Alien Jams and Electric Dogs

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For those of you who somehow found last Sunday afternoon’s weather conducive to doing anything other than staying in and listening to the radio (and found themselves lacking a smartphone or internet-ready umbrella), I’m very pleased to inform you that the latest edition of the Alien Jams show on NTS Radio featuring SPECIAL GUESTS HOWLROUND!!! (my caps) is now online for your streaming pleasure. We took the opportunity to road-test some brand new material from our as-yet-completely-unfinished next release, and indeed a sizeable chunk of airtime was given over to brand new works fresh off the spools, plus at least one new piece that will probably never be heard or referenced ever again. It’s something of a departure from our previous LPs, but we think it fits into the Howlround niche quite nicely. Dig in, won’t you?:

Extra special thanks to host Chloe Frieda and producer Padraigh for having us and make sure you pre-order the new LP from Ommm, coming soon on the Alien Jams label

There’s other news this month, both very good and slightly bad. The very good news is that we’re excited to be playing The Electric Dog show at Power Lunches in Dalston on May 7th. Brought to you by Soft Bodies Records, we’re playing alongside Quimper and Gyratory System and it looks set to be yet another killer line-up to be slotted into! Further details here and there’s also a Facebook Event Page as there so often is with these modern events. The slightly bad news is that this will be your last chance to catch Howlround live for the FORESEEABLE FUTURE! 

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But before your throw up your hands and commence wailing and gnashing, I must reassure you that this is by no means the end of the our tape loop adventures, though given that I’ve just been boasting about playing exclusive new material from a forthcoming release, you may already have picked up on that. Aside from avoiding very real damage being caused to our quartet of Revoxes every time they leave my studio (not to mention our spines!), we’ve decided that now is a good time to hunker down and concentrate on building a solid repertoire of tape music while they still just about work. That way, when each machine is assumed into Revox Heaven (and the day cannot be that far off), we’ll have lots and lots of material in reserve that we can release posthumously in a steady drip-feed, while raking in the cash. A bit like Tupac. Oh, and Chris is moving to Dubai. Did I mention that?

So, a bit of a change on the horizon. I must admit I shall greatly miss jamming with my indispensable partner-in-tape who has bought so much to the project over the past year; but work will continue thanks to the wonders of THE INTERNET and we’re both very excited about where things are going (quite literally, in Chris’s case). I hope that after a listen to the new material on the Alien Jams show you’ll be just a little excited too. Just a little…


‘A Very Long Shadow’ – Roger Limb

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Continuing with my interviews from the alumni of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, we move on to genius composer Roger Limb. Part of what I suppose we could call the department’s ‘second wave’, he joined the workshop at the dawn of it’s synthesiser era in 1973 and worked as one of its principal producers and composers for over two decades, creating a huge body of signature tunes for television and radio drama that will almost certainly be familiar to anyone growing up in the UK over the past thirty years. Perhaps best known for his substantial contributions to Doctor Who during the eighties, he also recorded and produced many of the songs for the cult BBC Schools programme Look And Read, including the famous ‘Magic E’ song that became the subject of much rather tiresome postmodern chuckling in subsequent years:

A respected pop and jazz musician outside of the workshop, Limb has now rejoined his friends and former colleagues as part of a revamped Radiophonic Workshop band and will be touring the festival circuit with them over the summer. This interview took place during a rather brief interval in a long day of discussions and performances at Chichester University. Despite being pushed for time, however, Roger’s additional years as a voiceover artist and continuity announcer for the BBC meant that he had no trouble putting his points across quickly and succinctly!

RL:  I think the Radiophonic Workshop has a sort of legacy, [because] even though it closed down 15 years ago, there’s a whole generation of people for whom the phrase ‘Radiophonic Workshop’ has some sort of mystical quality. When they were kids, perhaps they saw the name on the screen. Or they heard the back announcement on radio [and thought] “… Radiophonic Workshop – what does it mean, who are these radiophonic workmen, what  do they  do , where do these strange uncanny sounds and strange music come from, what is going on there?” So I think a lot of people remember that rather mysterious atmosphere, and [had] questions about it that were never properly answered, questions that are still hanging in the air today.

