time soon.
LazInc. Sackville, 29 Sackville Street, Mayfair, London, W1S 3DX

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Howlround & Steven McInerney – A Creak Retimed

This is a bit special – Howlround’s ‘A Creak In Time’ soundtrack to Steven McInerney‘s film of the same name – remixed both aurally and visually. The third release on Steven’s Psyché Tropes label, it features exclusive new tracks by Howlround, Dan Hayhurst, Tom White, Merkaba Macabre and Ian Helliwell. 180g Toxic Yellow LP, available now in a limited edition of 275.
The film component has been reworked from 16mm film reels that didn’t make the final cut, resulting in a zero waste film project.‍‍‍ The album features two exclusive Howlround tracks, one brand new composition and one outtake from the original sessions.

Markey Funk DJ sets in London, Sept 2018

Further 15th Sept-21WarmGlowOur friend Markey Funk stopped off with us for a few days mid September in the middle of his annual Delights tour and played three sets in London – two of which were recorded and posted here for your perusal. His opening set at Further will have to remain in the the memory of those who were there but the next day he graced the decks at the Book & Record Bar for WNBC‘s Out Of The Wood radio show. Made up of tunes from his set vs tunes he’d picked up along the way, it’s 2 hours of treats and he left a bunch of his Delights releases with the shop if you want to pick them up in London.

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After a quick dig through the shop and some late lunch we headed to Kings Cross and Spiritland for a 4.5 hr set stretching into the evening. Monday saw us outside Rat Records in Camberwell at opening time and then back off to West Norwood for a proper dig at the BARB, opened specially for Markey on Michael’s day off.

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After lunch it was into Soho for a look in Reckless and coffee with Shindig magazine’s Paul Osborne and then back to mine for a breather after the whirlwind three days. It was great to catch up, show him some London spots and play host, our whole reason for doing Further that weekend centered around the fact that Markey was coming to the UK and looking for a London gig.

Further 3 at the Portico Gallery – by Warm Glow Photo

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Many thanks to West Norwood local, Anna Hindocha of Warm Glow Photo for coming down at the last moment to shoot for us at on Sept 15th at the Portico Gallery. She managed to capture the ambience of the night in still form and convey the luminescence of the slides perfectly. Pictured below are Markey Funk, myself and The Karminsky Experience Inc. amongst the projections at various stages during the night.

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Further slides for Sep 15th

Fur3 slides close 2I’ve been so busy I’ve not had time to post all the great images collected after the recent Further event on September 15th with Markey Funk and The Karminsky Experience Inc. A fine time was had by all and here are just a few of the 200+ slides I painted and gelled the week before the gig.
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Acid House 7″ mix #3 for 45 Live

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It’s my turn again to provide a guest mix for the 45 Live radio show, hosted by Greg Belson and featuring only music played from 7″ vinyl. As usual I wanted to stray from the path and have been digging hard to find rare or obscure acid house singles that either I or 45 Live co-founder, Pete Isaac, haven’t played before on our 303-heavy mixes. Pete and I have been collecting acid 45s alongside one another for the last few years now and a healthy competition has developed between us in finding tunes from this tiny niche. But it’s a microscopic playing field, even counting today’s modern acid scene, and only numbers in the hundreds of releases on the 7″ format. It’s heartening to see current labels like BBE and Get On Down finally putting some classic house and acid gems on 45 in recent months to add to this finite corner of the digging world.

My first all-7″ acid mix was for the I Love Acid radio show a couple of years ago, the second for 45 Live last year and for this third outing I’ve spent months finding euro oddities from the 80s to give an authentic period mix – the one exception being the lead track, Mr. Fingers’ ‘Washing Machine’, which was first released in 1986 but not issued on 7″ until 2018. All other tracks featured were released in ’87, ’88 or ’89 with one lone 1990 release (ACR’s ‘Good Together’ which first appeared on a stamped pink label 12″ in ’89). At times I’ve felt like I’m scraping the barrel but there’s always an unexpected gem to be found where you least expect it.

Here’s a few things I’ve learned whilst digging for acid 45s over the years:
Most of them originate in the UK or Europe, there weren’t many US 7″s pressed as it was the longer running 12″ that was the most ideal format. Because the music charted heavily in the UK, record labels pressed 7″s with edited versions of many releases into the early 90s when they were eventually replaced by CD singles around ’92/’93. You can also find a limited supply of rave 45s fairly easily but by the time jungle happened they were a dead format for dance music save for the odd magazine freebie.

