Thanks to everyone who organised, performed at or attended last weekend’s Extraction Music fundraising all-dayer in Cardiff. I thoroughly enjoyed all the performances I was able to catch, including Rhodri Davies, Form Constants and Clive Henry amongst others, all helping to raise money in aid of the current refugee crisis in Calais and elsewhere. My particular gratitude, however, must go to chief protagonist and driving force Ian Watson for just happening to have a spare UHER tape machine on hand when dear old troublesome Daphne failed to make it through the soundcheck. What are the chances of that happening, I wonder? We certainly would’ve been screwed if Daphne had decided to kick the bucket in Portugal, Copenhagen, the US or indeed anywhere else that we’ve played in the last year – Howlround really does have the best kind of bad luck! Anyway, for those of you who couldn’t make it, please enjoy the above short teaser from Howlround’s closing set and do have a look at these rather natty T-shirts produced especially for the event, a limited number of which are still available online, with £10 from each sale going to charity.
Thanks must also go to David for the loan of his sofa and toaster, Ben for tending to the sick Daphne and to Victoria for general fetching, lifting, delivering and precarious balancing skills. Under her suggestion, the new addition to the ranks has been christened Jenyth after one of the lesser-heralded female members of the Radiophonic Workshop. Isn’t she cute? The machine, that is…
On a similar subject, commiserations must go once again to our friend Ian Holloway of The British Space Group who was unable to attend Extraction Music after landing himself back in hospital with yet more broken bones. His latest project, the complete collection of the group’s rather fine Phantasms EPs is now available online as a single album entitled Phantasmagoria. Clocking in at an impressive 42 tracks, I’m convinced t it would speed up his recovery no end if you were to click on the link below and have a listen and a purchase.
Finally, thanks to Mr. Adrian Shenton of Phonospheric Recordings for kindly donating me a copy of his Unseen Landscapes album recorded in collaboration with Banks Bailey. That’s worth a listen, too and I shall be checking this label out further once the dust has settled. He describes Phonosheric’s the output as ‘immersive, atmospheric, experimental and broadly ambient in character – sound that surrounds’, which is exactly what I could have done with on the train home, chock-full as it was with bellowing rugby louts, drunken hen-do princesses blasting tinny iPhone house and a veritable army of screaming children. Hardly what one would expect at 8am on a Sunday, but I guess that’s just how they roll in Cardiff. No wonder it’s such a stronghold for ambient music – how else would people cope?!
The latest episode of Resonance FM’s Near Mint show comes to you courtesy of Bob Corsi, commander in chief of the quite fabulous Penny Records. After our special of a few week’s back focusing on the label’s series of compilations such as Monster Mash and Don’t Be Square, Go Ape!, he sent us over a very special mixtape focusing on another side of the label’s output, Italian crime soundtracks. And it’s a thing of wonder!
To paraphrase the man himself, ‘Criminale is a cinematic trip into the world of 70s italian crime movies through library music and soundtrack cues. Many of these tracks were included in the four volumes of Penny Record’s Criminale vinyl series. It also includes tracks from Amore Tossico (the label’s latest release) and some italian movie classic cuts’. It’s deep, it’s dark and it’s just a little bit dirty and we’re chuffed to bits with it. As you will be too, I’ll wager. Here’s the tracklisting in full:
Armando Sciascia – Circuito Chiuso
Lesiman – Milano 72
Amedeo Tommasi – Effetto di tensione
Ugo Busoni, Paolo Ferrara, Massimo Di Cicco -Rullio
Pietro Montanari – Lupin
Gerardo Iacoucci – Violenza
Detto Mariano – M6 – Affannosa ricerca di un limone
Alessandro Alessandroni – Corruzione al vertice
Stelvio Cipriani – Danger Flight Zone
Franco Tamponi/Stefano Torossi/Sandro Brugnolini/Massimo Catalano – Fuorilegge
Lee Selmoco – Chemin De Fer
Ennio Morricone & Rita Monico – Thrilling
Giorgio e Franco Bracardi – Il pozzo e il pendolo N° 5
We’re so delighted with Bob’s contribution to the show that I’m throwing in the first Penny Records special from earlier this month for good measure. This is an especially good idea as I seem to remember not originally posting it on these pages as I was dying of the plague at the time. It’s a heady combination of monsters, apes, wild men, a gay caballero and the only documented incident of an ancient Mummy encountering a Beatnik.
