Sussex, Surgery, Slow Songs, Squeaking, Soup

Those of you of a squeamish disposition had best look away now:

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In the same week that we were booked for a major gig later on this year, I’m happy to announce that Howlround have finally made some progress on the tape machine front, as Chris and I journeyed to deepest Sussex yesterday to visit the home of reel-to-reel repair expert Paul Baldwin. We took three dodgy tape machines under our arms/in the boot, plunderphonic overlord Lepke B rode shotgun and the two-hour  journey simply flew by thanks to one of Chris’s bizarre and confusing compilation CDs consisting entirely of Squarepusher, extreme metal and Ceefax music.

As you can see the machines looked pretty sorry for themselves as Paul pulled their guts apart, but the good news is that we finally found out what it was rattling around inside the PR-99 (not a bird’s nest it transpired) and it’s quite likely that the surgery hurt us more than it hurt them. Paul worked tirelessly throughout the day in his increasingly frigid workshop while his wife plied us (very thoughtfully) with tea and soup and his dogs presented us (equally thoughtfully) with endless squeaky toys for our entertainment.

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“Torture me all you want, I’m still not going to play Katie Melua!”

The machines bore it all with tremendous stoicism and are now looking and sounding much better after their surgery. And in a happy coincidence we also discovered just how vastly improved MOR classic ‘Closest Thing to Crazy’ sounds when played very, VERY slowly. I expect Chris will soon add this to one of his CD compilations so you can all have a listen.

In other news, at the time of writing there’s still time to have a quick punt on the very rare test pressing of ‘Ghosts Of Bush’, in aid of Resonance FM. All proceeds from this week’s fundraising auction will be going to help keep the greatest station in the world on air for another year. The needle of the Ghosts Of Bush totaliser is currently nudging £42, but I reckon we can still better in aid of such a worthy cause. At the moment £42 barely covers the costs of building the totaliser in the first place…*

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*I haven’t actually built a totaliser. I was just being silly. Sorry.


A Feast Of Fundraising

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It’s that time of year once again where Resonance FM hopes everyone will do their duty and enter into it’s much needed annual fundraising drive with gusto. There’s plenty of ways to get involved, be it simply making a donation to help keep the station on air, by bidding for a series of highly covetable items in our forthcoming marathon auction or perhaps attending the official Resonance benefit gig in Stockwell this coming Friday (details below) or even buying airtime. And let me tell you, in these recession-blasted, debt-riddled times, the most amazing radio station on earth needs your help more than ever.  There was even talk recently of having to  take on advertising to make our increasingly expensive ends meet, which is a pretty harrowing thought given the low-rent patronising horses**t that seem to pass muster on UK commercial radio these days. Last week I was trapped in a station cafe for half an hour with Heart Radio blaring from the speakers, and by the time that advert about the new Renault Megane came round again I was ready to embark on a killing spree.  Thank God my train arrived before the Emma Bunton show did…

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Anyway, I’m drifting. The main thing that I want to impart is that Resonance is a wondrous thing, a unique broadcasting experiment now more than a decade old and still making dazzling and amazing original radio of a depth and scope that you simply don’t hear anywhere else (plus Graham Penthouse – but you can’t  win ’em all) and it’s important we keep it that way, because the arrival of advertising or corporate sponsorship would surely be the beginning of the end and an interminable sink into commercial radio hell. On the other hand running and maintaining a radio station isn’t cheap and money doesn’t grow on trees. The solution is either to fund reasearch into ways of making it do so, or -much simpler – to help us raise some money. And here’s a few of the ways you can help us do just that.

Firstly, Dexter Bentley’s Hello Goodbye Show show are once again auctioning off their show at the rate of £10 per minute. In other words £10 will get you sixty seconds of prime Saturday-afternoon Resonance airtime on this jewel in the Resonance crown, which you can use however you please: promote your album, read from your memoirs or you could just count to sixty. Or for £20 you could count to a hundred and twenty. It’s up to you. A few minutes still remain, so send your donations and material by email to dexterbentley@hotmail.com

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Photo of Resonance office unapologetically stolen from website of regular Hello Goodbye guests Hamilton Yarns

There’s also the aformentioned benefit concert hosted by legendary promoters and stalwart Resonance supporters Club Integral will take place this Friday 15th February at The Grosvenor, London SW9. Doors open at 20.30 and tickets are a mere £5 (or £3 concessions), with all proceeds going to help keep the station afloat for another twelve months. Top of the bill is be a live set by Resonance’s very own Hauntological Orchestra‘the UK’s foremost explorers of the art of audio hauntology – sparkier than a bri-nylon spacesuit, cooler than Jacques Derrida’s old fridge-freezer. By turns painfully hip and mind-bogglingly kitsch, the Orchestra exists at the point where the funky but fashionable faux pas gives way to a vintage electronic vibe to die for’. Have you got all that? It’s basically a loose collective of singers, musicians, electronic noodlers (plus the frankly incomparable Lepke B and his plunderphonic pop), that’s been known to swell to close to twenty members on occasion. On Friday they will be performing an extended showcase of haunted covers, originals and radiophonic improvisations, supported by DJ sets from Robin The Fog (that fellow again) and Jules Webbcore, with visuals by  Rucksack Cinema. Really a marvellous evening’s entertainment for a fiver even before you remember the good cause the proceeds are going to.

