Saturday, October 01, 2011

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, Oct 1

Guts - And the living is easy
Black samuarai - Information critic
Sola rosa - Turn around - Suff daddy remix
Cochemea Gastelum - Dark city
Brass roots - Good life
Screaming meemees - Stars in my eyes
Snap - Sidewalk city
Little dragon - Ritual union
Vibes alive - Mantra
Conory Smith - Dangerous
Desmond Dekker - Israelites
Bush chemists - Realise dub
Roots radics - Babylon wrong
Macro dub - Who shot the sheriff?
Sweetie irie - Slim body girl
Garnett Silk - Tell me why
Lennie Hibbert - Real hot
King Errison - Conga man
Cochemea Gastelum - Arrow's theme
West st mob - break dance electric boogie
Grandmaster Flash and the furious five - The message
Sylvia - Pussycat
Krafty kuts - Come alive
Whitefield bros - Safari strut
Lord Echo - Thinking of you
Beat pharmacy - Drifter - dub mix

Friday, September 30, 2011


Orchestra of Spheres are: Baba Rossa - biscuit tin guitar, sexomouse marimba / E=M303 - electric carillon / Jemi Hemi Mandala - drumkit / Mos Iocos - keyboard, gamelan.

"Born out of Wellington’s Frederick Street Sound and Light Exploration Society in 2009, the Spheres have developed a cult-like following in New Zealand. Playing house parties, dance parties, DIY shows and opera houses, the Spheres have built a reputation for musically and visually ecstatic live shows..." 

They are off to play at All Tomorrows Parties at the end of the year, after Caribou saw them play at Campus A Low Hum and invited them along (Caribou are co-curating ATP). They're also playing a handful of European shows while they're up over. Exciting stuff!

"As well as ATP, we're playing at Les Transmusicales festival in France, a festival in Utrecht, and other gigs in England, Germany, Czech Republic and elsewhere. European dreams: Hoping to check out lots of cool music. E=MC303 will be eating lots of cheese. Jemi Hemi wants to party and try heaps of new European fizzy drinks. Mos Iocos aims to twiddle the moustaches of 100 frenchmen. Baba Rossa would like to drive really fast on the Autobahn."

The Corner says " Orchestra of Spheres’ setup boasts a roots’n'phuture amalgam akin to Konono N°1 , a D.I.Y. mix of neo-traditional instruments jury-rigged from household objects (biscuit tins, mousepads, barbecue tongs, a futon slat) as well as the likes of the gamelan and theremin – it’s a heady brew..."

There's a tasty re-edit of one of their tunes coming out on vinyl (listen to an excerpt below), and their album is being released by Fire Records in early November, on CD/digital/vinyl....

WATCH: Orchestra of Spheres cover Bachelorette at the recent APRA Silver Scroll Awards.
READ: Q&A with the band over at Under The Radar.

Orchestra Of Spheres - Hypersphere.mp3 by AwesomeFeelingFive

Orchestra Of Spheres - Hyperspheres (Daphni Edit) by resista

Orchestra of Spheres on Bandcamp.

R.I.P. Sylvia Robinson

Via Dangerous Minds blog... "Sylvia Robinson, 75, the founder and CEO of the Sugarhill Records label in the 1970s, died died this morning from congestive heart failure at Meadowlands Hospital in Secaucus, New Jersey, Sister to Sister reports.

It was Robinson’s idea to “sample” the sinewy bass-line of Chic’s “Good Times” and turn it into “Rapper’s Delight,” the first mainstream hip-hop hit. Robinson also produced “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five and was part of soul duo Mickey & Sylvia.

Hip-Hop Happens (a 2005 profile of Robinson from Vanity Fair magazine by DM pal Steven Daly)."

That story mentions that Rapper's Delight was selling 50,000 copies a day at its peak.

via Prefix Mag... "Robinson had a music career of her own as Sylvia. Her biggest solo hits include "Love is Strange" and "Pillow Talk," the latter of which topped the R&B Billboard chart for two weeks in 1973. It also received a mini-boost in recent times when it appeared on the soundtrack to 1998's 54. Hip-hop heads will recognize another of her songs, "Sweet Stuff," for its use in J Dilla's "Crushin'."

ADDED New York Times obit for Sylvia Robinson.

