HARDHOUND

Happy new year to you!

Author: Colin | Published: 31/12/10

Simon Fisher Turner – Caravaggio

Sorry if the above image is rather melancholic, it was the first post of 2010. Best viewed as a fond farewell to the old year…

I hope you’ve enjoyed Hard Format this year as much as I have had in publishing it. Sincere thanks to all the designers, musicians, labels and distributors for producing so much wonderful work and to you for visiting.

I hope you have a great 2011.

All the best, Colin.

PS For anyone interested, I’ve just published my personal view of the past year’s listening on my blog, A Personal Miscellany: 2010 – a year in listening. Comments very welcome.

Sculpture – Rotary Signal Emitter

Author: Colin | Published: 25/12/10
Previous Age Of Chance – One Thousand Years Of Trouble Next Happy new year to you!

Rotary Signal Emitter

Rotary Signal Emitter

Rotary Signal Emitter

Rotary Signal Emitter

Rotary Signal Emitter

Rotary Signal Emitter

Artist Sculpture
Title Rotary Signal Emitter
Label Dekorder
Year 2010
Design Animation: Reuben Sutherland; music: Dan Hayhurst
Music Electronic collage
Desktop Download image
Notes A few posts ago Klima’s Serenades and Serinettes arrived with a thaumotrope. Now Sculpture present a flattened zoetrope on the surface of a vinyl record. The Victorian zoetrope, invented in 1834, was a three-dimensional object that consisted of a spinning cylinder with vertical slits through which still images appeared to move.

Sculpture’s animation requires the use of a video camera to convey its magic, but as can be seen from their videos the effort is well worth it. Just the knowledge of the latent potential contained within the vinyl surface serves to enhance the experience of the music and the spinning disc, even to the naked eye, is a hypnotic spectacle.

Sculpture’s music, a mixture of psychedelia, hauntology and turntablism, is a perfect match for their striking visuals. Other films by the duo are on Tapebox – they’re very much worth your time. Here’s a beautiful fragment which in its combination of almost tactile textures, retro-futurist sci-fi and lost voices (recalling Akira Rabelais’ Spellewauerynsherde) is unexpectedly moving:

First seen on and purchasable from: Experimedia.net

Also - Mordant Music – Dead Air
- The Advisory Circle – Mind how you go (Revised edition)
- Data 70 – Space Loops, Volume One and Two
- Ghost Box

Age Of Chance – One Thousand Years Of Trouble

Author: Colin | Published: 22/12/10
Previous The Captain is dead. LONG LIVE THE CAPTAIN. Next Sculpture – Rotary Signal Emitter

Age Of Chance - 1000 Years Of Trouble

Age Of Chance - 1000 Years Of Trouble

Age Of Chance - 1000 Years Of Trouble

Age Of Chance - 1000 Years Of Trouble

Age Of Chance - 1000 Years Of Trouble

Age Of Chance - 1000 Years Of Trouble

Age Of Chance - 1000 Years Of Trouble

Age Of Chance - 1000 Years Of Trouble

Age Of Chance - 1000 Years Of Trouble

Artist Age Of Chance
Title One Thousand Years Of Trouble
Label Virgin
Year 1987
Design “One thousand years of artwork made by The Designers Republic”
Music Rock-meets-hiphop
Desktop Download image
Notes 1987 was the year that Public Enemy broke and three years after Frankie Goes To Hollywood released Two Tribes. Where ZTT’s design predictably placed Ronald Reagan and Lenin on opposite sides of the 12″ sleeve, The Designers Republic and Age of Chance deliver something much more impressive. TDR founder Ian Anderson has said that Age of Chance provided so much inspiration in terms of slogans and ideas that all he felt half the job was already done before he started work.

