Brooks koji ima mnoštvo inkarnacija stvara uvrnutu pastoralnu instrumentaliju zubima iscijeđenu iz putovanja engleskim pejzažima. Parola mu je "Sve je sjajno, ali nešto s tim nije u redu".
Shapwick was originally released on CD by Clay Pipe earlier this year, in a limited edition of 110 copies (pictured above). It sold out within a couple of hours, and so Clay Pipe – the label conceived and curated by supremely gifted illustrator and musician Frances Castle – have decided to give it a new life on vinyl. The LP, an edition of 500 with new artwork, will be available in January 2013; each copy will come with a download code.
Jon Brooks is probably best known for his work as The Advisory Circle on Ghost Box, which includes 2008′s chilling Other Channels (for our money one of the ‘Box’s very best offerings to date) and this year’s pastoral prog pastiche As The Crow Flies. In addition to that project, he composes for film and TV, masters most of the stuff that comes out of the Ghost Box universe, and operates the Café Kaput label, through which he releases CD-Rs of mostly his own work. One such disc, Music For Thomas Carnacki, ranked highly in FACT’s albums of 2011 list, and deservedly so.
Like all releases on Clay Pipe, Shapwick is a record strongly rooted in the English landscape. Brooks explains its genesis in the accompanying notes:
I had been stuck in a five hour long traffic jam on a motorway in the autumn of 2011. At the end of the ordeal, we left the motorway and noticed the traffic was backing up onto local records near Glastonbury; streams of cars, full of hot-headed motorists crawling along congested highways, the roads groaning under a volume for which they were not designed.
I searched the map for alternative routes. We had several hours of further driving ahead of us and it was already dark. One such route was through an area close to Shapwick, a small rural village. As we joined the approach to the village, we headed through several miles of unlit roads, with nothing but gnarled trees and woodland either side, the card headlights suggesting the twists and turns ahead.
I felt a certain energy around the place. The images created by the trees in the dark conjured inspiration and it struck me that an album could be based on an imaginary impression of this area. I had already recorded some pieces that were in search of a home and the idea formed within seconds.
The music I had been writing was recorded directly to a four-track cassette recorder. There were some piano recordings that I had made at my uncle and aunt’s house in Devon (where I had stayed prior to the traffic jam), along with other acoustic and electronic pieces. With the Shapwick framework in mind, I recorded much more material. Using everything from a song harp in a garden, to a modular analogue synthesizer, I set about creating textures that would place my own notion of Shapwick on some kind of map; to create a geographic narrative.
I carried forward the notion of recording on four-track cassette – a very immediate recording medium, where there is little chance to manipulate the sound after the fact. This way of working shaped the project further and the medium suggested textures by itself – I had been using very old second-hand cassette stock that had been recorded on by others; subsequently, fragments of recordings already on the tapes showed up at various points and took on their own new lives in the tapestry.
The reality of Shapwick is probably quite different to the impression in my own mind, but nonetheless I think it’s interesting to form an impression based on how a place could be, just by passing rheough it in the dark…and building from there.” - www.factmag.com/
Returning home from ATP one year, our driver took the wrong turn out of Taunton and got lost. Attempting to orient ourselves somewhere in the direction of Glastonbury Tor, we slipped from A to B-roads and beyond, drifting and backtracking through the mist-covered marshes and disorientating villages of Sedgemoor. That grey December afternoon of looming churches and concealed turnings found the power of the ancient landscape infecting the car interior, bringing a creeping panic to our tired bodies.
A similar experience on an August night was the trigger for this low-key release by Ghost Box associate Jon Brooks (The Advisory Circle). His accidental drive took him through the Sedgemoor village of Shapwick, where he says, "I felt a certain energy around the place... It struck me that an album could be based on an imaginary impression of this area."
Brooks' creative response is a collection of short instrumentals, tone experiments and field recordings, pieced together on old tapes on a four-track recorder. The listener need not have been lost in the low Somerset valleys before (Bussex, Bawdrip, Pedwell, Meare – any road map of England can be read as a regional rewrite of 'It's Grim Up North') to respond to this pastoral fantasy. A simple trip to Wikipedia will reveal enough semi-unreliable references to anachronistic church towers and Thankful Villages to spark flashes of curiosity in the most distant receiver. Students of the occult television references of Brooks' Advisory Circle records should perhaps take note of Shapwick's namesake in neighbouring Dorset, however, location for one of Doctor Who's most Ghost Box paralleling stories, 1984's prescient 'The Awakening'.
