Another DJ Format related post! This coming Sunday (October 7th), DJ Format starts his monthly event ‘DJ Format’s Weird and Wonderful Sundays’ at the Blind Tiger in Brighton.
For a long time Matt (DJ Format) has wanted to do a low key event where he can play the huge collection of oddities and rarities that he has amassed on his travels around the world. Expect ’60s Rock, Psych, Jazz, Electric Blues, Stoner Soul and anything & everything in between. He describes it as like playing records to friends in his lounge.
I’ll be there providing live oil projections using ’60s techniques and overhead projectors.
Here is footage from Bring Your Own Beamer at Brighton’s Dome, with myself, Emily and Curtis performing our first light show in the tunnels. (Curtis and Emily are part of the light show crew but are out of the country for the first Weird and Wondeful event).
Its been a busy year! I spent the majority of the first half of 2012 preparing and performing the ‘Statement of Intent’ tour with my musical right hand man, DJ Format. DJ Format’s new LP was released in March and he wanted to do a tour to spread the word. He asked me to be involved as ‘The Simonsound’ (of which he is also one half) and suggested we do a set that included not only DJ Format material but also material we made together as The Simonsound.
The plan was to create a 60 minute set that wove the different material, sort of like a DJ set, with DJ Format on turntables and myself on Moog Synth, fx and percussion. We spent time selecting the right tracks for what needed to be a dance-floor friendly set, and then created a seamless mix in Ableton Live that would be used as a sort of backing track over which DJ Format would cut and scratch, and I would play synths and fx.
The next stage was to create the visuals that would sync with the music. Projections are vital for a show such as ours where there is no full band to hold the interest for 60 minutes. We spent 3 months cutting and pasting archive material, classic B-Boy footage and all manner of weird and wonderful imagery into a tight synchronized show that added to the visual spectacle.
Rehearsals ran alongside the video production, and by the time of our first show at The Concorde in Brighton, the performance was pretty tight. We spent the next 6 months traveling around the UK and Europe every weekend playing to appreciative crowds. Being a ‘backroom’ person, playing live and being on stage doesn’t come naturally to me, but doing the tour was one of the most intense but enjoyable experiences I’ve had. I got to travel to some beautiful interesting places, met some lovely people and best of all, got to share music with audiences face to face. Quite different from my usual hermit like existence in the studio!
We’ve made the visuals, interspersed with some show footage, available to watch on youtube. The audio was recorded at various shows.
I’ve been presenting a series of lectures at Ravensbourne College, London over the last two weeks, exploring the history of electronic music and the evolution of the technology that has made the music I love possible. From Edison’s Phonograph, which though staggeringly important, offered no more than recording and playback, to magnetic tape, which allowed manipulation of sound (backwards, forwards, slowed down, sped up, re-sequenced) and gave birth to music concrete and some of my favorite music, through to the voltage controlled era of synthesisers such as Moog, Buchla and EMS.
Even with a world of virtual studio tools at their finger tips in the form of laptops, it is encouraging to see the students interest in some of the pioneering techniques and how these might be used in combination with new technology to create exciting new sounds. No-one wants a world filled with sound-alike Logic Pro/Pro Tools virtual instruments! Even a cheap reel to reel tape recorder can be used to add a bit of texture to the other wise cold digital world.
Just wanted to let you know about an event that I will be appearing at this Saturday at the BFI in London. Earlier in the year I (under my The Simonsound guise) was invited by Musicity to create a composition inspired by a London landmark. I chose the Skylon, a futuristic structure created for the Festival of Britain in 1951. Sadly the Skylon never got to see the future it aimed to represent; it was torn down shortly after the festival ended and its ultimate demise is a confusion of myth and mystery. Did it end up in the Thames or was it broken up and turned into ash trays??? Anyway, my piece ‘In the Shadow of the Skylon’ celebrates its short optimistic life. So that’s the background - at this Musicity event I’ll be speaking on a panel alongside Paul Morley, Fiona Talkington, Maija Handover and Melodie Leung, and I’ll be playing a selection of records, including ‘In the Shadow of the Skylon’ too.
Musicity is an ongoing, city by city curated music program that explores the intersection of music and architecture created by DJ and broadcaster Nick Luscombe (BBC Radio 3/Flomotion) and Jump Studios co-founder Simon Jordan. Recording artists are commissioned to compose original music based on an aspect of the city that inspires them. Through a purpose built app, people can visit these locations to hear and download the music. The idea is to inspire people to explore and discover the city, musically, architecturally and experientially.
