Stranger Than Fiction – 23 Years Late

Seems like I am trying to clear the deck for something big. Not sure what, but my past is really catching up.

In 1995, a friend and I wrote and produced a concept album under the title Subversive Technology. It was a break from the drum and bass stuff I had been working on, and became a fusion of the many forms of music that helped me through my formative years. In other words, it’s a mashup of styles.

At the time, we were told it was too diverse, so it sat for 23-years. Well, that was before YouTube, Soundcloud or the other platforms.

I’ve decided to put it out on Bandcamp, to see whether it will find a home in the myriad of styles / genres out there.

This is Stranger Than Fiction, by Neil Thorne and Yomi Ayeni.

My Past Catches Up With Me

Sometimes your past catches up with you. In my case, I had a record label that was at the very forefront of a music genre called Drum and Bass.

Tone Def Records launched in 1989/90, and guess what? We’ve just had our very first feature… in Ransom Note

“As with so many early 90s labels, Tone Def Records kicked off with a starburst of riotous creative energy, that burnt bright and quick. Unlike many of their contemporaries they were able to sustain this potency for the length of a golden age. Existing from 1990 – 1995 Tone Def signposted rave futurism; over at least forty releases they charted the technology driven genre evolutions that saw the euphoric Balearic rhythms of label opener Thank God mutate into the dark junglist pressure of their minimalist mid-90s DnB rollers.”

Read more…

 

River – Mobile Power Station (Update)

Happy New Year from the not-so sunny climes of London (UK). We’re back to GMT and knee deep in winter, which means little use of the River unit for camping and outdoor pursuits, but the field test continues.

Lost Charge
As promised, I am monitoring to see how well the River device holds up to Ecoflow’s promise that it will retain its charge for 12 months. Mine was fully topped up to 100% via the solar panel when I left Black Rock Desert in September 2017, but it has since dropped to 94% – a loss of 6% in 4 months. I will keep an eye on this and update in another 4 months. Kindly check back for updates.

AC Problem
As part of this trial, I planned to test the durability and robust nature of this product, and had arranged to DJ at London’s Santacon event using the River unit as my main power source. It was to power a Native Instrument Traktor S8 (18W), a MacBook Pro (60W), and a small amp 200W amp. All under the 300W output restriction.

While it will power devices via USB, DC, the AC ports are dead. I’ve tried every possible solution, and have an ongoing chat with Ecoflow’s tech team. I will keep you posted on developments.

*** I have since been informed that the device I am reviewing is an early hand-assembled pre-production prototype that has no functioning AC, as a safety precaution***

Solar In Winter!
As I write this update, I am so pleased to see that the solar panel is charging the River, even on a heavily overcast day. This is exciting news for people who live in places with very little sunshine through the winter months. And yes, I know it will take the best part of a year to do much, but every little helps.

Thanks for checking my blog.

San Francisco – Love Of My Life…

I am back! SF, my dearest, I have missed you so much. While I visit the West Coast several times a year, I haven’t actually set foot in SF for a long time, especially never this late in December.

Why am I back, I hear you ask? Well, a dear and generous friend has invited me to DJ at the Feuerzangenbowle – his annual party in the Berkeley Hills, and I am bringing the noise! Guess what? I will be playing alongside the legendary DJ Garth, from Los Angeles.

It’s so nice to be in a place with sunshine and warmth this late in the year, and I intend on being outdoors as much as I can in the three days that I am here.

Huge love to my hosts, Candace, Doug, and SM. Your hospitality is second to none. Love ya.

Hope to see y’all.

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Fuzzy Love – two Star Wars fans, dressed as Wookies, off to watch The Last Jedi.
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Kate’s Kitchen – yup, always.
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Sam Flores piece in Haight
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Bound Together in Haight. Not many bookshops like this left in the world.
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Is my Sombrero too big?
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Fluevog… Yeah, baby!
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Museum of Ice Cream!!!
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Yup, shops now touting for Santa cash.
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Junko!!!!!
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Doug’s Xmas selection

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Climate-KIC: Changing the world through innovation (Rotterdam)

Just back from a quick trip to Rotterdam, where I hosted a workshop on crowdsourcing at the annual Climate-KIC conference, on behalf of Contented (UK).

Climate-Kic is the European Union’s main climate innovation initiative, and as far as I can see, this is a major benefit to humanity, talk less the UK, which is about to bail out of the EU. Anyhow…

My approach was to break a group of 40 attendees into two teams; the providers and consumers, both were totally  dependent on each other to make certain progress in their daily activities. This gave a better understanding of how to build community support for projects, as well as helping to build confidence in industry.

There were some amazing minds in the group, and great ideas. I do believe they have adopted the an ingenius approach, by incubating ideas generated while on the training programme, and encouraging PhD / Masters Degree students to integrate anti-climate change strategies into all their business plans, and projects. It is a way of future-proofing the world against a possible catastrophe.

I had a little time to peruse the delights of Rotterdam, which is an amazing city.

Some pics below.

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Back Making Music!

After several years of pondering whether I would ever make music again, I am happily part of a new project called The Afropolitan. We’re a collective of ageing musicians with vast experience and musical interests.

Our first project is a series of remixes for Sophie Barker’s new album LSA, which we have contributed one track, and we were asked to do a special megamix of the whole album which is not for release.

We plan to release our own material in 2018, and hope you enjoy our tunes.

Here’s the megamix.

Wall of Separation – Palestine

I went to Palestine to see Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel, and what I found was a people denied basic human rights, chased off their own land, and kept hemmed in ways that no human should endure.