Passing over such curious diversions, Shapwick contains a handful of Brooks' most simple and beautiful compositions. The light woodwind melody of 'Winter's Hamlet' has more in common with a children's serial like The Animals Of Farthing Wood than any Hammer House Of Horror story, while the elementary piano piece 'Quiet Movement For A Silent Night' is as new age as you wish.
The pre-used cassette stock works in the album's favour, unifying each fragment whether synthesizer theme, music box cycle or acoustic pattern. The natural and the supernatural are buried in the ferric murk. Birds and bats flutter through the mix, cars reverse through time. As Brooks notes at the outset, from every village greeting-cum-warning sign, 'Please Drive Carefully'. - Stuart Huggett
Last year retro soundtrack wizard The Advisory Circle, aka Jon Brooks, took a breather from his native Ghost Box label to release Shapwick: a hand-printed CD of bewitching, original library music. The track titles and samples described a rural hideaway cut from similar cloth to his Advisory Circle output but much more melodic, and much harder to get hold of (the initial run of 110 printed by Clap Pipes was snapped up almost overnight). The imprint are now reissuing Shapwick on a larger order of vinyl - bad news for elitists, good news for anyone who wants to hear those replicated Cold War delights on authentic analogue technology.
Wherever the imaginary town of Shapwick, is you have to navigate a lot of ambience to find it - the elegant melodies Brooks has concocted are shrouded in fuzzy, unnerving mystique. ‘Stranded Work’ emits chirps recorded in an aviary, while ‘Location’ picks up the roar of a motorway and builds it to a screaming hiss. These are tasters, and later Brooks employs full field recordings that go to even quirkier places: ‘Bat Walk’ is a tape of a nature walk whose Karl Pilkington-like host blows raspberries, and ‘…little apple…' hides its analogue synths in a chopped-up answerphone message. Mix in drone horror, manipulated sine waves and twangs and you’ve got white noise so dark it’d confuse the hell out of anyone.
But beyond the strangeness lies an even more rewarding world, one of brief but brilliant lullabies. Unlike the spooky half, these are precisely the kind of tunes you want fizzing in your ears if you’re walking through dark countryside: ‘Winter’s Hamlet’ is a kids’ TV theme played on echoing, blurry piano, while ‘In The Slow Cold Air’ plays with Múm-like music boxes. These moments help take the edge off the creepy tracks, and light numbers like ‘Small Scales, Shrunken Spaces’ use chimes/Theremins/plucked springs to deliver expertly concocted shots of nostalgia. If you liked the music from The BFG animation you’re going to go crazy for this.
And then Brooks brings out the real treasure: his most focused musical compositions yet; think his Advisory Circle LPs cleaned of public information films but beefed up with extra melody. He delivers rich, tuneful vignettes: descending Eighties synths on ‘Please Drive Carefully’, ‘Quiet Movement for a Silent Night’ and its cracked Perfume Genius piano. It balances the shapeless ghosts of Shapwick with rhythmic electronica, and completes Brooks’ vision of a twinkling nightscape that honours the strangest parts of your dreams, including the feeling your teeth are disintegrating and the falling sensation/hypnic jerk. - George Bass. Drowned in Sound
Share his mysterious vision via snatches of half-familiar incidental music, swathed in memorial reverb, and found sounds such as the echo-location clicks of bats, all recorded on deliciously deteriorating used cassette tapes' - Stewart Lee. The Sunday Times
'A must-have purchase for fans of the Ghost Box and Second Language oeuvres, recommended for everyone else.' - Mark Brend. Record Collector
'Share his mysterious vision via snatches of half-familiar incidental music, swathed in memorial reverb, and found sounds such as the echo-location clicks of bats, all recorded on deliciously deteriorating used cassette tapes; - Stewart Lee. The Sunday Times
I had been stuck in a five hour long traffic jam on a motorway in the autumn of 2011. At the end of the ordeal, we left the motorway and noticed the traffic was backing up onto local roads near Glastonbury; streams of cars, full of hot-headed motorists crawling along congested highways, the roads groaning under a volume for which they were not designed.
