Saturday, 13 October 2012

I recently made an album of instrumentals about open air swimming pools. I thought it would be interesting to embed into the recordings actual recordings of the Lidos themselves and in some cases recordings of the locations where the Lidos used to be (Brentwood and Purley Way).

I thought it would be fun to release these recordings on their own.

It's hard to imagine of what use they would be to anyone. However last year I bought a record of catering announcements on trains and I really enjoyed listening to it.

Sound has the ability to transport. Maybe these recordings will take you to a Lido.

In your head at least. Enjoy.

Darren Hayman 13, October 2012 released 13 October 2012

Field recordings by Darren Hayman, Johnny Lamb, JG Smeaton, Dan Mayfield and Patrick Morrison.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Lido - The Second Edition

The first edition of Lido has sold out.

Nearly every artist at times would wish their record company was ultimately more interested in the details, the aesthetics. Most ideas are rejected because they cost too much or take too long.

Frances and Claypipe are different. When the first run of a CD sells out Frances sees it as an opportunity to design a new second edition. Every repress for Claypipe has new cover artwork.

I absolutely adore this devotion to the product. Here is the first edition on the left and the second edition on the right. Every single sleeve is hand glocko printed by Frances.

You can buy Lido from the links on the right hand side.

And look! How many labels do you know that have a badge like this?

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Original Lido Paintings for Sale

The 8 remaining Lido paintings are up for sale here We're doing it by email. I hope you like them. Here's a selection here.

Frances prints from the exhibition will also be up soon.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Lidophobia in Vienna by Robert Rotifer

It's the end of the summer, and I came back from a trip to my old hometown Vienna over two weeks ago. The memory of the unbearable landlocked heat still lingers, mixed with much older memories stirred up by the city I grew up in. I always find myself going back in time when I'm there. It's the classic homecoming expats' disease.

So right now I'm grateful for the East Kent breeze, and the knowledge that the sea is only a brief car ride away. But as I listen to Darren's Lido record I wonder how different it would sound if he had had the same idea in Vienna. All that serenity, that idea of the lido as an oasis of calm amongst the urban chaos just wouldn't apply. If anything, in the Viennese summer outdoor swimming is at the very centre of social life.

This may sound idyllic, but as a boy I experienced it as a cheerful tyranny.

Picture yourself on a hot central European summer day in the 1970s, a child in a noisy tram rumbling up the hill towards one of the highest points of the tenth district, the ungentrifiable southern stronghold of working class Vienna. A mix of sweat and suncream hanging heavy in the air, my mum, my sister and I are clutching heavy bags full of all the stuff we are going to need for our day at the Laaerbergbad (a word unpronounceable to anyone not living in Vienna).

Eventually, the tram will reach the top of the hill, the passengers spilling out onto the almost-liquid pavements reflecting the heat of the merciless summer sun, everyone joining the stream of tightly denim-clad grown-ups' bottoms to queue at the gates beneath the tall 1950s clock-tower, collect our keys and find the cabins, where we get changed – to me the biggest horror of the whole excursion, either being on my own in the men's changing room or a little boy among grown women. After all this is Vienna in the supposedly liberated, onwards and skywards to a fairer new world Social-Democratic seventies, so feeling shy about the inadequacies your own body is seen as some kind of laughably backwards square prudishness.

Back out in the sunshine, the noise of hundreds of voices trying to drown each other out is deafening, kids are running to minimise the contact between their naked soles and the burning hot paving, while the grown-ups smugly promenade around in their flip flops, bronzed bellies exposed, afro hairdos and golden necklaces. There is music from various competing transistor radios and announcements over the tannoy. And lots of shrieks, laughs and splashing underneath the diving boards.

What I loved, though, was the smell of the hot fries that we would buy at the café in the afternoon once we'd gotten through the homemade food we had taken along in our tupperware containers. But first you had to go and look for a space on the endless lawns between the pools and the playing fields, where we would spread out our towels amongst all the other families, an endless sea of slouching bodies belonging to perfectly confident people whose eyes I tried not to catch. We always brought books. The light was so bright that when you closed your eyes you could still see the letters burnt into the back of your eyelids, while the sunlit white of the page glowed in all the colours of the rainbow.

I seem to remember two large pools and two small ones for children. One of the large ones had a wave machine that they would turn on at regular intervals. I am told the clock tower, which held and heated 100,000 litres of water to be used in the pools was pulled down in 1998, a year after my wife and I had moved to London.

At a capacity of about 6,300 visitors, in a Viennese context Laaerbergbad is one of the larger, but by no means the largest of lidos, that position being undisputedly held by Gänsehäufel which attracts record crowds of up to 30,000 on a busy weekend.

Essentially, Gänsehäufel (which roughly translates as “mound of earth where geese congregate”) is an island in the Alte Donau (“Old Danube”, the remaining bits of backwater from before regulation of the river Danube in the late 19th century, now renewed by springs and groundwater) featuring swimming pools as well as access to the surrounding beaches.