Can you tell us something about the equipment and techniques used by the workshop?

When the Radiophonic Workshop first began producing music there was a lot of very strange and rudimentary techniques [involved].  The whole idea of tape manipulation – you get a piece of sound on a tape and you can do strange things to it: play it slower, play it backwards, damage the tape slightly, put unearthly echo on it… And [so] a lot of the early radiophonic music that came from the workshop was tape that had been manipulated.  Later on there was quite a big change in the early 1970s when synthesisers became more and more used and the old tape cutting techniques went out of fashion. So for the last thirty years the signature sound of the workshop has been the synthesiser. But that doesn’t mean to say it’s [become] limited because the whole world of synthesisers, the whole world of sequencing and sampling has meant an enormous change and development in the techniques available for people who were doing electronic, radiophonic music.

With that in mind, I’m wondering what your thoughts are on modern electronic music, about how your influence has permeated down to the current generation?

I think there’s no doubt at all that the radiophonic workshop cast a very long shadow.  Techniques have changed drastically in the last ten, twenty years and now it’s possible for people at home with home studios, even on their cell-phones, to create and play radiophonic music through wonderful speaker arrays and things such as that.  There’s a huge market and a huge output of Radiophonic electronic music now. I don’t know how on earth [to keep track of it], it’s like the old question of loads and loads of people talking but nobody listening!  I listen to as much of it as I can and from time to time I hear something that’s quite arresting, something that obviously a person ha put a lot of thought and ingenuity into.  And that’s really quite interesting, but the problem is there is so much to listen to that it’s quite often just a happy chance if you happen to hear something [significant]. But I keep listening!

As a member of twenty years standing, you must have seen quite a lot of change at the workshop?

When I arrived there were about five or six studios in which each individual member of the workshop would set up their own little studio according to the way they wanted things, whether it was tape machines, synthesisers, or mixing desks.  As time went on the techniques became more and more advanced and we had a little more money to spend on for example multi-track tape machines. And then another big change happened in the 1980s and that was the arrival of sequencing programmes on computers. Quite rudimentary to start with but developing in such a way that it was a joy to use, particularly for incidental music for drama when you could measure the action that was given to you on the tape or the film and express it exactly onto a sequence on a computer and [then] write the music around it. It was a wonderful tool to use.

 Talking to you and to Paddy Kingsland earlier, the impression that I get is that there is a lot of excitement in the current line-up about modern developments in music technology, rather than simply using the tried and tested methods you would have used in the workshop at the time.

I think there is, but [out of all of us] I’m probably the most of an old curmudgeon, because quite apart form doing these gigs with the RW -we’re performing live quite regularly- I go out and do a lot of  live jazz gigs, playing piano or double bass, playing conventional music and trying to do it in an unconventional or original sort of way. So when I hear about these [modern] techniques they talk about, recording and finding good samples from the recordings they do with the people who want to come and work with us, I was a little bit wary at first , I thought ‘hmm, this doesn’t sound like much fun to me’. But I’ve had a couple of goes at it and I must say that it’s growing on me and I’m getting more and more involved in using the techniques that have been prescribed.  And I think a lot of positive stuff is coming out of it.

And finally, can you tell us anything about the new album?

There is an album due out and it’s going to be out in a matter of months, perhaps. We’re putting some final touches to it next month, in May. It will be called ‘Electricity’, rather appropriately.  And there will be a lot of new stuff on it, but perhaps we will revisit one or two old tracks as well. 

Many thanks to Roger Limb, and you can catch the reformed Radiophonic Workshop on tour over the coming months with further details to follow. In the meantime my Radiophonic Workshop reunion package for BBC World Service and Paddy Kingsland interview are both still available on this website for your perusal. Dick Mills will be up next, but for now let’s give the last word to Roger Limb, and another collaboration with the great Derrick Griffiths that will not only be instantly familiar to many generations of former children (indeed I can recall my entire primary school class singing it), but is quite likely to stick in your head all day. Stick. Stick-ing. Build yourself a word!


