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Thursday, 27 April 2017

Hello folks! Hope everyone's happy and well and getting in the Bank Holiday mood (if you're in the UK that is...the rest of you will just have to make do with a weekend I'm afraid...) I just wanted everyone to marvel at the astonishing dexterity shown here by your aged and doddery humble scribe in customizing the Bandcamp page. After an extensive and expensive course in digital design principles....erm....oh alright, copying and pasting some code that the kind people on the interweb let you make on their site... I've completely transformed it! Ooh yes, by golly and, as the young people no doubt say when not too completely delapidated by their binge drinking, it rocks! Marvel! as clicking on the word 'Twitter' takes you straight to my Twitter account . Be amazed! as a press of the same digit on the mouse whilst hovering over the word 'Facebook' takes you to my Facebook page, swoon as....OK, I know, you've got the picture. Anyway, please do check it out and let me know if/when the links don't actually work...oh, and while you're there..... ;)

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Swipe Meltdown Festival - the full list of events (EXCLUSIVE!!!)

One of the nicest aspects of being a National Treasure, is that one is often asked to participate in events that would otherwise be closed to one as an ordinary member of the public. This is especially nice when, like me, you're a National Treasure who is known only to a small handful of loyal (and quite probably deranged and tweet happy) followers. My appearance at the Olympic Opening Ceremony, for instance, barely warranted a mention in most of the national media - which would have been a very different matter, I can tell you, had I not awoken from a Bostik induced 'interlude' just long enough to take evasive action and steer the chopper away from Buckingham Palace. No Christmas card from the Craigs for another year is a *small* price to pay compared with the burden that might have been placed on the Civil List. Believe me, Gary Numan's *welcome* to the Commonwealth gig.

But I digress. So, you'll imagine my surprise and delight, I'm sure, when I received a missive from the bods over at the South Bank Centre asking me if I'd be kind enough to curate next year's Meltdown Festival for them. It's a good job they posted the invitation rather than cold calling as my initial reaction was to tell them to pee off and find someone else to raise the profile of mental health issues in the UK. I have enough trouble keeping my own bonce off the ceiling as a result of several decades of adhesive blowback, never mind trying to stop other people having a bit of a wobbler. When Generation Snowflake have spent three months adhered to the control room of Conny Plank's Kling Klang studio with not so much as a stale frankfurter to keep body and soul together, *then* they can complain.

Anyway, and fortunately, I eventually googled it all on the interweb and found out that it was actually quite a cool thing to be involved with. I imagine many of you were as oblivious as me, so basically the gist of Meltdown is that each year they invite increasingly obscure and niche artistes to put together a month long series of cultural events around the South Bank Centre that no one goes to and, obviously, by the law of averages, someday it was bound to be my turn - especially as Larry Grayson had apparently not been contactable...and so on and so forth.

So what else could I say but, "gear whack - stick the corporate contactless in me willing mitt and you'll have a bill they'll still be purring over by the time Sacha Distell starts his Meltdown in 2019" - well, assuming they let him in. So, without further ado, here's the full programme:

Sir Harrison Birtwistle 

Harry and I go back years. In fact, it was in Paris, many years ago, that Harry said something that really opened up the idea for me of doing something musical for a living. "Music is like knitting, Kenneth...", he told me - often confusing me with the young Kenneth Connor who, it would appear, was one of the few aspects of modern popular culture he was in any way acquainted with - the other being Jim Bowen's Bullseye, which he would watch avidly, crying all the way through each show before excusing himself and spending an inordinately long time in the lavatory, quietly sobbing. And that was it. "Music is like knitting, Kenneth..." and then silence as he went back to his work, transcribing a particularly radical and atonal new cardigan.

For my Meltdown, Harry will be conducting a small chamber ensemble through a new set of specially commissioned works based on the songs of Peters & Lee.

Eno at the ENO

I'm surprised that no one else has thought of this one. But now, finally, the world will get to hear the collaboration they've been waiting centuries for. Haven't we all wondered what the libretto of HMS Pinnafore would sound like looped and put through a lengthy chain of delays, reverbs, oscillators and other various effects, then slowed down by a quarter and fed back on itself?? Well, wait no longer. I certainly can't!

