Steven Rutter – Close Your Eyes And Breathe

Steve Rutter 12 front + shadowIt’s a busy day for releases I’ve been involved with today, Blood by The Real Tuesday Weld is officially released today with artwork by myself, the Celestial Mechanic I co-wrote with Saron Hughes album went up for pre-order this morning (see other post) and now Steven Rutter‘s (B12) solo release on De:tuned is available to pre-order.
It’s a really excellent 3 track EP and I designed the release with a die cut cover that reveals the inner sleeve and inside printed cover – available in black and ‘safari’ vinyl versions.

Steve Rutter 12 front + shadow + inner safariSR v5 mock up 3 Safari SR v5 mock up 1SR v5 mock up 2SR v5 mock up 3 Steven Rutter 12 back
Listen and pre-order now (full links are on the Soundcloud page) – out Friday, 25 June 2021.

The Real Tuesday Weld ‘Blood’ and ‘Tape Dust Memories’ albums

Blood front cover red vThis has been a long time coming but… ‘There will be Blood!’. More specifically The Real Tuesday Weld‘s ‘Blood’, the first in a trilogy of albums under the umbrella of ‘Swan Songs’, the final bow of Stephen Coates‘ 20 year+ recording career under this name. ‘Blood’ is the first, to be followed by ‘Dreams’ and ‘Bone’ over the next 18 months and each will be supplemented by cassette versions with completely different tracks in sympathetic packaging to each main title.Blood back cover poster DLBlood red contents

The whole design concept was started over a year ago, pre-lockdown, but stalled like everything for months mid year until we picked it back up in the summer, reworked the concepts and mapped out the whole set. With the benefit of hindsight it was worth the rest and the design is better for it as we went through various stages and ideas, coming back to it with fresh eyes. There’s a small books-worth of unused elements and ideas that never made it for this series, a huge folder of work that was slowly honed into shape over months as the artwork formed.
Blood red contents back Blood splatter contents Blood splatter v light TRTW

The ‘Blood’ vinyl comes in red or red & black splatter vinyl versions, has an inner sleeve with a short story (a feature of all the albums), die-cut back and inner covers and download card. Depending on how you insert the record / inner sleeve or poster you can have different back covers.

Blood back poster Blood back Stephen Blood back Blood

If you pre-order direct from the Real Tuesday Weld Bandcamp page you get an exclusive target print and beermat with the 10 track album plus there you can also find a bundle with the 11 track cassette companion, ‘Tape Dust Memories’ which is housed in a blood bag with medical-style lyric sheet and download card. This is a completely different album of extra tracks from the same sessions and possibly not available anywhere else. I’m extremely pleased with how these have both turned out and we’re forging ahead with the follow up, ‘Dreams’ for the end of 2021.
TDM blood bag TDM Blood bag 2TDM tape ATDM contentsTDM contents 2

For those wanting a CD version, there may be something at the end of the trilogy that collects them all, we’ll see…

Blood red v stamp

The New Obsolescents badges

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I’ve just made some badges to go with The New Obsolescents album I made with Robin The Fog and Chris Weaver aka Howlround. These aren’t being sold, they’re just giveaways so if you see us please ask for one. There will be a very nice enamel badge on sale when the repress of the album arrives in a month or two though – both available through the Castles In Space Bandcamp no doubt although I’m hoping some of the albums get into shops this time round.
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The New Obsolescents LP repress

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It was a surprise to see The New Obsolescents‘ album sell out in 25 minutes a few weeks back when it went up for pre-order and it’s been even more heartening to see people posting photos online once they received them. Inevitably though there’s a small downside in the people who missed out and the buyers who immediately put copies on Discogs for anywhere between £130 to £300. You can’t stop people doing this but Castles In Space are very good at tracking who these buyers are and striking them from any future sales from the label.
The good news for those who missed out is that a repress is on the way although it won’t be a foil version like the first run because those stocks are now depleted. It’s taken a while to source something that could measure up to the Dufex covers and I’ve gone a different route. The good news is that the new sleeve will be back and front rather than just a panel that I have to stick by hand on 300 copies! Prints tests were done in the last week from various samples and now stocks are being readied, vinyl pressed (in a different colourway too) and the 2nd edition will be with us as soon as the pressing plant can press it up. There may also be a number of badges to accompany it too. Here I’ve collected the various photos posted online and at the bottom is a sneak peek of the repress tests results.

