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!
Hello you. Although things may currently appear calm and unflustered around these parts, I can assure you that behind the shuttered windows Fog Towers is a hive of activity. I’ve been taking advantage of Howlround’s annual mid-winter dry-dock hibernation period to get the machines up and running in the studio and crack on with some new audio adventures. How have I been faring in these endeavours, you might ask? Well, have a look at these video extracts recently uploaded to social media and judge for yourself!
Down the rabbit hole we go… pic.twitter.com/j8Qpmy3bFr
— Robin The Fog (@RobinTheFog) February 24, 2018
— Robin The Fog (@RobinTheFog) February 26, 2018
At the moment I appear to be heading into another one of my infamous rabbit holes, this one perhaps the strangest my quartet of old ladies have lead me down yet (although technically they’re only a trio at the moment, thanks to one of them catching fire – again!). The recordings I’ve amassed so far have been ragged, fractured, fragmented, distorted and often bashed out in a single take, though to my ears some of the most thrilling I’ve ever worked on. Truly Howlround has come a long way from the basement of Bush House six years ago – can it really only be that long? While of course I still do love recording those sounds of buildings and other unusual acoustic spaces, there just seems to be an infinite number of strange sonic topologies lurking deep inside the inner workings of reel to reel tape machines. It’s as if the further inward we go, the wider the horizons become…
— Robin The Fog (@RobinTheFog) February 23, 2018
Anyway, before all the Pseuds Corner accusations come flying in, I should just briefly remind you that you can keep up to date on all these exciting developments by following @RobinTheFog or @Howlroundmusic (or why not both?) on Twitter, which is where teasers like those above often surface first. I’m also now on Instagram, which is an exciting recent development, so you’ll find plenty of ways to engage with my latest experiments and works in progress without having to endure any of the flowery exposition I might come up with trying to make sense of it all. I’m also hoping very soon to bring you news of a forthcoming release, but for the moment I’m sworn to secrecy. Keep your ears to the wind and eyes to the skyline and all will shortly be revealed…
— Robin The Fog (@RobinTheFog) February 23, 2018
In other news, my two evening classes at Morley College are proving tremendous fun – for me at least, though my students seem to be enjoying them too! In between projects that include composing experimental lullaby music for my infant niece and leading soundwalks around Waterloo, we also recently had a very exciting tape editing session, where we learnt all about the joys, the creative potential and the absurd folly involved in composing with such a fragile and unpredictable medium. Thankfully everyone survived. https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
— Robin The Fog (@RobinTheFog) February 24, 2018
Next term I shall be teaching a course on the history of Experimental Electronic Music in Britain, so if the thought of spending one evening a week with me geeking out about this nation’s weird sonic heritage appeals to you, then step right up! You’ll find further details on the Morley College Website here. I’ll also be teaching Radio Production as well, which will hopefully delight and intrigue in similar doses. It’s all a bit of a Busman’s Holiday, or at least it would be if I ever took time off!
Finally, a quick advance notice of a show I’ll be playing at the Book And Record Bar in West Norwood on the afternoon of March 24th, alongside Yann Novak and Mike Harding from Touch. We’ll be playing live sets and DJing and mixing things up a bit, while proprietor King Michael serves coffee, beer and stacks of the finest black crack* around. What’s not to love? See you there!
*Records. Nothing weird. Well, weird records, certainly…
Hello you. First off, I’m thrilled to announce that the ultra limited edition 7″ Howlround produced for the Resonance FM fundraiser made a very impressive £306.56! Thanks to everyone who bid so generously and to OneCutVinyl.com once again for donating their services for free. To those of you who missed out (which, given there were only three copies is nearly everyone!), hopefully the news that Howlround’s next official release will be arriving in the spring is of some consolation. I missed out on a copy as well, incidentally, so your pain is my pain. But there’s no time to sit around feeling sorry for ourselves when the UK’s greatest radio station still needs our assistance, so I would urge you to shake a leg on over to Fundraiser.Resonance.FM and give what you can. Donations are always gratefully received and continue to be sorely needed – there’s still a long way to go before they reach £100,000! Thanks also to everyone who everyone who came down to Club Integral’s Gala Fundraiser at Iklectik last week and witnessed Howlround’s first performance of 2018 – a brief but abrasive feedback affair that might have burnt a few ears and loosened a few bowels in the front row. What fun! Online extracts coming soon!
Secondly, a nod and a wink to everyone who tuned into The OST Show last Saturday for my fundraising special standing in for Jonny Trunk, especially Resonance engineer Martin, Alan Gubby for the Buried Treasure Records competition prizes and all the usual suspects who rang in with funny and silly answers trying to win them. The show also featured the only ever performance of ‘Just 4 U, West Malling’ (the B-side of the aforementioned Howlround 7″) in British Radio History, alongside tracks by Jeffrey Siedler, Yuri Morozov, Barry Gray, Jim Henson and much, much more. In short, I bought all of my guns and proceeded to play as many ‘bangers’ as I could fit into two hours.
