Hello you. This week marked a rare foray into the world of competitive sport, more specifically football (or soccer, depending on your geographical location and levels of pedantry). As a chap hailing from the land of Carlisle United, such engagement does not happen often. Generally the closest I come to ever bothering with football is avoiding South Bermondsey like the plague whenever Millwall are chucking out. But regardless of this, the fact remains that last Tuesday I was called upon to produce something special for BBC Radio 4’s coverage of the 2018 World Cup – and though I say it myself, I didn’t disappoint. Stick around for the whole thing and you’ll notice it changing and evolving over the two minute duration as the shorter pieces drop away, allowing for some of the longer anthems to be gradually distinguished. Incidentally, the sharp-eared amongst you may notice that the English National Anthem crashes out almost immediately…
Charles Ives would have been proud of you!
— Jonathan Best (@JonnnyBest) June 6, 2018
Thanks to everyone who came down to Howlround’s recent shows in North London, on the two hottest, stickiest nights of the year and to Sam Enthoven and Johny Brown for the invitations, not forgetting my sparring partner Time Attendant. I can now reveal that our next live show will be on Wednesday 20th at Rye Wax in Peckham Rye, courtesy of Lia Mice and the lates in her series of Electrolights AV events.
Cannot WAIT for this one, it’s another killer line up! Plus I’m having to dash there on the evening from both a recording session AND teaching an evening class in Lambeth, so by the time I arrive I should be totally ready to jump on the machines and let off some steam. But hopefully not literally this time – I still haven’t forgiven Daphne for exploding live on stage at St. Johns last year…..
Speaking of evening classes, pop down to the Gallery at Morley College in Lambeth this week to admire some of the Sound Art works on display, including a handful of works from my own students. There’s some impressive work to discover, including this interpretation of Alvin Lucier’s classic ‘I Am Sitting In A Room’ produced with students from my Sound Sculpture class. Good work, team. At the Gallery until 14th June.
Also surfacing this week, a most interesting idea courtesy of Fons Moers, that appeared to gain a gratifying amount of traction of Twitter:
— Fons Moers (@zetduivel) June 5, 2018
At the time of writing, the powers that be are remaining quiet on the subject, but for the record I’m totally up for it. Apart from the whole Radiophonic Workshop legacy, I’ve got an awful lot of my own happy memories of time spent in Maida Vale with the BBC Drama Department. If memory serves, some of my notable roles in studio MV6 included a chimpanzee attacking a Range Rover, a cow being milked and even a Baked Alaska. Besides, who wouldn’t relish the chance to get a few more loops down that endless corridor one last time? Thanks to Fons and everyone else who got behind the idea!
And finally, this happened. But Mum’s the word for now:
Presenting Audio Albion, another compilation from ever-redoubtable A Year In The Country and perhaps their finest release to date. Featuring an exclusive Howlround track made entirely from the sounds of a kissing gate recorded somewhere out in the wilds by a well-wisher. This well-wishing then lead to ‘Cold Kissing’. Will I ever get tired of using gates as source material? I hardly think so, every gate is as unique as a snowflake – and if the results continue to be as rewarding as this, why would you ever apply WD-40? Also includes 14 tracks by some of the most interesting artists currently working in this field (pun very much intended). Further details below…
From the sleevenotes: Audio Albion is a music and field recording map of Britain, which focuses on rural and edgeland areas. Each track contains field recordings from locations throughout the land and is accompanied by notes on the recordings by the contributors. The tracks record the sounds found and heard when wandering down pathways, over fields, through marshes, alongside rivers, down into caves and caverns, climbing hills, along coastlands, through remote mountain forestland, amongst the signs of industry and infrastructure and its discarded debris.
Intertwined with the literal recording of locations, the album explores the history, myths and beliefs of the places, their atmospheres and undercurrents, personal and cultural connections – the layered stories that lie amongst, alongside and beneath the earth, plants and wildlife. Featuring work by Bare Bones, David Colohan, Grey Frequency, Field Lines Cartographer, Howlround, A Year In The Country, Keith Seatman, Magpahi, Sproatly Smith, Widow’s Weeds, Time Attendant, Spaceship, Pulselovers, The Heartwood Institute and Vic Mars.