You can watch Robinson perform "Pillow Talk" on Soul Train below.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

R.I.P. Dan Birch, Beat Rhythm Fashion

Just saw this via Failsafe Records on FB... "Some sad news today. Dan Birch, bassist and co-vocalist/songwriter for Beat Rhythm Fashion passed away today. Here's Dan taking lead vocal duties for their fantastic single Turn of the Century. Dan's brother said he was found asleep on his couch with a smile on his face and that's how we'll remember him, always with a wiry grin. Thanks for the great music Dan."

This is easily one of my favourite NZ songs of all time. 

Holy moley

Holy Shit - DJ Format & Mr Thing... "Holy Shit' is a mix of religious breaks,beats & music discovered mostly in charity shops and bargain bins of record shops over a number of years. I had been planning to do a mix of some of my weird & wonderful religious records for years and when i got chatting with Mr Thing about a new exciting discovery i had just made in a Leeds charity shop,it turned out he too had recently discovered the same religious LP!

"We decided to team up and do a mix together and Holy Shit was the result. Although some of the music is top quality and was cut up in a B-boy style,the mix was definitely supposed to be fun..hence the Monty Python bits! It was released as a CD in 2009(?) and is now available for free download for the first time...."  Hat tip to Groovement

Holy Shit - DJ Format & Mr Thing by dj format

Mr Fuemana, Mr Phil Fuemana

From 5000ways.... video shot at Cause Celebre from the look of it...

"The Fuemana family and Matty J are back with more of their smooth grooves, with influences galore, including a Monkees/Del Tha Funkee Homosapien reference with “Mr Fuemana, Mr Phil Fuemana”.

The video takes place in a day-lit club (or perhaps a cafe, which seems an Auckland ’90s thing). The group perform their song, with the Fuemanas being cool and Matty J trying to be cool.

When Phil does his keyboard solo, a very Catholic looking crucifix can be seen on the piano keys, implying that perhaps this song is about getting closer to God.

It’s funny to look at this video and think that within three years, one of the guys in this video was going to have a bonafide international mega hit single."


Over at Stonesthrow.

James Pants says "I bring forth the first installment of the Beat Archive; a 51-piece vast collection of oddities, soddities, and heresies from back in the days when I thought I could be a rap producer. Never worked out so well. But regardless, I hope you enjoy. Feel free to use for your own purposes, and spread around."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sly Stone is homeless

photos: NY Post/ John Chapple
Sly Stone is currently living in a campervan, according to the New York Post.

"He lays his head inside a white campervan ironically stamped with the words “Pleasure Way” on the side. The van is parked on a residential street in Crenshaw, the rough Los Angeles neighborhood where “Boyz n the Hood” was set. A retired couple makes sure he eats once a day, and Stone showers at their house. The couple’s son serves as his assistant and driver...

"... The singer claims his money troubles escalated in 2009, when his royalty payments stopped flowing after Stone accused his manager, Jerry Goldstein, of fraud. Stone says he was tricked into signing a rotten contract with Goldstein in 1989, giving the manager control of his finances in exchange for a weekly paycheck.

Last year, Stone sued Goldstein for $50 million, alleging fraud and 20 years of stolen royalty payments. (Contributing to the singer’s dire financial situation, he foolishly sold his valuable music-publishing rights to Michael Jackson for a reported $1 million in 1984.) Goldstein did not return calls seeking comment.

The performer’s cash-flow problems forced him out of his Napa Valley house that he rented with money from a 2007 European tour and into cheap hotels and the van in 2009. Stone hopes to soon put the lawsuit and his other woes behind him..."

UPDATE: Bootsy Collins posted this on his Facebook page yesterday (Wednesday 27th)... "Here is the latest I've heard about our pioneer Sly Stone! 'hey bootsy: just to let you know about sly he is ok. he stays at my mom and dads because he feels safe there. he has a house that he is renting but he likes being around my brother who cares for him and watches over him. oh yea my mom cooks for him whenever he is hungry. as for the boys in the hood thing; my hood is very loving of sly and watches over him. thank you for caring. ps. he would love to here from you. keep the funk alive and god bless you. yours truly randy austin'." 

60s crate diggers

From What Record Stores Looked Like in the 1960s. More pics, follow the link.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Free download. This is off the rather splendid collaboration between Lawrence Arabia and Mike Fabulous (Lord Echo/Black Seeds). Out October 3.

