How To Program Your 808 posters by Rob Ricketts

These are available from Bleep – step by step visual guides on how to program classic beats on the Roland 808 drum machine by Rob Ricketts. A3 prints at a reasonable £12 each (although the website confusingly says A2 in some places). The grooves of Electro classics like ‘Planet Rock’, ‘Needle To The Groove’, ‘Clear’ and ‘Al-Naafiysh (The Soul)’ are all within your grasp with these beauties.

There’s also a particularly tasteful A2 version of ‘Planet Rock’ in black and gold available on Rob’s site too for £40.

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Doug Shipton mix and Hocus Focus night

There’s a new mix available by Doug Shipton from the Finder’s Keepers collective that was recorded for the Cinefamily gig in LA recently (or it may be a recreation of his set). It’s a half hour mix of spacey New Age electronics, the new love of the digging set it seems. Great poster here too, featuring Suzanne Ciani with a head full of wires, presumably by the man Votel, he really should do a book of his work some day.
And here’s another for an event coming up, a Hocus Focus night featuring Andy’s missus, Jane Weaver, re-scoring ‘Belladonna of Sadness’ live as well as a screening of ‘Vali The Witch of Positano’ (no, me neither). Love what these guys are doing, wish they would do more down South but then we’re pretty spoilt anyway.

Sinoia Caves ‘The Enchanter Persuaded’ album

Really enjoying this at the moment, by Sinoia Caves aka Jeremy Schmidt, who was also responsible for the soundtrack to ‘Beyond The Black Rainbow’. Said film was flawed but visually and sonically gorgeous, due in no small part to Schmidt’s dark and terrifying electronic score.

This album is a lot lighter, much spacier and, with a couple of tracks over the 15 minute mark, much more of a cosmic trip. The 16 minute ‘Dwarf Reaching the Arch Wonder’ is the missing link between Tangerine Dream and Vangelis and wins title of the week by a mile.

I’m well behind on this as it was officially released in 2006 (after a self-release in 2002!). I can only hope that the constant fan rumblings for a proper release of the ‘…Black Rainbow’ soundtrack will be heard some day.

Posted in Music, Poster / flyer. | 2 Comments |

The Second coming of Sigue Sigue Sputnik

This post has very little to do with anything currently happening in the music world but it’s come about because I’ve had my head buried in a huge pile of Melody Maker papers from ’88 and ’89 recently. They’re a fascinating snapshot of particular music scenes as they happened, at a time when current political events were also included alongside the music features although this had largely been phased out since the early 80’s. Anyway, onto the subject matter in the title, the return of Sigue Sigue Sputnik for that difficult second album and what was, effectively, the death of the band’s original run even though they’ve resurrected themselves several times since in different forms.

The original hype had died down, they’d hit big with ‘Love Missile F1-11’ but the singles had seen diminishing returns. Their look was a love it or loathe it mix of cyberpunked up futuristic sloganeering with band leader Tony James playing the media game as best he could with both sides winning and grabbing headlines until the first album dropped. With Giorgio Moroder‘s name firmly back on everyone’s lips these days, his finest moment (‘I Feel Love’ aside) is still the Sput’s debut album in my opinion. It dazzles as an example of a multi-layed, sample smogasboard, throwing everything AND the kitchen sink into the mix, dubbing the life out of it and to hell with the song arrangements.

But that was ’86 and now, as Acid House had bought us the second Summer of Love in ’88, we find the unthinkable on page 2 of the November 12th issue of the Melody Maker:

For me, this killed any anticipation or will to listen to the band in a single one page advert. Not that there were hoards of fans anticipating a come back, by this time the press had long since turned on them and James and lead singer Martin Degville were regularly ripped to pieces in the weeklies.

Firstly, the photo of the band. So wrong. This wasn’t ‘The 5th Generation of Rock n Roll’, nor was it ‘High-tech Sex and Rockets (baby)’. It certainly didn’t look like ‘T-Rex cuts Disco at the roots of Dub’ either. This was a bunch of pasty holiday makers jumping on the Acid bandwagon, laughing it up by the pool in Ibiza. To add insult to injury the words ‘Produced by Stock Aitken Waterman rolled across the bottom of the ad. How could this have happened? The unthinkable. SAW stood for everything that was wrong with the latter half of the 80’s chart slide into cheese, chintz and manufactured, identikit Pop pap.