The latest episode of The Tone Generation explores experimental (and library music in the form of Roger Roger/Cecil Leuter) music created on the Moog range of synthesisers. Don’t be expecting the usual Switched on Bach and Keith Emerson fare. As usual with The Tone Generation, its all about sharing some of the lesser known early electronic material from Ian Helliwell’s vast collection.
Music from Walter Sear, Cecil Leuter, William S. Fischer, Paul Beaver, Bernie Kraus, Andrew Rudin and Nik Raicevic.
I also want to take this opportunity to tell you about Ian Helliwell’s new film. Practical Electronica tells the story of unsung British electronic pioneer, Fred Judd. Full details at Ian’s website, but the world premiere is in Cork on the 9th of November 2011, the UK premiere is in Brighton as part of the Cinecity film festival on the 20th of November, and the London premiere is at the Barbican on the 25th of November. A very exciting Practical Electronica exhibition will open on November the 18th at the Phoenix Gallery in Brighton, bringing together machines and sounds created by Ian and used in the making of the documentary, alongside items of Fred Juddrabilia, including books, magazines and records. Together with collages, and modified television, there will be new interactive stereophonic sound generator Hellimatic, a remodelled 1960s exercise machine.
I’ve been doing a number of live performances under my The Simonsound guise, but one of the highlights was playing in the Clore Ballroom at the Royal Festival Hall. In support of a screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey, with live soundtrack by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, we played in the cavernous ballroom to an appreciative crowd. See more pictures here.
Part one in a series of long over due updates. Our new single with Laura J Martin, with whom we have been doing loads of great live shows, is now available in stores and online. Download or get the limited 7″ vinyl while stocks last. Jumbo Records in Leeds is a good bet.
Here is the blurb from Battered Ornaments Records, the label behind the release.
Finders Keepers’ fitful pocket empire Battered Ornaments Records rears its head one again with another bespoke vinyl release featuring the unlikely but essential partnership of Liverpudlian chanteuse Laura J Martin and The Simonsound - a sonic partnership consisting of Simon James and Matt Ford (DJ Format).
Analogue synthesizers, tone generators, and reel to reel tape machines buzz and whirr amongst the roots of Laura J Martin’s homegrown supernatural siren song as folk traditions merge with The Simonsound’s science fiction fantasies for this hauntingly progressive/regressive experiment.
This strictly limited edition (500 only) vinyl release is the eighth release from Battered Ornaments Records, an independent label with a DIY asthetic producing lovingly made limited vinyl runs of off-kilter independent music housed in jaw dropping sleeves created by top artists and graphic designers.
The latest episode of the ongoing electronic music history series The Tone Generation, is now available here. Focusing on music composed on the legendary Buchla range of electronic music boxes, Ian Helliwell plays and discusses tracks by Morton Subotnick, Ernst Krenek, Michael Czajkowski, Warner Jepson, Bulent Arel and Arthur Krieger.
For those that delight in the old fashioned wireless transmissions, London’s Resonance FM will be broadcasting programme’s 19, 20 and 21 starting on February 23rd at 5pm then the next 2 Wednesday’s following that.
&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a href=”http://thesimonsound.bandcamp.com/album/reverse-engineering”&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;Tour De Mars by The Simonsound&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;We were lucky enough to be invited to record a session at the famous Maida Vale studio for Gilles Peterson’s BBC Radio 1 show. It was a real treat to visit the studio that used to be the home of the Radiophonic Workshop, especially since so much of the material on the album is inspired by the golden age of experimental electronic music. Maida Vale is full of history and I’d have happily paid an entry fee to wander around its strangely quiet corridors, daydreaming about Desmond Briscoe, Delia Derbyshire, Daphne Oram, John Baker and co. winding lengthy tape loops all over the place.It also made a nice change to be on the other side of the glass….
The session, which includes an exclusive medley of ‘It’s Just Begun’ and ‘Tour de Mars’, and an interview with The Simonsound was played on Tuesday 25th May and you can download the full show here.
Is the home of Simon James who has nearly twenty years experience producing music, creating and manipulating sound and a passion and excitement for sonic experimentation.
Simon lectures on the subjects of electronic music history and radio production.
He is also one half of the group The Simonsound. www.thesimonsound.com