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The best kept secret in music


"XLR8R Review - Her Friend the Blue Star"

Phasmid is the alter ego of a civil rights lawyer and dad from Birmingham, Alabama who was inspired to make this album by Kraftwerk's The Man Machine, old analog gear he bought in high school, and cartoons set in outer space. Its unusual birth aside, Her Friend the Blue Star is a beautiful little record, full of sweet (but not sugary) electro gurgles, strange textures, and toothsome glitch that reminds of a young Aphex Twin without all the angst. Sealing the deal is a second disc, where Bochum Welt, Tim Koch, Isan and B. Fleischmann perform detailed remix duties on Phasmid's lilting bedtime stories. -- Vivian Host

"Absorb Review - Her Friend the Blue Star"

A double album featuring Phasmid’s original LP and a host of remixes by various artists working on the fringes of electronic music, the first thing to say about it is how wonderful the artwork is. Everyone expects decent artwork these days, so much of it bypasses comment, but the cover of ‘Her Friend’ really illustrates what to expect between the covers. A twee, rather fairytale landscape of ice and snow, all done up in shades of blue and white with different scenes on the CDs for ‘Day’ and ‘Night’ respectively, this is a pleasure to look at. The contents are also an expression of this artistic presentation. The original tracks comprise a kind of twinkly childlike journey on the scale of Isan or another Morr records artist. The music is characterised by simple melodies, playful sounds and kitsch electro-pop. The tunes themselves are gently insinuating rather than instantly grabbing. The second CD develops this dimension further. Tim Koch’s first interpretation of ‘The Sun Pictures’ creates an eerie jagged landscape that conjures up Nordic plains and chilly sunrises. This projection of nature is compounded elsewhere on the remix CD; Isan reconstruct the sounds of the forest and birdsong in ‘My Smallest Ghosts’ for instance. Overall the second CD builds on the beguiling simplicity of the first, weaving strange sounds and counter-melodies in and out of the original tracks, always careful to preserve the delicacy of Phasmid’s project.

"Splendid review - Her Friend the Blue Star"

Obviously, not all composer-hobbyists are worthy of celebration, but occasionally you get wind of one, an anonymous dude who has whiled away his time in a bedroom studio honing a superior craft, unknown to the general hipster population (and that includes my hip-ass self).
On his debut album, Kell Simon puts away his attache case (he's a civil rights lawyer by day) and gets his bleep on. As Phasmid, Simon concerns himself with futurist electropop instrumentals, which isn't exotic in and of itself; it's how he gets there that sets him apart. Her Friend The Blue Star doesn't hold an iota of sampling, nor was a computer ever utilized in its making. This one was done the old skool way, the manly way, and just the way Simon's heroes, Kraftwerk, would have done it. Well, okay, Kraftwerk didn't have a hard disc recorder, but they did have a bunch of analog gear and a romance with pop sensibility. Phasmid taps into the purity and warmth of Moog and Roland, as well as a lifetime of musical study in the realms of guitar, cello and classical composition, and carves out a heartfelt, winning sound from sine wave basics.

It would be easy for Phasmid to push his bleepbloop manifesto into videogame caricature, but he avoids that. The artist is a soundtrackish sophisti-crat; his melodies are not the hooky, get-stuck-in-your-mind kind. Rather, they are avenues toward a buoyant, atmospheric songcraft, bubbling with foot-tapping rhythm and coy innocence, tempered by technical knowhow and musical theory. Fans of Marumari or Lowfish will connect with the lackadaisical circuit board tones of "Drunk Of Opals" and "Electrod", each boasting their share of cascading analog synths, a hundred bubbles rising to the top of a glass of ginger ale. On "Las Mañanitas", Simon recruits his three year old daughter to add au natural laughing and singing; the result is a painfully cute song that tugs slightly at the heart with its wide-eyed charm (so what if Boards Of Canada did it first?).

Things in Phasmid's world aren't always so blithe. "The Sun Pictures" marks a slightly sinister bout with electro fetishism, while "Kitty Cat Bye Bye" pushes a skittering microhouse agenda that impresses, even when you forget that it was made sans computer. There's also a second disc of Phasmid remixes awaiting you upon reaching the album's chilly end. Disc Two is a nice little bonus for the IDM sect (there are inclusions by Bochum Welt, B. Fleischmann, isan and Headphone Science), but as the mixes don't really take the originals very far, this stunt is ultimately superfluous outside of attracting the interest of listeners unfamiliar with Phasmid. Come to think of it, that's not a bad thing at all.

- Splendidzine


Full Length
“Her Friend the Blue Star” (Skylab Operations 2xCD 2003)

“Cooper is on Bubbles” (Skylab Operations 2003)
“Thrift Shop” (Piehead Records 2003)

Remixes and Compilation Appearances
Figurine - “Reconfigurine”(BBPTC)(remixed track “The European Beauty” for full-length Figurine remix cd)
“Friends We Met Along The Way” (Cactus Island Recordings 2003
“Vibon 2" (TBTMO Records 2003)
"2088 Compilation” (Skylab Operations 2002)
“Nowe:le” (Vivo Records 2003)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Does anyone really want to know where the maker of these songs lives (Birmingham, Alabama), what he does all day (is a civil rights lawyer), what his favorite synthesizer is (how could you possibly choose?), his favorite food (sushi) or his favorite record ("The Man Machine" by Kraftwerk)? Could anyone possibly care that he grew up in New York and Washington, D.C., studied guitar, cello, and classical composition, then later philosophy and the history of science in college? Does anyone really want to know that he writes and records his music on old analog synthesizers and drum machines?

Kell Simon (aka Phasmid) has been collecting electronic instruments and recording electronic music for over fifteen years. He has released an album and two EPs of lush, high-flying elecro-pop and has been remixed by such artists as ISAN, Bochum Welt, and Figurine. Phasmid's live shows combine electronic instrumentation with vocoded vocals and live acoustic instruments. Phasmid's next full-length release, featuring vocals by Naoko Sasaki (12k/Happy Records), Dennis Driscoll (K Records), and others is due out in the fall of 2005.