Sunday, 23 December 2012

Electronic Music for Schools

Picked this wonderful book up recently. Showed it to my friend Mr Packer and we reminisced about many of the recording techniques (my fav was always turning the recording tape over and then turning it back, so anything you recorded was backwards). I should point out that Mr Packer was the 1st person I ever knew, who had a 4 track Tascam porta studio. For someone like me who had just mixed and bounced down from 1 cassette deck to another a 4 track porta studio was amazing. This book covers all sorts of fantastic topics like bouncing down, Tape splicing, making sound proofed boxes (shoe boxes stuffed full of cotton wool) for recording clocks etc. I recently saw some copies of this book on Amazon here. Definitely worth tracking down.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Some Presents from Christmas Past

Some time ago I was looking through an old box of family photos. Looking at these old images was the spark and inspiration for my new album Boxes Windows and Secret Hidy Holes, which is due out in 2013. But the new album is not what this post is about. As I was looking at these photo's I found a few old Christmas ones. A Photo of myself with my fav pressie from what ever year it might have been. So with this in mind I have decided to share with you all a glimpse at some wished for and received pressies from Christmas Past.
1st up is the colossus of digital technology, The MD2 Calculator??? I was desperate for a Calculator. In Dixons Store I had been looking at some very serious looking Calculators from Rockwell and Commodore and could not wait until Christmas day to get one. Imagine my surprise when I opened my present and it was not a Rockwell or Commodore but an MD2 Calculator?????? I was well chuffed (I really was) an MD2 was better than nothing at all. Within hours I had learnt how to type out silly words by holding the Calculator upside down. I had worked out how much pocket money I would have over the next 100 years and how many minutes there would be until my birthday. A few weeks later the battery ran out and the MD2 got put in the drawer for a very long time.
The Mighty MD2 Calculator
The Action Man Mercury Space Capsule was another desperately needed present. So desperate that as you can see from this photo of me I was yet again over the moon (sorry)
The Action Man Mercury Space Capsule was a superb chunk of molded plastic which
came in a rather hefty box, this box had a very dramatic Action Man in space image on the side. No space capsule would be complete without its Action Man Astronaut. And yes I got the Action Man Space suit as well. What deep space adventures I would have with all this.
But alas it was all to be short lived. On a deep space fly by of the sun (The Gas Fire on full blast) the imaginary heat sheild failed, and a large part of the capsule melted, imprisoning my Astronaut Action Man in a blob of plastic. That was the end of the Action Man Mercury Capsule. I should point out that leaving plastic toys in front of the fire is not very clever and can also lead to very pissed of parents.
My Commodore LED Digital Watch was as my mates in the playground put it "The Biz" I loved this Watch. At the time I truly believed that this Watch and its little red LED display were the future. One button on the side, pressed once, it showed the time, pressed twice the month and date. THE FUTURE at last. I remember walking into school with the sleeves of my Snorkel Coat rolled up, with my Commodore Watch on display. Hoping that everyone could see it, but at the same time hoping that the school, Pain Giver and Nut Job, did not decide that he wanted to wear it, or break it. The down side of these LED watches was that on a very bright sunny day, you could not see the LED numerals at all. So you would go around cupping your hand over the watch just to try and see what the time was, which never worked. After a while the battery ran out, the novelty of the LED watch wore of, and the Commodore watch joined the MD2 Calculator in drawer. But not to worry because The Trafalger LCD watch (with 3 buttons) would make all other watches in our house obsolete at a later date. 
The Commodore with its all functioning button
one press for time two for day and date

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Sleep Games

I was very pleased to receive a copy of the new Pye Corner Audio album Sleep Games.
Now.......I am quite keen on Pye Corner Audio, and have enjoyed the Black Mill Tapes Vol 1, 2 and 3, which I have mentioned in previous posts here. I am very pleased to say that Sleep Games is as good, if not at times even better. Occasionally a feel for Phaedra/Rubycon era Tangerine Dream, Klaus Shultze, The BEF and even The Aphex Twin creeps in, but thats not a bad thing at all in my books (in fact a big plus in my world) One thing is for sure, Pye Corner Audio and Ghost Box working together was meant to be. This collaboration has produced a wonderful tense and at times even serene sounding album with a 1st class production from the mysterious Head Technician with mastering by Jon Brooks of The Advisory Circle. So thats my two bobs worth. If you have not got a copy, best you order one now. 

