Hello you. The fallout from Delaware Road continues into the autumn with both the above video extract of Howlround x Merkaba Macabre‘s banging live set finally surfacing online and the arrival of this very complimentary photo spread in the latest pages of Electronic Sound magazine:
For those of you who weren’t crammed into a Stone Tent somewhere in Wiltshire last August, Steve and I shall be recreating this show for The Engine Room at Iklectik on 24th October, along with Hanzo who providing those ace visuals and some very special surprise guests to be announced. Further details will follow shortly, but tickets are already available here, so jump in while you can.
Speaking of Iklectik, thanks to everyone who came down last Thursday to help celebrate The Tapeworm’s tenth birthday and enjoy awesome live sets by Blood Music, Tears|Ov and Zeno Van Den Broek among many others. It also marked the debut of The Howling, my duet with Ken Hollings in a performance that mixed a spirited recital of Ken’s ‘Trash List’ with random intercut audio fragments from some of the items mentioned therein (porno versions of Fairy Tales, Paris Hilton, the word ‘wacky’, instant cake mix etc. etc.) fed through the Howlround tape machines. A short but intense performance that was very warmly received by the crowd and definitely opened up some encouraging avenues for further exploration. Plus it was almost certainly the first airing Hulk Hogan’s Wrestling Boot Band has received in years, even if it was only the tiniest of snippets. This is not surprising as Hulk Hogan’s Wrestling Boot Band is an album at least seventeen times worse than you could ever have thought possible (seriously, click on that link, I dare you).
Anyway, thanks as ever to The Worm, to Ken for being my partner in trash and to the indomitable Beth Arzy, not only for these snazzy photos but also for being that one person who said ‘you two really should do something together’ one evening in a Balham pub while we were midway through an earnest discussion of the merits of Manos: The Hands Of Fate. And of course extra special thanks must go to Hulk Hogan for gifting the world Thunder In Paradise – it’s basically Knight Rider with additional muscles and a speedboat, but minus the charm – a spectacular reminder that during the 90s our doomed species would literally watch any barmy old crap as long as it contained girls in bikinis, weaponised forms or transportation and – inexplicably – Patrick Macnee. But I digress…
In celebration of this anniversary the label are adding a bumper crop of new releases to the already bulging portfolio, including the very fine label sampler XYZ, curated and mixed by the so-called ‘Tilda Swinton of the London electronic scene’ Dale Cornish. Among the delights on offer is a brand new and exclusive Howlround track ‘Bastarding’, named after one of the choice phrases I used to describe my internet service provider in an apologetic email explaining why I was still in the process of sending it over several hours later. The track itself was recorded in real time and so came into being far more easily – one take with no edits or overdubs followed by a cup of tea three minutes later. There’s plenty more on offer too, 26 tracks in total mixing further exclusive goodies with sneak previews of forthcoming releases from this ever more prolific and exciting label. Order your copy here and long live the cassette!
Last week I was at West Norwood’s Book And Record Bar again, putting in another shift on Out Of The Wood, the weekly Sunday afternoon session broadcast live from the shop on WNBC Radio. As it had been rather a late one attending the launch of Franziska Lantz’s splendid new double LP of banging Techno the previous evening, I decided to keep the proceedings mellow and turn the show into another one of my quietly spectacular ambient sets. And while this did mean that my freshly minted copy of Forming Tropical Cyclone, Franzi’s latest blast of ecologically-themed face-melting electronics was doomed to remain in the bag for the duration, I have to say this show was a really fun one to put together, featuring recent releases from Caterina Barbieri, Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, Polypores, The London Sound Survey and a couple of tracks from the excellent new LP by The Utopia Strong, which is not only a fantastic listen, but must surely win cover art of the year as well. Pre-order your copy quick!
…Mind you, Forming Tropical Cyclone features some pretty snazzy cover art too, all hand-stencilled and spray-painted by the artist herself! Naturally this record will be the cornerstone of any future face-melt action. In the meantime you can pick up a copy now from Global Warming Records and all respectable vinyl emporiums:
An astonishing experiment live in the state51 factory: @RobinTheFog manipulates Basil Kirchin’s tape recordings with improvised piano by Steve Beresford. Please share with all experimental music fans: Click this link to watch: https://t.co/vGLLwpbKk6 pic.twitter.com/BaevkhLgKg
— The state51 Conspiracy (@state51) September 27, 2019
Next up, do you remember how much fun we all had at A Midsummer Night’s Happening a few months back? A spectacular event organised by Ghost Box and Trunk Records, held at the state51 compound and featuring The Soundcarriers, Pye Corner Audio, a weird Star Wars Reggae cover and much more besides? Well, you may also recall that it featured a very special tape and piano improvisation set by myself and Steve Beresford, using genuine reel to reel tapes from the Basil Kirchin archive, which was performed in front of a packed crowd and a rather overzealous dry ice machine, which I seem to remember having to switch off at one point as I’d lost sight of my hands.
