This winter sees the emergence of an important and previously untold link in the history of early British Electronic Music. Whilst the lives and sounds of Tristram Cary, Daphne Oram, Delia Derbyshire et al. have been laid bare on wax and disc in recent years, the name of 60s contemporary Frederick Charles Judd will be completely alien to most.
Public Information hopes to change that with a forthcoming retrospective of Fred Judd’s rhythms, tones and loops; a compilation of incredible, pioneering music from his archive called Electronics Without Tears.
But first to the documentary… Practical Electronica. A wondrous film directed by the man who made this entire project happen, Ian Helliwell.
After much research, enquiry and hard work Brighton based filmmaker, musician and scholar of electronic music Helliwell tracked down Fred’s widow Freda who kindly allowed him full access to Mr Judd’s personal archive. Ian set about making a film and in the process discovered many fascinating aspects of this remarkable man from Woodford, East London- his life, his work, his vision.
Fred was writing about electronics and the burgeoning tape recording/home radio scene as early as the mid-50’s, he went on to publish 11 books and countless articles in a quest to disseminate these thrilling new technologies out from academia into the front room. By 1963 Fred had built himself a dynamic home studio… sitting amongst the oscillators, tone generators, filters, amplifiers was an electro-mechanical drum machine and a voltage controlled keyboard unit to synthesize sound (a device that predated the Moog and Buchla synths). Using this equipment he wrote many FX and sounds for television and radio whilst self-releasing a handful of 45’s to a following of enthusiasts.
Practical Electronica explores these narratives and many more. The Sound World of F.C Judd is crafted into an extraordinary Audio-Visual feast for eyes and ears and brains. It’s an hour-long experimental collage of bold music, bright colour, vivid stills, super 8 home movies, archive footage, strking animation and an eye-sizzling reinterpretation of Fred’s own Chromasonics (a psychedelic sound visualisation process, running parallel to Daphne’s Oramics system).
Electronics Without Tears, a 35-track compilation of F.C Judd material (fully restored and mastered at D&M Berlin) will be landing soon on Public Information. Most of this music has never been heard before. For more information and for details of screenings around the UK, visit http://public-info.co.uk/
We recently were lucky enough to come across the work of a man called Felix… Felix makes machines and with these machines, he makes music. He has collaborated with Plaid and he has just recently released an EP of his work entitled… Felix’s Machines.
We caught up with the man to ask him about his machines and he also supplied us with a brilliant video showing exactly what the machines do…
Bleep: Who is more responsible for the music, Felix or the Machines?
Felix: The machines are hand-built devices that often create some unexpected mechanism noises. I compose MIDI sequences on a laptop but their physical location and condition determines how they sound, which impacts the way I write the music. As an ensemble of instruments, timings and timbre need to be adjusted to suit specific spaces. Essentially, I write the music but the state of the machines provides a set of rules. I find it helpful to work with this limitation as a guideline for composition.
B: Tell us a bit about the growth of the machines…
F: I started using a rudimentary set of materials. These were taken from wooden piano mechanisms, and I used springs and solenoids salvaged from scrap electronic devices such as typewriters. Over time I’ve got better tools and have added more metallic parts to the machines. I’m gradually learning about materials and ways they’re engineered, and as I do the machines are upgraded.
B: What influences would you say have brought you to where you are today?
F: Melodic/chaotic electronica has influenced me. In particular Plaid, Autechre, Aphex, Squarepusher, Venetian Snares. Visually I like Kinetic sculptures, Futurists, Cubists and Surrealist styles.
B: What is the on the Machine’s rider?
F: Depends on the performance space. For a gallery all the sounds are acoustic and the setup can take a range of forms. Live amplified setups require a selection of mics and careful mixing to ensure there’s no feedback. It takes a day or ideally two to setup. And it needs to be dark.
B: Who would you and the Machines most like to collaborate with?
F: I’ve collaborated in two live performances with Plaid and we’re looking to do more. It would be great to hear other artist’s music composed for the machines, but it can take a while. The machines definitely have a their own characteristics, probably a bit like learning an instrument. Aside from the music side I’d like to expand my designs by collaborating with a company who build drum kits.
B: What plans have you got for the future?
