Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Eclecticism Mix 06

This is the third in a series of mixes that I completed for an art show (the sixth in the "eclecticism" series). All electronic, experimental in places, but not too hectic. 

I think this year has been a great year for underground, alternative and electronic music with some inspiring albums from some of my personal favourite artists; Four Tet, Flying Lotus, Andy Stott and Daphni are all represented here, plus new discoveries for me, Nathan Fake and Holy Other.. I even squeezed in an unusually mellow, unreleased track by X-Amount. Thats all good then. 

I particularly enjoyed putting this mix together, I hope you enjoy it too. 

The artwork is a photograph taken at Pimlico Pumping Station in London.

Simon x

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Simon's Online Store


As some of you may know, I take a lot of photographs these days. Recently I decided to build some designs based on the photographs (some were used as part of the projections in our last gig).

I have put some of these designs up for sale in an online store (called "Woodhenge"). You can get prints, posters, gift cards, shirts, mouse mats, mugs and things. Most things are customisable (especially the shirts, where you can change size, style, colour etc.), so you can alter them to suit your needs.

If you like what you see, please follow the links or visit the store here:

Here are some examples:

Simon x

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Salisbury Gig: Details

We were asked to do a support gig in Salisbury and we said yes. We had not played live in front of an audience since the mid 1990’s, although we had done two live performances on  internet radio, so we knew it could be done.

photo by Fran Stout

We have talked plenty about getting a live version of X-Amount together. The original plan was to have Andi play electronic drums, me on laptop, a live bass guitar and possibly a live guitar, and we are hoping to get this format together at some point, but for this gig we opted to do the same thing that we did on the radio, but with some added visual material. In other words, Andi and I both manipulating synchronised audio material using laptops running Ableton Live.

The first step was to get a set-list of tracks together, and having completed four 40 minute sets for Simple’s show on NakedBeatz, we had plenty of material. We decided that for the Salisbury crowd we were playing to (who would be largely unfamiliar with what we do) that we would play a set that was good to dance to and not as extreme in terms of noise - the set would play throughout the venue and we wanted to avoid alienating everybody if possible. This venue had not seen music quite as experimental for some time.

So, songs selected, I began to put the set together. This was slightly easier than starting from scratch, although having prepared the previous work, I am getting quicker at doing this, and do not make as many time-consuming mistakes. There was only one real hurdle, in that two of the previous sets had been prepared using one method and layout and the other set was different, so I had to come up with a way to combine both.

Andi's instrument tracks

What I am talking about here is like working out a line-up for a virtual band that would be playing the tracks. This band would then be divided into two, and put onto each of the two laptops. There was some compromise necessary, but basically I wanted each of us to have drum and percussive elements to control, as these would be good for us to create dub sounds from. From there I allocated the tracks mainly according to what we had created in the initial laptop jams that generated the tracks in the first place. Me mostly on synths and Andi mostly working with samples.

Simon's instrument tracks
I created stripped back versions of the tracks that would hopefully give is enough sonic space to layer new effects, or re-creations of the original tracks’ effects on top, or even create new versions on the spot. It was like a kind of skeletal framework to build upon. At the moment, I have been keeping things fairly safe, because we have had a tendency to over-work things, ending up with a maelstrom of noise that is a bit of a bludgeoning to our audience. Although this might be a good idea in some circumstances, we felt the need to be kind this time. Also, until we have built up more confidence in live performance, knowing that what we do won’t completely fall apart when we perform, this skeleton is built in such a way that we can retain control, and do not lose sight of what we are trying to achieve. Hopefully  in the near future, this may become a little looser, opening up our live performance to a more improvised and free-form happening. This may well occur in future with the addition of the live musicians, but it would also be interesting to further open up these possibilities with live laptop performances.

