Howlround Goes Further – Coventry Cathedral, Portico, The Social

Thanks to everyone who came along to Ambience Chasers at The Social last week, especially promoters Sonic Cathedral and Ulrich Schnauss and Mr. Richard Norris, though I feel I should probably apologise to the latter for my attempts to peer over his shoulder ever time he dropped yet another amazing track. Anyway, the above extract from Howlround’s set is taken from towards the close of our performance and pits a sample of the saxophone recordings of Jim Slade made for last year’s performances as a duo in Sweden and Copenhagen against the creaks, growls and protesting of our ever-mercurial slightly malfunctioning tape machine known as Delia. Still, if it sounds this good every time one of our old ladies needs a new drive belt (the opinion of Ben Soundhog – and he would know!), it might be a while before anything gets fixed.

Preparing for mischief – naughty Delia during soundcheck

Speaking of Delia, the time has finally arrived for Howlround to perform our live tape loop manipulation at Coventry Cathedral in order to celebrate the life, career and 80th birthday of Radiophonic pioneer and daughter of the city, Delia Derbyshire. We’ll be performing alongside such luminaries as Pete Kember (Sonic Boom), Dr. Peter Zinovieff, Hannah PeelJerry Dammers and Jonny Trunk – though I’m not sure Jonny is currently speaking to me, because I still owe cash for that copy of Delia’s legendary ESL104 LP he gave me. Might have to go in disguise!

In addition to this historic performance (and provided I survive the evening with my kneecaps intact), Chris and I will be conducting a demonstration of our curious profession the following day, so do come along to both events and join us if you can. Further information is available at promoter The Tin Music And Art’s website. Needless to say we’re absolutely honoured to be saluting such a legendary sound scientist in this manner, and are hoping her namesake tape machine will be on its best behaviour too…

The demonstration will occur at noon the following day and will end sharply at 1pm as we hurriedly pack our gear and dash back to the big smoke for our performance at Further, which takes place that evening at the Portico Gallery, West Norwood. It promises to be multi-sensory extravaganza featuring audio-visual performances from Ghost Box, DJ Food and Pete Williams, as well as films, slides, projections, oil lamps, local food and a special record stall provided by nearby venue The Book And Record Bar. As for Howlround, we’re going to be debuting the live score to A Creak In Time, the recently released film collaboration with Steve McInerney’s Psyché-Tropes label. For the first time ever you can watch the film and hear the soundtrack performed live and (hopefully) in sync with Steve’s vivid and lysergic imagery. ‘Image and sound alike point to some unfathomable oceanic bleakness’ as The Wire recently described the album, still available here. With luck both image and sound will point in the same direction at the same time! Very few tickets left at the time of writing, so if you’re planning to come, click here and look sharp about it! This summer promises to be quite a busy one for Howlround, as this freshly-published newsletter to my mailing list will attest.

I’m also delighted to add that A Creak In Time received a very favourable mention this week from the mighty Woebot himself, as part of a longer item about Steve and the considerable body of fine work he is amassing around the Psyché Tropes imprint:

‘[A] suitably cosmic suite of lemurian horns echoing through the galaxy’s fog, effortlessly mirroring the unheimlich soundtracks of classic sci-fi like Eduard Artemyev’s electronic score for Tarkovsky’s “Solaris” or even Kubrick’s use of Ligeti in Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”‘.

Short of appearing on his now-legendary ‘100 Greatest Records Ever’ list, could there be finer accolade?! And then legendary Belgian label Entr’acte went and added a track from A Creak In Time to the latest in their series of regular mixtapes as well! It’s been rather a vintage week! Might need a lie down…


Portland Place And Creaking Bass – Live At The Royal Institute Of British Architects + Ambience Chasing At The Social

Finally uploaded, please enjoy this new composition, commissioned by Nick Luscombe’s Musicity project and the Royal Institute Of British Architects. Created entirely from recordings made inside the institute’s remarkable headquarters at 66 Portland Place, this version is a stereo remix of a work unveiled at Musicity’s gala event on April 4th, which also featured excellent performances from High Llama’s frontman Sean O’Hagan, the gorgeous twisted folk of Stick in the Wheel and future-soul doyenne Throwing Shade. Amongst other delights, there was a fascinating installation in an adjoining room by Paul Bavister’s Audialsense project, which was also an attempt to explore the hidden sound of this most remarkable of buildings, but using a very different set of parameters and with a completely different set of results – a sort of digital yin to my own analogue yang. A thoroughly stimulating evening was had by all, and my thanks must go to Nick as well as Meneesha, Lisa, Emily and Gabriel at RIBA for making it all possible.

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Founded by the esteemed Late Junction presenter as an on-going project to investigate the relationship between sound and architecture, Musicity has been gaining momentum for some time now, and of course needless to say its approach tallies with a lot of ideas I’ve been exploring myself over the last few years – and indeed that I positively jumped at the chance to work with such an auspicious building! The finished composition features recordings of a number of metallic coat hangers, a hinge on an interior door and footsteps on the fabulously creaky floor of the main hall, some of which were played back and re-recorded through the hall’s ceiling-mounted PA speakers for additional weight and depth. The recordings were then manipulated on a single loop of tape, over and over until it was in a state of advanced decay, giving them the pleasingly ‘chewy’ and scrambled feel that I was hoping for – a possible side-effect of exposure to the vintage tape compositions of Kuniharu Akiyama that I’ve recently become fascinated by (take a bow, John Hawken!).

In other news, I’ll be returning to this particular neck of the woods and to the live circuit on Tuesday 25th April, when Sonic Cathedral and Ulrich Schnauss unveil the latest in their Ambience Chasers series of events at The Social on Little Portland Street. Howlround will be performing alongside a DJ set from Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve’s Richard Norris in a venue that contains many happy memories of for me, not least clearing the dancefloor with a particularly lovingly crafted DJ set at a recent Resonance FM listening event – though in truth it might have had rather more to do with the bar closing. Either way, this time I’ll be covering the dancefloor with spent loops instead!

Ambience Chasers poster 3