Thursday, April 20, 2006


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Good on Google to celebrate the birthday of my favourite painter, Juan Miró, today, 20 April (not that I knew he was born on this day).

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The Blue series: Blue I, II & III - my favourite paintings in the whole wide world

Having stood in between the three massive originals at the Musée d'Art Contemporain at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, I cannot think of any more atmospheric and mesmerizing paintings.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


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Biosphere's Geir Jenssen

Tonight is the first date of Biosphere’s weeklong UK tour of cinemas at the Gate Cinema in Notting Hill Gate, and I’ll be there. I have promised I would especially re-open themilkfactory to add a review of the gig to the current edition, hopefully by tomorrow.

I’ve wanted to see Geir Jenssen live for a very long time, so there is a certain amount of excitement in me today… The man is considered as one of the pioneers of modern Ambient and one of the most influential musicians of his generation, with good reason. In the sixteen years that separate his first album, as Bleep (The North Pole By Submarine, SSR) to his most recent work (Dropsonde, Touch), Geir Jenssen has crafted an incredibly consistent and strong body of work, collaborated with the likes of Pete Namlook, Higher Intelligence Agency and fellow Norwegian Deathprod, worked on a couple of soundtracks, remixed anyone for Nicolette to Front Line Assembly and created various sound installations and performed live around the world.

I first encountered Geir when he was still a member of Norwegian electro-pop outfit Bel Canto, when they released their second album, Birds Of Passage, on Crammed in 1990. The band, who also counted vocalist Anneli Marian Drecker and multi-instrumentist Nils Johansen, had a little something of an electronic version of the Cocteau Twins. While Birds Of Passage was incorporating some elements of pop, their superb debut White-Out Conditions was a far more atmospheric affair and featured some early Biosphere textures.

I have actually been surprise to see Biosphere turn up on my top ten artists played almost every week on my profile. The album that has had the biggest impact on me is Substrata (All Saints Records, 1997, re-released on Touch in 2001), closely followed by his first of two collaborations with Higher Intelligence Agency's Bobby Bird, Polar Sequences, (Beyond Records 1997, re-released on Headphones, 2004). Both albums make very good use of environmental found sounds. Polar Sequences was recorded live in 1995 at the Polar Music Festival in Jenssen's native town of Tromsø. the brief was that the concerts would take place at the top of a mountain in a venue only accessible via cable car, and all the compositions would be built from sounds recorded around the venue. This included anything from the cable car itself to snow melting. While Jenssen had already began to explore to possibilities of ambient, this approach appeared to shape Substrata too With its wonderfully rich and yet minimal soundscapes.

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HIA & BIOSPHERE Polar Sequences (Beyond, 1997)

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BIOSPHERE Substrata (All Saints Records, 1997)

Jenssen's most recent release, Dropsonde, marked a return to more beat-driven music, with a surprising jazz touch running through at least half of the tracks. The album was originally published as a six-track vinyl release before coming out as an eleven-track CD a few months later. Although five of the six tracks of the original release were featured on the CD, Dropsonde appeared as a very different album depending on the format, due to the particular selection of tracks.

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BIOSPHERE Dropsonde (LP) (Touch, 2005)

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BIOSPHERE Dropsonde (CD) (Touch, 2006)

During this cinema tour, Jenssen is be playing live with accompanying full-screen visuals from multiple award-winning video artist Egbert Mittelstaedt. This is promising to be a very different series of gig...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


This post-Easter Monday Tuesday is feeling a bit like a Monday really, so to cheer my little self up, I digged out a couple of classics this morning so I could have some nice choons to play at work, starting with Plaid’s Not For Threes album of 1997, still my favourite album of theirs with Trainer (which, obviously, is NOT an album as such because it compiles all of their pre-Black Dog stuff, including the Mbuki Mvuki album). Not For Threes always sounded rather cool and very unique (and still does nearly ten years on), and features vocal contributions from Nicolette (they partly produced her magical Let No-one Live Rent Free In Your Head album) and Björk. Since, it’s really been downhill for Ed Handley and Andrew Turner really, but, after the recent unexpected Orb resurrection (how topical you’ll note), I am not giving up hope to see the Plaid boys kicking arses again.

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PLAID: Not For Threes (Warp Records, 1997)

Another lovely classic to slide down me earwax is B12’s fantastic Electro-soma (Warp, 1993). The cover informs us: "This is number 4 in a series of Artificial Intelligence albums from Warp". Enough said really. It is actually scary to think that I bought every single album in the series (eight including two compilations) back then when they were released, between 1992 and 1994, and that they have shaped my musical tastes in such a way.

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B12: Electro-Soma (Warp Records, 1993)

The Artificial Intelligence series:
1. V/A: Artificial Intelligence (06/07/1992)
The compilation that started it all.

2. POLYGON WINDOW: Surfing On Sine Waves(11/01/1993)
Richard ‘Aphex Twin’ James under one of his many guises. To this day, my favourite album of his.

3. BLACK DOG PRODUCTIONS: Bytes (08/03/1993)
The word ‘seminal’ was invented for this album.

4. B12: Electro-soma (29/03/1993)
Another all-time classic from the sorely missed duo, who have been resurrected recently and played quite a few live dates. No plans for a new album it seems…

5. F.U.S.E.: Dimension Intrusion (07/06/1993)
From the man also known as Plastikman, Richie Hawtin.

6. SPEEDY J: Ginger (21/06/1993)
A rather ambient release from the Dutchman and certainly a far cry from his Pullover EP released a bit earlier or the very techno sound of recent years.