Thats not to say that what we have been doing up to this point does not involve genuine live performance and improvisation, it does. Both Andi and I are reacting live to this ‘skeleton’ by manipulating a set of audio tracks in real time using various sonic tools in the same way that we do when we initially generate the improvised jams, the difference is that rather than being completely open-ended, we restrict ourselves to a time frame for each track and we also have an idea of the mood and musical direction of the track according to the finished mixed and edited versions that exist.
Korg NanoKontrol - labelled
The other consideration that needed to be made is to do with the physical tools that we would use in performance. We would be using our Korg NanoKontrol devices which have eight faders and eight knobs for MIDI control plus an array of buttons. These can control auxiliary sends to effects like echo and reverb, plus synthesizer-type parameters like frequency, resonance and oscillation settings which, used in the right way can allow some extreme and radical alterations of sounds live. We could also alter volume levels, switch things on and off, and mess with the audio waveforms themselves should we want to.
Korg PadKontrol

At the point of setting this up I had an idea to open things up some more. During our first radio show, Andi had been flying in random shortwave samples live, which was great and this gave me an idea to use the Korg PadKontrol. With the PadKontrol you have a bank of 16 pressure-sensitive pads that can be assigned to MIDI notes, plus an X-Y controller that can be assigned to movement controls and two assignable knobs. I realised that I could link the PadKontrol to Live’s Drum Rack instrument, which is effectively a bank of samplers  arranged across 16 trigger pads.

Live's Drum Rack plus FX
So, I could arrange 16 of our samples across the PadKontrol’s pads with the X-Y controller affecting a filter and the knobs assigned to echo and reverb. After some playing with this and adjustments, we ended up with a very expressive live instrument. The X-Y controls were set to alter a bandpass filter’s frequency on the X axis and LFO speed across the Y. This meant that moving across the pad with a finger in one direction (left to right) would control the tone of the sound (in an extreme way - from sub-bass to high frequency hiss) and moving in the other (up and down) would introduce a heavy tremolo effect and shift it’s speed of movement. With the knobs you could ‘throw’ the sounds into reverb effects or have them echo.

Drum Rack sounds 1
We ended up with two banks of 16 samples for the performance. 16 shortwave samples (and some sampled tape hiss), and 16 reversed samples, so things like cymbal hits, synth tones, acoustic guitar sounds, piano chords, all going backwards, so that they would fade in. It added a new dimension to the gig, and will definitely remain as a permanent fixture.
Drum Rack sounds 2

So, now we had a firm idea of what we were going to do, the set list and instrument layout got refined. I contacted the gig’s promoters to find out how long we could play for, and was told 40 minutes, so we worked to that. We did add in an encore track, just in case we had a response that demanded it, but frankly I knew that was not going to happen!

Tracks that were selected were, on the whole our more melodic and danceable tracks, so we had seven of them: four from “Degraded”, two from “Six Months..” and a new one (“Hobo”), which I did a new mix of and put on SoundCloud for free download in celebration of our first live gig in front of an audience for about 20 years.

We also added some spoken word. I had recorded Felix Baumgartner’s space jump with this in mind, and that began the show, plus Andi and I collected some other bits and pieces from the likes of Ernst Jandl, John Giorno, Bob Cobbing, and finishing with a clip of Hal from “2001: A Space Odyssey”, some of these were treated, some not.
Post-gig screen shot of the entire set arrangement (click to see larger)

We then began to think about the visual aspect of things. We are well aware that watching two old gits bobbing about behind laptops would be pretty dull. For this reason Andi has wanted to perform where no-one can really see us, like in a DJ booth, or hidden in some way. This was not an option at this small venue, we would be onstage, so we decided to go with another idea we have been toying with; that of having interactive visual projections.

We have discussed this plenty too. We have planned to have video films woking with the performances. Because of the dull nature of blokes behind laptops and the fact that our listening audience will find it hard to decipher what we were actually doing (especially those who were unfamiliar with our work), we wanted to have some way of visual material projected somehow reacting to what we are doing, so it would enhance and give the audience visual feedback.
photo by Fran Stout

Ideas so far have been having video clips that launch simultaneously when an audio clip is launched, video effects being applied remotely as audio effects are applied, live cameras filming our activity behind the laptops from above and others. Because of a lack of preparation time and money, and a need to keep things simple, we decided on using the venue’s projector hooked up to a third laptop. The laptop would run a basic program that showed a live waveform display that responded to incoming audio.

I had also been working on some two-colour designs based on gritty urban photographs of London, and it seemed that they would work well alongside.

I worked out that over the forty minute show, if we projected a slide show of images with one image showing for 12 seconds at a time I would need to produce about 120 images to avoid repetition. I had thought of having the images synchronised to the tracks, but that would mean more complications, perhaps we will do this another time.

