Hello you. Although things may currently appear calm and unflustered around these parts, I can assure you that behind the shuttered windows Fog Towers is a hive of activity. I’ve been taking advantage of Howlround’s annual mid-winter dry-dock hibernation period to get the machines up and running in the studio and crack on with some new audio adventures. How have I been faring in these endeavours, you might ask? Well, have a look at these video extracts recently uploaded to social media and judge for yourself!
Down the rabbit hole we go… pic.twitter.com/j8Qpmy3bFr
— Robin The Fog (@RobinTheFog) February 24, 2018
— Robin The Fog (@RobinTheFog) February 26, 2018
At the moment I appear to be heading into another one of my infamous rabbit holes, this one perhaps the strangest my quartet of old ladies have lead me down yet (although technically they’re only a trio at the moment, thanks to one of them catching fire – again!). The recordings I’ve amassed so far have been ragged, fractured, fragmented, distorted and often bashed out in a single take, though to my ears some of the most thrilling I’ve ever worked on. Truly Howlround has come a long way from the basement of Bush House six years ago – can it really only be that long? While of course I still do love recording those sounds of buildings and other unusual acoustic spaces, there just seems to be an infinite number of strange sonic topologies lurking deep inside the inner workings of reel to reel tape machines. It’s as if the further inward we go, the wider the horizons become…
— Robin The Fog (@RobinTheFog) February 23, 2018
Anyway, before all the Pseuds Corner accusations come flying in, I should just briefly remind you that you can keep up to date on all these exciting developments by following @RobinTheFog or @Howlroundmusic (or why not both?) on Twitter, which is where teasers like those above often surface first. I’m also now on Instagram, which is an exciting recent development, so you’ll find plenty of ways to engage with my latest experiments and works in progress without having to endure any of the flowery exposition I might come up with trying to make sense of it all. I’m also hoping very soon to bring you news of a forthcoming release, but for the moment I’m sworn to secrecy. Keep your ears to the wind and eyes to the skyline and all will shortly be revealed…
— Robin The Fog (@RobinTheFog) February 23, 2018
In other news, my two evening classes at Morley College are proving tremendous fun – for me at least, though my students seem to be enjoying them too! In between projects that include composing experimental lullaby music for my infant niece and leading soundwalks around Waterloo, we also recently had a very exciting tape editing session, where we learnt all about the joys, the creative potential and the absurd folly involved in composing with such a fragile and unpredictable medium. Thankfully everyone survived. https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
— Robin The Fog (@RobinTheFog) February 24, 2018
Next term I shall be teaching a course on the history of Experimental Electronic Music in Britain, so if the thought of spending one evening a week with me geeking out about this nation’s weird sonic heritage appeals to you, then step right up! You’ll find further details on the Morley College Website here. I’ll also be teaching Radio Production as well, which will hopefully delight and intrigue in similar doses. It’s all a bit of a Busman’s Holiday, or at least it would be if I ever took time off!
Finally, a quick advance notice of a show I’ll be playing at the Book And Record Bar in West Norwood on the afternoon of March 24th, alongside Yann Novak and Mike Harding from Touch. We’ll be playing live sets and DJing and mixing things up a bit, while proprietor King Michael serves coffee, beer and stacks of the finest black crack* around. What’s not to love? See you there!
*Records. Nothing weird. Well, weird records, certainly…
Hello you. First off, I’m thrilled to announce that the ultra limited edition 7″ Howlround produced for the Resonance FM fundraiser made a very impressive £306.56! Thanks to everyone who bid so generously and to OneCutVinyl.com once again for donating their services for free. To those of you who missed out (which, given there were only three copies is nearly everyone!), hopefully the news that Howlround’s next official release will be arriving in the spring is of some consolation. I missed out on a copy as well, incidentally, so your pain is my pain. But there’s no time to sit around feeling sorry for ourselves when the UK’s greatest radio station still needs our assistance, so I would urge you to shake a leg on over to Fundraiser.Resonance.FM and give what you can. Donations are always gratefully received and continue to be sorely needed – there’s still a long way to go before they reach £100,000! Thanks also to everyone who everyone who came down to Club Integral’s Gala Fundraiser at Iklectik last week and witnessed Howlround’s first performance of 2018 – a brief but abrasive feedback affair that might have burnt a few ears and loosened a few bowels in the front row. What fun! Online extracts coming soon!