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For my part, aside from spinning some tunes for Club Integral, I shall also be presenting a special fund-raising special edition of The OST Show, 16.30 on Saturday 16th February in regular host Jonny Trunk’s stead. Aalongside the usual programme of film and TV soundtracks, library recordings and moderate lapses of taste and judgement, we’ll be attempting to auction off as many desirable and delightful items as possible in the space of two hours. Full details of Resonance’s catalogue of biddable delights will be up very soon, but there’s a few items I can reveal here straightaway. Let’s begin with a contribution from my co-host Hannah Brown, Resonance stalwart and celebrated Lomographer who’s bringing in a very special camera to show off – a Diana Mini 35mm with flash normally worth at least a cool hundred quid. Thanks to our chums at lomographyuk.com  for this one  and if you’re unfamiliar with what it is that makes these cameras so special, check out Hannah’s photos on her Modern Day Magpie blog – then win the item and immediately start pretending you’re in Boards of Canada!

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Next up, Play OST For Me, the chance to win your very, very own personal edition of the greatest soundtrack radio show of all time, presented by your good self and Jonny Trunk (if permitted) with all of your own hand-picked favourite soundtracks of all time, plus Jonny promising to be at his most servile, pander to your every whim and to generally treat you like a princess.  This was a big hit last year – you may remember it was won by the lovely Diane from Cape Canaveral in Florida, who flew all the way to London just to take the helm, which resulted in one of the finest OST shows in recent memory. You may also recall that she was accompanied by her mother, who clearly found the whole OST experience so delightful that she quite forgot about the arm she’d broken on the way to the studio and refused all suggestions of medical attention until after the show was over. If only all our listeners were as dedicated as this wonderful mother-daughter combo. Shame on the rest of you!

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Bad boy. Dirty boy.

There’s the chance to win the ENTIRE Trunk Records Digital catalogue. This includes all Trunk releases on mp3, plus all the digital albums issued in the last two years – the catalogue runs to over 150 releases, including rare radiophonics, awesome exotica, superb spoken word, rare vocal jazz, rare jazz, rare all sort of things: singles, albums, oddities, and out-of-print gems by artists such as Eden Ahbez, Jim Fasset (a personal foggy favourite), Les Baxter, Ken Nordine, Bernard Herrmann, Yuri Gagarin and even those ‘Fornicating Female Freaks’ which you might remember from my Mucky Mixxxtape of some time ago  (I doubt you’ll need to listen to it twice). Countless others too – It’s a seriously huge amount of music and would cost you several hundred pounds to purchase individually and several thousand pounds to track down each original album. Salivate over some of the long, long list of titles here. And as if that wasn’t exciting enough, there’s a separate chance to win an original copy of recent Trunk favourite, outsider funk classic ‘It’s Broken!’ by Bob Chance. NOT the Trunk reissue – an original SEALED copy from 1980. Seriously rare and seriously odd. And speaking of seriously rare, there’s also a copy or two of the pink vinyl edition of Jeff Keen’s ‘Noise Art’, a frightening limited recent Trunk issue already fetching large sums online. Gosh, I might need a lie down…

Bob Chance

Moving on, our next lot is an original, bespoke painting by legendary Monsterist Pete Fowler!

For those of you unfamiliar with the man’s impossibly groovy oeuvre, Pete’s art roams in the fields of music, illustration, toy design, print making, painting and more recently cross stitch embroidery. Some of his most recognisable images have been for the Super Furry Animals’ albums, videos, merchandise and giant inflatable bears. His various Monsterism creations have spanned toy figures, apparel,  and two very fine CD compilations of appropriately oddball music, which we’ll certainly be dipping into on the show), stationary and more, gaining a world wide fan base. As well as digital artwork he exhibits his original artwork in various galleries and recent projects have included designing 2 one off synthesisers for XL records, a Christmas campaign for O2 and a toy figure with the legendary British comic 2000AD. Aside from his artwork Pete is one half go the cosmic smooth rock/deckshoe gaze music duo Seahawks, releasing music prolifically since 2010 and continuing to plot a similar course in 2013 with various remixes, records and CDs alongside DJing. Amazing he had time to make a painting just for us, but he has and  ‘Hirsuit Synther’, shown below, is acrylic on canvas and measures 30cm x 21cm, signed, titled and dated on the reverse. This jpg arrived in my inbox earlier and I’ve been grinning ever since. Resonance salutes you, Sir Fowler!

hirsute synther- pete fowler hi res

the chance to have your portrait painted by Team Beswick and Pye. A perennial favourite this is the third year running that the wonderful Harry Pye and the equally super Gordon Beswick have agreed to combine once again to paint the highest bidder’s image in their own style which is the very definition of ‘inimitable’. A hugely generous offer from them, a shot in the arm for Resonance and a piece of outstanding original artwork for some lucky bidder. Sensational!

