The second release on the tiny English label Waldo’s Records was a 45 credited to one “Nigel Simpkins.” The three songs on X. ENC. (1978), Simpkins’ only record, organized alien found-sound collages around a single, insistent drum loop. In the single’s fold-out liner notes, beneath numerous shots of the pseudonymous musician with his face obscured, a note from Waldo himself alluded darkly to the mystery man’s recent troubles in the music biz: “Nigel,” whoever he was, was forced to record incognito “to avoid 3 years of lawyer trouble he’d just left behind him, after leaving his previous band.”
Waldo was goofing. As it turned out, the man behind the shades was Martin “Cally” Callomon, a member of The Bears (see Waldo’s first release) and the Tea Set (see Waldo’s third release), who would soon manage the mighty Julian Cope and, later, the estate of Nick Drake. Cope remembers the impact of the Nigel Simpkins 45 in his second memoir, Repossessed:
[...] Cally Callomon had a punk pedigree, an experimental pedigree, a Krautrock pedigree, the lot. He knew his music because he had lived it. For fuck’s sake—this man was Nigel Simpkins.
Nigel Simpkins had released the first ever sampling record in 1978, to tremendous applause from the underground scene. ‘Time’s Encounter’ [the A-side of X. ENC.] had taken a drum demonstration record and added snippets of every hip record in the world to its Krautrock stew. Neu! Can, Stockhausen, SAHB, Amon Duul 2, Meryl Fankauser [sic], Dr. Z, Soeur Sourire, Metal Urbain, Doctors of Madness, Runaways, Residents, George Harrison’s Wonderwall Music, Pierre Henry, Charles Ives, Dashiell Hedayat’s Obsolete, Hymie Kangaroo Downstein’s classic Australian glam album Forgotten Starboy, it was all on that record, even Godley & Cream’s [sic] Consequences and the T. Dream freakout from Sci-Finance, where Lulu finds the guy’s head on the hot beach. The sleeve featured “Nigel” as a guy with Madcap Laughs-period Syd Barrett hair, wearing seven pairs of shades at the same time—it was an image that Robyn Hitchcock would copy a year or so later.
‘Time’s Encounter’ had sold truckloads and never been off the John Peel show, though Cally treated it as an inspired joke at best. What? Throbbing Gristle had cited it as one of the most forward-looking 45s of its time and everybody had run to cop some of its trip. Planks all, said Cally.
Admittedly, even after narrowing Cope’s list of sources down to those that actually existed, I can’t identify note one when I listen to X. ENC. However, I don’t listen to this 36-year-old disc to hear familiar samples—I listen to it because it resembles a crude field recording from a society that does not yet exist, and so sounds more futuristic to my ears than any EDM.
X. ENC. side A: “Times Encounter”
X. ENC. side B: “Scattered Strategies” and “Oblique References”