Secondly, a nod and a wink to everyone who tuned into The OST Show last Saturday for my fundraising special standing in for Jonny Trunk, especially Resonance engineer Martin, Alan Gubby for the Buried Treasure Records competition prizes and all the usual suspects who rang in with funny and silly answers trying to win them. The show also featured the only ever performance of ‘Just 4 U, West Malling’ (the B-side of the aforementioned Howlround 7″) in British Radio History, alongside tracks by Jeffrey Siedler, Yuri Morozov, Barry Gray, Jim Henson and much, much more. In short, I bought all of my guns and proceeded to play as many ‘bangers’ as I could fit into two hours.
Hopefully the opening salvo of cuts from Raumpatrolle Orion, UFO, Pop Electronique and Georgette Sayegh’s killer, ultra-rare Arabic version of ‘Popcorn’ helped make up for my slightly rambling presentational style, which I’m attributing partly to a late night at Electrowerkz the previous evening (Merkaba Macabre and Pascal Savy were playing!), a lack of decent coffee and perhaps most of all the surprisingly toxic fillet of cod I had tried to cook for lunch a couple of hours beforehand. Never the finest of chefs, I remember thinking as I took the fish-like substance out of the oven that it bore an uncanny resemblance to some kind of unholy prop from that dinner table scene in Eraserhead, but being very hungry, having no other options and retaining my northern ‘waste not, want not’ thriftiness that 15 years in the south have never shaken off, I felt compelled to carry on regardless. One bite was all it took and the remainder was projectiled right across the kitchen. In retrospect I should probably have replaced it with something more substantial than a carrot and a handful of pistachios, but then hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Anyway, nevermind my domestic trifles (although at that moment an actual trifle would’ve gone down a treat), I did promise you a tracklisting for the show once I was fully functioning again, so I’ve included it below. How about that killer Yuri Morozov jam ‘Inexplicable’, eh? As funky as anything KPM ever put out, I’ll wager! Respect is due to Buried Treasure for bringing him to a wider audience!
Peter Thomas Orchester – Rockin’ Computer
Barry Gray – Theme From Space 1999
Barry Gray – Breakaway
Barry Gray – War Games
Barry Gray – Death’s Other Dominion
Birds ‘N’ Brass – Sort Of Soul
Georgette Sayegh – Bouchar (aka Popcorn)
Serge Gainsbourg – Comic Strip
Cecil Leuter – Pop Electronique Part 2
Kalyanji-Anandji – Y.O.G.A. (Edit)
Sauver Mallia – Synthetic Neutron
Yuri Morozov – Vague & Hard (part 2)
Jeffrey Siedler – Logic Formations
The Dandelion Set with Alan Moore – Judy Switched Off The TV
Bruce Haack – Party Machine
Jeffrey Siedler – Altaire Control Axiom
Yuri Morozov – Eastern Tetraptih
Yuri Morozov – Inexplicable (part 4)
Howlround – Just 4 U, West Malling (World Exclusive!!)
Ron Geesin – A World Of Too Much Sound
Jim Henson – Tick Tock Sick
Keith Mansfield – Soul Thing
Carrie Nations – Come With The Gentle People
The Pointer Sisters – Pinball Number Count (DJ Food Re-Edit)
The Bugaloos – The Senses Of Our World
Miss Abrams And The Strawberry Point 4th Grade Class – Running In The Green Grass
Ron Geesin – The Eye That Nearly Saw
Jim Henson – The Countryside
Bruce Haack and Miss Nelson – African Lullaby
Denton & Cook – Theme From Tomorrow’s World
Howlround – A Creak In Time, Part 1 (Extract)
As if that wasn’t enough, I’d now like to bring you another two hours of killer tracks recorded live for WNBC‘s Out Of The Woods show, broadcast the previous Sunday. A very different proposition from the ‘guns ‘n’ puns’ approach of the OST show, this was designed as the perfect soundtrack for a quiet Sunday afternoon. No beats, no banging, just two hours of soundscapes, field recordings and electronics. Esteemed crate digger and fellow WNBC resident DJ Food has described it as ‘…a masterclass in ambience. Absolutely beautiful listen, the restraint and pacing he displays over the two hours is admirable’. Restraint and pacing are rarely accolades I can lay claim to, so you’re advised to fill your boots. If the current trajectory of Howlround is anything to go by, this could be the last ambient thing to have my name on it for quite some time!
