Electronic Chaos

How Chaos Made Electronics

Answer – by hand mostly.

The Crawling Chaos’s works in the public domain derive from two main sources – viz the crawling chaos of Jeff & Rees and the nothin’ of Paul & Holly.  Each had their own equipment and ideas…

For Jeff & Rees it’s not generally known that a great deal of The Crawling Chaos’ sound came through early experiments in electronics.  They started with a bought guitar or two, a practice amp and an inherited upright piano, but the rest of the gear was by and large home-made simply because commercial products were horrendously expensive.  Jeff had a dinky acoustic (which I still have, amazingly) and then got his red electric, from Woolies or similar I think.  After a short while he ditched the neck by measuring it, cutting a piece of thread to the exact length, and then him, me and Keith (Wear) trawled decent music shops in Newcastle surreptitiously measuring expensive guitar necks in the racks, holding them up to the eye checking for straightness, and then he bought a decent one that was a match.  It was a Ibanez neck.  Don’t ask me what model – I wasn’t that interested at the time!  I have no idea why we had to sneak around – he could’ve just asked, but I guess he didn’t want the sales hassle….


At that time there was a boom in hobby electronics and a slew of magazines surfaced both supplying and creating this boom.  Things like:

The American Radio History website has many links to full scans of the magazines, month by month and it’s interesting to see the advertisers at the time from whom we bought bits!

This isn’t an exhaustive list……

Most have been lost but I found a few bits which I used a lot and have scanned.  These are the images.  You can now find them in their situation in ETI Circuits #2 on the American Radio History website

From memory, I think:

  • The studio & stage mixer is a low noise thing from ETI
  • Guitar and keyboard effects from PE as a guitar effects box circuit
  • VCA/VCO from PE
  • Phaser from Elektor
  • Bucket brigade flanger from Elektor
  • Various amps, small  mixers and power supplies from ETI
  • Ring modulator from PE
  • Very simple fuzz box used on bass guitar in “Mummy’s Tummy” – a tech tip in ETI!!

Most stuff was heavily customised by me (SP).

Floor Work – Bench Work

Sounds – it’s all about the sounds

For Rees especially (it’s me writing this, after all!) it was all about the sound coupled to the particular emotional aspect that a given piece of music endowed to the mind.  Jeff I’m sure had a similar mindset though at the root of it he’d always want to be Lou Reed… 😉
Thus it was that we’d find ways to copy sounds we’d discovered by other artistes and generally experiment with bits of tape, shortwave radio transmissions or plain electronic malfunctions  for something….interesting to the ears.

What We Did

I’d religiously trawl through the magazines every month – I had standing orders at the newsagents for the first two mags in particular in my list.

Some circuits we’d breadboard on the table or carpet and plug a guitar or mike in to see the effect, twiddling the potentiometers to see if anything good could be had.  Anything good was made up on proper circuit boards, some bought ready made and others made by me.  As far as I can remember Jeff bought ready made kits – I’d have a mix of ready made and others that I created, modified the circuitry and made custom circuit boards from PCB sheet, rosin (say), ferric chloride etching solution and meths…  It can be messy.

Almost everything was tested with a spider’s web of wires on the carpet to see if it was any good for us.  If it was, we’d box it up.  This went on through most of 76, 77 and a bit of 78.

Most of the designs that hadn’t been finalised I completed on my return to Stakeford from Wales at the end of 77.  I soldered away for weeks while Blyth Spartans progressed through the FA Cup up to West Ham, Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street was top of the charts and Metro Radio played endless adverts for the new BMW 7 series.

After that it was almost job done.

