It’s been an exciting few days for Howlround as we undertook our second-and-third-ever gigs on consecutive nights at venues several hundred miles apart, quite an achievement given the weight of the tape machines, the state of the Howlroundmobile’s suspension and a journey that consisted almost entirely of gingerly negotiating speedbumps. Our first port of call was The Outer Church launch party for their new compilation on Front & Follow Records, where we were lucky to find ourselves playing alongside Hong Kong In The 60s (whom we also have to thank for these lovely photographs), Death & Vanilla and Cherry, all of whom provided such entertaining live sets that a lesser pair of tape loop manipulators might have found themselves wondering how they could possibly follow. Such feelings might have then been exacerbated by the fact that our carefully organised selection of tape loops fell into a gigantic tangle all over the stage roughly thirty seconds before showtime, resulting in our incorporating some rather chaotic accidental performance art into the set as we scrabbled around trying to restore them to order. All grist to the haunted looms, of course. Here’s a quick blast for your edutainment:
Proof that trouble rides a fast horse, we even got reviewed in Brighton’s premier Homes and Property Magazine/Blog The Latest! Entirely fitting, given our work exploring empty and abandoned spaces, if you’ll forgive me hammering an analogy home:
Howlround live is two men playing with four tape loop machines, creating an incredible cacophony culled from the manipulated acoustic sounds of Bush House (the old home of the BBC World Service). The gig was somehow much more fun and enthralling than it sounds however, with some loud shuddering bass (emulating the scarier “ghosts” of Bush House) and some stunning moments of confluence where multiple tracks meshed together to create a beautiful drone. Imagine whale noises combined with echoes, delays and tape hiss. Despite a few technical hitches that slightly disrupted the hypnotic mood, the gig was strange, unique, haunting and enthralling.
Green Door Store, 25 July 2013
No rest for the wicked, of course, and once we had picked up the sorry remains of our live set from the floor it was off up north to the Full Of Noises Festival where we performed on the opening night alongside Felix Kubin, Lee Gamble, The ever-wonderful Bohman Brothers and Ryoko Akama, whose two small children, both cassette enthusiasts, were quite visibly appalled at our acts of loop vandalism which flew in the face of all the stern parental warnings they had even been given. And as loops were stretched across the room and flung haphazardly on the floor, it might have seemed that Mother knew best – they had received quite a trampling on the previous evening. Fortunately our machines and loops performed with exceptional fortitude and even proclaimed the highlight of the evening by certain members of the crowd, which given the quality of the line-up is very flattering but palpably untrue. Still, we were most chuffed. Here’s another quick edifying blast:
A programme of performances, workshops and talks, Full Of Noises is a most remarkable sonic arts festival in the very last place you would expect to find one – and as a native Cumbrian I feel qualified to say this. Personal highlights included John Dack’s lecture on the work of Pierre Schaeffer, and the following evening’s concert at St. James’ church featuring a wonderful piano piece by Tom James Scott and the ‘doom tuba’ of ORE. But of course my very favourite personal highlight was the appearance on the scene of my own dear parents who upon surveying the wreckage of our live set up broke with three decades of tradition by amending their favoruite phrase to ‘look at the state of your tape loops’ and insisted on straightening them all out before we made a mess of them all over again. Perhaps Mother really does know best after all.
Hope they’ll invite us back for more next year (the FON festival, that is, not my parents)
And do something about the speedbumps…