Sometime last year, whilst sourcing new material for our radio show, Bridges, I discovered Synthwave, a style of music unashameldy influenced by the sounds of the 80's. Since then, bands like Gunship and Marvel 83 have been on regular rotation, my go-to tunes for relaxation and reflection amid the whirlwind of chaos and emotion that goes hand-in-hand with managing two small children under the age of three.
And since the 80s is where I first really fell in love with electronic music in all of its wonderful forms, I went back into our archive and had a good dig around, searching for some of our old songs, just to see if I could breath new life into those very early recordings. Although that endeavour wasn't entirely successful, I did come away clutching a small handful of possible candidates worthy of further development.
I've not been able to dedicate much (or any time) to my own music in the last three years. That's why I'm grateful to Radio Northumberland for the opportunity to put together Bridges. They got me listening to music all over again.
But it's still not enough.
It's been two and a half years since my last gig and four years since we released Synchronicity. The time feels right to kick start this adventure into gear again. I'm not done with Ion. That project has been incredibly successful although I want to drive the style of the next album back to a more cinematic feel, the same feel we achieved on Future Forever.
Alas, poor SkinMechanix. Despite some incredible airplay for the first single, Tension, the project has stalled, with several albums seemingly stuck in development hell and unable to move off the drawing board. I just don't know what is wrong with SkinMechanix.
But where next? If not those two outfits then where?
No... Surely not?
But you said... Never...
I did, didn't I?
But, why not?
I did say I wasn't properly done with it. :)
Or possibly T-Bass Two.
Yeah, I've been toying with the idea of re-launching T-Bass or to give its original title, Tranquility Bass, revisiting that old territory, those old themes but this time from the perspective of a composer who is now much older, a person who is significantly changed by life's events. One might even say matured. Or maybe not. :)
The theme of that first T-Bass album, The Infection of Time, was as you might imagine, Time, or rather the lack of it. Skip forward twenty seven years (yes, twenty seven bloody years!) and time takes on an entirely new perspective. Will I even be around in another twenty seven years? Or even ten years?
So that was the idea, the plan, the starting point.
And almost as soon as I'd sketched out a couple of ideas and knocked together a small collection of specimen graphics, Mick Garlick at Sequences Electronic Music Podcast announced that they had successfully re-assembled a recording of our first live outing, the EMMA IV concert from May 1997. Mick was the first person to actually give our stuff a public platform so...
This is S Y N C H R O N I C I T Y writ large, eh?
Whether you believe in synchronicity or not, this is, to me at least, a clear sign that the Universe still has some surprises in store.
I am not about to ignore this message.
We are delighted to announce the arrival of Freya Rose on Sunday 6th March 2022 at 0406 hours.
Mother and baby doing fabulously.
Hard to believe but Bridges, our radio show on Radio Northumberland, is one year old today.
Thanks to all those who have supported and encouraged the show. We start the second year in grand style - an interview with Synthe Legends Tangerine Dream.
A couple of months ago, we were invited to put together a show for Radio Northumberland, a community radio station operating out of Morpeth in the North East of England. The brief was simple - two hours of electronic music. Make it fun. Make it accessible. Keep it ‘Punk’, which matches the station’s rough ’n’ ready ethos.
We decided that this was an ideal project for us. Firstly, it would get us back into listening to music, any music. Secondly, it would get me back into the studio. Both of these are highly desirable goals. I’m still trying to break the habits of the last six years.
We’ve come up with Bridges, a show dedicated to modern, accessible electronic music. This isn’t synth pop. This is Machine Rock. Hard music. Yes, the focus will be on the darker side of electronics. That said, the format of the show is flexible and, three episodes in, we like to think we're getting a good balance between light music and the heavier, darker music we love so much. The emphasis is very much on local bands so if you're based in the North East of England and need airplay then drop me a line.