During this time I wrote to Holger Czukay and had a wonderful reply which I kept on my desk in front of me as I soldered away in this melange of Baker Street, BMWs and Blyth Spartans .  He’s now dead but I’ve just read a strangely poignant obituary on the Can website:

A true European, Holger salvaged wit, humour and artistic integrity out of a childhood that should have left him traumatised: uprooted as a toddler from Danzig at the outbreak of world war two, resettled in a bombed out Berlin. He was a laughing contrarian and artistic adventurer. More than the rest of his band mates, he retained a strong sense of theatre, goofing off like a dadaist. To some extent it was his trickster’s desire to push against the grain in Can’s later development that finally caused the group to finish as an active unit.

Maybe we’re all a bit like that.


Some stuff had individual aluminium cases made from bent cut-out sheet, others had pre-made aluminium boxes, other circuitry was bundled into larger boxes and formed a music effects box with 1/4 inch jack sockets being used to give full flexibility to the various in-outs of each module so that they could be chained in various ways.

Jeff’s box was covered in red felt (mmm nice) and mine (Rees’s) I painted black and called it “the tube”.  I still have it!  They can both be seen in the various live and studio photos.

The Toota

I (Rees) also made an electronic organ, painted it green, and called it The Toota”  I gave it the serial number R1.  I made it while I was living in Mid-Wales in 1977 and Hubert, a builder cum undertaker made the case for me.
I used this through the effects chain of “the tube”.

The toota used circuits from Maplin Electronics just after they started up.  I had a 61-key keyboard and instead of having two manuals I had two switches under each key with each switch triggering a single tone but an octave apart.  Thus pressing a “A” key would give two tones, one at 220Hz and the other at 440Hz, say.

Each tone could give an almost pure sinewave (flute) output graded in 5 push-button steps up to a fizzy sawtooth/square (strings/reeds) type tone.  I had a balance potentiometer set up to give a feed between the two octave notes.

It was polyphonic and the whole lot played through the various effects in the tube was er… interesting and quite often very hard to control and predict.  I developed a technique of playing certain key combinations to give clearer sounds since some blanket chords just put white noise through everywhere and drowned out the rest of the band….

The key notes in the toota were derived from a Maplin board that had a high frequency oscillator (a few MHz – essentially the same as the clock generator in all digital computers – everything has a clock, mobile phones too…) that went through a custom chip (essentially the heart of everything) which produced a fair approximation to the 12 notes in the equal tempered scale and came out as square-waves.  These were almost at bat level of hearing.

Each of the 12 notes was then successively divided in two producing square waves of descending octaves all the way down to about 16Hz.  (Divide by two chips are really cheap and simple flip-flop based circuitry). The particular tonal sounds were then made destructively with filters on the square waves.  This is the opposite to constructing a tone through synthesis (check out Fourier…).

I thus had a 61-key manual that could play all the notes of a 73-key manual.

  • If required.
  • Which in the end wasn’t very often.
  • It was a pretty noisy device….


Both Jeff and I initially incorporated pre-made 100W high quality amplifier boards in our boxes from Crimson Elektrik, who are still going.  The amps were great hi-fi amps with short circuit protection but with the power supplies being inside the boxes made everything a bit hummy.

So afterwards they were pulled from the boxes, individually powered and then the low voltage split & balanced power supply to each of our boxes and other effects was supplied through long heavy duty cable from one central power supply I made up and boxed using an old transformer I’d taken from a hi-fi amp I’d made 3 years earlier…..

Why low voltage supplies?

Much of our electronics used op-amps.  Check this link to find out what they are….  Most, but not all were 741s and I guess between us we had just under 200 in our cases.  Op-amps require split voltage power, most of them with a Vmax of 18V.  Most of the magazine circuits said 12V so I set the voltage rails at +15V and -15V to get a bit more headroom in the signal.

Steve (FAtty) Savage
Steve Savage testing the headphone amp in the drum booth

In those days there were no chopper power supplies so unless you used PP9 batteries your power had to come from the mains and get transformer-ed down.  This created hum and so I made the separate low voltage supply with long leads to take the transformers as far away as possible from the microphone and guitar input….

Headphone Amp

I used a circuit found in ETI to drive the studio headphones after some time.

