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Dandelion Jam 

Just a short update to say that I am currently uploading a number of my releases to jam.coop, because I think the cooperative model is something that more people should explore and support and I'm delighted to see the folks who helped to build BBC Introducing creating something in this area.

Secondly, in addition to spins from radio free fedi, you can tune into Dandelion Radio throughout the month of December and hear one of my tracks on Andy's show. 

Also, there are now some Little Bobby t-shirts. If you buy an anti-Little Bobby design, I hope you have a wonderful festive season. If you buy a shirt showing your love of Little Bobby, I probably won't respond to your emails or sign your merch.

Spectres, Ghosts and Phantoms 

Keeping the collaborative spirit going, here's something new by Phantoms Vs Fire, which features some vocals from myself and many magnificent synth sounds. Listen below.

P. S. If you belong to the Neighbourhood, there's something for you already. You can download them from Bandcamp or through the main website.

P.P.S. No puppets were harmed in the making of this release (for that, you'll have to go over here).

Inspector Horse and Other Communications 

I was fully intending to make some equus puns, but it's even too hot for horse jokes. Instead, I will just share this new horse-themed album from Glass Grave, which I recently contributed to (Neighbourhood folks, check your emails/Bandcamp for a download code). 



Also, for anyone that owns a BLACK ARROW record, you might recognise the release imprint BLACK ARROW COMMUNICATIONS and the "BAC" logo, which is part-broadcasting icon and part retro airline graphic. What started as just a riff on the rocket and satellite theme has now gotten slightly bigger and, as a collective label effort, now encompasses a new project from Dom Deane, which I'm sure a lot of you will love if your heart is where the arp is. We have a makeshift website and newsletter, but have successfully avoided a podcast thus far (nobody wants to hear awkward mumbling on the radio, I'm sure).

If you can't stay cool in the sun, at least you can be cool checking out the stuff above.¬†ūüėé

Silver Hearts and Static 

To what does the mysterious title above refer?


It can only be a new show from blue star radio!¬†Here, you can listen to my contribution to the recent Cities and Memory project, Shortwave Transmissions, along with pieces from Moray Newlands and Audio Obscura (and also music from Grouper and Mica Levi for good measure). Get ecstatic for static below.¬†ūüĎā

Shortwave Transmissions 

Broadcasts and radio seem to be a bit of a theme recently. First off, BLACK ARROW & ETHER/ORBIT were released together on cassette via The Dark Outside (normally broadcasting from the Galloway Forest) and now Cities and Memory has released a new project called Shortwave Transmissions (broadcasts from around the world), featuring my contribution, Ottawa Shortwave. 

You can listen to the entire release on Bandcamp and hear a special radio programme from its curator on Resonance FM (broadcasts from London). 

P. S. Given the recent news that Bandcamp have enabled queuing in their listening app, I've added all of the songs currently on the secret part of the site to Bandcamp as well so they're easier to play on the go. If you're interested in learning more, head this way.

Thank You! 

Just a quick post to say thanks to everybody who picked up a copy of the recent cassette release of BLACK ARROW and ETHER/ORBIT from The Dark Outside. It was amazing to see 100 tapes sell out in under 24 hours and even more incredible that the obi edition was sold out by 18:01 (having gone up at 18:00)!


Appreciate all the folks who enthusiastically shared updates about it too and look forward to seeing those tapes in their new homes! If you do fancy sharing a pic, tag both @DarkOutside and @RobertaFidora (hey, that's me) on Twitter and I will DM you your corresponding Bandcamp codes - there will be one for each side as they're on Bandcamp as two separate releases. Any problems or questions about codes, you can contact me here.

Satellites of love to all.¬†‚̧ԳŹūüõįÔłŹ

Space Spools 

What's that, you say? The splendid Dark Outside label is releasing BLACK ARROW and ETHER/ORBIT together on a special dual colour cassette?

