Secret Songs Revealed – First Glimpse Of New Howlround Vinyl

Look what turned up on my doorstep this morning:

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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…

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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:

Spanish House sound by..

…I’m just sorry I won’t be able to pay you!!

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All of these people have now heard the album. You haven’t yet.

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?

(Just so you know, I didn’t pay her either…)

What a wonderful thing to have such good friends, eh?

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