F: My time has recently been taken up with various commission work for brands, but at every given opportunity I keep building and recording the machines. I hope to start putting together another release next year with newer more powerful machines.
This week, we are celebrating the 10th birthday of Lex Records… We have even put together an exclusive 50 track bundle of the best tracks of Lex. If you need a little background on the label, have a look at our quick Q&A with Lex below….
Bleep: If you were describing yourselves to someone that knew nothing about Lex Records, what would you say?
Lex Records: 10 year old independent music company based in London and NYC, distributed worldwide. Quality over quantity, focused on artists rather than genres…
B: What have been the highest points of running Lex Records these last 10 years?
LR: Packed out Lex shows in London back in 2003, Danger Mouse splicing Jay-Z with Beatles to create The Grey album in 2004, working with many of our favourite musicians worldwide. Lex 5th anniversary party with Ghostface Killah (who is back in the house with DOOM for our 10th anniversary on Saturday November 5th at the Roundhouse), various festival missions including Coachella and Fondation Vasarely with Boom Bip… it’s been an interesting decade.
B: What has been the lowest point of running Lex Records these last 10 years?
LR: Dodgy distributors, warehouse fires, late artwork, the eternal battle between flagrant rappers and federal agents, the death of John Peel, the turning point when various people began making decisions based on quantity of MySpace plays / Facebook Likes rather than just using their ears.
B: What do you have planned for 2012?
LR: We’ll be moving into film, online content, books and art projects with new projects from most of our core roster of artists including Alan Moore (of Watchmen / V for Vendetta fame), DOOM, Doseone, Jneiro Jarel and Boom Bip… hopefully something Neon Neon shaped too.
B: Where do you see Lex in 10 years time?
LR: Operating from a burning spaceship on the shoulder of Orion with a three-boobed Martian lady on each arm feeding me duck pancakes and char sui buns, Intergalactic FM on the stereo, Pimms in the crunk cup, experiencing Alan Moore’s new film in 4-D hologram format directly piped into my brain… Like tears in rain.
A few weeks ago, we were delivered the fifth album installment from Luke Slater’s Planetary Assault Systems on Ostgut Ton. We decided to catch up with the man himself to discuss where he is at with his music…
Bleep: You have been quoted as saying you promise to ‘create new sounds which are not otherwise present in club music at this time’ on your new album. Can you explain this idea a little further?
Planetary Assault Systems: I think thats a promise I made to myself. Planetary has always been about moving sound around beats, motion and rhythm in unexpected ways that either still work on the dancefloor or work at a pure listening level. My aim is to manage both at the same time. If it works in a club and is valid on a listening level then i’m good. It’s something I always found in early electronic dance music and somthing that makes sense to me. There’s no point in releasing a mediocre record. Do it right. Feel it, let it breathe.
B: What do you think of the current techno landscape? Are there any other artists you particularly admire right now?
P.A.S.: This is a good time for good electronic music, it’s being embraced by people. Like I’ve always said techno is the foundation stone for electronic dance music, whatever happens, people find it and embrace it after fads wear out. They find the groove and the mindset, and as a writer, its inspiring. New guys like Shifted and Sigha and many more are thinking the right way. Pay attention to the music, write good music. Don’t do it for the wrong reasons. Do it because it makes sense…
B: Planetary Assault Systems, L.B. Dub Corp, Morganistic, Offset and 7th Plain are just a few of your mysterious music-making monikers. Why produce under so many different aliases?
P.A.S.: It’s all about P.A.S right now really. That’s where I’m at…
B: You’ve been a Berghain resident for a while now and are a firm part of their Ostgut Ton label. What attracted you to Ostgut in the first place and what does your relationship with them mean to you?
P.A.S.: I do have a long standing relationship with Osgut the club going back many years. It’s something that developed natually through the music and their commitment to only that. It made total sense to release my music on the label on many levels.
B: Any future plans that you can share with us?
P.A.S.: Right now things are very busy with the live P.A.S show that’s been going down immensely well, there is always some sonic and visual surprises involved with the shows on an artistic level. I think P.A.S is now doing what it should have done 15 years ago. Aside from the live show and DJing, I’m busy with remixes and Part running Mote-Evolver with Heidy. There are some great releases forthcoming on Mote-Evolver, so stay tuned…
Planetary Assault Systems – The Messenger is available to buy now on Bleep.com.
