47 posts

Letter in The Wire (again)

So my blog post about Tim Smiths death has been posted in Wire Magazine.

I’m super proud! I wrote to Derek Walmsley the editor, to tell him about Tim, and nagging that they should do an obituary. I suspect it was too late, but he asked if I would like to do it , as a letter. (I suspect so they didn’t have to pay) and I was happy to oblige!

Tim Smith R.I.P.

If there was one band worthy of inclusion in the music magazine The Wires “Epiphanies” section, it should be Cardiacs.
Shunned by the music press for 30 years as being too clever, or quirky, and yet beloved by a huge range of fans across the world and lauded by big stars such as Radiohead, Blur and Faith no More.

There isn’t really any fan of Cardiacs that hasn’t come to them by way of some kind of Epiphany, you just dont/cant like Cardiacs… a bit. You either totally love them, love everything they do, from the stop/start time signatures, the prog yet punk yet ska sound, the virtuosity, perfectionism and professionality of the playing, the crazy, “just out of the asylum” shouty circus freak image and the weird unexplained, carefully created backstory of a sinister organisation that manages and controls them… or… you hate them and don’t get it at all.

My journey with Cardiacs started at a pub in Guildford (details like when or where or guildford, might be inaccurate here, its a bit hazy) when they were supporting the punky Hippy band “Here and Now”. Me and my friends had driven from Petersfield for Here and Now, only to find they had cancelled and the support band stepped up for the the full show.
We stood open mouthed at first, then we jiggled about a bit trying to keep in time with the off kilter rhythms and song structures (R.E S. remains a test of the noob Cardiacs dancer… do you get the extra beats in the chorus right? or look an idiot, stopping on starts and starting on stops?).
By the end, probably during the anthemic and perfectly crafted stadium rock of “Is this the Life?” we, my friends and I were swaying, hands in the air with tears streaming down our faces and grins from ear to ear.

A quick chat with Tim after the show and the last 9 months of me and Nicks video course at Portsmouth college of Art was sorted.
We turned up at a Surbiton Town hall, not a long time later with 2 U-matic video cameras and recorded the whole gig from 2 angles. We made a quick edit, simply synching up the 2 cameras with the desk recording and Tim came down to see.
He tutted and groaned and laughed and considered, and over the course of a month where he came down to supervise every change, every small edit, in a friendly, but firm way. He liked the final result. He was happy and it was deemed finished. But, something was not right, the quality of the cameras (not really good enough in low light) the camerawork (it’s hard to keep a steady shot in a mosh pit) and the audio recording (too dry through the desk but with Nick and me carefully mixing in some live atmos from the camera mikes)… something was amiss.

But we had passed his audition for bigger things as he revealed to us his ideas for “Seaside Treats”. And offered us the job of producing it.

Seaside Treats was to be a mix of performance based pop videos shot in an old Church Hall in Kingston and weird homemade VHS tapes. The details of making it are very hazy, we didn’t really “have a plan” just a location. We knew which tracks would be shot and scoured the hall for shots and angles. It had a stage, and Tim had thought that they would just set up like a band and we would kind of “re-shoot” the Surbiton gig.
But, we weren’t having any of that.
While “A little man and a house” was at least shot ON the stage, but not straight on and with no instruments, “To go off and things” was shot under the stage in cramped conditions along with old packing boxes and rolls of carpet and RES was shot in front of an old kitchen hatch where no doubt many cups of tea and biscuits had been served after weddings, funerals and AA meetings.

And with that, my journey ended rather quickly, with my friend and colleague Nick going on to make “Too many irons in the fire” and a few more things from the VHS outtakes, including the very odd Consultants Flower Garden. I got suddenly busy with my band Cranes and I all but forgot them, which sounds a little hard to do. I bumped into Tim once at that little club in Oxford Street where all the Camden Indie bands hung out, can’t remember the name, and we chatted a bit, but, I was not completely sure if he recognised me. Very shorty after that, after that fateful MBV concert that I might even have been at, Tim was struck down, and the rest is a very very sad history, that just ended a few days ago.
What a waste!

There was never any band quite like Cardiacs, and I doubt there ever will be again.

Rest in Peace Tim.

L’Aphallie des Songes

Soundtrack album now available on bandcamp

Peel Sessions

My mate Alex just found these batter quality versions of the Peel sessions.

thOnk Album

I found all my old thOnk experiments on a minidisk, so I made an album. Its noise really… but weirdly good on headphones… if you like that whispering tickling thing… except noisy.

L’Aphallie des Songes

After a few years, the French animator and artist Faustine Ferrar has finally completed her half hour film L’Aphallie des Songes. I have been on board the project composing the music and acting as a kind of films advisor. Since starting the project, she has really developed her own technique of human animation (more formally called pixelation) mixing both human animation and puppet animation. I’m quite happy with the music I have done for her, even if it was often done with tight time constraints.


I just watched this video about 2 guys who have put all combinations of 8 notes in one octave onto a hard-drive. And claim it’s copyrighted.

It’s a lawyer and a nerd, so not 2 of the most ethical people right there…

But, to be clear, their stance is that copyright is stupid, not that they are going to sue everyone from now on.

I dont know what I think of this. On the one hand, i’m worried that the human element, the art, is being devalued… again! Why can’t humans have some laws in place that protects makers and creators? Also, it’s another income stream for musicians gone, this leads logically to no performing rights, everyone can steal anything now!

In the other hand, it’s true, as this video proclaims, that music isn’t just melody and rhythm, how can you write down drone music, or drum and bass, and how can you differentiate between one blues song and another, in terms of notes.

It’s ridiculous too, to be in a situation where… in a legal battle (Katie Perry/Flame) the artist with the most YouTube views wins. Well, that’s not the way it was, but… you know…

But… I must say, I’m a bit old school, I kind of like that, as humans, we have a few strange habits, like art or jewelry or fashion or music, that are held dear to us, enough that we have laws to protect the lonely artist. However messy or illogical it might be.

Anyway, here’s the video


Finally a tutorial on modes that I actually understand…
I have of course “played” all these scales before.. but not know what they were, or caring frankly.

Furthernoise reviews

A long time ago I wrote for I just discovered that those pages are down and my backup of them is inaccessible on this version the sprawling mess that is

So here are ALL my reviews!