Sunday, October 02, 2016

Tracking - Railway Abstractions

Inspired by the sound, visual effects, shifting light patterns, temporal movements, multi dimensional perspectives, etc that one sees and hears on railways and in railway films - oh and here and there a slight pun on analogue video tape tracking.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Live Chronocut Machine
The first Chronocuts were made using a web browser, a very unpredictable approach, which at times could in itself be interesting. This technique was updated to using a matt to make slices, and then cutting and pasting clips at intervals. A couple of weeks was spent in 2010 trying to automate the process in After Effects and make something more immediate, but with limited success. Long render times and CPU overload, meant the technique wasn't quicker or more flexible. Over the summer holidays just gone I was revisiting some old patches and had another go in Max and very quickly it came together. A live camera input was tried and here is a minute or so. Though it initially just encourages 'larking about', there are clearly numerous possibilities. Live

Monday, August 29, 2016

Moth Flight

Short, 75 sec piece selected for the Amy Johnson Festival 2016 programme curated by Kerry Baldry in Hull a couple of months ago. 
Moth Flight from Philip Sanderson on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 28, 2015


Keen followers of this blog may well remember the Chronocuts series that started back in 2008. It all began as a happy accident - whilst testing a new web page in 2007 which contained several movie clips I noticed that the movies loaded one after the other, in a sequential order, a one frame gap between each. By using the same footage for each clip an echoing repetitious moving image was created. With 24 clips placed side-by-side one could in effect watch one second’s worth of footage simultaneously upsetting the singularity of the cinematic moment.

Using web browsers proved to be too dependent on the speed of the web connection and indeed on the browser - in Internet Explorer the clips loaded sequentially but not in many others, so a technique was developed to create new single movies built from several slices. As source footage the Chronocuts used scenes from familiar films ranging from Lindsay Anderson’s If to Hitchcock’s Psycho. Our cinematic memory of the scenes and how they unfold makes the temporal and spatial transformation all the more acute. Rather than glimpse a movement once we see it repeated visually and aurally revealing new relationships and dynamics in the footage.

So why the post now? Well next week - the 2cnd of December to be precise I will be screening 5 or so Chronocuts upstairs at the Memorial Gallery in Hastings. Especially for the exhibition I have made brand new higher definition versions and an extended version of Iffy plus a new piece Where the air is clear. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Storm Bugs in the Wire

Get yourself a copy of the October issue of the Wire magazine to read a two page spread on Storm Bugs and  Film of the Same Name

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

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.  

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".

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.   

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.

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. 

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.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Ashes & Diamonds – Collaborations between Philip Sanderson & David Jackman.

Illustrated with short MP3 samples
In spring 1980 I was sitting in my dank basement in Westbourne Terrace Paddington when the doorbell rang. Outside was a bloke clutching a crash helmet and manhandling a bright orange moped. “Hi – my name is David Jackman, saw your Snatch Tapes listing in the NME and thought I would pop round”. This sort of thing was not unusual at the time so I asked him in and over several coffees David talked about the music he was making, his time in the Scratch Orchestra and so on. I no doubt waxed lyrical about this and that and by the end of the conversation he had bought a copy of the newly pressed Storm Bugs EP and I had asked him to contribute to the forthcoming Snatch 2 compilation. 
Over the next few months David popped round fairly often and not only contributed to Snatch 2 but helped to compile it and design the sleeve. Snatch 1 had been a fairly straightforward compilation with six distinct tracks on it but for Snatch 2 there was more material and we put together a few linking sections and ‘dub” parts – the Scratch Dub for example involving a slightly unholy alliance of VCS3 rhythms and snatches of the Scratch Orchestra, John Cage and the Beach Surgeons (an early Graham Massey project).

Snatch 2 compiled we began work on some collaborative tracks recording them in the Paddington basement using almost exclusively acoustic sources - pretty much whatever was to hand: grill pans, bird whistles, bongos etc. This was not improvised acoustic music however rather the sounds were recorded and then manipulated and edited on ¼ inch tape – sped up, slowed down, played backwards and often as not made into tape loops.

