Kaleidoscope reissue and new Companion LP out now

Kal:Kal Comp outer + discs Kal inner + discs The 4xLP reissue – the original Kaleidoscope LP repressed on blue/white vinyl and the all new Kaleidoscope Companion featuring unreleased/alternate tracks ’97-2000 on orange/red vinyl in gatefold sleeve w. download – is out now! The average price seems to be around the £25-30 mark which is a bargain for 4 bits of coloured vinyl in a gatefold sleeve if I say so myself.Kal front + 4 discsKal label A

Buy here : (support record shops if you can)
Norman Records. http://bitly.ws/dZwy
Bleep http://bitly.ws/dZwC
Resident http://bitly.ws/dZwJ
Sister Ray http://bitly.ws/dZH8
Phonica http://bitly.ws/dZHq
Ninja Tune http://bitly.ws/dZwN
Bandcamp http://bitly.ws/dZwR
Full Digital / streaming links: https://djfood.lnk.to/kaleidoscope
Kal discKal Comp label + titles

The new Companion LP tracklist: The Crow features in two forms – Crow (Slow) and The Rook + Type 3The Quadraplex EP has been remixed and edited into a new 13 minute epic that includes unreleased material, the keen-eared with recognised Stealth as the backing for the Xen Cuts remix of The Ageing Young Rebel although this is a different mix, and Boohoo is an early version of The Sky At Night. All tracks on the companion were recorded around the time of Kaleidoscope.

Kal Comp front + 4 discs Kal Comp front + disc 2Kal Comp disc

Amon Tobin – Out From Out Where repress

Amon OFOW
Just announced, Amon Tobin‘s 2002 classic, Out From Out Where, is being repressed in a new edition this September. Pressed on opaque gold vinyl with fully printed inner sleeve, a 60x30cm poster and phosphorescent varnished sleeve. I remade the artwork from the original near 20 year old files and I’m so pleased with this as it’s one of my personal favourite designs, not just for Amon but for any artist I’ve worked with.
Pre-order here:

Kaleidoscope reissue + Companion album

KAL Comp titleHeads up – New/old release/reissue package now up for pre-order – 4xLP – the original Kaleidoscope LP repressed on blue/white vinyl and the all new Kaleidoscope Companion featuring unreleased/alternate tracks ’97-2000 on orange/red vinyl in gatefold sleeve w. download, out mid July (and yes the label has them in hand, no 6 month wait)

Pre-order here : (support record shops if you can)
Norman Records. http://bitly.ws/dZwy
Bleep http://bitly.ws/dZwC
Resident http://bitly.ws/dZwJ
Sister Ray http://bitly.ws/dZH8
Phonica http://bitly.ws/dZHq
Ninja Tune http://bitly.ws/dZwN
Bandcamp http://bitly.ws/dZwR
Full Digital / streaming links: https://djfood.lnk.to/kaleidoscope

New Companion tracklist: The Crow features in two forms – Crow (Slow) and The Rook + Type 3The Quadraplex EP has been remixed and edited into a new 13 minute epic that includes unreleased material, the keen-eared with recognised Stealth as the backing for the Xen Cuts remix of The Ageing Young Rebel although this is a different mix, and Boohoo is an early version of The Sky At Night. All tracks on the companion were recorded around Kaleidoscope
1. The Ents Go To War
2. Prototype I & II
3. The Crow (Slow)
4. A Strange Walk
5. Hip Operation
6. Skylark
7. Zoom Zoom
8. Quadraplex (A Trip to the Galactic Centre)
9. See Saw
10. Stealth
11. The Rook + Type 3
12. Boohoo

Kal:Kal Comp outer + discs2Kal.Kal Comp inner highKal front + 4 discs2Kal Comp front + 4 discs2Kal front + discs 22 Kal label A KAl back + discsKal discKal inner + discs2Kal Comp label + titlesKal Comp front + disc 22 Kal Comp back + discsKal Comp disc

Openmindesign Instagram

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Thanks to Coldcut sharing my Openmindesign account on Instagram yesterday we just went over the 1000 followers mark, thanks guys. I’ve been saving this entry for just such a milestone.IMG_1009

I remember well, setting up the huge flight case that would become the toy box on the cover of this album in Matt Black’s Spacelab studio at Ninja Tune HQ in Clink St one sunny spring morning. Matt and Jon More had pulled out various items that they felt were part of the Coldcut story for inclusion and Hex’s Rob Pepperell had created a game box with graphics of the duo and added a copy of his book, ‘The Post-Human Condition’ too. I’d made a set of assembly instructions with the album title on it the night before as we’d decided on no obvious typography on the front cover.

