‘A Menace And A Mystery’ – Howlround In The Wire

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OST, Delaware Road And The Audio Apocalypse

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!

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A handful of hosts: Fog, Concretism, Food, Helliwell, Wilson, Pilkington.

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.

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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.


Bunker And Squeak – OST Apocalypse Fundraiser, 6 Music News And Near Mint Gets Its KIT Off!

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It’s Resonance 104.4FM Fundraising week once again, so why not join me and some very special guests this Saturday at 16.30 on Resonance when I’ll be hosting The OST Show in Jonny Trunk’s Kirchin-related absence? We’ll be looking ahead to ‘The Delaware Road at Kelvedon Hatch‘, a unique and immersive audio-visual extravaganza being staged by Buried Treasure Recordings on Friday July 28th, within the labyrinthine depths of a genuine nuclear bunker.

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We’ll be playing music from all of the artists involved and even more importantly, we’ll be auctioning off a truly amazing bumper prize bundle for the Resonance fundraiser, the ‘Audio Apocalypse Survival Kit’: a screen-printed Tote bag made by Kvist and filled to bursting with – at last count – a whopping twenty one LPs, 7″s, CDs, cassettes plus at least one limited edition pencil. And of course they’ll be the usual rather silly competition, all adding up to an afternoon of tremendous fun – and probably tremendous chaos as well. Do join us, won’t you?

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For those of you unfamiliar with Kelvedon Hatch, it is a deeply foreboding warren of corridors, offices and horribly cramped dormitory facilities that would supposedly have provided armageddon relief for an unbelievable 600 people, thus making it perfect venue for some darkside radiophonic action. And what action it promises! Just have a look at this line-up and then head here to get your early-bird tickets.

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As you can see, everyone is pulling together to help raise money to keep the world’s greatest radio station on air for yet another year and there’s lots more amazing stuff up for grabs even if you do miss out on the Survival Kit. For starters, we’ve handed the keys to this week’s Near Mint to the excellent KIT Records for a very special guest mix featuring tracks from their superb back-catalogue of warped acoustics and pastoral electronica – and we’re giving you the opportunity to WIN THE LOT! There’s limited edition and super-rare vinyl, cassettes and posters up for grabs, all with Kit’s distinctive beautifully hand-made, hand-printed artwork with all proceeds being donated to Resonance. At the time of writing there are still four days left on this most covetable of bundles, so have a listen to the show and then click here to get bidding!

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Not to be outdone, Manchester label Front And Follow have supplied a pile of their own goodies, including one of my favourite albums of last year in Kemper Norton’s Toll and a very rare Pye Corner Audio 12″. One the UK’s most exciting labels as far as this cat’s concerned, and I’m not just saying that because they put our the Time Attendant / Howlround split cassette The Blow vol. 2′ last year! Rumour has it vol.3 is coming soon. Wonder who will be featured this time? Anyway, click on the image below to have a bid…

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And we’ve even been gifted an incredible piece of original artwork by celebrated graphic artist Zeke Clough, whose sleeves have graced releases by Planet Mu, Skull Disco – and perhaps very soon your bedroom wall! Click on the picture below to put your bid in!

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Just time for some Howlround news very quickly and there was much excitement this week as Howlround were featured on BBC Radio 6Music News chatting to Elizabeth Alker about the gestation of latest LP/Film A Creak In Time. The interview went out on both the Radcliffe & Maconie show and the Sean Keaveny Breakfast show, thus providing the perfect sonic stimulus a grateful nation is most at need of during its morning cornflakes or mid-afternoon tea-break. Well, I think so, anyway. 6Music News have obligingly uploaded it onto Audioboom, so have a listen below if timely cereal and beverage consumption isn’t really your thing. And thanks again to you, Elizabeth – Howlround owes you a shandy!


Kirchin In Space And Treasure In The Bunker – Resonance FM NEEDS YOU!

