Teaching himself to play drums, guitar and bass, Ian formed his first group The Pineapples, while at school in Weymouth in his early teens, and in 1988 with Adrian Shephard, they assembled Brighton group, the Giant Clams. In 1991 Ian established his bedroom recording lab, which is still operational today, and began more concerted forays into electronic music with 4 track cassette radio collages. He started building simple tone generators, which have grown into a series of over 30 numbered Hellitrons. More sophisticated multi-circuit machines or Hellisizers, have augmented this unique range of self-constructed, creatively soldered instruments, which provide all the electronically generated sounds for Ian’s compositions.
Only a small amount of his electronic music has been properly released, but a sample can be heard via Soundcloud, and a list of all his appearances and releases can be viewed at Discogs.
Work on the Tape Leaders book led to the discovery of a recording of the 1975 graphic score Symbiosis, composed by Malcolm Pointon, originally published in Practical Electronics magazine. Ian created his own version of the score, and invited fellow electronic music makers to create their unique interpretations. He released the 10 track CD compilation Project Symbiosis in 2020.
Read more on the background of Project Symbiosis via an illuminating piece written by Mat Smith.
Below is Ian’s home recording lab showing a variety of his Hellitron tone generators.
View some of Ian’s short films to get a sense of how he uses his Hellitrons for creating electronic music soundtracks.
Four Experimental Films
10 Direct Animations
Educational Films with electronic music
Below is the kind of Hellitronic equipment set up Ian uses for live performances.
As well as composing with his self-built Hellitronic sound generators, Ian works extensively with reel to reel and quarter inch magnetic tape for the making of loops.
The Hellisplit is a small contraption Ian invented in order to slice VHS tape in half, so that loops can be made and the video sound information listened to on a reel to reel tape recorder.
Ian composed Electronic Music for Space Films, and created the cover for this 7″ record released in August 2019 by Polytechnic Youth. Alas there were only 99 copies, but examples of the music and films can be seen here: Helli-Space