IMG_1010Suzi Green was in charge of photography and we arranged the box a number of different ways as well as shooting the underside for the back of the sleeve. You can see all sorts of items in and around the box; badges, CDs of samples, previous records, a portable turntable, a flyer for Stealth, tapes of studio sessions, a toy Ninja and the Journeys By DJ mix tape. Hex – including a pre-Hexstatic Robin Brunson – computer generated the ‘toys’ of Matt and Jon and perfectly photoshopped them into the cover image afterwards.

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I used old children’s play blocks for the lettering on the labels and a 3D box typeface for the Let Us Play titles, also finding an image for each track. There really wasn’t an inch of space that wasn’t used on this, a crazy amount of information. I’d do it differently these days of course but I think it was what was needed given the smorgasbord of contents inside.

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There was so much info to go into this album, it was never going to be a minimal design. Suzi had taken various shots around the Ahead Of Our Time studio which featured around the edges of the inside sleeves and gatefold, then there was a freaky ‘chakra’ inner sleeve, lyrics, loads of collaborator credits and info. Then there was the CD with bonus enhanced disc of games and digital toys, the cassette, the video and multiple press ads, posters and more, it went on and on, one of the biggest album campaigns of the label’s history up until that point and quite rightly.

Then there was the remix album ‘Let Us Replay’ in early 1999… read and see more at www.instagram.com/openmindesign and give us a follow as there are daily postsIMG_1014

Ninja Tune x AIAIAI Headphones

ReleaseProduct-228764-134141

I saw these announced today and just had to share – Ninja Tune have teamed up with AIAIAI to produce a version of their modular TMA-2 headphones. Not only are these great headphones, I’ve used them myself at home for listening, but the difference with these is that some of the parts are made from recycled Ninja vinyl records! They’re not cheap but they are great quality, completely modular so you can change parts or replace one if it wears or breaks. More info and pre-order here BLEEP

ReleaseProduct-228764-134136ReleaseFormat-715867-134523ReleaseFormat-715867-134515 ReleaseProduct-228764-134142

Posted in Design, Ninja Tune. | No Comments | Tags: ,

Under The Covers 001: Sleevenote interview

Openmind selectionI did a very enjoyable interview with Tom Vek from Sleevenote about design for music past and present with an emphasis on my work for Ninja Tune and how things have changed in the digital age. It’s the first in what will be a series of interviews with designers and features an example of how the Sleevenote site is digitising LP artwork for the streaming generation to preserve the art of the sleeve in the age of the thumbnail.

Read the interview here and have a look at Sleevenote too, you can browse cover art and play tracks by clicking the interactive sleeves which are linked to Spotify and Apple Music, work on desktop or mobile.

Sleevenote page

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’

Bedroom Beats & B-Sides book

BBBfrontLooking forward to getting stuck into this history of instrumental, electronic hip hop (trip hop if you must) by Laurent Fintoni. Laurent interviewed me for it about 6-7 years ago so I’m glad for it to finally see the light via Velocity Press. Also featured from the Ninja stable are Coldcut, Roots Manuva and label manager, Peter Quicke.
Order here https://velocitypress.uk/product/bedroom-beats-book/

BBB back

Old Ninja line art

WEB ZEN copy
Searching through old discs for something else I ran across these line-based designs for what became the Ninjatune.net website identity in the 00’s. Old heads will immediately recognise the Ninja Tune forum layout and colours. For a few years, after the mass Warp forum exodus had settled, it became a buzzing hive of creativity and connections in the pre-Myspace and Facebook era of social media. I still have good friends that I made through the forum and much fun was had on it over the years. Sadly, like anything, times change, people come and go and the largely unmoderated board eventually became overrun with trolls and any new blood attempting to join was faced with a barrage of abuse or an inpenetrable wall of in-jokes that would test even the hardened fan.
Anyway – here’s some of the design work, made so that it would be quick and easy to see at different sizes and pixel ratios I seem to remember – at least that’s what I was told to do by the web designer at the time. It all looks a little blurred because it’s been upscaled from Index-colour pngs to RGB jpegs. The bottom image is a flyer for a forum party, something that occasionally happened, self-initiated by users who wanted to meet the faces behind the names.

