For those of you limbering up to accuse me of resting of my ‘BBC Resident Hauntologist’ laurels (in truth I have yet to be challenged regarding this, but it can only be a matter of time) I hereby present a small taster of a much bigger BBC-related hauntological study planned for later on in the year. It’s going to be a sequel of sorts to ‘Ghosts Of Bush’ but I can’t tell you much more than that, partly because I’m sworn to secrecy, but mostly because I simply haven’t got a clue how it will end up, other than a better idea of what it WON’T sodding-well sound like, thanks to some rather tiresome recent developments. But let’s focus on the positives – I have some nice new demos on my hard-drive and when the time is right and I’ve tweaked them to perfection, hopefully quite a large audience will get an ear-full.
Speaking of new demos, this track ‘The BNCS Blues’ came about during a quiet half hour alone in one of the studios used by the BBC Arabic programme ‘XTRA’. You might remember this fine show very kindly ran a feature on the Bush House record last year, so I knew they wouldn’t object if I borrowed their studio and used it to muck around instead of doing any of the remotely useful or sensible things that I’m actually paid for. And thanks to the BBC’s new ‘transparent’ policies, when I say ‘alone’ I actually mean ‘sitting in a glass box in full view of the entire building’. Great days.
Thrillingly, BNCS stands for ‘Broadcast Network Control System’ and consists of a computer screen containing a number of ‘shortcuts’ to lots of different things useful to the making of current affairs radio. A bit like a virtual patch-bay, you can assign different audio feeds to your mixing desk, connect to different studios, monitor different radio networks, have someone thousands of miles away read your headlines, or you can even scream ‘HELLO CAIRO, ARE YOU THERE!!!!!????’ at five o’clock in the morning. The choice is yours.
One other thing a BNCS panel has is a number of tone generators. To explain it to the small number of regular visitors to this site who aren’t impossibly geeky, a standard 1Khz tone (or sine wave – gosh, I’m even starting to bore myself) is used by studios to test sound levels, to send signals to each other and on rare occasions make weird ethereal noises. Everything here was made using a number of these tone generators and an automated time-check signal similar to the speaking clock, only better of course because this is the BBC, darling. Of course I have to admit that although BNCS generated every sound you’re hearing, most of the trickery took place in the edit. The tone generators only play at a single, unwavering frequency and volume, but as they are a ‘pure tone’ they can be sped up or slowed down to create pretty much any pitch you’d care to create, including that rather splendid low end. And although I pride myself on very rarely working with additional effects, unmodulated sine waves sound remarkably flat, so a little reverb here and LFO there helped give the piece some atmosphere. Not a bad evening’s work. Sound really is the most incredible medium when you stop to consider that everything here with the exception of the automated voice started out as this:
In other news, I can confirm that Chris and I are booked to play our first ever Howlround gig at The Great Escape Festival in Brighton.
This is partly thanks to Resonance FM curating it’s own area at the ‘Day For Night Stage’ (Brighthelm Centre, Queens Rd, BN1) on 16th-18th May, and I highly recommend coming down if you can make it to catch some of the very special performers spread across the three days, including Khuljit Bhamra, David Thomas, Jali Burama Mbye, Kinnie The Explorer, Birkwin Jersey, Beatrice Dillon, Fletcher, Ian Helliwell, Monster Island, Elle Osbourne Trio, Saturday Sun, Why I Onions and more. Pretty auspicious company to be mixing in, and I must confess to a certain amount of trepidation of taking our notoriously unpredictable set up on the road (or indeed plugging it in to the mains, as only last week we discovered that one of our machines had spent at least part of it’s career ON FIRE). It’s a total step into the unknown for us and the sort of thing that’s really quite hard to rehearse, as most modest three-bedroom houses aren’t really built to accomodate five tape machines, loops, mixing desks and PA systems without displacing housemates and upsetting neighbours. Fortunately we’re on at noon on 18th, so unless the proverbial one man and his dog file regular copy for The Wire, we should just about get away with it. Cross our spools and hope to die…
Are you in the mood for soft voices? Lovely hula hands? Let’s end our routine with the ‘leg-over’ movement. You are going to relax. You will relax. Make yourself comfortable. You are enjoying a massage, which is being skillfully applied. You walk naked. You get on this escalator. Down towards the floor. Gaze at it intently. Now don’t lose it. I don’t want you to be sick. Take it through the nose. Let the face go. Very soothing. You’re flat on the floor again. Blame the gypsies. Let them touch the body. Feels good.
(Or follow this link for the download)
To put it it in a nutshell, today’s programme concerns the fundamental truism that if one single deep and sonorous voice is thought to be relaxing, then simple logic dictates that FIVE deep and sonorous voices occurring simultaneously must surely be ULTRA RELAXING. I certainly hope it proves so, as I’m predicting a mass out-pouring of of costernation and grief after I drop the following bombshell: This is the LAST episode in the current series of ‘Looking Good, Feeling Great’.