Yes, it’s Resonance FM Fundraiser Week once again and the greatest radio station in the world needs your help in 2017 more than ever. There are lots of delightful items and experiences up for grabs, so do please head to the Fundraising website and give what you can. They will appreciate it and so will I – plus you get another year of truly independent and advert-free community arts broadcasting at a time when such things are a little thin on the ground!

Speaking of Resonance, here again is last week’s edition of The OST Show, in case you missed it – or perversely feel like subjecting yourself to it once more. Thanks to everyone who got involved and made it so much fun, particularly the ever-lovely engineer Sarah and all of the usual suspects who phoned in with silly answers for the competition. The show was a special double bill of Basil Kirchin and The Sounds Of Space, a combination of which I hope the great man himself would have approved. The Kirchin elements were featured in anticipation of the special events celebrating his life and work that are taking place in Hull this weekend, and were sourced from a bulging bag of Basil I’d bought with me for the occasion – including some material from a very rare LP that remains perhaps the best three pounds I ever spent.

 

The Space elements were audio recordings from satellites provided by my guest Dr. Martin Archer of Queen Mary University of London, on hand to announce a very special film making competition that encourages aspiring film-makers to submit works using, manipulating and remixing these mysterious sounds, with gala screenings and substantial cash prizes up for grabs. Directors and audio artists alike are warmly encouraged to discover more at ssfx.qmul.ac.uk. They’re absolutely fascinating recordings and I can assure you there are plenty more of them to discover. We should have a scientist on the show every week!

Just as a quick preview, I can reveal that next Saturday’s OST is an all-out extravaganza in anticipation of Buried Treasure’s Delaware Road Live event taking place on July 28th, all within the labyrinthine confines of Kelvedon Hatch Nuclear Bunker. I’ll be joined by some very special guests and we’ll be auctioning off a ridiculously covetable Nuclear Bunker Audio Survival Pack to raise money for the station. More details on this to follow asap. In the meantime, head over to the Resonance fundraising page and GET DONATING!

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Oi Oi Strictly Hardcore!! Near Mint Gets The Illegal Pirate Buzz

Hello you. On this week’s Near Mint show on Resonance FM, we’re going back in time to the golden pre-internet days of tower-block pirate radio, when the only way to communicate with the ‘massive’ was through a series of increasingly frantic, home-made commercials, loudly proclaiming how ‘true to the scene’ you were while deriding the hordes of ‘commercial sell-out rubbish’ being produced literally everywhere else. It’s going to be loud, relentless, rather shonky, oddly charming – and above all else an intriguing glimpse into an era that now seems an eternity ago.

GET IT NOW AND GET THE BUZZ!

Moreover, we’re visiting the lost world of radio advertisements produced by a shadowy 1990s collective known as the SU Corporation – a fiercely independent Essex-based consortium of labels such as Strictly Underground and Strictly Hardcore, masterminded by industry stalwart and true hardcore renaissance man Mark Ryder. It’s a subject that’s predictably close to my heart – few other records have ever given me the same frisson of excitement as I felt beholding the latest Strictly Hardcore releases in Pink Panther Records as a youngster. Their sleeves came loaded with words and imagery that told of the illicit thrill of raves far from my quiet home town – not to mention a disclaimer unflinchingly refusing to accept any liability for ‘speaker damage’ caused by their contents. And then there were the artists featured on the back cover – names like Undercover Movement, Hackney Hardcore, Soundclash, Sonic Experience and Fantasy UFO seemed tinged with mystery and exoticism, each pseudonym a gateway to a hidden world accessible only to those with their ears superglued to the streets. Look, I was barely thirteen, OK? This stuff is a lot more significant when you’re thirteen!