This week, Kompakt release the highly anticipated second album from Walls – ‘Coracle’. Walls are Alessio Natalizia (of Banjo Or Freakout) and Sam Willis (from Allez-Allez – who you may also know from our own Bleep podcasts). We decided to have a quick Q&A with Sam, about the sound of Walls.
Bleep: In your own words, how would you describe yourselves and your sound to any new listeners?
Sam Willis: Our music is a messy collision of guitars, synths, drum machines and ambience.. we create sound collages that aim to transport you to otherworldly realms.
B: You’ve mentioned before the way that bands such as NEU! have influenced your sound. Is there anyone else you cite as a big influence, and why?
SW: It’s hard to be concrete about these kind of things, as our work tends to be quite instinctive, hence why it’s often quite eclectic – we just follow the sounds and melodies where they want to go – with this album things have taken a more dancefloor orientated turn, which is totally fine with us! We’re more interested in looking outside of the musical world for inspiration…
B: There is a strong immersive quality to your work, that at once the listener feels involved in some kind of journey or narrative. Can you explain what approach you have to the writing process and any narratives?
SW: We’re definitely interested in taking the listener on a journey for sure, but again, it’s very instinctive to us, we prefer not to imprint too much suggestion on a track, other than the title obviously, and even then we try to leave things somewhat oblique. We’d much rather the listener be allowed to subjectively experience our music in whichever way their imagination takes them.. The hope is that this is rather freeing, and allows them to create more of a personal link with it.
B: Who and what are you listening to at the moment?
SW: Our label Kompakt co-founder Wolfgang Voigt’s recent box set ‘Nah Und Fern‘ collection of his work as Gas never leaves the stereo – a series of timeless electronic masterpieces – they’re so immersive and hypnotic. Also the new Motion Sickness Of Time Travel album has really caught our attention, it’s fantastic to have as a soundtrack to your daily chores.
B: Can you talk us through the production process behind your work?
SW: It really varies a lot, which is probably another factor in why our stuff sounds so diverse.. A track can evolve through an idea that Alessio creates via the guitar and his pedals, or it could be me manipulating a sample in the computer that we then bend other sounds around.. We use quite a bit of field recording from across the net, it can really help to add texture and atmosphere, and you can get some really unique and weird sounds that have been captured by oddballs from across the world! A key sticking point for us when working on a track is that it must have some weight or significance, we’re looking for emotion and depth of feeling, how we arrive there is immaterial.
Walls’ latest album – ‘Coracle‘ is out his week and is available to buy now on Bleep.
This week, a brand new label emerged. Promising in output and vision, the name of the label is Public Information. It is run by Alex Wilson (who you may know from our very own Bleep podcasts) and good friend and former colleague – Lionel Skerratt. We decided to speak to Alex about what we can expect in the near future…
Bleep: Can you tell us the story behind Public Information? From what den of esotericism did the label spring from?
Alex Wilson: Public Information started as a germ of an idea about eighteen months ago, sitting in the bowels of a global Sound Archive. Four million records, the nation’s collection. Many never heard of, never found, never blogged about, never released… sounds that had to rise again. We have some of these lined up. But we also love New Music, so I enlisted the help of close colleague – Lionel Skerratt…
We are thrilled by the possibility of a catalogue that sits electronic tape-loops from 1957 beside next-wave 4/4 techno. Sweet Somalian pop music from 1982 in a cat-number frisson with blackest sci-fi drone, 70’s Library Music nestled on the shelf with contemporary cut-paste disco… subconscious links across decades, continents, tones, textures.
Public Information Influences:
B: What statement of intent best sums up the Public Information music policy?
AW: A survey of electronics… noise… psych… industrial… house… dub… wyrd-pop… library… techno… art… design from the last seven decades… 1950-Tomorrow. New-Archive. Light-Dark. This may be a good starting point, but this is not the end. If it feels good, sounds right, genre means little to us.
B: How did the collaboration with Gatekeeper’s Aaron David Ross come about?
AW: We approached the brilliant Elon Katz of (Whitecar, Streetwalker) about reissuing a micro-run cassette he made called The Pylori Program (Catholic Tapes) a little while ago. During such discussions he hipped us to a record his friend from Chicago was making. Whilst we were fans of Aaron’s Gatekeeper material the stuff he submitted as ADR was much more suited to Public Information. Perfectly as it turned out…
B: Why the name “Public Information”?