Note: The image used the MixCloud artwork at the top of the page is a good representation of what the visuals looked like.

We now had everything ready, so went into rehearsal. The initial practices were a bit fraught sounding and were way too busy, but after three goes at it we had things sounding tight and interesting, and the visuals worked too.

We headed to Salisbury knowing that we could put on a good show. Everything seemed to go smoothly. All possible technical problems had been considered, so even though our sound check was late, and we had a lot of connections to be made, the only thing that gave us minor hassle was the venue’s projector (getting it to talk to the laptop and then blinding us while we performed), eventually it pretty much all went according to plan.

I had brought down my own mixer too, this meant that any balancing of sound could be done at our end, as long as we had decent monitoring (which we did), what we were hearing onstage was exactly what the audience was getting. The mixer also provided audio outs for input to the visual projections and enabled us to record the audio of the set. I even added a microphone to capture audience sound.
set list

Listening back to the recording of the gig, we are very pleased with how it went. In the end Andi worked with the PadKontrol, adding samples and sounds with effects, and I worked with the NanoKontrol, dubbing it up and twisting synth and sample sounds. Predictably we drove most people out of the room, but the response we got was positive, with plenty of talk of gigs on bigger stages with bigger sound systems, so we hope it comes together. We are ready!

Many thanks to those that came to see the show, the venue and staff, and especially to those that chatted with us afterwards. You gave us some decent criticism too, which we are taking onboard.

Thanks also to Fran, who took the photos.

Hopefully we will see you all again soon.. in a loud dark space.

Simon and Andi.

photo by Fran Stout

Sunday, 4 November 2012

A Dub / Reggae Mix

A mix put together for my son's 18th Birthday party. I would like to say this was done using my vinyl collection, but I gave away my vinyl decks (to my son!) some time ago (I still have one deck and all the vinyl though). Reggae definitely seems to sound better from vinyl, but this was put together using the digital versions I have, I had to re-buy some of my favourites. It is focussed mainly on the dub side of things, but there are some other classics in there too that I thought the younger dudes at the party would enjoy. I still remember listening to David Rodigan's reggae radio shows on Radio London and Capital Radio back in the late 1970's and early 80's, where he would introduce me to Jah Shaka, Mad Professor (both not present in this mix, erroneously), Eek-A-Mouse, Barrington Levy and loads more. I owe a lot to Rodigan, he gave me an education. I later discovered Lee "Scratch" Perry's incredible body of work, plus Adrian Sherwood and his On-U-Sound label via John Peel.

All these sounds have had a huge influence on me, from my early solo work as Head To Head back in the late 1980's, to dubbing up Back To The Planet and others, right through to current work with X-Amount. I used to try and stand behind Adrian Sherwood at his gigs, and I learnt a lot watching him work (I even met him once when we supported African Headcharge, but I got tongue tied and star-struck). I can remember him floating hi-hats around the building.

I know this is not a definitive list in this mix, there are plenty of artists missing, but it will serve as a good start point for my son and his mates (though I suspect that they are already away) and it was great to re-visit some of these wonderful sounds.

I put the mix together on my laptop using Algoriddim's DJay software - I couldn't resist using the FX here and there..

Simon x

Monday, 29 October 2012

A recording of last week's gig

Here is a high-quality recording of our gig last week at The Winchester Gate in Salisbury. More detail to follow soon..

Sunday, 28 October 2012

X-Amount Gig

Dear People's of the Republic Of Salisbury.
Thanks for your support and enthusiasm to our first gig in years
A&S x

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

New track, free download - Hobo

You may have already spotted it.. we are playing a gig this Friday (26th October) in Salisbury. I was trying to work out the last time that we played in front of an audience as X-Amount.. the last time the full band played was in Camden in the 1990's. We did have a gig arranged at Glastonbury in about 1997, but it didn't happen because our MMT8s went on the blink. Before that we played as a duo in the Lewisham Labour Club for the South East London Musicians Collective. That must have been in the first half of the 90's, so it could be as long as 20 years ago! Unless any of you know any different..

Of course we have done recent live performances on Simple's radio show online, but this is our first gig on stage, in front of an audience for a very long time.