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

A Record Box (x2) of Delights

Played a DJ set the other night (I use the term DJ very loosely) and have been asked by a couple of people (yep 2 of them) to post a list of the records/music played. So here it is. In more or less the order of being played.
Mario Molino - Shake Psycho, Kraftwerk - Showroom Dummies, John Keating - Feel the Earth Move, Barry Adamson - Soul Devil, Harmonia - Veterano, Alan Parker & Alan Hawkshaw - Hot Pants, Mickey  & The Soul Generation - Get Down Brother, Keith Hudson - Civilisation, Giorgeo Morodor - Pauls Theme, The Free Design - Make the Madness Stop, David Bowie - TVC15, John Barry - The Knack, Andre Previn - Executive Party, PIL - MegaMix, Mike Vickers - Retribution, Belbury Poly - Chapel Perilous, Frank Zappa - Peaches en Regalia, John Baker - Au Printemps. Peter CookBedazzled , Two Banks of Four - Brilliant Circles, Can - More, Rolling Stones - ComplicatedTom Tom Club - Genius of Love, Advisory Circle - Mind How You Go, Sam Spence Sounds - Waterworld, Shirelene King - Super Stuff, Keith Mansfield - Funky Fanfare, Pentangle - Bells, Isaac Hayes - Do your Thing, Jean Jacques Perry & Gershon Kingsley - Unidentified Flying Object, Diane and The Javlins - Who's the Girl, Yello - Pinball Cha Cha, Visage - Frequency 7, Vic Marrs - Arts & Crafts, Mario Molino - Gili angeli del 2000, Snooze - Minnesota Mantalo, Harry J Allstars - Liquidator, The Dawnbreakers - Be Bop Glasses, Roberto Pregadio - Iena Sequence, Bruce Haack - Electric to me Turn, Devo - Auto Modown, Alan Parker - The Free Life, Giorgeo Morodor - From Here to Eternity, Magazine - Thank You ( Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin), Mike Sammes Singers - The Telephone Song, Eccentronic Radio Orchestra - Autobahn 666, Simon Heartfield - Greenwood PlaceJohnathan Gibbs - Computers in the Real World, Booker T & the MGs - Soul DressingDwight & the Jayhawkers - Interstate 45Denton & Cook - Quiller, The Clash - Magnificent 7, Terry Snyder All Stars - You're the TopTedd Smith - Time to Run, Gong - You Never Blow yer Trip, Jonny Trunk & Wisby - The Ladies' Bras

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Test Transmission Archive Reel 11/Last one this year

Welcome to the last Test Transmission Archive Reel of 2012. Its a cold chilly winter mix this time round, but there are also some very bright and warming moments. We have music by Dorit Chrysler, Luke Slater, Anne Briggs, David Cain and Ronald Duncan, Eccentronic Research Council some chaps called Seatman Separator and lots more to keep you going through the cold winter nights. Keep warm.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

UFO Cards by Piper Gates

I recently took delivery of these fantastic looking UFO cards from Piper Gates Design.
For those of you who might not have encountered Piper Gates Design before, as it says on their blog, they are Retro Graphic Specialists. To wet your whistle how about The Byrds Colouring book or The Bradley Wiggins Mod Paper Doll maybe alternative book covers for Gregory's Girl. How about a poster for the film Control if it had been released in 1958. 
I do very much like the work produced be Piper Gates. Inspiration seems to come from old Penguin publications Jan Tshichold, Look-in and Jackie Magazines. All the designs/sets seem to be  limited runs so if you see something you like, you better move fast. I did notice that there is a selection of designs on ebay.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

The Alchemists of Sound BBC Doc

In this 2003 BBC doc on the Radiophonic workshop, The Alchemists of Sound. Anecdotes,  tape loops and clunky equipment abound. This wonderful doc is definitely worth watching. Its in 6 parts on Maldoror42's channel on YouTube. Thats my Saturday night taken care of.

