Saturday, September 01, 2018

A Stroll Down Soho Streets

Over the summer The Storm Bugs played twice, firstly at the Hither Green Arts Cafe and then at Contrapop down in Ramsgate. This was an all new set with Steven Ball on guitar and vocals, and myself on laptop and vocals. On the laptop was an updated version of the home brew soft synth/VCS3 with integrated sequencer (built in Max). Having the synthi playing live allowed for some degree of improvisation (and mistakes) especially when combined with the guitar. Overall a much more satisfying experience. One old track from 1980 we remade remodelled was "Car Situations" with the synthi patch all but playing itself, just needing the occasional nudge to take it down another side street. Here then is an extended 17 minute version of just the synthi part from "Car Situations" teemed up with footage from The Small World of Sammy Lee (1963). 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Typing Pool

Using an old OS9 application called Videodelic, Keyboard Skills reworks footage from a WW2 information film on the correct way to type and the importance of proper typing to the war effort. The soundtrack is a combination of asynchronous typing sounds and a riff (pun intended) on Scott Joplin.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Pebble Dot Dash

Pebble Dot Dash by Philip Sanderson combines flâneur footage with shortwave radio recordings. The camera takes a series of walks on and off the beaten track around the coastal town of Hastings. Time slips elliptically by as movements there and back are merged electronically; the train arriving whilst departing, the tide going in as it goes out, a man shadowing his own footsteps.
The moving images are married with shortwave transmissions from across the globe, captured during filming. These broadcasts from China, Pakistan, Russia, the USA, and elsewhere, reflect contemporary neo-liberal anxieties; deals and scams, the financing of the second coming, aspiration and desire. Sound and image mesh asynchronously, global audio relocating the here to there.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Boule de Neige

For the first week in March 2018 the UK was thick with snow. The combination of white outside and sharp periodontal twangs inside, prompted the recording of a somewhat old school 16 minute electronic track called 'Boule de Neige'. The piece was made using a homebrew Max/MSP/Jitter Synthi, but rather than the usual Sanderson/Storm Bugs clattering sequences you get a free-form improvisation. The main patches uses a variation on the no-input circuit much beloved of David Tudor. Here a touch of white noise seeds a feedback loop that moves between modulated hi and lo pass filters, giving one the sharp dynamics of a sound on the edge of break-up, not far removed from a bowed hubcap or squeaky gate. The overall feeling of 'Boule de Neige' is very akin to a couple of the live sessions I played with Nigel Jacklin and the Rupenus Brothers back in the early 1980s, hence the subtitle (Alien Brains for Breakfast).

Having uploaded 'Boule de Neige' to Bandcamp, four more recent tracks were added to make up a full long player. 'Factory Settings' features the soft Synthi/VCS3 again, but with a sequencer and delay line for self-pollinating cross rhythms. 'Window Walk' is an instrumental version of the track included on the 2017 Linear Obsession Christmas compilation A View from a Hill. The track began life as a visual sequence of shifting squares, which were then translated into their audio equivilent by Artmatic. 'We Thought it Would be OK but the Wind Changed' was originally credited to Maids of the Marsh and included on the M - The Thirteenth Letter ‎CD Compilation assembled by Daniel Blumin for WFMU in 2013. The children's voices come from a 1970s public safety film highlighting the potential dangerous combination of high voltage power lines and kites. The music is a nod to children's TV programmes from the same decade such as, The Owl Service, and Children of the Stones. Lastly 'Broken Morning' is an inversion of the spirit if not the music of the popular Christian song 'Morning has Broken'. Instead of chiming guitars and angelic voices celebrating the new day, one gets more of a granular synthesis lament, with yodeling and a percussion loop. Oh and the drawing was made during a workshop on REF impact statements!
Available here

Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Mourning of Mark E Smith

Somewhat bemused by all the MES obituaries, partly as one suspects the man himself would have found it all too fawning, but also because I doubt many who claim to care so much can name any of last 10 Fall LPs. Not that I can, this isn’t a “I’m a real fan and own the grief” routine, but rather the social media outpourings suggests that MES represented far more than his music, which high points such as Elastic Man aside was intensely repetitive. Yes saint John Peel thought the Fall were the bees knees, and there are many amusing (as long as you were not on the receiving end) tales about him firing band members at service stations, or pouring beer over a coach driver’s head as they hurtled along at top speed. The appeal of all this is the notion that MES never sold out, he was the keeper of the post-punk flame, he just kept on, drinking, playing live, making an album a year, firing band members, getting hitched up with new ones (and wives), drinking, getting into fights, playing live, firing and hiring band members, and so on. This drum pattern of a life is it seems intensely appealing to many a middle class male soul. I was surprised when separately a couple of people I knew admitted to being not just Fall fans but having been for a while some British version of Dead Heads. They had in their early twenties after university (of course) not just attended the odd Fall gig, but followed the band round for whole tours, sleeping rough and hitching, begging and stealing, whatever it took to get to the next gig.  This went on for months at a time and then one day this post college right of passage over they progressed on to proper jobs. Whatever dues they then paid in the coming years selling out to the man and the mortgage company, compromising on their once held beliefs, they had at least in some way ‘lived the dream’ and could sleep sound at night in the knowledge that MES was keeping the flame alive, drinking, playing live, making an album a year, firing band members, getting hitched etc, etc.
What a nightmare. To imagine that not deviating from the same riffs and barroom taps for all those years is an achievement, something to be applauded is to misunderstand both the misery of the alcoholic and the mind numbing tedium and lack of imagination in repetition. After thousands of gigs any soul not steeped in drink would cry out to do something different. Even ABBA were insightful enough to sing All I do is eat and sleep and sing. Wishing every show was the last show”. Turning MES into an updated whisky priest feeds into the dubious concept of there being authenticity in grinding yourself into an early grave, of some goodfella blokey truth in getting plastered night after night. Believe if you like that MES lived the dream/nightmare so you didn’t have to, but I will mourn instead for all the things he could have done.         

Thursday, January 25, 2018

George Smiley at Snatch Tapes HQ

It is 1981 and George Smiley (AKA Alec Guinness in the BBC version of the Le Carré novel)visits the Snatch Tapes HQ which was at 25 Westbourne Terrace. Of course we had moved out the year before so he is unlucky in his attempt at securing a copy of Snatch 3. Looking like it was shot on 16mm what is interesting is that unlike a big budget film production in which the street would have been closed off and the passers by and cars would all be extras, this was filmed in the everyday hubbub of the street with 'real' people and cars.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Quick Quick Quick

If by chance you should find yourself at the London Art Fair this week then wend your way through to the screening room at the back of the Art Projects space to see a programme entitled Quick, Quick, Quick curated by Pryle Behrman this contains both a fine selection from volumes 1-9 of Kerry Baldry's One Minute programme and a collection of half a dozen or so Lumiere et Son pieces. Here is one of them…