Firstly, a reminder that there’s now just over a week to go before Howlround hit the cemetery. I’m reliably informed ticket sales are doing briskly, so do make sure to avoid disappointment (yours and mine) and get in early.
Secondly, I’m very happy to announce that Near Mint, Resonance FM’s finest programme devoted to obsessive compulsive record collecting is carrying on up the jungle for a second wonderful week.
You might recall that the previous edition was a ‘Twisting in the Jungle’ special, providing the perfect soundtrack for dancing around the kind of culturally-insensitive cannibal’s cooking pot featured in the final scene of that world cinema classic ‘Biggles: Adventures In Time’ – and certainly every bit as grounded in reality and historical accuracy as that might entail. Well, this week it’s a ‘Lounging in the Jungle’ special, and as you might imagine it’s a rather more sedate affair, featuring another lovingly hand-picked selection of library, exotica, children’s records and even some vintage electronics. All are united in their attempts to transport you to a land of steaming jungles and festering swamps, while sounding more like the soundtrack to a quiet night at a down-at-heel Tiki Bar near an airport exit ramp.
Deeply unconvincing. But as I’ve often commented, there’s nothing I love better than a bit of heroic failure (‘Biggles: Adventures In Time’ notwithstanding) and I might even be so bold as to label this one of the greatest episodes of Near Mint ever. There’s tracks from classic LPs by Roger Roger and KPM, some ‘Jungle Blues From Jupiter’ and the whole thing concludes with a slightly disturbing party game soundtracked by flatulent synthesiser noodling and presided over by a talking jungle horse. Despite my best efforts (a full three minutes idling on Google while waiting for kettle to boil), I’ve not been able to discover much about Alphonse, our equine master of ceremonies; though it sounds as if he hailed from the west country and may have been drinking. And I’m willing to bet that’s more effort spent on him than whoever designed the hideous LP cover. It’s best not to think for too long about what those balloons might be tied to. Crumbs, being a child in the 1970s must have been excruciating…
While the aforementioned ‘Biggles: Adventures In Time’ does have an admittedly meagre connection with our business here today, I would like to take a moment just to quickly share this quite ridiculous slowed-down version of that movie that’s been uploaded to youtube, before the inevitable take-down by the Forces of Babylon. Presumably slowed down to avoid detection from the copyright holders, it’s a sort of ‘Chopped And Screwed’ treatment of the film, if you will, and therefore should probably be consumed using the methods traditionally favoured by the likes of Houston legend DJ Screw and his Screwed Up Click: imbibing heroic quantities of codeine-laced ‘purple drank’ and turning the bass RIGHT UP. Skip straight to the scene at 6:52 where Biggles and his ‘time twin’ Jim The American groggily slur their introductions to one another before running away quite slowly. This is TOTALLY how David Lynch would have directed it…
Oh, and one very last thing:
More on that later. Lots more!
The most pressing news this week is the timely reminder that Howlround plays its biggest performance to date on Sunday October 9th in the candlelit gothic splendour of Brompton Cemetery Chapel, a dome-capped slice of classic Victoriana at the heart of this historic ‘Garden Of Sleep’ in West London. Tickets are £12 and include a complimentary Hendrik’s Gin Cocktail – and as I have commented on these pages before, I can think of no finer and more appropriate way to consume our unique brand of haunted loops and ghostly radiophonics than the shadowy environs of a domed chapel through a gently befuddling haze of gin – can you?
The concert is part of this year’s London Month Of The Dead festival organised by Antique Beat (responsible, amongst other things for the magnificent ‘X-Ray Audio’ project) and A Curious Invitation; with the cemetery playing host to an impressive programme of lectures, workshops and performances over the course of October. Visit their website to find out more.
Really looking forward to this event and to getting the machines back into action again after a rathe chaotic couple of weeks. As you might have heard, we had a break-in at Howlround’s studio a fortnight back, though thankfully nothing of any great value was taken and no significant damage was done – unlike our poor neighbours whose place got pretty well rinsed. I suppose the contemporary thief has no interest in reel-to-reel tape recorders or other pieces of vintage equipment – a stance I can readily appreciate, particularly when I think of the pain and misery I caused several friends and trusted advisors when moving the damn things into the studio in the first place. Still, it was all rather distressing as you can imagine. But there was one thing about the whole sorry affair that did make me smile just a little. In their haste, the pillaging vermin knocked over my box of Brian Eno ‘Oblique Strategies’ cards. And would you believe it, only one single card landed face-up:
What are the chances, eh?
