A Promotion And An Introvert’s Dream

I was recently promoted at work and given the largest desk on the floor which is affectionately referred to as “The Fortress of Solitude” by my team. It’s off by itself with four enclosed walls making it an incredibly quiet and private space which is a dream for an introvert like myself. My supervisor was confident placing me there because he knew I could work independently but would also continue to supervise and interact with new members of the team to assist them as needed.

I wasted no time in making the space my own – a home away from home. I ordered a few antique art pieces, a Persian style rug, I printed custom posters and had them framed, ordered limited edition lithographs, and had a second bronze bust of Beethoven cast to match the one I use in my home office for use as headphone stands in each space.

To ensure that each of the pieces would function well in the space, I took a moment between tasks at work to sketch out a rough template of the work area’s measurements and where I planned to place/hang each artifact. Here’s the (very) rough layout.

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It took a few months for all of the art works to be created, printed, or to ship from their nations of origin, but it’s all come together. The final step was to replace the boring wheeled plastic desk chair with something more my style. Thankfully I scored a vintage red armchair for just $7 at a local garage sale.

Here are a few shots of the results.

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The last item has just arrived and is now handsomely framed on my office wall. This is the limited edition bonus A2 lithograph from Brian Eno’s new Extended Edition of Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks, exclusively shipped to the first 250 persons worldwide to submit their orders upon the announcement of its release last May.

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The print showcases the lunar surface depicted on the original album cover from 1983. The piece is a perfect complement to the official Hearts of Space nebula poster I ordered from the ambient radio program that has been wishing space fans safe journeys for nearly forty years.

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The Beethoven bust turned out fantastic and really adds a refined touch to the space –

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My dual desktop wallpaper is a photo of the century-old chalkware “Nipper” statue and 1911 Monarch gramophone proudly displayed in my dining room in celebration of “His Master’s Voice,” the legacy of RCA, and the history of recorded music, and a small cast iron figure of Nipper sits humbly between the two monitors.

Here’s the actual statue in my home –

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and the cast iron figure –

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Also on display is my recently-acquired “His Master’s Voice” antique art mirror –

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a portrait of James Joyce, mantel clock, and I found a vintage lamp and shade to complement my burgundy-and-brass theme –

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a collage I assembled of influential figures in the history of experimental music titled, “The Rest Is Noise” –

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DJ Food (Strictly Kev)’s poster of all the releases from the late Pete Namlook’s ambient FAX +49-69/450464 record label –

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an engraved tea chest –

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and a limited edition t-shirt graphic I framed of post-rock legend Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Faulty Schematics of a Ruined Machine from their majestic F# A# ∞ LP –

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There is also a fun antique style console radio clock –

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and I produced a high-res scan of Brian Eno’s sheet music for his seminal Music for Airports LP and formatted the layout to frame beautifully in a 10×13 frame above my desk.

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And on the far wall behind my desk I’ve framed the Apollo print and a classy 24” x 36” portrait of Miles Davis taken in 1948 in NYC from the Herman Leonard Collection.

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The Persian style area rug finishes off the space nicely, and makes it feel extra cozy.

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It’s a serene work space and really makes me feel at home.

Christmas in February – Loads of New Content from Fred Deakin!

Fred Deakin is best-known as half of the playfully eclectic downtempo duo Lemon Jelly, as well as one of the founders of the enormously successful and innovative design studio, Airside.

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Airside’s client base included Coca-Cola, D&AD, EMI, Greenpeace, Live Earth, Mastercard, MTV, Nike, Panasonic, Sony, Visa, Vodafone, the Pet Shop Boys and The Beatles and their iconic style is instantly recognizable.

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Deakin also founded Impotent Fury, Lemon Jelly’s own label, (which was also the name of an infamous club night run by Fred where the music genre was chosen by the spin of a wheel.) The label issued 46 official releases plus a few non-label deluxe custom-packaged boots due to uncleared samples issued with Fred’s telltale typeface. These boots have since become highly-sought-after collectibles among Jellyheads.

