Saturday, 16 April 2016

The Phantasmagoria

About 6 years ago I came to the painful realisation that I probably was never going to soundtrack one of those cool gothic Doctor Who episodes of the Philip Hinchcliffe era full of robot mummies, dilapidated country piles, mad scientists laboratories and Victorian sewers.  The bird hadn't so much flown on that one as much as that the egg from which the bird would have to hatch in order to one day fly away had never been laid. So, I made my own.

The process was simple.  I came up with some characters led by a Thomas Carnacki, John Silence, Doctor Who type chap and a list of plot points that I thought gave a suitably vague story arc (so that I didn't have to do any actual story writing) and then composed around that list.

I wanted this to be a fresh new start so I used an entirely new (to me) set of musical tools both to avoid slipping into any old habits or any of the same old compositional tricks I've used over the years and also in order to get a more appropriate sonic pallette and so armed I set about writing a suite of tunes that would evoke the music that had defined my ears.  In line with the soundtrack idea I deliberately kept the music short and, in order to evoke an air of suitable menace and otherness,  fairly atonal but on a couple of tracks I tried my hand at a tune or two which was a big step for someone who'd spent the last 12 years avoiding them like the plague.

That first Phantasms EP came together over the course of a couple of weeks and the response was enthusiastic enough to plant the seed to make another one.

By now though I'd satisfied my Doctor Who hankering and I wanted to take inspiration from another show from my youth, Sapphire & Steel.  A show that had such an impact on a young me that I still flinch when having my photo taken. I got far more involved with my plot points this time round and I needed to remind myself of the oddness of that particular show and the way the mundane bled into the obtuse.  Like the show, I wanted to avoid the obvious, keep resolutions to a minimum and maintain a fairly constant atmosphere of unease. This second EP duly made it's way onto Bandcamp

By now I realised that this Phantasms thing was destined, in the great tradition of science fiction, to be a trilogy and so I duly embarked on the third part and hit a creative brick wall.  To do the final entry in my holy trinity of Wyrd Britain sci-fi I'd have to have done 'Quatermass' next but that seemed to me to be a project in it's own right but I really wanted to round things off and say goodbye to these, partially formed, un-named travellers who have lived in my head for the last 6 years.

And so, in the end, I did just that.  I envisioned a story whereby the travellers are summoned to go on a journey to say a final goodbye to their comrade who has chosen to finally stop in this new place.  He stays, they depart and all eventually find their way home.

This one was undoubtedly the most difficult of the three to write and record.  Half of the music came fairly quickly but then I kept getting distracted from it by work commitments and various other projects but once I'd established the narrative the final tunes were written and recorded in a few days.  This third EP was finally released onto Bandcamp a few weeks ago, some 5 and a half years after the first one went live.

So, over half a decade on from the initial whim to do something different and having enjoyed doing it so much that  I've now adopted a new name under which to record this more, I suppose, radiophonic and hauntologically inclined music and I've decided to give the three EPs their time in the sun.  Having previously only been available digitally via our Bandcamp page I've now collected the 3, given them a spiffy new name, some smart new black and white artwork and have made them available on disc for the first time.

BTW - The three separate EPs are still online for those who may already have some of the parts and have no need to buy all three.

The Phantasmagoria is out now and available on both disc and digitally via the Quiet World Bandcamp page.

I hope you enjoy.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Phantasms 3

8 months on from my accident things are finally starting to get back to normal here. There are a few releases lined up for the next couple of months as much of what was planned for last year had to be temporarily shelved but we have a couple of real treats lined up.  I'll have more details on them closer to release.

Firstly though we are happy to bring you the third and final part of my Phantasms project - incidentally now attributed to The British Space Group

You can hear the third part in the player below and parts one and two are available here and here.

As with the other parts this has been made available digitally but within a fortnight we will be issuing all three parts on one CD under the umbrella name, 'The Phantasmagoria'.  We will, of course, announce it here and on the Facebook page when it's ready but here's a sneaky peek of the sleeve just to tantalise.