BLACK ARROW & ETHER/ORBIT announced by The Dark Outside on Twitter.
That's right! Tapes will be limited to 100 copies, so make sure you set your alarm for launch and bookmark on Bandcamp ready for blast off tomorrow, Friday 14th January, at 6pm (Greenwich/Galloway Mean Time). You can also get an additional nudge via the mailing list, which is a good idea, as they often sell out quickly.

I've been sending demos and oddities to The Dark Outside broadcasts for a number of years now and I always look forward to listening and taking part, so this is a really wonderful way to commemorate that. A little bird (possibly near a transmitter) told me that The Dark Outside celebrates its 10th birthday this year as well, so if you're partial to generating or absorbing noise, field recordings and music of a dreamlike nature, then keep a look out for a possible broadcast later in the year.

Speaking of commemorating things, BLACK ARROW made an appearance on this list of Stewart Lee's Cultural Year, commemorating a year of things listened to on a music-specific physical device. Good stuff. Keeping the turntable warm.

Well, back to it. These synth won't play themselves! Or will they? MIDI is a magical thing.

P. S. The thumbnail image of Angela Lansbury holding a cassette was found via the very enjoyable Museum Of Portable Sound page.

Patch Bay 

As it turns out, I’ve accumulated quite a lot of my own space junk (some of which you can see in the video for The Stars, Like Dust) and whilst you can find Apollo moon landing commemorative plates, NASA mission patches and everything from Sputnik t-shirts to Cosmonaut Christmas decorations, there really isn’t much beyond a first day cover for BLACK ARROW or Prospero (and I only know that because Marlene, who I interviewed for BLACK ARROW, told me about having this lone souvenir at home - with a copy archived at Wight Aviation Museum), so I designed a few things that I thought might keep it in people’s memory a little longer, based on wayback space graphics and the kind of things I used to collect as a kid. Go here for ace new patches on Bandcamp, here for them on the main site or let lots of bright colours orbit your eyes over at Teemill. There may even be some tapes to follow shortly, but that deserves its own post.


P. S. If you email or tweet me a picture of you wearing either the Prospero print or any of the puppet designs from Teemill land, I’ll send you the corresponding Bandcamp code for either In Your Neighbourhood or ETHER/ORBIT. Seems only fair, right?

ETHER/ORBIT 

Lost to the atmosphere or coming down to Earth? That's the question often asked in relation to the Prospero satellite, which is still floating around in low orbit, since being successfully launched by the BLACK ARROW rocket on the 28th October, 1971. 

To mark this anniversary, I will be releasing a companion piece to BLACK ARROW called ETHER/ORBIT and it will be available as a digital download from Thursday here on the website and via Bandcamp.

For those who prefer their satellite sounds with a side of tangible objects though, I hope to have some rocket-related goodies available soon, so keep checking back over the coming weeks. Additionally, BLACK ARROW will be played alongside the unveiling of the replica rocket at Wight Aviation Museum during their anniversary event. The museum is currently building a full-size Prospero satellite model which you can read about here.

Back to BLACK ARROW 

Today marks a year since BLACK ARROW was released. This article from Mark Brown was something I read early on when researching more about it, which gives a good overview of the kinds of topics covered in the conversation with Marlene and probably best describes many of the ideas I wanted to explore further around this small chapter in the history of space and satellites. It talks about unrealised futures, the relief from several people who worked on it at pivoting to space-focused projects from missiles and the idea of quiet work instead of aggressive mythology building.

Worth mentioning perhaps that it's in a quiet time that I've written a companion piece to BLACK ARROW (this time focusing on Prospero) that I hope to be able to share soon before moving onto album pastures new. Additionally, working on music that's a bit different to normal has provided me with some really excellent samples to meddle with (thanks and sorry to Glass Grave whose guitar parts for those releases are being rinsed across the forthcoming synthier ouvre at the moment too) so expect to hear more noise in with future electronics!

There's still a free extract of BLACK ARROW up here if you missed it the first time around too, so grab it while you can.

P. S. The photograph is courtesy of the folks at The Needles Old Battery, who were kind enough to show me their High Down archives and files.

P. P. S. If, for whatever reason, you've always wondered what BLACK ARROW would sound like as test card music in a big band style, you'll want to see the latest goings on here.