The show is book-ended by The London Record, a 1961 LP on Marble Arch records, featuring narration by Hywel Davies and music by Robert Docker. Despite featuring some truly embarrassing character acting and some rather rinky-dink Cockney-stroll-about music, it’s a glorious, albeit over-romanticised portrait of a bygone age. If the opening monologue describing dawn on the River Thames doesn’t stir something in you, frankly I’m not sure what will.
I also play substantial homage to a couple of my other favourite strange records, Argo’s wonderful Steam Railroading Under Thundering Skies and ‘Tintinnabultation’ from Atlantic Record’s Environments series; which work surprisingly well when combined together for extended periods. Later on we hear from Delia Derbyshire, Edgar Froese, Chris Watson, Oval, Ursula Bogner and even an uncharacteristically chilled out affair from 90s jungle maestro Photek, though of course the fact that it’s designed to be a more meditative affair doesn’t mean there can’t occasionally be a few noisy moments!
I should really provide you with a tracklisting for this show as well, but I’ve got some people coming round to do some filming of the machines in the morning and the studio is in dire need of an overhaul. Apart from there being tape all over the floor, my poor old speakers have finally succumbed to 20 years of abuse and pretty much exploded, which means it will be a decidedly silent affair unless I can get some new ones wired in, sharp-ish. Will I have time to get everything shipshape before the arrival of the spotlight? On previous form, not a chance in hell. Still, wish me luck….
Presented for your delectation, my contribution to the 2018 Resonance FM Fundraiser: a super-limited edition 7″ single containing two unreleased and exclusive Howlround tracks pressed onto clear vinyl with full colour labels by our friends at OneCutVinyl.com, who have very kindly donated their time and facilities for free. There are three copies of this single in existence and that’s all – no represses, no reissues and no digital. Which is actually a bit of a shame for everyone else, as I must modestly inform you that both of these tracks are killer!
You’ll be able to hear a brief extract for the first and the last time on Resonance this coming Saturday afternoon: Dexter Bentley are playing the A-side on The Hello Goodbye Show at noon (or sometime thereabouts), and I shall play the B-side later on when I take over The OST Show in Jonny Trunk’s absence. At the time of writing only four people have heard that second track – and one of them was Dan, who cut the thing!
Each of the 7″s can be found on the Resonance FM Ebay page by either clicking one of the three images on this post or by pointing your browser here, here or here. This means that you have three chances to win yourself a copy – though I should warn you, you’ll be up against me – I’m bidding too! All proceeds go straight to the 2018 Resonance FM Fundraiser, which this year is attempting to raise a much-needed £100,000 to enable the station to continue their programme of unique and experimental broadcasting while being forced to seek out new premises. In summary then, your chance to own a rare and coveted piece of Howlround Hiss-story, be the envy of all your friends and do your bit to keep the greatest community arts radio station in the world on air. A highly desirable item and a thoroughly worthy cause. You have your instructions, now:
Hello You. Welcome to another irregular update from the slightly chaotic life of a South London Sound Artist. And there’s currently quite a bit going on here in ‘the land that Thames forgot’, so I thought I’d best hammer out a quick missive and bring you up to date sharpish. As well as my usual in-studio activities sparkling my magic professionalism all over various radio programmes, I’m currently teaching two classes at Morley College in Lambeth, on Sound Installation and Creative Field Recording respectively. As you’ll probably have figured out by now, both are subjects very close to my heart, but even I’ve been surprised by some of the discoveries the groups and I have made together so far. For example, have a listen to this re-interpretation of Alvin Lucier’s 1969 work I Am Sitting In A Room, produced with students from the Sound Installation course, using nothing more than the classroom, a PA system and a couple of hand-held digital recorders:
I’ve made resonant frequency pieces numerous times in the past, of course and each one sounded different, but this was certainly the fastest and the most immediately distinctive to date. Not counting the ten minutes I’ve just spent EQ-ing the results, the whole piece came together in well under half an hour. As the classroom was air-conditioned, filled with computers and situated next to a busy road above the Bakerloo line, we guessed afterwards that these factors were what gave it those deep bass tones, which needed to be significantly rolled-off to prevent speaker damage as we went. What gives it the snarling mid-range frequencies is anyone’s guess!
