30 January, 2022

Bumper 48 page new Audion!

Audion 67 (pdf publication)
...containing the usual diverse array of genres and styles, with things new and old. The cover article on King Crimson was requested way back in Audion 22, and the Dierks feature (which includes an interview with the legendary engineer of Cosmic Jokers member himself) finally came together after several months planning. Andy G got especially productive supplying Harald Grosskopf and Lutz Ulbrich interviews, of which the Ulbrich will be in the next issue. Along with those, we have the little-known Krautrock band Alcatraz, features on current bands: Abrete Gandul and Eye Make The Horizon, the usual customary dips into the avant-garde, the postponed Dawn label feature, and tons more reviews including a 2-page special on Seelie Court Digital. Also, another thing you may notice is that this new issue is a snazzier pdf, as I finally sussed-out how to do direct conversion from Microsoft Word!

Get it here: just £5
includes over 2½ hours of free audio!

Breeze Music - Ohr, Pilz, KM reissues article
with exclusive Dieter Dierks interview!
A glimpse of pages 1 & 2 of the article...

King Crimson Part 1 - 8 page article
A glimpse of pages 2 & 3 of the article ...

You can browse in low-res without downloading here: https://youtu.be/6o8yK2sswAA

29 January, 2022

Seelie Court Digital

Seelie Court is a new label specialising in British rarities and unreleased items from the 1960s and 70s. The label started with vinyl, but frustrated by the big delays at pressing plants they embarked on an experiment issuing very limited CDs. Lots of great stuff so far, including Bodkin, Flux and Motiffe. Covering all this is the first article on the label in Audion magazine.

You can buy selected titles at:

27 January, 2022

The Bandcamp interview

Here is the complete interview for Bandcamp,
1 November 2021


Questions: Tony Rettman
Answers: Alan Freeman

?#1: Please give some background on how and when you two became interested in krautrock, prog, experimental music and how it extended into making the magazine and Ultima Thule, etc

Well, that's a very long story. Some of the tale about discovering Krautrock is told in the introductory section of the new DVD-rom/download edition of "The Crack In The Cosmic Egg" which you can order here via Bandcamp at: https://audion1.bandcamp.com/merch and basically stems from my brother Steve and I discovering similar types of adventurous music. I'd started in music as a fan of bubblegum type pop with T.Rex as one of my favourites, Steve (who is older than me) had started with Deep Purple. As time went on, discovering early UFO, Pink Floyd, Kraftwerk and others, by the mid 70s it became a competition between us to see who could find the weirdest records. I also became mad about electronics after hearing the LP by United States Of America, and thus albums with synthesizers also became an obsession. So, we'd both scour all the local second-hand shops, junk shops, bargain bins and sales for anything that looked interesting. When I left school and got a job, travels on my motorbike took me to other cities, and then London after we heard via the fanzines Aura and Face Out that there were good second-hand stores in London. Via Aura we made contact with Steven Stapleton and visited him shortly before the release of the first Nurse With Wound album, and he introduced us to lots of music we didn't know, and then there was the famous "Nurse With Wound List" as well! We kept on visiting London record shops regularly into the late 1990s, and less so after that when bargain items became more scarce. Meanwhile, having first written some reviews and articles in Face Out, we started up Audion in 1986 and then Ultima Thule as mail-order in 1989, and the Ultima Thule record shop in 1991.

?#2: Could you give an idea of how you found out about some of the more obscure artists of the above-mentioned genres that Audion champions. Please give examples of particular ones that blew you away to the point you wanted to release music by them and/or spread the word about them in your mag.

Some of that I answered above. In addition, word spread about Audion, and we got it stocked in London shops like Rhythm Records and Recommended Records, plus Eurock distribution and Wayside in the USA, Musea in France, and ADN in Italy also stocked it. So, word spread and people would send us review items. That's how we discovered Robert Rich, The Land Of Yrx, Rancid Poultry, Tangle Edge and other obscure bands. Also, we'd write to obscure artists that we discovered on LP like Peter Frohmader, Ole Højer Hansen, Günter Schicket, etc., and having a small home produced cassette label (mostly for our own musical experiments) we managed to negotiate the release of many obscurities, and became champions of many artists that have since become "famous".

?#3: At what point did Audion hit its peak in regard to circulation? Did it happen with the interest in Krautrock that happened in the early 90s via indie rockers like Sonic Youth discovering Can, etc? What were your thoughts when a younger generation became interested in it?

I think Audion's peak would have been around 1997. After that a lot of independent shops and stockists started to disappear. At this time Audion had a healthy number of contributors, and meanwhile my brother Steve gave up writing in Audion (I think) as he'd decided that I was better at it and much more dedicated to it than he was. Anyway, as the wholesale orders for the magazine pretty much stopped, and we had now got an A3 photocopier in the shop, we now published it entirely ourselves. Audion carried on like this, less and less regular through to 2013, when without a shop any more and no way to print it ourselves, Audion finished as such with issue 58 in November 2013.

As to the Krautrock boom of the mid 1990s, including the publication of our own book "The Crack In The Cosmic Egg", those were also "boom" years for us.