We are just about ready now. We have put together a vague visual accompaniment, using some colour manipulated photos (one of them is used for the artwork above) that I have put together and a computer program that reacts to sound. We will play about 8 tunes in a continuous mix that features our new "shortwave instrument" that is basically a sampler full of shortwave and backwards noises that get filtered and dubbed up using a Korg PadKontrol. We have added a load of voices too - Felix Baumgartner, Bob Cobbing, Charles Bukowski, and others.

It should be fun.

And to celebrate, we have a tune to give away for you.

"Hobo", is an edit of a laptop jam we did this year. It did feature in the last gig on Simple's Show, but this version has had a minor tweak. We may do a remix, or a new version at some point..there are plans coming together for the next audio onslaught.

Hopefully, we will see some of you in Salisbury on Friday.

Hope so. Hope you like the freebie

Simon & Andi xx

PS: Click here for The Facebook Event Link for Friday's gig

Thursday, 18 October 2012

X-Amount play live in Salisbury

We will be supporting a band called 'Dreams Divide' in Salisbury on Friday October 26th. This is the first time we have played in front of a live audience for a very long time. Yes, we have done internet gigs, sometimes with a handful of people present, but this is the first time in a long time in front of a proper crowd (if we get one).

For us, this is quite exciting, it was nice to be asked to do it, but must admit we were disappointed with the posters - it looks like they are supplying X-Amount of David from Dreams Divide's manhood. We think the people of Salisbury will have trouble working out that there is a support act playing, Andi didn't even spot it first time he looked.. ah well, apparently posters don't account for much these days anyhow.

The set for this is coming together, it will be a mixture of some of our favourites plus some new ones. I have created a shortwave radio instrument especially for the show and there will be some interesting voices added and other weird additions..

Do come along if you are in or near Salisbury at the time. Here is a link to the Facebook Event page:

Friday, 5 October 2012

A Broadcast To The Trees

We are proud to be part of Frenchbloke's "Broadcast To The Trees" this weekend. He says: "I’m being let loose for 24 hours with a(legal) FM Transmitter..The broadcast to the forest will be around October 6th.. to a limited radius in the Galloway Forest.  There will be no archiving or streaming and not a hope of it turning up on-line (unless some madman brings a radio tape recorder to a forest). You really have to appear in the vicinity to hear it."

So, our music along with an amazing list of other contributors (including DJ Food, Herbaliser, Carter Tutti etc etc) will be played to a forest in Scotland. A dark skies park, no less. Hardly anyone will hear it - except for the trees.. what a brilliant idea..

More info and full list of contributors here:

And here: The Dark Outside

pic from Frenchbloke's Twitter page

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Photographs of The Heygate Estate

Photographs of the Heygate Estate, Elephant & Castle, Walworth, Southwark, South London. Soon to be demolished (it is now mostly boarded up), it is a stark, yet strangely beautiful view of urban decay. It was built in the 1970's and is a good example of post-war, 'neo-brutalist' architecture. Designed by Tim Tinker, it had an optimistic beginning, but soon had a reputation for crime and violence.

It has featured in several feature films including "Attack The Block", "Harry Brown" (with Michael Caine), "Shank" and scenes in "Hereafter" by Clint Eastwood. It was also a regular location for TV dramas "The Bill" and "Spooks".

I could see comparisons with other 1970's architecture in London, like the Barbican Centre, so it was a little sad that the place had dilapidated and had also failed it's residents. Yet, a strange beauty lies in its decay.

Below is a slide show of photographs that I took there last week (you can go full screen by clicking the icon in the bottom right of the viewer).


Saturday, 8 September 2012

Giorgio Moroder Remix

I have done another remix for a Beatport competition. This time Giorgio Moroder's "From Here To Eternity". Great material to work with again. And, once again I opted to do something that stayed close to the original material. I only added minimal parts of my own...

Listen to it here (and vote if you can!):

Simon x

Saturday, 18 August 2012

No more freebies!

OK, we decided that it's time for a change. Since we re-started X-Amount last year we have been giving all of our stuff away free. The thinking behind this was that we were unlikely to make much out of our efforts anyway, our music can be difficult, and also we thought that giving it away free would widen our audience.