100th Post Spectacular: Club Bermuda and NTS Radio This Weekend!

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Very excited about this weekend, when Howlround will be spooling up for a live performance at the Roxy Bar and Screen as part of Club Bermuda ii. And a fantastic line-up too, including Cindytalk, Charles Bullen of This Heat and Franziska Lantz, who you might remember from our collaboration for Radio 3’s Late Junction a few months back. There’s also a Facebook Events Page for those of a social media disposition. All proceeds go to help keep Resonance FM on air and if the previous event is anything to go by, it promises to be a memorable evening for everyone concerned. Hope to see you there.

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If that wasn’t enough, we’ll be guests of Alien Jams on NTS Radio at 5pm this Sunday, where we’ll be unveiling some brand new Howlround works exclusively on the show. These are fresh off the spools, less than a week old and will hopefully feature in some shape or form on a new release in the summer. It’s a bit of a departure from our currently released material, but I certainly hope you’ll find them sonically intriguing and am looking forward to giving them an airing!

Archaeology_CoverSpeaking of exclusive tracks, Howlround have contributed a previously unreleased short work ‘Wing to Wing’ to a CD sampler put together by Running On Air Music, one of the brains behind last weekend’s brilliant Archaeology event in Winchester. We had a fabulous time enjoying performances by Kemper Norton, Olan Mill, Stephen C. Stamper and Clive Henry and put on one of our finest turns yet, though I say so myself.  Each of the aforementioned has also donated an exclusive work, thus making it pretty essential listening, quite frankly. Certainly the only way you’ll get to hear ‘Wing to Wing’ until our huge career retrospective is released fifty years from now. Available here as a very limited CD and download if you can’t wait until then.

As you can see, this 100th post is a rather busy and hurried affair, with lots to impart, which just goes to demonstrate what a busy couple of weeks it’s been. Remember that my BBC World Service feature on The Radiophonic Workshop Revivial and interview with Paddy Kingsland are both still available on this site for your viewing pleasure, with Dick Mills, Roger Limb and Mark Ayres to follow. But that’s probably enough to be getting on with for now. Hope to be seeing some of you over the weekend and I’ll leave you with this live mix I made for my good friends at NO-FM last year during my residency in Serbia, which has finally found it’s way onto Mixcloud. You should definitely check these guys out…

 

 


Back From The Fourth Dimension – Paddy Kingsland

As promised, following last week’s report for BBC World Service, here is the first of four interviews with the veterans of the Radiophonic Workshop, the ‘Godfathers of British Electronic Music’, now reformed and touring their collection of vintage analogue equipment and classic radiophonic works to rapturous reception. They’ll be featured in the order I interviewed them two weeks ago at the University of Chichester,  so we’re starting with synthesiser legend Paddy Kingsland; the man who definitely put the ‘funk’ into radiophonics. Best known for The Fourth Dimension LP (essentially a Kingsland solo album), he has a string of classic BBC themes to his name, as well as providing incidental music for such classics as Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Dr. Who and many more. Paddy has also recorded solo albums, made library music and jingles for KPM and worked alongside composers such as Michael Nyman. His signature sound is melodic synthesiser workouts with a strong rhythmic back-bone and the track ‘Vespucci’ is a highlight of their revived set-list. This interview, slightly truncated here, took place in the artist’s green room at Chichester University; with moderate interruptions from the air conditioning…

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PK: I worked at the Radiophonic Workshop for the BBC between 1970 and 1981, which is quite a long time ago now. Of course I’ve done quite a lot of other things since then, but more recently I was approached by some other friends who worked at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and was asked if I‘d be interested in doing some gigs with them – some live events. And so that’s what we’ve been doing. We started, actually, getting on for five years ago at The Roundhouse with a live show which went down very well. There were roughly two thousand people who went to that and they seemed to enjoy it. And we thought, ‘well, is that the two thousand people who might be interested in a show of that sort? Because if it is then that’s it, we’ve done it’! And so we didn’t do very much apart from make enquiries until quite recently, in fact a year ago, when we did a festival at Port Merion – Festival No. 6. It seemed to go down pretty well there, so we’re now doing a series of festivals this year.