7. AUTECHRE: Incunabula (29/11/1993)
I’d already spotted The Egg on AI, but this just stole my heart. Looking back, this album sounds almost 'conventional' compared to what they have brought out since.

8. V/A: Artificial Intelligence Vol. 2 (30/05/1994)
The concluding part, with contributions from Mark Franklin, The Higher Intelligence Agency, Link (Global Communication), Beaumont Hannant, Richard H. Kirk and Seefeel as well as Autechre, Balil (BDP), B12 and Speedy J.

Monday, April 17, 2006


I recently listed my top 5 favourite milkfactory moments of the last six and a half years on the site's forum, but I thought it would be good to post them on here too... so here's how it goes:

1. Recieving an email from Mark Bell, of LFO fame, out of the blue just to say he liked the site, and me consequenlty asking him for an interview while thinking that someone was pulling my leg... and then meeting the man a few weeks later. He has to be the nicest guy on this planet!

2. Interviewing Broadcast in the beer garden of an empty pub in North London, not far away from the Warp offices. Tim and James helped me out with a temperamental minidisc player, and then all three of them had lunch while we were chatting about their career, work and many other things. They were so patient and kind. The interview was supposed to last about 20 minutes, and we were still talking after an hour.

3. Having two albums landing on my desk by a band I'd never heard of... I remember playing one of the albums, thinking "what the fuck?..." taking it off, and then finding myself intrigued by it a few days later, playing it again and falling in love with this band almost instantaneously. The album was Campfire Songs, and the band was Animal Collective.

4. Interviewing Graham Massey. It happened a bit like the Mark Bell thing. Out of the blue, I got a very kind email about the site. Not believing that something like this was happening again, I asked him for an interview, he said yes, and when I got his answers back, with an apology from him for waffling on, it was just so fantastic because it was like reading a complete history of the Manchester scene of the late eighties, the Hacienda and about everything there was to know about 808 State.

5. Having my friend Nathalie, from Belgium, sending me a copy of Coppé's Peppermint album, which led to me plucking up the courage to get my first interview for the site, and started a very lovely friendship. I've never met her, but I am still hoping our paths will cross one day. There is one thing sweeter than sugar on Earth, and she is it!

The gorgeous and sweet Coppé

Monday, April 10, 2006


So that’s it, the news about the site is out, and it feels a bit weird. The response has so far been very kind and supportive, which is very heart-warming.

Of course, I have plans for the site, so it’s not the end as such, but I am taking a bit of time off, so I feel a bit like I’ve had a whole part of me taken away. It is funny to think that something so apparently trivial can take so much space in one’s life… It probably explains a lot… dunno.

Anyway, since I took the decision that this latest issue would also be the last edition of themilkfactory, at least in its present form, and for a while, I have actually started enjoying music for what it is again. Having part of my CD collection accessible again probably helps a lot too.

Part of the newly accessible CD stock...

808 STATE: Prebuild (Rephlex, 2005)

For some reason, I’ve felt the urge to play all the 808 State albums I have this morning, chronologically, not by release date but by when the music was actually conceived… well, almost as I started with Newbuild and went on to Prebuild. Clearly, it should have been the other way round, but never mind. The music on these two albums sounds incredibly fresh and cool, even now. Shows how far ahead the band was back then.

808 STATE: Ex-el (ZTT, 1991)

I then moved onto the wonderful 90 and Ex:el (my favourite). Pacific 202 is still such a major goosebump tune, and the rest of 90 is about as perfect as it gets. From the first bars of Magical Dreams, I am dragged all the way back to 1989 when I first heard this album and didn’t quite know what to make of it. I don’t know whether I would have been at the heart of it all if I’d lived in Manchester, or the UK, back then (knowing me, I probably wouldn’t kept on the periphery looking in...), but it surely was something. When I interviewed Graham Massey (fuck yes, I did that, and that’s one of my big milkfactory moments), via email, he actually apologised for “waffling on”, but reading his comments on the Hacienda years and the early 808 State days was just so fantastic. It actually made me wish I’d been around then.
As I said above, my favourite 808 State album HAS to be Ex:el. Although the sound was probably softer than on previous records, there are just so many fantastic tunes on it, from the Bernard Sumner and Björk collabs (Spanish Heart and Qmart and Ooops respectively), Olympic, Cübik, In Yer Face, Leo Leo, Nephatiti… I could just about list the whole album. Qmart and Ooops were actually the first tracks featuring Björk I could listen without cringing. Before that, I just couldn’t stand her voice. How things change…

The only 808 State album that didn't make it to my playlist is Gorgeous, for two rather good reasons: a) it is still at my parents, and b) I've never got on well with it, to the point where I actually stopped buying any 808 State record after that, until Newbuild that it. I've been told that Don Solaris is way better than Gorgeous, so I might get tempted when ZTT re-edit it soon...

Monday, April 03, 2006


The work on the house started today, and I began a new blog to document the progress of this. It is available from here or from the "A house in Morden" link on the side.