The uninitiated amongst you might well argue that this week’s show is just a bunch of Essex boys yelling for half an hour and it’s certainly true that there’s a fair amount of repetition – any listeners wishing to incorporate phrases such as ‘commercial sellout rubbish!’, ‘illegal pirate radio!’ and ‘Oi! Oi!’ into a drinking game will be on the floor within ten minutes. It’s also true that describing various releases as ‘the BEST live recording EVER!’ or ‘an album for your collecting section!’ does bring us close to the kind of territory that would be affectionately sent up later on by the likes of People Just Do Nothing. But, as with the more recent misadventures of the Kurupt FM massive, to my mind this only makes their work all the more endearing.

Albums for your ‘collecting section’. I’ve got them all!

I can admit to being frequently amused by the home-made feel, low production values and unscripted, improvised nature of these adverts, not to mention by the slight cognitive dissonance caused by the labels’ differing uses of that word ‘illegal’: initially plastering it all over their compilations as a selling point, then issuing a disclaimer on later releases warning that anyone using their tracks on ‘illegal mixtapes’ would be sued ‘to the full extent of the law’ – rather a case of ‘having your hardcake and eating it’. But there should be no doubt whatsoever that my love for the work of The SU Corporation is genuine. The music is unsophisticated, noisy, abrasive and chaotic, packed full of helium-voiced divas, one finger keyboard stabs, bleeps, blurts and squelches, all over what sounds like a drum machine clattering down a flight of steps. And I adored it all. My schoolmates could keep their dreary old Oasis records and the so-called ‘real music’ they kept harping on about – this was my sound. Even if I did happen to be several hundred miles from its epicentre and with double maths homework to look forward to….

The ‘Keep those hands up! And stop buying all that crap pop music!’ mix of M.D.EMM’s ‘Move Your Feet’ remains a stone-cold hardcore classic.

Seriously, just listen to the enthusiasm on display here – have you ever got as excited about anything in your life as whoever provided the voiceover on the advert for the Ultimate Drum And Bass Collection boxset? No credit is available, but I do hope he survived the recording – it sounds as if his skull is about to pop out of his forehead. For all the mockney banter on display here, there’s no doubt how deadly seriously these guys took their music and the scene they’d created. Having said that, if you manage to sit through the show’s opening exchange in a record shop, the rather strained encounters with bewildered members of the Brentford constabulary at an outdoor rave, or the closing recording of the SU team giggling in the studio without cracking a smile then a small part of you may well be already dead.

In all sincerity, I think this might be my favourite LP cover of all time.

It’s so easy to forget that before everything was available online forever, THIS was how things were done. The SU guys never hung around waiting for permission or for big money labels to come in and scoop them up. They did it all themselves, being closely involved with pirate stations such as Unity 88.4FM in Romford (they feature in tonnes of vintage Unity broadcasts uploaded online, including this little beauty from 1993), hosting the Hardcore Hellraiser events and releasing all their own records – of which they are almost too many to count. Just have a look at the Strictly Underground and Mark Ryder pages on the online record database Discogs. Strictly Underground alone has a whopping one hundred and ninety three releases credited to it and I’m willing to bet that somewhere between half and two thirds were produced by Mark himself, either under his own name, as part of a group or using one of his various alter-egos. When you take into account that at its peak SU Corporation was releasing some twenty-five 12″s and seven compilations in a single year and that Mark simultaneously ran numerous sub-labels such as Jungle Mania and Vicious Pumpin’ Plastic, you begin to wonder how he ever found time to sleep. As the man himself says nowadays on his Twitter handle: ‘It’s all I do, it’s my life’. Could anyone doubt his sincerity?

Truly this is a journey back to a lost world of open air raves, of home-made rooftop transmitters, of cat-and-mouse games with the Police, the DTI, and unscrupulous bootleg tape manufacturers. A world that, as far as I’m concerned, can’t help but make much that came after it look rather rather dull by comparison. And, finally – let’s face it – a world that has now gone forever. But it’s a happy thought that for half an hour at 6pm on a Tuesday evening (not to mention 10.30 on a Thursday morning), the SU Corporation get to rule the airwaves once again. Or: ‘Oi Oi!! Strictly ‘Ardcore Records are back in the place!’ as they would put it. Bravo, gents…

Thunder…Thunder…Thundercats? Noooo!


