Portland Place And Creaking Bass – Live At The Royal Institute Of British Architects + Ambience Chasing At The SocialPosted: April 13, 2017
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.
— Ben Derbyshire (@ben_derbyshire) April 4, 2017
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!
Hello you. A very hasty update a very long way from home and on exceptionally dodgy hotel wifi to let you know about the Musicity event I’m taking part in on April 4th at the Royal Institute of British Architects in Central London. Featuring a programme of live music, sound installation, talks and readings, this evening of ‘stimulating sight and sound’ aims to ‘explore the ways in which artistic expression can be used to bring a new dimension to the way we experience cities and the world around us’, and is hosted by Musicity founder, BBC Radio 3 Late Junction host and broadcasting legend Mr. Nick Luscombe.
— Nick Luscombe (@nickluscombe) March 28, 2017
It is the continuing mission of Musicity to ‘encourage people to explore the city musically, architecturally and experientially by commissioning musicians to compose original tracks in response to a building, site or place in the city that inspires them’, and so to that effect I will be presenting a brand new bespoke work on the night that has been inspired by various recordings made during a recent tour of the Institute’s striking headquarters at 66 Portland Place, W1B. Needless to say the building had plenty of secret sounds to discover and I should quickly thank Meneesha and Gabrielle at RIBA for allowing me to experiment with playing back some of them on the venue’s PA system – sounded great but did rather spook one of the guided tours.
There will also be live music and talks from: Stick in the Wheel, Throwing Shade (Ninja Tune) and Sean O Hagan (High Llamas), as well as a sound installation by Audialsense, an audio performance by Kinetic Conscription and an awful lot more. Tickets and further details available here or by clicking on the above image. Really looking forward to this one – even though I haven’t quite had a chance to finish my piece yet. Will certainly have to roll up my sleeves when I make it back to Blighty…
Yet more exciting news on the reception of the new Howlround LP A Creak In Time, as The Wire magazine have very kindly hosted an exclusive clip from the film on their website to go with their extremely flattering review of last month. It joins last week’s equally glowing reviews in Electronic Sound and Wallpaper* Magazine, so the album appears to be gaining quite a bit of traction. Which is just as well, because we’ll be screening it (ahead of a bespoke live performance) at Deliaphonic, Coventry Cathedral on May 5th, in the company of Peter Zinovieff, Pete Kemper of Sonic Boom, Jerry Dammers and more. This promises to be quite a remarkable evening, so do come along if you can. Click on the image below for details:
…And then on the following evening, back in London, we’ll be performing the film with a live soundtrack at the inaugural Further, a new series of immersive audio-visual evenings curated by DJ Food & Pete Williams at the Portico Gallery in West Norwood. It’s the first time we’ll ever have played the film live and even I’m not entirely sure how that’s going to pan out, but I’m very much looking forward to finding out! Plus the Ghost Box chaps are headlining and I’m told there will be oil projections. What’s not to like?
In other news, this week’s Near Mint was the last in the current series as the show takes a well-earned break after a solid year of broadcasting. I realise this sudden absence from he airwaves will have left several people inconsolable, but rest assured that the show will be back for a new series in the not too distant future. In the meantime, I’m leaving you with a triple bill of the last three episodes, although admittedly this is partly due to the fact that a hectic couple of weeks have meant that I haven’t been keeping this site up quite as diligently as I should have. Plus I’m just about to head off for a couple of weeks’ much needed holiday, so am hoping that this little lot will tide you over until I return:
We’ll start with the most recent, a trip into the world of London-based artist Larry Achiampong, whose work examines the interplay between the modern world and his traditional Ghanian heritage through field recordings, hip hop and video game soundtracks. Listen in for some extracts from his remarkable and imminent new album Untitled, as well as tracks from his back-catalogue which blend vintage high life recordings with the influences of contemporary beat-makers such as J Dilla, Flying Lotus and Madlib. Very strong stuff!
The previous week’s show welcomed back our friends Luka and Vanja from Belgrade’s Discom label, with another exciting new release to show off – Sidarta the only album to date from prog-fusion-electronic rockers 37°C. Recorded in 1979 (apparently in the same studio as Gary Numan’s Are Friends Electric?), it’s another gloriously psychedelic excursion into the far-out sounds of the former Yugoslavia from the label that bought you last year’s excellent Yugoslavian Space Programme LP. Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this one!
And lastly, some hardcore hothouse action, as we head up the garden path for a quick frolic with the flowers. Anne Chase dreams of getting herself covered in sap, while the unlucky Mrs. Briers comes to a sticky end in front of a giant orchid patch (that is, a patch of giant orchids). This programme was primariyl designed to be consumed amongst nature, be that in the woods, down the park or up against a window box, and went down exceptionally well here at Fog Towers where my houseplants haven’t stopped smiling since.