The first was 2001’s Soft/Rock, a 7″ blue vinyl single in a screenprinted modified denim sleeve constructed from pairs of jeans with a flavored condom in the pocket. The single was limited to 1,000 copies, 15 of which featured hand embroidery by Laura Lees. The singles contained uncleared samples by Chicago and Black Crowes, hence the private release.

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Then in August of 2003, another self-release surfaced titled Rolled/Oats. The single was spray painted gold and screenprinted once again with the classic Jelly font and housed in a hessian (burlap) sleeve. “Rolled” samples “Feel Like Making Love” by Bad Company and is based on “The Curse Of Ka’zar” from their Lost Horizons double LP. “Oats” uses elements of “Closer” with a sample of George Michael’s “Heal The Pain”.

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Lemon Jelly initially issued three EPs, later collected on the beautifully-packaged lemonjelly.ky double LP in 2000.

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This was followed by their debut full-length LP, Lost Horizons in 2002. Each album featured striking packaging design named among countless “greatest album art” lists as well as being featured in Grant Scott’s book, The Greatest Album Covers of All Time. Both of these releases showcased the duo’s spirited, whimsical, and ultra-chilled downtempo style.

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In 2005 a box set of four 10″ LPs was issued titled ’64-’95, with each track prefixed with the year of the sample incorporated into the single. The album is rather different from their previous two releases in that it has a darker sound and is influenced by more modern sounding music. To avoid confusion over the matter, the band included a sticker on the sleeve stating, “This is our new album, it’s not like our old album.” The album closer, “Go” featured vocals by William Shatner.

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Fred also produced over one hundred mixes and DJ sessions during and after his time with Lemon Jelly, many of which were featured by BBC 6 Music and the Breezeblock. Each set seamlessly wove together deep cuts and musical oddities of Balearica, funk, hip hop, soul, dub, reggae, swing, and an array of leftfield oddities which always kept the listener engaged and guessing as to what was around the next sonic corner.

An official release of this nature was eventually issued in 2007 by Impotent Fury – Fred Deakin Presents: The Triptych, a three-CD set of everything from folk rock to break/broken beat, jazzdance, country, deep and Euro house, neo-soul, gospel, and more.

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And the following year, a two-CD set premiered titled Nu Balearica packed with Balearic Beat and Nu-Disco choons.

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I spent the early 2000s compiling about one hundred and ten of the various mixes and sessions Fred had touched, right down to the demo cassette he’d recorded in the late nineties when running the club Impotent Fury. And in 2011 and 12 Fred resurfaced under the pseudonym Frank Eddie (once again due to uncleared samples) and issued five limited 7″ singles in geometrically designed screenprinted sleeves.

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The complete set was issued as a CD album called, Let’s Be Frank in 2012.

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Fred also applied the Frank Eddie moniker to a special remix of English boy band, East 17’s “Stay Another Day” for a heartwarming farewell music video to mark the retirement of their Airside design company. A gorgeous 296pp coffee table book, Airside by Airside was published by Gestalten telling the story of their evolution and is certainly on my wish list for this year.

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This project tapered off after the Jellyhead forum went dormant and things quieted down for a few years, until a few days ago when, on a whim, I revisited Fred’s page on Rateyourmusic.com. There I noticed a curious title I’d not previously encountered – Come Dance With Me Sweetheart dated 2016. I did a little searching around and by the day’s end, (thanks to a fellow Jellyhead who has been archiving all Lemon Jelly material from the source tapes for nearly two decades), had 19 additional DJ sessions which had surfaced since I’d last stopped collecting. It was like Christmas! I quickly assembled a 25-hour playlist of all the new-to-me Jelly content and am having a blast exploring it all!

And revisiting The Triptych, I began to research the deeper cuts from the mix and found one funky track, Billy Hawk’s “O’ Baby (I Believe I’m Losing You)” appears on a sublabel comp of BGP (Beat Goes Public) Records. The label has issued three series that look worth a listen.

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Super Breaks is a set of six double LPs and albums showcasing essential funk, soul, jazz samples, and breakbeats. There is also the SuperFunk series of twelve releases and a third set of four albums branded as Funk Soul Sisters. These might be just what I’m after for more deep cuts.

