ZEN TV
by Various Artists

— Released 26th January 2004

Welcome to ZenTV.

Since the mid-nineties and the groundbreaking Stealth parties at the Blue Note in Hoxton Square, Ninja has been almost as well respected for its engagement with visuals as it has for its audio. The two came together on this massive retrospective of almost a decade of experimentation, innovation, humour and weirdness.

Let’s get the spec out of the way first.

The ZenTV DVD has twice the capacity of a normal DVD, containing as it does 35 promo videos from th...

Welcome to ZenTV.

Since the mid-nineties and the groundbreaking Stealth parties at the Blue Note in Hoxton Square, Ninja has been almost as well respected for its engagement with visuals as it has for its audio. The two came together on this massive retrospective of almost a decade of experimentation, innovation, humour and weirdness.

Let’s get the spec out of the way first.

The ZenTV DVD has twice the capacity of a normal DVD, containing as it does 35 promo videos from the label, a fifteen minute audiovisual mix and a 30 minutes audio mix from Hexstatic. And as if that wasn’t enough, the DVD has a menu system which means you can watch the videos either in the order we intended, randomly, or chronologically from the oldest to the newest or the newest to the oldest. You can also look up any specific act and check out their videos and album art. Or just leave a gallery of some of Ninja’s finest covers running in the corner of the room as a kind of ambient art installation dahlink… Mwah.

But that just scratches the surface, really, 'cos after all, in the kingdom of the blind, content is king. Or something like that. You know the music is going to be good (we hope you know the music is going to be good), but what about the visuals?

Well, one advantage with not having hit records (Coldcut’s 'Beats & Pieces' remains our one top forty for 12 years work) is that you don’t have to worry about getting your promos shown on any of those hellholes of visual mediocrity where all the bands have to look fabulous and if they don’t, well you better make sure you put some models in there who do…instead, you can be (whisper it) creative.

Which is why some of the top up-and-coming names in video direction and animation, including established directors like Alexander Rutterford (Amon Tobin, now working for Radiohead), Sam Arthur (DJ Vadim) as well as young turks like Conkerko (Bonobo) have worked for Ninja. Because they know that if they pitch an interesting, visually striking, innovative idea, they will be left to get on with it without interference. Fizzy Eye made their first music video for Wagon Christ (the truly excellent 'Receiver') and have since gone on to do commercials for Honda, proving that a track record with Ninja doesn’t ruin your business prospects.

Beyond this, artists like Kid Koala and Jaga Jazzist often even commission their own videos, working with close associates to find the perfect match between their sound and the director’s vision. There are artists on the label who are intimately involved in the creation of their own videos, whether it’s the Scruff cartoons that make up the basis of his Cosgrove Hall-animated 'Sweet Smoke,' the pioneering audiovisual cut-ups of Hexstatic and Coldcut, Funki Porcini’s satires of adverts or his weird, otherworldly concrete moving abstracts.

Overall, since those early audiovisual mash-ups, the driving force behind all of Ninja’s visual work has been that the video is not merely an unrelated promo item to sell a single but should be intimately related to the sounds it represents. The budgets may be small, some results may be more effective than others, but there’s no denying that the attempts to realise this ideal are never less than interesting.

Are you sitting comfortably?

ZEN TV
by Various Artists

— Released 26th January 2004

Physical

DVD (ZENDV85PAL)
 

Physical

DVD (ZENDV85PAL)