Headphone amplifier circuit from ETI magazine
Headphone amplifier circuit from ETI magazine

It was cheap but very effective.  It’d drive several pairs of headphones in the drum booth and elsewhere.  The circuit is shown here.

Mixing Desk

A bit like Bill Gates’ supposed quote about 640k memory bing enough, Jeff and I thought 8 channels would be enough….. har bloody har as we rapidly found out.

I made an 8-channel stereo mixer based on an ETI design built around LM381AN chips.  These were very low noise for the time and could support balanced microphones.  I of course made some alterations to the circuits to give separate foldback and echo outputs as well as customised re-enter points for the signal chains.

After Holly’s arrival I joined his 6-channel mixer to it with similar electronic fudgery so we now had 14-channels to play with.

Tape Decks

As is well-known, we’d bounce sound from whatever tape recorders were to hand time after time.  While twiddling with an Akai reel-to-reel with GX heads borrowed from “Jim of Durrim” we discovered the power of echo…..echo…..echo……echo….

This discovery gave us a great deal of the CC sound.  I used two channels of the mixer to receive return feeds from the stereo tape deck, the time delay deriving from the record and playback heads being an inch or two apart.  So the chain went like this:

  • Instrument -> mixer channel 1
  • Mixer channel 1 echo out -> tape left input
  • Tape left output  -> mixer channel 7 input
  • Mixer channel 7 echo out -> tape right input
  • Tape right output -> mixer channel 8 input
  • Mixer channel 8 echo out -> tape left input

Mixer channels 7 & 8 were then fed into the mix providing “echo”.  The level of feedback was generally controlled with ch8 echo send.

Since all mixing level controls were independent any degree of echo could be achieved.  You can hear this a lot in our work.  Tangerine Dream used a similar technique I think, listening to this track, say….

Keyboard Sound

I particularly liked the sound of my keyboard, gently flanged at slow VCO speed set to be slightly different to the echo delay interval.  I used it a lot but not to the fore as really, it gets very boring to the listener.  Great to play though – just as you introduce the flanging into the echo – it’ like a drug rush….  only saying.  🙂

The Effects

Recent ads for Colorsound Fuzz Wah Pedal (2018)
Recent ads for Colorsound Fuzz Wah Pedal (2018)

Jeff had his old Colorsound wah-fuzz-swell pedal which go for stupid money nowadays considering they only have a few transistors inside as we found out when we had to fix it a few times…  BC107 I think, from memory.  Most fixes were to get out the old Servisol spray to de-grime the carbon track in the pot.  Servisol is still made and is made in Bridgwater where I lived for many years.  The mixer tracks benefited a lot from it too.

From memory, the rest of our stuff was similar in many ways with two particular circuits derived from Practical Electronics magazine – a fancy fuzz and a fancy wah.  One fuzzed in various ways and the other filtered in various ways.  Each circuit had their own VCO & VCA with each VCO having separate outputs and each VCA having separate inputs.

VCO & VCA are at the heart of old style analogue synthesisers such as used by Walter/Wendy Carlos.  These can be easily converted or used to control a VCF.  This is precisely what these circuits were – they were defined as guitar effects circuits but the reality is that they were synth parts in punk skirts.

Other effects were:

  • rubbish spring reverbs,
  • a fantastic ring modulator,
  • 12 and 3 comb phasing units,
  • three channel tone controls which I made and designed from scratch
  • graphic equaliser (pretty hummy)
  • mike and line level amp plus the above 3-channel tone control
  • separate 3 channel mixer with 3 channel tone control….again
  • outboard flanger using the new-fangled-at-the-time bucket brigade electronic chips – ours had the SAD1024 chip.