AW: A long, long, arduous process in Hackney hostelries… torn up bits of paper… spilt beer…strange combinations of words… periods of gestation… terrible combinations of words… some more gestation….
Then one dark, wet Tuesday night… two words felt right / gathered the least laughter from our associates. Public Information.
It was either that or ‘Warboys’…
B: Were you in any way inspired by Mordant Music’s exploration into Public Information films from the 70s and 80s when choosing a name for the label?
AW: Labels and artists that we admire greatly such as Mordant, Ghost Box, Café kaput, Broadcast, are devout followers of that classic wave of Public Information films from the 70’s and 80’s. Undeniably creepy images, great soundtracks, a golden era of unease…
However we were too young to be freaked first-hand, inspired by these films. Youtube serves as our only portal, not memory. In all honesty, Prodigy sampling the Charly Says… Public Information film was probably more of a direct influence.
We’re personally more drawn to the images of a time longer ago, way before ours… the 50’s and 60’s of Lindsay Anderson, John Krish, John Schlesinger, the films of the C.O.I. To the sounds of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, The Philips Studio, Scott, Morricone, Ortolani, Moog, re-shaped, landcruising down a rain slicked Detroit highway.
B: Following on from the ADR release is an EP from Canada’s No UFO’s, can you tell us a bit about that release and what else the future holds for Public Information?
AW: No UFO’s is a young man from Vancouver who first piqued Public Information’s attention with his incredible Soft Coast cassette of 2010. Very much in a similar vein he presented 7 tracks of mixtape-concrete-wyrd to us… we fell in love. Mind Controls The Flood is set to land in late October… It’s like Madlib was raised on Kosmische.
The latter is to drop an EP in January 2012 for us, but before we have a jaw-dropping archive release from a peer of Derbyshire, Oram, Baker by the name of Fred Judd. We have been given full access to his rarely/never heard before life’s work. It is a truly special. Watch this space…
We are always on the look-out for brand new labels and one of recent has definitely grabbed our eye. Only 2 releases deep, we caught up with Claudio Lillo – one-half of the brilliant new London-based label named Five Easy Pieces.
Bleep: Tell us a little bit about the background of Five Easy Pieces (how it came about etc.) and where did you get that name from? The Jack Nicholson / Karen Black classic?
Claudio Lillo: Five Easy Pieces was originally founded as a club night a few years ago when Tom and I were still programming Cargo. We were booking a few successful inhouse parties there and thought that we might as well start up our own “brand” that we would be able to export to festivals and other cities around the UK and Europe. We did a few really big parties at Cargo and some cool small ones at other venues around London but then the venue was sold to a rude, ignorant miscreant so we stopped it. Tom went to work for Modular and I stayed at Cargo for a while, but left to do bookings for The City Arts & Music Project. Once we settled into our new jobs we thought it would be cool to resurrect it, but as a label.
The name is taken from that film… so yeah, we aren’t that original! Basically, both Tom and I are crap at coming up with names – we both like films a lot, especially New-Hollywood and French New Wave, and that name kind of stuck after we threw around a bunch of other titles.
B: What’s up next for the label?
CL: Our second release is out this week, which I’m really happy about. Its a trippy, drugged out house record that one of my good friends made. I’ve been really lucky to work with friends on both releases. I’m looking to do a label party in a few months too. Otherwise, digging for other acts to sign and trying to spread the word.
B: Which other artists do you think that you’re going to be working with in the near future?
CL: Yesterday we confirmed a remix from someone we massively respect for the next Royalty record, which I’m really excited about. That is coming out in October. I don’t really want to say who because I’d like it to be a surprise. Don’t mean to sound boring but I’d also like to keep other potential collabs close to my chest.
B: Tell us who you’re really into at the moment and why?
CL: I’ve been rinsing quite a few LPs lately… Tune-Yards, SBTRKT, Mo Kolours, Samiyam, Little Dragon and Machinedrum have all put out amazing records recently. They are all special – and all really different. I always laugh when people talk about new music being horrible or say that everything was so much better in the “good old days”. I find the current musical climate very exciting.