In 25 years in the biz, John Gosling, aka Mekon, sure has worked with some interesting, innovative folk. In particular, his time in experimental creative art collective Psychic TV with Genesis P Orridge, delivering a newfound industrial post-punk — and arguably the first acid house album too ('Jack The Tab'). The name Mekon was coined by the legendary jungle pioneer Goldie, after the 1950s cartoon character, while the pair were working together in further shifting the landscape of dance music.
Gosling also soundtracked some of the most forward-thinking fashion shows in the world with the late Alexander McQueen, whose work is still revered today. And there's his ongoing relationship with record label maverick Mark Jones too, of course, for whose label (Wall Of Sound) he supplied the first and latest release — his fourth album, 'Piece Of Work'.
“To say I had a plan would be wrong,” Mekon tells DJ Mag. “I am at that point now where I feel like I could start reintroducing sounds that I had been doing before with Wall Of Sound.”
Things seem to have come full circle for Mekon. “The sounds are kind of relevant to me again with that early stuff I did before Wall Of Sound,” he tells DJ Mag. “It was like these things sound okay to me, and they sound relevant again.”
'Piece Of Work' is a reflective album that seems to reference Mekon's past work while exploring a future sonic palette. “One thing I felt about this album was that I didn’t want to make things that are too different from the other stuff I've done on Wall Of Sound,” Gosling says. Mekon is right; 'Piece Of Work' is a selection of familiar-sounding musical moments, yet the tracks have been shortened for a richer clarity. “I feel that people's levels of concentration are lower these days and they don’t want to listen to seven-minute mixes so much.”
This is not just a dig at today’s Spotify culture, however. These new three-minute brevities stem from an age-old influence. “I was around when punk was around,” Mekon says. “I was very young but those were my first influences, going to see punk bands in 1976-77 and then getting into post-punk, which turned into that industrial vibe. And then getting into hip-hop.”
This punk ethos is one that has stayed with Mekon for the duration. “One thing that ties it all together is that kind of cut and paste method,” he believes. “The technology moved along with that as well, and it all seemed to follow on for me.”
Mekon had a hard time in 2010, losing two of his most influential music-related colleagues, Psychic TV band-mate Peter Christopherson and the fashion designer Alexander McQueen. This is reflected in 'Piece Of Work', with both creative geniuses featuring on the album. 'Sleazy Says' was originally made with Christopherson, as Mekon explains. “It’s quite a dark industrial thing, which was his stock-in trade. I wanted to put that on there, I've had it for 10 years. We have always collaborated down the years on various things, we always stayed in touch, and he was majorly influential to me.”
McQueen, meanwhile, is not shown on the tracklisting for good reason. “There is a track on there called ‘No Business I Know’, but I didn’t want to put 'Dedicated to...' because I didn’t want people to think 'Oh, he's cashing in on the name',” Mekon admits, “but that is pretty much dedicated to him and it started life as something I did for him as a soundtrack.”
DJ Mag wonders why the Mekon project has never ventured onto the road for a live outing. “I kind of had a choice here with this album and I thought I could do one of two things,” Mekon says. “I could put my money into doing it all live, or I could spend it on doing videos and stuff. And I decided to go down the video route for now. I think for the next album I really do feel like I want to do a whole sort-of live thing. I am going to tailor it so that it can be done live, so it doesn’t have so many featured artists, which is something I haven’t done with Mekon.”
'Piece Of Work' is an ingenious collection of Mekon tracks, constructed through fond past memories yet pushing developments in experimentation further than before. “I always try to follow my instincts,” he says. The instinctual tendencies have brought with it a sound that is heartwarming, and a story that moves even more than the stomping industrial beats.