Why Bridges? Forty years ago, when I was but a teenage sprite, I would crawl beneath the bedclothes every Saturday night and listen to a show on Metro Radio called Bridges. Hosted by Jeff Brown, the playlist was fairly eclectic and this is where I first heard music by Tangerine Dream, Jean-Michel Jarre, Kraftwerk and the like. Alas, Bridges disappeared, as did Jeff Brown, after a very short run but the idea stuck and is central to the core of what e’re doing today - an eclectic mix of styles from around the world with an emphasis on accessibility. As long as it’s electronic and has a tune then we’re good. Doesn’t have to be pure electronic. Guitars are good. Vocals are good. We’re not snobbish.
We now have detailed playlists here and a limited archive too.
So far, so good. Wnat to be heard? Send me a message,
The new server has finally been restored. Somehow, and we're not sure how, but the domain appears to have become lost somewhere in the migration over from the Pickpocket's hosting service over to this new platform. It was working, but then it suddenly wasn't so... who knows? It's working now so we're good and, better still, we're free of those pesky pickpockets too.
Anyway, new server, new start. I'm back on music-related projects full time from now on. No more distractions. No more side-projects. No more weird shit. It's music all the way. Either that or we'll crash and burn.
One last go, eh?
For some time, certainly the last couple of years, we’ve been dealing with something of an identity crisis.
We’ve been gigging as SkinMechanix for around four years. During this time, our other band, Ion, has effectively been on hold. Truthfully, I’m not sure how that came about but I think it’s based in the kind of material we wanted to gig back in 2016, which was a harder, more guitar-oriented sound rather than the silky sweet, somewhat cinematic Ion approach.
Let’s not forget that Ion was tremendously successful in its day and, as well as a long line of well received live outings, they scored over one hundred and twenty film, tv, radio and game credits as well, and Future Forever is still a very popular title.
However, I think we were about done with the Ion sound by about 2014 and we stopped gigging around that time. I think we’d said all that we could with Ion or, at the very least, we certainly needed a break.
Skip forward a couple of years, to January 2019, when Tunnel Club approached us to do a support slot for their Northern Exposure event at The Little Buildings. We knew that the SKinMechanix would be too hard and aggressive for a club sound. But… we also knew that the SkinMechanix name was better known in this part of the world and had certainly enjoyed more airplay and column inches than Ion.
So, for the Little Buildings gig, we came to compromise - we would produce a set rooted in dance-based electronica but still go out under the SkinMechanix banner. That decision proved to be a very good move - Little Buildings gig was sold out with a waiting list for tickets and the gig itself turned out to be a lot of fun too.
A year or more down the road, what do we do? We’re facing a bit of a dilemma. Do we continue as one entity, SkinMechanix, and accept that the band has something of a Jeckyl and Hyde personality, even if that leaves the punters confused? Or do we dump the guitars altogether and just stick with the trance sound?
Or do we go back to the way things were with Ion able to focus on the dance/club sound and where SkinMechanix are free to return to their dark, subterranean lair on the outskirts of town?
This question has been nagging at me for a couple of months and it was time for a resolution. Consequently, we came to a decision over the weekend.
Ion will resume normal activities, holding on to the soundtrack filmic vibe but also taking on a more dance/trance/ club sound. SkinMechanix will continue with their darker, guitar-driven, angst-ridden Scandie Noir sound
Both outfits will return to working on film/soundtracks, effective immediately. We’ll also be updating the web pages over the next couple of weeks to reflect these changes.
An apology is necessary. Whilst I have been busy with numerous other projects, some musical, others not, I haven't updated this blog in several months. This is odd because I/we do have some news. Some fairly important news. So read on if you're at all interested...
Over the summer, I started working for The Royal Astronomical Society on a six month contract. I'm fairly confident that this contract will be extended for another six months, and then perhaps futher. As you might imagine, it's a lot of hard work and has reduced the amount of time I have available for studio and related work but it's nice to be fluid again.