One Thousand Years Of Trouble combines attitude, provocation and (then) contemporary iconography to produce a cover that’s as striking today as it was in 1987 – and as likely to put a great big grin on your face. It’s archetypal early period Designers Republic. The front cover merges the symbolism of bombs, medals, the superpowers of the USSR and the USA, skyscrapers, globalisation and, slyly, design itself. The black and white strip on the right side literally and metaphorically knocks the impact just off centre, as if to ask ‘What’s underneath all this? What comes next? It’s essential to the success of the design.The chevrons that encircle the red star point in opposite directions. There’s an empty space where the two will meet. This is the moment before they do so. It’s the Age of Chance. The star, symbolic of both socialism and the American states tilts backwards, providing a sense of implied depth. And the medal? Buy the album, receive an award for bravery, loyalty or daring. Wear it with pride.

Flip the cover and all hell breaks loose: there’s that angled red star again (pointing into the future?), but it’s just one anchoring element in a blizzard of signs and declamation framed by the black and white strip that appears on the side of the front cover:

Are They Real?

ENERGY + POWER = DESTRUCTION

LOUDNESS IS A FORCE

CHILL BOMB CARNAGE

100 TO 1000

THIS IS MORAL CHAOS AS WAS PLANNED…

The barrage continues on the inner sleeve: Oliver North (Iran-Contra scandal), NASA technicians, Zola Budd (South African runner given UK immigration priority), missiles raining down on the Bayeux Tapestry knights, a variation on the medieval knight lined up between cruise missiles, the knight’s head replaced by a satellite encircled by the words ‘anything can happen in the next half hour’. All of this underpinned by the declaration:

CRUSH
THE MIGHTY ROAR OF CONSUMPTION, CONSTRUCTION AND CORRUPTION
THIS IS THE SOUND

Age of Chance espoused no defined political affiliation. Like the Futurists before them they celebrated the flavour of modern life, its frenetic tempo and deafening noise. The group itself was short-lived, but they gave The Designers Republic their opportunity to begin developing a distinctive visual language that brilliantly articulated the zeitgeist.

See also:

- Pop Will Eat Itself – X Y & Zee

Listen

The Captain is dead. LONG LIVE THE CAPTAIN.

Author: Colin | Published: 18/12/10
Previous Hauschka, Simon Scott, The Declining Winter, His Clancyness (Secret Furry Hole) Next Age Of Chance – One Thousand Years Of Trouble

No sign of Trout Mask tracks on SoundCloud, so these similarly wonderful tracks will have to do: (Thanks to Ekoplekz for pointing out the obvious – Moonlight of Vermont is on Trout Mask Replica!)

Captain Beefheart – Moonlight on Vermont

Captain Beefheart – Too Much Time

See also:

- Trout Mask Replica (Wikipedia)
- On Hard Format: Captain Beefheart – Grow Fins

Hauschka, Simon Scott, The Declining Winter, His Clancyness (Secret Furry Hole)

Author: Colin | Published: 18/12/10
Previous Teenage Fanclub – Shadows Next The Captain is dead. LONG LIVE THE CAPTAIN.

Secret Furry Hole

Secret Furry Hole

Secret Furry Hole

Secret Furry Hole

Secret Furry Hole

Secret Furry Hole

Secret Furry Hole

Secret Furry Hole

Secret Furry Hole

Secret Furry Hole

Secret Furry Hole

Secret Furry Hole

Artist 2-3: Hauschka; 4-8: Simon Scott; 9-11: The Declining Winter; 12: His Clancyness
Title 2-3: Small Pieces; 4-8: Nivalis; 9-11: Scenes From The Back Bedroom Window; 12: Hissometer EP
Label Secret Furry Hole
Year 2009-10
Design Tomm
Music Hymnal/suspended/instrumelodic/vocalescent
Desktop Download image
Notes Each design here except His Clancyness is a 3″ CD. That’s one of the delights of the work, its small scale. Another is the sense of something made by hand, with care, the sense of marks unique to each design. That is certainly the case with the cover of Hauschka’s Small Pieces: four panels of the small card sleeve bear the print of a roughly square block print, two red and two grey/black. On the red squares, there’s a hair line that shows the block was turned 90 degrees between each print. The artist’s name also looks hand printed, the treatment and roughness of the ink a pleasure to the eye.