Well, it does not seem to have worked out that way. Maybe because neither of us are very good at promotion and publicity. Plus, when we do e-mail people about what we do, record labels and others, we just get ignored. We have had hardly any responses to all of our efforts. We do not know people in useful places.

Most of the work we have been doing has been in the hope that things will grow and also that some of our friends and family will appreciate and maybe enjoy what we do (which they often do, despite what we put them through!). 

There have been one or two people that really do enjoy it, and there has been some positive feedback, and for that we are extremely grateful. So, thank you if you are one of those rare people. We really do appreciate it.

However..Our latest album, although free, has been downloaded just twice (according to the stats on BandCamp).

So, it seems giving it away free doesn't even work anymore. It is very difficult to work out where, or if, we have gone wrong because we don't get any feedback, but something somewhere isn't working.

We actually need to raise some money now, for essential software in order to keep going. Plus it would be nice to put some money into future projects if at all possible. So far all CDs pressed and publicity has come out of our own pockets. This is why there were no CD copies of "Six Months.." made this time. I did mention that we could make some up to order but there was no interest. The thing is, we believe our music to be good and worthy of interest.

I have recently been accepted onto an MA course, and for this the University in question want to see me develop the ideas that we have been using for X-Amount. This could potentially widen our tiny audience, and will definitely expand our art.

With all this in mind we have decided to start charging small amounts for our music. I see it as the equivalent of buying the two of us a beer in return for an album of music (that probably contains months of work). Seems reasonable to me.

If you look closely, there will still be the odd freebie, but they won't last forever. Prices will appear on BandCamp in a week's time, so if you want to grab "Six Months Of Community Service" or "Degraded" for free, now is the time!

We have plenty of material to come in the near future. I plan on re-mastering the "Leakage" and "Fat Bankers" albums from the 1990s, with extra tracks and expanded artwork. I also discovered a whole load of unreleased stuff from years back that still sounds fresh and dangerous, so that will appear at some point, but best of all is that we have an entire album's worth of new material to come out that just needs mixing and mastering.

We will of course keep you informed, and we will stay busy.

Love and peace

Simon and Andi.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Can - The Lost Tapes - parrallels

I got a copy of "The Lost Tapes" by Can recently, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. A magnificent 3 CD box set of unheard Can material, a project seven years in the making.

The box comes as a 10" presentation (like a reel-to-reel tape box) and besides the CDs there is a book inside that contains liner notes by Irmin Schmidt (Can's keyboard player). At one point he is talking about a track called "Graublau" which was made for a film. He says:

"I wanted to find a sound design where the sounds and noises would mix with the soundtrack but also work on their own. At home I recorded hours of short wave radio and made loops to which we then all played together in the studio. In the editing room Peter Przygodda (the editor of the film) and I compiled the shortwave radio, the music and the fades between them and the film soundtrack. At some point the sound of a propeller plane became the sound of shortwaves in which would then slowly appear a groove: the noise of the motor turned into music."

Interesting parallels, of which I am proud..

Buy the box set (I command you):

Simon x

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Simon's Photography Site

I have a new site for my photography work. I have always had a love of the British countryside and in particular it's woodland and coastal areas. The site features galleries of woodland photographs put together over eight months for an exhibition last year, as well as some recent work capturing coastal areas of Kent.

There are also galleries that feature some of my more abstract and urban photographs, and you may recognise some of these as they have been used for some of our cover artwork.

The site has an online shop, you can buy prints, framed or unframed and digital downloads for as little as 50p. It takes credit card payments and PayPal, and works in GBP, Euros, US & Canadian dollars.

I will be updating regularly and will also keep an occasional photography-centered blog over there. Please explore..

Thank you

Simon x

Monday, 30 July 2012

Remix of John Davis & The Monster Orchestra

I have done a remix (well, its more of a dub/edit) of John Davis & The Monster Orchestra's "Ain't That Enough For You". It was for a competition on Beatport, but to be honest I did it because it is a fabulous disco track and it was a lot of fun working with 24 channels of authentic disco material done by great musicians. It has horns, strings and loads of classic disco motifs.

I think everyone else in the competition is probably doing house/techno re-workings, but I preferred to mix it as it was, in a style that might have been done originally (with only minor Birch twists). I just added some dubs and edited it a bit, extending it to 6 mins 40s. I tried to create what I thought the people that dance at my parties would enjoy. I loved doing this, I hope you enjoy it too. Sod winning, I have had my prize already.

