End of Year Approaches

My website is now live so apologies for any mishaps during the construction process. Meanwhile here’s the latest news:

After several month’s intensive studio work I finished my new album, “Music By The Yard” in early December and plan to release it as a download in January 2012, hopefully with a CD version following. It’s quite a departure from the previous stuff I’ve done – part beat-tape, part library resource, part abstract breaks/prog rock sampler. The album was created in a flurry of activity between February and December 2011 and features 23 tracks designed to be played in any order.

This is “6 Figure Some”

The album reflects a lot of the stuff I was getting into through 2011, starting with the huge effect Suite For Ma Dukes – an orchestral tribute to J Dilla:

had on me, which then took me back to the hip hop and gave me an appreciation I’d never really had before. I hope I’ve done this justice on the new album…here’s another tune, “The Karaoke Sauron”, named after Marina Hyde‘s acerbic take on the evil mastermind behind the X-Factor.

You can check out my latest Mixcloud session to get more of an idea where I’m coming from.

Another big influence – not only for hairy funk grooves, and prog stompers – but also for brevity of tracks – were Andy Votel’s epic mixes, especially Vertigo Mixed,

Music To Watch Girls Cry

and Songs in The Key Of Death on Fat City

….the fuzzed up guitars, leaden drumbeats and wonky time-signatures really took me back to my youth, obsessively staring at the Vertigo spiral as it span on my parent’s radiogram and seemed to go into 3-D (without taking any drugs, honest)

on albums such as Black Sabbath and Gentle Giant’s first eponymous releases, the latter featuring this one:

…so it was quite buzz to hear that Madlib and MF Doom had sampled this track “Funny Ways” on their excellent Madvillainy album:

So the template for this record was essentially short tracks, textures, beat-heavy and with elements of prog rock, library music and LOTS of strings…and plenty of non 4/4 rhythms.

Above all 2011 has been the year I’ve started buying records (as opposed to CDs and mp3s) again, not only from carboots (although these have been particularly fruitful) but also seeking out second vinyl shops, which have been on the up this year. Like the fantastic Disc-O-Box shops in Weymouth and Blandford, Dorset.  If you’re in the area, give them your support, they are an invaluable public service, with tons of great vinyl plus CDs and DVDs!

Early in the new year I’ll be posting a special mix of the album, interspersed with lots of spoken word snippets.

Meanwhile here’s another track – Horizontal Hold – with film shot on my Digital Harinezumi.

Folk Farming in Cardiff

To Cardiff last weekend for a DJ gig at the wonderfully-named GWDIHW (pronounced goodyhoo) which got fairly rowdy in the best possible way. We then had a good look around the city centre the next day, finding some great old Victorian arcades with lots of independent shops, plenty of vintage clothes and records.

One place I’d been particularly looking out for is Folk Farm, run by Chris and Judi Brick.  I first met Chris at their store SMYLONYON in New York in the mid 90s. Like Folk Farm, this place was piled to the rafters with second-hand clothes, although back then their speciality was leisure-wear from the 50s/60s/70s – mountains of turquoise slacks and loud shirts.  It’s almost a universal law that trousers from that era have at least a 36″ inch waist and 28″ leg – completely unsuitable for the modern lanky gentleman.  But still great for a rummage (the store, not the trousers).

The new shop is equally stuffed with fascinating things, but has a more rustic feel with old clogs and fire buckets jostling for position with dolls in fishing nets, old tin baths, farm equipment and an enormous amount of vinyl (as far as I could tell mostly rare American folk music). Good to meet Judi too and hear about her musical exploits as Linda Lamb. It was a real shame Chris wasn’t around that day.

Have a look at Amy Davies’ excellent photoset from the recent Cardiff Arcades Project here.

Chris Brick has also had an interesting musical career.  Back in the 90s he was producing (with Alex Gloor of In Flagranti) and selling compilation cassettes, “Uneasy Listening” by Smylonylon or Tinynyny.  I still have a few of these – amazing mixes of lounge, easy, moog and library music and exotica – but was delighted to find that someone has been posting them on a blog – that someone being the Dalston Shopper (“Once a week high quality digital recordings of cassette tapes purchased at the Dalston Oxfam Shop in East London.”) – and you can check at least one of these tapes here.

cover of smylonylon tape 1

Also well worth a look is the Brick Channel on Youtube – featuring lots of very interesting short films and whacked-out edits of 60s public information films put together by son Sam Brick, often using Chris’ Family of God tunes as the soundtrack.  Here’s their version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”:
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMOwrqJ2JJc&w=640&h=390]

from their eponymous album released in 1996.

Finally – here’s a new mix for the merry merry month of May, reflecting my current love of old school hip hop, the Stones Throw label and twisted beats.  Hope you enjoy.

The Music Library and other reading

This is my first post on WordPress, so hello to both my readers!  I was previously posting on blogspot so if you’re interested you can catch up on my sporadic bits there, here (here, there, everywhere).

Here’s my latest mix on Mixcloud featuring Luke Vibert, J Dilla, Ebo Taylor, Okayplayer’s Bollywood/hip hop mashup, a reggae cover of the Dr. Who theme, and more.

Thanks to my old mucker DJ Dick for the heads up on Radio 4’s recent programme on Library music, which reminded me a) to check out what presenter Jonny Trunk is up to with his fascinating website and label, Trunk Records, b) what a lovely book and CD he put together with help from Jerry Dammers, the Music Library

– always a source of inspiration, especially the artwork.

Oh, and c) – what a genius was Basil Kirchin, composer of albums such as Abstractions of the Industrial North

Basil Kirchin album cover

from which this is a nice track…..

and Primitive London

Basil Kirchin soundtrack album cover

also out on DVD which I’m looking forward to seeing, described as a 1965 Mondo film, complete with teddy boys, strippers, chicken processors and deviants of many types.

Apparently Kirchin, originally a jazz drummer, was way ahead of the curve having spent five months at a temple in India during the early 60s before moving to Sydney. Tragically all the master tapes of his band were lost when his belongings fell into the sea whilst being unloaded at the docks.

Nevertheless he produced some incredible library and soundtrack music which had an obvious influence on bands such as Stereolab and Broadcast (whose singer Trish Keenan sadly died earlier this year.  The last mixtape she made for a close friend is well worth checking out) I can even hear an influence on Soft Machine in some of his stuff.

One last plug for a book I’m reading at the moment

ostensibly a story of how an appreciation all modern music can be bookended by Kylie’s “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” and Alvin Lucier’s I Am Sitting In A Room (no me neither) it is in fact a masterful piece of rock journalism, a history of how and why Paul Morley became the greatest rock writer in the world (his words – but he’s probably right) but much more importantly it lists virtually all of the important musical, technological, cultural events of the modern age.  All in his own very readable style.