I know, I know – you’re inconsolable, right? But just think of all the happy times we’ve all had together over the past four weeks. Indeed, I’d like to thank everyone for their support, in particular the owner of the email address “total****@resoNONCEfm.com” and the proprietor of the website http://upmyf******a**.com (one and the same, apparently) who commented that they ‘quite liked it’. Can’t imagine someone who refers to themselves as ‘total****’ ever using the word ‘quite’ can you?
Ah, we’re all the same…
Thanks to everyone who came down to Cian O’Neill’s excellent ‘Music and Paintings’ evening last week. I worked out that it was my first solo live performance for a good few years and although a pretty low-key affair (just me and a laptop) it consisted almost entirely of new material, including tracks from the Savamala project, a few rough demos from the preparatory sessions for Howlround’s live debut next month and even some outtakes from another rather large and shadowy comission-in-progress, about which I’m sworn to secrecy for the moment!
Hopefully all this new material will begin to surface in the coming months as I desperately try to finish off projects and make token efforts at meeting deadlines. But for the moment, this little extract is all I’m going to tempt you with. It features a number of tape loops created by myself and Chris Weaver during a feverish weekend spent in preparation for Howlround’s live debut at the Great Escape Festial in Brighton (further details forthcoming) and sounds rather good turned up loud, which bodes well!
Having had so many enquiries about the possibility of performing ‘Ghosts’ live, I must say that I’m beginning to wonder how closely such a performance is going to be able to replicate the very specific sounds and grooves heard on that album. Listeners expecting us to faithfully recreate the sound of those hallowed corridors on stage might well be disappointed, as the machines are already taking us off in strange new directions. We fed a few basic loops into our two Revoxes and suddenly we were off on a quite different path. As I’ve harped on about before, the beauty of working with tape and the thing that appeals to me the most is it’s unpredictability – you never quite know what you’re going to get. This can result in either triumph, disaster, or a weird combination of the two. I personally think it’s going to sound amazing, but how closely it resembles the original ‘Ghosts Of Bush’ album and whether you consider that lack of resemblance a good or bad thing remains to be seen. Only one way to find out, I suppose…
Good morning, my fine beauty. You’ve probably already had the feeling you may experience over the next few minutes – What are these people talking about?
In other words, welcome to one of my top hits. This week’s show will be just like a rock concert, except it won’t have the singers, the instruments and the crowd noise is ‘kinda missing’ too. It’s disappointingly sad. Are you beginning to understand? It sure covers a lot of material in one place, doesn’t it?
(Or follow this link for the download)
That’s awesome. You’re very smart. But it will sound strange to you. Let me give you a frosty drink from my thermos. Hopefully this will make you feel free and fulfilled as a woman.This week’s missive slams together two diamentrically-opposed LPs into a titanic soundclash. The first is Stanley Z. Daniels’ 1969 LP ‘Sex For Teens – Where It’s At’. The second is one of the most astonishing cultural artefacts I’ve ever had the pleasure of dropping a jaw over:
If you can listen to Paul’s efforts to convince the object of his desires to spread sun-tan oil on his back without your own skin crawling you’re more of an alpha-male than I am.
There’s also a Green Goddess disco workout record bank-rolled by Renault Trucks. Listening to it, it’s hard to believe anyone born before 1992 would have the slightest idea of what sex was, let alone require instruction regarding where it was ‘at’ or how to easily pick it up.
OK, that’s probably enough staring at the Green Goddess for now. Many thanks to ace record collector and soundtrack obsessive Mr. Jonny White for pointing me in the direction of some of this week’s treasures. To show our gratitude, let’s all head over to his super blog, ‘Soundtracks, Library Music and All That Jazz’, shall we? I knew you’d come running for it. Tune in again next week for the final episode in the current series when things get REALLY unpleasant – we’ll be learning how to relax. The results are almost unlistenable…
Wotcha, Cock. Welcome to London. Home of the whelk, Old Joanna, The Pearly Queen and of course the mighty Resonance FM.
There it is, love, originally aired last Friday at 7pm, repeated this Tuesday at 2am. On this week’s show guided by the vintage voices of several competitively avuncular narrators and a grand piano, we’re taken on a whistle-stop audio tour of London, a fantastical city entirely populated by bad actors. We might go by underground. It’s quicker by tube, as you people say. The Police’ll be after you if you’re not a good boy. We’ll also have a cockney sing-song and enjoy a reggae tune about the joys of commuting. The great dome. A moon in the sky. Makes you think of horses, don’t it?