Right, that’s probably enough to be getting on with. Meet you back here in a fortnight. Until then, keep your ears to the wind and noses to the skyline…
Huge thanks to Thomas Howells and Wallpaper* Magazine for this extremely flattering review of Howlround and Psyché Tropes audio/visual project A Creak In Time. ‘As a rumination on both the firmament and the infinitesimal’, he writes, ‘A Creak in Time is timeless and singular: a cinematic triumph of style and substance’. Read the full article and watch an exclusive extract from the film here.
Another chance to hear – thank heavens, drop everything!!! – last Saturday’s OST Show on Resonance FM, a Delaware Road special marking their forthcoming audio-visual extravaganza taking place at Kelvedon Hatch nuclear bunker on Friday July 28th. The show was presented by myself, standing in for regular host Jonny Trunk, and featured a whole bevy of guest all involved in the project, including Delaware Road lynchpin Alan Gubby of Buried Treasure Recordings, DJ Food, Ian Helliwell, Chris from Concretism, Dan Wilson of Radionics Radio, Mark Pilkington of Teleplasmiste / Strange Attractor and Hannah Brown of Kvist. A pretty wild bunch, but thankfully the ever-dependable Lucky Cat Zoe was also on hand to help keep everyone under control, having only just come off air with the first show in her new series (listen here) and still a beacon of hardcore professionalism. Thanks must also go to engineer Ilia for keeping us on air! In addition, we had the usual extraordinarily silly competition which provided top LOLs throughout. Can you think of a better way of spending an afternoon than hanging out with these good folk, playing radiophonic music and coming up with as many bad puns as humanly possible? Because I’m not sure I can!
As well as promoting the forthcoming event, we were auctioning off a very special Audio Apocalypse Survival Kit, consisting of one of Hannah’s very special hand-printed tote bags full to bursting with vinyl, CDs and more from artists involved in the project, with all money raised going to help Resonance FM stay on air for another year (at the moment of writing there is still a little time left to get a bid in HERE if you haven’t already). Some lucky winner is going to receive the most amazing bumper pack of goodies to help them through the apocalypse. How that long nuclear winter will just fly by! Here’s a full tracklist for the benefit of Delaware Completists:
Howlround – Cradle Cheat
Dolly Dolly – Bound By Sound
Ian Helliwell – Water Gardens
Revbjelde – Tidworth Drum
Loose Capacitor – And We Begin
The Dandelion Set – Nine Regal
Monoslapper – Twit
The Rowan Amber Mill – The Buzzard And The Nightingale
The Simonsound – The Beam
Radionics Radio – Our Westchester Pizzeria Is A Huge Success
Twelve Hour Foundation – Macaroni Cheese
Concretism – Eiswagen
Twelve Hour Foundation – Sun And Air
Tauchsieder – Moves Left
Assembled Minds – Come Meet Us In The Grotto
Howlround – A Creak In Time (Part 2 – Extract)
DJ Food – Colours Beyond Colours
Radionics Radio – Heal Chakras
DJ Food – A Trick Of The Ear
Concretism – Waiting Watching (Exclusive)
Teleplasmiste – Fall Of The Yak Man (Forthcoming)
Ian Helliwell – Symbiosis (Exclusive)
Akiha Den Den – Cold Ending
Radionics Radio – Delawarr Multi-Oscillator Experiment Summary (c.1968)
Dolly Dolly And Various – Delaware Road Promotional Flexidisc
Revbjelde – Out Of The Unknown
Alan was also in the studio to show off the brand new self-titled debut album by his group Revbjelde, a gorgeous new LP which is now available to pre-order – and of which is rightly proud. Click on the rather spiffy cover art above to pre-order your copy. And from it here’s ‘Out Of The Unknown’, that final track that we didn’t have time to finish playing:
This week’s Near Mint show is also now online and happens to be a sister programme of sorts to this week’s OST, also intended to promote our fantastic Audio Apocalypse Survival Bundle, only with less punnage. Listen here for much of the same without all the silly bits. Or just listen to OST twice. Either works.
More Howlround news now, and thanks to everyone who came down to the Resonance FM Benefit Show at Silver Road, where I was performing solo alongside Ulrich Schnauss and en ecreux inside this most remarkable of venues, a disused watertank that has been converted over the last couple of years by the brilliant Lia Mazzari into a remarkable arts bar and performance space. Normally I would give a little more notice about such things, but it was all rather last minute – I got a text, grabbed my suitcase full of loops and ran! A tremendous evening was had by all, but sadly Silver Road is now facing imminent closure just a few months after officially opening, thanks to the usual greedy land-grab by local developers that is becoming all too prevalent in London nowadays. It’s a tremendous shame the place has to close, but I’m certainly glad I got to play there before it does. Lia has just been informed she has until the end of the month to clear out and now urgently needs to find a new storage facility for her equipment and a new venue as well. She’s going to need a lot of friendly help, so do please visit the Silver Road Facebook page here and assist in any way you can.