UNKLE vs Super7 splatter 45, middle and toy

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Never shy of releasing music by his UNKLE project in ever boundary-pushing formats, James Lavelle has outdone himself with three 45s from his latest album, ‘The Road Part 1’. Available in July at the San Deigo Comic Convention, the collaboration with West Coast-based toy company Super7 has yielded the craziest 7″ packaging yet.

IMG_4976For $50 you get a clear vinyl w. splatter single with dinked middle and Futura 2000 camo label featuring a track from the album and instrumental on the flip. Not only that but there’s also a Pointman figure with moveable head, arms and legs that fits into a clear plastic stand that doubles as a middle for the 45 and comes engraved with the UNKLE logo. These are housed inside a huge plastic clamshell Pointman ‘head’ that could double as a mask if you cut some eyes out of it.

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There are three different tracks available in different colours: blue, green and pink with corresponding shells, splatter effect and figure colourways. I was lucky enough to get a green one via Daniel Barassi, 45 collector and infamous modifier of the Fisher Price kid’s turntable into a fully functional portable player, who was at SDCC and collared all three versions himself when I gave him the heads up before sending mine over to the UK.

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You can now order these online via the Super7 website but non-US buyers beware – the postage is an absolute killer and only the rich or the mega-fans are going to want to stretch that far. Aside from the postage and the possibility of also incurring customs charges on top there are some drawbacks. Firstly – the size, the clam shell is huge and doesn’t sit upright without support. Secondly, both the 45 and the dink are in there super tight, I thought I was going to break the single getting it out. The toy is nicely moulded but compared to the original Ben Drury-sculpted Pointmen from back in the 90s they’re not quite as special – but for the money and what you’re getting they’re just fine.

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I was slightly dismayed to find that the A side of my 7″ seems to have been cut slightly off-centre so the needle really has to track the groove back and forth and you get a wavering effect on the strings in the track which really rendered it unplayable unfortunately. I have no way of knowing if they’re all like this but the B side seemed a lot more stable if not entirely movement-free. As an object of desire for the price it’s certainly worth it if you can get round the postage costs in some way but maybe next time vacuum-packing the figure and centre to the front of a thick card 7″ sleeve (like the Rave Wars 45s) would be a better solution.

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FourFromFoodFridays #17.31

FourFromFoodFridays 17.31

Four From Food Fridays – a weekly look at four things I’ve been loving in the last seven days. Old or new, whatever’s been on in the studio. From top left:

Xordox – Neospection (Editions Mego) LP/CD/DL – JG Thirlwell mutates into yet another alias, this time for deep space instrumental pieces recorded on the Buchla and Serge synths at EMS, Stockholm. Get the CD/DL for an extra 14 min track too.

Can – The Lost Tapes (Mute) 5xLP box + poster/booklet – Incredible ‘outtakes’, jams, demos and live collection from a few years back. Better than some official album releases.

Pink Floyd – Dark Side Of The Moon (Harvest) LP – Seeing the Their Mortal Remains exhibition at the V&A Museum last Sunday made me want to revisit parts of the Floyd back catalogue.

Simon James – Akiha Den Den/The Panathrope (Castles In Space) CD – Bonus disc of extra material that comes with vinyl LP – 70 minutes worth of quality material.

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Can : The Lost Tapes box set

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I only just got round to buying and listening to this, a five disc collection of unreleased jams, live tracks and early versions from the 50 hour archive of tapes in Can‘s studio. It’s incredible, barely any filler across the ten sides and comes with a poster and 12″x12″ booklet, all designed by Julian House. Released by Mute and with notes by Irmin Schmidt it was put together and edited by Jono Podmore from Metamono – worth every penny if you can track one down at a decent price.

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The Delaware Road at Kelvedon Hatch

IMG_4535It’s taken me an age to get round to posting this because – basically – school holidays. That preventer of progress, that eater of time, time you actually get to spend with your kids before they grow up and only want to be with their mates. The snatches of work, social media catch-up and the day to day running of a household don’t leave too long to write extended blogs about how one night was one of the most memorable of the year so far.

Back in the Autumn of 2015 Alan Gubby of the Buried Treasure label put on a night based around a narrative he’d written with David Yates (aka Dolly Dolly, seen with Alan below). It told the story of a woman and a man who work for The Corporation making electronic music and their journey through the middle of the 20th century in sound, sex psychedelics, occult and sound phenomena. The narrative held together a compilation called The Delaware Road, which just so happened to be the site of the original Radiophonic Workshop, and the groups and sounds on the album helped sonically place the story in time, starting with tape loops, jazz and spoken word, progressing to analogue synths and later, digital.