Lorry Anderson at the Royal Festival Hall

I'm really quite excited about this one too. What better way to communicate the horrors of modern global migration than a performance piece centred around Laurie Anderson spending a whole month creating 'an artistic environment' in an 80 foot long Norbert Dentressangle articulated lorry packed with displaced families from sub-Saharan Africa and parked in the foyer of the RFH? OK, I know, there must be millions. But Laurie couldn't come up with a better pun than that in the brief time we had on Skype to discuss the piece and then had to rush off as she remembered she'd left a timbale in the microwave.

The Kenneths

No idea what this up-and-coming rabble of riotous street punk pranksters actually sound like, but with a name like that, they've got to be good haven't they? Haven't they?

Anyway, enjoy the shows. And a massive thank you to everyone who has pre-ordered 'Skyhorse' - you should get your copies to download early on Monday morning, assuming I can remember to press the 'release' button...

LUV on y'all,

Bob x

Tuesday, 14 February 2017


What happened to the future?
It used to sound so good.
The one we ended up with...
Nicht so schon...

I'll be releasing my new LP, "Skyhorse" exclusively on Bandcamp. You'll be able to stream and/or download the whole LP on my 52nd birthday, April 17th 2017. It's available to pre-order now and there will be a preview track up for you to sample (hopefully) within the next couple of weeks.

Track-listing is as follows:

I'm very happy with it.

Friday, 13 January 2017

This is it boys...

Morning Swipelings,

Hope the trudge through the hardest part of the year isn't getting you all down up there in the northern hemisphere. Obviously here in the Bahamas, it's all sunshine, palm tress and free pina coladas summoned up with the click of a duty free castanet from the waiters at the 'all-in' holiday resort next door to my humble German-engineered beach shack. The world of Trump, Putin, Brexit and the apparent resumption of hostilities in the war between everybody reasonably well known and the grim reaper* seems light years away. Indeed, if it wasn't for Negrita and her constant ejaculations of disgust at the TMS on the long wave, you wouldn't believe you were even in century 21. My goodness, loves the cricket does that one. She's even bought some pads along. And a box. Incredible...

But enough with the dull cares of the huddled masses. What brings us to the lovely Bahamas besides the obvious incentives of massive tax avoidance opportunities and freedom from extradition?** Well, truth is, I'm enjoying a real surge of mid-late career creative energy and where better to start committing to tape a dystpoian vision of a cold, wartorn, dysfunctional Europe than on the perfect white sands of the Caribbean? Plus it's obvioulsy saving me a packet on the old tax into the bargain. And you can never be 100% sure that those photoshopped images of Putin in a Grayson Perry outfit *won't* get traced back to your own personal computer, regardless of what Ian Hislop might say, now can you?

Anyway, enough of the context. What about the content? Well, we're certainly on  a bit of a roll. Armed with a collection of Eno-generated loops, I've been assembling core tracks on (currently) about 9 new pieces. These range from a bizarre, scarifying and as-yet-untitled 80s style dance number with collosal compression on the snare and snarling synth brass riffs to a couple of reflective ambient instrumentals. Newest off the production line is a sombre Vangelis style epic with a disconcerting synth lead on it that is somewhere between a saxophone and an air raid siren. It's painting mental images for me of the ruins of a bombed out city and that I think will probably be the environment in which the lyrics unfold - assuming I can write any. I'm thinking 'Matter of Life and Death' meets 'Casablanca' re-staged on the bombsite where they plan to build the Burgundy Lido. If that makes any sense. These are suitable soundscape, anyway, over which to contemplate the horrible futures that seem to be hovering just a short way over the horizon for most of us.

Still, nil desperandum and all that. All I can see over the immediate horizon is a smart young chappette in a smart white uniform and bearing a silver salvour crammed with peachy blasts of ice-cold alcopop so, if you'll excuse me...

