Are you in the mood for soft voices? Lovely hula hands? Let’s end our routine with the ‘leg-over’ movement. You are going to relax. You will relax. Make yourself comfortable. You are enjoying a massage, which is being skillfully applied. You walk naked. You get on this escalator. Down towards the floor. Gaze at it intently. Now don’t lose it. I don’t want you to be sick. Take it through the nose. Let the face go. Very soothing. You’re flat on the floor again. Blame the gypsies. Let them touch the body. Feels good.
To put it it in a nutshell, today’s programme concerns the fundamental truism that if one single deep and sonorous voice is thought to be relaxing, then simple logic dictates that FIVE deep and sonorous voices occurring simultaneously must surely be ULTRA RELAXING. I certainly hope it proves so, as I’m predicting a mass out-pouring of of costernation and grief after I drop the following bombshell: This is the LAST episode in the current series of ‘Looking Good, Feeling Great’.
I know, I know – you’re inconsolable, right? But just think of all the happy times we’ve all had together over the past four weeks. Indeed, I’d like to thank everyone for their support, in particular the owner of the email address “total****@resoNONCEfm.com” and the proprietor of the website http://upmyf******a**.com (one and the same, apparently) who commented that they ‘quite liked it’. Can’t imagine someone who refers to themselves as ‘total****’ ever using the word ‘quite’ can you?
Thanks to everyone who came down to Cian O’Neill’s excellent ‘Music and Paintings’ evening last week. I worked out that it was my first solo live performance for a good few years and although a pretty low-key affair (just me and a laptop) it consisted almost entirely of new material, including tracks from the Savamala project, a few rough demos from the preparatory sessions for Howlround’s live debut next month and even some outtakes from another rather large and shadowy comission-in-progress, about which I’m sworn to secrecy for the moment!
Hopefully all this new material will begin to surface in the coming months as I desperately try to finish off projects and make token efforts at meeting deadlines. But for the moment, this little extract is all I’m going to tempt you with. It features a number of tape loops created by myself and Chris Weaver during a feverish weekend spent in preparation for Howlround’s live debut at the Great Escape Festial in Brighton (further details forthcoming) and sounds rather good turned up loud, which bodes well!
Having had so many enquiries about the possibility of performing ‘Ghosts’ live, I must say that I’m beginning to wonder how closely such a performance is going to be able to replicate the very specific sounds and grooves heard on that album. Listeners expecting us to faithfully recreate the sound of those hallowed corridors on stage might well be disappointed, as the machines are already taking us off in strange new directions. We fed a few basic loops into our two Revoxes and suddenly we were off on a quite different path. As I’ve harped on about before, the beauty of working with tape and the thing that appeals to me the most is it’s unpredictability – you never quite know what you’re going to get. This can result in either triumph, disaster, or a weird combination of the two. I personally think it’s going to sound amazing, but how closely it resembles the original ‘Ghosts Of Bush’ album and whether you consider that lack of resemblance a good or bad thing remains to be seen. Only one way to find out, I suppose…
Good morning, my fine beauty. You’ve probably already had the feeling you may experience over the next few minutes – What are these people talking about?
In other words, welcome to one of my top hits. This week’s show will be just like a rock concert, except it won’t have the singers, the instruments and the crowd noise is ‘kinda missing’ too. It’s disappointingly sad. Are you beginning to understand? It sure covers a lot of material in one place, doesn’t it?
That’s awesome. You’re very smart. But it will sound strange to you. Let me give you a frosty drink from my thermos. Hopefully this will make you feel free and fulfilled as a woman.
This week’s missive slams together two diamentrically-opposed LPs into a titanic soundclash. The first is Stanley Z. Daniels’ 1969 LP ‘Sex For Teens – Where It’s At’. The second is one of the most astonishing cultural artefacts I’ve ever had the pleasure of dropping a jaw over:
If you can listen to Paul’s efforts to convince the object of his desires to spread sun-tan oil on his back without your own skin crawling you’re more of an alpha-male than I am.
There’s also a Green Goddess disco workout record bank-rolled by Renault Trucks. Listening to it, it’s hard to believe anyone born before 1992 would have the slightest idea of what sex was, let alone require instruction regarding where it was ‘at’ or how to easily pick it up.