Tonight I’m leading some students from my Field Recording Class on a South London soundwalk. And guess what I’m bringing along as a recorder! I’m telling you now so we can get all the ‘handbag’ jokes out the way… pic.twitter.com/tcuFtXjB6d
— Robin The Fog (@RobinTheFog) January 26, 2018
The Field Recording group has also proved most stimulating (for me, certainly – and my students as well, I hope!), particularly the evening when we went on a Soundwalk around the Waterloo area, armed with various microphones, coil pickups and at least one rather oversized portable reel-to-reel tape recorder – guess who that belonged to?! As ever, carrying clunky recording equipment around on a busy Friday night proved a bit of a faff; but who cares when you discover material like this recording made just under the railway bridge by Lower Marsh? This is being played back at half-speed, but otherwise completely unmolested! Isn’t that wonderful?!
— Robin The Fog (@RobinTheFog) January 27, 2018
In other news, it’s’ fundraising time once again at Resonance FM, the greatest community arts radio station in the world and my spiritual home since 2004. Your help and support is needed more than ever in 2018 as the station now needs £100,000 to fund an evacuation of its Borough High Street studios and the seeking out of new premises – by no means an easy task, given the eye-wateringly ridiculous rents currently being charged in the capital. However, Resonance’s army of volunteers, programme makers, engineers and loyal listeners across the globe have never disappointed yet, so I’m confident that they’re in with a good chance of hitting the magic figure. Do please dig deep, folks. Speaking personally, I can think of no other institution that has given so much to the cultural life of London on such a tiny budget, and the world would be a sadder, sorrier place without it – especially in the current climate of cutbacks!
Details of how to get involved can all be found at http://Fundraiser.Resonance.FM, where you’ll find a programme of live events occurring all this week in various venues across London, as well as an online auction of desirable objects and experiences up for grabs. I’d particularly like to draw your attention to two events at Iklecktik on Wednesday 7th and Thursday 8th respectively. The former features, amongst other delights, two of my favourite artists in the shape of veteran sound recordist and improviser Max Eastley, and Dan Wilson, the composer and instrument builder whose Misadventures on the Scorn Cycle was one of my favourite LPs of last year.
The latter event is a Club Integral night featuring a number of artists each performing for 13 minutes, including Bob and Roberta Smith’s Apathy Band and my Foggy Self, giving the tape machines their first outing of 2018 (with the exception of Maddalena, who was with me on my aforementioned Morley Soundwalk and appears to have enjoyed it so much that she’s now functioning even less well than before). Hope to see you at one or both – and that no further damage to the machines is incurred, otherwise I’ll be needing to organise a fund-raising programme of my own!
Plus there’s Dexter Bentley’s annual marathon ‘Pay As You Go Hello Goodbye Show’, where once again the long-serving denizens of Resonance’s Saturday lunchtime slot auction off airtime at the rate of £10 per minute. At the time of writing there’s still a few slots available on next week’s programme, February 10th, that are yours to spend as you please – perhaps something from your back-catalogue? A poem? An extract from your memoirs? Whatever you fancy, basically – head to HelloGoodbyeShow.com for details of how to get involved and listen again to part one here.
As for me, I’m hoping to announce some special items of my own to be added to the auction in the coming weeks, but am currently finalising details and so hoping to make an official announcement in the coming days – watch this space. In the meantime, here I am popping up as a guest on the Lucky Cat show, attempting to drum up some fundraising business while eating spicy mushrooms and playing Licorice soul. Thanks again to Zoe and Lina for having me!
Hello you. It’s been a hectic couple of weeks here at Fog Towers, settling into both the new year and a prolonged bout of ‘flu’ that has rather hampered productivity since that bumper period during the festive season, when, as you’ll recall, I turned my parent’s dining room table into a sound laboratory. However, I’m fighting fit again now and working on new projects, details of which will hopefully be revealed in the coming weeks. In the meantime, however, I’m very excited to announce that A Creak In Time, the experimental film directed by Steven McInerney and with an original score by Howlround has made the official selection for 47th International Film Festival Rotterdam! Details of screenings can be found here and you can still purchase a copy of the soundtrack on heavyweight vinyl soundtrack (with complimentary streaming and download links) on the website of Steve’s Psyché Tropes label. I think I can safely say it’s the most beautiful project I’ve ever been involved with…
In other news, I was planning to present my annual review of the previous year on these pages at the beginning of the month, but was prevented from doing so by the onset of this aforementioned spiteful strain of lurgy that I’ve been wrestling with. I recognise it’s rather late to be doing it now that we’re firmly into 2018, but I’m also a real stickler for tradition (or if you prefer ‘doing the same thing over and over again until being asked to stop’); so I decided I’d just pick 10 of my favourite moments at random below, and leave it at that. Here, then, in no particularly order:
1. The Delaware Road at Kelvedon Hatch ‘Secret’ Nuclear Bunker:
Where to even start with this one? This take-over of a genuine nuclear bunker by the many-headed beast that is the Delaware Road collective was surely the most stunning evening of the year in terms of sheer scale and ambition, not to mention venue. Howlround’s set in the Telex Room (together with mannequin tape restrainers) earned a nod of approval from the legend that is Steve Davis! A credit to both the slightly disturbed imagination of Buried Treasure Records lynchpin Alan Gubby and the distinctly disturbing presence of the headmasterly Dolly Dolly, acting as a sort-of Churchill-channelling master of ceremonies. Hoping for more of the same in 2018.
