A message from one of our partners Richard Jones at Tangent Books – please take a look and support:
Thought you might be interested in this, with the music connection…
I’m asking people with a connection to Tangent Books and an interest in words and art to support a crowdfunding campaign for the reprint of Catacombs of Terror! by Radiohead artist Stanley Donwood.
Essentially it’s a means of pre-ordering this first edition or choosing one of the other rewards.
You can make a pledge by following the link below. Please share on social media and take a look at the video, I think you’ll like it.
If you’re interested, here’s a bit more about the background to the new edition.
Those of you familiar with Stanley Donwood’s work will know that he’s a genius when it comes to packaging – in 2002, Donwood and Thom Yorke won a Grammy Award for Best Recording Package for the Special Edition for the Radiohead album Amnesiac.
In his first book with Tangent, Slowly Downward, my colleague Steve Faragher arranged to print the endpapers on an opaque paper stock, the idea being that the image faded slightly from front to back. It kinda worked. But it took two weeks for the endpapers to dry at the printers.
In Household Worms, Donwood wanted to create an ‘invisible’ book, so we debossed the cover ever so slightly and printed the book the Old Penguin B format size so it could easily slip into a jacket pocket. The idea was that the book would feel slightly worn, as though it had always been in the pocket, that it was ‘invisible.’ Try it, it works.
Also the book is thread sewn, so when it eventully falls apart, it will do so in sections – each one containing a number of complete short stories.
Catacombs of Terror! is the opposite of Household Worms. It’s big and brash, an airport novel. Donwood commissioned Chris Hopewell from Jacknife in Bristol to design the cover because of his expertise and deep knowledge of pulp fiction art. It’s a wonderful piece of work based on the fonts and motifs of the 1950s pulp fiction genre.
We discussed various options to complete the ‘package’ and came up with a little-used technique called edge colouring, it’s most commonly used on diaries and hymn books where the outer edges of the folios are coloured (usually gold). We’ve looked at samples and if we can get the right effect, the result will be stunning…
Please encourage others to pledge and share.
Catacombs of Terror! by Stanley Donwood
Help get a literary ‘classic’ back in print
PLEASE SHARE BRISTOL PEOPLE:
Those under the illusion that BRISTOL BOYS MAKE MORE NOISE Gig#1 The Spics, was a one hit wonder need to get down The SouthBank on Saturday October 3rd for another act from the archive as we move into ‘annual event’ status.
The launch of the book and album BRISTOL BOYS MAKE MORE NOISE which visits the Bristol Music Scene 1974 – 1981 has spawned a desire for repeat of the good times.
Gig#2 THE UNTOUCHABLES are this years offering from promoters Bristol Archive Records and Tangent Books
39 years 11 months before Gig#2 Dr Feelgood played the Colston Hall and two barely teenage boys went to see them and got the blues. Jerry Tremaine and Marc Clements formed THE UNTOUCHABLES an R & B band modeled on The Feelgoods, playing their covers and guided by their 50’s/60’s influences.
BRISTOL BOYS MAKE MORE NOISE the book, contains John Spink’s photos of an early gig at The Bear in Hotwells, Gill Loats in her anecdotal text takes some credit for Tremaine’s talent, due to her irresponsible ‘babysitting’ and the track on the accompanying album Keep on Walking, is the one Wilko Johnson produced.
Another opportunity to buy the book, album and the T Shirt at Gig#2 with DJ LORD DUBS to fill in the in-between bits with ‘music to watch the years go by’ and our headliners THE UNTOUCHABLES authentic rhythm and blues ensuring another great BRISTOL BOYS MAKE MORE NOISE gig.
We are chuffed to get this release on the catalogue coupled with the fact that Rhythmites have reformed and back playing Festivals this summer. More news soon:
Released on CD and Digital Download 18th September 2015
Originally formed in the mid-eighties, Bath based reggae outfit Rhythmites spent more than a decade gigging throughout the UK and Europe, building up a loyal fan base and a strong reputation as the West Country’s leading proponents of live roots reggae. Although their catalogue wasn’t excessively large, they did manage to record and release a couple of cassettes, a 12” single and most memorably in 1989, a very well received vinyl only album, “Integration”.
