29 September 2003
Prolific 
Alongside Space Monkeys, Hopper and The Durutti Column, The Sixths were in the first (only?) roster of Factory Too bands.

Essentially a one-man-band - Stephin Merritt - they are certainly intriguing. Their first album Wasps' Nests (1995) which was released on Factory Too is still available in the USA on Polygram. The second album, Hyacinths and Thistles (2000), is also still in print and, like the first one, is highly rated.

Merritt has brought in a plethora of guest singers to sing his material including artists as diverse as Gary Numan, Anna Domino, Bob Mould, Clare Grogan and Marc Almond to mention but a few. As well as The Sixths, the prolific Merritt also founded and has recorded with Future Bible Heroes and Magnetic Fields.

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ACR: altering Fabric's space-time continuum 
First there was last year's gigs at Electrowerkz and The Jazz Café, then their forthcoming appearance at Hung Drawn and Quartered and now another live club date, this time at Fabric, London on Friday 24 October 2003. Also on the bill, James Lavelle plus other DJs and live acts.

Tickets available from ticketweb priced 12 pounds.

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28 September 2003
Friday morning / Sunday evening playlist 
Add N To (X)'s excellent Avant Hard. Hail to the Thief by Radiohead which contains some apparently Add N To (X)-inspired moments.
25 September 2003
Hung Drawn And Quartered 
Thanks again to Andrew James for alerting me to an upcoming event with a Factory link for which he saw a poster whilst walking thru Shoreditch. The link is an appearance at Aquarium (256 Old Street, London, EC1) by A Certain Ratio at one of the venues or at least some incarnation of the band as their official website has no news of any upcoming gigs.

The event, called Hung Drawn and Quartered is to take place in London's Shoreditch area on Thursday October 2, which will encompass music, film and art at around 17 venues. The event's official website is good for even more info [pop-up alert!].

In Andrew's words, expect a "shed-load of bleepy Warp and Rephlex acts, and many of the Hoxton usual suspects". Well worth investigating. Drop me a line if you're going.

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24 September 2003
Durutti date 
The Durutti Column's last date (?) of the year takes place at the Manchester Academy 3 on Saturday 13 December.

Will be making the trip up to my old stomping ground in a combined 600+ mile football (Hartlepool FC v QPR) and music extravaganza.

The Academy 3 is also know as the Hop and Grape and according to the University of Manchester Union website is "the smallest of the Union's venues: a bar, meeting room and a live music venue, it is located on the top floor of the Union Building. The Hop and Grape hosts gigs from smaller, or up-and-coming bands, as well as societies' socials and one-off club nights. It's the perfect place to catch new talent on the way up. Many would argue that this is where the real gigs are played before the intimacy is lost."

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23 September 2003
Embarrassment of riches 
This year we have certainly been spoiled with plenty of gigs by The Durutti Column. Sadly I missed the last one in Bracknell (you fix one holiday and then two great events turn up!) but by the accounts I've so far seen it must've been a goody.

Glad to hear that the awesome solo guitar version of Albatross previously heard at the Lewes Guitar Festival in 2002 has made a reappearance as a second encore. If anyone has any pics let me know.

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Ben Kelly's Open House 
Just returned from holiday to find some great pics in my inbox (many thanks to Chris!) of the interior of the Design Council offices designed by Ben Kelly which were open to the public at the weekend as previously announced here and elsewhere.

This all amounted to a great excuse to add Ben Kelly to the list of Factory-related designers.

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16 September 2003
Hopper help! 
The Damaged Goods website says that Hopper lead singer Rachel may yet make a return to the music business.

If anyone has any up to date info on Rachel's current activities and where the rest of the band are now, please let me know.

That is all I have to say except that Ridiculous Day is just an absolutely incredible track.

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14 September 2003
Sunday Morning Playlist 
Kraftwerk 'Tour de France Soundtracks', Kings of Leon 'Youth and Young Manhood', New Order 'Soundtrack' [to the Peter Saville Show], Hopper selection including 'Bad Kid'.

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12 September 2003
Design Council 
The Design Council's offices [revised link] for which Ben Kelly was the architect are open to the public as part of London Open House Weekend on 20/21 September. This is an opportunity to explore buildings which are not normally open to everyone.

Ben Kelly is also the architect of Fac 51 The Haçienda, Dry 201 and the Fac 251 Factory HQ.

In the movie 24 Hour Party People, Ben Kelly is portrayed in a very small cameo by Trevor Johnson (fellow Factory designer of Johnson/Panas fame). Thanks to Andrew James for the tip-off about this event.