Also, this week, please enjoy the latest edition of Near Mint on Resonance FM, which this week comes swinging in on the vine with a a bit of a ‘carry-on up the jungle’ special, searching for lost treasures and some beautiful trash, with a programme of library, lounger and exotica that attempts to conjure up the exotic delights of steaming tropical forests and crocodile-infested swamps, while probably never getting that much further than a Safari Park. Pith helmets at the ready:
It’s a pretty uptempo show this week, perfect for cannibal dancing, spear-waving, and doing the limbo. Listen out for Buddy Bow’s ‘Twisting in the Jungle’, which might actually be one of the seven greatest pieces of music ever created…
A quick and very late update this week, typed in haste while sat on the floor in Amsterdam airport, returning from a digging trip to Slovenia and the Netherlands with some rather groovy ‘Ex-Yugo’ electronica LPs under my arm and a slight headache. But that’s not important right now. I must just very quickly draw your attention to the latest episode of Resonance FM’s crate-digging showcase spectacular Near Mint, which this week features a thumb through the stash of the Ljubljana-based turntablist and producer DJ Woo D. And what a stash it is….
Knocked together in a single take from recent acquisitions, lounge oddities and the kind of fabulously obscure funk that you and I don’t stand a cat-in-hell’s chance of ever finding for ourselves, it’s a heady brew that I’ve had on loop for the past week. And certainly a damn sight better than the Toni Braxton and Chris DeBurgh currently emanating from the airport toilets. Bad taste knows no borders….
Near Mint rides again this week, with the second part of it’s Back To School Special, produced to mark the coming of a new term at Resonance FM and a new academic year in the wider world. Following the previous edition’s attempt to cheer up any younger listeners despairing at the prospect of another stretch in kiddie-prison, through funk-filled lessons on numeracy, the alphabet and grammar; this week we’re slipping on our plimsolls and heading into the school hall to have our creative expressions facilitated.
The show features extracts from a series of British and American LPs from the 60s and 70s, all designed to have children using their minds and their bodies to express themselves, both in song, dance and ‘fantasy play’, as the sleevenotes would have it. There’s Girl Guides, Radiophonics, The legendary Bruce Haack providing insight into how robots dance, while the less renown, but equally ernest Edna Doll gives instruction on how to bend like a tree in a hurricane, which is thankfully less terrifying than it sounds. There are also at least two quite large ‘shocks’ to be found, but it’s alright because then we have some easy-listening to calm everyone back down again.
I vaguely remember having to take part in such shenanigans during my own school days and hating every single shame-inducing minute of it, but that was probably more to do with the fact that Mrs. Hand once forced me to do it in my pants. In my experience nothing makes you wish the ground would swallow you up harder than having to stand there in mustard-coloured smalls pretending to be a chicken. Mind you, everyone else seemed to enjoy it and I think I was probably quite a pale child.
Some listeners might be surprised that I didn’t feature anything from perhaps the most famous release of whole ‘Kidiophonics’ scene (my own expression – aren’t I clever?!), the BBC’s classic 1969 LP Movement Mime and Music. And trust me, nobody loves that record more than I do – except perhaps Julian House. But in this programme I wanted to concentrate on some of the lesser-known examples of the genre – comparatively-speaking, at least. John Baker’s ‘Structures’ remains one of my all-time favourite pieces of music, but I’m guessing many regular visitors to these pages will already know it backwards! I’ll wager than far fewer of you are familiar with Steve Wienecke’s beautiful ‘Whispering Winds’, which closes the programme. In fact, I reckon it might be about time for further investigation into the work of the mysterious Mr.Wienecke – anyone whose career can include an album entitled ‘Parachute Activity For Senior Adults’ is surely due a reappraisal. In fact, that might be a useful theme for a future programme if I can get hold of a copy of the LP. Anyone care to point me in the right direction?