Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ice Yacht – Pole of Cold

Tucked away on Snatch 3 (the last of the Snatch Tapes compilations released in 1981) is a track by Ice Yacht called ‘0 Degrees North’. An austere piece of drum loop and drone music, there was talk of a full tape having been recorded by the band (?) but no documentation of any further releases can be found.

Rumour had it that members of Ice Yacht had embarked on an ill-fated trip to the North Pole attempting to retrace a journey made by the Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen in 1888. This story was given credence when last year a polar research group uncovered a cassette tape in a vacuum-sealed case in the permafrost. The white tape was marked simply Ice Yacht – Pole of Cold.

After letting the tape thaw out it was then baked in a temperature controlled oven for 5 hours and though some oxide had peeled away the tape was playable allowing the transfer of the recordings. Pole of Cold contains six tracks of analogue electronics seemingly mapping an arctic exploration to the coldest place on the planet though exactly when and where they were recorded is unknown. 

Fragment Factory have now made 100 numbered replica copies of the tape and  it is available now on white cassette

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Licking the Left over Lolly

To celebrate the forthcoming UK General election, Snatch Tapes and Year Zero Records brings you this cash-in single recorded by one-off bedroom supergroup Left Over Lolly, complete with cheesy 8 bit disco stomp loop, elegant Georgian 4 min fade all set to a background of a field recordings from the 2011 riots. "Pity The Small/Social Security" (8:37)
Available here

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Yo Ho

So a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our readers – OK, OK I know this blog has been all but silent this year with only four posts, in contrast to the previous 16 or so posts per year and even 60 when it all began back in 2005. A fellow blogger who I still read occasionally was bemoaning the slow deaths of many blogs; starved of audiences by more immediate social media. In particular there was a wistful nod to the time when bloggers would write long entries/essays in response to each other’s posts and there was a real exchange of thoughts/ ideas, videos and sounds.

Despite blogger stats telling me I have had 60,000 page views Brut Smog never seemed particularly popular so its decline wasn’t about the audience moving to Facebook or Twitter but more that I moved to the former and then rapidly seemed to loose the inclination to spend an hour or so writing pieces. So much easier to post a couple of lines or a photo, get a few likes,exchange some banter and move on. Facebook is very good at giving one the illusion of a warm snug glow of being amongst friends but if my Facebook history was wiped out tomorrow there would be nothing to miss whereas in contrast I would be sad to loose some of the blog posts. This doesn’t quite amount to a New Year’s resolution to blog more and Facebook less. A resolution to do more writing, reading even sketching and less computing would be preferable all round.  

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Tape to Tape

It's that time of year again - Cassette Store Day!  As the CEO (Curious Expletive Officer) of Snatch Tapes back in the day I should be celebrating that the little reels of ferric tape are once again popular? Hmmmmmn back then tape was just that tape; the only alternative to vinyl with all the socioculturaleconomic implications that conjures whereas tape now is a kind of knowing anti digital self conscious objectification of a format. Still as you can't give downloads away and there is much fun to be had with scissors and glue then why not~

The last Snatch Tapes release Carriage Return was a true DIY release; you had to download the tracks and then copy them onto tape yourself. Likewise the cover had to be printed out by the listener and squeezed into the case. I wonder how many did that?

Friday, August 01, 2014


Following on from the last post regarding GoTH am pleased to say that the remake - Film of The Sane Name is (after more stops and starts than a 1950s BSA) finally all coming together nicely. To offset/interrupt the workshop and marsh footage some swirling animated sections have been created which have been dubbed "Punctums". Here are a few extracts. 

Monday, July 07, 2014

Bike Rental

"The haunting qualities of the English countryside are evoked in this enigmatic film: part fake public information film, part occult jaunt. A woman tours the sparse marshlands of southern England, but what is she seeking? With a tape recorder as her guide, she travels by bike and by foot in pursuit of her secret mission."
Part of the Apostrophe S trilogy finds its way into the Freewheeling strand of the BFI cycling programme. Available to watch for a mere £1.00 or put it another way less than half the cost of a skinny latte.   

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Catchy and cosmically eccentric

Nice review of the new release Back Projection published by Jerry at Aural Innovations that captures the cross pollination of influences that went into the recordings. For example the track above is described as a "twisted cross between Peter Hammill and Anthony Phillips". Elsewhere Down A Denny Lane is "a delightfully odd and dark, yet slightly whimsical song, like Paul Roland with Goblin as his backing band".  Now a tour with Goblin as a backing band would be something.
 Not forgetting the instrumentals with Industrial Shadows being "like VDO or the Residents playing to the rhythmic riff of Pink Floyd’s One Of These Days". In this instance though I did have One Of These Days in mind I was more thinking of Storm Bugs teamed up with Hank Marvin.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Hollow Gravity Review

To end the year a nice review of Hollow Gravity LP on the Sound Projector website. Given the volume of releases coming through Mr. Pinsent's door, reviews in the Sound Projector can be a little after the fact though rather than being a cause for complaint in the internet world in which releases are hyped to death for about a week and then all but vanish the longer slower approach arguably has its merits. The LP of Hollow Gravity sold out some time ago though copies can be found online without too much trouble and/or you can of course get a digital version on the Bandcamp page here.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Video Mix Tape

These last couple of years I have spent so much time on the purely audio that in contrast to the late noughties I have had a lot less time for the audio-visual.  Partly just to remind myself of all the blood, sweat and video making I put together a quick back to back edit of works all loosely connected by a certain objectification.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Osaka by Night

Continuing the foray into digital distribution started with the Storm Bugs back catalogue and the new Bugs single the link above takes you to a Sanderson release, Osaka by Night, three long drone pieces completed in the early 2000s. 