The whole album is streaming over at NZ Herald. Live shows - Oct 7, at Mighty Mighty Wgtn, Oct 9 at Kings Arms Akld, Oct 13 Nelson Arts Festival.

Why Len Lye didn't need to get high

ah, Vice Magazine, you have the best headlines.

"Len Lye was born at the turn of the last century on New Zealand’s then-mind-numbingly isolated South Island. Consequently, the likelihood that Len would eventually have a creative impact on the world was about as slim as him winning the lottery without a ticket.

Luckily, thanks to a crafty combination of talent, vision and relocation to London, Len’s work was able to divide audiences on a global scale. Len Lye’s fascination with movement and his experiments with film and celluloid were like nothing that had ever been seen before in the early 1900s and it’s a little known fact that he produced the very first ever music video.

Len Lye died an old man in 1980 but his long-time collaborator, Roger Horrocks, was obliging enough to speak to us on his behalf.

Vice: What was New Zealand like in the 20s when Len Lye started experimenting with film and art?

Roger: New Zealand was a small colony at the end of the world, dominated by the practical concerns of farmers and land speculators. There was some art, but it was mostly derivative, hand-me-down stuff, imitating the London art of earlier years. When Len started experimenting, he seemed to be the only artist in New Zealand with a knowledge of Cubism, Futurism, and any of the other modern ‘isms’. He tried to talk about his work and his ideas but people thought he was “potty” (his word), so he mostly kept things to himself.

So he was a bit of a creative anomaly?

He was a one-man modern art movement. Luckily, he was also incredibly self-motivated, which seems to have been a legacy of the fact that his father had died when he was three, at which point he was shunted off to a series of foster homes. So he learned to look after himself, and grew up like a tough little street kid. As a young man he was contemptuous of the establishment, including the art scene, and he developed fiercely independent ideas about everything. Len’s philosophy centred on the idea of individuality, and his slogan was “Individual Happiness Now.”

A still from Rainbow Dance (1936)

That sounds like a great, hedonistic mantra. Did he go to art school?

Len had to leave school at the age of 13 and he couldn’t afford to go to high school. He made extraordinary use of free public libraries and knew how crucial it was for kids who grew up poor to have access to them. Len used them so well that by the time he was in his early 20s, he knew more about new trends in art than any artist or art teacher in New Zealand.

You recently made a film about a “breakthrough” moment that Len had. Can you tell us about that?

When he was a teenager, Len was out delivering papers on a very windy day in Wellington (which is famous for its wind). Watching the clouds blowing around, he suddenly had two ideas—first, that movement could be the basis for a completely new approach to art, and second, that the way to think about movement was in terms of music. He called this “a figure of motion”. This was a big discovery for Len, and he spent the rest of his life as an artist developing it, both in film and in kinetic sculpture.

What were some of the techniques he pioneered?

In the 1930s he had invented a new way of making films—doing so without a camera by painting and scratching images directly onto the celluloid. The results were brilliantly coloured and had a funky look, with lines and blobs bouncing around with lots of physical energy.

Oh yeah, those films look amazing—like they’re alive almost.

Yeah, but he needed a way to fund his films so he could get them screened in cinemas. So he came up with the idea of combining them with popular dance music. He loved Cuban music, which had recently become trendy in Paris, and was just starting to be heard in London. He described his images as his “vicarious form of dance to the music”. These four-minute films had a huge impact all over England. It also helped him to find sponsors. I guess they were definitely some of, if not the first music videos.

Six frames from Tusalava (1929)

That’s a pretty big claim to fame for a guy from Christchurch.

Some European experimental film-makers such as Oskar Fischinger had already been making little music films for cinemas, but they had mostly used classical music, whereas Len preferred popular music. He valued it for being more rhythmic and sexy. Len’s films have influenced many music videos since then. They are still screened today on MTV in Europe.

What were some of the other films that Len made?

He tried to do something new with each film he made in terms of imagery or editing. His music films included A Colour Box, Kaleidoscope and Colour Flight. In Rainbow Dance and Trade Tattoo he came up with highly original ways of using colour film, transforming black and white camera footage into amazing, re-coloured, Cubist-like images. He made Free Radicals and Particles in Space by scratching black film. His scratches are incredibly alive, like flashes of lighting, or high-speed graffiti.