Hello Goodbye And dB-Sides – A Near Mint Double Bill

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Hello You. A very special double-bill of Near Mint this week, bought to you by Resonance FM royalty, Mr. Richard Dexter Bentley. One of the station’s veteran programme-makers, Richard can usually be found helming long-running Resonance institution The Hello Goodbye Show on Saturday afternoons, a delightfully chaotic zoo of a programme featuring as many live bands, gig listings, random poets and interviews as can possibly be jammed into ninety minutes and a medium-sized radio studio. For these two very special editions of the nation’s favourite programme about obsessive vinyl consumption, Richard has dipped into his own mammoth archive with a self-imposed rule of strictly choosing only 7″ B-sides with black and white artwork, which might just be the most super-niche thing that we’ve ever done on what is already a pretty niche-y kind of show. Mind you, if the results are always this good we’ll certainly be doing it again. There’s punk, post-punk, wonky pop, electronics, ska and many more obscure delights besides, and it’s certainly curious how such a narrow selection process can lead to such varied riches. Fill your boots both above and below.

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This brings us neatly onto the subject of Resonance FM‘s imminent 2017 Fundraiser, which officially commences next week. As ever, the nation’s finest community arts radio station needs YOUR help to keep it on air for another year – and in our current climate we surely need them as well, more than ever! For his part, Richard is organising another two-part special, ‘The Pay As You Go Hello Goodbye Show’, in which his programmes on 11th and 18th of December will be auctioned off at the rate of £10 per minute, so do visit his website here and buy yourself some airtime for a good cause. These shows are always a lot of fun, with listeners, programme makers and a myriad of former guests sending in all manner of quirky delights to fill up the gaps. I’ve just bought three minutes of my own and still have no idea what I’m going to do with them. Must dig out the old thinking cap…

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As well as my one hundred and eighty seconds in the spotlight, I shall be guest-hosting two fundraising specials of Jonny Trunk’s OST Show later on in the afternoon on the very same dates, but more on that later. In the meantime, there’s a whole programme of fundraising events and special auction items up for grabs, so do dig deep for a good cause and visit the Resonance FM Fundraising Website here. After all, the thought of a London and indeed a world without stations like Resonance just doesn’t bear thinking about…


Ghosts Of His Life – Near Mint’s k-punk Jungle Tribute

Mark Fisher 1968-2017

As many of you will know by now, the writer, blogger, theorist and philosopher Mark ‘k-punk’ Fisher passed away last weekend. I’m not going to try and sum up the seismic contributions to contemporary culture that Mark’s writings have made  – and will continue to make with the recent publication of his latest collection, The Weird and the Eerie. Many others, including Simon Reynolds writing in The Guardian, have done a much job of summing up his work than I could ever hope to. Instead, I’m paying my own small tribute by devoting this week’s Near Mint show to playing some of his very favourite jungle records very loudly indeed. The tracklisting was inspired by one of my own favourite pieces of his writing, ‘The Twenty Greatest Jungle Records Ever Made’, a roll of honour lovingly assembled for FACT magazine back in 2011 – and it goes without saying that everything on it is a banger:

‘The jungle was a fictional space as much as a genre, a brutal ‘90s update of William Gibson’s cyberspace. Jungle’s innovations were collectively driven, not attributable to individual auteurs, but to ‘scenius’, the interaction between DJs, producers and the ‘massive’ on the dancefloor. Breakbeats and bass sounds would evolve from track to track, as if they were audio lifeforms subjected to an intense process of unnatural selection…’ k-punk, FACTmag, 2011

Of course there was only ever going to be one track with which to start this tribute: the 1993 effort from a nascent Goldie which inspired the title of his second collection of writings in 2014. One of my all time favourite records, written about most brilliantly in one of my very favourite books. He will be missed indeed. Bravo, Sir, and RIP.

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