Monday, 8 October 2012

DJ Set (playing some records in slapdash way)

Yet again I will be heading into Southsea to play some records in a very slapdash haphazard and casual way. At The King Street Tavern Southsea on Sunday Nov 11th.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Pauline Boty's Nightmare

Here is a clip  from the 1962  program Pop Goes The Easel, directed by Ken Russell. In this clip the Artist Pauline Boty (1938 - 1966) is chased down the corridors of the BBC TV Centre. These scenes have been re-scored by victorialicus38 using music produced by Delia Derbyshire. The full version of Pop goes the Easel can be seen here. At the time Boty was part of the emerging UK Pop Art scene. Also featured in The Pop goes The Easel Doc are Derek Boshier, Peter Phillips and Peter Blake. Sadly Pauline Boty died of Cancer in 1966 at the age of 28. For a truly in-depth look at Pauline Boty and her work,  I suggest that you pop along to the Sparks in the Electrical Jelly Blog..........of you go now.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

New Album 2013

Finally getting somewhere with the new album. Its title (at the moment) is Boxes Windows and Secret Hiddy-Holes, and If all goes to plan should be available as a CD and Digital download from Bandcamp in Feb 2013. Due to a lack of work I had in the summer, I managed to crack on with the album and get quite a bit done, and it was originally due out this year. But then out of the Blue a sudden influx of work (I am not complaining honest) has now put this project on hold, and I do not have enough time on my hands to get it all finished this year. So 2013 it is. Have had a few of the tunes on Soundcloud for a while, but thought I would put them all here. Makes it all nice and tidy. And we do like tidy round here.

Monday, 27 August 2012

The Eccentronic Research Council - 1612 Underture

Only came across this the other day in the Guardian, and knew I had to get a copy fast. The Eccentronic Research Council consist of  Adrian Flanagan, Maxine Peake and Dean Honer. The 1612 Underture is a 12 chapter sound poem based of the mistreatment and memory of the Pendle Witches who were executed in Lancashire, England, on 20 August 1612; Elizabeth Device, James Device, Alizon Device, Anne Whittle (aka Chattox), Anne Redferne. Jane Bulcock, John Bulcock, Alice Nutter, Katherine Hewitt and Jennet Preston, as well as the accused Alice Grey and Elizabeth Southerns (aka Old Demdike) who died while awaiting trial (Finders Keepers). The track Another Witch is Dead has the wonderful line Contains Greens and Worms and Carrots, 16th Century Holland and Barrett. The album really does sound quite wonderful and is out now on Finders Keepers off shoot Bird

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Highdown Rocket Site

Finally managed to pay the Highdown Rocket Site on the Isle of Wight a visit. I have gone on about Highdown elsewhere on this blog so I will not go into to much detail here, and drone on about it all over again, apart from to say that Highdown, was the static test area for the UK's Black Arrow and Black Knight rockets from 1954-1972. Have to admit I was very excited about finally visiting this place, and must say I was not disappointed. The former control rooms of the site now house the exhibition space, which is small, but very informative with lots of old black and white photos of men dressed in lab coats sitting at banks of equipment. It all looks and feels very much like something out of an old Quatermass film. At times you can almost feel the excitement and enthusiasm that these scientists must have had, knowing that they were working (on a very tight budget) on what could be the UK's own independent space program. Alas it was not to be and after one successful Satellite launch (Prospero) the UK Rocket/Space program was shut down, and the Highdown Test Site was dismantled and all but forgotten. Then in 2003 volunteers and the National Trust started to clear the site. It was finally opened to the public in 2004, but is definitely an on going process of restoration. Its a bit of a hike to the Highdown site, but if you drive its only £4 to park for the day at the Needles car park. Then its a bimble along the cliff path to the Needles Battery. The only mistake I made that day was to go into the Needles park, which is pretty dire and grim (over priced fast food and very dodgy coffee)
I managed to climb down and get into the observation blockhouse. This is where the safety Officer monitored the static tests at the gantries to the left and right of the blockhouse.
Inside the blockhouse
Gantry One
Some of the equipment, on display in the old control room.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Peter Strickland Interview Berberian Sound Studio