Petty visibility issues aside, the set went down an absolute storm and I’m delighted to be able to announce that state51 have now released it on their youtube channel. Perfect for those of you who couldn’t make it on the night or who were there but are having trouble remembering anything at all thanks to the venue’s extremely well-stocked bar – not pointing any fingers. That said I myself have absolutely no recollection of anybody filming the proceedings, so this is all a very pleasant surprise. Have a watch and a listen below:
And lastly, I’m off for a couple of weeks on a much needed holiday, so I’m going to leave you with this very silly video that has been making cracking me up all week. It’s entirely likely that nobody else is laughing at all, but I got used to that a long time ago…
So high… pic.twitter.com/64i2tDQw4k
— Robin The Fog (@RobinTheFog) September 22, 2019
Hopefully see you on the 24th. Oh, and stay off the beach, kids. Seriously, I dare you…
Hello you. A rather hurried post this week to invite all those of you located within convenient distance of Farringdon to attend Sounds and the City: The Late Sessions, occurring this Wednesday at London Metropolitan Archives as part of the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project that I’m currently involved with. The title is only partially accurate – the event commences at 6pm, which is still early afternoon as far as my bodyclock is concerned – but it is indeed London and its multitudinous soundscapes that will be the order of the day, as I’m chairing a discussion with a panel of invited experts, each asked to play and talk about a particular song that best represents the city to them. Audience participation is strongly encouraged and attendees will be invited to join in and nominate their own London songs. Tickets are FREE, though spaces are limited and you’ll need to register on the Eventbrite page. There may even be tea and coffee supplied, though I’ll need to look into that.
Anyway, here’s the official blurb: Unlocking Our Sound Heritage (UOSH) is a National Lottery funded project aiming to preserve the UK’s most rare and at risk sound recordings. Here at London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) we are proud to be one of ten regional hubs for the UOSH project, digitising and cataloguing some of the capital’s most extraordinary audio collections.
Inspired by the different types of music we’ve digitised as part of the project, this FREE evening talk will explore how important music is to our experience of London and understanding of its history. We will be joined by a panel of guest speakers who will each pick one piece of music that represents London to them. From old music hall songs to the influence of calypso, ska and reggae, through to the emergence of jungle – all music is welcome! Ahead of the talk we invite you to think about the type of music you most associate with the capital. What would be the playlist of your London?
Can you, dear reader, guess which person will be talking about Jungle?! Hope to see you there, and do make sure you pop your thinking caps on and tell us about your own favourite London song – or add to the conversation over on the LMA Twitter feed if you can’t make it in person. Speaking of Twitter, do feel free to subscribe to @LdnMetArchives if you haven’t done so already, along with our London’s Sound Heritage blog it’s the best way of keeping up to date with this most fascinating of projects. To whet your appetite here are a couple of highlights from the tapes I’ve recently been working with, starting with this little beaut from the 1950s. The subject in question was the speaker’s memories of being a Prisoner of War and the tricky decision as to how to spend one’s incarceration – playing bridge or improving one’s mind via classic literature, with access to both apparently not being an issue at all – sounds pretty cushy. And while it’s true that reverence for the content of these tapes always takes precedence over the physical carrier itself, on this special occasion it was a pretty close call:
Exciting day on #SaveOurSounds as we find our first ever tape reel made from oxide-coated PAPER. This recording, purportedly from 1952 hasn’t dated nearly as badly as you might think. That said, can you work out the opening line of speech on this ‘magic ribbon’? @BLSoundHeritage pic.twitter.com/jaBpxwwNnD
— LdnMetArchives (@LdnMetArchives) September 5, 2019
Secondly, the most recent addition to our regular #TapeBoxTuesday feature, which has been making me laugh all week. There’s actually another two full minutes of this lengthy account on the recording, hopefully I’ll get to share the full thing with you at some point. The Brent County Show of 1977 really must have been quite a happening:
‘There was a fight in one of the flower tents…’
This week’s #TapeBoxTuesday comes from ‘Brent In Sound’, a 1977 magazine for members of the community who have a visual impairment. In this edition, there’s high drama at the Brent Country Show: @BLSoundHeritage #SaveOurSounds pic.twitter.com/OP89OJlwld
— LdnMetArchives (@LdnMetArchives) September 10, 2019
Meanwhile, over the the blog we have an interview with Mr. Ian Rawes of the London Sound Survey, to celebrate both the donation of a huge body of his recordings to the London Metropolitan Archives and also the recent release of Thames, his superb LP of field recordings made along the great river. Ian chats to UOSH project volunteer and sound recordist Paul Skinner about the origins of the project, his work capturing the many and varied sounds of the city, the changing nature of the London soundscapes and there’s even some tips for aspiring field recordists too. Read their fascinating chat in full here.