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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

Resonance FM fundraiser 2021

TNO StarburstIt’s that time of year again for the Resonance FM fundraiser, this independent radio station relies on donations to keep the lights on and having just had to relocate after what seems like years of waiting, they need it more than ever. They’re not doing the usual eBay auctions this year so Robin the Fog has taken it upon himself to put three special records up there with a little help from the Castles in Space label.
I’d like to bring your attention to a ‘Starburst’ edition of our The New Obsolescents LP, officially released today but totally sold out, this one was held back for just this occasion. Bid on this here

If you want to hear what it sounds like and maybe buy a digital copy then head to Bandcamp

HWLRD cover

Also a secret 31st edition of Robin’s last Bandcamp Friday Howlround lathe cut 7″ EP ‘Rec & Ruin’ – again, made specially. Go here to bid
HWLRND labelHWLRND back

Also available is a full package of CiS goodies in the form of Field Lines Cartographer‘s recent ‘Leaving In Storms’ 7″ test pressing with all the trimmings. Bids away!  All proceeds go towards Resonance FM

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And if you have these already or they’re just not your bag but you want to help the station out then you can donate here  https://resonancefm.com/donate

 

The New Obsolescents LP cover process 2 – Cover assembly

TNO Printed stack

For the first part of this process and a little back story, see Part 1

TNO selection

Once Jonas Ranson at paperHAUS had screen printed each panel during the summer of 2020 it was down to me to assemble them. Each sheet was 18″ x 18″, sadly not large enough to fold round into a full LP sleeve, so each panel had to be trimmed to a 12” x 12” size and painstakingly glued to each already printed sleeve – 300 of them.

TNO cutting

I’d specified that the designs be printed dead centre of each pattern to take advantage of the symmetrical nature of the cover graphic so there were lots of offcuts (which will be used somehow on future projects).

TNO offcuts

This was all done sometime during the Autumn of 2020 in my studio while we waited for the vinyl to come back from the pressing plant. The original plan had been for Colin at Castles in Space and I to then rent a bigger space for a day and glue the foil panels to each sleeve but I quickly realised that this just wasn’t going to be possible in such a short time. The next lockdown put a stop to any thoughts of that anyway.

Eventually the vinyl turned up and Colin arrived one evening with 17 boxes of covers in the back of his car and, in a socially distanced handover, I hauled them up to my studio.

TNO plain

Just after the Xmas period, during the 3rd lockdown, I began the extremely long task of gluing a panel to each sleeve, padding every cover out with a card square then laying them between newsprint sheets to avoid anything sticking while drying. The glue would start to curl the card within about a minute as it dried and started to contract so it was imperative to press them flat under weights.

TNO sticking beginsTNO sticking 2

I could average two boxes of 17 a day in two shifts by the end; one box first thing in the morning then leave to dry. Once stuck they were inspected for marks, sleeved in PVC outers and then boxed. Clean the area, do another box before bed and leave to dry in a stack overnight. By the end I could do one box in under 50 minutes, below is the last box on the 8th or 9th day.

TNO Last boxTNO Boxes done

As a nod to the site of the original performance recordings at the Museum of London, with moon rock bean bags and a space travel theme, we decided on a silver and black hybrid moon surface effect for the vinyl. The whole process of making the sleeves probably took longer than the whole album but I couldn’t be happier with the results, I doubt it’ll see a repress in this state as I’m told the foil stocks are virtually gone now but it was worth it.

TNO Hyperspace
Hyperspace

TNO Spiral
Spiral

TNO Starburst
Starburst

TNO Cross
Cross

TNO Curls
Swirls

TNO Back

The New Obsolescents LP cover process 1 – Screenprinting

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Seeing as The New Obsolescents album is up for pre order today I thought I’d break down how we made the cover as it was quite an involved job using obsolete materials and analogue processes without the aid of automation. Part of the concept behind the group name is referencing the use of largely obsolete practices and equipment and I thought I’d carry this on with the artwork. This post is about the printing and there’s another about the assembly here.
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I met Jonas Ranson a couple of years back when I got him to print a poster for the De:tuned 10th anniversary exclusive via Bleep (I think they even have some left). It was a complex 6 colour job and I was impressed with how diligently he worked to get it as good as possible using tests to determine the best results and revising screens with me after we both agree the first tests didn’t look right. So the sleeves for The New Obsolescents LP cover required a similar touch as this was printing onto delicate foil covered card that marked if you ran a fingernail across it.

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To rewind slightly, since discovering the Philips 21st Century Prospective series of French musique concrete LPs on tour in Europe the 90s I’d been fantasizing about one day making a record with a Héliophore patterned silver foil cover. The patterns etched in the covers are achieved by minute differences in the angles of the foil coating which then reflect the light and appear to animate when moved. These legendary and increasingly expensive LPs contain critical works from an international array of leading artists in the tape and electro acoustic field, spearheaded by Pierre Henry who also released many of his own works on the label.