The resultant music was a curious hybrid of our respective practices; Storm Bugs recordings were at the time often willfully excessive whilst David’s recordings were stripped-back almost minimal. David’s music was often as not from acoustic sources whereas my own work was electric/electronic. Somewhere between these almost opposites we put together three completed tracks, two long pieces with the working titles of Terrain 1 & 2 and a third unnamed piece.

Though it was common in this heyday of DIY to record something one week and put it out on tape the following week for whatever reason the two Terrains were not released on Snatch Tapes, one would appear on David’s Aeroplane label a couple of years later, and one would not be released for another 22 years. 

Once the Terrain sessions were over we carried on collaborating now and then over the next couple of years. In the summer of 1980 David joined myself, Steven Ball and Sarah Pomeroy for a somewhat ill fated live Storm Bugs gig in Maidstone, Kent. David played ezraj, Steven ‘flumper” (an instrument made out of a long piece of wood with a metal ribbon attached and pick-up), Sarah played guitar (or possibly cello?) and I sang or tried to. We had a backing tape of VCS3 rhythms which half way through the gig the soundman at the mixing desk started fast-forwarding. No doubt we were less than note perfect but the sound of a fast-forwarding tape brought an abrupt end to the performance. More successful was some live gigs in 1980/81 in London with myself David, Nigel Jacklin from Alien Brains and other assorted improvisers and experimentalists. A short excerpt from one or more of these live gigs would later surface on the Nigel Jacklin Verdenskang cassette release. As I had better equipment at home than David (i.e. a Revox rather than domestic tape recorders) and access to the Goldsmiths studio I also helped David out with engineering on a couple of his tracks.

Sometime In 1980 The A & R man at Cherry Red had seen the Snatch Tapes display in Rough Trade and taken a liking to some of the material and consequently we were both included on the 1981 Perspectives and Distortion compilation LP released in the late summer of 1981. Indeed we bookeneded the album; David with the last track Untitled and myself under my Claire Thomas & Susan Vezey hat (with vocals by Nancy Slessinger) at the start with Bright Waves.

In early 1981 I had moved back to Deptford and David, myself and Clip from a band called Orior began to play every Wednesday afternoon in the basement of the electro acoustic music studio in Morley College (now part of the Siobhan Davis dance studio complex). It was a rather unlikely teaming, I had a bank of VCS3s, Clip had a guitar and a Wasp synthesizer and David had largely acoustic instruments or sound sources such as bowed cymbals and the like.

Sessions would start quietly and then gradually Clip and I would tend to increase the volume on our respective instruments producing a wall of sound in which it became hard to identify individual sources, especially David’s contribution. We nevertheless carried on playing for a number of weeks recording what was in essence live improvisation and completed at least one long 20-minute track. None of these recordings were ever released and indeed to my knowledge no copies exist though possibly there may be a cassette in Clip’s loft. A live and more restrained appearance was also made by the three of us at the 1981 summer concert at Morley College.  
In late 1981 Snatch 3 was released. Whereas Snatch 1 and 2 had been compiled quickly Snatch 3 took much longer possibly as we were trying to be more ‘professional’. The sleeve (designed by David) for example was printed rather than photocopied and I painstakingly screen printed the cassette labels in Pink and Turquoise. There was even an accompanying poster made not with David but with Michael Denton.
Also in 1981 Snatch Tapes released Ritual, a cassette single by David Jackman which, featured Ritual a Jackman solo composition on the A side and Offshore a Jackamn/Sanderson composition on the B side. My memory is that Offshore is the third track we worked on in 1980 though when I discussed this with David a few years ago he thought Offshore was not from the 1980 Paddington sessions but was recorded separately. The cassette sleeve advertised Offshore as being from a “forthcoming duo cassette album”.
Offshore never appeared on the duo cassette album but the following year In 1982 the 0° North Sanderson/Jackman cassette was released not on Snatch Tapes but on David’s Aeroplane label it featured 5 tracks: Ashes & Diamonds, Fade of Light, Terrain, Under Press of Sail and Zero Degrees North. It was a curious compilation as not only did it not feature Offshore but three of the tracks had appeared the year previously on the Snatch 3 compilation. It did however include one of the previously unreleased Terrain tracks.