On a similar note, the Howlround track ‘Night Call, Collect’ from A Year In The Country’s 2017 release The Quietened Cosmologists is now soundtracking this rather super short instagram video shot in Alaska by long-time Fog Friend allstaticmist. Be sure to follow this Portland-based artist on Instagram and Twitter, his photostream is amazing. I’m also hoping he might treat us with a new album at some point, but one thing at a time…
Hello You. It’s been a little quiet on these pages for the last couple of weeks, largely due to an increased amount of offline activity that has been keeping me exceptionally busy and stimulated. Since I last wrote I’ve been off making recordings in Slovakia and Hungary (plus Brighton) and next week I’m off to Stockholm. While this has all fallen under the ‘sensible work’ umbrella, it’s been tremendous fun, but hasn’t allowed me any time at all to take the machines out for a spin – a shame as we were enjoying an agreeably noisy purple patch. However, we’re back in action this forthcoming Sunday, as myself and director Steven McInerney will be presenting another live score of A Creak In Time as part of the 2018 Splice Festival. Joining us on the bill will be a Mechanical Techno set from the ever-redoubtable Graham Dunning and more eye+ear-popping psychedelic delights from HARMERGEDDON – plus an impressive programme of screenings from the likes of Max Hattler and The Designers Republic. A fantastic line-up and one I’m very chuffed to be part of – see you there!
Looking further ahead into the month, I’m also very pleased to announce that Howlround will be unveiling a brand new and exclusive composition at The Intimate Space, a tiny venue located inside the historic St. Mary’s Church Tower in Hornsey, a Grade II listed structure and all that remains of the original medieval church. This event, the second in the STEEP series curated for the space by Sam Enthoven, will also feature Greta Pistaceci performing ‘Stillness’ for two or more theremins/thereminists, accompanied by Charlie Draper and Alina Davies as well as Sam himself. Tickets are extremely limited as you might expect for such an enclosed space (not to mention the fact that it’s the oldest surviving structure in Harringay), so you’re advised to book early. It will be yet another remarkable building to tick off the Howlround bucket list! How many churches and chapels have we done now? I’ve rather lost count!
However, this latest act of ‘pew warming’ inside a sacred and holy establishment will be subsequently followed by a predictable fall from grace the following evening as Howlround head over to The Devil Has A Hold On The Land, an all-day festival taking place at Bones & Pearl on Sunday May 27th. The machines and I will be engaging in a one-off soundclash with our old sparring partner and Front And Follow labelmate Time Attendant, part of a rather stunning line up curated by The Band Of Holy Joy and masterminded by their charismatic frontman Johny Brown. You can read an interview with Johny and hear his hand-picked selection of favourite tracks from the artists involved over on the Velvet Sheep blog and tickets can be purchased here.
Speaking of Time Attendant, check out Psychological Strategy Board, his duo with Jonny Maybury and their recently released original soundtrack to the film Penny Slinger: Out Of The Shadows on the Front And Follow label. Full of crepuscular drones and itching electronics, it’s the perfect accompaniment to Richard Kovitch’s documentary on this remarkable British artist. Read more and stream online over at The Quietus and purchase the limited vinyl here or from all good record shops. And probably some bad ones too. The film itself is also throughly worthy of your attention if you can get hold of it…
Hello You. Another rather hurried update this week to invite you to come along and join myself and director Steven McInerney as we unveil another live screening of the Psyché Tropes film A Creak In Time as part of Birmingham’s Flatpack Film Festival. The film has featured in numerous festival line-ups both at home and abroad of late and has been going down a treat, so we’re really looking forward to spooling up and bringing it live to the good folk of the Midlands this Sunday. See you there?
