Look To The Skies – Howlround Shoots For The Moon

Hello you. It’s been an exciting couple of weeks, what with the physical stock of the new Howlround LP A Creak In Time finally touching down at Psyché Tropes HQ and our undertaking a busy weekend of live shows to celebrate its arrival. It all kicked off on Friday afternoon with the vinyl finally showing up – and the curious sensation of something in the air that evening as I travelled across the capital on my way to yet another one of my glamorous showbiz shindigs. Moments later I was proved quite literally correct when I emerged from Liverpool Street station, looked up at the sky and beheld that the very moon itself had taken on an uncanny resemblance to the album’s sleeve-art. Next thing I know, I’m getting a buzz in my pocket with the news of a long-awaited arrival in Hackney Central. Could this be some sort of sign? An emphatic YES, quite frankly:
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I was regrettably unable to personally capture this moment – commuters were tutting and zig-zagging past me, plus my phone doesn’t even have ‘Snake’ on it – but thankfully fellow sound-shaper Janine A’Bear responded to some frantic texting and took the above photograph from her garden in Amhurst Road. Of course a mere snapshot could never do justice to the full incomprehensible wonder of the celestial miracle being worked high above our heads (the moon being quite a long way from Hackney, after all), but I do hope it offers you some idea of the kind of mystical forces that are clearly throwing their cosmic heft behind this latest project – bending the conventional laws of physics to give the UK’s premier experimental tape-loop quartet a lunar leg-up. I hereby have the utmost confidence in proclaiming Howlround the first ever band to successfully incorporate a heavenly body into a promotional campaign and to henceforth brand this the greatest and most cost-effective piece of viral marketing EVER. How you like them silver apples, Coca Cola?!

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The following morning I was able to inspect the vinyl first-hand and I have to say it’s been more than worth the wait. A Creak In Time looks and sounds absolutely magnificent, beautifully mastered and pressed on heavyweight 180g vinyl with full-colour inner and outer sleeves, as well as a link to stream the film in full online and of course the obligatory digital download. Full credit must go to film director, creative whirlwind and Psyché Tropes lynchpin Steven McInerney for doing such a fantastic job of putting it all together. Please watch the trailer, enjoy these glossy promotional shots of the album in all its glory, then head over to the Psyché Tropes website to order a copy of your own:

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Thanks also to everyone who came down to IKLECTIK the following evening for the official launch party, held as part of a two day residency by sound artist Pascal Savy. The event featured live performances from Pascal, Steve under his Merkaba Macabre alias and of course ourselves; as well as the premier screening of the A Creak In Time in front of an extremely enthusiastic audience. Could their be a more appropriate venue for launching such a project into the world than this secret corner of central London that still retains much sense of its previous life as a Buddhist monastery? Thanks once again to Pascal for inviting us. Hoping to hear new music from him in 2017 as well!

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Photo by Strictly Kev

The following evening, and in keeping with Howlround’s ever-growing reputation for playing in unusual venues, we played the Rotherhithe Shaft at the Brunel Museum, a remarkable piece of engineering history now given a new life as a performance and exhibition space. Part of another two-day residency, this time courtesy of Goldsmith’s College and their regular EAVI events; we shared the bill with Lee Patterson, Áine O’Dwyer  and the duo of Wajid Yaseen & Anthony Elliot. I must say this was one of my favourite performances of the 2016, an absolutely fantastic event and a great way to finish off a busy year. Even if Elizabeth did conk out about ten minutes into the show. Oh, those stubborn old ladies…

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Photo courtesy Hypo.io

You can jude for yourself by listening to an extract from our set above, a loose interpretation of one of the tracks from the A Creak In Time using some of the loops that didn’t quite make the final cut. It might not quite capture the effect of blazing it out at high volume deep within the bowels of the earth, but it will hopefully offer an impression of just how deep and dark things got – literally! Thanks again to Adam, Rob and the team for having us. I wonder where we should try and play next? ‘First band on the moon’ would certainly be a nice accolade and after this week’s happenings it all seems a little less highly implausible…

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Finally, in a change of subject, please enjoy not one but TWO editions of Resonance FM’s Near Mint show, in an attempt to atone for my slackness in bringing them to your attention over the last couple of weeks – although frankly there are only so many hours in the day. Entitled ‘Copenhagen Contemporary Classics’ and ‘Slightly Strange Sevens’ they respectively contain some of the most beautiful recordings I’ve bought to you over the last few months – and some of the very strangest. For best results, listen to these shows end-to-end, enjoying the curious frisson that comes from juggling the austere minimalist majesty of the likes of Vanessa Amara against recorded instructions on how to play the bongos, balance your ‘equipment’ or operate a typewriter at 130wpm. As so frequently happens on these pages, it’s a chance to celebrate once again the subtle interplay between the utterly sublime and the completely ridiculous:

Right, that’ll do it for now. Suppose I’d better get cracking on putting my end of year music mix together. It’s been a particularly bumper crop for 2016, which given the state of the world at the moment is just as well….

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