A still from Birth of the Robot (1935).All photos courtesy of the Len Lye Foundation and the New Zealand Film Archive.

I’ve read something about Len taking mescalin with his wife and friend and while they were tripping balls, Len was just fine. Was this a regular thing?

Len’s friends felt that he was one person who truly had a natural high. He almost never took drugs, but when he did, his friends could not see any difference in him. He was wild enough without chemical assistance. Even when Len was in his 60s he was celebrated by papers, such as the East Village Other, for being a great counter-culture role model. He had an extraordinary visual imagination and was totally independent and rebellious, and he and his wife Ann had for years practised a happy open marriage. Who needs drugs when you have all that?

What were some of the negative reactions to Len’s work?

One of his films was Swinging the Lambeth Walk, which he based on a popular new dance of the period. It was sponsored by the government’s fund to promote tourism and although today it would be perfectly normal to promote ‘swinging London’, in 1939 it was a really controversial idea. Some politicians were appalled.

That’s hard to imagine now.

In the cinemas, Len’s films also polarised the audience. Half the audience was horrified and booed and stamped their feet. Modern art with pop music was too much for them. But the other half of the audience would cheer and clap in delight. The films created so much controversy that every film reviewer was expected to offer an opinion, and Len gained both fame and notoriety. Most people shy away from controversy but Len embraced it and that’s what really made him such a special artist.

Summer Series 95

These photos turned up after I put out a call via Twitter/Facebook asking for any pics of the Picassos recently. If you've got some, please get in touch! Add them to our Flickr group too. 

These pics are from BFM's Summer Series in 1995, taken by Mark Walters - thanks for scanning them and sharing! We played last, and the crowd was a bit rowdy by that stage of the day. I had to stop playing guitar midsong at one point and drag a security guard off a punter cos he was punching him repeatedly in the head, not cool.

Then the head of security pulled all his staff off the front of stage, and then the PA guys decided since there was no security, they'd take away our monitors from the front of stage as well, Didn't bother us, we played on, the crowd started stage diving like mad, the PA started swaying, and we all had a good time. Those security guys were lugheads tho. If you look at that crowd photo above, you might spot Steve, from ' Nick and Steve' on BFM fame....


Cos everyone likes BAR-B-Q.... on Stax Records 1964....

As found on the Afterhours Northen Soul collection, 3 CDs of solid soul goodness...

Sunday, September 25, 2011


From, a project reviewing NZOA-funded music videos, by Robyn Gallagher...

"A song about relaxing and taking it easy, which seems to be the national genre of New Zealand. The “Rewind” video is a cruisy collection of a lively studio performance and scenes from New Zealand.

It’s a fun video that nicely captures the spirit of the song, with green screen used quite thoughtfully. The background images, scenes of both rural and urban New Zealand, are contrasted with the laid-back band.

The video also features the nice bright, highly saturated colour palette that was cool in the ’90s, and I think this kind of colour use has come back around. Now all we need is for chunky green screen to become cool again.

Best bit: the green-screened turntable.

Bonus: Peter McLennan of the Hallelujah Picassos has again been kind enough to share his experience of the video:

"We worked with Stratford Productions on this video, as we did for the previous video Lovers Plus. The latter video was directed by Bruce Sheridan, and for this one we worked with Clinton Phillips. I co-directed the video with Clinton, which was very generous of him, as he did a lot of the work, really. We shot Rewind at the Powerstation, using the stage for the band footage, and shooting from the balcony for the verses, looking down on Bobbylon, singing. We bounced round the stage Roland and myself wearing turntables strapped on like guitars, and Johnnie playing his korg synth, nicknamed the Hog.

The black and white footage in the verses was shot on super 8 film by me, while we were on tour. I gave it to Clinton to send off for telecine transfer over in Sydney and never saw it again, which was a bit sad.

There’s also footage shot on video of us clowning round on the roof of Civic House, next to DKD, which also makes a brief appearance in the video. The only green screen is on the record on the turntable, which also serves up my fave shot in the video, at 2.09 – Roland doing his best Michael Jackson tippy-toes dance move.

This song will be included on the forthcoming collection of Hallelujah Picassos tunes, remastered for CD/digital."