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

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