I searched the map for alternative routes. We had several hours of further driving ahead of us and it was already dark. One such route was through an area close to Shapwick, a small rural village. As we joined the approach to the village, we headed through several miles of unlit roads, with nothing but gnarled trees and woodland either side, the car headlights suggesting the twists and turns ahead.
I felt a certain energy around the place. The images created by the trees in the dark conjured inspiration and it struck me that an album could be based on an imaginary impression of this area. I had already recorded some pieces that were in search of a home and the idea formed within seconds.
The music I had been writing was recorded directly to a four-track cassette recorder. There were some piano recordings that I had made at my uncle and aunt's house in Devon (where I had stayed prior to the traffic jam), along with other acoustic and electronic pieces. With the Shapwick framework in mind, I recorded much more material. Using everything from a song harp in a garden, to a modular analogue synthesizer, I set about creating textures that would place my own notion of Shapwick on some kind of map; to create a geographic narrative.
I carried forward the notion of recording on four-track cassette - a very immediate recording medium, where there is little chance to manipulate the sound after the fact. This way of working shaped the project further and the medium suggested textures by itself - I had been using very old second-hand cassette stock that had been recorded on by others; subsequently, fragments of recordings already on the tapes showed up at various points and took on their own new lives in the tapestry.
The reality of Shapwick is probably quite different to the impression in my own mind, but nonetheless I think it's interesting to form an impression based on how a place could be, just by passing through it in the dark... and building from there. - claypipe.bigcartel.com/
Jon Brooks is a busy man. As the Advisory Circle he's been one of the Ghost Box label's most prolific and successful artists (and their most consistently interesting in this writer's opinion) with 2011's "As The Crow Flies" being perhaps the pinnacle of the label's output so far.
Those who've strayed even further from the path will have discovered a series of more challenging, niche recordings released under his own name on his own label, Cafe Kaput.
Breaking the mold somewhat then is his newest album "Shapwick" - a Jon Brooks recording, but also perhaps the most welcoming and melodic suite of pieces he's yet committed to tape (literally in this case, "Shapwick" was recorded on old deteriorating cassette tapes.)
After a super-limited run of 110 hand-made CD copies sold out before I even knew of it's existence, Clay Pipe Music have done the decent on us and released this excellent vinyl package, lovingly adorned with Frances Castle's moody and evocative artwork. There's 500 in this run, so be quick.
The idea for "Shapwick" came to Brooks after a wrong turn led to an unexpected drive through the small Sedgemoor village : "I felt a certain energy around the place... It struck me that an album could be based on an imaginary impression of this area."
And quite an album it is too.
After a disorientating introductory piece with the sounds of a freeway swelling to blackout levels that abruptly cut off, the rest of the album seems to take place in a surreal limbo state that seems to operate just below the level of consciousness. The evocative nature of "Shapwick" makes it easy to picture a protagonist waking in a strange, mist shrouded village, unaware of how he arrived and uncertain of what he's going to find as he investigates further. Unseen, watchful eyes, and suspicious locals are effortlessly evoked, in a UNIT era Doctor Who type of way.
Brooks is a master at writing simple, haunting melodies that seem like they've been plucked from the greater collective consciousness of our youth - pieces imbued with a nostalgic yearning for a romanticized past.
Sure there's some batshit crazy bits as you'd expect ; the afore-mentioned piece of Freeway swell as well as some bat / sonar related field recordings, but for the most part "Shapwick" is filled with delicate, simple melodies that sound like they've been plucked from vintage music boxes.
Acoustic instrumentation plays a much stronger role than usual for Brooks work too here, with a number of the more memorable pieces carried by a plaintive piano melody. Couple this with Brooks organic sounding vintage synth and sequencer work and you're left with an album removed from time, that could have been composed at any time in the last hundred years without sounding like it belongs to any specific era.
Beautiful stuff. - Nathan Ford
Cafe Kaput Applied Music, Vol. 1 - Science & Nature (2013)
Concise, succinct and targeted material specially produced for the broadcast, refreshment and entertainment industries. Melody, rhythm and metre. New ways to travel. Applied Music Vol.1 is the first in an occasional series of library-style albums from Café Kaput. Applied Music albums are organised into thematic selections and feature tracks chosen for their immediacy, simplicity of arrangement and distilled sense of mood.
Vol.1 - Science & Nature explores our relationship with environments, travel and industry, among other topics.