The Revels – Midnight Stroll
Dave Bartholomew – The Monkey
The Ebonettes – Wild Man Walk
The Cadets – Stranded in the Jungle
Bert Convy – The Gorilla
Nervous Norvus – Ape Call
Bob McFadden & Dor – The Mummy
The Rivingtons – Mama-Oom-Mow-Mow (The Bird)
Shirley Gunter & The Flairs – Ipsie Opsie Ooh
Hadda Brooks – Jump Back Honey
Janis Martin – Cracker Jack
The Chips – Rubber Bisquit
Billy Byrd & His Penguins – Boom Pacha Boom
Probably best to consume both programmes in a single sitting. And then go visit your local record emporium and bag as many Penny titles as you can find. Sadly they go for quite a bit more than that in actuality…
First point of business today is this superb all-dayer fundraiser at the Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff being put together by the redoubtable Ian ‘Uh Oh’ Watson, fine artist, sculptor, noise-maker and humanitarian. The event is raising funds and awareness of the plight of refugees, with particular emphasis on the current situation in Calais. Hope to see as many of you as possible there to enjoy this rather super line-up, all for a worthy and most important cause. Donations and gifts of unwanted clothing in good condition will also be gratefully accepted at the event:
— Ian Watson (@uhohwatson) May 18, 2016
And yes, I am only too aware that the above tweet sits to one side of the page and makes the website look untidy. You couldn’t possibly have more OCD impulses currently being triggered over this than I have. But what’s much more important right now is that you absorb the information in contains and turn up on the day with lots of items of clothing (and perhaps some cash) so that the good folk of Newport2Calais can put them to the best use possible. It’s also Howlround’s first trip to Wales, which is quite exciting. What’s not to like? See you there!
Speaking of Howlround, thanks to everyone who came down to Bad Timing’s sold-out event The Other Side: An Audiophonic Séance last week for giving me and the tape machines such a warm welcome. A tip of the hat must go to fellow performers Evie Salmon and James Riley, English Heretic’s ‘Documents’ project and especially Bad Timing mainstay Jo Brooks, who did quite spectacular things throughout the evening with a handful of old cassette and CD walkmans (walkmen?) and a contact mic. Thanks must also go to @StrayTaoist for taking the above rather spiffy photo of the performance. Even on four hours sleep and with a stubborn cold, I really do seem to just smoulder in black and white, don’t I? What a pity life has to be so colourful the rest of the time. Which brings us semi-neatly to…
By strange coincidence, at roughly the same time as I was snottily dragging a suitcase full of tape machines off the Cambridge train, my latest piece for BBC Radio 4 regarding the previous week’s Great Gatsby-inspired evening at Senate House was being given an airing on PM. Having a report on this flagship of current affairs is always a significant event for me, as it’s the one time there’s even the remotest likelihood that any of my work will reach Mother in her kitchen and win me some much-needed parental approval points. Though I think she prefers Radio 2 nowadays, for some reason…
The purpose of this most glamorous event, as hostess Sarah Churchill breathlessly explains, is not only to pay tribute to this classic novel of prohibition-era New York, but also to debunk a few famous myths and give us a better idea of the kind of world Scott Fitzgerald was addressing when he wrote it; thus helping us to view the story in new and often dramatically different ways. To receive the full effect one required authentic period food, costume, ‘historical perfumes’, newsreel footage, appropriate dances (not the Charleston!) and the nagging feeling of being decidedly under-dressed, despite wearing that one button-down shirt kept for job interviews and funerals. It is true that such glamourous shindigs are not usually my stomping ground, but my editor seemed to feel that such an evocative event might benefit from a little Radiophonic treatment – plus I still haven’t paid off my last tape machine repair bill, so it’s a welcome cash-injection. It’s equally true that something of a complete tonal gear-change is required when moving from the ragtime, evening gowns and bathtub gin of London to the more honest Cambridge fare of tape loops, coleslaw sandwiches and a bottle of lucozade. Nonetheless, temporally-speaking these two very different ships did more-or-less pass in the night and I like to think I managed to avoid sinking either of them. Have a listen and hopefully you’ll agree.
