Colleen Murphy or DJ Cosmo as she’s known in clubbing circles is a one woman force for great sound in public. She has her own record label, Bitches Brew, runs the Lucky Cloud sound system and has hit the headlines with Classic Album Sundays.
By Jason Kennedy
Classic album Sundays involves playing an entire classic album on vinyl to a roomful of people who sit in silence for the duration. Albums that Colleen has played to an appreciative audience include Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions, Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love and most recently Nightclubbing by Grace Jones. Pink Floyd made the headlines by refusing to let iTunes sell individual tracks from their albums so Colleen’s approach would certainly meet with approval in that quarter.
On her Cosmodelica blog she calls Classic Album Sundays “a communal and audiophile listening experience”, which given the 50 seat venue and the use of a Koetsu Urushi cartridge, tonearm and step-up transformer for the front end is hard to argue with. These elements along with a classic Mark Levinson ML-1 preamplifier are part of her home system although there she has a Nottingham Analogue Spacedeck turntable instead of the more robust, and portable, Technics SL-1100 used for the ‘experience’. These events take place in a room above the Hanbury Arms in Islington where people are actively discouraged from tweeting, texting or doing anything but listening while Colleen plays the album of the month.
The choice of album comes from Colleen and fellow DJ Greg Wilson whose Living to Music blog espouses the idea of concentrated listening and encourages others to sit down to the same album at the same time for a hands across the ocean kind of joint musical immersion experience. This inspired Colleen to take the concept out of the home to a place where anyone can come and listen to a great album on a great system in an environment that’s highly conducive to musical appreciation and it’s been a hit. Visitors are now encouraged to book their seat in advance to avoid disappointment on the day.
Despite her name Colleen does not come from the Emerald Isle but a distant colony namely Boston, Massachusets, a place where she got a job in a record shop as a teenager and, it seems, never looked back. As a result she has an enviable record collection by anyone’s standards, a collection that she has apparently been having to pare down for practical reasons yet which still ranks among the most impressive I’ve encountered.
As DJ Cosmo Colleen hosts shows on Ministry of Sound Radio, Samurai FM and Deep Frequency, you can hear some of the stuff she plays on a DJ Mag podcast. She is also involved with an upcoming exhibition about Syd Barrett at the Idea Generation gallery until April 10th. In the summer she will be taking the classic albums system to the masses at the Bestival, Camp Bestival and Vintage festivals and for these events will be playing albums that have been suggested by Sundays fans.
I visited Colleen to find out more about her hectic musical life and how these events came about. See the Cosmodelica blog for details of the next Classic Album Sunday event.