Ashes & Diamonds is a Jackman/ Sanderson collaborative and features flute loops recorded in 1980. The flute loops were together with some abstract vocals by Nancy Slessinger (who had provided the drifting vowels on the Claire Thomas & Susan Vezey Bright Waves track) and some percussive sounds fed through a 2 Revox tape delay system to create the track. For a while there was talk of it being included on Cherry Red Pillows & Prayers but this never came to anything.

Fade of Light is a Jackman solo track recorded by him in Barnes and quite characteristic of his sound at the time.

Terrain is a Jackman/ Sanderson track one of the two Terrain tracks we recorded in 1980 in Paddington. The longest piece on the tape it is a slowly shifting mix of percussive loops.

Under Press of Sail is a Sanderson seqeuncer/VCS3 track recorded in early 1979 and originally released on Snatch 1 under the Claire Thomas & Susan Vezey pseudonym.

Zero Degrees North is a Jackman/ Sanderson mix featuring the drum loop I had made for the Storm Bugs track Tin overdubbed with ezraj by David. Zero Degrees North had also appeared on Snatch 3 but credited to Ice Yacht.

The next release to feature any combined Sanderson/Jackman input was the 1985 Nigel Jacklin Verdenskang tapemade in co-operation with: Philip Sanderson, Meat Means Bloody Murder, David Jackman and introducing: Zena” to quote the sleeve. The exact contribution of the various parties is not listed further but listening to it a couple of years ago I could identify a number of sections, which were taken from live gigs, which took place between 1980 and 1982.

Also in 1985 I began compiling an LP featuring various collaborative tracks from the previous 5 years in particular a number of tracks made with Michael Denton. As part of this process David (who at the time had a room in my New Cross flat) came into the IPS studio and added home made flute to two tracks. Ups and Downs and Apostrophe S. Ups and Downs was a Sanderson/Denton track recorded a couple of years previously for a video Michael was working on whilst Apostrophe S had been recorded by myself and Steven Ball for another short video project. The homemade flutes made by David have a particular sonic quality, which can be heard on his Organum recordings from the same period.  Here combined with more rhythmical backings the effect was rather different as heard on Ups and Downs and Apostrophe S. The LP never saw the light of day but a cassette version entitled Telephone Music was made in an edition of 5-10 copies. A tape delay version of the flute part from Ups and Downs was made for potential use in a film project and this exists as a cassette copy (unreleased).

There were no musical collaborations between David and myself in the 1990s; I was working on various light and sound installations and he was busy with his Organum releases though as ever we kept in touch as we both shared a passion for bicycle building so much time was spent discussing the merits of 531 tubing, 26 13/8ths rims and Sturmey-Archer hub gears.
In the 2000s as various back catalogues began to be re-issued on CD and LP we began to discuss re-issuing some of our old collaborative recordings. The first of these to be released was Terrain, not the one that had appeared on the 1982 Zero Degrees North cassette but the other Terrain from the 1980s sessions. This was released by Dir Stadt as a ten inch single in 2002 backed by Adrift from the David Jackman Snatch Tapes cassette single of the same name.
In 2003 Offshore (the B-side to the Ritual single) was included on David’s Up From Zero CD released by Robot Records. Then in 2004, Fusetron in New York released Up the Middle, Down the Sides a Storm Bugs compilation of mostly previously unreleased tracks. Nestled towards the end of side 2 is a one-minute track called In the Naked Girl’s Majesty.  This was recorded in 1980 and is constructed from one of the percussion loops David and I made for the Terrain tracks with an improvised vocal track.
In 2006 Vinyl On Demand released Snatch Paste - featuring an assortment of tracks from the first three Snatch Tape compilations. Amongst these were solo tracks by David and myself but also Diamonds and Ashes and alternative (and arguably far superior) mix of Ashes and Diamonds from Snatch 3/Zero Degrees North.
And that for the moment is that. David and I did play live together one more time about 4 years ago when he suggested at short notice that we attend one of Eddie Prevost's Friday Workshops which take place in the basement of a chapel on Southwark Bridge Road. We were the only two participants not to have recognizable musical instruments and it made for an interesting evening as David crashed about banging brooms against fire extinguishers and I made feedback squeaks with a small amplifier and cassette recorder. It was all good fun and there was talk of us both attending the workshop regularly but we never did.

