The NME goes free

ABC NME cover '81

After the news that the NME was going to be free as of September yesterday I dug out these old covers from over 30 years ago. I never read it until the late 80s and 90s but have since gone back and waded through years of issues for various research purposes and the breath of subjects covered, the writing, the photography and even the design sometimes, was taken for granted on a weekly basis. Barney Bubbles designed the logo seen on these covers too. Check the Sly & Robbie feature below for the skewed design and the Frank Sinatra wraparound cover which seems apt after the news.
Along with the Melody Maker, Sounds and Record Mirror (four weekly music mags!) it was the only one to survive, having weathered the storm since 1952. This latest move – this ‘last throw of the dice’ as someone called it – seems to indicate that we’re another step down the road, another nail in the coffin, where the worth of others’ creativity is reduced to practically zero. Rockin’ in the Free World.

BEF NME cover '82

Sly & Robbie NME feature '81 Girlschool NME cover '81 Sinatra, NME Jan '85

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Simon Reynolds on Ambient from 1993

img_0419Music Journalist Simon Reynolds – author of Rip it Up & Start Again, Retromania, Energy Flash and more – has put some articles up that he wrote about the Ambient scene in the UK for Melody Maker in 1993 on his blog. The reason I’m including them here is because this was the first proper interview I ever did for a music publication and I love Reynolds’ writing in general (despite his need to define and compartmentalise micro scenes before they’ve fully evolved all the time). An interesting look back but I think he was shoe-horning what we were doing into his collection of interviewees and possibly using us as a link the other bands to the Ambient/Chill Out scene at the time.

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Flexibition #27: Echo magazine #3

DSC00022Echo‘the magazine you play on your phonograph’ – was first published in 1959 and came with 5 or 6 flexi discs fixed inside each issue, mostly containing music and interviews with the subjects profiled within. The ring-binder design let each page fold back under the last and a spindle hole through the centre meant that you could place the whole magazine on the turntable to play each disc.
An 8″ x 8″ quarterly publication that ran for at least 4 issues as far as I can tell (of which this is #3), it had beautiful page layouts courtesy of Designers’ Collaborative from New York and United Artists served as the agent supplying the entertainment talent. This one features music and interviews with The Trapp Family / Mary Martin / Brigitte Bardot / France Nuyen / Eva Gabor / Siobahn McKenna / Brendan Behan / a Shelley Berman monologue / an interview with The Kingston Trio / Fiorello La Guardia reads the comics and an advert for Springmaid Fabrics.
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There are some extracts from the discs over on WFMU’s excellent 365 Days Project entry by Katya Oddie for the same issue. Here’s the cover for #2 – pretty advanced design for 1959 – if anyone has any of the other issues that they’d like to sell then I’m interested.Echo mag #2

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Found In Sounds #7 (Old School Hip Hop special)

Electro Funk cover Sounds 14.04.84

An Old School special this time round with vintage cuttings from early 80s copies of the weekly UK music paper, Sounds. Traditionally a Rock and Heavy Metal-biased magazine, they still found time to cover some of the bigger stars from the emerging New York scene. They went all out in 1984 with an Electro Funk special issue (above).
Below is an early Bambaataa chart – check #10. An early UK rap gig at the Comedy Store is reviewed and Kurtis Blow, Grandmaster Flash, Bam, the Sugarhill Gang and more are interviewed.

I like looking back on images and articles like this from a time when I was too young to know that this was even happening, you see a less revisionist history as the movement and artists are in the midst or even before their peak years. Details that have been lost in time are revealed and a few oddities pop up that make you re-evaluate accepted norms. Click on each image for the full size.

Rap chart Sounds 1984 Rap review Comedy Store Kurtis Blow Sounds 15.08.81 GMFlash Sounds 18.09.82 GMFlash Sounds 11.12.82 Afrika Bam SOUNDS_19.02.83 Rapping 2 Sounds 13.03.82 Rapping 3 Sounds 13.03.82

Longplayer


I only just discovered this – there was a launch for a iOS app to go with it last night – Longplayer is a one thousand year long musical composition. It began playing at midnight on the 31st of December 1999, and will continue to play without repetition until the last moment of 2999, at which point it will complete its cycle and begin again. Conceived and composed by Jem Finer, it was originally produced as an Artangel commission, and is now in the care of the Longplayer Trust.”

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Kilian Eng 2001 posters

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A beautiful 2001 poster by Kilian Eng that I came across today whilst looking for something else. Two years old, long gone from Mondo like so many of his others, there are three variants and some unused versions that are just as nice. I also found a Heavy Metal one too that’s of a similar ilk – I don’t always like his images, usually down to the colour choices he makes, but these are superb.

