Howl Yourself A Merry Little Christmix – 2019 In Review

Hello you. It’s that time of year once again where I present yet another highly opinionated and inordinately lengthly end of year mixtape, remark about what a fantastic year this has been for music and absolutely nothing else, then close by wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas. I don’t see any reason to divert from this tradition, particularly now that we’re all trapped in a dystopian Tory hellscape for all eternity, so I’ve crammed my festive mix to the brim with the usual consolatory bangers – over three and a half hours of them!

Tracklist:
Sarah Angliss – Needle
Vanishing Twin – Invisible World
Polypores – Mycelia
Graham Dunning – Build My Gallows High
Dalham – Infinite Key
Gum Takes Tooth – Fights Psychology
Loula Yorke – LDOLS
Paranoid London – Cult Hero
Correlations – Deep on the Inside
Pulselovers – Woodford Hales To Fenny Compton In Five Minutes
Loula Yorke – Untitled #005
Sculpture – Untitled Locked Groove (From Projected Music)
Drew Mulholland – Worklode
Franziska Lantz – Ooosh!
Sculpture – Untitled Locked Groove (From Projected Music)
Dunnning & Underwood – Demon
Franziska Lantz – Give Air
Daniel Williams – You Can Do Almost Anything You Want With Them
Michael Donnelly – Thick Skull
Zeno Van Den Broek – Breach 2
Drew Mulholland – Return To The Desolate Shore
Tears I Ov – All Else Is Bondage (For A)
Simon Scott – Mae
Pulselovers – Badby ’80
Polypores – The Blusher
The Home Current – Tin Foil Express
Keith Seatman – Along The Valley Sidings
Vanishing Twin – Magician’s Success
Gaijin Blues – Grief, The Aftermath And A Faint Hope
Ekoplekz – K-Punk
The Heartwood Institute – Devil’s Riders
Central Office Of Information – Pools Of Witchlight
Dalham – NGC 493
Jonathan Sharp – Carlisle To Euston, 1974
Laura Agnusdei – Golden Kites
Drew Mulholland – She Remembers
Hainbach – Gestures 3
Grey Frequency – Elegy For Ginger Tom
Field Lines Cartographer – Ghosts In The Wires
Sculpture / Maria Chavez – Projected Reworks: Berceuse5
Rapoon – The Village
Richard Sanderson – Pequod
Iain Chambers – The Eccentric Press (Extract)
Sculpture / Mariam Rezaei – Projected Reworks: Improvisation I
Sarah Angliss – Egg
Paco Rossique – Next Symbol
Drew Mulholland – Irregular Pattern
The Utopia Strong – Brainsurgeons 3
Fennesz – We Trigger The Sun
Mark Peters – The Box Of Delights (MAPS Remix)
Hainbach – A Soft Adieu

Also absolutely proud and delighted to inform you that Howlround’s latest LP The Debatable Lands has been selected as one of Electronic Sound Magazine’s albums of the year, and while I haven’t had time to properly celebrate this fantastic news over the past manic week, rest assured I shall be proposing a toast to the staff of that fine periodical over the Christmas lunch table. What a way to end 2019! I never miss a copy, you know…

It’s been a manic final week of dashing around seeing off the year (and the decade) in fine style, with a trio of live shows for Sonic Cathedral in London, Ante in Shipley and The Vinyl Cafe in my hometown of Carlisle and it’s been a real treat catching up with friends old and new in the process. Soundtracking cult BBC series The Box Of Delights with Mark Peters was great fun and there might even be tentative plans in the works to do something with the recordings – we shall see. In the meantime, his Winterland EP is essential listening and the superb Maps remix of the opening track rounds off my Best Of Mix in fine style (with a tasty offering from Hainbach’s magnificent Gestures by way of an epilogue – but let’s not split hairs).

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Thanks also to Ante for having me and a nod and a wink to fellow performers Reet Maff’l and GRST, the latter of whom also kept an eye on the sound levels during my set and did invaluable work preventing the PA from blowing up again. It was a pretty intense performnace with the machines in fine, slightly demonic voice and featured what might actually have been the longest loop of my career to date, even more so than the one from that underground reservoir in Copenhagen that time. And much to everyone’s surprise, it actually WORKED!

But the one show I look forward to more than any other at this time of year is Winter Solstice Soundscapes at The Vinyl Cafe, sharing a stage with fellow Cumbrian sound-sculptor The Heartwood Institute (not forgetting the ever-cheery Mrs. Heartwood!), affable hosts James and Lyn; plus this year a very special appearance from Psyché Tropes boss Steven McInerney on his mighty modular synth. It was only the third time Steve and I had performed the set we created together for The Delaware Road, and although we had a few gremlins in the machines (or at least more than the requisite amount you’ll have come to expect from a Howlround show), it was a very special evening of good friends and great company, as always. It’s a wonderful thing to have The Vinyl Cafe in my home town and to watch the local scene building around it – long may it continue. We’re making plans for next year’s event already!

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More immediate plans also include getting stuck into Heartwood’s latest LP Tomorrow’s People on Polytechnic Youth, which I’m willing to bet will sound as fabulous as it looks. I’m planning on giving it a spin first thing on Christmas morning to get my long-suffering parents into some semblance of festive spirit, and am quite sure it will go down well – or at least better than the time I treated the breakfast table to a blast of Space Is The Place. Turns out Sun Ra doesn’t go down well before Sun Rise. But I digress…

I’m told Steve has safely arrived back in London and we’ll be working on this set some more in the new year in readiness for a further performance at Cafe Oto on January 25th. But for the moment, I think this photo of him taken through the window at soundcheck would make a rather fine Christmas card. What do you reckon?

Anyway, that’s it for 2019. I was going to attempt some kind of retrospective, but as it’s been a hugely busy twelve months crammed with incident and intrigue and as I have an animation soundtrack that I promised I’d try and finish before Christmas (some hope!), I really ought to be cracking on. But I’d like to offer a big thank you to everyone who’s supported Howlround and my various other endeavours over the last year and Season’s Greetings to all of the lovely collection of music nerds, sonic oddballs and artsy weirdos that I’m honoured to call my friends. I’m now at home with the family and have temporarily swapped dragging a suitcase full of equipment around the country for being dragged around the countryside myself by a springer spaniel named Fergus and a miniature Schnauzer named Molly. That’s happiness enough for anyone, I reckon and I hope you’ve all found some equivalent of your own. Merry Christmas and see you in 2020!

Festive Fergus