Ninjatune.netNinja typeLine alphabetlined ninjatype_bigkneesup_flyer

Mixcloud Select 27: DJ Food – XEN Tour pt.2 10/2000

27 Xen Tour 1+2 CD 30 years ago this month, Ninja Tune came into being and 20 years ago the label made it into double figures.  I made a Ninja-centric set for the occasion and this was recorded across various dates of a UK tour to support the Xen Cuts compilation album. At some point I put it down in two parts and the first 30 minutes of part 1 was played on Solid Steel 09/10/200 but the rest of this mix went un-broadcast I think.27 Xen Tour 1+2 CD back

Part 2 continues the theme – warning – some very shonky mixes in parts here, never try mixing heavily swung half time jazz with regimental double time drum n bass. Also – lots of scratching near the end, I had edited in some scratch jam from a set with Ollie Teeba and DK that I’d completely forgotten about, it goes on a bit but has some nice moments (only some, indulge me).27 Xen Tour CD 2 inside

What’s nice about this is that you can hear the crowd at points and, in the current climate, that’s not something we’re going to hear much of any time soon. Also, this is all vinyl, Serato wasn’t even on the horizon at this point so all the jumps and wonky pushes and pulls you hear are me wrestling with the records in real time. No cue buttons to jump back to the start of a track, no ‘relative mode’ so that when the needle skips you don’t hear it, no loop function… I don’t miss it at all :)

Happy Birthday 30th birthday Ninja!

Track list:
Mr Scruff – Get A Move On
DJ Food – Mr Quicke Cuts The Cheese
DJ Food – Ninja Walk
DJ Vadim – The Pimp Theme 126
Funki Porcini – Rocket Soul
Dynamic Syncopation – Closer To The Line
The Illuminati of Hedfuk – The Worm Turns
Neptune – Soul Pride
Up, Bustle & Out – Los Locos Cubanos (Snowboy mix)
Cinematic Orchestra – Ode To The Big Sea (Four Tet remix)
Cinematic Orchestra – Channel One Suite
2 Player – Extreme Possibilities (Wagon Christ remix)
Amon Tobin – Like Regular Chickens (Dillinja remix)
DJ Food – Scratch Yer Hed (Squarepusher remix)
Jungle Brothers – Jungle Beats
Dynamic Syncopation – Internal Affairs
Amon Tobin – Creatures
DJ Vadim – Friction feat. Iriscience
– Scratch jam w. Ollie Teeba + DK
Styly Cee – Here Comes Son
The Bar-Kays – Holy Ghost
KMD – Peachfuzz (Instrumental)
The Upsetters – Popcorn
Red Snapper – Hot Flush (Sabres of Paradise remix)
The Radiophonic Workshop – Dr Who Theme

Mixcloud Select 26: DJ Food – XEN Tour Pt.1 10/2000

26 Xen Tour CD130 years ago this month, Ninja Tune came into being and 20 years ago the label made it into double figures. To celebrate there was a run of dates in London, starting on a Thursday night in three separate bars around Hoxton. Plastic People, The Strongroom Bar and The Pool bar played host to various DJ combos as a warm up for the weekend.
The newly opened 93 Feet East played host on Friday – so new there was still wet paint in places – with Amon Tobin, Hexstatic, Coldcut, Kid Koala & P-Love, Fink, Neotropic, Mixmaster Morris, Mr Scruff and myself with visuals by The Light Surgeons.

x gigs flyer back

The Scala saw a big funk and hip hop line up on the Saturday with The Herbaliser, DJ Vadim, Dynamic Syncopation, Kid Koala & P-Love, Luke Vibert & Blu Rum and a Big Dada Room with Roots Manuva, Mike Ladd, Gamma, Ty and New Flesh For Old.

Mercifully, Sunday saw a mellow come down at Ronnie Scott‘s as we all nursed out hangovers and witnessed intimate sets from DK, Clifford Gilberto, Chris Bowden and The Cinematic Orchestra.

26 Xen Tour CD inside

I made a Ninja-centric set for the occasion and this was recorded across various dates of a UK tour to support the Xen Cuts compilation album. At some point I put it down in two parts and you can hear that the Mr Scruff – Ug/DJ Vadim – The Terrorist mix we put on the first Solid Steel mix CD originates from here. The first 30 minutes of part 1 was played on Solid Steel 09/10/200 but the rest of this mix went un-broadcast I think.

Part 2 to follow next week. Happy Birthday 30th birthday Ninja!