Thanks to everyone who came down to Iklectik last Saturday night to witness what might have been Howlround’s heaviest show to date – a real wall-shaker, so I’m informed! The plan had been to start fairly quietly and build up, but the machines weren’t having any of it and ended up quite literally howling. It was also our longest set to date after being bumped up to headliner following the most unfortunate absence of Stephan Mathieu. Sadly some unforeseen circumstances on the road somewhere in Belgium (if memory serves) left Stephan stranded and unable to make it in time to perform. But the show must always go on, and the crowed very much enjoyed the pre-recorded piece that he sent over in his stead – with myself at the levels and host Eduard at the mixing desk, I think we did pretty decent justice to the great man’s work. Now we must get him over for a rematch! Incidentally, if you haven’t been to Iklectik yet, seriously do pop along. It’s my favourite venue in London by miles, perfect location, perfect atmosphere and a monster sound system!
IKLECTIK’s building displaced by 2cm after @Howlroundmusic performance – stunning set / We really enjoyed the diffused peice by @stephanmathieu we hope you will be able to play live at IKLECTIK soon. Thanks to @the_tapeworm pic.twitter.com/GDAYAKwuPk
— I K L E C T I K (@iklectikartlab) April 14, 2018
In other news, check out this special edition of the Japan Sound Portrait podcast from Late Junction mainstay and Musicity founder Nick Luscombe, created to celebrate a special week-long season on BBC Radio 3 called Night Blossoms, which will ‘explore the mysterious, counter-cultural and unexpected side of Japanese music and arts’ across the station’s evening programmes, running from 21st to the 27th April. This latest podcast includes a track we produced together a few years back using field recordings made in Japan (including the sounds of ‘comb-cutting’, I seem to remember) that I’d almost forgotten making, as well as music by amoeba and shinekosei. Well worth a listen – as I’m sure will be the forthcoming programmes on Radio 3, more of which will be unveiled in due course here.
Special podcast celebrating @BBCRadio3 Night Blossoms season. Accompanying @nickluscombe‘s exploration of Tanizaki’s In Praise of Shadows, upcoming on Saturday, music by Nick, @amoebadesign @RobinTheFog and @dissolvingpath soundtracks quotes from the essay https://t.co/oNr3z1pehJ
— japansoundportrait (@jpsoundportrait) April 19, 2018
And lastly, thanks very much for all the kind words regarding the new LP! Marta and I are very proud of this one! Hopefully we’ll find some space in our respective schedules to get some more live dates in the calendar before too long. In the meantime, the vinyl can be pre-ordered from The Touchshop here. Thanks as ever for listening!
Exciting times all-round as Howlround unveil a brand new vinyl LP and perform alongside Stephan Mathieu for his first UK live appearance since 2012. This latest release, a split with Italian composer Marta De Pascalis, will be released by The Wormhole on May 18th, but is already available to pre-order via The TouchShop. Strictly limited edition of 200, you’d be advised not to sleep on this one!
Limited copies will be available for purchase at Iklectik on the night, weeks ahead of the release date – and this is entirely fitting as both sides of the LP were recorded in the same evening at that very same venue last year, to mark the 100th release on Wormhole sister label The Tapeworm. Further information and tickets can be found here.