Rhythmites split up in the year 2000 but in 2007, they picked up where they’d left off and once more began spreading the roots reggae message at live shows as well as recording new material. With all the renewed activity, many fans both old and new have been asking about “Integration”, an album released only on vinyl more than twenty five years ago, long deleted and not readily available on the used market.
As chance would have it, Rhythmites and their music were already on the Bristol Archive Records radar so; when they mentioned the possibility of reissuing “Integration” we were very happy to be of assistance. We discovered that the band had never been entirely happy with the original mix and wanted to remix the album with the benefit of twenty first century facilities. Remixes can be a bad thing but as someone who saw the band perform many times and bought “Integration” on release, I was blown away by the new mix. Not only have they remained totally faithful to the original with no badly judged attempts to update the sound, but engineer Ben Findley has totally nailed it with the new mix; it takes the original to another level, improving it whilst maintaining the spirit of the vinyl pressing.
For those that aren’t familiar with the band this is a roots album, the songs deal with living one’s life in a better way. The sound is authentic and not in any way contrived, in no small part due to Angus’ excellent and distinctive vocals which really fit both the music and the lyrics. Anyone who has seen them perform live will know about Stuart’s didgeridoo and that makes an appearance right from the start in “No Guns”, a song that suggests it doesn’t take weapons and violence to be a freedom fighter.
Other stand out tracks includes “Nation Integration” with its call for unity, and “Pain and Suffering” which shines a light on some of the ills of the world. The rest of the tracks all deal with serious issues although, “A True” and “Hold On” drift into what was, when recorded, a more contemporary almost dancehall style. As a bonus we’ve included brand new exclusive dub versions for “Heed No Dream” and “A True”.
It’s great that one of the best live reggae bands of the late eighties and nineties are back on the road, as is the fact that their first album is getting a long overdue reissue, the fact that it’s sounding better than ever is the real bonus. “Integration” by Rhythmites is released on CD and digital download by Bristol Archive Records on the 18th September 2015, available from all usual outlets.
1. Nation Integration
2. No Stopping We
3. Pain and Suffering
4. No Guns
5. Heed No Dream
6. A True
7. Give and Take
8. Hold On
9. Heed No Dream Dub
10. A True Dub
RELEASE DATE: 18th September 2015
LABEL: Bristol Archive Records
DISTRIBUTION: Shellshock / SRD
FORMAT: CD and Digital Download
CAT NO: ARC274CD
GENRE: Reggae, Dub
Bristol Archive Records and Tangent Books present
BRISTOL BOYS MAKE MORE NOISE! 2015
(RnB from 1978 – back together for one more rocking show)
Plus Lord Dubs (Howard Purse) on the decks (Dugout stylee)
Sat October 3rd Southbank Club, Dean Lane, Bristol, BS3 1DB
EARLY BIRD TICKETS ONLY – £5
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your early bird ticket now
Tickets go on sale Thursday 3rd September from Recession, 8 Jacobs Wells Road, Bristol, BS8 1EA
Normal ticket price £8 in advance – £10 on the door 8pm til late
Rhythmites from Bath agree to rerelease their 1989 album ‘Integration’ on Bristol Archive Records later in 2015. The band have reformed and are playing UK festival dates this summer. Ben Findley has remixed this UK Roots Reggae classic and our version will include two exclusive dub mixes. The original LP was released on the Wiltshire label Bluurg Records. Here’s a video link: https://youtu.be/-Z4rLrNZMgU. More news soon….
Here’s an extract from The Primates biography:
And so all too soon The Primates upped instruments and followed the road to London, partly in that ambitious career gambit to ‘make it’, more basically though just to keep the band together, because Jon Shennan was beginning a degree course at London Bedford College in Regents Park.
So the first weeks of Jon’s illustrious academic career were aided and abetted by Johnny, JJ and notorious pal BEN HUNT all sharing Jon’s college room near Regents Park. Not a charming proposition, really, and cue here many dark tales of unspeakable poverty, cheerful hedonism and general degeneracy in a room for one shared by four.
The Primates managed little from that point on…some London connections got made, Bernie Rhodes remained a friend; various gigs were played – support slots, mostly, to bands like Generation X at The Vortex…hardly the pinnacle of rock’n’roll.