Track list:
Steinski – The Xen To One Ratio
The Herbaliser – Mr Chombee Has The Flaw
The Cinematic Orchestra – Channel 1 Suite
Mr Scruff – Fish
Neotropic – 15 Levels
Dynamic Syncopation – Bahian B-Boy
Up, Bustle & Out – Revolutionary Woman of the Windmill
Cabbage Boy – Planet
Amon Tobin – Sordid
The Herbaliser – Mrs Chombee (DJ Food remix)
Funki Porcini – Let’s See What Carmen Can Do
Mr Scruff – Ug
DJ Vadim – The Terrorist (acapella)
DJ Food – Turtle Soup (Wagon Christ remix)
The Herbaliser feat. Latyrx – 8 Point Agenda (acappella)
DJ Shadow & The Grooverobbers – Hardcore Instrumental Hip Hop
Quantum – Blue Flames
DJ Shadow & The Grooverobbers – Hardcore Hip Hop
Latyrx – Say That
Amon Tobin – 4 Ton Mantis
Saul Williams – Elohim
Dynamic Syncopation feat. Mass Influence – 2 The Left
9 Lazy 9 – Electric Lazyland
Roots Manuva – Fever
DJ Food – Sexy Bits (Autechre remix)
Dynamic Syncopation feat. Mass Influence – Ground Zero (acappella)
Big Dada Allstars – Showtime
Dynamic Syncopation feat. Mass Influence – The Plan
DJ Food – Dark Lady
Luke Vibert – Get Your Head Down
DJ Food – Freedom (Fila Brazillia mix)
Animals On Wheels – Modular Existence
DJ Food – Consciousness (Ashley Beedle Unconscious Dub)
Up, Bustle & Out – Bicycles, Flutes & You

Kaleidoscope Companion mixes

KC cover pt.1

This week is a big one – two mixes but no Solid Steel archive show as I’ve been working on this very special selection and didn’t want to put this behind a paywall. Seeing as the DJ Food album, ‘Kaleidoscope’, turned 20 earlier this month, PC and I thought we’d raid our archives and put together a pair of companion mixes containing early or alternate mixes, versions and unreleased tracks that were made around that era which was roughly 1998-2000.

Patrick has made his own mix and it’s a bit of a revelation as most of the material is unreleased and even I’d not heard half of it. There’s another version of The Crow Dub, an earlier take on his collaboration with Jason Swinscoe which would become Neptune‘s ‘Soul Pride’ later. The original A Splash of Debussy and Monocle ideas and the genesis for what became ‘Cookin‘ in ‘The Power of Rawkus Soul‘. The real treat for me though is the previously unreleased ‘Ents Go To War‘ and ‘Zoom Zoom‘, both of which should never have been left in a drawer for two decades IMO. You can hear that below

Kaleidoscope Companion track list Pt.1 track list:

1) Ents Go To War (00:00 – 05:26)
2) The Crow Dub – The Rook (05:26 – 10:54)
3) See Saw (10:54 – 13:08)
4) Spa (13:08 – 16:04)
5) Night Time (Soul Pride) (16:04 – 19:13)
6) Thumb Piano (19:13 – 21:10
7) A Splash of Debussy (21:10 – 22:48)
8) Zoom Zoom (2:48 – 25:41)
9) Monocle (25:41 – 29:49)
10) Bernard Matthews (9:49 – 30:16)
11) The Power of Rawkus Soul (30:16 – 31:59)

My offering follows on with even more early versions and outtakes…

Full Bleed (Different Vibrations version)
Brixton Baby loop
Hip Operation 3
Sukia – Feelin’ Free remix 1 (big swingle)
god i’m hungry (sample)
The Quadraplex Suite
Stelf (long)
Nevermore (early version) intro
Introvert (early version of Nevermore)
Nevermore (early version) outro
The Ageing Young Rebel (early version w. diff middle/end)
Kenton
A Strange Walk (early version of Feelin’ Free remix 2)
Bad Trip (embryonic version of The Crow)
8 Track Mind (version 1)
Boo Hoo (The Sky At Night early version)
Crow’s End

Track notes:
These recordings are taken from cassettes, DAT tapes and CDRs so the quality and fidelity varies, there’s tape hiss, the odd drop out and distortion but that’s the way they came out. PC remastered a few bits and pieces and some tracks are edits / re-edits. Lots of these versions aren’t fully mixed down or mastered in anyway either but I like that rawness. It was fun revisiting these tapes again, hearing lost parts and versions that we’d completely forgotten about, in certain cases not even played to each other. There’s lots of material, more than you hear here, but you probably don’t need to hear them, believe me. This is the meat so to speak. The late, great John Peel evidently liked the album, playing Break, Cookin’ (twice), The Riff and The Ageing Young Rebel over the weeks preceding the album’s release, even asking us in for a session (see the debut Mixcloud Select upload) and I’ve included a few of his comments from broadcasts I only recently found online.

Full Bleed (Different Vibrations version)
• Probably the earliest version of the track that I compiled featuring Bundy K. Brown’s parts, I sent this to him for his opinion and I remember there was one specific melodic part that I’d pu in twice and he wanted just once near the end. You can hear the basics are in there, spoken word parts were different and it’s kind of rough and loose, especially at the end where I hadn’t finished the arrangement yet. I like the way it’s kind only just hanging in there and almost falling apart by the end (no quantize here). I realised that Bundy was varying the tempo of his drums between 84 and 86 bpm when I was putting it together as it was really messing with the click track, he said it was to give it a live-er feel. We both started from the same breakbeat and worked on that as a foundation, then I comped it up in my studio and Bundy came over to the UK when he was working on a High Llamas album and did some time on the arrangement before I finished it off.