Thanks also to Dexter Bentley and The Hello Goodbye Show team for having me last Saturday, particularly the ever-lovely and patient engineers Isa and Ilia, who are old hands by now at putting up with my slightly strange requirements. The show featured a live improvised Howlround set alongside sets from The Monochrome Set and The Reverse. The set appeared to go down very well and I’m reliably informed the entire building was shaking, which I’m going to take as a mark of quality. I’ll be going back over the recording once I get a moment and doing a spot of remastering and general nipping and tucking, but the entire show, in all its madcap glory can be enjoyed here:
Hello You. I must begin this week with something of an apology to those who apparently got very, very excited at an announcement on Howlround’s Twitter and Facebook feeds over the weekend, purporting to unveil the cover artwork for some imminent masterwork:
Happy Easter! Thought I’d celebrate by sharing the first glimpse of the cover artwork for the next @Howlroundmusic LP, a triple concept album revealing my great love and admiration of the London Transport Network. PLEASE HOLD ON as this LP is about to MOVE!! pic.twitter.com/qb5NvXi0IQ
— Howlround (@Howlroundmusic) April 1, 2018
I am now forced to confess that this was merely a piece of April Fools japery, cooked up on my kitchen table when I should really have been doing something more productive (ie. some actual cooking). I had assumed the giveaways would be obvious – the rather sloppy execution, the fact that London Overground would almost certainly have given me a kicking for the blatant misappropriation of their logo, the laughable implication that any long-suffering London commuter would actually choose to increase the number of times they have to hear that deathlessly glib and pointless phrase ‘SEE IT, SAY IT, SORTED!’ in the space of half an hour. And yet within minutes of uploading this piece of light-hearted whimsy, I started getting messages from all over asking when would it be out and could they get a pre-order, and would I include a lock of my hair with the first 50 copies like Aphex Twin did that one time?
Alright, that last one might have been an exaggeration (besides, I’m saving what remains of my forelock for the Royal Wedding), but I do hope my foolish antics didn’t cause too much offence. More troublingly, I also now realise such japery might have detracted from the 100% genuine and accurate announcement made the previous day that there was indeed a new Howlround release in the offing and that listeners to Resonance FM were about to receive the WORLD EXCLUSIVE first play ANYWHERE!
**BREAKING NEWS** Tune into @ResonanceFM right now to hear a #WORLDEXCLUSIVE first play of forthcoming @Howlroundmusic release on the @deXterBentley Hello Goodbye Show – sometime before 13.30. Keep it locked! pic.twitter.com/g6JKHzxYaX
— Howlround (@Howlroundmusic) March 31, 2018
This time it’s 100% true – those promenading London Bridge last Saturday lunchtime will be able to vouch for a Fog-shaped blur dashing down Borough High Street with a test pressing under his arm. I can now excitedly reveal that this test pressing was a freshly minted split LP featuring brand new material from Howlround and genius fellow tape-wrangler Marta De Pascalis, forthcoming on The Wormhole label and available within the next month or so. Scouts Honor this time! Still don’t believe me? Listen again here for a tantalising aural glimpse:
Thanks to Richard and the Dexter Bentley team for having me. As it happens I shall be back on the show again next week, Saturday 7th April, performing live tape loops alongside new-wave legends The Monochrome Set and ‘erudite indie poppers’ The Reverse. All being well and with the machines’ co-operation, I shall be unveiling some of the decidedly abrasive new material we’ve been working on during our winter hibernation, which will hopefully whet a few appetites for the following Saturday’s live performance alongside Stephan Matieu at Iklecktik. Listen in from noon this Saturday on 104.4FM in London, DAB in greater London or worldwide via Resonancefm.com. SORTED!
Hello you. Another hurried update from me, inviting you to join myself, Yann Novak and Mike Harding from Touch for an afternoon of exotic and experimental delights at The Book And Record Bar, this Saturday from noon. It’s going to be a three-way cavalcade of records, tapes, tape loops and perhaps even some glowing electronic boxes – a sort of live/DJ mish-mash, all in the salubrious surroundings of West Norwood’s classiest emporium; where there will also be the usual coffee and beer to drink and lots and lots of records to browse. Well wicked, as the kids say.
Could quite happily watch a 2-hour supercut of estate agents from Homes Under The Hammer wandering around looking haunted and bewildered set to eerie music. pic.twitter.com/qHOc4Injaj
— Andy (@alreadytaken74) March 16, 2018
Oh, and thought I’d quickly share the above tweet which has been making me laugh all week, possibly because it suddenly reminded me of this video that I made several years ago in my pre-Howlround days and then completely forgot about. How those long night shifts used to just fly by…
Hoping to make an announcement regarding something exciting in the next week or two. But come down on Saturday afternoon and I might just whisper it in your ear. In the meantime, the tape experimentation continues unabated!