Vol.1 - Science & Nature explores our relationship with environments, travel and industry, among other topics.
Where Brooks' has often used Cafe Kaput as an outlet for his more abstract works in the past, this sees him at his most direct, and is the first in hopefully many volumes where Brooks distills his love of classic library music.
"Concise, succinct and targeted material specially produced for the broadcast, refreshment and entertainment industries. Vol.1 - Science & Nature explores our relationship with environments, travel and industry, among other topics." So reads the press release, and the ghost of British documentary television of the seventies and early eighties is very much in evidence here - "The Ascent of Man", "Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World" - you know the stuff.
In many ways this is closer in execution to the Advisory Circle's "As The Crow Flies" than anything else in Brook's catalogue so far (no bad thing!), with angular themes that never fall into the incidental music trap of setting mood without melody.
While anticipating wide-reaching appeal may be stretching the imagination a little, this is certainly a more direct and user friendly album than the majority of Library Music albums that it's influenced by, and an ideal gateway album for those keen to dabble in the genre a little. And if you're already a Brooks fan you can rest assured that the quality level hasn't dropped a notch.
Top, top stuff. - Nathan Ford
Music for Thomas Carnacki (2011)
The prolific Jon Brooks (The Advisory Circle/D.D. Denham/Georges Vert) presents the 2nd release on his Cafe Kaput label; a radiophonic soundtrack composed specially to accompany Ian Hodgson (Moon Wiring Club)'s recital of 'The Gateway Of The Monster' by William Hope Hodgson for Resonance FM's Weird Tale For Winter series. It's a beautiful thing, lasting an hour (the show version was edited from this) and covering many themes, some recurring, some deliciously ephemeral, and all with a deep appreciation for the subtleties of ghostly radiophonic soundscaping to match the supernatural nature of the story. The longest and grandest of these is the exquisite 'Carnacki Theme Three' with its evocative BoC-like tones, amidst a number of smaller vignettes using dark and abstracted musique concrète textures composed directly on tape recorders for that authentic EVP/haunted atmosphere, which is only enhanced with his treated cello, theremin and prepared xylophone. If it wasn't all clear by now, this release really shows the diverse and uncontrived talent of Jon Brooks in stunning fashion. - boomkat
Brooks is the man behind The Advisory Circle, D D Denham, Georges Vert and others. His new album, Music For Thomas Carnacki, expands on a piece made for the Resonance FM series Weird Tales For Winter in which he soundtracked a reading of the Edwardian fantasist William Hope Hodgson's short story Gateway Of The Monster, featuring the supernatural detective, Thomas Carnacki. Music For Thomas Carnacki was reviewed by Daniel Spicer in The Wire 326 and is out on Cafe Kaput. - http://thewire.co.uk/audio/tracks/jon-brooks_music-for-thomas-carnacki
Music For Dieter Rams (2011)
A beautifully executed study dedicated to domestic design deity, Dieter Rams. Reserving this project for his Cafe Kaput label, Jon Brooks aka The Advisory Circle reflects Rams' "Less, but better" approach by only using samples taken from the iconic Braun AB-30 alarm clock. The clock's distinctive sounds are transformed into an innovative array of alien radiophonic tones, bleeps, bloops, melodies and harmonies, and arranged into nine gorgeous miniatures calling to mind a blend of Roedelius early 'Selbstportrait' editions and even Arpanet's 'Wireless Internet' classic. There's strong hints of Heinrch Mueller to the metronomic melodic of the gorgeously sleek 'Zukunft Als Konzept', and a fragile Kosmische tenderness to the sublime 'Wanduhr Weltzeit', and we could easily imagine hearing 'Aus-Ein' soundtracking an Open University segment on ergonomics. If you've not cottoned onto Brooks' Cafe Kaput label, we highly recommend starting here before investigating further. Highly Recommended.