We were asked to come [to Chichester University] because they have an event which is dedicated to the Radiophonic Workshop, which of course hasn’t been running for several years now. And so there’s all sorts of interest in that, so it’s a big honour to be asked to be involved. We’re doing a number of chats with the various people like Roger Limb, Mark Ayres, Peter Howell, also Dick Mills and myself. We’re doing some chats with people who are interested and asking questions of us and then after that we’re going to do our show which we do at festivals and so on. So I hope people enjoy that performance.

RTF: I’d heard a rumour there’s a new Radiophonic Workshop album?

Yes, there’s a new album we’re making as well alongside all of this, we’ve been working with one or two other people who are interested and quite eminent some of them, in electronic music and pop music. We’re trying to do some new stuff rather than just producing hits from the past. We’re not sure when it’s going to be finished, but we’re working quite hard on it. We have a marvellous addition to the group who is Kieron Pepper, a percussionist, a drummer and also a multi-instrumentalist – and a lot younger than we are with far more energy! He’s joining us on this and we’re preparing some tracks now and some of them we’ll be using in our performance later on tonight. We’re working with a few different people – I’m not going to say who yet, because we don’t know how it’s all going. But people from the electronic music world, the contemporary music [scene] and commercial music as well.  And that’s really exciting, working with those people. So we hope to have some material to release later on in the year.

Will you be using some of the old radiophonic equipment?

We always have that on hand. One of the things about what we do is that we’re interested in trying to make our own sounds rather than having sounds that are already made for us. So quite a lot of the things we do are made by bashing things or by putting things through a treatment rather than just pushing a preset on a synth.  Having said that a lot of the live stuff we do have to use presets from time to time – [though] we have actually made the sounds up ourselves in those cases, we try to make sure they’re sounds we’ve made ourselves.

It’s so much easier nowadays to make electronic music – using an app on a smartphone for instance. How does the Workshop define itself in this modern era when it’s much easier for everyone to dabble? How do you stand out?

It’s a good thing. I think the answer is that it’s always about the music. A lot of these methods of making stuff on a smart phone or an iPad – and I’ve got some lovely apps which you can play with and they’re absolutely beautiful. You can make lovely sounds on them. But I think if you look back at some of the great things that Delia for instance – and everyone’s got one or two things – [it is] quite distinctively them making a piece of music. It doesn’t really matter what they made it on, it was an expression of themselves musically. And I think that’s what we try to do. Maybe somebody will say ‘oh no, that’s not very good, the thing that that guy has just done in his bedroom is much better’. That’s fine, that’s the way things are with music generally anyway. But I think that’s the [correct] approach  – to think about the music first and how you make it afterwards.

That’s one of the things I loved about the workshop, the emphasis wasn’t on how the music was made, it simply had to be made, it had a function to fulfil.

It’s all mixed up together isn’t it? It’s all part of it. If you just make a sound with the latest box, that’s fine. But really the luck in it for us was that we had, unlike a lot of other experimenters at the time, who were doing music to please themselves or to make an album at some later date; we had a deadline and work to do. It was a play or a documentary or something of that kind. Never a concert! But it was something which we had to fit in with. If you’re doing incidental music for a play it has to work for that play. The director’s not interested in your doing some outlandish thing that doesn’t [fit] the work, so we had a set of really good guidelines before we started. And that cuts everything down so you can actually relax a bit more and make something that’s suitable. And you can blame it on the project if it’s not something you like!

So you were working to a strict brief, it wasn’t a research body unlike the experimental electronic studio of the times. I had always thought that the members of the workshop would perhaps consider that limiting and yet what you’re saying is that you actually found that very liberating?

