Bunker And Squeak – OST Apocalypse Fundraiser, 6 Music News And Near Mint Gets Its KIT Off!

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It’s Resonance 104.4FM Fundraising week once again, so why not join me and some very special guests this Saturday at 16.30 on Resonance when I’ll be hosting The OST Show in Jonny Trunk’s Kirchin-related absence? We’ll be looking ahead to ‘The Delaware Road at Kelvedon Hatch‘, a unique and immersive audio-visual extravaganza being staged by Buried Treasure Recordings on Friday July 28th, within the labyrinthine depths of a genuine nuclear bunker.

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We’ll be playing music from all of the artists involved and even more importantly, we’ll be auctioning off a truly amazing bumper prize bundle for the Resonance fundraiser, the ‘Audio Apocalypse Survival Kit’: a screen-printed Tote bag made by Kvist and filled to bursting with – at last count – a whopping twenty one LPs, 7″s, CDs, cassettes plus at least one limited edition pencil. And of course they’ll be the usual rather silly competition, all adding up to an afternoon of tremendous fun – and probably tremendous chaos as well. Do join us, won’t you?

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For those of you unfamiliar with Kelvedon Hatch, it is a deeply foreboding warren of corridors, offices and horribly cramped dormitory facilities that would supposedly have provided armageddon relief for an unbelievable 600 people, thus making it perfect venue for some darkside radiophonic action. And what action it promises! Just have a look at this line-up and then head here to get your early-bird tickets.

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As you can see, everyone is pulling together to help raise money to keep the world’s greatest radio station on air for yet another year and there’s lots more amazing stuff up for grabs even if you do miss out on the Survival Kit. For starters, we’ve handed the keys to this week’s Near Mint to the excellent KIT Records for a very special guest mix featuring tracks from their superb back-catalogue of warped acoustics and pastoral electronica – and we’re giving you the opportunity to WIN THE LOT! There’s limited edition and super-rare vinyl, cassettes and posters up for grabs, all with Kit’s distinctive beautifully hand-made, hand-printed artwork with all proceeds being donated to Resonance. At the time of writing there are still four days left on this most covetable of bundles, so have a listen to the show and then click here to get bidding!

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Not to be outdone, Manchester label Front And Follow have supplied a pile of their own goodies, including one of my favourite albums of last year in Kemper Norton’s Toll and a very rare Pye Corner Audio 12″. One the UK’s most exciting labels as far as this cat’s concerned, and I’m not just saying that because they put our the Time Attendant / Howlround split cassette The Blow vol. 2′ last year! Rumour has it vol.3 is coming soon. Wonder who will be featured this time? Anyway, click on the image below to have a bid…

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And we’ve even been gifted an incredible piece of original artwork by celebrated graphic artist Zeke Clough, whose sleeves have graced releases by Planet Mu, Skull Disco – and perhaps very soon your bedroom wall! Click on the picture below to put your bid in!

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Just time for some Howlround news very quickly and there was much excitement this week as Howlround were featured on BBC Radio 6Music News chatting to Elizabeth Alker about the gestation of latest LP/Film A Creak In Time. The interview went out on both the Radcliffe & Maconie show and the Sean Keaveny Breakfast show, thus providing the perfect sonic stimulus a grateful nation is most at need of during its morning cornflakes or mid-afternoon tea-break. Well, I think so, anyway. 6Music News have obligingly uploaded it onto Audioboom, so have a listen below if timely cereal and beverage consumption isn’t really your thing. And thanks again to you, Elizabeth – Howlround owes you a shandy!


Kirchin In Space And Treasure In The Bunker – Resonance FM NEEDS YOU!

Yes, it’s Resonance FM Fundraiser Week once again and the greatest radio station in the world needs your help in 2017 more than ever. There are lots of delightful items and experiences up for grabs, so do please head to the Fundraising website and give what you can. They will appreciate it and so will I – plus you get another year of truly independent and advert-free community arts broadcasting at a time when such things are a little thin on the ground!