Brixton Baby loop
• We loved Roy Ayres’ moody ‘We Live in Brooklyn Baby’ and PC wanted to do something in that vein. One of the first tracks we worked on had the working title ‘We Live In Brixton Baby’ as much of the album was recorded in Patrick’s flat on Josephine Avenue in Brixton. This was just a loop he made of the Roy Ayres rhythm that I found on a tape, the track we worked up had none of this funk.

Hip Operation 3
• This was an early track which had a long, protracted birth, various versions and ultimately didn’t make the final cut. It started out as a thing called ‘Swingle’ which was a chunk of big band and easy listening samples that ended up morphing in the first version of Sukia’s ‘Feelin’ Free’ remix we made. Like a lot of peers at this time we were discovering the early electronic period Herbie Hancock and wanted to use something from ‘Raindance’ on his excellent Mwandishi Band album, ‘Sextant’. We then loaded it up with a ton of spoken word including Ken Nordine and excepts from a Beastie Boys interview disc and had a breakdown that featured the sounds of Patrick playing squash. I love the strings at the end, we were still finding our feet on this, it’s pretty finished but we never really saw it as a contender for the album when the time came to compile the tracks.

Sukia – Feelin’ Free remix 1 (Big Swingle)
• This is the second half of the original, unreleased version, the breakdown and ending, otherwise we’d just be repeating ourselves a bit. There’s some very distorted low end bass on this, it’s not your speakers.

God i’m Hungry (sample)
• Just a silly sample I found, we decided on no skits on the album because, as PC observed, ‘no one listens to skits’.

The Quadraplex Suite:
• The tracks that made up The Quadraplex EP were always intended to go on the album but, by the time we’d finished them, we realised they really took up a huge chunk of the record. It’s was meant as a trilogy – Hour Glass, Looking Glass and Shattered Glass – made from the sampled sounds of glass and put with a gamelan-type rhythm that changed over time. When we decided it should be a standalone EP we edited together a 4th part – Monocle – from the myriad of versions we’d made (hear even more on PC’s companion mix). It’s still one of my favourite things we ever did so please indulge me on this long middle section of the mix. The resulting section here is threaded together from excerpts from five different versions:

Looking Glass (nearly finished /slower dub) – this is a good 4 bpm slower than the other versions, not sure why, might be the tape it came off running slower or we may have pitched/speed the whole thing up, I can’t remember.
Hour Glass / Shattered Glass (early version) – very minimal early arrangement try out.
Hour Glass / Looking Glass (live drums version) – Patrick was always messing with different percussion effects with this
Looking Glass (early version 1 & 2) – some great EQ/dub FX on this one, watch your headphones/speakers! Parts of this was edited into ‘Monocle’ on The Quadraplex EP.

Stelf (long)
There are several versions of this – a PC composition – and a shorter take of it was so very nearly track 2 on the album but was dropped by us at quite a late stage. I love it but the Taxi Driver ‘morbid self attention’ spoken word sample could have been problematic and in the end we added Ken Nordine’s vocal to it and it became the ‘Gentle Cruelty’ remix of ‘The Ageing Young Rebel’ for the Xen Cuts compilation later that year.

Nevermore (early version intro)
• A really basic collection of samples which were reworked into ‘Nevermore’ later, laid over the end of ‘Stelf’, not really a track.

Introvert (early version of Nevermore)
‘Nevermore‘ started out as a track called ‘Introvert’, in fact, I had so many samples and parts for this track that I ended up splitting them into two tracks (Nocturne and Nevermore). ‘Introvert’ is sort of what was left over and never went any further than this. You can hear the end percussion is all loose and unfinished.

Nevermore (early version outro)
• Strings from the arrangement of ‘Nevermore’ before it was really knocked into shape.

The Ageing Young Rebel (early version w diff middle/end)
• An early arrangement of the backing track where we had the coda as the middle eight/breakdown and then went back into the chorus after an odd little ‘drum solo’. I’d totally forgotten about this and it doesn’t really work which is why we ditched it.

Kenton
• A short little track PC made from a sample at the end of ‘The Ageing Young Rebel’ – this nearly made it on the album too and there’s also a version with some spoken word stuff over the top. I later reworked this (twice) into ‘Theme From Stolen Moments’ on the EPs that preceded ‘The Search Engine’ album. Its title is a clue to the sample source.

A Strange Walk
• A
track that eventually became the second version of our remix of Sukia’s ‘Feelin’ Free’ – unreleased by the band as they broke up but later included on the Xen Cuts comp bonus disc under the sub heading ‘Elephants doing the Washing Up’.