You almost have to admire the balls of a band who had any prior cred even dreaming of getting into bed with the trio, especially with Sputnik’s previous rep. Sex, Violence, Designer Drugs and Video Games were definitely not on SAW’s remit. Theirs was love, love, love all the way to the bank, dripping with a sugar sweet innocence that would barely even dream of intercourse before marriage. All thoughts of being taken seriously were out the window at the sight of this ad although they’d taken the precaution to pre-empt the backlash. ‘The group you hate to love’ is bigger than the single title and the multiple format ‘products’ are ‘flogged to death’. James knew exactly what he was doing and was launching some damage limitation before they were shot down.

And shot down they were, despite the Hit Factory’s incredible run of hits in the 80’s, the combination of SAW and SSS could only manage no.31 in the UK charts. It didn’t help that the song, ‘Success’, was an out and out stinker, an unashamed piece of commercial crap that screamed, ‘Love us!’ in a desperate attempt at attention seeking without a whiff of their previous danger. Coupled with the blatant Acid House iconography and mixes, at least six months too late (even Bros had Acid remixes by this time) – it just felt so wrong. The image said summer holidays and here we were nearly at Xmas, they were back but already four months too late. This unfortunate review appeared in the same issue of the Melody Maker as the ad above, it was custom on the weekly singles review page to place single of the week in the top left hand corner of the page.

They were following where they had led before and they’d let down their guard with their image, something James has even admitted to in his excellent breakdown of the group’s career on “What you see is as far removed from those original first photos of the band in the subway at midnight as you could possibly get. We had looked like no other band on the planet. Now when I look at the Brazilian footage, I see exactly what we had become – five blokes by the swimming pool in our swimming shorts having a laugh.”

The album followed six months later and – ‘Success’ aside – it’s actually pretty decent. Thankfully that was the only SAW production on the album and they largely mined the same vein of Suicide-meets-Eddy Cochran-plus-samples of their debut. Unfortunately it lacked ‘the shock of the new’, rather ‘more of the same’ only minus Moroder this time. That’s a bit unfair actually, there were some changes, the singles, ‘Dancerama’ and ‘Albinoni vs Star Wars’ were different and the closing track, ‘Is This The Future’, a ballad that is probably Degville’s finest moment. The genius tagline of ‘…this time it’s music’ on the ad always makes me laugh.

From here though it’s a free fall of bad management, estrangement and apathy as the money and momentum runs out and so does the band’s interest. They had some success in Brazil and a final, fourth, single was pulled from the album in the form of ‘Rio Rocks’. ‘A slogan free advertisement’, reads the bottom of the advert – even James was admitting defeat here, the band split shortly afterwards, less than a year after the comeback.

Pat Hamou Osheaga poster set 1-4

The Osheaga festival in Montreal, Canada is just coming to a close and Pat Hamou has created these 4 posters for different concerts across the month. Released one a week they also all join up to form a landscape featuring the bands’ names – beautiful work from Pat although I think he’s probably sick of drawing bricks now.

and here’s one of them all together…

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Salon des Refusés V opens today, 1 week only!

Salon des Refusés V opens today at 201 Portobello Rd, London, W11, a pop up gallery and shop of 30 artists curated by Scraffer. Including work from names like Remi/Rough, Luke Insect, Pure Evil, Kid Acne, Inkie and James Jessop it should be a pretty diverse selection.

The overriding theme of the show is artists that are pushing boundaries, with the work of established artists hanging next to that of ‘up and comers’; there is something for everyone, both stylistically and fiscally.

I have an original collage piece on show called ‘Think of a Space’, one of the first of a new series I’m doing at the moment. The Scraffer site will also have two new colour versions of my ‘Skullstronaut’ print on sale shortly after the show.

The show will be on between 22nd to 28th April only and doors open between 10am and 7pm each day.