OK, that’s probably enough staring at the Green Goddess for now. Many thanks to ace record collector and soundtrack obsessive Mr. Jonny White for pointing me in the direction of some of this week’s treasures. To show our gratitude, let’s all head over to his super blog, ‘Soundtracks, Library Music and All That Jazz’, shall we? I knew you’d come running for it. Tune in again next week for the final episode in the current series when things get REALLY unpleasant – we’ll be learning how to relax. The results are almost unlistenable…
Wotcha, Cock. Welcome to London. Home of the whelk, Old Joanna, The Pearly Queen and of course the mighty Resonance FM.
There it is, love, originally aired last Friday at 7pm, repeated this Tuesday at 2am. On this week’s show guided by the vintage voices of several competitively avuncular narrators and a grand piano, we’re taken on a whistle-stop audio tour of London, a fantastical city entirely populated by bad actors. We might go by underground. It’s quicker by tube, as you people say. The Police’ll be after you if you’re not a good boy. We’ll also have a cockney sing-song and enjoy a reggae tune about the joys of commuting. The great dome. A moon in the sky. Makes you think of horses, don’t it?
Join Robin The Fog as he digs up a plethora of inspirational, aspirational and instructional recordings of highly dubious vintage and embarks on a cut-and-paste odyssey that is by turns amusing, absurd and, on at least one occasion, almost unbearable.
Looking Good, Feeling Great runs throughout April, and I’m really rather fond of this week’s edition, which was consists largely of three separate ‘tour-guide’ records, a Linguaphone 45, and a man with an enormous 1960s tape machine concealed up his jumper, all edited seam-fully together with the usual bag of hammers. But, of course we’re by no means on virgin territory here. Almost as long as there has been a city on the banks of the Thames, there have been people being silly about it. In fact, let’s close business here with a completely spurious, unrelated coasting on other people’s brilliance, namely the greatest depiction of London ever made:
Call me old-fashioned, but that Palace Guard’s sudden about-turn from Parade-Ground bark to coquettish titter never fails to make me laugh. For ages. And then to demand that all of my friends and associates watch it, forgetting they’ve already seen it several times before. Not that I’m obsessive or anything, oh no.
Tune in next week where we’ll be learning how NOT to have a relationship, a subject on which I consider myself a veritable soothsayer…
I will have no part of the current trend for branding things ‘amaze-balls’ (or indeed it’s antithesis – ‘disappointi-balls’ at a guess), but if I did I would be amaze-balling all over THIS:
This is the work of writer and painter Cian O’Neill who is curating an evening of his work entitled simply ‘Music And Paintings’ next Thursday 19th April at Thursday 18th April, 6-10pm at Unit E, 199 Eade Road, N4 1DN Hackney
To shamelessly copy and paste from his very fine website, where you can admire a wealth of his other work: Cian O’Neill is an Irish painter, writer and graduate of Chelsea College of Arts School of Painting. Previous to Chelsea College, he studied at Central Saint Martins. He was selected for Futuremap, the University of the Arts New Graduates Show and short-listed for the Catlin Arts prize. [His] work is influenced by, amongst others, Max Ernst, Rembrandt van Rijn, Willem van Aelst, Francisco Zurbarán, Francisco Goya, Diego Velázquez, Matthias Grünewald, Jean Ingres, Michelangelo da Caravaggio and Michelangelo Buonarroti.
That’s the paintings taken care of, then. The music will be supplied by no-doubt equally visceral live sets from the ever-excellent Brood MA, the redoubtable Yearning Kru, and the really rather splendid Joane Skyler, who’s recent ‘Orz Side 1’ for NTS Radio contained some of the dirtiest bass I’ve heard in a good while. And not forgetting Mark Barrett (though I can’t seem to find a decent hyperlink to regale you with!) and myself. I’m a huge fan of Cian’s work and Brood Ma and Yearning Kru are old friends, so it should be an amazing night. For those of you who insist on such things, there’s also a Facebook events page. And it’s FREE! What more could you insist on, for heaven’s sake?
See you there, then. At the moment I have absolutely no idea what I shall be playing, so I’m hoping to surprise us both. Possibly not Ant and Dec…
Good evening, citizens of Earth. Presenting the first episode of my new miniseries ‘Looking Good, Feeling Great’ for Resonance FM!
Join Robin The Fog as he digs up a plethora of inspirational, aspirational and instructional recordings of highly dubious vintage and embarks on a cut-and-paste odyssey that is by turns amusing, absurd and, on at least one occasion, almost unbearable. Essential listening for adolescent salespeople seeking holiness or anyone trying to give up smoking on the moon.
Episode 1 – What A Space Ovation!