Finally, I'd just like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support and kindness over the last 8 months.  It really was hugely appreciated.


Saturday, 12 September 2015

Strange Orbits

Back in 2006, under my old 'Psychic Space Invasion' name, I released an album called 'Pendulum' (click the name to hear / buy it).  It was made over the course of a weekend in the back room of my flat whilst watching the snow fall on Swansea.  It was made using layers of short loops I'd made from various sources that I overlaid and overlapped.

A couple of months later I started working on more loop pieces which when finished - with one exception that appeared on a very small run compilation on the Anima Mal Nata label - sat on the hard-drive of my computer whilst I got distracted by other things.  And there it remained.

Until today.

Today I was playing around with the logo I'd made for The British Space Group - that one up there ^ and realised that it seemed to fit with the long neglected album so here it is; seeing the light for the first time in 8 years is my 'new' loop album, 'Strange Orbits'.

It's a lot more intensely psychedelic experience than 'Eyes Turned Skyward' but after spending the last 8 weeks pretty much trapped indoors thanks to having split my tibia in half that's pretty much how I feel.

This one is going to be digital only (unless I change my mind) and for those of you wondering about them, lots of my tunes start off their lives with nonsense words for titles just in the case of 'Pendulum' and now 'Strange Orbits' the titles stay that way.

Hope you enjoy.


Monday, 10 August 2015

Under An Animated Sky

I'm still laid up with my right leg in plaster from toe to hip after the surgery to pin and repair my very broken tibia (I fell down the stairs) and now that the morphine has run out I'm getting increasingly bored of the view from my living room so I've been pottering with stuff.

So I've made a video for my track off the XPYLON charity compilation (see previous post).  The footage is from an old film called 'Our Mr. Sun' - - from which I edited a few of the animated segments.

I hope you enjoy it and if you do then please consider chucking some cash at the XPYLON compilation.  You can grab the album for £7 or individual tracks for a bargain £1 each.



Thursday, 6 August 2015

[xpylon] charity compilation

One of my British Space Group tunes is featured on this new compilation released this Thursday in aid of the charity Mind; any and all support you can give would be hugely appreciated.

The title references the fabulous Exotic Pylon label and radio show which connects all the participants - in my case, the radio show.

Press release:
Once upon a time there was a radio show, then there was a series of live gigs and events. Eventually, there was a record label. They were all called Exotic Pylon. There was one man who was the creator, curator and driving force behind all these things: a man called jonny mugwump. A whirlpool of creativity and enthusiasm, jonny is as close to a raging Darwinian force of nature as you could ever meet.In its record label state, Exotic Pylon produced a series of releases that were completely unique from each other. There was no through - line of sound. No label aesthetic. The one thing they all had in common was that they had nothing in common. From torch songs to folk, from electronica to spoken word. All human life was on the label (assuming the human life was slightly lop-sided and walked with a limp). The one thing that united everyone on Exotic Pylon was a sense of comradeship. We were all proud to have been involved in some way or another. We were all members of the same invisible college. Almost without exception we all kept in contact with each other once the label had died. It may have disappeared but its spirit has remained.

Here we present XPYLON, a compilation of ex-Pyloneers. Each track is brand new and exclusive to the release. There are supergroups, individuals and collaborations, all of which evoke the heady days of the once great Exotic Pylon.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Some not so Wonderful Wooden Reasons

I'm tired.  So very tired.

I've been burning every part of the candle that would catch light for so long now that something has got to give soon and I think that it's going to be me.

I've been down this road before about 12 years ago and it's not somewhere I want to go again so I think I need to take this opportunity to change direction.

I need to take things out of my life and make space and it looks like one of those things is Wonderful Wooden Reasons.

I've loved doing my little magazine and it's led me to so much amazing music and I've met so many lovely people through it.  At it's height each issue was clocking up thousands of hits and it was truly humbling how many of you cared enough about my witterings to come back and read each issue.  But, I simply don't have the room at the moment to give it, not just the attention I should, but seemingly, any attention at all.