Speaking of Resonance, here again is last week’s edition of The OST Show, in case you missed it – or perversely feel like subjecting yourself to it once more. Thanks to everyone who got involved and made it so much fun, particularly the ever-lovely engineer Sarah and all of the usual suspects who phoned in with silly answers for the competition. The show was a special double bill of Basil Kirchin and The Sounds Of Space, a combination of which I hope the great man himself would have approved. The Kirchin elements were featured in anticipation of the special events celebrating his life and work that are taking place in Hull this weekend, and were sourced from a bulging bag of Basil I’d bought with me for the occasion – including some material from a very rare LP that remains perhaps the best three pounds I ever spent.

 

The Space elements were audio recordings from satellites provided by my guest Dr. Martin Archer of Queen Mary University of London, on hand to announce a very special film making competition that encourages aspiring film-makers to submit works using, manipulating and remixing these mysterious sounds, with gala screenings and substantial cash prizes up for grabs. Directors and audio artists alike are warmly encouraged to discover more at ssfx.qmul.ac.uk. They’re absolutely fascinating recordings and I can assure you there are plenty more of them to discover. We should have a scientist on the show every week!

Just as a quick preview, I can reveal that next Saturday’s OST is an all-out extravaganza in anticipation of Buried Treasure’s Delaware Road Live event taking place on July 28th, all within the labyrinthine confines of Kelvedon Hatch Nuclear Bunker. I’ll be joined by some very special guests and we’ll be auctioning off a ridiculously covetable Nuclear Bunker Audio Survival Pack to raise money for the station. More details on this to follow asap. In the meantime, head over to the Resonance fundraising page and GET DONATING!

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Oi Oi Strictly Hardcore!! Near Mint Gets The Illegal Pirate Buzz

Hello you. On this week’s Near Mint show on Resonance FM, we’re going back in time to the golden pre-internet days of tower-block pirate radio, when the only way to communicate with the ‘massive’ was through a series of increasingly frantic, home-made commercials, loudly proclaiming how ‘true to the scene’ you were while deriding the hordes of ‘commercial sell-out rubbish’ being produced literally everywhere else. It’s going to be loud, relentless, rather shonky, oddly charming – and above all else an intriguing glimpse into an era that now seems an eternity ago.

GET IT NOW AND GET THE BUZZ!

Moreover, we’re visiting the lost world of radio advertisements produced by a shadowy 1990s collective known as the SU Corporation – a fiercely independent Essex-based consortium of labels such as Strictly Underground and Strictly Hardcore, masterminded by industry stalwart and true hardcore renaissance man Mark Ryder. It’s a subject that’s predictably close to my heart – few other records have ever given me the same frisson of excitement as I felt beholding the latest Strictly Hardcore releases in Pink Panther Records as a youngster. Their sleeves came loaded with words and imagery that told of the illicit thrill of raves far from my quiet home town – not to mention a disclaimer unflinchingly refusing to accept any liability for ‘speaker damage’ caused by their contents. And then there were the artists featured on the back cover – names like Undercover Movement, Hackney Hardcore, Soundclash, Sonic Experience and Fantasy UFO seemed tinged with mystery and exoticism, each pseudonym a gateway to a hidden world accessible only to those with their ears superglued to the streets. Look, I was barely thirteen, OK? This stuff is a lot more significant when you’re thirteen!

The uninitiated amongst you might well argue that this week’s show is just a bunch of Essex boys yelling for half an hour and it’s certainly true that there’s a fair amount of repetition – any listeners wishing to incorporate phrases such as ‘commercial sellout rubbish!’, ‘illegal pirate radio!’ and ‘Oi! Oi!’ into a drinking game will be on the floor within ten minutes. It’s also true that describing various releases as ‘the BEST live recording EVER!’ or ‘an album for your collecting section!’ does bring us close to the kind of territory that would be affectionately sent up later on by the likes of People Just Do Nothing. But, as with the more recent misadventures of the Kurupt FM massive, to my mind this only makes their work all the more endearing.

