Archive for the ‘VG+’ Tag

Neil Suddes RIP.   1 comment

RIP Neil Suddes. Crate-digger and music-lover extraordinaire, DJ, photographer and designer, sometime producer, bon vivant, very funny guy and fucking nice bloke, taken from us at 41.

The best tribute I can offer is those left by others here:

I found that thread because when I’d heard he’d died I had no other information and I simply googled his name. How fitting that people are still contributing at a vinyl-enthusiasts message board to a thread some 166 posts in, with many of those never having even met him in the flesh. In fact it’s startling to feel how deeply people are mourning the loss of an online presence, and how in keeping that feels with the guy I knew for what now feels like far too short a time. I’m annoyed that I didn’t know he posted on that board, a click away, when I’ve barely been in contact with Neil for about 8 years. We had an email exchange in February of this this year, for which I am now grateful, but reading our mutual promises at the end to stay in touch feels like a cruel joke. He also mentions in the emails a label project he is trying to get off the ground to do obscure reissue stuff (and I can’t think of anyone better qualified than Neil to do something like this) but also suggests that it might involve some of my music. Obviously that is an honour that I will never receive and I am reminded, not for the first time in my life, that it really is a good idea to make your hay while the sun is shining. When people die it seems that we achieve the state of grace that eludes us when we’re stumbling around awkwardly during our lives, and the shape and size of the hole that the person leaves is suddenly apparent in all-too-perfect clarity. In Neil’s case this is immediately apprehensible reading the VG+ thread. Even leaving aside what good company this hilariously dry, very talented and extremely generous dude was, personal qualities that his characteristic modesty could only try to hide, I can’t help but also wish that the world had made better use of Neil Suddes while it could. It’s like someone’s burned down a museum or a great library, because he was like a kind of machine for bringing the more hidden treasures of music to people, and my archivist’s soul is distressed by the loss of that huge, huge knowledge. I know a little bit about music, have more records than I’ve ever had pounds in the bank and I can boast that I can easily sort the possible wheat from the inevitable chaff in a box in a charity shop, but Neil made me look like someone who says they like Massive Attack because they think that that will make them look cool. He was the first guy I’d ever met that talked about things like Venezuelan Psych and handed me records that were worth £80 and up (and up – I remember him selling some British jazz record on Ebay for about £360) and made me realise that there was actually a much murkier and more arcane world than simply knowing about Can or The Residents or whatever. I still think of his record collection with awe, and that was the version of it that existed circa 2002, whilst the last email I have from him makes reference to the “walkways” that were evidence of an out-of-control vinyl habit, as he ruefully observed. Anyway it would be unseemly to talk about what his records might be worth but someone ought to check his Paypal account if they can.

A few drunken memories of nights with Neil:
Once me and my ex had a cocktail party and he overreached himself consumption-wise and ended up spending a good while lying on the back doorstep. The thing was, he was so charmingly, needlessly ashamed of himself and it wasn’t like we gave anything approaching a fuck by that point.

Me and Neil spent the evening of 9/11 finding the unbelievableness of what had happened that day impossible to numb with wastedness.

The night we listened to the Raymond Scott Mahattan Research Inc CD when it was released and it just completely recalibrated our understanding of electronic music one track at a time.

Also I remember one night round Panton St when a record got stuck and he jumped up, not to stop it repeating but to find another record to mix in with the locked groove, which he expertly did. Just typical of his subtle, inventive creativity.

For a while Neil produced his own tracks, and did a CD-R release called Bob’s Big Black Brake Block Broke under the unaffected SUDDES moniker. His great ear and exhaustive music knowledge made him a natural sound collagist but he was also adept at building on his cut and pastings with bold, richly melodic and producerly midi instrumentation. However, I always felt that his stuff fell short (to his ears) of what he wanted from it because he seemed reluctant to keep at it beyond this point. If he ever made any other music after he moved from Cambridge I’d love to hear it.

Neil also remixed a couple of my tunes around this time, Holy Fire and You Maybe Understand. They weren’t really remixes per se, more like total recontextualisations, turning my scratchy little sketches into these big, classy, almost showy numbers that were perfect for doing live. In fact Neil’s version of You Maybe Understand became one of those songs that I would include in sets when I felt like I needed big guns to win unfamiliar crowds over. The only problem with using Neil’s versions was that I would very often get people asking where they could buy them and I grew tired of hearing myself telling them that they were by this guy who had moved up North and didn’t do music anymore. In fact I finished with Holy Fire at Cargo in London the other night and this bizarrely insistent woman wanted to get hold of the song “because that one’s good, and I know good.” At the time I was in that post-show haze and mindful of the need to get myself offstage but later on it felt like a kind of eerily distilled version of the typical scenario. I must have told Neil about this phenomenon every single time we were in contact after he left Cambridge but he always seemed profoundly unfussed by the news. In any case it doesn’t surprise me that crate-digging was his preoccupation until the end. It was his thing, man.

Farewell Neil. We didn’t get enough of you.