Jon Brooks returns to the sleekly economic design of his Dieter Rams tribute with an "Autobahn-length" reconstruction of 'Zukunft Als Konzept' and a Pye Corner Audio reconstruction of 'Aus-Eins' on Cafe Kaput. As it goes, the gracefully linear 'Zunkunft Als Konzept' was our favourite piece from the original release so an extended version is very welcome. Jon refrains from the central motif for a patiently dreamy nine minutes of synth washes and metronomic kicks before gorgeous, Kraftwerkian trance chords arc to the horizon. It's probably one of Brooks' finest moments in an already distinguished catalogue. Next, after their ace Ghost Box split, Pye Corner Audio present a pulsating Italo-esque version of 'Aus-Ein', an epic intro giving birth to dilating arpeggios. - boomkat
Electronic Music in the Classroom (2010)
Jon Brooks Of The Advisory Circle Talks Ghosts, Humour And Public Information
Hauntological institution Ghost Box make their vinyl debut with a revamped version of Mind How You Go. Joe Stannard talks to Jon Brooks about the spectral vision of The Advisory Circle
"Town or Countryside. Work or Play. Ordinary people like you and I need help. We need help to make the right decisions." - The Advisory Circle
Once upon a time, it seemed you couldn't switch on the TV without being reminded of the danger lurking in every cupboard. Prefiguring the central conceit of 2000 horror movie Final Destination, the Public Information Films commissioned by the Central Office Of Information informed us, in grim detail, that Death could come a'calling in any form and when least expected: "Polish a floor, put a rug on it, and you might as well set a mantrap." Meanwhile, that perennial kids' favourite Doctor Who was at its most devilishly effective when undermining the familiarity of the everyday. It intimated that childhood fears regarding showroom dummies, dolls and authority figures were in fact justified, while the shadow of impending apocalypse loomed large in dramas such as 1985's merciless Threads.
It'd be a mistake to assume that all retrospective thought is filtered through rose-tinted spectacles. It'd be equally remiss to think of the act of remembering as an uncreative function. Some might contend that Ghost Box, an electronic music label actively engaged in a dialogue with days gone by, is merely an exercise in retro chic. But embedded in the heart of every retro aesthetic is the belief that yesterday is demonstrably better than today, and Ghost Box artists can hardly be said to offer a cosy refuge from modernity. For example, Belbury Poly's The Willows and Eric Zann's Ouroborindra - inspired by weird fiction writers Algernon Blackwood and HP Lovecraft respectively - are as unsettling as anything by Coil circa Musick To Play In The Dark and assembled using studio techniques comparable to those employed by Madlib or The Gaslamp Killer.
Five years later, and Mind How You Go has been chosen as Ghost Box's vinyl debut, with a new CD version due next month. This revised and expanded release features all eight pieces from the out-of-print original along with Brooks's glorious elaboration of the title track, an interpretation of 'Osprey' by ex-Broadcast/Plone sorts Seeland and a rejig ('jig' being the operative term) of 'And The Cuckoo Comes' by Ghost Box co-founder Jim Jupp's alter ego, Belbury Poly. In addition to his invaluable work on behalf of The Advisory Circle, Brooks also contributes to the greater good via the new fangled technology of the blogosphere. His terrific Cafe Kaput blog is currently host to a series of collectible podcasts featuring a wealth of obscure psychedelia, library music, French pop and other delights. Ever the gentleman, Brooks took some time out of his busy schedule for some words on music, safety and the supernatural.
Can you tell me a little about the foundation of The Advisory Circle?
Jon Brooks: I'm pretty sure I founded the project in Winter 2004. A mutual friend had given me a link to the Ghost Box website, which hadn't gone 'live' at that point. Jim and Julian were still experimenting with it, but it was due to be launched early in 2005. My reaction to seeing the visuals and hearing some early Belbury and Focus Group material was pretty intense, to say the least. I fell in love immediately. I felt an extremely strong connection with between what they were doing and the music I had waited all my life to hear and to create. What I saw and heard was not pastiche or a simplistic nostalgic parody of what had gone before, rather it was a representation of futures which never materialised. I got in touch with Jim and he invited me to contribute to Ghost Box. I joined the family straight away.
The name 'The Advisory Circle' came about by discussing ideas with my partner. We were thinking along the lines of governmental, institutional bodies and wanted to create an essence of that, really. I had been fascinated with organisations like the British Potato Council and Flour Advisory Bureau. They all seemed to belong to the same canon as Public Information Films and weird british TV programmes, school music rooms and so forth. 'The Advisory Circle' seemed like quite a powerful name, considering it contained only three quite ordinary words; more than the sum of its parts, perhaps. On a personal level, I saw it as an opportunity to create something a lot more crystallised than anything I'd done before. My entire background and upbringing, as well as my present, is infused and laced in The Advisory Circle.