So, for now,  Wonderful Wooden Reasons is turning it's lights off, closing it's doors and saying goodbye.

I'm going to be continuing with Quiet World but perhaps in a much quieter fashion but your support is always appreciated.  There's a new album available there this week which is something I've been pottering with for about a year now, I hope you like it. 

Thank you for all your support over the past 12 years.  It's been a pleasure getting to know you all and hearing your amazing sounds.

Friday, 20 February 2015

The British Space Group

So after taking quite a long time out to recharge, refocus and reinvigorate I have today launched the digital copy (CDs to follow) of the first album by my new project The British Space Group.

The album - Eyes Turned Skyward - is a deliberate (but not huge) step away from the more post-industrial musique concrete style music that I've been making of late.  It's more in the spirit of the more synth driven albums I produced in a mad scramble a few years ago such as Pendulum, All Gods Children Got Space and Phantasms I & II.

The new identity is an attempt to create a home for this side of what I like to make that is distinct from the other music.  It's certainly not going to replace it - expect the long delayed Aurarora album to be available before the end of the summer - but is something I'm thoroughly enjoying playing with at the moment.

Digital only at the moment due to a delay with the CDs but they will hopefully be available by the end of next week.

Hope you like it.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Music Review: Listening Center - Other Voices 2

(Ghost Box GBX712)
7" Single

Listening Center is the musical persona of NYC musician David Mason.  For his contribution to the new Ghost Box series of 7" delights he has brought a short set of synthesizer ditties that invoke a sprightly library vibe alongside Vangelis-esque beats and a Kosmicshe-pop sensibility.

It's a wonderful pop record that feels like it should have been released a couple of decades ago but I'm glad it wasn't because back then I was all about the fast and the heavy and so would have never gotten to hear it.


Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Music Review: Brooks & O'Hagan - Other Voices 1

(Ghost Box GBX711)
7" Single

Ghost Box regular Jon Brooks (he of The Advisory Circle) here teams up with Sean O'Hagan of the High Llamas for two pieces of gentle, hazy, lazy sunshine pop or 'poptology' as my brain keeps insisting I call it.

Brooks' trademark hauntological tendencies are here giving the two tracks the feel of a 'Programmes for Schools and Colleges' countdown tune (which is no bad thing in my book) whilst O'Hagan's influence (and strings?) steers the music away from imminent lectures on 'Chemistry in Action' into the sunnier warmer climes of the gentle pop of The Free Design and The Beach Boys where instead you can feel chemistry in action. 

Singles were meant to sound like this.


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Music Review: Delia Derbyshire & Anthony Newley - Moogies Bloogies

(Trunk TTT008)
7" Single

Here we have an unreleased collaboration between Delia and the multi-talented Anthony Newley created apparently as soundtrack pieces but remained unused due to his move to the US with then wife Joan Collins.
Side one is a whimsical slice of vintage Delia all nursery rhyme atmospheres and tooting melodies over which Newley has added a voyeuristic commentary all sung in his best mockney manner (think Blur's 'Parklife').  Lyrics here -

Over on the B side is something much, much stranger. 'I Decoded You (Moogies Bloogies pt.2)' sounds unlike anything else by Delia that I've ever heard and for it's 1 minute 28 second run time it is filled with busy clangs and tootles before twisting suddenly into a calliope waltz; over it all Newley, in another (more 'cultured') accent again signs a frankly creepy love song.  The notes on the reverse of the sleeve make the claim that musically this is an example of Delia sampling which seems reasonable and these folks are far more knowledgeable on this topic than me.

7 inch singles are rarely particularly cheap these days but they remain my favourite format and combining it with an unreleased rarity by a favourite musician makes this a real treat that's very much worth the asking price.


(please note, that's not actually Delia (or Anthony Newley for that matter) in the video below but American composer and musician Suzanne Ciani)

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Music Review: Pauline Oliveros, David Rothenberg, Timothy Hill - Cicada Dream Band

(Gruenrekorder  Gruen149)

When we last heard David Rothenberg he and some friends were making beautiful Bug Music on his earlier Gruenrekorder release.  This new one finds him continuing along that unique path again in the company of vocalist Timothy Hill but joined also this time by the (as if you needed me to tell you this) accordion playing Pauline Oliveros. 

