30 September 2008

The penultimate Blogariddim comes from it's founders: Droid and Slug's 'Dubtronics' mix locates the intersections between classic '90s electronica (Aphex Twin, Autechre, Seefeel, Beaumont Hannant et al) and the finest contemporary dubstep sounds (from labels like Hyperdub, Skull Disco, Hessle Audio and Tectonic). What I really like about this is that it mirrors some of my own early observations and maybe helps prove the point that dubstep isn't just part of the hardcore evolutionary process, it also potentially picks-up where things left off around '95 before leftfield electronica became either too experimental or obsessed with jungle-derived breakbeat edits. Perhaps it would've been nice to include Seefeel's awesome remix of Authechre's "Basscad", as I always thought that was a very prescient piece of dubtronics (almost a prediction of halfstep) though I imagine it's slow tempo would've been difficult to beat-match.

28 September 2008

"It's now unthinkable that a public body could produce for the masses such avant-garde, forward-thinking, sometimes difficult music."

The Blissblogger commemorates the Radiophonic Workshop for The Guardian. So you see, I'm not talking bollocks.

Edit: Go here for the Director's Cut!

26 September 2008

Sorry...just coming to terms with my long-surpressed obsession with 'erotic dance act' Hot Gossip. Once I faced-up to the facts, things started to make a lot of sense. This clip works for me on sooo many levels, man.

22 September 2008


Some new music by friends and fam' that I'd like to draw to your attention...

Gah, don't you just hate it when some mouthy blogger turns out to be, like, a really talented producer? No? Oh, well...must just be professional jealousy on my part, then. But the fact is that Mr.Meme has outdone himself with this debut album - an epic 2-disc collection, beautifully packaged in fold-out digipac, that thoroughly explores the points between dubstep, dancehall and techno, with a meaty dollop of oldskool dubwise technique thrown in, especially on disc 2, which is a masterful mash-up of dreadwise vibes and killer riddims, seamlessly mixed to the high standards we've come to expect from Paul. I personally lean towards the hard, techy bouncers like "Immigrant" and "Soundman Tribute", but fans of Loefah, The Bug and Kode 9 will all find plenty to get excited about here. This ain't no vanity project, it's a serious, passionate piece of work. To get some idea of the depth of thought that went into all this, check the full interview he did with Blackdown. Then buy it from Boomkat, or your emporium of choice.

Headhunter's debut album for Tempa should be on sale in the next week or so and, as expected, it's a very impressive piece of work. The title refers to the fact that he is currently homeless, with no studio in the conventional sense - drifting across the globe from one dj gig to the next, writing tunes on his laptop wherever he happens to be staying. Surprising then that he's come up with such an homogenized, sonically consistent selection which, like the 2562 album, straddles the boundaries of dubstep and dub techno with ease. You can also occasionally detect a lingering aura of classic '90s drum & bass in some of his choices of pad sounds, chord patterns and samples, as well as teasing echoes Carl Craig and the nascent dubstep of early Horsepower, especially on tracks like the percussion-heavy "Technopolis". It's a very sophisticated sound, with in-the-pocket beats, detailed arrangements and textures that just slide down your ear-holes like melted butter - easily on a par with anyone else on the Tempa roster. There's a nice interview with Headhunter here, that traces his career to date. Pre-order the CD, or vinyl edition (which has extra tracks), at Boomkat.

Well I always said he was prolific, but even I wasn't expecting another album from Forensics so soon after the first one. The dry, sluggish beats continue, but I'm definitely hearing big advances in the melodic department, specifically on "Afterglow" with a pad sound quite similar to a Mellotron choir and "Atlantis" with it's beautifully forlorn warbly tones that add a delicate tint of fragile emotion to offset the bad-tempered bass throb and caustic percussion. These are some of the best things I've heard by Krys, and believe me, I've heard quite a lot. Final track "Ground State"is a surprising (for him!) excursion into 4/4 territory, but still too skeletal and awkward to be really considered danceable. Krys is still marking out his own style of urban dread muzik, and if you understood the first album, you'll find plenty to keep you entertained here. Check Forensics blog for ordering details.

A private 12" album pressing from Denmark. I featured Giedo Primo on the blog three years ago, and since then he's taken the brave move of financing his own record. Nine tracks of clunky, clanky mutant electro beats entwined with layer upon layer of endlessly revolving synthetic melodies, entirely constructed with hardware gear and a predilection for live mixdowns. The nearest comparison might be with the 'Skweee' sound of his Scandinavian neighbours, though Mr. Primo has been forging ahead with his own sound for many years now, so any similarity is entirely inadvertent. My favourite track is the last one, "Yen-Tinh Sam-Set", which tones down the resonant synth textures and delves into a more understated, meditative zone of stealthy 909 percussion, warm, hypnotic bassline and cryptic dialogue samples (possibly of Japanese origin..?). Not an easy record to get hold of outside Denmark, as it has no proper distribution, but there are copies available from Praxis if you're feeling adventurous.