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I went to the event as a punter and it was fantastic, mostly for the herculean effort that everyone put into it and how Alan and Dolly’s narrative pulled it together to make sense with eight (I think) bands on the bill plus film interludes. So when an offer to play at a second version staged inside a Nuclear Bunker in the Essex countryside came up I didn’t have to think twice. The Kelvedon Hatch ‘Secret’ Nuclear Bunker descends four storeys underground with entry gained via a bungaow-like frontage nestled in a wood a 20 minute drive from Brentwood station. See photos here from a reccy I did a few months back to get an idea. With twelve acts on the bill spread over four floors this time the whole ante was upped considerably, not least by just getting to the venue in question.

Ticket holders who had bought early got to travel in a green double-decker bus from Brentwood, were given packs containing maps of the bunker, flyer and ‘Delatab’ radiation pills and arrived in style to be greeted by costumed players looking like Morris Dancers from the dark side in the shape of the Mummers & The Pappers. Soundtracking this were Glitch, Saunders & Hill who had set up outside on the entrance balcony and regaled them as they entered the long, concrete tunnel that led down into the bunker proper. From there it was up to the audience to explore the rooms and levels and find acts nestled in strange habitats for the duration of the night.

I kicked the night off in the top room, which I shared with Dolly and Ian Helliwell, Dolly at his table with anglepoise and notes and Ian later working his way through a table of self-made gadgets and boxes with names like ‘Hellitron Modulator’. Earlier we’d found a chrome mannequin in pieces whilst setting up projectors and lights and added her to the ensemble decorating the room. I’d brought oil wheels and video projectors plus mixer with effects and we were lucky enough to be by the cafe next door and have a room full of seats so people stayed with us.

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Having finished my first set I was free to explore and further down in the levels below there were more delights to encounter, Radionics in the sick bay, decked out in white labs coats – nice touch. Nearby were Jez and Polly aka the 12 Hour Foundation who also bought oil wheels and a full live kit to play their John Baker-inspired tunes. Hidden away in his own little office area was Simon James, playing a 3 hour improvised Buchla set to a small but rapt audience, politely seated in rows in front of him.

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Deeper down in the communications and map room were Loose Capacitor who I could get no decent photos of so you’ll have to do with the glowing, neon map. They had bought TV sets complete with old BBC idents and in the engine room Concretism played a fab set whilst films played over the industrial piping behind him. Nearby, Robin The Fog, representing Howlround, nestled in the broadcast studio complex, used some handy mannequins as tape loop holders. At the very bottom of the bunker, in some sort of generator or power room, were Teleplasmiste with their modular synths where we noticed a certain Steve Davis – ex snooker champion and current electronic DJ – enjoying the sounds. Davis, apparently local to Kelvedon Hatch, was present from beginning to end, keeping a low profile but checking out all the acts.

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Back upstairs, Dolly’s last performance was coming to the end and I took to the decks again to close the evening with a mixture of psychedelia, lounge and radiophonics, finishing the night with a track from Alan Gubby’s Revbjelde album. Punters were filing out be now to catch the first of two buses back to Brentwood station whilst we were in the bunker until midnight, packing up before heading to Theydon Bois to catch the central line back into London where I got in just before 3am, exhausted but happy to have been a part of it.

It was unique, it was an amazing venue and I doubt Alan and crew will be in a hurry to repeat the performance but there was plenty of filming going on during the night. The main niggle was that there was so much good music going on concurrently that no one could catch enough of it without missing some of the twelve other acts. If you want a rough idea of what you missed though you can check out the original Delaware Road compilation album containing at least half the assembled players on this date.

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And finally, for those who couldn’t make it but want a souvenir of the occasion – the Delaware Road Bunker Pack is now available, including the flyer, the map (designed by Nick Taylor and Luke Insect), badges, a pack of Delatab anti-radiation pills and the download of the full Delaware Road compilation. All for only £5 and limited to 45 sets  (only 7 left when I just checked)get one here.

FourFromFoodFridays #17.30

FourFromFoodFridays 17.30

Four From Food Fridays – a weekly look at four things I’ve been loving in the last seven days. It’s been a funny old week. From top left:

Andrew Lloyd-Webber & Tim Rice – Jesus Christ Superstar (MCA) 2xLP – next to Hair you have this proggy, funky, hippy epic, there are certain moments where it’s incredible.

The Miles Davis Quartet – S/T (Prestige) LP – Miles still in Bop mode with Max Roach on drums.

Phil Lynott & Midge Ure – Yellow Pearl (Phonogram) 7″ – The early 80s Top Of The Pops theme tune, remixed to beef it up, check the dance troup Zoo on YouTube for some eye-opening footage of how it used to be.

Jesus Love You – After The Love (More Protein) 12″ – Boy George’s Acid House phase produced some decent and some dodgy, this belongs in the former category.

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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 #17.29

FourFromFoodFridays 17.29Four From Food Fridays – a weekly look at four things I’ve been loving in the last seven days. They can be new or old, any style so long as it’s been getting some rotation in the studio. I missed last week because I was at the Delaware Road gig and that’s as good an excuse as any. From top left:

Adrendalin M.O.D. – Four Tunes EP (MCA) 12″ – Four tracks of vintage acid from back in the day, looks like a bad cash-in, sounds amazing.