Albums for your ‘collecting section’. I’ve got them all!

I can admit to being frequently amused by the home-made feel, low production values and unscripted, improvised nature of these adverts, not to mention by the slight cognitive dissonance caused by the labels’ differing uses of that word ‘illegal’: initially plastering it all over their compilations as a selling point, then issuing a disclaimer on later releases warning that anyone using their tracks on ‘illegal mixtapes’ would be sued ‘to the full extent of the law’ – rather a case of ‘having your hardcake and eating it’. But there should be no doubt whatsoever that my love for the work of The SU Corporation is genuine. The music is unsophisticated, noisy, abrasive and chaotic, packed full of helium-voiced divas, one finger keyboard stabs, bleeps, blurts and squelches, all over what sounds like a drum machine clattering down a flight of steps. And I adored it all. My schoolmates could keep their dreary old Oasis records and the so-called ‘real music’ they kept harping on about – this was my sound. Even if I did happen to be several hundred miles from its epicentre and with double maths homework to look forward to….

The ‘Keep those hands up! And stop buying all that crap pop music!’ mix of M.D.EMM’s ‘Move Your Feet’ remains a stone-cold hardcore classic.

Seriously, just listen to the enthusiasm on display here – have you ever got as excited about anything in your life as whoever provided the voiceover on the advert for the Ultimate Drum And Bass Collection boxset? No credit is available, but I do hope he survived the recording – it sounds as if his skull is about to pop out of his forehead. For all the mockney banter on display here, there’s no doubt how deadly seriously these guys took their music and the scene they’d created. Having said that, if you manage to sit through the show’s opening exchange in a record shop, the rather strained encounters with bewildered members of the Brentford constabulary at an outdoor rave, or the closing recording of the SU team giggling in the studio without cracking a smile then a small part of you may well be already dead.

In all sincerity, I think this might be my favourite LP cover of all time.

It’s so easy to forget that before everything was available online forever, THIS was how things were done. The SU guys never hung around waiting for permission or for big money labels to come in and scoop them up. They did it all themselves, being closely involved with pirate stations such as Unity 88.4FM in Romford (they feature in tonnes of vintage Unity broadcasts uploaded online, including this little beauty from 1993), hosting the Hardcore Hellraiser events and releasing all their own records – of which they are almost too many to count. Just have a look at the Strictly Underground and Mark Ryder pages on the online record database Discogs. Strictly Underground alone has a whopping one hundred and ninety three releases credited to it and I’m willing to bet that somewhere between half and two thirds were produced by Mark himself, either under his own name, as part of a group or using one of his various alter-egos. When you take into account that at its peak SU Corporation was releasing some twenty-five 12″s and seven compilations in a single year and that Mark simultaneously ran numerous sub-labels such as Jungle Mania and Vicious Pumpin’ Plastic, you begin to wonder how he ever found time to sleep. As the man himself says nowadays on his Twitter handle: ‘It’s all I do, it’s my life’. Could anyone doubt his sincerity?

Truly this is a journey back to a lost world of open air raves, of home-made rooftop transmitters, of cat-and-mouse games with the Police, the DTI, and unscrupulous bootleg tape manufacturers. A world that, as far as I’m concerned, can’t help but make much that came after it look rather rather dull by comparison. And, finally – let’s face it – a world that has now gone forever. But it’s a happy thought that for half an hour at 6pm on a Tuesday evening (not to mention 10.30 on a Thursday morning), the SU Corporation get to rule the airwaves once again. Or: ‘Oi Oi!! Strictly ‘Ardcore Records are back in the place!’ as they would put it. Bravo, gents…

Thunder…Thunder…Thundercats? Noooo!