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Another of my favorite classic Jelly mixes, Breezeblock – 20th September 1999, includes the Public Enemy / Herb Alpert mashup, “Rebel Without A Pause (Whipped Cream Mix)” which a quick search revealed was by The Evolution Control Committee, Mark Gunderson’s plunderphonics project. Mark collaborated with The Bran Flakes on the Raymond Scott Rewired project issued by Basta Records which I absolutely must check out, along with a deeper exploration of other related artists like Emergency Broadcast Network, Escape Mechanism, The Tape-beatles, as well as my complete archives of the works of Negativland, John Oswald, and selected works from People Like Us (who collaborated with Matmos and Wobbly).

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It’s truly remarkable to live in a time when a few simple Google searches yield days of rewarding listening. Here’s my Lemon Jelly and related album collection to date, in addition to the 129 digital albums and DJ sessions I’ve collected that are so generously shared among fellow Jellyheads.

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Finest Examples of Where Music Meets Design (3 of 3)

Underworld’s Dubnobasswithmyheadman was a milestone in the history of electronic music. It was the first thing I’d ever heard that wasn’t top 40 pop radio and it blew my mind.  If “Born Slippy” (yes, that song from Trainspotting) is all you know of Underworld, do yourself a favor and give “Dark and Long,” “Dirty Epic” and “Cowgirl” a solid listen.  The most accurate term I’ve found for this album so far has been “progressive house” and if you follow the evolution of their sound from their synth-pop beginnings in ’78 to their 2011 album, Barking you’ll see what I mean.  Dubnobass has only gotten better with age.

Just as Lemon Jelly’s art is created by Airside, Karl Hyde (half of Underworld) works for a similarly innovative design collective called Tomato.  The team is responsible for Underworld’s incredible typographical album art. The very first moment I saw this album I knew I had to pursue a degree in the field of graphic design, and I’ve never looked back. 261 Underworld releases later, it’s led me to delve deep into the history of ambient and electronic music, studying everything from Satie and Stockhausen to Cage and Eno and a thousand other artists.   This album changed my life.

Here is the elusive 1993 video for “Cowgirl,” from the Footwear Repairs by Craftsmen at Competitive Prices VHS.

Click here to view my photos of the album’s glorious packaging.

Published in: on February 24, 2012 at 12:13 am  Leave a Comment  
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Finest Examples of Where Music Meets Design (2 of 3)

Coming in second place for my all time favorite album designs is Lost Horizons, also by Lemon Jelly.  (Don’t worry – I promise I’ve saved the #1 slot for another wonderful duo.)

Upon hearing a track from this album playing in an indie record shop back in 2002, I promptly purchased both of their CDs.  Over the next ten years I’d pick up 90 of their live shows, 7″ singles, and now finally the two albums that got me started, on vinyl (at last!)

The triple gatefold artwork was originally available as a beautiful 50″ print suitable for framing.  I hope to one day have it on my wall.

For a taste of their style both musically and graphically check out Airside’s video for the song I heard in the shop – “Nice Weather For Ducks.”

Click here to view my photos of the album’s glorious packaging.

Published in: on February 24, 2012 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  
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Finest Examples of Where Music Meets Design (1 of 3)

I wanted to present three albums which not only have outstanding music but also feature exceptional design concepts in their packaging.

Coming in third in my all time favorite album designs is Lemonjelly.ky.

I’ve been after this record for years and today it’s finally mine!

After the release of Lemon Jelly’s first three EPs, Lemonjelly.ky debuted in 2000 as their first proper album.   A declarative sticker on the cover proclaimed, ” if you already own these EPs there is NO REASON for you to buy this product.”

Reviewers often compare their blissful electronic sound to the likes of Zero 7, Boards of Canada and Mr. Scruff, but what separates Lemon Jelly from other groups is their creative edge and the fact that you just can’t stay in a bad mood when listening to them.

The packaging for every one of their albums and singles were designed by Fred Deakin (half of Lemon Jelly) and his award-winning design company, Airside.  Their colorful style is instantly recognizable wherever it appears, from print ads to music videos.

Below are a few tracks from the album.

Click here to view my photos of the album’s glorious packaging.

Published in: on February 24, 2012 at 12:02 am  Leave a Comment  
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