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Tracking down the company who made the original Philips covers in France led to a dead end many years ago as they had long ceased to exist so I gave up hope. Unknown to me a British company had managed to replicate the process under the name Dufex in the UK. Sadly they’d also wound up business in 2019 but via a chance encounter on a separate project I managed to find the final stocks of card from the business at a lighting company so I filed that away for future use.

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Once The New Obsolescents’ album was in the bag we started to think about artwork and I knew that this collision of tape loops and turntablism was the perfect record to sleeve in foil as a homage to the Philips series. Those familiar with the originals would immediately make the visual connection and it would set the tone for the sounds contained inside as the group name would be unfamiliar to most. When we sent the album out to record labels it included a mock up of the cover art with foil and that was part of the package we wanted to produce. Colin Morrison at Castles in Space was fully on board with the sleeve idea from the beginning and it’s a testament to his belief in the project that he was prepared to trust me with the whole process despite the considerable extra costs.

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Ordering 300 sheets in five different designs, I gave them to Jonas at paperHAUS who carefully but expertly screen printed each panel with the cover design, making sure not to scratch the extremely delicate foil. I specified that the designs be printed dead centre to take advantage of the symmetrical nature of the cover graphic and asked Jonas to document the process as I wasn’t allowed in the studio due to lockdown restrictions at the time. Many thanks to Jonas, these are his beautiful photos of the job and you can contact him and see his work at www.jonasranson.com/paperhouse

 

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All photos © Jonas Ranson 2020

The Real Tuesday Weld Xmas card 2020

3 CD template back 2020 webI designed this year’s The Real Tuesday Weld Xmas card for the very patient Stephen Coates :) – very limited 3″ CD in fold out sleeve – link to buy here. I’ve also been hard at work on a trilogy of album sleeves for him this year, the first of which – ‘Blood’ – is at the pressing plant now and should see the light early next year to be followed by ‘Dreams’ and ‘Bone’ later.

De:tuned DE:10 series repress full series

DE10x10

The final four coloured vinyl represses from the De:tuned DE:10 series were released yesterday including a clear vinyl DE:10, still with the silver foil blocked sleeve. There is one more piece in the puzzle for this series that should make an appearance in the next two weeks…

Here’s some handy order links if you’re looking to pick up the last batch
Bleep: bit.ly/3dQ23RF
Juno: bit.ly/2Zb4iLd
Red Eye: bit.ly/2yaq4nb
Norman: bit.ly/3h9gQI9
Deejay: bit.ly/3dQwPty
Decks: bit.ly/35nZ5mz
Horizons: bit.ly/2WCfMWr
Intense: bit.ly/322VM1H

Into 2021 there’s much more great music to come from this label and I’ve designed two fantastic releases that are currently in production with another to start on before the year’s end. The two in the can are dream come true projects and I’m extremely happy with the results.
If you’re not familiar with the De:tuned label then the DE:10 releases are an excellent place to start. Some of their contents are in this special promo mix I made for them earlier this year.

In the mean time, look at these beauties…

DE01

DE02

DE03

DE04

DE05

DE06

DE07

DE08

DE09

DE10

Penninsula – Constellation/Constelaciones LP zoetrope label


A quick rough and ready demo video of the zoetrope label I made for the Mexican/Canadian band, Penninsula earlier this year for their new album ‘Constellations/Constelaciones’.
Available now to order – remember 100% of Bandcamp sales goes to the artist today!

Pennisula LP labelPenninsula LP

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

BT Sport Champions League zoetrope commission


I was commissioned by BT Sport to make a zoetrope for use in a video for the Champions League football final on August 23rd. The video is for a new song from Doves‘ forthcoming album and the zoetrope would be intercut with footage of them performing in front of an old carousel with footage from clips on the discs zooming into full frame. I worked closely with Creative Lead Andrew Maddox to pull together clips and make sure the discs best represented what they needed (I know absolutely nothing about football!).


During the August heatwave weekend I literally sweated over a hot computer and emerged Monday morning with not one but four zoetropes from the footage they’d given me. These were then refined over the next two days and then printed 12″ size before being stuck down to vinyl discs and filmed on a turntable with digital versions animated in After Effects. Sadly they didn’t make the final cut in the end. Gutting, but here they are for you anyway.