As to younger generations discovering such music, I must have turned on thousands of people to such music by people visiting the Ultima Thule shop. But, as to how many discovered such music via Audion it's very hard to say.

?#4: Were you already plugged into the underground of krautrock/psych/prog/experimental music prior to launching Audion or was it something you discovered once the magazine got off the ground?

Already answered, I think.

?#5: Can you pinpoint a time when you felt music writing and/or music commerce shifted to the internet? How did Audion initially adapt to this occurrence?

The big shift started around 2002, I think. I'd already set-up a basic site for Ultima Thule in 2000, and continually developed and expanded it over the years. Some special out of print Audion publications I added to the web site as free html pages like the "Audion Guide to Nurse With Wound", "Audion East Euro Discography" and "The Crack In The Cosmic Egg: light version" of which the latter just covers the main artists 1967-1980 from the book. Meanwhile, I joined Facebook, became an admin on the Krautrock group and set-up our own "Ultima Thule, Prog, Psych, Weird" Facebook group to communicate better with customers and spread the word that Ultima Thule was still around, despite no longer having a physical shop.

?#6: How and when did Audion begin its Bandcamp page and what was the vision behind making the playlists, etc. The playlists are an excellent concept to coincide with the issues. I'm shocked some of the artists have music on the site. Did your involvement with Audion make you aware of some of them having their material available on Bandcamp?

Well, I first visited Bandcamp in 2010, when a musician friend: Chris Conway suggested it as a good place to host music. The very first release I uploaded was some unreleased  music by Triax: https://triax.bandcamp.com/album/archive-1 an experimental improv trio of which I'm a member. It took many years to document all our releases on Bandcamp, which now amounts to 20 linked Bandcamp pages all accessible via a special index page here: https://auriclemusic.bandcamp.com/album/bandcamp-index

So, as people kept requesting at Facebook that I start up Audion again, I started to look into how I could do it. As printing prices had somewhat rocketed meanwhile, which would have meant a £10 per copy selling price for a small run, I pretty much gave up on that idea. Then a friend suggested that I do it as a pdf. So, I started to see if I could work out how to do that without shelling-out several hundred pounds for the Adobe office suite. My solution was to keep on using Microsoft Word, which I was familiar with, and screen grab from that and thus create jpg images of each page, and collate the pages as pdf using Corel Draw. A simple solution, which meant I could also save text files for ease of access and searching, without the need for complex pdf embedding, which would have made the Audion issues too big for the allotted 30mb that Bandcamp allows per release.

So in May 2020 , with more than the usual amount of time on my hands due to lockdown, I did a test issue of Audion 40 (after a Russian contact requested it). That was actually done with just basic page scans, and is not of the much higher quality all further issues are. I initially uploaded it with just a blank Audio file to make it Bandcamp downloadable. But then, after I announced it on Facebook, a few bands/artists featured in that issue: Ian Boddy, Mushroom and Volcano The Bear, said as much as "why don't you include audio samples?" to which I replied "if I can have the permission to do so", after which I also asked Mani Neumeier of Guru Guru and he said yes as well. So, the "playlists", as you call them, just happened as part of the evolution of the project. And so, when I'd done a few more reissues, I thought "Well, this is going better than I hoped" so I put together the first new Audion issue in 7 years, that is Audion 59 which was launched on Bandcamp in September 2020.
?#7: What are your thoughts on all this rare music being available so freely on the internet? Records that went for ridiculous sums are now there for anyone at the click of a mouse to stream. Do you feel it cheapens the music's impact? How did streaming affect your store and the way Audion operates?

Things like that are hard to assess. It has largely killed-off the "thrill of the hunt" in that you can hear most things now before you buy quite easily. I think that latter factor is part of the resurge in vinyl limited editions, because collectors still like to have a physical thing that few other people own. It's some sort of status thing, that I've never really been into myself. I'm primarily a CD collector since the 1990s, although I do increasingly get stuff by download these days. This is also an advantage of doing a magazine now, in that most labels do digital promos for magazines, and often months before release. All this certainly affects the way Audion operates, although it's still basically the one-man show of myself, with my brother Steve acting as proof-reader/editor. We do get other writers, one regular being our old friend Andy G. (who used to run Lotus Records in the 1980s/90s)

?#8: You still do a print edition of Audion. Again, how has the internet affected the print run or interest in people buying the hard copy of the mag?

No, we don't do printed editions any more. All the ones we have for sale at Bandcamp are the very last old editions. But, never say never, if the interest grows and it becomes viable Audion may well become a printed magazine again.

?#9: Has the shift to the internet changed your passion at all for music? Have you discovered anything you weren't aware of that gave you the same thrill as discovering some obscure Krautrock album as a youth? If so, please give some examples.

No, I still have the same passion for discovering new music as I did back in 1975. I'm a really avid web searcher and use just about every method possible to discover music. I'm always on the look-out for the next great new band to promote. So, I'm also constantly contacting people to find out what they are up to. This has resulted in some great interviews in recent issues of Audion.

?#10: What keeps the Freeman brothers making Audion and running the mailorder business through all these years and changes to the music industry?

Simple answers: 1. the love of the music! 2. We wouldn't want to be doing anything else!