Simon James – Akiha Den Den (Castles In Space) LP – Long-awaited soundtrack to the radio play of the same name from The Simonsound.

Looped For Pleasure / I Monster – Made In Sheffield (Electronic Sound) 7″ – special Sheffield-centric single only available with the latest issue of Electronic Sound.

Belbury Poly – The Owl’s Map (Ghost Box) LP – A vinyl pressing reissue for the second BP album, aging well after 11 years – contains one of my favourite Belbury track, ‘The People’.

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New 45 Live Radio Show mix on Dublab this Friday

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I’ve just finished a 65 minute mix for the 45 Live radio show this Friday. Hosted by Greg Belson this two hr show features a guest mix by one of the 45 Live roster each fortnight on rotation. The music remit is broad, the only stipulation being that it’s sourced from a 7″. My mix takes in Dutch electronics, Israeli beats, Canadian collage, British fiddle funk and much more. Listen live between 8-10pm PDT Friday 4th August on Dublab

Blade Runner 2049 poster by Signalstarr

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Love this prospective poster by Signalstarr for Blade Runner 2049, if only the actual posters could have this beautiful restraint although I doubt they will. Follow him on Instagram for generous helpings of ‘New Adventures in Retrofutures’
This weekend saw a new trailer for the film which is quite extensive and possibly contains a rapid-fire run through of quite a lot of the film so don’t watch if you want the element of surprise.

British Underground Press of the Sixties book and exhibition

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Forthcoming exhibition and book from Rocket 88 publishing with a lovely looking book of all the UK British underground press covers and associated memorabilia including (finally) some of the underground comics of the era associated with them (CoZmic Comics, Nasty Tales etc.). Pre-order the book now and find out more at britishundergroundpress.com

Spacemen and women

Spacemenx9Some quick snaps taken around the studio and house, I think I have a thing about spacemen (and women).

Top left: The Alien vault book / Lasstronaut by Ashley Wood from 3A toys / Space Qee from Toy2R / Robot Spacetroop postcard by unknown / Spaceman print by Christian Ward / String Diver figure by Ashley Wood from 3A toys / original cosmonaut drawing from The Search Engine by Henry Flint / Orb: Mission ’92 poster by tDR / Birthday drawing by David Vallade

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FourFromFoodFridays #17.28

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Four From Food Fridays – a weekly look at four things I’ve been loving in the last seven days. They can be new or old, any style so long as it’s been getting some rotation in the studio. From top left:

Raymond Scott – Three Willow Park (Basta) 3xLP+booklet – A treasure trove of electronic experiments, jingles and curios with a 12×12″ booklet full of photos and info.

Various Artists – Popular Electronics (Basta) 4×7″ boxset – Facsimile copies of four 7″s of from the middle of the 20th century which would certainly cost you more than the €50 they want here if you could even find them, all held in a red velvet box with embossed title. Check the Basta site for more.

Nevermen – Mr Minute (Boards of Canada remix/instr) (Lex) 7″ picture disc – Physical release of the BOC remix, backed with an instrumental version.

Various Artists – Calibre Cuts (Calibre) 7″ – A recent discovery, a British disco medley with tape edits, rough loops, FX and dodgy ‘soundalike’ covers that Morgan Khan had a hand in from 1980 (beating Grandmaster Flash by a year).

Franco Grignani at the Estorick Collection of Italian Art

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There’s not much to say about this post really, I’ve posted about Franco Grignani before, quite recently. The Italian designer has been featured in a couple of exhibitions in London this year, the second of which has just opened. Just look at these images and then go and see this wonderful artist’s work, it’s on display at the Estorick Collection of Italian Art on Canonbury Sq. in London. The simplicity and precision of execution is simply breathtaking.

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FourFromFoodFridays #17.27 – Finders Keepers special

FourFromFoodFridays 17.26Four From Food Fridays – a weekly look at four things I’ve been loving in the last seven days. They can be new or old, any style so long as it’s been getting some rotation in the studio. Having a catch up with all things Finders Keepers this week, go here for even more… From top left:

Andy Votel – Gallic Magnetic and the Fractional Crystallization of Space Rock Part 1 (Mixcloud) – Fantastic space-themed mix of French prog / psych / electronic and just plain odd records alongside an exhaustive blog entry on the Oi Polloi website that will have you scrambling for the Discogs / eBay search function.

Andy Votel – Gallic Magnetic and the Fractional Crystallization of Space Rock Part 2 (Mixcloud) – and there’s more… as above, I don’t know where he finds the time.

Doug Shipton – Bile Over Substance (Soundcloud) Mix – Bonkers beats and brutal basslines, a mix made for Vice Romania, up to his usual high standard.

Finders Keepers Radio – Vinyl Vacation Road Trip (Soundcloud/iTunes/Mixcloud) – Latest episode of the crew’s essential podcast, a vinyl roadtrip with guest Stanley Chow