"Gladstone, I presume..."

L.U.V. on y'all,

Bob xx

*RIP dear old Graham Taylor.

**Thanks Cliff!!!

Friday, 6 January 2017


Greetings Swipelings...

Well, what a shower of unholy shit that was. 2017, I mean. Blimey, what a cacktastrophe of a year. Easier to name who didn't die than those we very sadly lost. So many luminaries - Daniels, Dickman, Corbett. Rossi, Di Canio, Peroni, that one whose Dad looks the spit of Iggy Pop (pretty much the whole Italian backline by reckoning), Martin, Michael, Carrie, Fischer, Dogger Bank, German Bight (those poor sailors are in for one feck of a year what with half the shipping forecast suddenly popping its clogs). The list is almost endless even without all the poor sods in Aleppo. And then, to top it all, Bert Kwouk goes and snuffs it. I spent half the year checking my own pulse just to make sure I was still alive - and even that was nip and tuck some days, especially during a Copydex flashback. So, for small blessings, we are thankful.

And then, of course, there was the political situation. One minute I'm sunning myself on some exotic shore with various scantily clad economic migrants of no fixed gender persuasion larding on the factor 50, casually swilling down a breezer or two, the next I find I'm living in a country doing its damnedest to turn the clock back to 1973. Oh sure, the music and the flares were great. And the three day weeks, casual sexism and who can forget the blackouts. Jesus, I had a fair few of those. Boy, I could really knock the stuff down back then. Anyway, that's the last time I holiday in Albania, that's for sure. And then there was Brexit. Crisis on a bike, what have you silly sods gone and done? I mean, I was hardly the biggest fan - overwrought, top down, authoritarian, inflexible, rarely seeming even to be cognisant of the UK's existence let alone its interests and increasingly dominated by neo-fascist nations from the former soviet bloc. But as song contests go, Eurovision was a beacon of hope for many and its passing will surely leave an incredible void in the lives of many. 

Well, it's done now. And we've got Trump hem...look forward to as well. Dark days indeed. But, hey ho, where there's a will there's a the saying goes, 'what doesn't kill you probably leaves you stuck to the ironing board covered in someone else's vomit until the emergency services can get to you...' Onwards and upwards. It takes a lot to laugh, it takes a train to get to Aberystwith....and countless other meaningless platitudes that will serve no purpose whatsoever when pitted against the forces of inhuman corporatism and the neo-liberal apocalypse.

Still, on the plus side...

After a year in the creative doldrums, I'm happy to report that I'm back at work again on a new Long Player. Eno's been popping over with his synthesizer-in-a-knapsack. I don't know where he picks these things up. Last time I went to Curry's, I couldn't even find a hair straightener. Anyway, he's really been on fine form and in between ginger snaps and Peter Cook impersonations he's been challenging me to try to recapture the dizzy heights of our late 1970s oeuvre (I'm never sure how you spell that, less still what it actually means...) I must admit that I was initially reluctant to resume our partnership as I was finding the principle of leaving everything to chance was getting a bit tiresome. I mean, yes, using the oblique strategies cards can open you up to leftfield notions and take a piece in unexpected directions. I don't know, maybe it was just me or rotten luck, but for whatever reason, I just seemed always to end up getting Mr Bun the Baker. And there's only so much you can do with a bag of self-raising flour, a bit of bicarb and a few currants. Well, at least in an experimental electronic music sense.

Right, that's enough waffling from me. Let's get this party started. Here, in the unlikely event that you haven't already played it to death, is a brief preview of the unfettered joys to follow. That's me on synthesized basso profundo and Eno's doing interesting things with a vocodered hairdryer and a bag of bathing crystals. It's a dazed and battered slice of almost-romanticism in a jaded and cynical world. Think David Niven channeling Rik from Casablanca while his plane is shot down on a daring mission to bomb the Acropolis and hurtles to near certain oblivion somewhere just south of Bruxelles . It's not much, but it will at least give you something to wave your zippo at until the fuel runs out....

L.U.V. on y'all,