Hello you. Just wanted to put in a plug for the last handful of Howlround live shows for 2018, before I mothball the tape machines and retire for a week at the parental hearth involving dog walking, London Transport Films and Knight Rider re-runs when nobody is looking (don’t judge me). The excitement starts this Tuesday 11th with a live set at Dalston’s Cafe Oto alongside mighty fellow tape manipulators Langham Research Centre. Both parties will be performing separately, before combining for a realisation of the 1955 John Cage composition “Speech for 5 Radios and Newsreader”. Cannot wait!
Just back from touring Japan and with two new releases in tow (in addition to Tape Works vol.1 which is one of my favourite albums of 2018), those Langham chaps are certainly experiencing a purple patch right now, so the stage is set for a very special evening indeed. Plus I might even have some shiny new Howlround vinyl for sale. Further details and tickets here.
Looking a little further ahead to December 22nd, I’ll be DJing at Warwick Bazaar in my hometown of Carlisle in support of a live set by AHRKH, a side project from GNOD’s A.P. Macarte incorporating Modular synths, field recordings and vocals, which could not be further up my street if it tried. It’s only my second ever DJ set in the land of my birth, the first being some 22 years ago when I played oldskool hardcore at a birthday party (using one of those weird old hi-fi turntables that has the stylus in the lid for reasons that baffled me then and now), before getting turfed off for refusing to play Celine Dion. I’m entirely confident that I shall be much more in my element for this second appearance, but feel compelled to include the caveat that my self-imposed ban on showboating French-Canadian divas is still very much in effect. Further details here.
The following day I’m heading to my joint-favourite record shop, Carlisle’s Vinyl Cafe for the second of their Winter Solstice Soundscapes event. Once again Howlround will go head-to-head with Lakeland ‘Hauntronica’ pioneer The Heartwood Institute, whose Secret Rites LP on Polytechnic Youth was another of my favourite longplayers of 2018. It’s a highly anticipated rematch following last year’s inaugural event, though I am hoping the machines behave a little better this year: Daphne in particular was rather stubborn and unyielding the last time around, despite all the whispered oaths I used in trying to convince her to behave – hopefully on the return visit she’ll prove a little more pliable. Sadly Simon will be sitting this one out altogether after spooling all over the floor at the recent Palace Electric show. Needless to say my new year’s resolution is to put all the machines in for a service…
And that’s almost it for the year, but I’ll be popping up on your feed once more in 2018 to drop my now-traditional, hotly-anticipated ‘Best Of Year’ mixtape, which I’ll be putting together sometime in the next week. As ever, it’s going to be a hard slog trying to include all of the fabulous releases that have come my way in the past twelve months, but it’s a challenge I always relish. In the meantime, please enjoy the above 2017 mix one more time. That was a pretty vintage year too…
teaser terror peek at the eerie eruptions emanating from a new Howlround happenings. Culled from an imminent chiller entitled ‘the debatable lands’ this is the unforgiving power electronics bleakness of (what we take to believe is called) ‘a melt saetr’. A scalding slice of isolationist harsh noise gouging that scowls, scars and skirts the defiant and damaged terrains of the likes of Sissy Spacek and Tayside Mental Health, happy pop this isn’t, sheer brutal bludgeoning it is. Approach with due care and trepanning deflecting headwear Mark Losing Today
Howlround are delighted to announce that sixth studio album The Debatable Lands (for studio read ‘Mum and Dad’s dining room table’) will be released at the end of the year and is now available to pre-order from Touch.Expertly cut by Jason at Transition and impeccably mastered by Stephan Mathieu, it’s a surprisingly abrasive four-track vinyl LP, but if you order it directly from the Touchshop, you get an additional six tracks, one of which ‘a-melt-saetr’ can be heard here. And that track has already gained the above review from Mark Losing Today, for which we’re much obliged!
Official PR blurb: In December 2017, Howlround (Robin the Fog) was invited to perform at “The Winter Solstice Soundscapes” event for the recently opened record store “Vinyl Café” in his home town of Carlisle, Cumbria. Inspired by the reception to his first ever performance in the great border city, he covered his parent’s dining room table with the same equipment, stretched loops of tape around his mum’s seasonal candlesticks when she wasn’t looking… and this LP is the result. The only equipment used on the album is two 1/4” reel-to-reel tape machines and one microphone. The sounds created are entirely at the discretion of the machines (much of them derived from ‘closed-input’ recordings) and all tracks were produced in a single take. There are no edits, no overdubs and no additional effects.
This marks a new, heavier direction for Howlround, a project better known for more ambient work. Described as ‘Tapeloop Techno’, thick knotty tangles of dense, pulsating bass are an echo of Robin’s early days making bad dance music, while the abrasive snarls of feedback swirling around these tracks point to his more recent embrace of indeterminacy and chance composition. Previous vinyl releases on Psyché Tropes, The Wormhole, A Year in the Country and Front & Follow as well as his own label The Fog Signals have shown a deep understanding of the possibilities of tape manipulation. On The Debatable Lands Howlround eschews the usual field recordings in favour of exploring the interior world of the machines themselves.
The album was officially unveiled last Friday on Resonance FM’s Bad Punk show, though in actual fact only one track from the LP was debuted, along with another from recently issued Psyché Tropes LP A Creak Retimed. The rest of the show was performed as a live session, with regular host Johny Brown and special guest Dolly Dolly reciting great works of poetry from the region with Howlround tape loops providing a live backdrop. Have a listen below if you missed it or would like to listen again:
Thanks to Johny and Dolly Dolly for another splendid performance – our first together since Gallery 46 in Whitechapel last August. Thanks must also go to engineer Matt and Inga Tillere for these fabulous photographs (as usual)! Further information can be found on the Bad Punk website. Tune in every Friday at 10pm, it’s always worth a listen!