Director Peter Strickland talks about his new film Berberian Sound Studio which premiered at the Edinburgh Film Festival in June. Starring Toby Jones with a soundtrack by Broadcast.
1976: Berberian Sound Studio is one of the cheapest, sleaziest post-production studios in Italy. Only the most sordid horror films have their sound pro- cessed and sharpened in this studio. Gilderoy (Toby Jones), a naive and introverted sound engineer from England is hired to orchestrate the sound mix for the latest film by horror maestro, Santini (Antonio Mancino). Thrown from the innocent world of local documentaries into a foreign environment fuelled by exploitation, Gilderoy soon finds himself caught up in a forbidding world of bitter actresses, capricious technicians and confounding bureaucracy. The longer Gilderoy spends mixing screams and the bloodcurdling sounds of hacked vegetables, the more homesick he becomes for his garden shed studio in his hometown of Dorking. His mother’s letters alternate between banal gos- sip and an ominous hysteria, which gradually mirrors the black magic of Santini’s film. As both time and realities shift, Gilderoy finds himself lost in an otherworldly spiral of sonic and personal mayhem, and has to confront his own demons in order to stay afloat in an environment ruled by exploitation both on and off screen.
If you can't catch it on thee old big screen, the Film has got a DVD release date of Dec 2012-Feb 2013 this is gonna be a must for me.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Tangerine Dream German TV 1971

Found this wonderful old film of Tangerine Dream on YouTube from 1971. Bit of an oddity because on YouTube for some reason its been called Ricochet 1??????? and its definitely not Ricochet. Not 100% sure what the track is? Some people on YouTube think its Fly and collision of comas sola from the album Alpha Centauri others think its Journey Through a Burning Brain from Electronic Meditation? Whatever its called it sounds superb and really gets going at 5.46. At times it sounds in a similar vein to More/Zabriskie Point/Careful With That Axe Eugene era Pink Floyd. Pheadra and the sequencer were only a few years away.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Test Transmission Archive Reel 10 (Garden Mix)

Originally mixed for The Garden of Earthly Delights Radio Show 10/08/2012. On this mix we have Kryzsztof Komeda, Billy Childish & Sexton Ming, The Wendingo, Belbury Poly, The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Derek Scotts Moog Killer Watts, Sir Richard Rodney Bennett and tons more for your listening pleasure. I am of on my Hols now. A few projects (Mr Stevens and Album) and work to sort out for the Autumn. If all goes well Archive Reel 11 will be ready for November (where does the year go????)

Saturday, 11 August 2012

A New Tune. Who knows?????

Finished recording the new album a while ago and decided to have a break while it was being mastered. Through a lack of work at the moment I had some spare time and got bored, so started working on a new track. This was what I came up with. A work in progress that might get longer or shorter. Who knows?????
The new album should be out in the New Year.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Oramics to Electronica

Finally got round to paying a visit to The Oramics to Electronica Exhibition at The Science Museum the other day. Been looking forward to this for quite some time now, and was not disappointed. In general the exhibition covers the work of 3 pioneering British studios (EMS, The Radiophonic Workshop and Daphne Oram's studio in Kent. With lots of display cabinets containing Synths (Wasp VCS Fairlight) bits and bobs from the Radiophonic Workshop and of course Daphne Oram's magnificent Oramics Machine. My only minor criticism (its not really a criticism) is that it would have been nice if the exhibition had been a tad larger, with maybe some more installations, perhaps also including work produced by FC Judd and maybe even Joe Meek.  But of course I do realise that this was not a definitive look at everybody and everything to do with early British electronic music, and electronic music pioneers. Maybe that would be something for the organisers of this exhibition to consider at a later date. Anyway I really enjoyed this exhibition and if this sounds like your thing, then you can't go wrong with paying it a visit. But be quick because its only on until 1st of December.
The Oramics Machine
 The Mighty Fairlight
VCS 3 (Putney)
The Wasp
Daphne Oram and Peter Sellers
Radiophonic Workshop items