Tweeters, Power Amps and Things

I was much impressed reading about piezo tweeters when they first came out since I’d blown tons of standard coil ones and these things had an inbuilt high-pass filter so no funny crossover units needed to be made.  For main speakers I used ready made boxes from Wimslow Audio (still going) and Celestion drive units as I couldn’t afford the JBL’s that Can used…. 🙁  They had a similar specification to the JBL’s and a few dB more sound output cf other drive units at the time.

When the boxes were bought I ditched the 100W amps and I made a properly boxed stereo amp of 225W rms per channel using the circuit and parts from Maplin Electronics.  It was bloomin’ heavy because of the massive transformers yet was easily repairable since it used the readily available power transistors like the 2N3005 which again, are still available now….

This was our PA  – which we also used in the studio……

What’s The Fucking Point of All of This?

Good point.

It just demonstrates that it took ages for us to get off the ground.  As I’ve mentioned elsewhere we didn’t have a real idea of what we’d do.  WE liked Can, Iggy, Bowie, Tomita, Walter Carlos and others and at that time the Maclaren’s creation the Sex Pistols had made an explosion in simple grit sounds of angst and wistful stupidity, so we more or less did the same but all stirred up. Chaotically if you like.  Crawling to an unknown end.

The electronics that we made undoubtedly moulded our sounds since anything created has to sit within a framework of available technology – e.g. you cannot hope to make phasing sounds from drums and a flute made from papyrus reeds, can you?

Likewise, the political and social environment moulded our compositions in their own way.  And yes, Margaret Thatcher was and still is a devil.

People like her are the cause of all social ills across the world.  I always said that I’d dance on her grave, but no need – the fact that for the last years of her life, every morning when she awoke she asked “where’s Dennis?” and had to be told that her beloved husband was dead, that’s good enough.  But her legacy rolls on and it is actually getting worse.

There’s a real nastiness in the world that far transcends the mere scheming greed of slavery and torture of previous centuries.  The nastiness is that the so-called educated and civilised peoples of the world have not learnt from earlier horrors and seek to descend back into the black pit.  It’s like The Enlightenment never happened sometimes.

Really, it’s harking to the subterranean primitives that HP Lovecraft often alluded to in some of his more darker racist meanderings….  WE should learn from this shite – not use it as a fucking template!

Mr Anthony Chester

Time is an Interesting Thing

There’s an interesting URL here to Amazon where some of our art is sold – note the copyright assertion on that web-page.  It’s not Crawling Chaos!  Funny that.
Or take this other Amazon URL – note the copyright assertion on that web-page.  It’s not Crawling Chaos!  Funny that.
Or take this Apple URL – note the copyright assertion on that web-page.  It’s not Crawling Chaos!  Funny that.
Or take this other Apple URL – note the copyright assertion on that web-page.  It’s not Crawling Chaos!  Funny that.

There are more, but Apple and Amazon are the biggest download players…  Here are four screenshots of the above, detailed.

Background to this Post

Some folks may know that I live in France…  So what, you may ask?  The issue, for my communications, is that both web and mobile reception is iffy in my house.  I live in the countryside and in a dip, well hidden from gits in a thick stone walled house.  The land-line is fine.

I recently had a call on the mobile that cut out (happens a lot) and later I found 2 voice messages.  Normal eh?  Well sort of….  It was Mr Anthony Chester, or Baaldy Chester as we all referred to him decades ago.  Maybe not Gazza, but the rest for sure. 🙂

Some years ago in a gesture of faith I removed all the references to him of “Baldy” and changed them to “Anth” – which was how he liked to be known.  This was not a bland gesture on my part because at that time I asked for false references and copyright assertions to be removed from the stuff that he’d released without my consultation. (The few folks on the planet who have read these pages may remember these circumstances).

Latterly, I reinstated the words.  There has been zero activity for too long in the Chester dept.

What This Post is For

So, threats about untruths and falsehoods on my part in his voice-mails have forced me to disclose exactly what the issue is; I will demolish Mr Anthony Chester’s claims whilst simultaneously correcting and clarifying some stuff on my part, as I naturally do.