Join Robin The Fog as he digs up a plethora of inspirational, aspirational and instructional recordings of highly dubious vintage and embarks on a cut-and-paste odyssey that is by turns amusing, absurd and, on at least one occasion, almost unbearable.
(Or follow this link for the download)
Looking Good, Feeling Great runs throughout April, and I’m really rather fond of this week’s edition, which was consists largely of three separate ’tour-guide’ records, a Linguaphone 45, and a man with an enormous 1960s tape machine concealed up his jumper, all edited seam-fully together with the usual bag of hammers. But, of course we’re by no means on virgin territory here. Almost as long as there has been a city on the banks of the Thames, there have been people being silly about it. In fact, let’s close business here with a completely spurious, unrelated coasting on other people’s brilliance, namely the greatest depiction of London ever made:
Call me old-fashioned, but that Palace Guard’s sudden about-turn from Parade-Ground bark to coquettish titter never fails to make me laugh. For ages. And then to demand that all of my friends and associates watch it, forgetting they’ve already seen it several times before. Not that I’m obsessive or anything, oh no.
Tune in next week where we’ll be learning how NOT to have a relationship, a subject on which I consider myself a veritable soothsayer…
I will have no part of the current trend for branding things ‘amaze-balls’ (or indeed it’s antithesis – ‘disappointi-balls’ at a guess), but if I did I would be amaze-balling all over THIS:
This is the work of writer and painter Cian O’Neill who is curating an evening of his work entitled simply ‘Music And Paintings’ next Thursday 19th April at Thursday 18th April, 6-10pm at Unit E, 199 Eade Road, N4 1DN Hackney
To shamelessly copy and paste from his very fine website, where you can admire a wealth of his other work: Cian O’Neill is an Irish painter, writer and graduate of Chelsea College of Arts School of Painting. Previous to Chelsea College, he studied at Central Saint Martins. He was selected for Futuremap, the University of the Arts New Graduates Show and short-listed for the Catlin Arts prize. [His] work is influenced by, amongst others, Max Ernst, Rembrandt van Rijn, Willem van Aelst, Francisco Zurbarán, Francisco Goya, Diego Velázquez, Matthias Grünewald, Jean Ingres, Michelangelo da Caravaggio and Michelangelo Buonarroti.
That’s the paintings taken care of, then. The music will be supplied by no-doubt equally visceral live sets from the ever-excellent Brood MA, the redoubtable Yearning Kru, and the really rather splendid Joane Skyler, who’s recent ‘Orz Side 1′ for NTS Radio contained some of the dirtiest bass I’ve heard in a good while. And not forgetting Mark Barrett (though I can’t seem to find a decent hyperlink to regale you with!) and myself. I’m a huge fan of Cian’s work and Brood Ma and Yearning Kru are old friends, so it should be an amazing night. For those of you who insist on such things, there’s also a Facebook events page. And it’s FREE! What more could you insist on, for heaven’s sake?
See you there, then. At the moment I have absolutely no idea what I shall be playing, so I’m hoping to surprise us both. Possibly not Ant and Dec…
Good evening, citizens of Earth. Presenting the first episode of my new miniseries ‘Looking Good, Feeling Great’ for Resonance FM!
Join Robin The Fog as he digs up a plethora of inspirational, aspirational and instructional recordings of highly dubious vintage and embarks on a cut-and-paste odyssey that is by turns amusing, absurd and, on at least one occasion, almost unbearable. Essential listening for adolescent salespeople seeking holiness or anyone trying to give up smoking on the moon.
Episode 1 – What A Space Ovation!
For this first adventure our hero Bob (and a girl called Betty) journey to the moon in the futuristic year of 1985, the first human being under the age of 21 (and the first woman – Betty, not Bobby) to ever travel so far without parental supervision. On their way they eat some strange peaches, take a nap, dream of a horse from the West Country playing party games, listen to the hooting of space owls, learn about Hydrogen and, upon arrival, attend a lunar rave where they dance to a psychedelic version of ‘Greensleeves’. Worth a listen just to find out what happens when a crowd of scientists and technicians ‘go wild’…
Significant portions of this programme were culled from the 1965 Happy House LP shown above. Other excerpts were taken from ‘The Space Alphabet’ (with thanks to DJ Food for the tip-off), Vera Gray and Desmond Briscoe’s ‘Listen, Move And Dance No.4 – Moving Percussion And Electronic Sound Pictures’, something called ‘Ideas 2′ (which I can’t tell you anything about as I don’t have the sleeve in front of me), an US 7″ from the early 1960s that somehow manages to confuse space travel with home insurance and ‘Party Time With Alphonse’, although the less said about that, the better.
Close your faceplate and blast right off here:
(Or follow this link for the download)