Mini CDs #26: Various Artists – RolitoMix

Rolito CD 2
An email from the mysterious ‘Rolito’ arrived one day in 2003 with an offer of being one of 6 designers to customise a new line of toys he was making. Each toy had a tiny body and a large, dome-shaped head inside of which was another, smaller, stash box. I was intrigued as I’ve been a fan of the vinyl toy ‘thing’ since Michael Lau came out with his Crazy Children around 2000 and the thought of having my own one was something that appealed greatly. The other thing that appealed was that Rolito had a crazy website based around a load of characters he had created that inhabited Rolitoland. There was little or no explanation about these creatures but the attention to detail and graphic ideas were more than enough to hook me in.

The brief was open and I decided to adapt my Ninja logo around the toy using various different existing graphics and logos to make a ‘RolitoTune Ninjaboy’. The process for getting the graphics onto the toy were slightly limited so I wasn’t able to do some of the things I wanted to. I suggested we include a 3″ CD in the package with a selection of Ninja music to add to the promotional aspect of the toy so that people who didn’t know where it came from would be introduced to the label via the disc. One of the beauties of the Rolito packaging is that it dismantles without having to tear, cut or unstick anything, this meant that the empty vacuum packing would ultimately become the ‘sleeve’ that would house the CD.

There were only 450 made, Ninja got around 150 I think and sold the lot within a weekend over the net, some of which have since appeared on eBay for up to £99. I also contributed a short soundtrack to an animation on his website that showed the shipment getting stuck at the French customs – a scenario that actually happened.

Ninja disc
Ninja Toy + packaging x3 Ninja Toy (packaging 1)

Mini CDs #23: Sixtoo – Fight

Fight book back wrap
Canadian producer, Sixtoo, comes with a 2 track 3″ CD inside a book called ‘Fight’, hand-printed and bound in a screenprinted outer slip from the now dormant Bully label. There’s also another 3″ release that I don’t have, a handmade tour exclusive with DJ Signify entitled ‘No One Leaves’.
Fight book front wrap Fight book front Fight book inside + disc Fight book inside disc 2 Fight book inside under button

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Mini CDs #22: Jeffrey Lewis – The History of Punk on the Lower East Side

Fuff cover
A chance discovery of a issue of Jeffery Lewis‘ comic, Fuff, led me to picking up all 13 issues and No.1 comes with a 3″ CD taped to the inside cover. A medley covering the History of Punk on the Lower East Side 1950-1975, sung by Jeffrey and a Detective Story in Rhyme that works with a page of the comic make up the content and I can’t recommend his comics highly enough. Most are still available for $3-5.00 from his website.

Fuff disc in case Fuff disc Fuff under case

Mini CDs #19: Janek Schaefer – Rink

Jan Skate

From Janek Schaefer‘s sleeve notes: “The original concept for my ‘Skate’ LP was to make a record that usurped the deterministic spiral (and the ‘anti-skate’ mechanism) as a way of playing and listening to sound on vinyl. To do this I developed the ‘Fragmented’ cutting technique, a method of cutting a concentric collage of individual short ‘sound scars’ onto the disc. When played, the stylus navigates it’s own random path across this intermittent terrain of physical/sonic diversions. The type of record player, its speed and the user will all affect the result and thus each and every playback of the LP will elicit a different composition.
Jan Skate LPAfter much research it proved unfeasible to experiment in a professional cutting room to develop this process. I decided then to build my own lathe by converting and inverting the acoustic sound reproduction mechanism of an HMV wind up 78rpm gramophone. Using a car stereo system I positioned a pair of speakers so that they played ‘backwards’ into the sound funnel and thus ultimately back into the stylus. The stylus then acted as a vibrating cutting head when enough volume was applied. A 14″ blank acetate was placed on the turntable and rotated at varying speeds using the gramophone’s sprung mechanism. By very quickly and placing the stylus/cutting head onto the disc I built up the final collage sound by sound. I used the collected works of Pierre Schaeffer (a pioneer of vinyl manipulation) for the source sound. Only a proportion of each sound scar was influenced by those specific vibrations as this rudimentary cutting process was one of loss and accumulation.”