Tracklist

  • DVD
  1. 1
    The Lighthouse
  2. 2
    What Are You Looking At? (DVD video)
    Album only
  3. 3
    Ruthless
  4. 4
    Animal Chin
    Album only
  5. 5
    Sweetsmoke (video)
    Album only
  6. 6
    Theme From Battery
  7. 7
    Timber
    Album only
  8. 8
    Kokubo Sosho Stealth
  9. 9
    El Cargo
  10. 10
    Auto
  11. 11
    Displaced
  12. 12
    Verbal
    Album only
  13. 13
    Pick Up
    Album only
  14. 14
    Ruthless  (Reprise)
  15. 15
    The Missing Suitcase
    Album only
  16. 16
    Kokubo Sosho Stealth
  17. 17
    Hokkaido
  18. 18
    Sculpture
    Album only
  19. 19
    The Clean Up
  20. 20
    Atomic Kitchen (DVD video)
    Album only
  21. 21
    It’s On
    Album only
  22. 22
    Insomniac Olympics
    Album only
  23. 23
    Ninja Tune
  24. 24
    Receiver
    Album only
  25. 25
    Day
    Album only
  26. 26
    DJ Set
    Album only
  27. 27
    More Beats & Pieces
    Album only
  28. 28
    Get a Move On! (video)
    Album only
  29. 29
    Rockit Soul
    Album only
  30. 30
    Natural Rhythm
    Album only
  31. 31
    Basin Street Blues
    Album only
  32. 32
    All That You Give
    Album only
  33. 33
    Something Wicked
    Album only
  34. 34
    Pinball Number Count  (DJ Food edit 2003)
    Album only
  35. 35
    Options In The Fire
  36. 36
    Never In And Never Out
  37. 37
    Sunflower Girl
  38. 38
    Re:volution
    Album only
  39. 39
    Chicken Spit
    Album only
  40. 40
    Wall Crawling Giant Insect Breaks
    Album only
  41. 41
    Flutter
    Album only
  42. 42
    Flying Wonders
    Album only
  43. 43
    Honeydew (video)
    Album only
  44. 44
    Fender Bender
    Album only
  45. 45
    Video mash-up (15 minutes)
    Album only
  46.  
    Play All (15)

Welcome to ZenTV.

Since the mid-nineties and the groundbreaking Stealth parties at the Blue Note in Hoxton Square, Ninja has been almost as well respected for its engagement with visuals as it has for its audio. The two came together on this massive retrospective of almost a decade of experimentation, innovation, humour and weirdness.

Let’s get the spec out of the way first.

The ZenTV DVD has twice the capacity of a normal DVD, containing as it does 35 promo videos from th...

Welcome to ZenTV.

Since the mid-nineties and the groundbreaking Stealth parties at the Blue Note in Hoxton Square, Ninja has been almost as well respected for its engagement with visuals as it has for its audio. The two came together on this massive retrospective of almost a decade of experimentation, innovation, humour and weirdness.

Let’s get the spec out of the way first.

The ZenTV DVD has twice the capacity of a normal DVD, containing as it does 35 promo videos from the label, a fifteen minute audiovisual mix and a 30 minutes audio mix from Hexstatic. And as if that wasn’t enough, the DVD has a menu system which means you can watch the videos either in the order we intended, randomly, or chronologically from the oldest to the newest or the newest to the oldest. You can also look up any specific act and check out their videos and album art. Or just leave a gallery of some of Ninja’s finest covers running in the corner of the room as a kind of ambient art installation dahlink… Mwah.

But that just scratches the surface, really, 'cos after all, in the kingdom of the blind, content is king. Or something like that. You know the music is going to be good (we hope you know the music is going to be good), but what about the visuals?

Well, one advantage with not having hit records (Coldcut’s 'Beats & Pieces' remains our one top forty for 12 years work) is that you don’t have to worry about getting your promos shown on any of those hellholes of visual mediocrity where all the bands have to look fabulous and if they don’t, well you better make sure you put some models in there who do…instead, you can be (whisper it) creative.

Which is why some of the top up-and-coming names in video direction and animation, including established directors like Alexander Rutterford (Amon Tobin, now working for Radiohead), Sam Arthur (DJ Vadim) as well as young turks like Conkerko (Bonobo) have worked for Ninja. Because they know that if they pitch an interesting, visually striking, innovative idea, they will be left to get on with it without interference. Fizzy Eye made their first music video for Wagon Christ (the truly excellent 'Receiver') and have since gone on to do commercials for Honda, proving that a track record with Ninja doesn’t ruin your business prospects.

Beyond this, artists like Kid Koala and Jaga Jazzist often even commission their own videos, working with close associates to find the perfect match between their sound and the director’s vision. There are artists on the label who are intimately involved in the creation of their own videos, whether it’s the Scruff cartoons that make up the basis of his Cosgrove Hall-animated 'Sweet Smoke,' the pioneering audiovisual cut-ups of Hexstatic and Coldcut, Funki Porcini’s satires of adverts or his weird, otherworldly concrete moving abstracts.

Overall, since those early audiovisual mash-ups, the driving force behind all of Ninja’s visual work has been that the video is not merely an unrelated promo item to sell a single but should be intimately related to the sounds it represents. The budgets may be small, some results may be more effective than others, but there’s no denying that the attempts to realise this ideal are never less than interesting.

Are you sitting comfortably?