The Past, Present And Future Walked Into Vinyl Cafe…

Hello you. Very pleased and excited to announce a new collaborative work with an old friend – the Swiss-based artist, writer, philosopher, polymath and all round good egg Leila Peacock. It’s an audio essay entitled ‘Waiting Rooms’, one of three new original works that make up her current exhibition running at Zurich University of the Arts‘ exhibition space al_vista until mid-August.

We know how to measure time. We know what time is as long as we don’t have to explain it. It is a useful fiction that structures lives. Substance of sci-fi explorations into the realms of the possible. The perpetually perishing present moment you can never grasp. The illusion of history as progress, the reality of the countdown until our own death-to-come, the longing of the long wait.

Leila and I have produced a handful of works together over the years. She was there when I was just beginning to put Howlround together and was instrumental in helping to realise the Secret Songs Of Savamala LP when we were working in Belgrade back in 2013). Her essays are always a real conceptual trip and so I try each time to create a sound design that’s appropriately far out in accordance. On this occasion we’re criss-crossing back and forth through time in the company of some recordings of chiming clocks I salvaged from a performance at York’s Manor House and taken them even further down the rabbit hole. Perhaps a little obvious when you consider it – but damn, do they sound evocative! Have a listen below and if you’re in Zurich I urge to pop over and investigate further – while respecting social distancing, of course. For the rest of you, strap on some ear goggles on and dive straight in!

 

Closer to home, but also quite out there in its own way, this week also marks the last episode of Fog Cast before Resonance FM takes a well-deserved summer break. A lot has changed in the 18 weeks since the show emerged blinking into the strange new world of March 2020, but I thought I would end the series with a note of optimism by including a clutch of LPs from a recent expedition to my (joint) favourite record shop Vinyl Cafe in my hometown of Carlisle, which has thankfully now re-opened after months of lockdown-enforced closure.

Naturally our local independent record shops (along with the artists and musicians who make the records they stock) need our support now more than ever, so if you happen to be passing through Abbey Street in Carlisle, do pop in and have a browse. Or for those less conveniently located, simply visit futureisvinyl.co.uk and have a virtual dig through the racks. There’s always plenty of treasure awaiting your discovery – I walk away each with a stack of new surprises and this week’s show is certainly testament to that. I’m aware I’ve said it before, but if you had told me a decade ago that one day there would be a space in my old home town where I’d be able to shop for records by Meredith Monk, Suzanne Ciani and Cabaret Voltaire, make a bunch of like-minded new friends and even put on some Howlround shows, I would have branded you a hopeless idealist and backed away slowly. And yet here we are!

This latest trip was even more of an ear-opener than usual as I must confess to having been previously ignorant of the wondrous works of Ann McMillan, Craig Kupka or Julia Barwick, all of whom feature prominently on this final episode of the series. This is surely why we go to record shops in the first place, isn’t it? Not so much to find what we already know, but to discover the stuff you don’t know yet, that moment where the person behind the counter spots you and says ‘TRY THIS!’ Hurrah for the reopened Vinyl Cafe – now let’s all continue to support it – and all of our local independent record stores! In the meantime, here are this week’s treasures:

Yair Elazar Glotman & Mats Erlandsson ‎– From Light To Refraction [from Emanate, 130701, 2020]
Julia Barwick feat. Jónsi – In Light [from Healing Is A Miracle, Ninja Tune, 2020]
Craig Kupka – Trombones of Lithia [from Crystals: New Music For Relaxation 2, Folkways, 1982]
Ann McMillan – Gong Song / Gateway Summer Sound [from Gateway Summer Sound – Abstracted Animal & Other Sounds, Folkways, 1978]
Yair Elazar Glotman & Mats Erlandsson ‎– Interlude II [from Emanate, 130701, 2020]
Julia Barwick – Inspirit [from Healing Is A Miracle, Ninja Tune, 2020]

 

Triple Mix – Fog Wood Frequency

Hello you. A triple whammy of treats this week, with a new episode of Fog Cast on Resonance FM, plus an Out Of The Wood mixtape from the vaults and a brand new radio session from the ever-productive Grey Frequency. That’s four solid hours of ambient audio gold, so probably best to pop the kettle on before we go any further…

Fog Cast this week is a small tribute to the recently departed Barbara Pointon, tireless dementia campaigner and force for good in the world who was also (along with Ian Helliwell) responsible for a retrospective compilation of her husband’s compositions surfacing on the Public Information label in 2016. Sobering to think how this fascinating body of work could have been lost forever without her care and attention – along with potentially so many other great swathes of our electronic music heritage, mouldering away in attics and basements across the nation. It’s certainly a subject close to the Helliwell heart and Ian’s compendium of early pioneering composers Tape Leaders  is well worth hunting down if you haven’t done so already. Our other featured album is from The Soulless Party, yet another classic addition to the Castles In Space canon (will their current golden run ever cease?!), plus new surprises from Kit Records and Wormhole World to boot. As Super Grover would say, ‘no need to thank me, I live to serve’! Strap on your ear goggles and dive straight in:

The Soulless Party – Ghost Planes [from The Black Meadow Archive Volume 1, Castles In Space, 2020]
Cleaver Boi and The Hungry Ghost – Minnal [unreleased, 2020]
Malcolm Pointon – Then Wakes The Ice [rec. 1970s, from Electromuse, Public Information, 2016]
Cosmic Neighbourhood – Squirrel / Waving Tree [from Library Vol 1, Kit Records, 2020]
boycalledcrow – Ghost In My Head / Chasing Rainbows [from the forthcoming album Mystic Scally, Wormhole World, 2020]
Malcolm Pointon – Trojan Woman / Study 2 [rec. 1970s, from Electromuse, Public Information, 2016]
The Soulless Party – Walking On Black Meadow / A Voice In The Heather/ The Village Under The Lake / He Took Her Hand [from The Black Meadow Archive Volume 1, Castles In Space, 2020]

Up next is a classic edition of Out Of The Wood, the regular Sunday lunchtime show that comes live from from West Norwood’s Book And Record Bar and is streamed on WNBC.London. With its rotating roster of regular DJs and special guests, this show is always the perfect way to while away a Sunday, preferably in store while drinking coffee or beer, flicking through records and listening to shop owner King Michael’s tall tales of record hunting adventure.

I say it’s a ‘classic’ edition because although it only dates from a few months back, it was the final edition of OOTW to be broadcast before lockdown (in fact I remember the date exactly – March 15th – because it was Mother Fog’s birthday and I managed to convince everyone in the shop to join me in serenading her down the phone). Doesn’t that feel like a long time ago already? Furthermore, putting this two hour ambient special together was also what gave me the idea for Fog Cast, the first edition of which would swiftly follow a couple of weeks later. Plus they’ve chosen that one photo of me by Victoria Hastings where I come very close to almost looking smouldering (My secret? That faraway look comes from trying to read the venue’s ‘Specials Menu’ under subdued lighting). Anyway, very glad to see The Book And Record Bar is now back open and I’m sure that new editions of OOTW can’t be far away either (Michael has invested heavily in hand-sanitiser). Until then plenty of delights from the show’s sizeable archive are available from https://outofthewood.london/

And lastly here’s Grey Frequency’s ‘Haunted Ambient Mix’, originally broadcast Saturday 18th July on CAMP Radio and including Howlround’s ‘A Creak In Time Part 2’ as the filling in a Laurie Spiegel / Else Marie Pade sandwich. How about that for an accolade?! There’s also appearances from recent Fog Cast alumni such as Simon Klee, Forest Robots and the Grey man himself alongside Steve Nolan. Somebody buy this man a pint, he’s earned it…

Wyrd Geography – Isolation Wanderer

Hello you. Presenting for your approval another dose of Resonance FM Isolation antics in the shape of the latest edition of Fog Cast, which this week pays another visit to the magnificent Touch:Isolation compilation (although at a total of 28 tracks and three hours we’ve still barely scratched the surface), plus the superb new album After Geography by Francisco Dominguez, better known as Forest Robots. Purported to be a ‘love letter to his daughter about the wonders of nature’, it strikes me that we could all do with a reminder of such things, especially when they’re as blissful as this. Hoping to hear a lot more from Forest Robots in the future. Also hoping his little girl appreciates it. Seem to remember my infant niece being pretty ambivalent when I tried a similar approach a couple of years back.. There really is no accounting for taste…

Forest Robots – Subtly Widening Bergschrunds [from After Geography, Forest Robots, 2020]
Rosy Parlane –  Awa [from Touch:Isolation, Touch, 2020]
Oren Ambarchi – Sbagliato (Demo) [from Touch:Isolation, Touch, 2020]
Philip Jeck – Followed by Bells [from Touch:Isolation, Touch, 2020]
Bana Haffar – Conference of Birds [from Touch:Isolation, Touch, 2020]
Yann Novak – The Elation of Protest [from Touch:Isolation, Touch, 2020]
Forest Robots – A Detailed Cartography [from After Geography, Forest Robots, 2020]
Forest Robots – Karst Wildlife Surveying [from After Geography, Forest Robots, 2020]

I’m keeping it extra brief this week as I’m having a much needed week off up north, the dogs need walking yet again and the letter ‘n’ on my laptop has stopped working, none of which is terribly conducive to coherent marshalling of thoughts. But I must just share this smashing new mix from Melmouth The Wanderer, which features some classic tropes from the glory days of Hauntology,  including ‘post-apocalyptic Cold War paranoia, Number Stations, Public Information Films and the music of high rises, subways and the concrete landscape of our once bright future’. All the good things, basically. It’s been a while since I swam in these warm Hauntological waters, but good grief doesn’t it feel apposite in the current climate?! Plus it features a blast from the Howlround past, alongside goodies from Concretism, Septimus Keen, Cabaret Voltaire and – in this cat’s humble opinion  – one of Portishead’s finest yet most underrated songs.  Fill your boots!