I have been upgrading the studio on a constant basis, essentially filling in some rathert obvious gaps in the sound library. This is also going well. I've added Spitfire Audio's Albion One, upgraded OmniSphere and installed a few inexpensive plug-ins such as Scalar to improve the work flow.
Likewise, I began to work on two new lives sets, one for SkinMechanix and one for Ion. SkinMechanix will continue down the path towards that elusive industrial, rock-driven sound whilst Ion will move towards a more dance-trance-club sound. Why? Because there's a thriving audience for this kind of music in this part of the country and Ion's recent output is a very short side-step in this direction.
Music-wise, I released a few of the experimental pieces over on our Soundcloud page. Mostly, these are piano-based ideas centered around one of our side projects.
We've also been attending a lot of gigs - Wolfgang Flur (ex-Kraftwerk), Blancmange, Tunnel Club, Jon Hopkins, Gary Numan to name just a few. We're keen to hear a lot of new music, and also keen to support some of the bands who have supported us over the last couple of years. I also want to see if I can develop some new ideas for entertaining a small crowd. Standing behind a bank of keyboards is not at all sexy. There's no opportunity to move around and engage with the audience, and I really want to move around a bit more, get some kind of energy going.
One of my numerous side projects has been to supervise the re-release of Ion's Synchronicity. This album was originally released as A Fall of Stars although I was never happy with some of the mixes and the overall package was definitely not to my liking. It felt rushed and unfinished. I'm pleased to report that the revised album complete with improved mixes and some new artwork will be released as Synchronicity through Magnatune in the next couple of weeks.
And... finally... Well... Big News...
I am gonna be a DAD!.
Yep, going to be a father, hopefully in May 2019.
Welcome to another step along the road in this strange and wonderful journey...
Romance and the Telescope is a movie side project we've been working on every now and again for about six months.
It's a slightly tongue-in-cheek homage to those gorgeous French animations, which used to be a regular feature on British TV back in the sixties and seventies, the kind that you never see any more except at obscure film festivals and every now and again on Youtube.
Fester generated the characters and the backdrops, which were manipulated into something resembling a story using the programming language Processing. SkinMechanix re-arranged Ion's A Fall of Stars to give it a slightly Continental feel, and added a bunch of sound effects to create the weird dystopian noise-scape that is urban City life. The individual elements were then put together using DaVinci's Resolve editor.
This is an early version of the movie. We still have a few edits to sort out and some minor tweaks to one or two of the scenes but, for a first attempt, we're quite pleased with it.
See the whole video here:
We're delighted to announce that our US Label/Dealer Magnatune has agreed to release Ion's A Fall of Stars.
However, rather than re-release this album as-is, we've decided on another approach completely. Why? Because I was never, ever happy with the product, especially the artwork, which seemed weak and under-developed. The music too... sounds a little dull and lifeless when you do a side-by-side comparison with our current output.
So, A Fall of Stars will be given an entirely new facelift - completely re-branded and re-mastered throughout, and with a new title too.
We should be in a position to upload the revised tracks and updated artwork towards then end of the week, after which Magnatune will set a release date. I'm optimistic that the timescale will be just a matter of days or weeks. With luck, and a little bit of promotion, this should make the album available to Magnatune's enormous customer base as well as iTunes and Amazon. Fingers crossed...
We'll make a more formal announcement closer to the actual release but this, for once, feels good.
Best wishes from Dave and the team.
We just finished the final edits on the
The track featured was The Art of Falling by SkinMechanix.
This video was later used by the Newcastle Evening Chronicle as part of their coverage of the event and was seen by a staggering 12800 people in the time it was available on their Facebook site.
Updated 10-Jun-17 by Admin
We're delighted to announce that SkinMechanix have been invited back to play at the Never Mind the Ramones Mini Festival to be held in Gateshead on Saturday August 19th 2017. More details to come.
Ion's Logoscape from the album Future Forever featured on the trailer although we're not sure if it made it to the final cut.