What triggered the decision to reissue the marvellous Mind How You Go on vinyl?
JB: Ghost Box had been getting requests from the record-buying public, for vinyl. I think Jim and Julian had always wanted to release vinyl editions, since the label's inception. It fits the Ghost Box aesthetic perfectly. I think they were wise to wait until the label had accrued a considerable following; the timing was right. I can't quite remember why Mind How You Go was chosen, but obviously I was very happy with that decision! Seeing Julian's Ghost Box artwork on vinyl for the first time was a personal and career highlight for me. I must have stared at it for an hour when I first saw it.
Having said all this, I would have been nearly as pleased if BelburyPoly's Farmer's Angle or Sketches & Spells by The Focus Group had been the first vinyl release.
Why the extra material? And why this extra material?
JB: There were a few reasons why we chose to include some extra material. It was always a given that Ghost Box would not, under any circumstance, 're-package' any of their releases with pointless 'fashionable' remixes or similar. That's something we all feel very strongly about. So, any extra material had to serve some kind of 'useful purpose', in expanding on what was already there. That's quite a tricky feat to accomplish. I also wanted to keep the re-workings amongst friends, who I instinctively knew would bring something a little magical to the table.
I had already recorded 'Mind How You Go Now!' as an experiment. I loved the idea of keeping the strong melody of the original, but taking it into a new area. Jim was very pleased with the result and from there, suggested doing a similar experiment with elements from 'And The Cuckoo Comes', which was originally all about atmospherics and textures. Being touched by the hand of Belbury was perfect, as it transported it into a different, more melodic world. Jim's extremely skilled at coming up with these beautifully lumpen, loping, medieval-sounding melodies and his re-working of 'Cuckoo' is one of the strongest refrains he's written.
Tim Felton from Seeland is a friend of mine, who really appreciates texture, feeling and aesthetic. We'd had many interesting discussions about romanticism, orchestration and arrangement. Following from there, it was already in my head to ask Seeland to contribute to The Advisory Circle in some way, as they are very much kindred spirits. When 'Osprey' was chosen as a reference point, I asked Tim how the track made him feel, the imagery it brought to mind. We were more interested in gathering a kind of companion track to 'Osprey', rather than a remix. I wanted the original to be a seed, from which Seeland would nurture a whole new piece. Suggesting re-workings of this nature is not an approach that I've really come across before in this way, so from that point of view it was a very worthwhile and fruitful experiment.
One quite funny coincidental anecdote from all this relates to the Belbury re-working. I'd had a particularly surreal conversation with Tim Felton on the phone about Crumhorns and Sackbuts, just a couple of days before Jim played me the Belbury 'Cuckoo' and it was full of this type of instrumentation! It could only happen in the Ghost Box world.
What is it about British Public Information Films that you find appealing?
JB: There are so many appealing aspects to Public Information Films. Obviously, there is the overall authoritative aura they create. There's a cosy, safe 'don't worry, we'll look out for you' thing going on in a lot of them, but always a more disturbing undercurrent running in parallel. I also like the optimism which is omnipresent in some form, amongst even the darkest subject matter. On one hand they will say 'you'll probably die if you skate on that pond' and on the other they will say 'stay close to the edges and you'll probably be fine'. The way Public Information Films were shot is very appealing. Quite a lot of them were shot through a child's eyes and, to me, represent the way I viewed my environment back then. My Gran's garden, for example, was very large by any standard, and it's where I spent a lot of my childhood; looking at the sun poking through the trees, feeling warm and secure. There were also nettles around the edges, bits of broken glass amongst the rockery and the ponds - two large ones - were deep and definitely potential hazards.
Then there is the soundtrack, usually sourced from the library records of KPM or DeWolfe. The same composers usually wrote theme tunes to schools TV programmes, sitcoms, documentaries, so there was no escaping people like Ron Geesin or Brian Bennett, even if they were not known to you by name. I became fascinated by the idea of who was behind all this stuff at an unusually early age, so began to notice names like 'BBC Radiophonic Workshop' and 'Alan Hawkshaw' as they scrolled up the TV screen, at the end of a programme.