Hello you. It’s taken me a fortnight to finally upload some of Victoria Hasting’s magnificent black and white photos (and the rather super video above) from The Delaware Road – Ritual and Resistance, the fabulous audio-visual extravaganza that recently took place in a military training facility deep within MOD land in the heart of Wiltshire at the behest of Buried Treasure supremo Alan Gubby. I must apologise for such tardiness, but the fact is it’s only now that I’ve finally had some time out to process it all – surely I can’t be the only one who took a few days to come back down afterwards?!
It’s certainly true that a lot of attendees will have slept deeply the following Sunday night – there was an awful lot of cross-country trekking, plus camping, plus a very late bedtime on Saturday after the eye-and-ear-blogging spectacle finally ended sometime around 4am. But the bleary eyes and sleepy smiles of those milling around drinking much-needed coffee the following morning spoke of just what a night they’d had – a testament to Alan’s vision and the growing community of artists, performers, musicians, producers, DJs, film-makers (plus strange characters in green facepaint) that it brings together from across the land. I think it’s fair to say that the three Delaware Road events so far (including the previous 2017 event at Kelvedon Hatch ‘Secret’ Nuclear Bunker) have played a vital role in forming this largely disparate collection of artists and labels from all over the UK into a genuine scene, creating new support networks and forging countless collaborations and alliances on the way.
Speaking personally, this event was like a massive holiday camp crammed not only with a huge number of my favourite artists but a lot of my best friends too. My biggest regret of the night was just how many of those performances I had to miss. But with justifiable reason – Howlround and Merkaba Macabre (aka A Creak In Time director and synth tinkerer Steven McInerney) were playing our first ever collaborative set inside the largest of the so-called ‘Stone Tents’ (squat concrete psuedo-houses dotted around the site that looked for all the world like something out of a Protect and Survive video) and frankly the preparation and execution of such a set took up an awful lot of valuable dancing/drinking/ear-boggling time.
Totally worth it, though, I’m delighted to report the set went down a storm and the Stone Tent was full to bursting – indeed I’m told that a number of people missed our performance because they couldn’t physically fit inside the room!
Over the last few months I’ve been experimenting with creating more rhythmic, beat-driven tracks, using the same closed-input feedback loop techniques that fuelled the last Howlround LP The Debatable Lands, but attempting this time to create something not a million miles away from wonky acid techno. This was the first time the fruits of those experiments had been tested in public on a big system and I have to say it sounded pretty banging, particularly with Steve’s modular synth drones and squelches over the top. Every time I looked up it was just a sea of faces and nodding heads (with even some ‘dancing a bit like a tree’ where space permitted) and the crowd gave us a proper ovation when we’d finished. Even earned me a hug from Steve Davis! What a wonderful thing to have such a supportive turnout, it certainly gives us the confidence to keep moving in this direction!
Due to lack of space, I’ve only included a handful of Victoria’s photographs (plus a couple of colour pictures of my own that I had to resort to after she took it into her head that driving all the way back to London at 1am was a solid plan), but there are many more online and I would urge you to visit the official album on Facebook. I believe there might even be more video footage of Howlround and Merkaba Macabre forthcoming, once it’s been mixed with the desk recording. More news soon…
As for other highlights, I’ll leave those to Bob Fischer’s Haunted Generation site and also DJ Food’s blog, both of which provide more in-depth reports of happenings elsewhere in the festival and plenty of additional photographs. But I think I can safely say it was the best night of the year so far and possibly the best since the previous Delaware Road, truth be told. And I think we can all agree that DJ Food and Steve Davis was the perfect high to end on. Crumbs, I don’t think I stopped smiling all night. Not sure they did either!
There are an awful lot of people I need to thank, starting with Victoria for these photographs (and many more besides), Steven McInerney for bringing the whole Psyché Tropes room together, our endlessly cheery, accommodating and unflappable technical crew Billy Pleasant and Henrique Mattias, Hanzo on visuals, fellow performers Mark Vernon, A’Bear, Sculpture and of course whoever it was that remembered to bring beer. I could go on. Basically, it was thanks to a Herculean effort on behalf of all of these people that the room looked and sounded so great and remained so busy all night. Very proud to have been part of such a fantastic team!
I must also say a huge thank you for the absolutely saintly efforts of Karina Townsend in squeezing five people and all of our equipment into her van, getting everything safely there and back, providing us with all the tents and camping equipment we could possibly want and being delightful company as usual in the process. Karina, what would we have done without you?! I still don’t know how we fitted everything in…
But I think the biggest thank you of all has to go to this man, Mr. Alan Gubby, whose feverish imagination dreamed the entire thing up and whose determination and grit brought so many people together from all over the country to produce one of the finest festivals this tape-manipulator has ever attended – no doubt at not a little cost to his own sanity! The Delaware Road community salutes you, Alan! Now, when are thinking of holding the next one..?