Following last week’s uncharacteristically outraged and aggrieved state-of-the-post-Brexit-nation rant in which I assessed the moribund condition of British affairs through the medium of Keith Chegwin, a ‘gay bike’ and a minimoke; I am now attempting to get back on track, dust myself off and return to the ‘super-niche’ subject matter for which I’m renown, leaving politics firmly in the hands of the experts that everyone has apparently had enough of. You certainly don’t need me to tell you what a farce the whole thing has proved and after our ship was immediately abandoned by at least two of the main rats whose victory had caused it to sink in the first place, leaving the rest of us floating adrift in a gigantic mess with nobody in place to clear it up; there really is little one add that hasn’t been said already, far more articulately and eloquently, by Ewan McGregor.
One concession I will make to the current nation mood, however, is a special ‘Dreary Synth’ edition of Resonance FM’s Near Mint show, put together by Copenhagen-based artist and musician Jim Slade. As with so much synthesiser music, the more downbeat it gets, the better it sounds and this week’s show features some fantastically dour electronic pop from the deepest doldrums of the early 1980s. It is as, our guest puts it, a mix perfect for ‘rainy days and tumultuous political climates’, so if you can think of a more appropriate playlist for summer 2016 then let’s hear it. Jim can also be found curating a continuing programme of sound and music events at Copenhagen’s David Risley Gallery as well as working on his own compositions and site-specific performances. His saxophone work Teleborg is particularly special and I’m told there’s more to come…
Continuing with more positive news, I’m very excited indeed to be able to announce something I’ve been working on for the last few weeks, but have had to keep under my hat until now. Howlround, alongside Resonance FM, were chosen by arts organisation White Noise to contribute work to their latest project, a series of performances, installations and broadcasts taking place within the abandoned shell of the East Tower, an 11-story office block that is one of the last surviving buildings of the old BBC Television Centre complex. Formerly the headquarters of children’s programmes such as Blue Peter, it’s due to be demolished next month and White Noise were keen to organise a sort-of ‘last hurrah’ for the building before it’s replaced with yet more luxury flats.
Prior to demolition, we are commissioning three residencies to take over the upper floors. We’d love you to join us to artistically commemorate the tower’s fall. Potential use of the floors could include: a location for film-making projects, a temporary home for radio broadcasts, art installations, an event space for drama (audience up to 200 people).
For Howlround’s part of the project, I’m unveiling a series of brand new compositions created entirely by manipulating the naturally-occurring sounds of the building on my semi-refurbished quartet of reel-to-reel machines. This will take the form of a live performance from inside the topmost floors of the building itself as a part of Resonance FM’s gala Live To Air event, an evening of site-specific radio broadcasts with a live audience on Wednesday on July 13th. Tickets are free, but limited and going fast, though the entire event is being broadcast live on Resonance, so do tune in if you can’t make it. Further details include a full running order of programmes and performances can be found here.
Really looking forward to this one and of course it chimes in nicely with previous projects documenting the sounds of Bush House and New Broadcasting House from a few years back. At this stage even I don’t know quite what it’s all going to sound like, I’m still putting the finishing touches to the material and I’ve still got to head back into the building to record one final piece – some forty people serenading the stairwell. All I can tell you is that we shall be seeing the tower out in style. Hope you can join us!
The following week, in what is shaping up to be a busy month for my quartet of elderly machines, I shall also playing the next Homemade Disco evening at Paper Dress Vintage in Hackney, alongside the ‘soul/blues/grime and psych folk’ of Le Juki and the ‘generative systems and analogue synthesisers’ of David. Been hearing great things about this event and if the whole thing is executed half as well as the above logo then a very fine time will be had by all. It’s at 352A Mare St in Hackney and further details can be found here.
And then as if that wasn’t enough, Howlround will also be playing the next Linear Obsessional event at Vinyl Deptford on July 23rd alongside Phil Maguire, Project Mycelium and the trio of Phil Durrant/Kev Hopper/Richard Sanderson. Vinyl Deptford can be found at 4 Tanners Hill, SE8 and further details can be found here. Hope to see you at one or more of these events, though can’t help thinking we’ll all be in need of semi-refurbishment after such a busy month!
Lastly, some very cheering news from the people behind Extraction Music, the fundraising all-dayer from a few weeks ago in Cardiff, raising money in aid of the continuing refugee crisis in Calais and elsewhere. So positive was the response from the event that chief protagonist Ian ‘Uh Oh’ Watson and his team have launched a brand new benefit compilation featuring many of the artists from the event, including an extract from Howlround’s closing performance – here listed as a ‘bonus track’ because I let the ball slip and forgot to sort out our contribution quickly enough, for which I must sheepishly apologise. Personal tardiness notwithstanding, it’s a throbbingly good listen that’s already received a nod of approval from the nice people at the ever-redoubtable Tiny Mix Tapes. And with such a great line-up and such a worthy and necessary cause, who could argue with them? Click on the link below to secure yourself a copy!
So, there we have it . Plenty of reasons to be cheerful that for once don’t involve sport, politics or another Royal Baby. I feel better already!