The images and links at the top are just part of it, and the most visible to casual web users.  He is falsely claiming copyright for much of our works.  It cannot be plainer than that and yet, after many complaints by all of the extant band members and the passage of a large amount of time, he still keeps them there.

n.b. There are other websites where the works are downloadable, for cash or otherwise: spotify, emusic, soundcloud, rhapsody etc – if you’re in the game you’ll know. But the reality of the web is that no-one has had to pay for music if they really don’t want to for over a decade now.

FesterBesterTesterFrom Mr Anthony Chester’s angry voicemail voice I get that he’s probably a bit pissed off.  So fucking what?  If he had any empathy then he’d sharpish realise how pissed off everyone (including the dead members) in the band are.  He obviously has no empathy.

Raging he was.  I may upload the audio here so folks can see both sides of what goes on?  But for now, I know how old we all are and the likely physical appearance because of this.  I know what I look like, it’s on my website!  It matches the view in the mirror most of the time.  Apart from the derogatory nickname that Jeff invented for Eddie (Fatso) no-one on this website was ever called “fat” as claimed by Mr Anthony Chester [I had to check using phpAdmin to be sure though!  One never knows].  Neither was anyone actually described as “bald”.

So to clarify: the words on this website are as accurate as possible but since I’ve been the main contributor and I’m trying to make sense of ever-distant events it could be my opinion until I know otherwise.  I can change my opinion, but on this particular topic there’s no rush yet.


Chester DIP Copyright
Chester DIP Copyright

Maybe Mr Anthony Chester is confused?  In his voicemail rant he mentioned going on about who played what on what tracks?  Maybe he is thinking of the illegally attributed “Danger In Paradise”, which is attributed to Crawling Chaos.  It is available here on Amazon, say.

True, many Crawling Chaos members had a hand in it and it has artistic merit (though that is not the point at all), but no-one in Crawling Chaos, who played as Crawling Chaos, would actually attribute it so.  No-one.  Not one fucking person.

In hindsight,

  • Maybe it could have been attributed to Danger in Paradise since many tracks are already on the previously released Last Pose, both including the eponymous track anyway?
  • Maybe, as many bands do when they collaborate as in say “x feat. y” (so that people are clear about what happened during the work’s creation) it could have been like Danger In Paradise feat. A Truncated Crawling Chaos or Danger In Paradise & Friends or Danger In Paradise collab. Foetus Products & Friends or something like that?
  • Maybe it should’ve been called “The Last Pose 2” or “The Last Pose, Resurrection” by Danger in Paradise, my obvious choice?
The Last Pose
The Last Pose

But no, it was none of that.

And for all those who did play on the tracks (which Mr Anthony Chester angrily voice-mailed saying he could name), where is the fucking money?   Less bluster, less false hurt, more actual doing what should have been done in the first place.


Maybe Mr Anthony Chester is angry about these words regarding CC & DIP where I formerly said at the end of the Myths page?

“…but it was not ever Crawling Chaos and to tag the two bands together is plain deceit.”

Not nice, I know. But hopefully, the preceding words clarify the deceit that I see in front of me, and others, though they have not admitted it so here, only to me personally and in emails.  I have clarified the sentiment after considering the above words. It’s now politer, and clearer.


And yes, Mr Anthony Chester, for all those downloads, where exactly is the fucking money?  Quoting directly from an email from Jeff to me,

I see where you’re coming from believe me, but Anth asked me for my permission to put the LTM re-releases on iTunes and collect the proceeds on behalf of us all yonks ago, so that isn’t devious behaviour to me for what that’s worth. – Jeff Crowe

  • Q. So what does it all mean?
  • A. Where’s the fucking money?