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And finally for the moment, a very rare and very exclusive ‘Ghosts Of Bush’ Test-Pressing. You remember, that album I was banging on about quite a bit last year.  Got a **** review in Record Collector (that’s FOUR STARS, not a swear word), the first (black) pressing sold out in about five minutes, and for a time were fetching silly money on the internet. Well, these ‘testies’ (I do so love suggestive industry jargon!) are even rarer.  There are five of these in existence. I think we can all agree that’s quite limited edition.  At the moment nobody else has one and after this auction nobody else will either. Oh, apart from me and Hannah. But I think she might have lost hers…

test-pressing

Well, that’s enough to get started with for now. Of course if you have something special that you’d like to donate to the cause yourself and help us raise some much-needed cash, do please get in touch, either by emailing robinthefog@gmail.com or info@resonancefm.com. Some of the most successful items in the past have included rare records, out-of-print books, dinner in exclusive restaurants, a tour of Brockwell Park Sewers and (my personal favourite) an orignal ‘quad’ poster for that cinematic classic ‘The Sex Adventures Of The Three Musketeers’ with it’s memorable tagline ‘Free for all and all for free!’. It currently hangs in my kitchen except when I have sensitive relatives over to visit. In the meantime, details of how to place a bid along with an exhaustive list of everything else up for grabs will be posted on the Resonance site in the next few days.

As a little reminder of just where your generous donations are going, here’s a behind-the-scenes piece I made a while back for Monocle Radio that attempts to explain just what makes this station so special. Or you could just visit the Resonance website right now and click ‘listen’. Or tune to 104.4FM if you’re in London. Either way, enjoy!


A Very Good Sine

sine of the times

Regular listeners to Resonance FM will surely be already aware of Sine Of The Times, presented by DJ and One-Woman-Army Rita Maia. The show describes itself as ‘a varied and in depth exploration of the past, present and future of London’s underground dance music scene, with a focus on the sound system culture [..] and it’s influence & development across the world‘, but I prefer to just say that it goes out at 9pm Saturday for ninety solid minutes of all the latest cutting-edge tracks from that all-encompassing dance music genre everyone seems to call ‘Bass Culture’ (although in the tradition of ‘dubstep’, ‘trip hop’ or indeed ‘purple’, purists tend to look at you askance if you use the term in mixed company – plus have you ever seen a purple purist?). I should also add that Rita gets all the latest ‘dubs’ miles before anyone else and has a pretty hefty book of contacts from which she picks weekly special guests as well as live sessions from artists and producers before they blow up (and indeed after). For my older readers, to ‘blow up’ in youthful parlance means to suddenly become very popular and successful, rather than the horrific accident you might well now be envisioning. But I’m drifting…

Anyway, as well as running the show and her own label Badmood Recordings, she also DJs all over the place and a recent mix for FACT magazine is something of legend if you can track it down (which you can’t). With all this activity and so much exclusive material passing through her hands, it’s a wonder Sine Of The Times Radio is only just now getting around to releasing it’s first compilation of material by guest artists, DJ and contributors to the show over the past three years. Nevertheless, it’s been worth the wait. ‘Rita Maia presents Sine Of The Times‘ is out this week and its really, really good. Here’s a taster:

Cards on the table: I did make a small contribution in the form of a short ‘Intro’, as Rita asked me to make something ‘radiophonic’ in the most literal sense to promote the show behind the album. As someone who has sat in on many of her sessions over the years I was happy to oblige and set about conjuring up show’s broadcasting heritage using some processed shortwave recordings and other assorted bursts of radio static. It’s gigantic leaps of the imagination such as this that have helped me reach the very pinnacle of my game, but you could argue (and why must we always argue?) that I have a vested interest. But as you’ll hear and as the title ‘Intro’ implies, my contribution is really just an entree and pretty meagre in comparison to brand spanking new material from the excellent My Panda Shall Fly, dFranklin, Modo Fractal, BD1982  and a particularly fine track from NKC of Awkward Movements fame, plus more. Will Ward‘s gorgeous, Detroit-inspired ‘Brighter’ is the pick of the bunch for me, though with Rita’s firm grip on the controls there isn’t even a suspicion of filler. And it’s mostly exclusive too. Read the very complimentary review from the good folk of the aforementioned Awkward Movements here and then immediately go and buy it from Rough Trade here (it’s made their top 20 this week!) or indeed from Juno Records here.

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In other exciting news, there’s a party to celebrate the release of the album THIS FRIDAY (8th Feb) at the Notting Hill Arts Club, with LV from Hyperdub leading the charge and a live set from My Panda Shall Fly. I shall always be fond of NHAC as it remains the location of my shortest ever DJ set (somewhere in the region of sixteen minutes) and indeed I was originally supposed to be spinning some tunes at the launch party myself. Unfortunately, however, due to my rather frantic current schedule and a succession of encroaching project deadlines, I had no choice but to force myself to deliberately not even notice the email until it was too late (Sorry about that, Rita!) Probably just as well, the line-up is a stonker and I’d only have ended up embarrassing myself by using expressions such as ‘bass culture’ in front of everyone.  Best just to let them get on with it.

Why are you still here? Go and buy the album! Now!