Simply hanging out at the famed Clash rehearsal space was also an achievement of its own. The glamour of the place, in all of its dank Victorian squalor, is hard to describe, hard to understand, but it had a glamour nevertheless, and inspired Johnny, for one, towards the life in rock’n’roll that he subsequently took.
But all too soon, game for a laugh as our heroes may have been, the abject poverty and slow progress of band promotion got the better of all concerned and Johnny and JJ returned to Bristol at the end of 1977 and The Primates were no more.
Life went on for all three of our heroes and both Johnny and Jon played in many later bands, initially Bristol-connected and then farther afield.
Johnny joined Bristol punks The Media, then formed The Tesco Chainstore Massacre and The Spics, subsequently moving to London to tour with Orange Juice and then launched a solo career managed by Bernie Rhodes. Johnny Britton is a legend in his own lunchtime, a man of a thousand stories and the subject of a biography to come…
Jon Shennan also joined The Spics and added a brilliant individuality to every band he worked with. Jon’s left-handed bass-playing and genuinely emotive voice gave a definite ring of Macca to him and the last time Johnny recalls seeing Jon was when he dropped round to his London flat in the late ‘eighties to ask if there was a Beatles wig he could borrow because he was about to audition for The Bootleg Beatles…
And JJ, turned himself into a genuine party legend, sadly now not a living one, and he is missed…
Taken from: http://www.bristolarchiverecords.com/…/The_Primates_Bio.html
A very sad day here at Archive Towers. News has just arrived that Mikey (Taylor -Hall) has passed away over the weekend after a long battle with poor health. Mikey to all that knew and worked with him was a genius engineer, musician, film maker, producer, teacher, mentor and Bristol Reggae/Music legend. Mikey is responsible for virtually all the music from Jashhwa Moses and co wrote, engineered and produced the new album to be released June 22nd this year – ‘The Rising’.
We know Mikey as the original keyboard player from Black Roots, producer of many records that were released on the Shoc Wave label in the 80′s. He worked with many of the Bristol reggae singers e.g Dan Ratchet but in the last month or so we discovered that he co wrote and produced material with Dennis Brown following session work with Aswad.
Here’s a message from Steve Street (another Bristol legendary engineer) Steve now co runs Bristol Archive Records and is responsible for mastering most of the releases – ‘Mikey was a very tough task master but actually really pushed me to become better at mastering which now has a lasting legacy for everyone involved in BAR and RAR’ – RIP Mikey our thoughts are with you and your family – may the music live on’.
The Restriction pressing still hasn’t arrived. To the people that have preordered we can only apoligise and the minute they arrive they will be in the post.
This article might explain why?
The music industry has been celebrating a surge of interest in one of its most beloved artifacts: the vinyl record. Major labels are returning to their old business model and are quickly saturating clothes stores, online shops, electronics outlets and international vinyl-themed holidays with reissues of old classics.
It’s easy to get swept up in the hype – after all, this is surely a worthy alternative to streaming for the music fan with a fondness for physical objects. However, the vinyl boom is hiding problems that could have disastrous implications for popular culture. Vinyl production worldwide is currently operating way above its capacity, and expensive materials, expert knowledge and antiquated techniques have led to to supply shortages and quality problems.
For independent labels, especially those specializing in electronic music, who survived the last two decades by focusing on vinyl in a time when CDs dominated, the resurgence of interest has resulted in more disadvantages than advantages. In fact, their very existence is now in jeopardy. Thaddeus Herrmann, long-standing label owner and editor of German online magazine Das Filter explains why this is the case, what the actual problems are and why the survival of the humble vinyl record is in danger.
In the summer of 2013, the music industry met in Röbel, Germany.
They were invited to visit Optimal Media, one of the largest pressing plants in Europe for CD, DVD and vinyl. Based on the edge of the Mecklenburg Lake District, the company has produced physical media since 1990. With modern assembly lines for digital data carriers such as CDs and DVDs, a large press and logistics and fulfillment center, the company is one of the largest job creators in a region weak on infrastructure. It is a company that serves the entertainment industry worldwide, especially when it comes to vinyl.