Well, it is because it makes it much easier for you. When you’re doing music to order, if somebody says ‘I’ve got this pay, it’s very, very sinister, uneasy atmosphere, something awful is just about to happen’; you can almost hear the music before you start. If somebody says ‘I’ve got this wonderful project, we’re asking five musicians to make any kind of music they like, you can do anything you want, you can hire an orchestra you can do it on a banjo, you can do it on synthesisers, electronics, lampshades, anything you like and we’re going to pay you for it’; what usually happens is you just kind of go into a daze and you find yourself unable to produce anything. Whereas if somebody says ‘I need this and I need it by Thursday, that’s something that allows you to work and it makes you work.

Do you have of your own work a particular favourite?

From the electronic era, I must say I do like some of the things from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, some of the Dr Who shows I quite like now, and one or two of my theme tunes were quite fun: ‘Rugby Special’ and a few things like that, which I’m still quite fond of. But then when you listen to those things you remember where you were at the time and how it was and all of those things. Like listening to any piece of music, it brings back the memories surrounding where you were when you did it.

I remember doing a documentary called ‘In Tune When I Bought It’ and it was a documentary about guitars and guitar players, that sort of thing and it featured Hank Marvin and Pete Townsend and various people like that. And it was lovely to read a review where the reviewer – I think it was Gillian Reynolds – said ‘it brought back teatime on Saturday’. And it was lovely because that was the real intention behind making the show. It’s nice if you can put something in which is very difficult to describe and fairly abstract, but it comes across. That’s something that’s lovely about music, you can put things into music which say it better than words.

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Any thoughts on what modern generation of artists have done with what you and the Radiophonic Workshop began, or at least bought to a much wider audience?

I hear things on the TV all the time, which is marvellous. Electronic music [that] I know John Baker and Delia and people would have really admired, because it’s so beautifully done and often very sparing and very underplayed and evokes feelings, particularly in some of the dramas now. And also the appreciation of just pure electronic sound is much more now by all sorts of people. Because I think generally people are less prejudiced now in all sorts of areas. They don’t restrict themselves in the way that I suppose we used to in our day, you know,  ‘I don’t like that sort of music, I only like this’, or ‘I don’t like jazz or anything like that’ People are much more broad-minded now about al sorts of things, including music.

So you’ve been impressed by what the modern generation have been making?

Definitely, yes. The modern stuff definitely impresses me and it impresses me more since I’ve been working with people like Kieron Pepper, who’s our percussionist and a highly accomplished musician. And seeing how he approaches things and how it works – it’s just amazing how that generation are able to do it equally as well as we did. But they’re doing it at home, maybe with less facilities than we had by comparison.

Thanks to Paddy Kingsland for being such interesting and affable company and stay tuned for further interviews with Roger Limb, Dick Mills and Mark Ayres that I’ll be posting up over the next week or so. In the meantime, why not check out the ‘BBC Records Special‘ I made for Jonny Trunk’s OST Show back in 2012? Plenty of rare Radiophonic cues to be found amongst all the whistles and bells…


Radiophonic Reunion (Redux)

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Photo by Nick Joy

Presented for your approval, my latest broadcast work produced for the BBC World Service regarding the subject of Chichester University’s one-day symposium on the Radiophonic Workshop, the Godfathers (and Godmothers) of British electronic music, a quintet of whom have reformed and are touring their classic works to a whole new generation of admirers. With the prospect of a summer spent gingerly moving vintage analogue hardware round a succession of festivals now confirmed, Chichester University had organised a day of talks and discussions about the Workshop’s rich history and enduring legacy; followed by an evening’s live performance of some of their classic Radiophonic works.

And what classics they are. The impact of the Workshop on the history of electronic music simply cannot be understated, and its influence spreads throughout all strands of British culture, from Quatermass and the Pitt to Captain Ganja and the Space Patrol. Yet despite it’s long and distinguished career supplying four decades-worth of radio and TV programmes with sound effects, theme tunes and incidental music (plus getting sampled by rare and bonkers British reggae albums), there was never a moment of doubt as to how the day’s audience and invited experts – musicians, DJs, producers and sci-fi nerds – came first to hear of the workshop and, frequently, of electronic music in general. It was, of course, Doctor Who and the strange, enthralling and decidedly avant-garde sounds that it introduced to generations of children at Saturday tea-time.