Osaka by Night has its roots in a project begun much earlier in 1981 using as source material small fragments of sound from the domestic interior such as the electrical hum of a fluorescent light or the static made by a pair of nylons. Back then I amplified the sounds and then looped them on a Revox tape recorder. The loops were then dubbed onto another machine from which more loops were made and on and over, until the small fragments turned into long lo-fi drones. These recordings have long since been lost with only a few snippets remaining on a cassette.

In 2001 I began to work again on the project using the same source material but this time employing software to stretch and loop the sounds. The result was a number of long drone works not identical to the original pieces but similar in intention and overall sound. Two of these pieces were included on a bonus CDR released with the limited edition Box set (25 copies) of the Seal Pool Sounds CD in 2006  but have not been released since. For Osaka by Night, these two tracks have been remastered (a little gentle balancing and  mains hum removal) and a previously un-released track Traffic Calming Measures has also been included. All the material was recorded digitally and the lossless FLAC files available from Bandcamp are pretty much identical to the masters (the free streaming MP3 preview files are not as good of course).     

Monday, September 16, 2013

No Nothingness/ Triangulation - the new Storm Bugs single

No Nothingness/ Triangulation - Storm Bugs single 

the first new tracks to be released in ten years

now available inclusively as download (in MP3, FLAC etc)

Watch the video

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Upstairs Backwards

Myself and VDO have been working on a couple of collaborative tracks. The first fruits of our labour is Drums in the Sanctuary (the office abandoned, she descends into the underworld) the title being a willful misreading of this. Another track is already recorded and who knows if a willing body can be found there will be some kind of release this year. 

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Snatch Tapes Head Cleaner

If like many of us you have spent the last few days listening to Bowie's latest offering and you now find your heads are completely clogged then you need the patented Snatch Tapes Head Cleaner. Just click here and play though your system once or twice to dislodge any unwanted residues. Guaranteed clean heads or your rabbit back.  

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Gift of Vision and Sound

This Saturday at the Furtherfield gallery One minute (Volume One) curated by Kerry Baldry  will be screening. Included, as part of the programme is a video called Jiggery Pokery I made back in 2005. Jiggery Pokery was part of a sequence of pieces, which attempted to very directly link sound and image.

During the 1990s I created a number of installations in which a key element was the interplay of sound and vision and once I got my first Mac in late 97 I began experimenting with various programmes that allowed you do this on screen. The Mac in question had a blistering 200 MHZ processor and it wasn’t until 2002 when I upgraded to an iMac G3 (600 MHZ) that really anything of interest began to happen. In 2001 I also came across an application called Vidoedelic that provided real scope for linking image manipulation to either sound or midi signals.

Using sound files or live sound in Videodelic was rather imprecise working as it did rather like a colour organ by filtering the sound into frequency bands (bass, mid or high) and then allowing you to apply one or other band to a parameter. Anything other than a very straightforward bass beat was hard to track. What worked much better was using midi data.

The midi value of notes could be precisely matched to parameter changes. So for example as you ascended up a scale an image could rotate in steps precisely equivalent to each interval. Using this approach I worked up a number of pieces. As with the installations the idea was to use sound to animate the image in some way, articulating a tangentially related aspect or property. So for example in A Rocco Din the idea was to take a picture of an accordion and then have a piece of accordion music perform a digital dissection of the image.
A Rocco Din was the first piece to be completed and took a couple of months to finish this was largely down to technical problems as though Videodelic can record QuickTime movies of its output it can’t do this when being controlled by midi only when using sound files. The solution ended up being using an on screen recorder with the midi track running at ¼ speed then speeding it all back up… all in all far more than any iMac can handle. Arriving at a perfect sync which was in a way the whole idea proved to be very difficult.
The next completed piece was Jiggery Pokery. Again working from a single image this time of two highland dancers and using an adapted midi file of a highland jig as an animation source the image was coerced into ‘dancing’. By this time I had acquired a box that meant one could play the piece live on the Mac and output the VGA of the computer to a DV camera. Not entirely without loss of quality but a lot easier than the first method.
I completed two more pieces using a similar approach Quadrangle and Row Row, working from an image of a white square and of two men in a boat respectively. Quadrangle uses a quasi-random midi sequence generator producing a possible more inventive series of sequences than those used in A Rocco Din or Jiggery Pokery. Quadrangle also uses the midi data to change the colour of the image. Row Row in contrast is the most straightforward of the four works with the image of the two men in the boat being stretched to create the illusion of the image rowing.
Looking back of the four pieces Quadrangle and Jiggery Pokery still seem to ‘work’ the other two seem a little too restrained possibly hidebound by the technical difficulties it took to simply finish them. 

After making the four pieces, which took best part of two years I largely stopped using Videodelic as it was never upgraded from os9 to Mac OS X and the problems with capturing the output was never resolved. Instead I began to use MAX/MSP/Jitter to make pieces such as Fleshtones.

It might be interesting one day to revisit the pieces in a more performative fashion.