Hopefully the opening salvo of cuts from Raumpatrolle Orion, UFO, Pop Electronique and Georgette Sayegh’s killer, ultra-rare Arabic version of ‘Popcorn’ helped make up for my slightly rambling presentational style, which I’m attributing partly to a late night at Electrowerkz the previous evening (Merkaba Macabre and Pascal Savy were playing!), a lack of decent coffee and perhaps most of all the surprisingly toxic fillet of cod I had tried to cook for lunch a couple of hours beforehand. Never the finest of chefs, I remember thinking as I took the fish-like substance out of the oven that it bore an uncanny resemblance to some kind of unholy prop from that dinner table scene in Eraserhead, but being very hungry, having no other options and retaining my northern ‘waste not, want not’ thriftiness that 15 years in the south have never shaken off, I felt compelled to carry on regardless. One bite was all it took and the remainder was projectiled right across the kitchen. In retrospect I should probably have replaced it with something more substantial than a carrot and a handful of pistachios, but then hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Anyway, nevermind my domestic trifles (although at that moment an actual trifle would’ve gone down a treat), I did promise you a tracklisting for the show once I was fully functioning again, so I’ve included it below. How about that killer Yuri Morozov jam ‘Inexplicable’, eh? As funky as anything KPM ever put out, I’ll wager! Respect is due to Buried Treasure for bringing him to a wider audience!
Peter Thomas Orchester – Rockin’ Computer
Barry Gray – Theme From Space 1999
Barry Gray – Breakaway
Barry Gray – War Games
Barry Gray – Death’s Other Dominion
Birds ‘N’ Brass – Sort Of Soul
Georgette Sayegh – Bouchar (aka Popcorn)
Serge Gainsbourg – Comic Strip
Cecil Leuter – Pop Electronique Part 2
Kalyanji-Anandji – Y.O.G.A. (Edit)
Sauver Mallia – Synthetic Neutron
Yuri Morozov – Vague & Hard (part 2)
Jeffrey Siedler – Logic Formations
The Dandelion Set with Alan Moore – Judy Switched Off The TV
Bruce Haack – Party Machine
Jeffrey Siedler – Altaire Control Axiom
Yuri Morozov – Eastern Tetraptih
Yuri Morozov – Inexplicable (part 4)
Howlround – Just 4 U, West Malling (World Exclusive!!)
Ron Geesin – A World Of Too Much Sound
Jim Henson – Tick Tock Sick
Keith Mansfield – Soul Thing
Carrie Nations – Come With The Gentle People
The Pointer Sisters – Pinball Number Count (DJ Food Re-Edit)
The Bugaloos – The Senses Of Our World
Miss Abrams And The Strawberry Point 4th Grade Class – Running In The Green Grass
Ron Geesin – The Eye That Nearly Saw
Jim Henson – The Countryside
Bruce Haack and Miss Nelson – African Lullaby
Denton & Cook – Theme From Tomorrow’s World
Howlround – A Creak In Time, Part 1 (Extract)
As if that wasn’t enough, I’d now like to bring you another two hours of killer tracks recorded live for WNBC‘s Out Of The Woods show, broadcast the previous Sunday. A very different proposition from the ‘guns ‘n’ puns’ approach of the OST show, this was designed as the perfect soundtrack for a quiet Sunday afternoon. No beats, no banging, just two hours of soundscapes, field recordings and electronics. Esteemed crate digger and fellow WNBC resident DJ Food has described it as ‘…a masterclass in ambience. Absolutely beautiful listen, the restraint and pacing he displays over the two hours is admirable’. Restraint and pacing are rarely accolades I can lay claim to, so you’re advised to fill your boots. If the current trajectory of Howlround is anything to go by, this could be the last ambient thing to have my name on it for quite some time!
The show is book-ended by The London Record, a 1961 LP on Marble Arch records, featuring narration by Hywel Davies and music by Robert Docker. Despite featuring some truly embarrassing character acting and some rather rinky-dink Cockney-stroll-about music, it’s a glorious, albeit over-romanticised portrait of a bygone age. If the opening monologue describing dawn on the River Thames doesn’t stir something in you, frankly I’m not sure what will.
I also play substantial homage to a couple of my other favourite strange records, Argo’s wonderful Steam Railroading Under Thundering Skies and ‘Tintinnabultation’ from Atlantic Record’s Environments series; which work surprisingly well when combined together for extended periods. Later on we hear from Delia Derbyshire, Edgar Froese, Chris Watson, Oval, Ursula Bogner and even an uncharacteristically chilled out affair from 90s jungle maestro Photek, though of course the fact that it’s designed to be a more meditative affair doesn’t mean there can’t occasionally be a few noisy moments!
I should really provide you with a tracklisting for this show as well, but I’ve got some people coming round to do some filming of the machines in the morning and the studio is in dire need of an overhaul. Apart from there being tape all over the floor, my poor old speakers have finally succumbed to 20 years of abuse and pretty much exploded, which means it will be a decidedly silent affair unless I can get some new ones wired in, sharp-ish. Will I have time to get everything shipshape before the arrival of the spotlight? On previous form, not a chance in hell. Still, wish me luck….