Bad Trip (embryonic version of The Crow)
• I’m sure everyone will recognise what this turned into…

8 Track Mind (version 1)
• A spoken word experiment based on brains and mind samples that I got carried away with and that ultimately didn’t work very well. I was obsessed with John Abercrombie’s track, ‘Timeless’ and wanted to make something out of it so badly. It was a huge sample so I remade the track under the spoken word completely for a second version which I now can’t find. You can hear the same ‘ooweeooweyeah’ sample that’s in ‘Hip Operation’ in here too.

Boo Hoo (The Sky At Night early version)
• Here’s a fascinating early version of ‘The Sky At Night’, before the ’crystal pools’ vocal was added and with a different melodic structure.

Crow’s End
• A slightly extended finish to PC’s epic to wrap things up.

If you’ve enjoyed this meander down memory lane I’ve set up a Mixcloud Select channel where, for £2.99 a month, I’ll be uploading vintage Solid Steel mixes from my archive – access that here https://www.mixcloud.com/strictlykev/

Also check out PC’s Minestrone of Sound MIxcloud and Soundcloud channels where he’s been quietly posting all sorts of unreleased audio treats for years.

While we’re on the topic, I’ve asked Ninja Tune to add some releases to the DJ Food Bandcamp page which has been sitting there for ages with not much content. Maybe some of the material from this post will find its way up there as an official release at some point too?

DJ Food Bandcamp

KC cover pt.3

And there’s more… PC found even more material and has done a short Pt.3!

Kaleidoscope turns 20

kaleidoscope-main

It seems today is the 20th anniversary of ‘Kaleidoscope’, the album PC and I made in 2000 for Ninja Tune. I thought it was more like mid April but a quick look on Discogs shows a promo CD I designed with April 3rd on it so there it is.

We’re still immensely proud of this record and the collaborations with Bundy K. Brown and the late Ken Nordine (RIP) it contains. It also features one of the songs most asked about in the DJ Food discography, ’The Crow’. I’ve lost count of the times this has been used to soundtrack scenes in independent films and it was once adapted for a school orchestra.

PC and I have been digging through our archives for recordings we made around this album – including The Quadraplex EP which was supposed to be a part of it originally but was saved for later. We’re currently compiling selections from them for an anniversary mix that will feature outtakes, alternate versions and other curios from the time.

These will go online later this month via Mixcloud, stay tuned… Meanwhile – the album is available here:

https://ninjatune.net/release/dj-food/kaleidoscope

https://djfood.bandcamp.com/

https://music.apple.com/gb/album/kaleidoscope/416333639

https://open.spotify.com/album/6NZdnBIelaaa2jVnrZL5jV

The making of the new Lapalux album cover

Lapalux_Amnioverse_Packshot
Lapalux released his new album, ‘Amnioverse’, last week on Brainfeeder and the cover and packaging is superb. As soon as I saw it I was trying to work out how photographer Dan Medhurst and set builder Owen Gildersleeve did it and now you can find out. Over on the Eye On Design website they have a feature on how it was done with process shots – go here to check it out

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 23.08.14Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 23.08.26
There’s some lovely, sympathetic packaging to go with it (inc. a 28 page booklet not shown) and you can buy the record here.

BF086_LAPALUX_MOCKUP

Funki Porcini Fast Asleep poster reprint

funki cover 3#throwbackthursday
Back in 2002 I designed the cover for Funki Porcini’s ‘Fast Asleep‘ album (with additional photography by Martin LeSanto-Smith). Ninja Tune then blew the image up to 1m square fly posters to advertise it. You can see one in the living room above the decks in Shaun of the Dead and one hung behind the counter in my local, Rat Records in Camberwell, for years.

SOTD FP poster

Now, Funki’s made a limited edition reproduction of that poster (on better paper too) available from his Bandcamp. While you’re there check out his back catalogue including brand new album, ‘Studio 59’.

The return of the Ninja Tune slipmat

2x-ninja-tune-slipmats-main
The slipmat has long been a part of Ninja Tune‘s merch lines, alongside the T-shirt, record bag and Ninja Skinz. The last one I designed for them was back in 2007 for mine and DK‘s ‘Now, Listen Again’ Solid Steel comp. At the time sales of vinyl were seriously in freefall, Serato and Tractor were taking over and people were looking at digital as the way forward, slipmats weren’t exactly flying out the door.
By the end of the decade I don’t think the label even considered making any for their 20th anniversary, they just weren’t on the radar anymore. But things have a habit of coming back again and, nearly a decade on, here’s a new twist on an old design – available now from the Ninjashop.