Hello Goodbye And dB-Sides – A Near Mint Double Bill

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Hello You. A very special double-bill of Near Mint this week, bought to you by Resonance FM royalty, Mr. Richard Dexter Bentley. One of the station’s veteran programme-makers, Richard can usually be found helming long-running Resonance institution The Hello Goodbye Show on Saturday afternoons, a delightfully chaotic zoo of a programme featuring as many live bands, gig listings, random poets and interviews as can possibly be jammed into ninety minutes and a medium-sized radio studio. For these two very special editions of the nation’s favourite programme about obsessive vinyl consumption, Richard has dipped into his own mammoth archive with a self-imposed rule of strictly choosing only 7″ B-sides with black and white artwork, which might just be the most super-niche thing that we’ve ever done on what is already a pretty niche-y kind of show. Mind you, if the results are always this good we’ll certainly be doing it again. There’s punk, post-punk, wonky pop, electronics, ska and many more obscure delights besides, and it’s certainly curious how such a narrow selection process can lead to such varied riches. Fill your boots both above and below.

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This brings us neatly onto the subject of Resonance FM‘s imminent 2017 Fundraiser, which officially commences next week. As ever, the nation’s finest community arts radio station needs YOUR help to keep it on air for another year – and in our current climate we surely need them as well, more than ever! For his part, Richard is organising another two-part special, ‘The Pay As You Go Hello Goodbye Show’, in which his programmes on 11th and 18th of December will be auctioned off at the rate of £10 per minute, so do visit his website here and buy yourself some airtime for a good cause. These shows are always a lot of fun, with listeners, programme makers and a myriad of former guests sending in all manner of quirky delights to fill up the gaps. I’ve just bought three minutes of my own and still have no idea what I’m going to do with them. Must dig out the old thinking cap…

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As well as my one hundred and eighty seconds in the spotlight, I shall be guest-hosting two fundraising specials of Jonny Trunk’s OST Show later on in the afternoon on the very same dates, but more on that later. In the meantime, there’s a whole programme of fundraising events and special auction items up for grabs, so do dig deep for a good cause and visit the Resonance FM Fundraising Website here. After all, the thought of a London and indeed a world without stations like Resonance just doesn’t bear thinking about…


Ghosts Of His Life – Near Mint’s k-punk Jungle Tribute

Mark Fisher 1968-2017

As many of you will know by now, the writer, blogger, theorist and philosopher Mark ‘k-punk’ Fisher passed away last weekend. I’m not going to try and sum up the seismic contributions to contemporary culture that Mark’s writings have made  – and will continue to make with the recent publication of his latest collection, The Weird and the Eerie. Many others, including Simon Reynolds writing in The Guardian, have done a much job of summing up his work than I could ever hope to. Instead, I’m paying my own small tribute by devoting this week’s Near Mint show to playing some of his very favourite jungle records very loudly indeed. The tracklisting was inspired by one of my own favourite pieces of his writing, ‘The Twenty Greatest Jungle Records Ever Made’, a roll of honour lovingly assembled for FACT magazine back in 2011 – and it goes without saying that everything on it is a banger:

‘The jungle was a fictional space as much as a genre, a brutal ‘90s update of William Gibson’s cyberspace. Jungle’s innovations were collectively driven, not attributable to individual auteurs, but to ‘scenius’, the interaction between DJs, producers and the ‘massive’ on the dancefloor. Breakbeats and bass sounds would evolve from track to track, as if they were audio lifeforms subjected to an intense process of unnatural selection…’ k-punk, FACTmag, 2011

Of course there was only ever going to be one track with which to start this tribute: the 1993 effort from a nascent Goldie which inspired the title of his second collection of writings in 2014. One of my all time favourite records, written about most brilliantly in one of my very favourite books. He will be missed indeed. Bravo, Sir, and RIP.

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Ship To Shore – Near Mint Rides The Airwaves Again

Hello you. Great excitement this week, not only because it’s time for the first Near Mint Show of 2017, but mostly because for this latest episode of Resonance FM‘s number 1 show devoted to the joys of obsessive record collecting, I’m handing the keys over to fabulous New York based label The Ship to Shore Phonograph Company. Label boss Aaron Hamel has been kind enough to put together an exclusive guest mix for the show, hand-picked from their back-catalogue of cult film music, video game soundtracks and all manner of delightful weirdness in-between, reissued in deluxe vinyl editions – plus the odd wax cylinder. You are in for a treat!