Perhaps not quite so obviously, I also love the way the voiceovers are recorded and presented. They managed to get talented artists like Robert Powell, Michael Jayston and Joss Ackland involved, all voices of authority. They were then recorded through amazingly warm-sounding microphones and preamps, usually just on the edge of distortion, so there's a little break-up in the sound. It's beautifully done and subliminally adds so much to the sinister feel.
The PIFs I'm most fond of would probably be the sinister 'Lonely Water', featuring the distinctive vocal talents of Donald Pleasance, and the electrifying 'Play Safe: Kites & Planes' with a special mention for the alarmingly bleak Protect & Survive series. Do you have a particular favourite?
JB: Listen to the 'Lonely Water' voiceover you've just mentioned and you'll hear exactly what I was just talking about. I agree with your choices, but I will add the short 'Look after your purse... before someone else does' with Joss Ackland. Again, listen to the way his voice sounds on that one, the edge of overdrive present in the recording. I'm particularly fond of the 'Rabies' series, especially the one where the sad-looking friendly dog is roaming the streets and eventually picked up by a patrol van. I'm also very fond of some of the longer public information films, many of which have yet to see a release on DVD. There is one called 'After Dark', featuring the wonderful actor and writer Colin Welland. He cruises around the city in his car, pointing out various hazards of driving in an urban environment; quite often with witty asides along the way. I love the fact that it's not completely dry. You can tell it's probably his own car and he's wearing his own jacket. There's a personal touch to it and I say that without any irony whatsoever.
As someone who has struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder, I appreciate the dark vein of 'health & safety' related humour in Mind How You Go and Other Channels. Would you describe yourself as an especially careful individual?
JB: I am very much the archetypal free spirit with an artistic temperament to match, rather than careful, although some of the concepts from the public information films have definitely sunk in. Usually when I'm crossing roads or carefully extinguishing the last candles before retiring for the evening. I haven't tried skating on a frozen pond recently, though.
I think my own tendency towards anxiety may have been partly due to living through the latter stages of the Cold War and being endlessly subjected to documentaries about total annihilation. Did the threat of nuclear holocaust have any effect on your youth?
JB: Certainly. Being of a similar age to yourself, I grew up amongst television programmes such as Threads and documentaries about nuclear war, or at least the threat thereof. Another very chilling extension to this was finding Protect And Survive leaflets in public libraries, amongst all the other COI information for things like Child Benefit and Rent Allowance. Finding and reading those leaflets in such suitably 'cold', subdued and institutional surroundings was a particularly formative touchstone for The Advisory Circle.
Why do you think your music and that of other Ghost Box artists plus Mordant Music, Moon Wiring Club, The Caretaker, Broadcast, et al, is proving so compelling at present?
JB: What we're doing collectively at Ghost Box is appealing directly to those who grew up with all the reference points, but more interestingly, it's appealing to people overseas. We seem to have quite a few fans in the US; people coming in from quite a different set of values and cultures. I think it works like this because there are so many layers in the music and aesthetic; it's not as simplistic as saying: 'Well, we like public information films and dodgy old TV programmes.' As in the 'Lonely Water' PIF, there are hidden depths. People like that. Outside of Ghost Box, Ian Hodgson aka Moon Wiring Club works quite closely with the label through his live appearances. He's ploughing a similar path, but it's actually very different musically to anything on Ghost Box, although it's wonderful. Broadcast are long-time friends of the label. I like what The Caretaker is up to as well. I've heard quite a lot of music which supposedly sounds like it could be associated with Ghost Box, but in reality, doesn't at all. Even if it did, it's one thing to get the sounds right, but quite another to infuse the whole thing with the aesthetic. There's a certain magic in Ghost Box, an aura, which comes directly from the interaction of all of us involved. I don't know of any other record label which works in such a way... on this level.
Can you outline what you think is missing from the current discussion around 'hauntology' etc? Three aspects in particular that seem to be lacking from the discourse are humour, emotion and magic. Is that a fair observation, do you think?
JB: I've not been party to or part of any discussions relating to 'hauntology'. I don't have any problem with it, but it's not something I've thought a great deal about. In terms of what The Advisory Circle are doing, exactly those three things you've mentioned are the most important and central elements to the music I'm creating; by a long way.
Whatever we call the music, how do you account for everyone involved being so humble and generous? No other area of music I've come across has seemed so full of genuinely decent people.