  • It is deceitful to publish works without permission from an artist – e.g Nice & Chester never asked me, or Jeff for that matter.
  • It is deceitful to claim copyright where none exists – e.g. Chester’s obvious deceit in the screenshots above
  • It is deceitful to attribute works to another artist – i.e Chester attributing his collaborative works (that all who joined were certain was under the DIP moniker) to Crawling Chaos
  • It is deceitful to boost one’s own works by false flagging artists without their permission on works – i.e Chester attributing his works to Crawling Chaos
  • It is deceitful to withhold payments to artists – i.e. all the download works for which artists performing-as or contributing-to works managed by Mr Anthony Chester

Now in all of this documenting of the band (The) Crawling Chaos, I (sp) have tried to maintain a banter much like the days when the band was extant – not this post though, there’s little banter so pissed off with the bloke am I.  Anyway, in banter mode there were a host of nicknames and epithets bandied around, some alcohol fuelled…..  For the most of the time I was just called Rees, but stupid cunt happened many times… Knackerdan was another good one.  It was the same when Jeff and I were at school – we both got called stuff we didn’t like – I was called twizzle, moustacho, fartin-martin (clever, eh?  I even got called that in The Cumberland Arms by some of the coterie, can’t remember who; it does not matter one bit.) &c.  Jeff got particularly annoyed when only certain people called him Harry, some he didn’t mind.  Funny that.  Chester got his nickname from Jeff, baldy.

So fucking what?  It’s all part of the Pitmatic Test, Chester being one of the failures.

Mr Anthony Chester seems (IMHO) to have a very thin skin on this point yet still uses this as a blustering pretext for obfuscation of his ongoing deceits, which really, would not take much time to fix on his part.

As I have already said,

  • I have created the website from opinions and facts which are compiled from many sources.
  • When something changes and I discover otherwise, I change my opinion, or it gets reinforced.  This is one essence of Buddhism – the freedom to have an opinion and the freedom to be allowed to change an opinion without chastisement.  n.b. an opinion is different to an idea, say like having an idea to create a law to take away poor people’s money is wholly different to having an opinion about taking poor people’s money away.
  • I change the website following further information, omissions, typos and yes, correcting some things that are not as clear as they should be.

But one thing I am clear on is that Mr Anthony Chester, IMHO, has not changed, despite his talk of meditation, Buddhism and the like, some years ago by telephone as deflectionary words of appeasement to me.

Libel, malicious falsehood.  Look them up.  As I see it, I know where they are (as a reminder, check the beginning of this posting).

I advise Mr Anthony Chester not to pull the history thread hanging from the Crawling Chaos t-shirt and quickly fix things at his end – then magically,  under The Principle of 3000 realms in a Single Moment, opinions will change and personal irritations will disappear.  Maybe his karma will get fixed?  I sincerely hope so.  Really, I do.

One final thing Chester, don’t call, don’t visit.  The contact form on this website will be my only method of dialogue with you until things change.  You have no idea how pissed off I am with your petty chest puffing, and auditory dialogue, for now, is right out.  Paraphrasing Jeff in his first email to me:

Q: What’s the difference between Mr Anthony Chester and a bucketful of phlegm?

A: The bucket.

flotsam jetsam

You see, Anth?  It’s not just about “the music”.  It’s about everything.

      The voice of Peter Cook

We Are Not Nyarko-san

Crawling Chaos v Nyarko-san

Amazingly, H.P. Lovecraft’s creation of The Crawling Chaos has spawned a whole panoply of creativity across the globe – more so since the web has taken off.

Initially, it was only ourselves, the North-East England band Crawling Chaos that used the name.

Now, apart from a succession of mainly metal-type bands, there are art-house film studios, blogs, bloggers and websites that use the name as well as a minor animé industry in Japan.  That’s where the Nyarko-san in the title is derived.

One day I’ll compile a list, but not now.  Tempus fugit etc.

Foetus Products Offline Against USA SOPA Act

No more to say. Stop SOPA if you value web freedom and freedom itself. Even our shop Foetus Products is dead, and will be until the weekend.


Code on Foetus Products derived from zachstronaut