CDB is a similar sort of creature to it's successor, which is no bad thing, but this time out the instrument seem to be taking a prominent role in the recordings.  Previously it seemed that Rothenberg was reacting to the insect's cavalcade of sound. Here the critters are more integrated into the music; as though the music was assembled around their exclamations.  It works really well but it does seem more deliberate and, for lack of a better word, 'composed' (which seems unlikely to me) than the previous.

It's a really lovely set.  Rothenberg is centre stage and on fine form, Oliveros is a more withdrawn presence but her contributions are precise and work particularly well alongside Hill whose vocalisations are restrained and avoid the overt (and for me very annoying) vocal gymnastics that many avant-vocalists are prone to.

Highly recommended and another in a long line of phenomenal releases from this eclectic and wonderful label.


For the last 11 years Wonderful Wooden Reasons has championed experimental and non-commercial music of all forms. Please visit to access our extensive archives of music, book and movie reviews.
It is the in-house magazine for the Quiet World label which has released music from artists such as Ian Holloway, Darren Tate, Banks Bailey, Philip Corner, Colin Andrew Sheffield and many more.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Music Review: Craig Safan - Warning Sign

(Invada Records)

Safan is an American soundtrack composer with a long filmography that includes things such as 'A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master', 'The Last Starfighter' and the TV series 'Cheers' for which he provided all the original music except the theme.  Here though it's his electronic score for the ultra-obscure 1985 zombie movie 'Warning Sign' that concerns us.

I'm pretty sure you can take a fairly accurate guess from that date what this is going to sound like.  Recorded on the Synclavier synthesizer - the synth of choice for many 80s pop music stalwarts such as Sting, Genesis and Michael Jackson - 'Warning Sign' is awash with sounds that have been rendered utterly passé by overuse.  The polyphonic tones of the Synclavier though are rich and endearing and weighted with nostalgia and Safan manages for large parts of this soundtrack to conjure up and maintain some heavy, dramatic and occasionally melodramatic ambiences.  Sometimes they all come crashing down to earth with a (now) clichéd 'du du dum' noise but, as I said earlier, he's got a pedigree for this stuff and knows how to build and hold a mood.

I've had a copy of this sitting around for a little while now and, as is my way, I've tried it in different environments.  Of them all it proved to be most at home in my car.  The cinematic scale of the compositions and the depth of the Synclavier's tones means it's perfectly suited to motorway driving; particularly at night as it decorates the journey with cyberpunk textures. 

It is dated sounding and is lacking that certain spark that similar, and classic, soundtrack work of the same era such as 'Blade Runner' or some of John Carpenter's work has and as such I can't see it ever being more that a reasonably well thought of piece of cult ephemera but that's no bad thing.


For the last 11 years Wonderful Wooden Reasons has championed experimental and non-commercial music of all forms. Please visit to access our extensive archives of music, book and movie reviews.
It is the in-house magazine for the Quiet World label which has released music from artists such as Ian Holloway, Darren Tate, Banks Bailey, Philip Corner, Colin Andrew Sheffield and many more.

Music Review: Howlround - Torridon Gate

(A Year in the Country)

This third album from London's finest manipulators of magnetic tape, Howlround, is a slow burning, deeply atmospheric corker.  Produced entirely from recordings made from the gate referenced in the title, the duo of Robin (the Fog) and Chris (Weaver) have coaxed a dizzying array of unsettling and even sorrowful sounds from this most functional of objects and have layered them to astonishing effect.

The Howlround modus is based very much on that of the early years of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and as such they record their sound sources onto loops of tape of varying sizes which are then played via three tape recorders with all processing and editing done within the machines.  In this way the composition that the two have persuaded the tapes to reveal is as otherworldly and queasily creepy as it is beautifully earthy.  There's a gritty texture that evokes stories of the gate's history, it's place and it's age but through all that there is movement. The sounds expose themselves, transform and meld producing a piece of music that is at times introspective, at times vociferous and in a constant state of resurgence and restless agitation. 