2x-ninja-tune-slipmats-2

Updated Openmindesign site

Openmindesignscreen
I’ve been spending a bit of time updating my Openmindesign portfolio website this week as well as making art for the new daily ‘Kosmischer Debris’ series on Instagram, hence the minimal activity on here. The portfolio is now way easier to get around, I’ve taken a lot out and stripped it back to the bare essentials, although there’s still 20+ years of work on there.

There’s a new format series that I’ve been meaning to start on here but I’ve been too busy to implement it and also, The Vinyl Factory made a return visit this week for a second round of the ‘Freaky Formats’ series which should be up shortly. I’m editing a huge 28,000 word interview I did with Mr Scruff for Dust & Grooves and have finished a 45s mix for the 45/7 Vinyl Club which will debut in March. There’s more but I don’t want to shout about it right now…

Highlights of 2015

2015 Albums
They say that creativity flourishes under oppression and bleak times and it’s been a great year for music so there must be a grain of truth there. In an effort to glean something positive to remember 2015 by in light of all the injustice and hate out there in the world, here are some of my favourite things, in no order whatsoever.

There were several amazing music releases that went far beyond the normal album format – the main one being Aphex Twin‘s incredible Soundcloud dump of archive tracks which continue to drip out and now number over 200 tracks even if he has taken a lot of them down now. If there’s a ‘release’ of the year then that wins hands down although I’m still trying to process it all and tried to compile a selection of the cream in this mix for Solid Steel but bear in mind that that was when he’d only released half of it so by it’s no means definitive.
The other mega-release that deserves special mention is Rammellzee‘s ‘Cosmic Flush’ magnum opus that’s still in the process of materializing in a physical format. Released across seven 12″s with one track + remix + instrumentals + art print each, to be collected in a limited box with booklet around Spring 2016, it’s taken a huge effort by the Gamma Proforma label to bring to fruition seven years after the record’s completion and five years after Rammellzee’s death. It’s been a vintage year for independent Hip Hop too with great albums by Divine Styler, Ollie Teeba, Memory Man and The Fabreeze Brothers.
It’s nice to see the Leaf label celebrating 20 years of existence and still as vital as ever with Melt Yourself Down, Polar Bear, Radioland and new signing The Comet Is Coming all releasing excellent records this year. One last mention must go to the album at the top of the list below that crept out under everyone’s noses on Record Store Day and has slowly been gathering attention through word of mouth in the last eight months. So much so that it won the Dead Albatross Music Prize – an alternative to the Mercury award set up by independent Norman Records to nominate records that would otherwise be passed over at such things. If you only listen to one album from the list below, make it the Annabel (lee) one.

Albums:
Annabel (lee) – By The Sea & Other Solitary Places (If Music/Ninja Tune)
Rammellzee – Cosmic Flush (Gamma Proforma)
Divine Styler – Def Mask (Gamma Proforma) (technically 2014)
Memory Man – Broadcast One (Chopped Herring)
Eagles of Death Metal – Zipper Down
Jane Weaver – The Amber Light (Bird)
Cavern Of Anti-Matter – Blood Music (Grautag Records) (technically 2013)
The The – Hyena (Death Waltz)
The Fabreeze Brothers – S/T (AE Productions)
Markey Funk – Instinct (Audio Montage) (released fully in Jan 2016)
Aphex Twin – Soundcloud Archive dump
Amon Tobin – Dark Jovian EP (Ninja Tune)
Radioland – Radio-Activity Revisited (Leaf)
Ollie Teeba – Short Order (World Expo)
Kurt Stenzel – Jodorowsky’s Dune (Light In The Attic)
Various Artists – The Delaware Road (Buried Treasure)
Floating Points – Elaenia (Pluto)
Morgan Delt – S/T (Trouble In Mind) (technically 2014)
Gaz Coombes – Matador (Universal)
Black Devil – Disco Club (Lo Recordings)
Bruce Ditmas – Yellow Dust (Finders Keepers)
Rodinia – Drumside / Dreamside (Now Again)
Various Artists – In A Moment (Ghost Box)
Jaga Jazzist – Starfire (Ninja Tune)

Tracks:
a few of these are from a few years ago but new to me…
Noel Gallagher – The Right Stuff (Sour Mash)
Graeme Miller & Steve Shill – Moomins Theme (Finders Keepers)
The The – Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven But Nobody Wants To Die) (Cineola)
The Comet Is Coming – Neon Baby (Leaf)
Reso – Richochet (Hospital)
Black Channels – Oracles (Death Waltz Originals)
Paul Rutherford – Get Real (Hardcore) (1989)
Beck – Dreams (Capitol)
Band of Skulls – Hootchie Cootchie (Ignition Records) (2014)
Pond – Zond (EMI)
Ash Grunwald – Walking (2011 but via the Amorphous Androgynous ‘Wizards of Oz’ 2015 RSD comp)
Olivier Libaux – No One Knows (feat. Inara George) (2013)
Alan Copeland – Mission Impossible/Norwegian Wood (ABC) (1968!)