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10 September 2003
Who is the best graphic designer working today? 
Peter Saville according to readers of Creative Review magazine in their Peer Poll 2003 sponsored by Workstation Solutions. He also came second in the "Which person do you admire most in the Creative Industries?" category, having won it in 2002. Incidentally, Pentagram, with whom Saville had an ill-fated business liaison won the "Which design consultancy does the best work?" category.

To commemorate this occasion Creative Review asked Saville to "reveal objects inspirational to him". As hinted at previously, there will also be a second project / exhibition to follow-up on the Peter Saville Show which will be called Estate.

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The Peter Saville Talk 
Gay Dad were talented and had much money invested in them. Saville designed their covers (the one with the walking man pedestrian logo). They didn't enjoy the success they perhaps deserved and were quickly dropped. This illustrates what Saville calls 'Spice Girls Syndrome'. There is no room for failure in the modern music market. There was a time when a band like Gay Dad would have been given a second chance, but not any more. Talking about whether he would design covers for any more bands, Saville said that he could do Kraftwerk but not the White Stripes. Because "he knows" Kraftwerk. However, he admitted that no-one has phoned him up about new work since March.

Read the full report on the talk.
08 September 2003
In The City 
With In The City coming up (12-16 September, Manchester), Tony Wilson has been giving good interviews to Designer Magazine and DrownedInSound.com and talks freely about Red Cellars.

Has this label actually ever released anything?

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05 September 2003
Heavy rotation 
On heavy rotation on the Cerysmatic Factory stereo this week:

The Weather Prophets - Diesel River (includes the seminal indie jingle-jangle track 'Almost Prayed' (Creation); Spiritualized - 'Lazer Guided Melodies'; Bob Dylan - 'Best of Bob Vol I (cdr)'; Teenage Fanclub - 'Bandwagonesque' (Creation); Sabres of Paradise - 'Sabresonic' (Warp); Aphex Twin - 'Windowlicker'
03 September 2003
The Peter Saville Talk 
First photos from last night's talk now here. Full report coming soon.
The Peter Saville Talk 
The talk took place on the top floor of the Design Museum, overlooking the River Thames. A continually rotating slide sequence illustrated key design moments from his career but he didn't use the slides in anger save for a cursory comment on a Stella McCartney advertising campaign - "I don't know why I did that!"

Our hostess for the evening, one of the curators of the Peter Saville Show explained why this was in fact the second talk and not the first. The first one had taken place on Thursday 28 August which was the night of the big London blackout and many people had failed to make it. One chap apparently walked from Turnham Green and managed to make the last 20 minutes!

Looking as suave as ever in his trademark white jeans and black t-shirt, Peter Saville explained that when he was a young graduate back in the Seventies, he was not so much obsessed with music but the freedom to work that exists in the music industry. He calls the situation he found himself in with Factory Records "unrealistic" because most young graduate designers would have joined a studio and pursued a more conventional career. Peter found himself working for a record company that was never a record company. He says that Factory never functioned as a small business and that no decision taken in 14 years was based on profitability! But he conceded that it was Factory's ultimate disregard for profit that proved to be its downfall.

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The Peter Saville Talk 
Went to the Design Museum tonight for The Peter Saville Talk. Met David Sultan from WorldInMotion.Net, Agent King from BitingTongues.com, Andrew and Matthew from Australia.

As Mr Saville had already given one talk last week (an extra one arranged after the first one but occurring before the first one, if you understand what I mean) he decided not to do a formal lecture but held a question and answer session instead.

Many great analyses, explanations and anecdotes ensued, too many to go into here - you'll have to wait for the full breakdown - but suffice to say that it will mention Trevor Key Letrasetting the back cover of Tubular Bells, "spooky typographical obsessives", Yohji Yamamoto, "Spice Girls Syndrome" and Kraftwerk. Coming soon.

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FAC 51 The Hacienda
The Names

Post punk cult band The Names emerged in the winter of 1977-1978 as The Passengers, gathering immediate attention on the local Brussels scene. In 1979, after a series of successful gigs and a crucial step forward opening for Magazine, they recorded their first E.P. ("Spectators Of Life") and attracted the interest of prominent label Factory Records in Manchester.

Their first British studio session (at Stockport's Strawberry Studio) produced the single "Nightshift" / "I Wish I Could Speak Your Language (Fac 29). Receiving enthusiastic reviews in the UK and abroad, it marked the start of a long and fruitful collaboration with producer Martin Hannett. The album "Swimming" followed as well as more singles, including "Calcutta" and "The Astronaut".

- extract from the official website biography

Factory Records Catalogue

The Durutti Column