You can hear it here:

John Davis & The Monster Orchestra - Ain't That Enough For You (Simon Birch Dub)

Simon x

Sunday, 22 July 2012

"6 Months Of Community Service" - new album out now

Our new album is out and you can download the whole thing for free (or donate)..

There are some extras when you download the whole album: 3 extra mixes (including the "Skint Mix" of "Lost A Grand"), plus 2 videos, full album artwork, album notes and a digital booklet. Play/share/download below.. hope you like x

Monday, 9 July 2012

New album out soon! "Six Months Of Community Service"

We have a new album out on July 21st on BandCamp. It is called "Six Months Of Community Service" and collects together eight tracks that were put out during the first six months of 2012 (plus an extra one).

The track listing is as follows:

1: Box (Dub Torpor): (7:41)
2: Tang (Pungent Mix): (8:02)
3: He Was A Chef He Was (Bubble & Squeak Mix): (5:29)
4: Wire Frame Ghost: (7:20)
5: Fat Deluge (Refried Mix): (6:53)
6: I Told You Not To Eat That: (6:17)
7: Transparency: (6:55)
8: Lost A Grand: (7:12)
9: Flap Flops: (6:45)

In total it's an hour long. Once again, it will be a "name your price" scenario, so you can download it for nothing, or donate..

We are aware that the keenest of you will already have downloaded some or most of these tracks over the last few months, but it is still worth downloading the album as a whole, because you get 3 extra tracks, full album artwork, a digital booklet and 2 videos thrown in.

You can download in pretty much any format too, from lossless FLAC to mp3 and so on..

We hope you enjoy it..

Here is the link: http://x-amount.bandcamp.com/

"Degraded" is still available too!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

New track: Lost A Grand

The main voice in this says "since I started work, I must have lost a grand". This man was recorded on the 208 bus in South London and had plenty to say.
He had been going on about his life in the area. Clearly, he had been in trouble before, sleeping rough and taking drugs. I don't normally earwig in on people's conversations, but (and you can hear it in the track) he had a very penetrating voice and was sat right behind us upstairs. He pointed things out to his mate "I had a shag down there", and "I used to sleep in there, but they've tidied it up now. I woke up on fire once". He wasn't sure if it was falling asleep after doing a crack pipe that had caused the fire or whether his mates had set light to him.  For the bit put into the track, he was going on about being ripped off by credit card companies. "Since I started work, I must have lost a grand".
The crowd voices were recorded at a protest march by the Congolese people in Whitehall, London. They were marching in protest of thier leader, I must admit I do not know much about Congo. The signs people held seemed to say that rape and murder were going on on a massive scale at the hands of their government. My son Dillon and I wandered into this march by chance. I recorded sound whilst Dillon took photographs. We got a lot of useful material. The march wasn't on the news that day.
Both of these samples seem to reflect our current troubled times. the man on the bus is one of the people that our idiot leader really wants to go away. But he won't will he? Boris (the mayor of London) promised to rid the streets of London of people sleeping rough by the end of this year. It transpires that the figures are rising instead. Cameron wants to take their benefits away. They juggle the figures. Putting graduates into Poundland stacking shelves for no extra money except for the benefits they recieve. Cuts to education and the health services. Times of austerity they say. Yet if you taxed the mega-rich 20% of their income for a year (don't worry, it won't hurt them) it could generate something like 80 billion pounds. So, no need for cuts then. It drives you round the bend..
Other sounds: There are shortwave clips and some synth loops built by Andi using Figure on the iPhone and some built by myself using Logic, and some synthetics made using a clip of white noise that has been sent through filtering and modulation effects. There is also a treated recording of a digger on a building site.

This track might be the last in the series of free ones we have dished out this year (it is the 8th). What we plan to do next is add one more to the collection and put it out on BandCamp as an album with some extra stuff (artwork and bonus tracks).

There is plenty more to come too.. This will be followed by a second album of new material and some tracks from the archives... we also still hope to perform some some live work. This time in front of an audience and with some visual things as well..

We will keep you informed right here.

thanks for your support

Simon (& Andi).