To my knowledge all of the re-issued material from the 0s is still available for purchase from various outlets (see discogs). The original cassettes are much harder to come by however digitized versions do appear regularly on line on blogs, youtube etc (a quick Google showed three sites with Zero Degrees North). The sound quality is often very poor and sometimes the track listing is wrong but it is the only way to hear the tracks in their original context. 

Jackman/Sanderson collaborative tracks by date of release.
1981 -  Offshore. B- side to the Ritual cassette single by David Jackman (tch211).
1981 – Zero Degrees North. Appears on the Snatch 3 compilation tape (tch 300) credited to Ice Yacht.
1981 – Ashes & Diamonds. Appears on the Snatch 3 compilation tape (tch 300) credited to Claire Thomas & Susan Vezey.
1982 – Terrain. Appears on the Zero Degrees North Jackman/Sanderson tape release (AR4)
1982 – Zero Degrees North. Appears on the Zero Degrees North Jackman/Sanderson tape release (AR4)
1982 – Ashes & Diamonds. Appears on the Zero Degrees North Jackman/Sanderson tape release (AR4)
1985 – Various contributions to the Verdenskang - and it’s there tape (compiled by Nigel Jacklin) (AND 20). See text above for description.
1986 – Ups and Downs. With Michael Denton appears on the Telephone Music Tape.
1986 – Apostrophe S. With Steven Ball appears on the Telephone Music Tape.
2002 – Terrain. The previously unreleased Terrain was the A-side of a 10 inch single on Die Stadt records.  
2003 - Offshore. Included on the David Jackman Up From Zero CD released by Robot Records.
2004 - In the Naked Girl’s Majesty. Track on the Storm Bugs, Up the Middle Down the Sides LP on Fusetron.
2006 – Diamonds & Ashes. Alternate mix of Ashes and Diamonds appears on the Snatch Paste compilation LP on Vinyl on Demand records.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012



Hearing Things

Friday, November 02, 2012

A Redemptive Reading - I know its Gonna Happen Someday

See original blog posting on Pushing Ahead of the Dame

Comment by Gnomemansland...

I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday is a cover of a cover of a cover – a deliciously circular retelling that achieves through the process a salvation of sorts. Morrissey’s original is all Manchester pathos; the homeboy living with his mother, NME clippings in the top drawer, walking the streets in a second hand overcoat, yearning, hoping for some way out of the place, for an immaculate reconception of self. 

At the heart of the song though is failure. When Morrissey sings I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday you know it just isn’t gonna happen, today, or tomorrow, any day or in anyway. Morrissey using Rock N Roll Suicide as a template is singing to himself, or his former self. He has made the great escape but he sings to the mirror Morrissey still stuck in the Manchester bedroom chased home by catcalls from skinheads. It is an all but patronizing pat on the shoulder for his other self’s failure and implicitly in some way our own. 

Bowie takes the song and sings through it, back to the original or originals. Back to Rock N Roll Suicide and to every song that inspired that and to all the 50’s faded Vince Taylor inflections and influences that Morrissey so assiduously copied. In doing so he (almost inevitably) overblows it completely. It starts almost where it should end, tortured and tormented, crashing drums, strained vocals. For once in all of the overblown Bowie performances of the 80s and 90s this is perfect and just what is required. 

If Morrissey’s I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday is a song to slit your wrists to, Bowie’s is all stomach pump and salvation. His offer of hope is genuine. Maybe this is because Bowie like Morrissey was a star struck teenager who escaped suburbia but in Bowie’s case it was a genuine escape, it took longer but once away he rarely looked back. 

Morrissey in contrast for all his elder statesman and recent US chart success is stuck. Endlessly making LPs that sound just like the last. Hiring faceless musicians who sound just like Marr, forever (in his mind) revisiting haunts he has not seen for decades and bemoaning a lost Britain he has long since left. His other self cripples him continuously, Bowie in contrast may not have made a decent new record in years but in some way is free of all of that and his version of I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday is ultimately a validation of that freedom.