Art Assembly Beat The Quietened Gongs

Beat This: Dolly Dolly

Beat This: Dolly Dolly

Following our recent adventures into the outer reaches of the exorbitant jungle, we bring you something of a sea-change on this week’s Near Mint show on Resonance 104.4FM; as we’re joined by special guest, writer and spoken word artist Dolly Dolly. As well as being the narrator and spirit guide for the recent Delaware Road album and launch party and releasing a handful of jolly fine writings and recordings of his own; he’s also something of an expert on the poetry of The Beat Generation, the jazz-influenced literary movement that found it’s spiritual home in San Francisco’s City Lights book store (still very much flourishing) and included Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac among it’s alumni. For this week’s show we asked him to pull out some of his favourite Beat recordings and line them up for inspection and the result is a broad and intriguing selection including some of the movement’s lesser known figures alongside its more bankable names. Listen closely and then go and check out some of Dolly Dolly’s own recordings, which are clearly a contemporary and very British riposte to the Beats: His debut album Antimacassar is a good place to start, but you’ll find his work pops up everywhere – including last year’s collaboration with Band Of Holy Joy’s Johny Brown and myself under the name The Trunchbulls for the XPYLON charity album. Almost forgot about that one in the white heat of a busy 2015…

Staying in radio-land, please enjoy my latest BBC report, on the subject of Sound Baths, a form of new-age therapy in which gongs, bowls, bells and the like are used to send participants into a state of deep meditative relaxation – and supposedly can even help to cure physical ailments, the different sound frequencies said to stimulate different parts of the body and bring them into harmony. Whatever your opinion on this (and you all seem to have one!), it’s certainly a fascinating experience that I’ve been rather intrigued by ever since my visit last year to the Integratron, a geodesic dome in the heart of California’s Mojave Desert which plays host to visitors seeking sonic enlightenment from all over the world. Now highly recommended by the so-called ‘wellness movement’ which seems to be very much in vogue at the moment, I thought it might make an interesting subject for the World Service after a prominent LA lifestyle blog announced that Sound Baths are the next big thing for 2016. Thankfully my editor agreed and hopefully so will you. Sound baths have been popping up all over the world for years, of course, and many about as far away from the Mojave Desert as possible; even as unlikely a location as a cold, wet side-street hidden behind London’s Waterloo Station.  Here a gentle soul called Otto Haddad runs his own sound baths several evenings a week. Perhaps predictably I’m forced to admit I spent much of the session I attended thinking ‘Wow! I wonder how he’s making that noise?!’, which may well have been counter-productive; but nevertheless it was a unique experience that I would certainly recommend. Why not visit Otto’s website and book yourself a session? It’s amazing how quickly the rest of the world melts away, even in Waterloo!

Howlround news now, and I’m excited to announce  our participation in a new release by A Year In The Country, the blog and record label dedicated to exploring the freakier fringes, twisted folklore and haunted bucolica of the British Countryside.

quietened-village-teaser

The Quietened Village is a study of and reflection on the lost, disappeared and once were homes and hamlets that have wandered off the maps or that have become shells of their former lives and times. Inspired in part by images of sections of abandoned, submerged villages and the spires of their places of worship re-appearing from the surfaces of reservoirs and lakes, alongside thoughts of dwellings that have succumbed to the natural erosion of the coastline and have slowly tumbled into the sea. Some of the once were and lost villages which were seedlings for this body of work still stand but their populations are no more, those who lived there evicted at short notice and never to return so that their homes and hearths could be used as training grounds for those who would fight during great conflicts between nations. Such points of reference have been intertwined with possibly more bodeful reasons for this stilling and ending; thoughts of Midwich Cuckoos-esque fictions or dystopic tales told and transmitted in times gone by and imagined/re-imagined in amongst the strands of The Quietened Village.

The first in a planned series of compilations, The Quietened Village features an exclusive track from ourselves as well as The Straw Bear Band, Polypores, The Soulless Party, The Rowan Amber Mill, Cosmic Neighbourhood, Sproatly Smith, David Colohan and Richard Moult, our old friend Time Attendant and A Year In The Country (aka label head Stephen Price) himself. Once again it’s the decidedly spooky and surprisingly cohesive listen we’ve come to expect from the label and the little community of artists that are growing around it and like-minded labels such as Buried Treasure et al. Order your copy here. True to the nature of the compilation, our contribution ‘Flying Over A Glassed Wedge’ was recorded in a genuine ghost town (albeit one with that retains a working Post Office), though I was initially worried about it’s location in the middle of the Mojave Desert (it’s second appearance this week – but it is pretty big) being some considerable distance, both literally and metaphorically from Midwich and the ghosts of Albion. However, the theme of a previously bustling town being suddenly annexed overnight and gradually returning to the dust fits the bill pretty solidly, so hopefully there won’t be too many complaints. I shall reveal the name of this special town if you haven’t already guessed it at some point in the future – there’s talk of further material seeing the light of the day sometime later this year. For now my lips are sealed…

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I can, however, offer a tantalising glimpse of the next full-length Howlround album, which will be an audio-visual collaboration with film-maker Steven McInerney and released on his label Psyché Tropes.  These pictures are from a test screening of the film complete with a brand new soundtrack that occurred as part of SOPOROSE, an all-night sound and sleep research event that Psyché Tropes were involved in in last month at St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace, a tiny 15th Century church/community centre nestling between the brash glass and steel towers of London’s frantic Bishopsgate and a surprising oasis of calm in a city increasingly not built for the likes of you and me. I was lucky enough to attend and can confirm that it’s looking and sounding fantastic. Quite possibly the best thing I’ve ever been involved in. Currently in the final stages of shooting and further details will follow….

And lastly for this week, please enjoy the latest in the series of Art Assembly‘s documentaries for Resonance FM. Presented, curated and masterminded by regular host Julia Dempsey and mixed and edited to within an inch of its life by yours truly, this month’s programme  investigates a thematic thread running through the practice of four artists from the city of Sheffield: Chris Watson, Oberman Knocks, Adi Newton (Clock DVA, T.A.G.C.) and the brilliant Aino Tytti, whose Millennium Mills last year on Touch was one of my very favourite releases of 2015. Beautifully mixed and realised (though I say so myself) and full to bursting with fascinating and important work, this might be Art Assembly’s best programme yet!

2016 is pretty white hot as well, so far, isn’t it?

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