Yes,  it is indeed an embarrassment of riches, but the obvious place to start is a cut from one of their earliest releases (and the album that brought them onto my radar), a blood-red vinyl issue of the soundtrack to Manos: The Hands Of Fate. Notice I said ‘issue’ rather than ‘reissue’, because frankly I’m not sure many other labels would have considered giving this ‘brave experiment’ of a movie the OST treatment up to now. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of falling into the hands of Manos, I can reveal that it was a low-budget, low-talent, low-everything 1966 atrocity made as a bet by a Texas fertiliser salesman. Punishingly hard to watch, appallingly acted and bafflingly edited, it makes Plan 9 From Outer Space look like 2001: A Space Odyssey; yet if imbibed for long enough it’s becomes oddly, surreally entertaining.

What passes for a plot is a riff on that old horror staple of a family on vacation losing their way, with our heroes in this instance ending up at a remote desert ranch populated by Torgo, a creepy henchman with enormous knees and ‘The Master’, who looks not unlike a sort of satanic Bob Carolgees (ask your Dad). What we can say for sure about the film is that the fertiliser salesman won his bet. And that the soundtrack of skronky jazz and slightly skewed torch-songs is not without its lo-fi charms. Other soundtracks in the mix include the delightfully creepy main title themes from George A Romero’s Martin and Frank Henenlotter’s Frankenhooker. I have to confess to not having been exposed to either of these films as yet (and having read online synopsis I’m not sure I would wish to be), but the soundtracks do make me curious for more – plus both must surely be blockbusters in comparison with Manos.

As well as vintage film soundtracks, the label also specialises in archive video game music and the show features tracks from Taito house band ZUNTATA’s Arcade Classics Vol. 1 and Konami Kukeiha Club’s soon to be released soundtrack to the Sega CD game SNATCHER. Finally, things are brought right up to date with a track from Thomas Happ’s soundtrack to his own Axiom Verge video game, a recent release very much modelled on late 80s / early 90s side-scrolling platform adventures such as Metroid. Just as the graphics and gameplay take inspiration from the pixelated games of yore, the soundtrack also plays with the pallet of 8 bit bleeps and chirps beloved of that era and the subsequent ‘chiptune’ movement; but toughened with additional bass weight and additional shades of techno and dubstep over the top. Nicely done, Mr. Happ!

You can keep up to date with the label’s activities by visiting their website Shiptoshoremedia.com and I for one am trying very hard to resist the temptation to head there right now and throw $$$ around like it’s going out of fashion. Thanks to Aaron and everyone at the label for treating us to such an awesome mix and I’ll hopefully be welcoming them back on the show before very long. I’m pretty sure The Master would approve – isn’t that right, Torgo?

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Torgo


2016 In Retrospect Part 2 – Spools Out

Hello you. This second part of my 2016 retrospective was supposed to appear on these pages over a week ago, but the new year has brought with it fresh challenges and fresh demands for my attention, so there’s been precious little time to marshal thoughts and stockpile memories to treasure. I realise that by now it’s probably far too late harp on about the old year, particularly as so many of you are probably trying to blot out the fact that it ever happened. Nonetheless, I’m a firm believer in starting each new year with a blank canvas, and that a certain amount of deck-clearing and slate-cleaning is paramount before doing so. Plus the fact is that despite the many unpleasant and upsetting incidents that occurred, both personally and in the world at large, the year still offered up a number of opportunities to engage in highly stimulating projects, many of which I consider to be worthy of at least one last hurrah before I finally send them packing. So here, with minimum of fuss, are ten randomly selected moments that actually gave me reason to get out of bed in 2016:

1. Live at the Brunel Museum:

Starting off nice and simple, Howlround’s final set of the year took place just a few weeks ago at the bottom of Brunel’s shaft in Rotherhithe, East London, courtesy of Adam Parkinson, Rob Mullender and Goldsmith’s EAVI collective. Could there be a more appropriate venue for our performance of industrial-mechanical concréte sounds played out on vintage equipment? Off the top of my head, only one, but that comes along later…