Further Into Luna 

Continuing the cosmos theme from BLACK ARROW (and the eagle-eyed may have already spotted it here, hence the post title), you can find my remix of Luna Still, a song from the forthcoming isvisible isinvisible album Moon-White Water. The remix combines the original synth textures and bloops with a vocal sample from something I haven't released yet, just to be incredibly mysterious. You can listen to all of the album remixes and bag yourself a very nice-looking cassette below.

Retrophonica Out Now! 

This week I've been getting on my soap box Derbyshire because 'Retrophonica' is now bleeping and blooping out in the world - you can listen to the full release below.

Enjoy a review of my "swirling synths" and "strong architecture" via ANTI Music here, in addition to a track-by-track listen on Yeah I Know It Sucks, where I may well have been betrayed by my gothic past. Additionally, here's an article about Wendy Carlos I found really interesting prior to contributing, which beautifully articulates some of the misgivings that I've seen or experienced around electronic music. There is also some crossover with this excellent Tara Rodgers essay, which I very much enjoyed reading, about synthesizer politics and a largely unheard area of electronic music history.

Speaking of unheard histories, the vinyl copies of BLACK ARROW have now arrived and they look incredible! You can order a copy from the website or via Bandcamp now (limited to only 300 copies). On that note, I'll conclude by linking to some thoughts about Bandcamp; some mine but mostly other, more eloquent explanations. Perhaps it's idealistic or naive, but I'd like to think that the confusion or anger around how much larger companies have operated and treated their listeners/makers in such a fragile environment could be channelled into something more conscientious and useful longer term. I am also trying not to imbue my own nostalgia or present opinion into any of this, but the places and eras I associate with active music listening and participation have felt the most joyous to me and I know my own world would be a lot more grim had I not received tape mixes made by friends, or read blog articles which enthuse over insanely niche or place-specific details, or had my tracks played in a dark forest to a few radio enthusiasts. I hope it doesn't alienate anyone to talk about why I feel let down by streaming platforms, why I no longer give a shit about monthly listeners and highlight where I think people are offering better alternatives or making positive suggestions (even if there are no definitive answers), I just want to support ideas which encourage creativity, sociability, mutual support and the excitement of building your weird project out of nothing, without competitive metrics and where it can return to some form of sustainability.

Okay, time to step off the soap box.

Rocketronica and Retrophonica 

 

I hope you've been enjoying hearing a little piece of space history this last week (don't forget you can download it free here or via Bandcamp here). I've been compiling footage and photos the last few days of the original testing site here on the Isle of Wight from a few trips there last year and it's been nice to visit it again via my computer whilst the real thing is currently out of bounds. If you'd like to visit the digital outdoors too, there's a couple of videos below.

Short trailer:

Longer video:

Thanks to everyone who has preordered the release too. I got to log into Bandcamp and see this, which was very nice! From 'Haunted Gold' to hauntology...

A big thank you also to Simon Heartfield at Seance Radio and to Stuart at The Dark Outside for their respective broadcasts supporting so many electronic musicians (myself included). Additionally, I know I'm not alone in saying that I really hope we see another Da-Dark Inside event soon, complete with relaxing sheep and nature graphics. It's great to see experimental music so richly represented and hats off to both for providing a listening lifeline to folks. 

Speaking of experimental music, if the cold futuristic dystopian atmosphere of the local Moloko Plus seems appealing right now (as opposed to generalised dystopia, I guess), then you can now get your ears around a brand new release called Retrophonica, which includes a Wendy Carlos-inspired composition I made called 'Like Clockwork' amongst all this electronic excellence.

The compilation has been curated by Sound Effects Of Death And Horror as a tribute to early electronic pioneers and is being released digitally and on CD through Wormhole World, with proceeds going to Delia Derbyshire Day. It has also had a rather nice writeup on Louder Than War already with info on the lead track from Elizabeth Joan Kelly. Have a read.

On a final note, if you're either stuck indoors or, hanging in there at work but trying to find something less terrible to read in the down time, the official Wendy Carlos website is probably one of the most soothing places on the internet.