For this first adventure our hero Bob (and a girl called Betty) journey to the moon in the futuristic year of 1985, the first human being under the age of 21 (and the first woman – Betty, not Bobby) to ever travel so far without parental supervision. On their way they eat some strange peaches, take a nap, dream of a horse from the West Country playing party games, listen to the hooting of space owls, learn about Hydrogen and, upon arrival, attend a lunar rave where they dance to a psychedelic version of ‘Greensleeves’. Worth a listen just to find out what happens when a crowd of scientists and technicians ‘go wild’…
Significant portions of this programme were culled from the 1965 Happy House LP shown above. Other excerpts were taken from ‘The Space Alphabet’ (with thanks to DJ Food for the tip-off), Vera Gray and Desmond Briscoe’s ‘Listen, Move And Dance No.4 – Moving Percussion And Electronic Sound Pictures’, something called ‘Ideas 2’ (which I can’t tell you anything about as I don’t have the sleeve in front of me), an US 7″ from the early 1960s that somehow manages to confuse space travel with home insurance and ‘Party Time With Alphonse’, although the less said about that, the better.
Now that the dust has settled somewhat and I’ve had a few days to get my affairs in order, I’m very excited to reveal some of the results of Camenzind Belgrade‘s first week. Working alongside a team of local architects, students, artists and journalists, my role as a ‘guest expert’ was to help the participants create various radio and sound works concerning the Savamala area of the city. In addition I gave a lecture on radiophonic music as part of Camenzind’s series of salon evenings and made guest appearances on local stations FMK Beograd and the mighty NO-FM, for whom I contributed a live DJ mix that was perhaps a little more energetic than I’d originally intended. Not that anyone complained….
As I think I’ve mentioned before, Camenzind is a Swiss magazine and research platform that deals with architecture from the perspective not only of architects but also musicians, artists, physicists, civil engineers, and any other kind of inhabitant or user of architecture. Or perhaps I forgot to mention this. Either way, you can read more about the magazine’s new Belgrade operation (invited at the behest of the Goethe Institute to take part in the city’s current ‘Urban Incubator‘ project) and have a listen to some of the impressive body of work the team created here. I must say I was consistently impressed by the talent and creativity displayed by my new Serbian friends, there’s some really dynamic and exciting work to be found on the website. And they’re only just getting started!
For my own part I’m currently creating a ‘sound portrait’ using recordings collected around Savamala (an early part of which I unveiled on this site last week) that will hopefully be finished in the coming weeks. But for the moment I’d like to present a couple of short audio-visual portraits made in collaboration with local photographer Milica Nikolić.
The images are culled from Milica’s beautiful shots of the riverside area, while the soundtrack uses percussive and reverberant sounds recorded inside ‘The Spanish House’, a ruined shell of a building perched on the riverbank with a flooded basement that provided one of the most delightfully evocative acoustics I’ve ever had the privilege of balancing precariously in. Perhaps surprisingly there are no electronic effects or artificial reverb used in these recordings, the atmosphere you hear is entirely natural. Milicia and I were assisted in our endeavours by Mirjana Utvić and Anita Knežić, architecture students, radio producers and amatuer percussionists who not only introduced me to this wondrous place, but also embraced our project with what I think we all agreed can be called ‘gusto’.
Here’s part one, recorded on a visit to the famous ‘ship’s graveyard’. I use inverted commas because although far from sea-worthy, at least one local has made a fairly cosy dwelling amongst these rusting hulks, while the others are used by fisherman as a casting point for their rods, despite the huge amount of rubbish and debris that has collected in this bend of the river. And they don’t just throw them back, either…
For part two we move to The Spanish House itself, situated on the banks of the river and with it’s brackish waters lapping in the basement. It was cold, wet and eerie and and also love at first sight:
As you can tell I’m a huge admirer of Milica’s work and hope that we’ll have an opportunity to collaborate again soon. I also hope that next time it won’t take four long hours just to upload two short minutes of video (dammit!). And of course I’m very grateful to Mirjana and Anita for allowing me into their special ‘Temple of Savamala’ and for providing voices and percussion. Here are a couple more photographs of us at work – taken by Milica of course.
Unfortunately this has all been rather a brief summing-up of what was an incredibly exciting and rewarding week, partly as I’m flying off to Berlin first thing in the morning and partly because these videos took far longer to finalise and upload than was strictly proper and necessary. But I do urge you to visit the Camenzind Belgrade site for further listening and hope to be bringing even more exciting new work to your attention in the coming months. Once you start flying to Eastern Europe, breaking into abandoned buildings and banging on the pipes it’s very difficult to stop, as I’m sure you can imagine…