2. Radio Revolten:

As part of a month-long series of experimental broadcasts and performances in the East German city of Halle, Howlround provided two live Revolten sessions, the first a live performance alongside Chris Cutler (in fact, due to his having to catch an early flight we were technically headlining!) and then the studio session broadcasting live on FM across Saxany-Anhalt, from which the above clip is taken. Oh, and I also ended up DJing for almost six hours in the cinema and then spent most of my wages on weird old electronica LPs in a sleep-deprived stupor. A damn fine way to spend a week, all told, if  little costly.  Thanks to Knut and Sarah from Radio Revolten and Glenn from Octopus Collective for making it all possible, plus Gabi Schaffner for this decidedly spiffy photo:

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3. Halim El-Dabh Profile:

What an honour it was to talk to the great man and pioneering composer Halim El-Dabh for Radio 4, in celebration of his new album Sanza Time, produced in collaboration with the musician Ron Slabe and released during his 95th summer. Halim first made electronic music history far back in 1944, and has no plans to retire any time soon (‘I have a whole big job ahead of me!’ he chuckled when I broached the subject), let’s hope we can all match that sense of wonder and excitement when approaching our own centenaries. Frankly I’m still amazed Radio 4 let me cover it…

Halim


4. East Tower Residency, White City:

Produced in conjunction with arts organisation White Noise and Resonance FM, Howlround’s brief here was to create a site-specific performance and a suite of recordings designed to capture the essence of this unloved and neglected part of the former BBC Television Centre complex in the weeks up to its demolition. Using nothing but the sounds of the building, the project began with wandering around the deserted upper floors gathering source material and ended with a live performance and broadcast from the top of the tower in front of an audience of invited guests. A personal highlight was discovering the most magnificent bass tones simply by pushing my sound recorder into a large cardboard tube left in one of the offices and hitting record – hey presto, phat dubstep-style bass with no effort at all!  Strange to think that these recordings are now pretty much all that is left of this former long-term home of youth programming, the destruction of which came almost immediately afterwards. Whereas Amboy, that other main inspiration for recordings produced this year, had been a more or less a ghost for years and remains so today, this building was rapidly becoming one the entire time I was there. Now there’s practically nothing to show it ever existed. Apart from some luxury flats, but it’s not as if they’re in short supply in London nowadays, is it? Still got a handful of recordings from these sessions I’d like to put out at some point….

East Tower - Picture East Tower - Lights


5. Delia Derbyshire Day:

A report produced for Radio 4 back in January, celebrating the legacy of the pioneering ‘sculptress of sound’ Delia Derbyshire through premiering rare and previously unreleased recordings from her archive, commissioning new works from modern artists inspired by her work; and even engaging in Radiophonic composition workshops for children and families. A pleasing mixture of unheard treasures and opportunities to inspire ‘the next generation of wonky musicians’ as workshop leader Caro C put it. ‘I think [Delia] would have been ticked pink …and then pitched in!’ added archive custodian Dr. David Butler. Could not have said it better myself…


6. The Museum Of Last Parties:

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The most amazing evening, performing at the Museum of London at the behest of the ever dapper of Mr. Jonny Trunk. Howlround spooled tape loops with DJ Food on decks ‘n’ FX to create a sound installation over the course of several hours, all to an audience lounging on asteroid-shaped beanbags and all in the very shadow of the 2012 Olympic Torch! We haven’t yet had a moment to go through the three hours of recordings we captured that night, but I’m sure it’ll surface somewhere eventually. Quintuple vinyl box set, anyone?