That's all for now. Take care of yourself.¬†ūüĆć

P. S. Check out this LEGO model of BLACK ARROW built by Andy Phillips and his daughter. Possibly one of the coolest things I've ever seen!

Rocket Fuels On Rocket Fuels 

Last year (or what feels like another 50 years ago), we celebrated the moon landing anniversary, an event that has inspired countless retellings and re-imaginings through television, film, design and song. A historic occasion that gave people the opportunity to imagine little pieces of the universe for themselves, to ponder what else might exist beyond our planet and where we imagined belonging to another, better future than the one we have now. 

So imagine my surprise when, in 2018, I stumbled across a rocket casing shell at a tourist attraction on the Isle of Wight, just across the island from where I live.

Even moreso when this discovery then led to a hangar just outside of the large village of Lake (with Wikipedia page highlights that include two funeral parlours and a branch of KFC) that just happens to house a replica of a BLACK ARROW rocket being built by enthusiastic volunteers and retired engineers from a local Men in Sheds project. This is the place of sand bottles, wax nightmares, coastal erosion and Donald McGill postcards, apparently, and yet, it has a rich space history that hardly anyone knows about. It turns out that I no longer have to imagine my own piece of space; it's on my doorstep (or rather, a short number 3 bus ride away). 

In the aforementioned retellings of our space history too, what I've mostly noticed, are the archival voices of American astronauts, the distinct "Mid-Atlantic English" of bygone announcers or men in white coats and many top down accounts of history that I'm already familiar with. It's unusual to hear the voice of someone who, say, worked on the project as a seventeen year old rocket engineer and her contribution to an important space project like BLACK ARROW, but that's exactly what I want to hear, given that at the same age, I wasn't doing much outside of my embarrassing Robert Smith cosplay, let alone achieving something extraordinary like getting a satellite into orbit. I wish I'd seen more encouraging stories like this and known about the south coast's proximity to the cosmos much earlier.

Which brings me to BLACK ARROW as an EP. Whatever is going on in the world, it's important to document your culture and to find interesting stories which might not get told outside of mainstream channels and amplify them in whatever way you can*. I interviewed Marlene Irving in the second half of last year where we talked about her experiences working on the project and the legacy of BLACK ARROW, which is personally one of the most exciting things I've ever been able to do. The development and launch of BLACK ARROW, from an small island at the bottom of the UK, to the other side of the world in Woomera, Australia, is an achievement that I think deserves to be recognised all these years later and I feel fortunate to have a part in continuing the story and documenting an incredibly unique perspective on it.

I hope even in the midst of chaos, you'll listen in and celebrate one of many unsung voices of our space and engineering history.

Blasting off for now.

*Emma Warren's 'Make Some Space' is a great read on this subject. I highly recommend it!

Lurkin' 9 To 5 

Drooping fingers have assumed new forms and you'd better beware, because twisted techno terror is coming to get you. 

Have a listen below to the most recent tale from the crypt/soundtrack from the void, which includes my remix of Drooping Finger's 'Lurk'. All you have to do is say "SoundCloud" in the mirror five times. 

If you want to take the doom dancing a step further, you can also blast out some 'Beast Moves' via the monster mix below from DJ and producer Simon Heartfield.



Failing that, you can also get your Halloween playlist off to an early start by awakening the creatures lurking beneath the Glass Grave (spoiler alert: may contain melodica solos and distorted singing about cemeteries).

Enjoy, supercreeps!

Ready, Cassette, Go! 

The hawk-eyed among you might've noticed the recent appearance of a dual-colour, gem-encrusted cassette in various places. This is the first physical release of debut album 'Verxes', which is available exclusively to Bandcamp subscribers in the Neighbourhood. It's backed up on the B-side with demos, rarities and remixes, only 50 have been produced and once they're gone, there likely won't be another run, so if you'd like to get your hands on one (and also to see what else I'm generally up to), you can head over to this place. Thanks to Simon Pott (a.k.a. electronic musician isvisible isinvisible) for the top picture.

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