JB: Perhaps I should start some false rumours making Jim and Julian out to be tyrants, in that case. Perhaps the emphasis is placed on the fact that we all seem to have a lot of good ideas and are more concerned with getting those to bear fruit than trying to create any kind of arrogant front, which, let's face it, gets old really quickly. Through the sometimes sinister aspects of our craft at Ghost Box, there is a massive amount of positive energy running throughout and I think this comes across when people bump into Jim and Julian at the Belbury Youth Club nights, as well as on the records.
Have you ever come into contact with anything that might be termed 'supernatural phenomena'?
JB: Throughout my life I have had various experiences. As a child, there were family members who lived in haunted houses, for one example. I would stay with them and experience all kinds of little things. I've always been quite comfortable with it all, even if it's felt quite unsettling sometimes. It happens on a daily basis, in small ways. I'm a worshipper of nature; I view nature and supernature as one and the same entity. I'm a very perceptive person and very sensitive to certain phenomena. Without that element in my life, there would be no Advisory Circle. I view my own compositional process as a form of channeling. I don't concern myself with details when composing music, I literally let the melody flow from me without thinking. To me, that's a supernatural phenomenon. You can't really explain it; which is why, three years down the line, I can listen to a piece of music I made and not remember very much about how I composed it.
Do you have plans for further broadcasts from The Advisory Circle? Any idea what form they may take?
JB: Absolutely. I have around 20 or so new pieces of music to curate a new album with. I'm still writing little bits and pieces, so we'll see how that goes, but I am quite pleased so far. Also, there are some collaborative works in progress. I already have enough ideas for another Advisory Circle album on top of all this, so it's just a matter of realisation. 2010 is proving to be a very creative year; I certainly feel blessed that the creative juices are flowing.
To conclude, perhaps you'd like to pass on some helpful advice to readers of The Quietus?
JB: Never wear sensible shoes. - thequietus.com/
Georges Vert remembers precisely the moment as a 20-year-old the unmistakable whirr of a Raymond Scott Electronium synth drifted through the bay windows of his dusty, manuscript-strewn Parisian apartment and, for the first time, into his ears. “I don’t know where it was coming from – a studio down the road maybe who’d left a window open to deal with the thick Banlieue heat, I don’t know. It’s not important,” he says. “What’s important is that nothing was the same after that moment.” The very next day, he quit his job as a classical score transposer, where he’d worked since fleeing the sleepy Normandie town he’d grown up in, Gathemo (“don’t bother Googling it,” he laughs between drags of one of those long cigarettes you thought only existed in François Truffaut films). The day after he landed a job composing synth parts for anyone and everyone. “It was a love affair unlike any I’d had with a woman.” Another cigarette drag then a smile and a wink. “There were women too, though.”
Some years later comes the culmination of a lifetime’s obsession. An inspired, riotous nu-electro record that transports you by the scruff of your neck to disco-era late night loft parties. To the inside of Giorgio Moroder’s head as he hallucinates a Los Angeles police shoot-out. To a future that hasn’t happened yet full of wonder and neon. “It’s music that will make you dance,” says Vert simply. “With bass rhythms that’ll make old ladies’ teeth crack and fall out. Possibly.
“It all came together quite quickly,” recalls Vert. “All the songs were created in the studio, by me, alone. Then I called up some old friends to bring it to life. Many of the sessions were quite spontaneous.” Influenced by Air, as well as fellow Frenchmen Roger Roger, Nino Nardini and Bernard Fevre (“all fine composers”) and German italo producers like Michael Cretu, the composer describes himself as “old enough to know better but really too young to die.” Which is just as well, because an exciting future beckons following this long overdue solo debut album.
Like the man himself, it’s an unpredictable listen – its volatile side a reflection of a charismatic eccentric who once fought a man he witnessed in the street “smashing fine Wedgwood china cups, just to show how delicate they were”, its sweeter side the mark of composer who enjoys the stillness and calm of beach combing. “I love painting too. I’m a Monday morning painter. I love working with colour and texture. It’s so closely related to sound and frequency.”
These days he spends his time between London, Manchester and that same Paris apartment where it all began, carrying with him wherever he goes a Fender Jazz bass (“an instrument that just makes you want to play it”). Where he goes next, though, when this album lands in clubs and stereos this summer, one can only imagine. - www.discogs.com/
King Of Woolworths