Jan Skate vinyl

“The LP is intended to be the starting point for ‘real time’ explorations by the user. It works very well as a repetitive device if you place an obstruction (like a 7″) in the path of the tone-arm as it locks the stylus into a loop. Another method is to play the record by just using your hand to rotate it slowly instead of at 33 or 45. This produces a much more subtle and controlled result. My personal favourite is to use the Tri-Phonic or Twin to play several sequences simultaneously! As the LP travels at a fixed speed all the arms play at the same tempo and thus ‘polymix’ perfectly. Experiment with it.”Jan inners
“‘Rink’ is a composition using sounds taken from the ‘Skate’ LP combined with live room recordings taken from the ‘Skate’ Installation at Triskel Arts, in Cork, Ireland, August 2001. The 2nd version was at Vooruit Arts in Gent, Belgium, September 2002.”Jan Rink CD

“The Installation and CD started with a single copy of the LP. Firstly I recorded 60 different rhythmic and textural sound events by playing the LP on my Tri-Phonic Turntable in different ways. 30 silent tracks of varying lengths were then added to create the master CD. A copy of this CD is then loaded into 3 random play CD players and broadcast together into the room. The 3 sets of speakers are positioned along the gallery to mix a spatial and architectural context into this continuous re-composition. Finally, next to each set of speakers is a light source which flickers, fades and glows according to the associated sound level. Occasionally the gallery is left in silence and total darkness as all the CD’s hit a silent track and the lights die.

It is an immersive scenario exploring the impact that sound and reactive lights can have on the experience of the space they are installed in. ‘Rink’ was composed in spring 2002 by the invitation of Staalplaat. The CD has 99 track marks. Have fun!”
I can’t really add much more to that, but more info on Janek’s site – https://www.audioh.com/releases/skatelp.html

Jan Skate insideJan Rink insideJan Rink

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Mini CDs #18: Jon Oswald – Plunderphonics

Plunder front
Jon Oswald’s pioneering pop cut-ups were a big deal back in the 80’s, getting cease and desist notices from major labels for cutting up Michael Jackson and Elvis. He was ordered to destroy copies of his original Plunderphonics 12″ but before the advent of the web and the means to freely distribute his wears, Blast First pressed this 3″ CD as a Xmas card to give to friends and associates.
Plunder back

Mini CDs #16: The Advisory Circle – Mind How You Go

Advisory front
More beautiful Julian House designs for the fifth release on the Ghost Box label, back when they were still a CD only operation. The Advisory Circle‘s ‘Mind How You Go’ was the sixth release on the label and originally only existed as this handmade 3″ mini CD before being updated and released on vinyl years later. Of course, the first release on the label, founder Jim Jupp‘s Belbury Poly EP, ‘Farmer’s Angle’ was also a 3″ CD but this is the one hole in my GB collection, now going for around the £70 mark if you can find one.

Advisory Circle insideAdvisory CD insideBelbury Poly Farmers Angle

Mini CDs #15: Broadcast – Microtronics 1 & 2

Broadcast front
These two beautifully designed 3″ CDs were first sold on tour by Broadcast back in 2003 (volume 1) and 2005 (volume 2). The remainder cropped up on Warpmart and they are some of my favourite releases by the band, consisting mainly of percussion and electronics, like mini library albums. Design as ever was by Julian House and you can still find them here and there with a warehouse find batch cropping up on Norman Records last year.
Broadcast back  Broadcast inside

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Mini CDs #14: Squarepusher – Square Window promo + Hello Everything special edition

Squarepusher back The ‘Square Window’ mini CD came with orders from Warpmart for the album ‘Ultravisitor’ in 2004 but also came as a separate CD with the Japanese edition.Squarepusher CD front

This edition of ‘Hello Everything’ from 2006 came with a bonus 3″ CD as part of what looks like a unique recyclable eco pack CD, I seem to remember there were a few such things around at the time. I think these were the only mini CDs Tom ever did in the UK, there’s a Japanese one for ‘Cooper’s World/Vic Acid’ but I don’t have that.Squarepusher Hello Everything front Squarepusher Hello Everything insideSquarepusher Hello Everything discsSquarepusher Hello Everything back

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Mini CDs #13: Quinoline Yellow – Motors