And finally this week, with yet another tonal gear-shift, it’s time to present the latest edition of Resonance FM’s Near Mint show, where Hannah Brown and myself look back on 2016 so far and pull out some of our favourite releases. It’s a brisk and breezy selection and by the time you get to the penultimate contribution by Brood Ma, you may well find yourself grinding your teeth along in sympathy. I would even have described the show as ‘banging’ if Hannah hadn’t spent six whole minutes telling me off for trying to do so. Apparently such a word is not to be bandied about by a gentleman of my cultural cache, time of life or income-bracket. It’s a real minefield out there, isn’t it?
Apart from the exceptionally high quality of each of the tracks featured here, there will be no major surprises if you’ve been regularly visiting these pages over the last few months, with the one possible exception of the rather enigmatic Freeholm Wilson; who seems to have rather sprung up from nowhere all of a sudden. Superb debut album Children Of June is currently only available digitally, but I do happen to have got my tacky paws on an advance copy of the clear vinyl edition and hopefully you’ll be able to as well before too long.
Very excited to announce that our guest on Resonance FM’s Near Mint show this week is the one and only Mr. Luke Vibert. Otherwise known as Wagon Christ, Plug, Kerrier District, Amen Andrews and a whole bevy of other pseudonyms, Luke hails from Cornwall and was originally part of the county’s fabled 90s electronica scene alongside long-time friend Richard D. James and members of the legendary Rephlex Records. Releasing numerous albums on that label as well as Warp, Ninja Tune and Planet Mu to name but a few, his discography is as long as both my arms and includes house, disco, acid, jungle, hip hop and all kinds of joyously leftfield squiggly stuff in-between – and I do personally think ‘squiggly’ is the best way to describe his multifarious output.
His reputation as a DJ and crate digger precedes him as well, so when we got in touch and asked him to pull only the weirdest records out of his magic box, we knew we’d be in for a treat. And so it’s proves: A Gala Performance, a Karate Robot, an ultra-rare and complete bats**t-crazy outtake from the Jungle Brothers, a visit to Borstal, an equally bats**t outburst from the Stardust Cowboy and the never-more-haunting theme from Picture Box to round things off – by pure coincidence it’s second appearance here in the last few weeks. A loose theme for the show might be ‘records that probably shouldn’t have been made – but thankfully were’. Anyway, it’s a joy and a privilege not only to have Mr. Vibert on the show but to use this as an excuse to share the above vintage photo nicked from one of his Discogs pages, of which there is surely nothing more to be said. By his own admission Luke doesn’t really do social media, so I’m hoping it will be up here quite some time before he notices and demands I remove it. Must say that it’s certainly convinced me to include at least one owl in the next Howlround photoshoot…
Speaking of Howlround, I’m playing a solo tape loop set at Bad Timing’s ‘The Other Side – An Audio Séance’ in Cambridge tonight, but I’m reliably informed the gig is sold out and the tickets are waiting-list only, so there’s not much point in my trying to convince you to come along. Really looking forward to it, however, as it also includes performances from English Heretic’s Documents project and Evie Salmon and James Riley performing ‘Dust’ (plus DJs and hopefully cold beverages).
I’m keeping today’s post relatively brief as I still have to dub off some fresh loops for my set and go do my heroic Buster Keaton routine juggling a heavy suitcase full of gear against a desperately ticking clock and a rush-hour train. Plus I’m still getting over this rather nasty cold that laid me up for the best part of last week and has resulted in my ‘to-do-eventually’ list swelling to monstrous size. With Howlround shows in Cambridge today and Cardiff in a couple of weeks plus a number of radio packages that require my golden touch (I currently have three in the works and one in the wings), it’s going to be snotty-nose-to-the-grindstone for the next few weeks, which I’m hoping will at least clear out my sinuses. Allow me to close for now by tying things up neatly with my all-time favourite Luke Vibert track that salutes another great town not too far from Cambridge, 2001’s ‘Kings Lyn’ from the Ataride EP on Ninja Tune. For some reason nobody ever seems to mention this track when discussing his work, but I think it’s one of the most delightful pieces of modern electronic dance music made by Luke or anyone else. Having dated far better than much of his contemporaries output by sounding oddly timeless, I do love how the different elements of the track seem to whirl around each other and how the chopped amen break flips and contorts but never loses the funk. Completely squiggly – am I right?!