Advance warning!! I've been cherishing this cd-r promo for some time now, and I can't keep my mouth shut any longer. This is the third installment in Data 70's 'Space Loops' series, which should hopefully be released before the year is out. As before, all tracks are only about one minute long, with 24 in total, and it's likely that they'll be spreading them over another yummy double 7" vinyl package (artwork being prepared at the moment). Getting to know Data 70 and their retro-evocative sonic sketches has undoubtedly been a musical highlight for me this year, and I reckon this is the best batch they've concocted yet. Future sounds from a past life, awakened in an alternative present. Make sure you buy it when it comes out or I won't be friends with you anymore.

18 September 2008


The first time I recall actually being 'haunted' by a piece of music came from an unlikely source...

It was 1990, I was 21, and totally 'in the Now'. But then a track called "Transworld Siren", tucked away near the end of Renegade Soundwave's "In Dub" album stopped me dead in my tracks. Of course, I was already aware of music's power evoke memories of a certain time or place, but this was something else. It was just a sample, sounding like a sequence of chords hammered out on a reverberating piano, or maybe a harpsichord, synchronised to, and dubbed-out, over a loping breakbeat. But it sounded very familiar to me, though I couldn't place where I knew it from. It took me somewhere, but the outlines were too fuzzy and indistinct to pinpoint the location. Everytime I heard the track I felt something tugging at my subconscious, and it obsessed me for quite some time.

Eventually I managed to I.D. the sample. It was the opening bars of John Barry's "Theme from The Persuaders". I don't recall ever watching the programme, but I suppose it was the sort of thing my dad would watch on telly when I was very, very young, and presumably weekly exposure to the theme tune caused it to lodge somewhere in my little brain, where it would remain dormant for nearly two decades. Then hearing the RSW sample caused a few neurons to start spitting little electrical signals, triggering some sort of garbled flashback experience that I was unable to process or make sense of.

I still don't really understand what my brain is trying to tell me when I hear this music, but what a fucking great theme tune, eh?


Ahhh, fuckit. I'm bored now.

Just spotted that tha Sherburnator is playing Bristol tomorrow nite, with support from Ramadanman (one of the most promising dubstep producers out there right now). Gonna try and reach this one.


Featuring 'music heard on radio and television - including test card transmissions', this is the electronic flipside of the Tijuana muzak that held sway in '73. I think what fascinates me about that period is that I was there, but I don't really remember it very well, and its these less celebrated, barely documented slices of cultural ephemera that I find most intriguing.

This, the second Radiophonic Workshop album, was entirely composed and realised by Paddy Kingsland. A tunesmith who could seemingly bash-off a catchy signature tune in his lunchbreak, Paddy was the natural successor of John Baker. Except that his music here completely fails to conjure the other-worldy vibrations of his '60s forebears. All tracks feature live rhythm sections which instantly grounds them within the 'real world', and his easy-cheesy synth arrangements are only a hair's breath away from being crap 'Moog Records', except of course that he was using British EMS synths and writing his own music, rather than making insipid copies of the pop hits of the day.

'Wobulator Rock' is clearly a homage to the beat frequency oscillators used by the Workshop in the pre-synth era, although I doubt there's any real Wobulator on this track - they would've been collecting dust in a storage cupboard by the mid-seventies. However it does feature some pretty crazy detuned EMS riffs. The b-side is a cover of 'Get Back', which sees Paddy finally succumbing to the moog-sploitation tendencies that always threatened to undermine his muse. This 7" demo disc is apparently lifted from an album called "Supercharged", of which I've not had the pleasure.

17 September 2008


Ah, yes...the sweet sound of Tijuana. Of Mexican origin. Massively popularized in the '60s by Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass ensemble, thus spawning a legion of copycats. There's a nice overview of the scene over at Space Age Pop. Yet for me, a quintessentially British sound, I guess because it was constantly piped into the home when I was kid via the Test Card transmissions...

The blub on the rear sleeve readily admits that, for legal reasons, this isn't an album of genuine test card tunes, but that "this is the sound that could indeed easily be test card music". I certainly couldn't tell the difference. I close my eyes and listen to this and I'm right there in deepest, darkest 1973 - a small child alone in a room with this jolly yet somehow spooky muzak pumping from the TV mono speaker - as jolly/spooky as the little clown doll that stares insanely from the screen, locked in his cathode prison of strange monochrome lines and shapes. As for the little girl...the Mona Lisa ain't got nuthin' on her in the 'enigmatic expression' stakes.



From the era of Geoff Love-style theme tune cover versions, with a heavy slant towards Sci-Fi.