The front cover of Simon Scott’s Nivalis is almost but not quite abstract. Suspicions are confirmed when the tiny form of the booklet is unfolded to reveal the entire image. Within the miniature form is hidden the wooded slopes of massive, snowy mountains, their tops disappearing into cloud. On the reverse is large sans-serif type. The text is easily misread as “… and mountains… in Cambridge, England… by Tomm.” Tomm can work wonders if he’s able to reshape that county’s generally pancake-flat terrain. At the bottom of the sheet, below the slit that facilitates the folding is the pouch for the little, unmarked CD.

Again on The Declining Winter, the solid becomes spectral. A roof, complete with chimney and television aerial, blurs and appears about to evaporate into the air. This time on the reverse, the much smaller, widely spaced type may follow suit.

The aesthetic reflects and enhances the music’s subtle delicacy. As well as the understated design approach, the colour palette for all four of these releases serves to bind them loosely together: reds, greys, blacks and a certain off-white predominate.

Tomm writes:

A simple thing. Small and beautiful. When Jukka asked me to take care of all design aspects at Secret Furry Hole I thought I would do things with little in my hands. A raw idea, something essential. Produce small objects that would be nice to look at and own. Nice to unfold, look through, hold in your hands. Nice to make, too.

We worked on paper, we worked on different formats, we worked on cuts and folds invented on the spot by using second hand material and found objects. Photographs taken by us or by our musicians. Stencils, stickers, recycled paper, ink, old brushes, a sewing machine, wooden type, handmade stamps, trees for the hissometer ep cover, that’s how it all turned out. At home, on the kitchen table. Something simple, small and beautiful.

There you go.

SFH releases are produced in small numbers. They sell out. Buy them direct from Secret Furry Hole’s website.

Listen Hauschka – Sehnsucht

Simon Scott – Nivalis (edit)

The Declining Winter – Killer

His Clancyness – Sight Prayer

Teenage Fanclub – Shadows

Author: Colin | Published: 15/12/10
Previous Demdike Stare – Tryptych Next Hauschka, Simon Scott, The Declining Winter, His Clancyness (Secret Furry Hole)

Teenage Fanclub -  Shadows

Teenage Fanclub -  Shadows

Teenage Fanclub -  Shadows

Teenage Fanclub -  Shadows

Teenage Fanclub -  Shadows

Teenage Fanclub -  Shadows

Artist Teenage Fanclub
Title Shadows
Label PeMa
Year 2010
Design Artwork by Toby Paterson; layout by Robert Dallas Gray
Music Guitar pop
Desktop Download image
Notes Teenage Fanclub and Toby Paterson, the man responsible for Shadows’ artwork, share Glasgow as their home town. Britain’s third largest city has a bleak charm, a quality that may also be discernible in Paterson’s collages. Whether you agree or not may depend on your opinion of the modernist architecture of the 1960s and ’70s.

The artist’s perspective is similarly ambiguous. The title of his career retrospective ‘Concensus and Collapse’, held earlier this year, may however provide an oblique clue. Most of us live with the heritage of Modernist architecture. The question of its success is one that many have strong views about. What is certain is that Paterson’s images isolate the concrete structures (and one plane) from their contexts to create playful new forms. There’s the suggestion of an attenuated cubism – though where that movement fused multiple perspectives to explore time, this work confronts the viewer with a particular period frozen and teased out.

The buildings in the images aren’t cleaned up, graffiti and weathering are still visible. The images are black and white and a little murky as though there were a suspicion of newsprint in their past. The three collages are set against fields of plain colour – blue, pink and yellow – the sort of colours that you might encounter on an NHS hospital ward.

The imagery and tonal palette is combined with a large, generously spaced sans-serif typeface set on a plain white ground. The effect is utilitarian, elegant, ambiguous and forlorn, a description that could be applied to Teenage Fanclub’s music and underlined by the opening song ‘Sometimes I Don’t Need To Believe In Anything’.

See also:

- Artist of the week 31: Toby Paterson (The Guardian)
- Sit Down Man You’re a Bloody Tragedy
- Teenage Fanclub fans’ opinion of the design

Listen Teenage Fanclub – Sometimes I Don’t Need to Believe in Anything
Next Page »