Hello there and a Happy New Year to you. I was beginning to wonder if it might not be a bit too late for such sentiments, but I overheard someone using just those words on the bus today, and as they seemed tastefully attired and of reasonably sound mind, I figured it was probably alright. So a Happy New Year it is. Let us toast one another.
It’s been a busy start to the year, alright, with a couple of hefty commissions already on the books for the next couple of months, not to mention a mammoth production of ‘Hamlet’ in my day job (apparently tomorrow I get to demonstrate my swordplay, so there is a very slight chance this could be my last post ever), all of which is keeping me stimulated. I’ve also engaged in my first soundclash of the year, with my old sparring partner DJ Halfdutch, an almighty tussle at a venue on Caledonian Road which I’ve since forgotten the name of. The one thing I do remember is that downstairs there was a group of people dressed as that Tombraider woman dancing to house music so nondescript it’s a wonder it could be bothered to show up at all. The poor, sexily-clad fools should have joined us upstairs, where a pitched battle was being fought on the turntables, our weapons a downright tasty stew of Dekker, Bongo, Fatty, Hopeton, Tony, Betty and of course some Winstons (of ‘The’ fame):
We chose a strict 45s-only ruling to both add a little frisson to the occasion and also because I’m getting to the stage where lugging a spine-cracking bag of 12″s through central London on a sucession of night buses is at long last beginning to prove irksome. But who was the winner? Why, the audience, of course! We’ve since divided up the spoils and posted them on our respective Mixcloud pages, so those of you aggrieved to have missed the whole thing can play catch up. Here’s part two:
Onto more serious matters, here are some of my resolutions for 2013:
- There IS going to be a second Howlround album. Quite a lot of people have been asking me about a follow-up to ‘The Ghosts of Bush’ and I can confirm one is in the pipeline. But it’s a VERY long pipeline that is currently a bit congested and keeps refusing to ‘pipe’ properly, so I won’t be able to make much progress until I’ve had my equipment thoroughly worked-over by a ‘pipe expert’ (I realise this is beginning to sound dangerously euphemistic, so I’ll leave it there). Some have asked what the theme of the record will be, but I can’t disclose this yet partly because it’s a surprise and partly because it involves a series of recordings that require some rather fiddly copyright clearance. Just like the last album, and indeed pretty much anything I do, I haven’t got the slightest idea what it will sound like or what the end result will actually be, but let’s just say I wasn’t hanging out in the basement of the British Library just to admire the intricacies of their conveyer-belt book transit system (although it is impressive). The Howlround line-up has expanded to include Mr. Chris Weaver of Resonance FM and Oscillatorial Binnage-fame and together I’m hoping we’ll concoct something rather special, once we’ve knocked our collection of broken tape machines into some semblance of functionality. Oh, for the days when I could just walk into a studio, spool up and get cracking!
- A couple of new, limited-edition releases are pending on my low-rent vanity label The Fog Signals, plus hopefully a second full-length album with Guy J. Jackson, if there’s time. His stories get ever darker and weirder! As it happens, both releases feature one Hills Have Riffs, who plays guitar, mandolin, whistle and, as you can see below, a selection of pens. Another talented fellow.
- A brand new mini-series for Resonance FM, ‘Looking Good, Feeling Great’: How to I describe it? Well, it’s a sort of history of aspirational, instructional and educational vinyl compiled into a series of mixtapes by being ruthlessly cut up and thrown about in a most ignoble manner. The results are by turns fascinating, hilarious, nostalgic, deeply weird and – perhaps inevitably – a touch sleazy. Tx dates coming very soon, naturally I’ll be bringing them to your attention…
Not a bad start. Other, lesser resolutions include:
- Reminding myself that I really don’t need any more records that attempt to teach me the bongos while hypnotised.
- Crafting better analogies (that pipe-related paragraph above went completely off the rails. Sorry about that.)
- Finally getting rid of those people who brandish I-pods at me while I’m DJing by throwing the bastarding thing out the nearest window. And then throwing them out after it.
- Developing my upper-body strength in order to facilitate the throwing of i-Pod-owners out of windows.
- Coming up with a DJ name as classic as ‘Martika’s Bitchin’!’
- To stop collecting things just because I can’t quite believe they exist. For example:
Seriously, what kind of world are we living in where this kind of publication is given the green light? Although in a curiously topical twist, the first joke that jumped off the page at me (well, it sat up and begged at least) was How does JR rate Jimmy Saville? The highly dubious likelihood of Larry Hagman actually fostering an opinion of the erstwhile host of Jim’ll Fix It or indeed regularly dropping everything to score some cheap scouts-on-roller-coaster jollies is casually passed over, and the punchline far, far too dismal to render here. But sitting in a Maida Vale studio this week hearing Hamlet’s stirring speech regarding there being ‘more things more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy’, I found myself imagining that in these words the great Bard was surely anticipating a distant future where the fortunes of two completely unrelated fellows, one an American with shoulder-pads and the other a pervert in a shell-suit could be needlessly and incomprehensibly slammed together. In a joke book. It’s no wonder Ophelia went bananas.
A final few resolutions:
- To coin a new phrase or expression to describe that thing where one presents a photograph on a digital camera to elderly relative, only for them to exclaim ‘Aww, isn’t that lovely – Oh, wait, where’s it’s gone?’
- To stop updating my website in the small hours of the morning when my ability to construct a coherent sentence goes completely belly-up, and I find myself going off on lengthly tangents about pointless and emphemeral pop-cultural backwaters. (As you can see, that one’s off to a flying start.)
- And lastly, to hunt down and punish every single person involved in the making of THIS:
Yes, friends, if you can think of a better demonstration of just how irredeemably screwy our world has become than the spectacle of Michael Ball challenging Brian Connelly to an obstacle-course race on prime-time afternoon television with the help of a mobility scooter formation display team; before the latter embarks on a carefully choreographed ‘spontaneous’ freak-out, let’s hear it. Seriously, get in touch. And you, Jim Sneardon are a disgrace to the uniform!
Only obscurist, limited edition pieces of sound art can save us now. Which, handily, is exactly what I’ve got planned for the coming months.
Best foot forward, then…