The SommerFest was intended not only to take care of business relationships, but also to inaugurate the company’s new vinyl presses. “We really thought the new machines would relieve pressure in our production,” Jens Alder of the Berlin label Morr Music remembers. “However, after the Fest it just got worse.” Even though machines had been restored properly, one thing that was not considered in the planning was that the gas feed did not have enough power to provide the presses with enough output. It would take months before this problem was remedied. In the meantime, the production delays for vinyl just increased.
The labels that never stopped releasing vinyl records, and the labels who saved the production infrastructure from bankruptcy, now see themselves trapped within a highly competitive industry that is attempting, by hell or high water, to find its footing with a few remaining manufacturers that simply cannot meet demand. The point of failure, however, is not limited to securing capacity in the pressing plants. The problems start a long time before this process begins.
“The real problem is not in the pressing – the bottleneck is in the electroplating.”
Silke Maurer, Handle With Care
In contrast to the CD, which for the most part is produced in a completely automated way with machines available on the open market, vinyl’s manufacturing chain is divided into many small parts. It is complicated and requires a lot of work by hand, both in the actual pressing plant as well as with the other steps in the production. Manufacturers have watched as business has boomed in the last few decades, but important investments were ignored, and this is the reason why today’s labels and musicians have to allow up to four months to produce a vinyl record. Even when working three shifts a day and through the weekend, the production facilities can’t deliver in a timely manner. How can that be when even in genres that have traditionally pressed to vinyl, the production runs have continually decreased over the last few years?
“That’s exactly the problem,” explains Silke Maurer of Handle with Care, one of the largest production agencies for records. With her team, she coordinates the production of recordings for numerous labels, no matter whether it is on vinyl, CD, white label or in a box set. “In the last four years, vinyl production has almost doubled here. That sounds super, but you have to take a closer look at how the numbers come together. In the same timeframe, the first run of a title has reduced nearly by half. That means more work for the press. The machines have to be reconfigured more often, which takes a lot of time. But the real problem is not in the pressing – the bottleneck is in the electroplating.”
Electroplating, a process which involves coating the master lacquer in a metal layer to produce stampers, is time-intensive and requires highly trained personnel. Those who have learned electroplating are still a long way from being able to prepare the lacquer – the lengthy process requires a great deal of experience and expertise. Only then can it be guaranteed that the music sounds how it is supposed to sound. And all this has to happen quickly – when the music is cut to the lacquer, it can’t be stored indefinitely. A time period of over two weeks is considered to be problematic.
“The production of vinyl is actually a very lucrative business, at least that was the case in the past,” says Maurer. “The margin is high and the machines are old and completely paid for. As long as production volume stayed the same for the most part, that was it. There should have been new investment much earlier, especially in electroplating.”
Indeed, a trip to a pressing plant offers a bizarre picture. The machines look like they were taken straight from a museum and installed on the factory floor. It is loud, narrow and hot. Every 30 seconds the presses spit out a record that is either automatically placed in a sleeve or put on a spindle in order to be sleeved by hand.
“There are only two companies worldwide that produce lacquers. This is not good for business.”
There are still three large pressing plants in Germany: Optimal, Pallas and R.A.N.D. In addition there is GZ in the Czech Republic, MPO in France and Record Industry in Holland. Remove those, and the landscape in continental Europe quickly becomes confusing.
Many independent pressing plants closed in the late 1980s and early 1990s due to lack of orders. And the major labels, practically all of which owned their own presses, wantonly scrapped the machines in order to help the CD triumph. The introduction of the CD at the beginning of the 1980s was a self-made economic miracle. The development of the new format was supposed to pay for itself as soon as possible, so the silver discs were sold at highly inflated prices in the early years. Thanks to “digital”, back then the magic word, record companies could sell their entire back catalog a second time and with alleged better sound, no scratches, longer playing times (with bonus tracks!) and in a smaller, more practical format.
There was a gold rush at Sony and the other majors, and it’s hard to shake the feeling that the labels are trying to sell their archive a third time, this time to middle-aged buyers who can remember buying vinyl, naturally switched over to the CD, sold or threw away their old vinyl and aren’t completely happy with streaming today. A look at the vinyl section of a large Berlin store proves the shelves are full of reissues of old titles, mostly from major labels. Record players can be purchased right at the checkout. There’s nothing wrong with that – music should be sold in the formats that meet customer demand. But there are indicators that the majors are actively trying to secure substantial vinyl production capacity at the remaining pressing plants. How? By paying in advance. There might even be presses completely reserved for certain companies. That techno EP can wait – Led Zeppelin can’t. In the course of researching this article, we received emails that confirm such requests by the majors.
