A walk around the ESP Neighbourhood with Magic Roundabout as your guide. Follow the stars and chart a course through the ESP Universe. Because the sound system wants it sweeter, and we hate the capitalist system.
Even The Cracked Let In Some Light is in fact a pyramid, made of three paths in space and time that have joined together to open a third eye:
Path 1: In March 2020 Disciples was invited to contribute a DJ mix for the I Heart Noise blog. Intended as a one off, Searching For The Perfect Pitch was a chopped and screwed sound collage of the label’s releases to date, splicing together bits of Black Lodge, His Name Is Alive, Bogdan Raczynski and Model Home. In a somewhat throwaway Factory Records-esque move we assigned it a catalogue number for kicks: DISCMIX1. Immediately after the mix went out, the world went into lockdown and we were stuck at home for the next year. Partly to stave off boredom and anxiety, and partly to fill the hole left in our lives by not being able go out and dance to records in a club setting, an unplanned mix series was started, each accompanied by some cut-and-paste artwork glued together at the kitchen table and an excuse to dig through records not pulled off shelves for years. Occasionally following a theme (the electro and synth-pop sounds of DISCMIX6 THEY CAME AT NIGHT or the heavy dub of DISCMIX11 Time Is A Moment In Space) but more often than not a free-wheeling (and yes very self-indulgent) journey through whatever tunes were piled up next to the Disciples hi-fi that particular week. Lately we’ve been inviting other contributors to make mixes, starting with Dan Russell’s stellar contribution for DISCMIX14, Immediate Dreams. We knew we wanted to do something special for the upcoming 20th mix in the series, and maybe make a physical version to mark the occasion, but what could this be?
Path 2: In September 2021, an album came out compiling the long-lost and overlooked recordings of a Manchester-based group active in the 1980s called Magic Roundabout. The 1987 recordings were coaxed out of the band archives thanks to the persistence of associate Ian Masters of Pale Saints, who took them to his longtime friend Warren Defever of His Name Alive, now working as a mastering engineer for Third Man in Detroit, for advice on how to get them sounding as good as possible. “I walk into the studio, Warren [Defever] is working away,” Third Man Records’ Dave Buick says about the label's introduction to the group. “Feedback, hypnotizing bass line, perfect female vocal harmonies and a drummer so minimal you just know they are standing coming out of the speakers. All I could see was stripes and paisleys. I became instantly obsessed with tracking down this mystery band's complete discography. ‘They don’t have a discography you say?’ Just like that my obsession had become dangerous and unhealthy.” Ian Masters comments: "Magic Roundabout: The mysterious missing link between The Velvet Underground and pragVEC. How did the music industry miss these talented teenagers? They were fucking idiots, that's how. From super-catchy pop songs to ambitious 20-minute improvisations, the band had everything but a recording deal. Ambitious live performances where friends were satisfied with spitting out fluff often forgotten in 2 and a half minutes. Finally, the tape that was thought to have been lost was discovered during a search for a lost newborn in Manchester's slums, is now being remastered and presented for everyone to hear. You lucky lucky mofo's..."
Path 3: In October 2021, we followed up our exploration of the early home recording archives of His Name Is Alive (taking in three vinyl volumes and the anthology boxset A Silver Thread), with the release of the Kingdom Of Heaven LP by a ESP Summer, a longstanding (but seemingly dormant for many years) collaboration between Warren Defever and former 4AD labelmate Ian Masters (yes, them again). This album found the duo circling around a composition first recorded by the 13th Floor Elevators on their 1966 debut album, taking it from a simple but beautifully rendered cover version and slowly disassembling the arrangement of the subsequent three versions, overdubbing flutes, percussion, drones and other instrumentation until the original song collapses and something original emerges out of the aural mist.
These pathways to unknown worlds then merged thanks to the efforts of Magic Roundabout’s Nick Davidson, celebrating his group’s recordings finally hitting record racks with their own mix series, uploading various old cassette mixtapes that band members and friends had made back in the 1980s, along with more recent efforts. One of these in particular caught Disciples’ ear: ‘friendly masters alive he bee many moons since’, a seriously deep dive through some of the more esoteric and barely available music that Warren and Ian had made collectively or solo over the years, alongside collaborations with other musicians (including Nick himself), and records put out on Ian’s Friendly Science Enregisterments label. Kicking off with a lost rocksteady gem from His Name Is Alive on a Brenda Ray/Naafi Sandwich tip ,and then running the gamut from street recordings of what sound like crickets (?), sideways takes on lounge exotica, illbient beat excursions, pop songs that sound like they’ve been recorded on answering machines, spaced out white noise, right though to a sneak peek of new Ian Masters project Isolated Gate,. It’s a truly magical journey in sound. And THEN they followed it up a few days later with the equally mesmerising sequel, ‘other side third eye’. The paths were aligning, the pyramid was forming in our mind, messages were sent out to the chief protagonists, located variously in Southern Japan, the American midwest, and Northern England, collages were hastily assembled, tape duplication was booked, and here is DISCMIX20: Even The Cracked Let In Some Light!
Mix and selections by Nick Davidson (Magic Roundabout). Most music by Ian Masters and Warren Defever, with contributions from David Rothon, Rie Takeuchi, Nick Davidson and Tim Koch.
friendly masters alive he bee many moons since
- His Name Is Alive - Sound System Wants It Sweet
- Pink Eye Sore - Pocket Dogs
- Wingdisk - field recording
- Friendly Science - Brazil
- Luminous Orange - Puppy Dog Mail
- I’m Sore - Cook The Robot (pink remix)
- ESP Summer - cicadas & piano
- Isolated Gate - Binary Nomad (optimised lathe pre-mix)
- Sore Pink Steal - Ire
- His Name Is Alive - You Need A Heart To Live
other side third eye
- ESP Neighbourhood - Golden Heart Of The Year
- Sore Pink Steal - Black Eye
- Sore Pink Steal - Useless Hen
- ESP Family - I Hate The Capitalist System
- Friendly Science Orchestra - Beyond The Clouds
- I’m Sore - Arrival Of The Elves
- Onkonomiyaki Labs - The Sock Elevator
- Sore Eye Tired - Silver Saw