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RIP Shusei Nagaoka

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RIP Shusei Nagaoka – not a name I was familiar with but all of us must know at least a handful of these album covers? ELO, Earth Wind & Fire, Maze, Deep Purple, Boston and more. Big respect.
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Notice how this poster for The Humanoid uses one of his images and flips it, I doubt the added characters are by him.
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X-Ray Audio book pre-audio

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Soviet flexi discs, ‘bones’ or ‘ribs’, music pressed on old X-Rays due to lack of resources. Stephen Coates aka The Real Tuesday Weld has been collecting and exhibiting these for a while now and Strangeattractor Press are publishing a book of them this autumn. Pre-order is here and there is a limited edition with a free flexi disc which I will no doubt be featuring in the Flexibition at some point.
Next week, Tuesday 30th June, Stephen will be telling the story of the X-Ray Bootleggers at The Last Tuesday Society. More details and tickets here
…and on Friday 3rd July Stephen and Aleks Kolkowski will be presenting a special evening at the Masonic Temple of the Andaz Hotel as part of the East End Film Festival. A new x-ray record will be cut live with a 1940s recording lathe from a live performance by Marcella Puppini of The Puppini Sisters. Go HERE for more details and tickets

RIP Kája Saudek

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I’ve spent most of the evening looking at the work of Kája Saudek – a Czech artist and designer who worked in comics and created film posters – after being tipped off about him by Markey Funk. Markey had just visited ‘Batalion’, a bar and museum in Prague dedicated to the man and thought I would like the work. He was right, check out all that amazing detail and hand drawn typography – what a find.
I’d seen the Barbarella poster before but never checked on the name, the rest was new to me, a mixture of Rockin’ Jellybean, Robert Williams with shades of Moebius in places. Sadly, upon checking the wikipedia entry it seems that Saudek died the same day that I discovered him after spending nine years in a coma at a hospital in Prague. Art like this can never die though, he left a huge body of work for us all to enjoy.

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2econd Class Citizen ‘Hall of Mirrors’ album

2CC album3
Out today is ‘Hall of Mirrors’, the third album by 2econd Class Citizen aka Aaron Thomason, another beautiful collection of haunted beats, raps and atmospheres that I’ve been lucky enough to hear develop over the last few years. You can hear echoes of parts of ‘Magpie Music’ – the track we collaborated on – in some of the tracks and if you enjoyed his two previous albums you won’t be disappointed as he’s crafted another winner and advanced his sound another notch.

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The album (very limited vinyl, CD & download) is out on The Content Label from California since Aaron’s previous label, Equinox, closed its doors two years ago. You can order all formats here in various bundles as well as a T-shirt and I nearly forgot, there’s a remix from The Herbaliser that closes the album too. I helped with the typography on the front cover and the excellent front cover was created by French surreal-collagist Albane Simon. Here’s a 15 minute taster for the album mixed by Aaron and he also has all sorts of free downloads, re-edits and videos over on his revamped website here.

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Flexibition #26: F.C. Judd ‘Electronic Sounds & Effects For Electronic Music’

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It’s been a while since we’ve had a guest post in the Flexibition and we celebrate the half way mark with Jonny Trunk, someone who should be no stranger to readers of this blog. We start a run of flexi’s given away with magazines with a minor classic of the genre and a treasure trove of sample material, I’ll let Jonny give you the lowdown:

“The Practical Electronics flexi by F.C.Judd (F. C. for Frederick Charles) was only available once, with the magazine’s October 1967 issue. F.C. Judd was a regular writer for PE and other home electronic titles and this comes four years after his own Castle Electronic Music 7” series.

Although issued together, it’s hard to find the magazine and the flexi together these days. If I recall I found the flexi first in an old brown paper bag at Spitalfields market a few years ago. Cost a couple of quid. I found the bag in a box that had come to the market via a North London auction house. The magazine I tracked down a couple of weeks later through a mag dealer. Again a couple of quid.

Flex26_PracticalElectdisc

The PE Electronic Sounds And Effects For Electronic Music record is one-sided and contains a basic introduction to electronic sounds and electronic music generation – all introduced in fairly serious, dry announcements:” (reminiscent of Peter Cook‘s E.L. Whisty character if you ask me – Kev)

Basic Sound Sources
Pure sine wave, square wave, pulse wave from mulitvibrator, Unfiltered white noise

Electronic Treatment
Ring modulated tones, filtered white noise, pulsed tones, attack and decay

Reverberation Effects
Mechanical reverberation, tape echo, excessive echo, pre-echo

Tape Recording Techniques
Replay speed, replay speed doubled, reversed recording, tape loops

Rhythmic Electronic Music
A specially composed short cue for this disc, utlising a melody for which F.C. Judd was awarded first prize in the 1965 British Recording Contest (professional section).

Judd was an early electronics pioneer (still largely unknown next to his Radiophonic Workshop peers) who contributed the music to the British puppet TV show, ‘Space Patrol’ and, as Jonny stated, released several 7″s of electronic music and sound FX on the Castle label. He also wrote several books including, ‘Electronics in Music’, which was reprinted in 2012.

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Nicolas Godin ‘Orca’ video

This is pretty interesting, both visually and musically, ‘Orca’ – the first track from Nicolas Godin‘s debut album ‘Contrepoint’, due for release later this year on Because Music. You may recognise Nicolas as being one half of Air and although I’m never going to like that bitcrushed guitar sound there’s a lot going on here that makes me want to hear more.
Download the single here : http://po.st/OrcaSingle

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