I think I’m cursed with zoetropes this year. Despite being asked to do more than ever, the lot I did back in January for an unnamed artist went unused after he wouldn’t pay me. A second (very exciting) one should be happening but stalled when lockdown hit, a third design for Pendulum was passed over as they decided to go with their original design and now this. Two that I did for the group Peninsula‘s album got stalled by the Covid shutdown but are now happening thankfully.


BT Sport did a great job on the final video though

Here are the discs before they spin and animate

BT Zoetrope 4 for print BT Zoetrope 2 for print BT Zoetrope 3 for print BT Zoetrope 1 for print

 

Mid year summary

In-Sect collage 3 I’m very aware that this blog seems to mostly be mixes at the moment so I thought I’d update people with what else has been happening these past few months. Since lockdown and the loss of all gigs I’ve been super busy, firstly trying to adjust as we all have to this new weird order, and working on lots of projects.

I started a Mixcloud Select channel 13 weeks ago (as you can’t fail to have noticed if you read this blog) – weekly uploads from my tape archive for the price of a cuppa a month.

I also started a digital-only label on Bandcamp, Infinite Illectrik, for my turntable experiments and other non-DJ Food projects. I’ve been working on several collage pieces (examples seen here) which will eventually result in a comic to be included with another project I’ll be recording for the label, The In-Sect, no release date for that yet, probably next year.

In-Sect collage 4

An old collaboration with Howlround has been resurrected and completed under the name The New Obsolescents, I’m listening to the masters of the album as I type and preparing the handmade covers over the next few weeks, it will be different and the sleeve will be very special indeed. More info very soon…

PC and I compiled three Kaleidoscope companion mixes to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the album we made in 2000. We’re currently assembling a proposed release for it, i’ll let you know what becomes of that.

I’m currently in the middle of composing a soundtrack to a book that’s being published this summer, again collaborating with a few different people, that should be getting a CD and digital release this year too.

In-Sect collage 1

Graphic work largely ground to a halt during lockdown including a trilogy of albums for The Real Tuesday Weld and a zoetrope project for another artist. That work is slowly picking back up it seems and I hope to finish these as well as starting another zoetrope job for a huge act next week.

In-Sect collage 2

I then have a mix for 45 Live to do, a live stream audio visual mix of my Kraftwerk Kover Kollection airs on July 18th and there’s another very special mix which I’ve yet to record that will be getting a physical release at some point too but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

De:tuned DE:10 Interview and mix for WAV radio

DE10 Ltd Col Vinyl web

I’ve got an exclusive mix of the De:tuned label’s 10 year anniversary tracks airing on Belgian station WAV (We Are Various) tonight between 8pm-9pm (CET – 7pm in the UK) plus here’s an interview about the mix & designing for the label. It should be on Soundcloud after so I’ll add it in once it’s premiered. UPDATE and here it is…

Four Tet in Sixteen Locked Grooves by Quadraphonic Stylus Ensemble

Using the Quadraphon turntable, a customised deck with three additional arms, I remixed side D of Four Tet‘s ‘Sixteen Oceans’ album which contains only locked grooves. These grooves play one revolution infinitely, looping the sound, and played in multiple combinations with added FX you can create endless remixes. I call them ‘Phonomontages’ – two are released today via my label, Infinite Illectrik https://infiniteillectrik.bandcamp.com/

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De:tuned DE:10 series repressing on coloured vinyl

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The final (I’m assured) part of the 10 Years of De:tuned release programme – after the initial ten 12″s, the special silver vinyl #10, the poster, the tote bags and the super-limited wooden slipcases for Touched Music – a repress of the entire series on coloured vinyl. Some of the originals sold out super fast and are now going for much more than anticipated so a final edition in a corresponding colour has been arranged.

Listen to the series here: https://soundcloud.com/detunedrecords/sets/10-years-de-tuned-l-de-10-01

Pre-order here:
Bleep: bit.ly/3dQ23RF
Juno: bit.ly/2Zb4iLd
Red Eye: bit.ly/2yaq4nb
Deejay: bit.ly/3dQwPty
Horizons: bit.ly/2WCfMWr

I’ve also done a special promo mix of a selection of tracks from across the series which can be heard here

Detuned vs Touched Music wooden slipcase

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One of the ultra-limited wooden slipcases I helped design for the De:tuned vs Touched Music World Cancer Day sale earlier this year sold this week for a whopping £450! All proceeds go to the Macmillan Cancer Trust so thanks whoever bought it. The box was one of only 15 handmade editions, this one was one of five in walnut wood, assembled and engraved by Nathandavid.design. I’m very pleased to have been involved in this project which has gone far and beyond what any of us thought it would when we started discussing it over two years ago. Stay (de)tuned for the final part of the sage next week…

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