Sunday, 29 November 2009

The Maths

John Foxx is one of the most innovative and pioneering electronic musicians ever to come out of Shoreditch (actually Chorley, actually anywhere). Check out this clip of Gary Numan talking about his influences.

That was shot here! Foxxy worked with Brian Eno (with Ultravox!) before he became uber-producer (ie swanned about looking cool) to the likes of Bowie, Talking Heads and U2. Foxx told me he was working in the studio with Eno when he actually got the call call from Bowie. John Foxx's album Metamatics was recorded up the road at Pathway Studios in 1980. It's an amazing early synth-pop record. A year later he opened his own studio The Garden round the corner from here and it was an important node for the whole synth-pop era with bands like Depeche Mode, The Cure, Souxie and the Banshees making albums there. We're working on a new album project here together called The Maths.....

OK, so here's the link to the new single

Ghost Dance

I saw this film when it came out in 1983 and then forgot all about it. Then I bought a Sonor drum kit from a second-hand music shop in Manchester and suddenly I remembered this crazy scene from the film where Robbie Coltrane was playing exactly the same drum kit on the roof of a building while listening to the shipping forecast. So I spent ages trying to track the film down. I recommend it to anyone into hyper-pretentious 80s art movies. The best thing about it is actually the soundtrack by David Cunningham, Michael Giles and Jamie Muir, which is a beautiful mixture of studio processes and live performances. Check the main theme. I'm getting very exotic flavors with notes of chorus and phaser, and a hint of tape compression and tape delay. [I love this disclaimer from the record label website, which sums it all up for me really: 'the recording contains analogue tape distortion, noise and hiss which, besides being unavoidable, at times form an integral part of the music.']

Great Guns

Here's a current project made at the studio called Great Guns, which involves Benge and Jean-Gabriel Becker and no plugins. Everythings done on real synths and outboard and even an analogue mixer. Check out this show on diesel radio. Its a mixture of live tracks and some vinyl selections, all 70s and 80s synth stuff. The live tracks were made with a Roland 100M modular, Roland TR808, Roland SH101, Roland JX3P which were all connected together via cv/gate. Yes crazy I know in this age of laptops. Also there were Linn LM1 and Simmons SDS5 drum sounds trigered from a set of Roland pads. Jeanga played live bass on some of it

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Antique Cabinets

Here is a buchla 100 system

Below is a piece of music made on a similar system by Morton Subotnick from his amazing 1967 album "Silver Apples of the Moon". What a joyous racket

Check out this amazing gallery of his Bleeker Street Studios. Yesss

Weirding Modulars

The Dune Soundtrack was mostly made by the band Toto, and that picture is of Steve Porcaro working their huge Polyfusion Modular Synth. In 1984 Dune was the most expensive film ever made. And thats what makes it so amazing that they put David Lynch in charge of proceedings, being such an experimental and weird director. The result is a delicious slice of 80s exotica, and the fact that Brian Eno also made some of the music makes it v special. Apparently he made a version of the whole soundtrack but the only track to make it on to the final cut was the Prophecy Theme. The track uses an aeolian harp-inspired musical theme, the concept being that dunes are also formed by the wind. Pretty clever stuff. And it has a beautiful string sound that I think might be a DX7, which had just come out 1984.....

Saturday, 21 November 2009

The Sorcerers of Moog

Tangerine dream are one of those bands who make some of the best and also some of the worst music ever. Phaedra is one of my favorite albums and I recently discovered the Sorcerer horror movie soundtrack where they got it right too. It's their first film soundtrack, recorded in 1977. In this picture they have caused Chris Franke to go small. I'm getting Moog Modular, Mellotron, touches of tape delay and subtle spring reverbs

Sunday, 15 November 2009

EMS Synthi 100 for sale

OK, so here is another chance to buy an EMS Synthi 100. This one is £25K and was owned by Bruno Spoerri

This track used one. Its by Dick Mills, recorded at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in the early '70s. The original album came out in 1975, and according to the liner notes was made on the following equipment, which is sublime: EMS Synthi 100 'Delaware', Studer A80 8 track, ARP Odyssey EMS VCS3, Countryman Phaser, Glen Sound Mixing Console, EMT Stereo Echo Plate. Check out the picture below. It looks like the dude is actually smoking a roll-up on the Synthi. Those were the days.....

UPDATE: It finally sold for £21K to force35 [who also bought the CEMS moog last year]

Monday, 9 November 2009

KPM music library

The Manipulator is a piece of music from the KPM music album 'Breath of Danger', recorded in the 70s by various seminal soundtrack composers, in this case Alan Hawkshaw and Brian Bennett.


Here is a mix of music from the KPM library, all of which was used in the TV series The Sweeney. Originally the tracks were from a Sweeney tribute site here, but most of them are available from the KPM website, which is worth checking out as it has every single album they ever released available to listen to. The ones to try are the 1000 Series [102 albums] and Themes International [27 albums]. Say goodbye to trudging round charity shops and car boot sales forever. On this mix there are a few links I made at home on old synths and fx....

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Fairlight CMI 2X

Abstract sounds created on the Fairlight CMI 2X. Three layers of samples [mode 4] played from the keyboard, with real-time control of loop length from sliders, recorded in Page R and mixed through Studer 902 console [also from 1982]

Seventies MCI mixing console JH-416B

416B full brochure

"1972 was the year when we started building our first "production" console series, JH-400's. This design evolved from some of Dave Harrison's ideas. I had known Dave from the days when he had worked at Criteria, and he also played in Wayne Cochran's band in Miami. Then he did studio maintenance for Sid Nathan at King Records, and worked his way up to become studio engineer and manager. Sid also owned part of a recording operation in Nashville and transferred Dave there. When Sid died, the studio was wound down and went out of business, leaving Dave to start his own company, The Studio Supply Company.

"At this time our dealer in Nashville was Dan Flickinger, but we dissolved our relationship after his accident. I then made Harrison's Studio Supply Company the Nashville dealer for MCI tape machines and he did quite well at it. Shortly thereafter Dave approached me about designing a new kind of console. He had some ideas, and I told him that if he design it, MCI would build it. Dave came down to Florida and started drawing and laying tape, and we built a run of six consoles. These boards were quite unusual for their time - the track assigns were in-line with the monitor and main channel fader. The console was similar to Flickinger's earlier concept except that his boards had the track assignments off to the right of the channel area. After the first run of six, I decided to do some additional work on the design - changing some of the metal work and adding other circuitry. We also incorporated the Harris 911 IC op-amps which lowered costs and made the product more manufacturable. All in all, I think we built about two hundred of those 'Series 400' consoles between 1972 and 1977" Jeep Harned from this interview

Saturday, 7 November 2009


benge modulars-small2

Moog 3C [1968]
ARP 2500 [1970]
Serge Modular [1973]
Roland 100M [1978]
Formant Modular [1979] [2000]

Halloween Three 1982

Halloween Three was not a proper Halloween film because it had a completely different storyline and new characters some of whom were robots. The only thing connecting it to the other films is that it's got pumpkins in it, and John Carpenter did the soundtrack (with Alan Howarth). It's one of my favorites because it's so simple and consistent. I can hear moog modular, yamaha CS80, Linn LM1, fragrant tape hiss and I'm picking up a hint of plate reverb. I can listen to this all night long...

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