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L-R Weaver, Trunk, Fog, Food


7. The Blow Vol. 2:

So proud of this split cassette recorded with Time Attendant for Manchester’s Front And Follow label. Howlround’s side of the cassette was created entirely from a single sound source discovered on a trip to legendary almost-ghost town Amboy in the Mojave desert, with my friend Kaitlyn and a Garth Brooks CD. The strangest thing is how cold and slushy it ended up sounding, despite being recorded on one of the hottest, driest days I’ve ever experienced, something that I’m putting down once again to the endlessly transformative properties of tape. The reviews went even further:

‘Manually manipulating reels that feel like they’ve only recently been exhumed, the duo weave a dense tapestry as haunting and immersive as Delia Derbyshire and Brian Hodgson‘s Legend Of Hell House Soundtrack’ – The Wire, Nov 2016

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8. Live at Brompton Cemetery:

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Beating Brunel’s shaft by a narrow margin (not a sentence I ever imagined typing), venue of the year was certainly the gothic domed splendour of this listed Victorian chapel as part of the London Month Of The Dead festival. Set in the heart of one of London’s historic ‘Gardens Of Sleep’, could there be a more suitable venue for a candlelit autumnal performance of Howlround’s ghostly tape loops, unearthly wheezings and spooky clankings; all consumed by a sell-out crowd through the warm fuggy glow of a Hendrik’s gin cocktail, one of the strongest liquids this scribe has ever imbibed? I very much doubt it! Once again, nothing has been done with the recordings as of yet, but I’m quite sure they’ll come back to haunt us all eventually, once I get a moment to go through them! Thanks to Stephen from Antique Beat, Suzette from A Curious Invitation and that one lady who jumped up to help when one of the tapes started spooling all over the floor of the chapel. Greatly obliged, all….

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Photo by Ben Soundhog

Thanks must also go to Nick and Sam of Hook Research, who shot this rather super video of my preparations for the performance as part of an article entitled ‘Hearing Hidden Worlds’:


9. Cities And Memory London Underground Sound Map:

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Cities and Memory in collaboration with The London Sound Survey produced this epic sound-map of the London Underground that mixes up field recordings of many of the stations on the network with a number of artistic interpretations provided by a diverse selection of musicians, producers and sound artists. Perfect for getting lost in, you could spend hours happily immersed in the huge amount of work available for you perusal. Or if you happen to be in a hurry, Howlround’s own contribution, a treatment of Embankment Station, can be found here. Far more pleasurable than having to interact with the London Underground in real life, as I’m sure I won’t need to tell you.


10. A Creak In Time:

As a final choice this was a no-brainer. Two years in the making, Howround’s fifth album proper is the soundtrack to an astonishing experimental film by Australian director Steven McInerney, released on 180g vinyl (complete with streaming and download links) on his own Psyché Tropes imprint. Almost certainly the most beautiful looking-and-sounding project I’ve ever been involved with. It’s early days still, but already had kind words from DJ Food and Dr. Alex Paterson of The Orb, with hopefully more to follow. Order your copy here.

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For this soundtrack, the group have created their most ambitious work yet, made entirely from tiny and insignificant sounds, that, when amplified and extended via magnetically charged oxide particles of the tape, take on a dramatic new identity. Taken from source material discovered in London, Yosemite and the Mojave desert, these sounds, through simple manipulation, gradually cast off their moorings and head into space, chiming perfectly with the film’s recurring themes of transformation and altered perception, switching scale in a heartbeat from microscopic topography to the vast distances of the cosmos. Shot entirely on 16mm film with a musique concréte soundtrack, it’s both science and fiction combined, marking a dramatic new direction for all involved.


Well, that’s enough to be getting on with. There was so much else I could have written about, so many other great moments – I haven’t even touched on all the amazing episodes of Near Mint, for example – but this is probably enough to be getting on with.  Plus the bar where I’m typing this is playing a soundtrack full of those heartfelt acoustic songs that are always about catching people if and when they fall, so I think we’ll just consider my slate well and truly cleaned and hopefully you’ll join me in heading into the New Year with a smile on our lips and a song in our hearts.

I’m probably the last person on Earth to get round to it, but ‘Happy Belated New Year, Everyone’! Wishing you and yours all the very better for 2017….