Banksy’s use of art to tell the story of Israeli occupation is a genius ploy. I am not anti-Israel, neither and I pro-Palestine, but feel the world has let Palestinians down in such a big way.

Put another way, how can there be peace in the Middle East, if Israel wont hand back occupied territories, and our dear Britain wont make amends for the cock-eyed Balfour Declaration.

This is apartheid, but no one is bold enough to say this.

Here are my films, this isn’t about art, it’s about shining light on a big injustice.

Kendal Calling – Lakes International Comic Art Festival

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Our annual trip to the Lake District was a rollercoaster, promising to be even bigger in 2018.

This was the 4th time the Clockwork Watch team (Corey and I) were at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival (#LICAF), an event that boasts an amazing contingent of creators, makers, authors, and illustrators.

The organisers have been super supportive of our project, with the team making all the respective hurdles a breeze, and we can’t thank them enough. Huge props to Carole, Julie, Jonathan (all the way from Canada), Chris and all the volunteers that make the weekend a family affair.

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We actually sold out of a Clockwork Watch title for the first time at a convention, making the Lakes 2017 a major milestone in the history of this project. It goes to show that promoting a Steampunk title in a town like Kendal works. People loved the story, in fact many came back after buying one of the books last year. It was great to hear their feedback, chat about plot points, and tease the future storyline.

LICAF covers all spectrums of the self-published comic sector more than any other convention that we’ve attended in the UK.  It is an event for creators, makers, and grassroots comics, making it a must for anyone interested in comic book art or writing.

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This year was a blast, as we forged closer links with some of the country’s top comic stores, artists, and a great contingent of creators from Australia, and Holland. One of the special treats was having time to chat, and plot 2018 with Stephen of Page 45, and the legendary Bryan and Mary Talbot, who signed copies of the final Grandville graphic novel at our table on Sunday.

We’d like to thank John Freeman and the ‘Down The Tubes’ blog for interviewing us, and express our gratitude to the town of Kendal. We love you and promise to be back.

River Powered Adventure – Product Review

Camping off the grid can be a task, especially without many of the creature comforts that we’re used to having at home. I’m part of a group that sojourns into the desert every year for an event, and this time I road tested the new EcoflowTech RIVER mobile power station.

It’s a smart little device that wowed the public in an IndieGoGo crowdfund earlier this year, and I couldn’t wait to put it through the paces.

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The full kit consisted of the power station, which comes with almost every accessory you could possibly need to charge it up, or to power your devices. My pack came with a 50 watt solar panel, which was ideal for our trip, as “the sun had it’s hat on” with temperatures reaching 118ºF.

Weighing 5kg, the small doesn’t take up much room (25 x 16 x 20 cm), and easily slotted into my over packed vehicle. The solar panel is 44 x 46 cm, which I call an oversized album cover (I’m a DJ and tend to base my measurements on records).

Both pieces of kit come with pretty robust bags, which made life easier – I’d hate to scratch its smooth panelling, which I must admit is easy to clean, even after a week in the dust.

Uses
My device came with 30% power, which according to the manual is how they are supplied, it also suggested fully charging it before use, so put the solar panel on the top of our shade structure, placed the power station in the shade and let do its thing. It is worth noting that while the power station has a fan to keep it cool, I wouldn’t advise exposing it to the temperatures that we experienced in the desert. Two of the indicators on the LED give temperature readings and there’s a fan to cool things down, just in case.

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Charging via solar.

It took around 18 hours to fully charge with the solar panel, but here’s one of the excitingly dynamic aspects of this system, we connected an iPhone to the USB port of the solar panel while it was charging the power station. This did cough up one little dilemma, the iPhone overheated, so I would suggest a long lightening cable and keep your phone of digital devices out of the sun.

As for uses, we charged several phones, a laptop, and even tried a small kettle, which didn’t work – there’s a limit on the power output,  anything that requires more than 500 watts wont work. So, don’t expect it to help make a morning cup of coffee or power a hairdryer.

Functionality
It is one of the best devices I’ve used to date. It travels well, holds enough juice to power; phone, laptop, iPad, mp3 player, TV, small fridge, and it is light enough to carry around in a shoulder bag – perfect.

The product is designed to go beyond the norm, it will power numerous devices simultaneously, while it itself can be charged by mains (outlet), solar or through the cigarette lighter in your vehicle. These options make it ideal for the Digital Nomad, weekend camping trip, day in the park or on a boat.

As a Brit, I can attest to the fact that the River mobile power station travels well – ours was carried as hand luggage onto a plane with no fuss, making it ideal for expeditions or on-location shoots – just carry an adaptor to plug into the mains (outlet) where ever you are going.

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Clearing customs at SFO – enroute back to the UK

I am back home, two weeks after the event, and the River is still 99% charged courtesy of Black Rock Desert, I am assured that this will last for a whole year! I can’t wait to take it out on location this weekend, where it will power an iPad display for two days at a comic convention.

River is not currently available in Europe or the UK, but I gather an international version should be ready to ship before end of 2017.

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January 3rd 2018 Update
I am having some problems with the unit. For an update, kindly check my blog for 3rd Jan 2018.

Breathe – Revived

Our course leader at Royal College of Art invited me to introduce one of my projects to the Post Grad students studying Digital Direction…. I chose Breathe (2009) which was a film presented in 3 parts with several Transmedia aspects segueing each instalment.
 
We went step by step, with me introducing the interactiive / live event parts and having a Q&A session in between each film segment.
 
This was the first time I’ve unpacked the project in person.
Follow the story here: Breathe- Revived