If this is the case – and the pressing plants are denying it – it would mean that the majors are attempting to buy their way into an industry that they played a significant role in destroying. And they are attempting once again to starve the indie labels, the very labels that never gave up on vinyl. On Record Store Day, when the shops are full of specially-made vinyl records and customers wait in line for these limited editions, the pressing plants have already had many hard weeks of work leading up to it. Who knows how many machines were quickly patched-up in lieu of a proper repair? Nobody has time to take a breath. The next releases are already on standby, and the machines continue to run at a furious pace.
But the vinyl production process isn’t only slowed down by the pressing plants – there are many steps long before a record is pressed that are also subject to complications. “The problem is the monopolization,” says Andreas Lubich, a mastering engineer and vinyl expert from Berlin. “There are currently many good mastering studios that prepare music for vinyl and also take care of the recording themselves. But the cutting machines are old and have to be used with a great deal of care. Replacement parts are rare and the secondhand market prices are unfathomable. Only a handful of people can repair them. They travel around the world throughout the year and have more to do than they can handle. In the worst case this means that a machine will lie idle for many weeks.”
The trouble starts before that. “There are only two companies worldwide that produce lacquers. One of these companies is a one-man operation in Japan run by an old man who produces the lacquers in his garage. It’s excellent quality, but who knows how much longer he can and especially will want to continue to do this. When we are in contact with him, we attempt to order as many lacquers as we can in order to stock up as much as possible. You don’t really know when you will reach him again. The other company is in the USA and serves a large portion of the market. It is practically a monopoly. This is not good for business.”
Then there are the cutting machines. The most popular and well known of these were developed in Germany by Neumann and were produced until the early 1980s. To operate these machines a so-called stylus is needed, which carves the groove into the lacquer to store the music on the disc. “Today, these styluses are produced by one company worldwide,” says Lubich, “by Apollo in the USA, where the lacquers are also made.” One person, Maria, was responsible for the entire production of the styluses and she had mastered the process, according to Lubich. “Maria knew exactly which adhesives were the right ones, and that you couldn’t use the large vats because the consistency of the adhesive would change. Then she retired, and for a long time the styluses were qualitatively just not as good.”
Her successor had to acquire the highly specialized knowledge step-by-step. The engineers who cut vinyl worldwide had to suffer the consequences. “A low quality stylus has direct repercussions on the sound of a record,” says Lubich. The suppliers are also causing a bottleneck, because vinyl granules – the raw material for the production of records – are only produced by five companies.
What was common practice in dance music a few years back – to be able to put out a 12” in a flash – is now practically impossible. If a track is successful, it will need to be repressed quickly in order to meet demand. Sadly, this is no longer possible. “That has many consequences,” says Jens Alder of Morr Music. “On the one hand, you have to better estimate what the vinyl run should be. But that is completely impossible. On the other hand, vinyl now determines our entire release schedule. We can only have a concrete release date when we at least have test pressings in front of us and the artist also has theirs. In the past, the record itself was mostly part of the process.”
The vinyl industry has always been professional, but on a smaller, manageable level. Problems were taken care of through direct contact between the plant and the client. Lack of capacity and production hold-ups only became a problem when certain labels, which had done very well for years without vinyl, rediscovered the format for themselves.
The pressing plants assume that the situation will ease up again in the coming years. The vinyl boom will subside and production will normalize. The hype surrounding the reissues, which appear to be responsible for a large part of the current situation, doesn’t have a long tail. What the collateral damage will be on the labels and artists who don’t view vinyl as a status symbol or as a machine to print money, but as the best format for their music, is hard to determine. One of the steps in the production process will fail eventually. If this happens because an entire industry is busy manufacturing the flea market records of the future, it wouldn’t be an adequate end for the vinyl record.
Article originally posted on Das Filter. Translation by Oswald Harris King. Photography by Maxwell Schiano.