Packaging 2015

Design / packaging / covers:
so many incredibly high quality creations, a oglden age for record sleeve packaging and design…
Science Fiction Dancehall Classics compilation (Trevor Jackson) (On-U Sound)
The The – Hyena (Cineola / Death Waltz/Mondo)
Kurt Stenzel – Jodorowsky’s Dune (Signal Starr) (Light In The Attic)
Jaga Jazzist – Starfire (Ninja Tune)
Tame Impala – Currents (Robert Beatty)
The ‘Beat Bop’ record case (Jean-Michel Basquiat)
Grasscut – Everyone Was A Bird (Lo Recordings)

Artists2015

Artists:
Dan Lish
Kim Jung Gi
Signal Starr
Oddly Head
Ameet Hindocha
Reuben Sutherland
Stan & Vince
Jonathan Edwards
Laurie Lipton
Larry Carlson

Books2015

Books / Comics:
Augustine Kofie – Keep Drafting (ZERO+ Publishing)
Stephen Coates – X-Ray Audio (Strange Attractor Press)
Roger Perry – The Writing On The Wall (Plain Crisp Books Ltd)
Hanson, Godtland & Krassner – Psychedelic Sex (Taschen)
Island – Various (Image)
Sandman: Overture – Gaiman/Williams (Vertigo)
Ody-C – Fraction/Ward (Image)
8-House – Various (Image)
B.P.R.D: Hell On Earth – Various (Dark Horse)
Punks: The Comic – Fialkov/Chamberlain (Image)
Judge Dredd: Enceladus – New Life – Williams / Flint (2000AD)

Format expo

Exhibitions:
Peter Kennard at the Imperial War Museum
Charles & Ray Eames at the Barbican
Cosmonauts at the Science Museum
X-Ray Audio at the Horse Hospital
Trevor Jackson / Format at the Vinyl Factory space
Zulu Nation 42nd Anniversary at House of Vans

mad-max-fury-road-poster

Film / TV: (I really didn’t watch much this year)
Mad Max: Fury Road
Star Wars : The Force Awakens
Love & Mercy
Dune The Complete Saga (Fan edit)
‘Colossus: The Forbin Project’
Rick & Morty

Secret Cinema X-Wing

Moments:
The X-Wing Fighter flying overhead during Star Wars Secret Cinema
The Frankie Goes To Hollywood box set getting nominated for an AIM award for best box set design
Interviewing Edwin Pouncey aka Savage Pencil for a forthcoming book
Getting to wear a full Stormtrooper suit whilst DJing during Star Wars Secret Cinema
DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist – Renegades of Rhythm show at Koko
Writing a piece and creating a mix about Rammellzee for the Quietus
The moving sale finds at Lambiek in Amsterdam
Crazy scenes at the Southbank for the Big Fish Little Fish free Sunday session

BFLF Southbank

Heroes:
Ben Coghill (again) for being the best agent in the business
The NHS – for saving my mum’s life and generally being incredible
Joshu Docherty – for recommending me for Star Wars Secret Cinema
Jeremy Corbyn – for giving hope that there can be an alternative
Sarah Coleman & Leigh Adams – for releasing their first film, making unique and
interesting things and generally being great people
Pete Williams – for getting the keys to the basement
Shindig! magazine – for overcoming the odds and turning a bad situation to their advantage
Pete Isaac & Scott Boca 45 for getting the whole 45 Live crew together and building an international collective
Everyone who gave their time and dug through their collections to contribute to the weekly Flexibition posts on the site: Jonny Trunk, Pete Isaac, Jon Brooks, Markey Funk & Ofer Tal, Stephen Coates, Jon More, John Stapleton, Steve Cook, Anton Armtone, Sarah & Leigh, Spencer Hickman.

RIP:
Mike Allen (Legendary Hip Hop DJ), Lemmy, Demis Roussos, The Pizz, Don Joyce (Negativland), Shusei Nagaoka, Kája Saudek, Errol Brown (Hot Chocolate), Daevid Allen (Gong), Leonard Nimoy, Brett Ewins, Noriyoshi Ohrai, Rod McKuen, Edgar Froese (Tangerine Dream), Mark B.

Looking forward to:
Transmission shop opening in Margate
David Bowie – Black Star LP
Mute 40 book
The Black Channels LP
The Allergies – Rock Rock feat. Andy Cat (Ugly Duckling)
Prophet: Earth War