Wednesday, 28 March 2012

If you go down to the Woods today... #2

This has to be my favourite Photograph by Photographer Elspeth Diederix, it has a really creepy, eerie atmosphere and the colour contrast works great (she has used this "Red" contrasting colour in several other images but this is the one that stands out for me).

2005 / z.t. (costa rica) / 150 x 120 cm

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Do "The Wriggler"...

Back in 1985 I was 15 and heavily into my ZX Spectrum and Electronic Music (as well as in the throes of my burgeoning "Smiths" obsession!).
One particular item from that time satisfied my needs in both was "Wriggler"
"Wriggler" was a game released in 1985 by Romantic Robot (more info here) and basically consisted of manoeuvring a worm (the eponymous Wriggler) around a variety of environments avoiding various beasties.
The graphics were good (for the time) and I remember being particularly impressed with the animation of the spiders...
So all in all not a bad little game....but....turn the cassette over (that's right games used to come on compact cassette back then!) and there was a musical track called "Moons of Jupiter'. This was a great little electronic piece, bouncy, with some nice FX and interesting sounds going on throughout and even a little electronic drum solo in the middle...and it suited the game perfectly.
I soon wore my tape out rewinding the track time after time and ended up having to buy the game three times in order to maintain a working copy!
Anyway, time moved on and I forgot all about this game and it's musical partner until I spotted a copy of Wriggler at a Car Boot sale a few years back...I snapped it up took it home and shoved it in the tape deck, pressed play and the memories came flooding back....sitting in my bedroom, "Empire Strikes Back" Wallpaper on the walls, tapping machine code into my ZX Spectrum and listening to this track...
The music still sounded good (if a bit dated) so I started to dig a bit...the track was written by Alexander Goldscheider who also owned and managed Romantic Robot.
There's lots more about Mr Goldscheider in his Wikipedia entry and across the Web in general, but he's a very interesting and accomplished Czech Musician credited with pioneering the use of the Synthesiser in that country. He also had a stint working for the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
He released a couple of library LP's on the "Red Bus" label in the early 80's and it's on one of those, "Themes for a One Man Band - Vol.1 (1983 Red Bus Music Library RBML 103)" that the track "Moons of Jupiter" originally appears.
I managed to track down a copy (along with Vol.2) and it's really rather good...very much of its time but if you were ever a fan of Jarre, Vangelis, Mark Shreeve, Koto, Tomita, Tangerine Dream, etc. then there is plenty here to like. In my opinion Side A has the advantage, Side B seems a bit uninspired in comparison (with the exception of the last track "The Star Gate" which has a nice Tangerine Dream feel to it).

I've made the usual High Def Vinyl rip (24/96 FLAC) and also a 320MP3 version, links in comments and please leave thoughts and ruminations...

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Nostromo Disco!!

I recently worked my way through the Blu-Ray box set of all the Alien movies (which I can highly recommend and seems to be fairly cheap at the moment). Not only did I enjoy revisiting these films in higher quality than I had ever seen but I fell in love with Jerry Goldsmith's Score all over again (sounding better than ever on these Blu-Rays).
It's a great score and just one of many that Mr Goldsmith has produced over the years (The Omen anyone?) so I dug out my Vinyl copy of the original score and enjoyed listening to it...then I remembered that I had a 12" "Disco" version of the main theme somewhere. I couldn't remember if it was any good or not and wasn't expecting a lot when I stuck it on the turntable but I was pleasantly aint a half bad slice of Space Disco and the B-Side is a nice little Disco Funk number as well.
The 12" is on Bronze Records (12 BRO 80) a label I always associate with "Uriah Heep"! and was released in 1980. The track is credited to "Nostromo" (The name of the cargo ship in "Alien") but appears to be the work of Kenny Denton, a prolific producer over the years including a stint producing Gary Numan/Tubeway Army. "Nostromo" also released disco versions of music from "The Black Hole" and the "Imperial March" from The Empire Strikes Back...

Anyway, it's not going to change your world but it's definitely worth a listen as it's better then could be expected....

As usual I've ripped the Vinyl in High Res (96KHz 24Bit) and did a new scan of the cover, and that's the version I recommend you download but for the bandwidth challenged I've also included a link to a 320 MP3 version...links in comments and as always I welcome your thoughts and ruminations...

Smile for the Camera.....

There's a great post over at Buzzfeed by Anteater of Creepy and Weird photographs...this one in particular took my fancy and gave me the Shivers!!!

Friday, 2 March 2012

Structures Sonores & The Picture Box

If you mention "Picture Box" to a certain generation of UK people you almost always get the same repsonse...."Isn't that the program with the weird, eerie music and the hypnotic spinning box at the start!! That used to give me the creeps!!"...and indeed that's exactly what it was.
Many years later I tracked down the track, it's called "Manège" and is performed by "Lasry-Bachet Structures Sonores". These experimental Musicians wrote and performed music on a series of instruments of their own invention called "Sound Sculptures".
I became hooked on the haunting, other worldly quality of their music....nothing else sounds like it because no one else plays the same instruments (many of which only exist as a single instrument).
Trouble is that most of the music is only available on obscure pieces of Vinyl (including some lovely 10" releases on the French BAM label).
In my role as owner of Egress UK Record Label I took it upon myself to try and get in contact with the musicians and inventors and see if there was any chance of licensing any material for a retrospective CD/Vinyl release.
Well after several months of being pushed from one person to another and ending up down countless dead ends the project came to nothing (this is the usual story when trying to licence obscure old material unfortunately). I may well have another stab at it one of these days as I'd love to try and get hold of the original master tapes and do a proper, fully remastered release.

You can read loads more about the "Sculpture Sonores" here and there is plenty more info dotted around the place (it helps if you can read French though)

My reason for this post is that I received an e-mail out of the blue from someone who had been on a quest to find the "Picture Box" music and they had stumbled upon some of my old forum posts about the subject. They asked if I had a high quality version of the track "Manège" as the only version floating around online is taken from a poor quality YouTube video of the original TV series opening sequence (worth watching just for that hypnotic spinning box!).
Anyway, this inspired me to spend most of today doing a recording from the original vinyl (Structures Sonores Lasry Baschet No.4 on 10" Vinyl BAM LD 098).
I've recorded it at High Res (96KHz 24Bit) and also scanned the cover and labels. The vinyl is not in the greatest of condition and even after a quick spin on the Okki Nokki cleaning machine it still has it's fair share of snap, crackle and pop I'm afraid.
I've spent a little time getting rid of the worst of the crackling, etc. and also applied some light "remastering" as the original recordings are quite muddy, just some very subtle EQ'ing.

The link to the 96/24 FLAC file is in the comments and I'd love to hear your thoughts and ruminations.

EDIT: By popular demand I've added a link to a 320 MP3 Version though I'd strongly recommend you go for the High Res FLAC version if you have the Bandwidth/Time/Patience.