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Dark Matter & Light Shards: DJ mix

After a gloomy start to summer, a couple of disappointing gigs (in terms of turnout), but some fabulous new music coming out, I decided to try to combine all of this into a new mix. It has its dark moments, but stick with it, as there are shards of light too. Immerse yourself in sound. 

Mostly techno/ electronic but with jazzy, psychedelic and lo-fi vibes as well. Despite the dark content it is quite a chilled journey, with with a groove on. All of it either recent releases or faves from the last year.

I needed to try out the new version of the DJay software that I have as well. Fabulous it is too..

As Cameron continues his appalling hypocritical journey to completely destroy any hope for the future of our young people and artists, dark times are here. So we need these shards of light. I don't know about you, but his recent statements about "sorting out" those on benefits made my blood boil. He has clearly not thought it through (again), what about disabled people for example? And thats just the start of it all.. Plus, he himself and his lifestyle exists through handouts from his multimillionaire friends and family. Liar. Scumbag. Clueless out of touch moron.

Anyway!  I hope you enjoy this hour long eclectic mix, with its dark and light moments.

It begins with some ambient drone from the "V" album by KTL. I must admit, I don't like the whole album; the track at the end with the daft "scary" voice puts me off an otherwise interesting listen. I haven't put the whole twelve minute version in here, after about three minutes it mixes in to an Andy Stott track. "Work Gate" is from his brilliant "We Stay Together" LP from last year, which you can get coupled with the equally inspirational "Passed Me By". In my opinion one of the most interesting releases I have heard in a long time.


The next track; Om Unit's "C66 Jam" came free with a recent Bleep/Sonar promotion. Its a trippy piece, reminding me of experimental synth days and stoned grooving. Lovely stuff. I will check out more by this lot.

Andi & I discovered the brilliant duo Sculpture recently and went to check them out live, where they were supporting a band fronted by Charles Hayward (Monkey Puzzle Trio). Sculpture did not disappoint. Mind boggling visuals generated on a turntable with a video camera and sounds built using tape loops and echoes. Well worth exploring live. The track here is a remix that they have done of a band called Snorkel using mostly tape loops. See the demonstration video below:

'this is what it's like most of the time'
'you could call it a showreel'

I have been slowly trying to collect everything by Floating Points. I love his vibe. Interesting electronics combined with tinges of jazz and weirdness. This track is from his "Shadows" album released last year. It was part of a collaborative project with a friend of his who used computer programming that studies drum machine and synth activity to generate visuals in real time (something I am interested in for X-Amount). Check out the video for the wonderful track "Sais":

One of my favourite albums is Luke Abbott's "Holkham Drones" and I was so pleased to see the new EP "Modern Driveway" come out a few weeks back. This track "Carrage" comes from it. He seems to get a unique feel from the very basic and minimal of sounds and techniques. Fascinating and beautiful.

Modern Driveway - Luke Abbott

The next track "Catnip" (by Lazercat/ Audit) is one of the more dance orientated, almost Nu-Disco tracks I got last week for a potential DJ set after a gig that never happened. I had plenty of new dance ready to go, but that will have to wait for the next opportunity (I couldn't resist adding one of them here)..

This leads into a new Four Tet track called "Ocaras", which is the B-side of his recent 12" "Jupiters". I have been really enjoying Four Tet and Daphni's output recently, but I wish more of it would be released digitally, those 12" are so bloody expensive and often hard to come by.

Another recent  album of forward-thinking electronica is "R.I.P" by Actress. I have been listening to this a fair bit (it sounds great in your ears on a train), "Shadow From Tartarus" is one of several tracks here I played during the breaks on our recent X-Amount radio show. The next track was also played on the show. A new discovery for me; Emika. "Chemical Fever" is a recent EP she put out on Ninja Tune.

I couldn't finish on that note this time, so I put on a lovely retro-sounding piece by Belbury Poly. Last year's "Belbury Tales" was gorgeous. Even the CD packaging and booklet was a joy. This track "Now Ends The Beginning" is from a new single out on Ghost Box where Belbury Poly and Advisory Circle cover each other's tracks. I love this vaguely remembered 1970s illusory feeling that they get on Ghost Box. A good positive way to finish.

Simon x