QY front open

This beautiful release by Quinoline Yellow on Skam was designed by Bhatoptics aka ehquestionmark and the mini CD fits perfectly inside a tax disc folder. With a BMW insignia (the release is called ‘Motors’ after all) and a small card inserted into the wallet, all else that’s needed is the Skam logo and their usual strip of braille along one edge. 300 were made with half of these including a coupon to redeem and get a Quinoline Yellow keyring. Can still be had cheaply from Discogs

QY card QY front QY open

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Mini CDs #12: V/Vm’s Help Aphex Twin & Whine and Missing Toe

VVM Aphex x 2 coverVVM Aphex back

With a mix of the last two mini CD entries we have James Kirby aka V/Vm‘s (piss)take on Aphex Twin and a Xmas compilation featuring the Boards of Canada alias Hell Interface. In much the same way that V/Vm has lovingly parodied previous artists like Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Chris De Burgh, Posh Spice and others, Richard D James gets the treatment with no fucks given across two mini CDs mimicking the red and blue of the old Universal Indicator series on RePhleX. You get a sense that Kirby was maybe taking the piss but as a fan as some of the tracks are quite decent. These are first pressings, later ones came in brown, green or reversed red/blue for each volume, some of the contents are also on a vinyl LP titled ‘Help Aphex Twin 3.0’ with some new material and ‘Help Aphex Twin 4.0’ is a regular CD version with even more new tracks. The Xmas compilation features a disturbingly pitch-bent take on ‘Silent Night’ from Hell Interface as well as Christmas song mash ups, animal noises and general twisting of well known songs into new forms. There’s a 7″ of this as well.

Whine & Missing Toe cover + disc Whine & Missing inside frontWhine & Missing inside + disc

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Mini CDs #11: Gavin Bryars – Raising the Titanic (Aphex Twin remix)

13. Aphex CD
This miniature beauty was included in a 1995 Japanese edition of Bryars‘The Sinking of the Titanic’, also available on regular CD and promo 12″ in the US as well as turning up on the ’26 Mixes For Cash’ compilation. There are various versions of the mix either known as ‘Big Drum mix’, ‘edit’ or just ‘mix’ and all sound identical to my ears apart from the length. This CD only contains one version despite the title and I appear to have lost or sold the original edition of the album that it came with.

Bryars Sinking CD

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Mini CDs #10: Boards of Canada – Sometime In The Future

BoC CD closedBack in the 00’s, when I had a bit more time on my hands, I would make physical editions of some of my more conceptual mixes for Solid Steel. I wanted to do something really special for the release of ‘Geogaddi’, BoC’s second album, being a big fan of the group. There was a lot of secrecy surrounding this record and I was given a copy of the album by Warp just before the release. I rushed through it in a weekend to make the deadline for the radio show so that this could be transmitted on Solid Steel the week it was released. As a thank you I made 10 copies in a fold out hexagon sleeve (based on the Andromeda Strain soundtrack packaging), each with a different sticker inside and a 3″ CD containing the mix. I sent four to Mike & Marcus, two to Warp and kept four for myself.

BoC insideBoC inside 2

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Mini CDs #9: Tear For Fears – Woman in Chains

TFF wic front
As with last week’s post, I don’t own this either so have had to collect images of it from the web but it’s another great example of the kind of things major label budgets could come up with when a big chart band were involved. Although not as hardy as last week’s Tears For Fears single, this version of ‘Woman in Chains’ is more complex with a four panel fold out that holds the 3″ CD inside. As you can see, the design is quite flimsy and the prongs of the sun’s rays are a little battered. I’d imagine finding one of these in mint condition is near impossible after 30+ years, how would you safely stack that in your collection?. Design was by Stylorouge.

TFF wic left TFF wic rightTFF wic bottomTFF wic back

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Mini CDs #8: Tear For Fears – Sowing The Seeds of Love

TFF ssol front
I have to confess, I don’t own this release and have pinched photos from the web but it’s a classic case of successful 80s pop band with mega hyped comeback single (an excellent one too) being squeezed into a format of the day to brilliant effect. ‘Sowing The Seeds of Love’ saw Tears For Fears making a long overdue return with a huge nod to The Beatles and late 60s flower power and what better vessel to stow a 3″ CD in than a sunflower? No doubt causing all manner of headaches for the OCD fan as they place it on the shelf with their other TFF releases, this is a beautiful example of lateral thinking design, the only let down being the lacklustre on body disc design once inside the thing.

TFF ssol insideTFF ssol discTFF ssol back