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Radiophonic Royalty – Dick Mills, Roger Limb and Paddy Kingsland. Photo by Nick Joy

Full disclosure – Despite appearing in Iain Wilson’s excellent documentary That Dr. Who Sound! for Australia’s ABC Radio last year, I’m not actually much of an authority on the good Doctor. You can tell this because I have a nagging fondness for the Sylvester McCoy era, even if it does mostly seem to consist Bonnie Langford screaming her way round a succession of interstellar leisure centres. But in both it’s iconic theme tune (and there’s a good argument for the case that it’s the most famous television ‘sig’ of all time) and the incidental music and sound effects; the influence this programme alone has had on the past half-century of music-making is so mind-boggling it makes my hair stand on end. Particularly those hairs on the back of my neck that still tingle every single time I hear the TARDIS engines roaring into life. The original brief for this sound effect, we’re told, was ‘the very fabric of time and space being torn apart’. The solution was Brian Hodgson’s Mother’s front door key scraped along the wire of a broken-down piano. You will doubtless have heard this story many times already, yet somehow the knowledge of such prosaic origins does absolutely nothing to diminish its magic. Bless you, Mother Hodgson…

I’m not going to linger too much on a review of the day, fellow Radiophoniphile Nick Joy has written an excellent account for Scifibulletin.com, which manages to say pretty much everything I would have done, only better (he also let me steal a number of his photos). For my part, I was most privileged to interview Paddy Kingsland, Roger Limb, Dick Mills and Mark Ayres for the World Service report (although sadly the rigours of the day’s programme of discussions, lectures and the endless sound-checking of delicate analogue equipment left no time to fit in the great Peter Howell and complete the set). However, each of these most interesting and amiable gentlemen gave me so much fascinating material that I’ve decided to publish the full transcripts EXCLUSIVELY on these pages over the next couple of weeks. Forgive me for boasting, but THAT is what I call a coup!  Besides, if the legendary Dick Mills starts telling you about his wife’s stated desire to stamp on one of his newly-completed works, you’re hardly going to leave it on the cutting room floor, are you?

Sadly I can’t bring you any recordings of the performance itself, due to copyright issues being strictly enforced. But I can tell you it was a beautifully nuanced audio-visual tour of the Workshop’s past, present and future, with classic tracks rubbing shoulders with newer works in progress. Particularly worthy of note was their cover version of Joe Meek’s classic ‘Telstar’,  Delia Derbyshire’s ‘Zizwih Zizwih OO-OO-OO-OO’ transformed into pounding techno, and Peter Howell leading a performance of vocoder classic ‘Greenwich Chimes’ while silhouetted against archive footage of himself recording the same lines decades earlier. A curiously moving spectacle.

Paddy Kingsland, the young Paddy Kingsland and Mark Ayres

Paddy Kingsland, Peter Howell, the young Peter Howell and Mark Ayres

Both in person and as part of the various panel discussions that made up the course of the day, the one thing that struck me about these veterans of the Workshop was their keen-ness to create new music rather than simply rest on their considerable laurels; and of how excited they were by the latest developments in technology. All of this bodes very well for their forthcoming album of new and original material, provisionally titled Electricity, several tracks from which were intermingled with the crowd-pleasing classics in the evening’s performance. But, of course, it goes without saying, there was only ever going to be one piece of music that they could end with. And as the quintet romped through the home stretch of Ron Grainer and Delia Derbyshire’s greatest work, backed by the thundering percussion of latest recruit Kieron Pepper, I’m sure I wasn’t the only person to feel those hairs on the back of my neck rising up once again. Certainly not if the standing ovation they received was anything to judge by.