In Belgium, Spain, Italy and Germany there was a small industry in copycat cash-in singles feeding off the MARRS ‘Pump Up The Volume’ / Bomb The Bass ‘Beat Dis’ / Coldcut ‘Doctorin’ The House’ / S-express style of cut-up house, often using whatever synths they could find to emulate the Roland TB-303 acid sound. All these singles are peppered with ‘enjoy this trip’ radio announcer-style samples, Run DMC ‘ah yeah’s’ or ‘check this out’s’ and cries of ‘acieeeeeed’ if they were released in ’88. They must have all been sampling from the same sources and, with only a few exceptions, these records are universally awful, have smiley’s on their sleeves and have dated horrendously.

For a short period of time in the late 80s it seemed that any old pop act got an acid makeover – Bros, Bananarama, Yazz, Sigue Sigue Sputnik, Army of Lovers, even Sam Fox got into the act (‘Love House’ – the ‘Sulphuric Mix’ is actually passable). There are all sorts of acid mixes hidng on the B-sides of British pop artists, by some of the greats of the house genre – Bam Bam, Adonis, DJ Pierre, Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley and Kevin Saunderson all have some of their earliest major label remixes hidden away on singles by the most unlikely artists. Some of Saunderson’s first remixes were for the Wee Papa Girl Rappers (‘Heat It Up’, ‘We Know It’ and ‘Blow The House Down’ alongside Adonis) and he also serviced Neneh Cherry, Paula Abdul, Sam Fox and Loose Ends.
Bam Bam – of acid classics ‘Where’s Your Child and ‘Give It To Me’ – had his fingers in many pies remixing Coldcut, Yazz, The Shamen (years before their 90s pop success) and most bizarrely, Brass Construction.

Ex-Frankie Goes To Hollywood backing singer, Paul Rutherford, had some of the best acid makeovers for his debut single, ‘Get Real’, produced not by natives of Detroit or Chicago but by Martin Fry and Mark White aka Sheffield’s ABC! Of the three 12″ versions of the single out there the rare nine minute ‘Hardcore’ mix is the best but hardest to find as it was pressed with the ‘Sinister’ mix label and cover and you can only tell a copy by checking the matrix number on the run out groove. I’m betting Hardlfoor heard this mix before writing their huge ‘Acperience’ track years later.

But we’re straying from the subject of the 7″ – typically, few of these remixes made it to the 45 version but occasionally one would turn up on a foreign pressing. There’s an acid version of a worldwide late 80’s hit that exists only on one of two different french pressings that’s so far alluded me, the differences between the versions being so minescule that most sellers simply list the wrong version when it comes up for sale. By 1990 things had died down as the fad had passed in the fast-moving world of dance music and Hip House and the Italo sound replaced the unfashionable acid squiggle and smiley. But it had made its mark, the Madchester scene, Deee-lite and Screamadelica were all products of acid house and the Dutch and Germans sped up the tempo and pushed it into new forms of techno throughout the 90s. I already have nearly enough 45s for a 90s-00s acid mix but this new one is possibly my last word in 80s era cuts save for a handful of singles that I’ve yet to find.

The 45 Live Radio show airs twice a month on a Friday night from dublab in LA but you can catch up from their Mixcloud page or subscribe through iTunes. Much love to DJ Greg Belson for hosting and curating it over the last three years and Pete and Scott for steering the 45 live ship.

 

Eye Sea Posters

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Eye Sea Posters have been around for a few years now, specializing in original, vintage posters from around the world with an emphasis on Polish designs of an alarming variety. Their website has been offline for a while but was recently updated and plenty of new stock has been added, some of which is featured here. Take a look around

From their own mouths: “From the 1950s theatre, circus and film posters became a new form of art on the streets of post-war Poland. Despite the controlling soviet regime, some artistic expression was tolerated and the film industry, largely controlled by the state, prospered. Established artists were commissioned to design film posters. The artists had to convey the essence of the film in their designs and were given artistic freedom to do so which led to some truly original posters that are sometimes surreal and often have a satirical sense of humor. Unlike most film posters, the use of photos of film stars or film stills wasn’t mandatory, and most of the time even the main actors’ names didn’t feature prominently in the designs. Free from commercial constraints, graphic designers used film posters to develop their artistic creativity.

The Polish School of Posters created a unique aesthetic that occupies a prominent place in the history of graphic design. The posters seems to have a style all of their own and we love their amazing and often bizarre artwork.

Eye Sea Posters specialize in Polish posters from the 60’s and 70’s by artists like Jerzy Flisak, Maciej Zbikowski and Maciej Hibner. Their collection is handpicked with an emphasis on design and the posters are rich in symbols, metaphors, unusual forms and colours.”

The company was started by James Dyer and is now continued by Chiara Amini and Iain Twitchett

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