It’s hard to believe that after months of planning, cutting, splicing, and editing, swearing at photoshop, agonising over test pressings and pestering friends and trusted advisors for assurances that this whole project wasn’t a gigantic mistake; the vinyl LP Secret Songs Of Savamala is finally out today.
Well, it was actually yesterday if we’re going to be picky, as I’ve only just got back from my inaugural visit to the Post Office. No time to rest on those laurels, the album has incredibly sold more than half of it’s stock on pre-order alone and today has been spent shipping freshly minted vinyl all over the world, from London to Dundee, The USA, Portugal, Norway, Germany, Poland and even a house on Eureka Terrace, which sounds like a truly fantastic place to live. Unfortunately I failed to take into account that it was pension day and so performed these tasks to a backdrop of continuous tutting from a queue of griping oldsters that had transformed into a sort of depressing conga line by the time I’d got my first consignment safely through the hatch. Negotiations are currently well underway to arrange some proper distribution and let the old folk alone, but for the time being it’s just me and my trolley. So if your record doesn’t turn up immediately, please exercise patience. I’ll be sending the download edition to all my customers in the next few days, so that should give you something to listen to during your impatient vigil by the letterbox.
If your vigil happens to be occurring close to the internet, I’d also like to draw your attention to the above video. You’ll have noticed it contains highlights from Howlround’s performance at the FON Festival back in July which was sent to us by festival organisers The Octopus Collective last week. See how earnest we look and marvel at the skill with which we handle those clunky great reels – though thankfully the bit where I somehow get tangled has been edited out. They’ve asked us to promote the video through our ususal channels and wagered us that we can’t beat ‘reigning FON Vimeo Champion’ Hildur Gudnadottir. I HAVE to win that bet. There’s no money, I just really want to be a champion at something. Please watch it ten times. We also have an audio clip from the same performance for added value:
Oh, and did we mention Howlround are currently looking for venues and promoters who would be interested in booking us throughout 2014? Our turn last week at the London Analogue Festival got us hungry for more! Email your list of demands to robinthefog at gmail dot com and perhaps follow the UK’s only improvised tape-loop quartet on Twitter while you’re at it.
Right, back to the Post Office first thing. Best turn in…
Look what turned up on my doorstep this morning:
Actually, that’s a falsehood. When I say ‘doorstep’ I mean the quiet corner of Broadcasting House that I’m secretly running a record label from. And it didn’t just ‘turn up’ of its own accord, I wheeled it there on a hastily-purloined trolley that nearly took a few people’s feet off. And, if I’m honest, it was actually yesterday. But none of this is really important. What I want to impart with all this is the news that the vinyl copies of the second Howlround LP Secret Songs Of Savamala have finally arrived, just in time for the official release date on 16th September. And I have to say they’re looking even lovelier than I dared hope. I honestly thought that nothing could top Lisa Hack and Hannah Brown’s beautiful sleeve art for Ghosts Of Bush, but having finally got my hands on the finished product I really think Milica Nikolic’s highly atmospheric cover shots make it a close call. Take a look for yourself:
I have to confess to being a very proud and happy Fog right now. Thanks to all those good folk too numerous to mention who have already snared themselves a pre-ordered copy at the special-discount-early-bird rate of £10. You surprised me with your enthusiasm and you’re going to surprise my local post-mistress even more with your sheer bulk and volume. Despite this, you will all be receiving your records and accompanying downloads in the mail (and email) sometime in the next week. For the rest of you, this is your LAST CHANCE to take advantage of this extremely reasonable price, because from the release date on Monday it gets more expensive! And apart from the cost-factor there are only 300 copies for the world, which are selling fast. And this time there will be NO REPRESSES! Click here to get your copy before it’s too late!
Thanks also to those who came down to The Spanish House in Belgrade last week and made the official launch event such a memorable occasion. If you’ve been following my antics over the last few months you might remember that this is where this whole thing started, down in the flooded basement beneath the ruins listening to my new friends conjuring up ghostly echoes armed only with voice and spanner. To be able to return months later and play the sounds back into the very space where they were recorded was for me a very special and symbolic moment, and I was very glad that so many of my Belgrade friends came down and joined me for the occasion. Now transformed into an arts pavilion with the basement safely-but-sadly sealed-off, the ruins have undergone significant changes even since those snowy days back in April, making the album a time capsule of yet another lost moment in it’s long and chequered history. As the unholy metallic chimes and deep bass pulses swirled once again around crumbling walls eerily lit for the occasion, Milica Nikolic’s raggedly beautiful photos building and the local area were projected onto an exposed concrete pillar.
It really felt as if we were bringing the ghosts home…
I would also like to thank a very special group of people, without whom this album simply would not have happened, particularly Leila Peacock, Axel Humpert, Ana Djordjevic-Petrovic and the staff of Camenzind Belgrade for inviting me to take part in their amazing project. The first issue of their magazine, featuring essays and photographs of Savamala (including The Spanish House in it’s former glory) is now available and issue two will follow very soon. Thanks also to NO-FM, which is rapidly becoming a genuine radiophonic force; and particulalry to Boba Stanic and Nicola Markovic for allowing us to use The Spanish House and trusting us with the keys!
But the most gratitude is reserved for my co-conspirators Mirjana, Anita and Milica for bringing me to their ‘temple’, for providing vocals, percussion, photography; and, above all, their deathless and infectious enthusiasm. Ladies, you are each an inspiration and I’m so glad to have worked with you. This is your album too:
…I’m just sorry I won’t be able to pay you!!
It’s odd to finally be here after so many months of alternate tinkering and procrastination, and with launch date approaching rapidly I do find myself wondering what people will make of Secret Songs Of Savamala. It’s something of a departure from Ghosts Of Bush, but also, in its way, a natural successor. It’s a slightly darker, more minimal record, very much a ‘winter’ album and I think you will get a real sense of just how cold it was inside the building when we were making the recordings; with the occasional howl of a blustery wind, the dripping of melting snow and Mirjana and Anita’s voices hanging in the icy air. Of course what connects these two LPs is that once again, these are simply the sounds of the space. No artificial reverb, no computer effects, just the sound of voices on concrete, metal on rust and ripples on floodwater. It may well be Howlround’s most evocative work yet. Isn’t that right, Scribbleface?
Am i allowed to talk about how lovely @RobinTheFog‘s new record is before it’s even been released? hmmmm
— hannah brown (@scribbleface) August 28, 2013
(Just so you know, I didn’t pay her either…)
What a wonderful thing to have such good friends, eh?
I can’t promise our launch event will ‘bring down the house’ as a combination of poor maintenance and lack of funding has already achieved this. But it’s most exciting to be able to play back the album inside the ruins of the very building where it was recorded! There’s a Facebook Event page too for those of you who enjoy such things. All are warmly welcomed…
Thanks to Ana Djordjevic-Petrowycz for the poster design and, once again, to Milica Nikolic McKitis for the beautiful album artwork!