The end result as presented here is a piece of music that whilst acknowledging the debt it's playful manner of execution owes to the workshop of the 1960s, is, in conception, timeless and really rather fun.


For the last 11 years Wonderful Wooden Reasons has championed experimental and non-commercial music of all forms. Please visit to access our extensive archives of music, book and movie reviews.
It is the in-house magazine for the Quiet World label which has released music from artists such as Ian Holloway, Darren Tate, Banks Bailey, Philip Corner, Colin Andrew Sheffield and many more.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Book Review: No Wave: Post Punk Underground. New York 1976-1980

Thurston Moore & Byron Foley
(Harry N. Abrams Books)

No Wave is the first book to visually chronicle the collision of art and punk in the New York underground of 1976 to 1980. This in depth look at punk rock, new wave, experimental music, and the avant-garde art movement of the 70s and 80s focuses on the true architects of No Wave from James Chance to Lydia Lunch to Glenn Branca, as well as the luminaries that intersected the scene, such as David Byrne, Debbie Harry, Brian Eno, Iggy Pop, and Richard Hell.
This rarely documented scene was the creative stomping ground of young artists and filmmakers from Jean-Michel Basquiat to Jim Jarmusch as well as the musical genesis for the post-punk explosions of Sonic Youth and is here revealed for a new generation of fans and collectors.
Thurston Moore and Byron Coley have selected 150 unforgettable images, most of which have never been published previously, and compiled hundreds of hours of personal interviews to create an oral history of the movement, providing a never-seen-before exploration and celebration of No Wave.

No Wave was for me always better in the abstract. For the most part I'm really not all that into the music. There are exceptions but truthfully these are mostly exceptions to the scene anyway - Glenn Branca's guitar ensembles and some of the latest Lydia Lunch things.

As I'm sure this is the case for many folks it was that lady back there (along with Sonic Youth) that was my entry point into the scene. Truthfully though I have read more about the bands than I have heard them. The book increases this discrepancy via an abundance of quotes and snapshots. There's a vague authorial narrative but the bulk of the journey is conducted via the words of the participants.  The photos are a mix of band promos, gig pics and snapshots.  They work well with the text reflecting it's monochromatic delivery and lack of fussiness with their directness.

Searching and indepth it wasn't, interesting and personable it absolutely was.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Book Review: Alan Moore - 25,000 Years of Erotic Freedom

(Harry N. Abrams)

With each new technological advance, pornography has proliferated and degraded in quality. Today, porn is everywhere, but where is it art? 25,000 Years of Erotic Freedom surveys the history of pornography and argues that the success and vibrancy of a society relates to its permissiveness in sexual matters.
This history of erotic art brings together some of the most provocative illustrations ever published, showcasing the evolution of pornography over diverse cultures from prehistoric to modern times. Beginning with the Venus of Willendorf, created between 24,000-22,000 bce, and book-ended by contemporary photography, it also contains a timeline covering major erotic works in several cultures. 25,000 Years of Erotic Freedom ably captures the ancient and insuppressible creative drive of the sexual spirit, making this book a treatise on erotic art.

This is a reproduced essay written by Moore on one of his non Lovecraftian obsessions - pornography.

It's an interesting little read that is entirely and obviously Moore and feels like it fell straight out of the pages of Dodgem Logic. The really odd thing about it are the remarkably prudish illustrations. For an article that is championing the decline in quality of pornography it's remarkably coy about showing almost anything that could be considered actually pornographic.

A light but enjoyable article that is more polemic than argument but was possible better suited to be a magazine article rather than a book in its own right.

For the last 11 years Wonderful Wooden Reasons has championed experimental and non-commercial music of all forms. Please visit to access our extensive archives of music, book and movie reviews.
It is the in-house magazine for the Quiet World label which has released music from artists such as Ian Holloway, Darren Tate, Banks Bailey, Philip Corner, Colin Andrew Sheffield and many more.