Almost a tribute to Barry Gray - over half the tracks are faithful renditions of his themes for Gerry Anderson series like Thunderbirds, Joe 90, Stingray, etc.

Nifty 'live' version of the Dr. Who theme anchored by a solid bass guitar and vaguely dissonant organ chords.

Best of all a sassy big-band rearrangement of The Magic Roundabout theme. It works, believe me.

16 September 2008


More of those nascent British electronic sounds that time forgot. From the same series of 'Listen Move & Dance' records that spawned Daphne Oram's only known vinyl releases. These records were designed for 'stimulating the imagination in art and craft and creative pursuits in the classroom'. Yes, they were designed for children, by a lady called Vera Gray, back in the crazy '60s. Always hoped I'd come across one of these, but never dreamed I'd find one for a fiver in reasonably good condition.

Side one featuring 'Moving Percussion' - all manner of percussive sounds and rhythms from Latin through to African, glokenspiels, vibraphones, timpanis, gongs etc, etc. Very nice indeed. But then side two, 'Electronic Sound Pictures', is a collaboration with Desmond Briscoe (joint founder and head of the Radiophonic Workshop) featuring the most bizarre selection of electronically generated and treated sound (quite possibly recorded at the Workshop after hours) that would surely have made children piss their pants in terror rather than inspire them to bust a few moves. Not so much a forgotten element of British post-war culture - more like some mad parallel universe shit that I wouldn't believe ever really happened if I wasn't holding the evidence in my hands.

Did I say 'forgotten'?

Not so.

Vera's legacy lives on.

Nice one, Jonny!!

12 September 2008


Note to self: check facts before posting ill-informed rant about lack of new Radiophonic retrospective...

Mute are proud to announce the release of a 50th Anniversary Retrospective double CD from the Radiophonic Workshop. This brand new compilation features classic, extremely rare and previously unavailable sounds and music by the legendary BBC organisation. Presented in chronological order, the CD includes works from stalwarts of the Radiophonic Workshop such as John Baker, Delia Derbyshire, Daphne Oram, Elizabeth Parker, Desmond Briscoe, Paddy Kingsland, Peter Howell and Malcolm Clarke amongst others...

More info, tracklist and artwork here.

Don't sleep on this one, kids.

09 September 2008

03 September 2008


A belated mention for the 50th Anniversary of that great British institution of the 20th Century, The BBC Radiophonic Workshop. The BBC marked the occasion with a little write-up and a few nice documentary clips at their online magazine, but no actual commemorative releases unfortunately.

Apparently Mute Records are re-issuing the two albums "BBC Radiophonic Music" and "The BBC Radiophonic Workshop" on remastered CD later this year, which I'm sure will be welcome news to those who missed the BBC versions when they briefly appeared in 2002 (not me, though - I bought those suckers on the first day of release!). But it still amazes me that "BBC Radiophonic Workshop - 21", the album issued in '79 to commemorate the Workshop's 21st Birthday, still hasn't been re-issued, despite being, for me, the definitive historical account of the Workshop's achievements. That album is literally crying out for a remastered, expanded edition, but it seems the Beeb have no interest in such matters these days. Shame. Some of the other records, like the Paddy Kingsland solo effort "Fourth Dimension", are probably best left in the rare vinyl world, but others like the sublime sound fx album "Out Of This World"and even the "Dr.Who Sound FX" are still a damn good listen in places - it's not just about laser blasts and whirring mechanoids - some of those atmospheric background textures are still so evocative, as good as anything Eno put out in the name of Ambient musik around the same time.

25 years ago, the BBC marked the Workshop's 25th Birthday with an album "Sound House" (which is admittedly for completists only) and a book - "The First 25 Years", which is really great and highly recommended if you can find a copy. 175 pages featuring lots of interesting info, much of which isn't really talked about these days. Even then, Delia's "Blue Veils and Golden Sands" was described as "without parallel" in the Workshop's output, but it's nice to read a bit of background on the other members for a change (although where was Glynis Jones? I thought she made some superb tracks in the '70s - many feature on the above-mentioned "Out Of This World" album - but she seemed to be overlooked in the book).

But enough rambling, I'll leave you with a few poorly reproduced pics from the book - some of the ones you don't see so often...

Radiophonic Krew 1983
back row l-r: Brian Hodgson, Elizabeth Parker, Jon Gibbs, Dick Mills, Peter Howell, Roger Limb
front, seated: Desmond Briscoe

Founding member Daphne Oram in 1958

Two pics of John Baker - the smaller one from 1965, the larger from 1974.

Richard Yoeman-Clark operating the mighty EMS Synthi-100 (aka 'the Delaware')

Room 13, 1974.

Peter Howell with the Fairlight CMI, shortly after it's purchase in 1981.

Malcolm Clarke at work in Studio C, c.1982

Elizabeth Parker in Studio H, 1982.