I’m really looking forward to sharing these interview with you all in full. If you haven’t already done so, you might like to consider subscribing to this blog to avoid missing anything – the button is on the right of this page. You might have to bear with me for a few days, however, Howlround are playing Winchester this Saturday and we’re completely unprepared as usual. All will be revealed. In the meantime, thanks to Dr. Adam Locks, James Haigh and the University of Chichester for organising such an amazing event and to Mark Ayres, Peter Howell, Dick Mills, Paddy Kingsland and Roger Limb  for being each so affable and so very entertaining. Oh, and to Nick Joy for the photographs. I must also thank Paddy, Roger and Dick for for defacing one of my most treasured possessions!:

Sorry about this picture – I was too excited to wait for better light!

It’s not every day you meet your heroes, you know… 🙂


Wholly Other Archaeology

I’ve decided you’ve waited long enough. In truth it’s only been a week, and not a particularly slow one, but here, in response to overwhelming demand, is part 2 of my DJ set in support of The Band Of Holy Joy in Charterhouse last month. It’s another jolly fine selection, though I say so myself and I simply could not keep it suppressed a moment longer:

You are so welcome. No, no, please, get stuck in. Notice my amusing juxtaposition of Yma Sumac and Lee ‘Scratch Perry’?  I thought you might…

Anyway, you join me today on my bedroom floor where I am currently convalescing. This was the dramatic conclusion of a day Chris and I spent lugging the Howlround soundsystem to and from a secret performance for the students of Havering College as part of their ‘Sonic Futures’ event. The theme this year was ‘dereliction’ – who else would they call, quite frankly?! And after a couple of hours on these floorboards, I’ve started to gain real, first-hand experience of what feeling ‘derelict’ is like.

Happier times: Howlround in their former robust health (i.e. last Thursday)

We were made most welcome by the staff and students of the college who took a real interest in our work (particularly our demonstration of how much fun you can have with a loop of tape and a staffroom radiator) and were in turn most impressed by the student’s work that was on display. Plus we were rewarded for our efforts with a slap-up thai meal and – even more excitingly – two new additions to our army of PR99 tape machines. Not a bad day’s work at all! But every silver lining must of course have a cloud, which accounts for the fresh scar on Chris’s right hand, the fresh scar on the wall of my flat where I inadvertently threw a tape machine; and the apparent lesions to my spine which asserted themselves the following morning while bending over to pick up a sock. Such are the risks of a life spent hulking great big reel-to-reel machines around, risks that have now afforded me several hours stiffly regarding my bedroom ceiling from a dramatic new perspective. The moral of the story? Leave your socks where they fall…

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I’m completely confident, however, that by the coming of our next gig at Archaeologies, all will be back to full working order (with the exception of the wall – I’ll just blu-tak something over it and hope the landlord doesn’t notice). Those of you based in the vicinity of Winchester are warmly requested to The Railway, 3 St. Pauls Hill, where we’ll be playing alongside Stephen C. StamperClive HenryOlan Mill and our old friend Kemper Norton, who’s recent album Carn for Exotic Pylon is a thing of beauty indeed. Tickets and further information here.

For those of you who never leave London, not even for a moment, I’m pleased to add that we  shall be playing Club Bermuda at The Roxy Bar and Screen in Borough on April 25th and The Electric Dog Show, Power Lunches, Dalston on May 7th . Further details for both of these exciting performances to follow. I also implore you to read this extremely flattering review of Howlround‘s trio of official releases on the blog of ace music magazine/radio show The Sound Projector! Made our chests puff out with pride, so it did!

Photo by Andy Popperwell, featuring me pulling my EXPLAINING FACE. Troublingly, it’s the most flattering of the bunch. For bonus fun, see if you can spot the fellow oldskool junglist. Answers on a postcard!

In conclusion, special thanks this week must go to Andy, Alex, Dave and the students of Havering College (there’s some more photos of the event here if you fancy a gander). We’re very grateful for your interest and the new additions to the Howlround arsenal. I’m quite sure those new Revoxes will work a treat once we’ve scrubbed a decade’s worth of Andy’s garage off them!

I’ll leave you with a sneak preview of something new that may or may not be part of a much longer composition that may or may not be coming out on a brand new album at some point in the not-too-distant future. Such a tease:

PS: ‘OWWW’, obviously…