Across the water there are more lidos, among them the less dauntingly sized Bundesbad. In my teenage years, when a new underground line had brought the north side of the river within easy reach, this was the place where I would overcome my early dislike of urban outdoor swimming.

We went back there this summer with friends. It is impossible not to love the shady poplar trees, the finely pebbled beach, the water turned mild by weeks of sunshine, swimming out to the yellow buoys, sitting on the wire that holds them together, and having cheap but proper food at the terrace restaurant.

I told my friends of my former lido-phobia and how the Bundesbad always seemed calmer, more likeable to me than some of the livelier the ones. They nodded knowingly and told me it has a boho reputation these days. So I've been proved a snob again.

I guess the story of the Viennese lidos is a bit like that of the London ones: Promoting healthy exercise for the working classes, swimming pools for the poor. I read that the Bundesbad was in fact established in 1919 to teach soldiers how to swim. The Austro-Hungarian empire had just lost the First World War, so I suppose there was no more access to the Adriatic for the Austrian army, and the shallow waters of the Old Danube were the next best thing.

Like many of Vienna's lidos the Bundesbad was rebuilt in the fifties, which made for some fantastic, vaguely futuristic architecture. I took a few pictures of the changing cabins amongst the trees at my visit in early August and cropped them just now to the sound of Darren's record.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

The Swimmer a review by Virginie Selavy

This article contains spoilers.

A Hollywood oddity from 1968, The Swimmer stars Burt Lancaster as an upper-class suburbanite who, standing by the side of his friends’ pool on a summer afternoon, decides to swim home through all of the neighbouring pools. Based on a 1964 short story by John Cheever, it was adapted by Eleanor Perry and directed by her husband Frank Perry, with one scene helmed by an uncredited Sydney Pollack, brought in by the befuddled producers. The latter had trouble grasping the symbolic nature of the tale: through the central conceit, The Swimmer is really about a man in the midst of a mental breakdown slowly forced to face the reality of what his life has become.


 At first, Lancaster’s Ned appears happy and at ease among his wealthy friends. But as he progresses from pool to pool, more details about his life gradually emerge until the terrible truth about his situation is finally revealed in a heart-breaking finale. The progression from pool to pool is an allegory for Ned’s life, from youth to old age, and from success to ruin. The possibilities of youth are evoked in the first scene through the recollection of blissful, carefree swimming in the mountains with his childhood friend. From there, he moves to a pool belonging to his teen love, which prompts wistful musing over what could have been. At the next house, he convinces a young girl who used to babysit for him to come along with him. At first, it is an exciting adventure, full of laughter and youthful physical exertion, until Ned falls, spraining his ankle, and upsets the girl by becoming inappropriately, intensely, protective. Symbolically limping through the rest of the film, a now weary and vulnerable-looking Ned meets people who reveal the extent of his decline and fall.

As Ned’s change of social status becomes clearer, the world around him becomes increasingly hostile. Welcomed at the first houses he visits, he is called a gate-crasher when he arrives at the pool party of vulgar nouveaux riches neighbours he probably used to – maybe snobbishly – look down on, and he is eventually thrown out. As he tries to cross a busy road, cars beep and swerve aggressively around him. When he wants to swim in the communal swimming pool, he is initially turned away by the employee because he doesn’t have the 50 cents required, then humiliatingly made to wash his feet twice by the attendant, before attempting to cross an insanely busy pool in which he is assaulted by chaotic bodies, floating objects and loud noises. When he reaches the other side, he is confronted by antagonistic shop-keepers whose bills he hasn’t paid, and who reveal more unsettling truths about his family. It is that scene that makes you realise how bare he is. Lancaster spends the whole film wearing only a bathing trunk. Initially, it is a positive thing: Ned looks handsome, powerful, athletic. But gradually, it becomes a poignant image for the fact that he has lost everything: he has literally been stripped bare, physically, emotionally, financially, socially. Ned starts like the picture of success – an idle upper-class suburbanite whiling away a bright summer afternoon by the pool – and ends a failure shunned by all.

We are never told if Ned lost everything as a result of misfortune, or as a consequence of his own actions, although the scene with his beautiful ex-lover suggests he may have been at least partly responsible, his infidelity possibly one of the causes of his predicament. With scathing bitterness, Shirley recalls how he broke up with her because of ‘his duties as a father and a husband’. But when he puts sun cream on her back, she visibly responds to his touch. And when he shivers with cold she puts a towel around his shoulders. The spark is still there and Ned tries to reignite it, but Shirley angrily resists the pull of past love, the hurt obvious underneath the lies she tells him to push him away. As with the nouveaux riches or the shop-keepers, Ned is lost and confused, unable to comprehend why she rejects him so violently.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Lido Exhibition

Thanks to everyone who came out to Rough Trade East last night to see the Lido exhibition and to hear Darren play. The exhibition runs until the 16th Sept.