If all this has whetted your appetite for more Urban Wyrd-ness, you will no doubt enjoy the two books on the subject that Folk Horror Revival have prepared for your delectation and to which this mix should provide the perfect accompaniment. They’re available here and here with all profits being donated to The Wildlife Trusts. I’m planning on diving in myself once I’ve knocked a few more inches off the ‘in’ pile currently teetering on the Foggy nightstand. I blame Ken Hollings. His books about trash movies and flying saucers are just so moreish….

Touch Isolation And Rejection

Hello you. It’s a very special edition of Resonance FM’s Fog Cast this week, focusing on two albums that have been produced in direct response to our current worldly state of affairs: Isolation And Rejection Vol. 1 from Manchester’s Front And Follow that I mentioned last week; and Touch:Isolation, the subscription-based compilation from the long-running London imprint that I mentioned last month (or at least I think it was around then – the dates are getting increasingly hazy as the weeks roll by).

Both albums are united by their championing of new, exclusive content from an astonishing wealth of talent that only serves to underline the rude health of our bedevilled music scene in 2020 (in spite of everything), and also by the sheer quantity of excellence on offer – together they offer over FIVE HOURS of original music and there’s not a single duff track to be found amongst the forty-eight on offer. Plus it would appear that Front And Follow are planning another FOUR volumes in this series, so the age of ‘Isolation Inspiration’ is only just beginning. As a result, this week’s show can only offer a light, tantalising dusting of the treasures on offer, but it’s still a truly sublime experience – even by regular Fog Cast standards!

ELEH – Still, Not Waiting [from Touch:Isolation, Touch, 2020]
Claire M Singer
– Rionnag a Tuath [from Touch:Isolation, Touch, 2020]
Zachary Paul – Aeolus [from Touch:Isolation, Touch, 2020]
Hybernation – Fragile Times [from Isolation And Rejection vol. 1, Front And Follow, 2020]
K – Failure Of Presence [from Isolation And Rejection vol. 1, Front And Follow, 2020]
Yellow6 – Work1 [from Isolation And Rejection vol. 1, Front And Follow, 2020]
Yumah – Escape [from Isolation And Rejection vol. 1, Front And Follow, 2020]
Bethan Kellough – Lines of Flight [from Touch:Isolation, Touch, 2020]

The Spun Out Rejection Selection

Hello, you. Ready for another quietly spectacular edition of Fog Cast? Of course you are. And this week it’s an absolute humdinger, featuring two recent albums from the ever-dependable Spun Out Of Control label and another visit to Mark Vernon’s An Anontated Phonography Of Chance, an album that almost seems to have been designed specifically with Fog Cast in mind! Plus there’s an exclusive nugget from Long Meadows, so pop on your headphones and let’s roll.

Hattie Cooke – Chamber / Emerging / Ladders / Run / Something’s Watching You [from The Sleepers, Spun Out Of Control, 2019]
Long Meadows – Dungeness Pt. 1 [unreleased, 2020]
Steve Nolan & Grey Frequency – Been / The End Or The Exit / In Private / Not So Distant [from Intercept, Spun Out Of Control, 2020]
Mark VernonAspen House / Megalithic Circuit / Shrouded Yagis / Simmer Dim [from An Annotated Phonography Of Chance, Misanthropic Agenda, 2019]

An old friend of these pages, of course, Grey Frequency makes another appearance this week with the launch of this rather fantastic new fundraising compilation Isolation and Rejection vol.1. It’s the first in a planned series from a rejuvenated Front And Follow, emerging from hibernation to do some good in these troubled times, and featuring twenty tracks for a mere fiver. Lovely to see this label back in action, albeit temporarily, and this first outing boasts a predictably killer lineup, with contributions from old friends Time Attendant, Ekoplekz, Kemper Norton and many more.

Isolation and Rejection was born out of thinking about what happened to all the tracks that didn’t make it onto those fancy compilations, and is now turning into an ongoing project to collect, collate and promote rejected sounds. This is not an isolation project – it’s a rejection project. All income raised will go to The Brick in Wigan, a fantastic charity on the front line of supporting those most in need, seeking to address the inequalities across our country exacerbated by COVID-19, but there all along.

A superb compilation for a thoroughly worthy cause, then. Front and Follow have already raised an impressive £600 with volume one alone and further editions are on the way, one of which will feature an exclusive Howlround track. Dig deep, friends, this will surely be another future classic in what has already been a vintage year for experimental music and an absolutely rubbish year in absolutely every other respect. Compilations such as this and Castles In Space’s excellent Isolation Tapes offer hope for us all – and some new ear candy to enjoy while studiously avoiding everyone else. More isolation action next week!