2. Further at The Portico Gallery:
Performing the first ever live soundtrack to A Creak In Time</em>, alongside DJ sets from Jim and Julian of Ghost Box, plus hosts DJ Food and Peter Williams. With projections and film loops covering every single inch of the venue, Further was second only to the Delaware Road in terms of sheer visual spectacle – and they didn’t have a Nuclear Bunker to play with! Again, more in 2018, please!
3. Deliaphonic at Coventry Cathedral:
A celebration of the life and work of Radiophonic pioneer Delia Derbyshire on what would have been her 80th birthday, in the hallowed surroundings of Coventry’s magnificent Cathedral. Howlround performed alongside the legendary Peter Zinovieff, Pete Kember of Sonic Boom, Hannah Peel, Jonny Trunk and the ever-affable Jerry Dammers. A worthy tribute to a remarkable life – and yet another fantastic venue to tick off the list!
5. Yes, Damage!:
A second commission from White Noise was this ‘mixtape’ inspired by a cassette recording of London-based pirate radio station ‘Pressure FM’ that I played to death as a teenager. Now badly deteriorated through years of repeated listening and a transmitter that was pretty shaky in the first place, fragments of the recording were looped and layered through the tape machines in an attempt to join the dots between the hardcore and jungle of my youth and the abstract musique concréte-inspired work of my years as a ‘mature’ adult. You can read more about the project in Helen Frosi’s article on the White Noise website.
6. A Can Of Worms:
Helping to celebrate the 100th release of The Tapeworm in fine style with Howlround contributing to the bumper 34-track cassette and an evening of live performances at Iklectik, both of which marked the label’s centenary. I used the occasion to officially unveil the new sounds that I’ve been experimenting with over the past year, and all being well you should be hearing more from this performance in the coming weeks. Watch this space…
7. Royal Institute of British Architects Commission:
A commission by The Royal Institute of British Architects and Nick Luscombe’s Musicity project to produce an original composition using sounds from the RIBA headquarters at 66 Portland Place in Central London. This is a stereo remix of a work originally presented at Musicity’s gala event on 4th April 2017. For a project so obsessed with using buildings and acoustic spaces, where better to begin than a building built FOR architects? I particularly admired their beautiful-sounding floorboards! Special thanks once again to Nick, Meneesha Kellay and Lisa Cullen.
8. The BBC’s First Disc-Cut Report in Over 50 Years:
The first BBC report to be played live on disc for over 50 years, cut by Mike Dixon of Lathecuts.com, during his tour of the UK documenting the work of the song-writer Michael Nau. A sort of weird reverse-history in the making – and I still can’t believe we didn’t get arrested lugging all that gear around the Southbank!
9. Pierre Henry Finally Comes To Liverpool – 50 Years Late:
It was intended to be a bold and futuristic new composition to mark the inaugural mass at Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral when it first appeared as a striking addition to the city’s skyline in the 1960s, but due to unforeseen circumstances The Liverpool Mass by renown French composer Pierre Henry missed its deadline. But now, to mark the Cathedral’s 50th anniversary, long running local arts venue The Bluecoat are preparing to finally bring the work back to the building that inspired it […] Robin [The Fog] went along to observe preparations and to discover a work that, five decades after its composition, still retains the shock of the new…
By no means the last word from the great man, who died a few weeks later after a career spanning seven decades and changing the course of music history numerous times. But it was incredible how thrilling and shocking this work remained when it finally got its debut performance in the venue that inspired it, only half a century late…
10. A Creak In Time (Obviously!):
Not Unlike Brian Eno Remixing György Ligeti – Electronic Sound
Image and sound alike point to some unfathomable oceanic bleakness – The Wire
A cinematic triumph of style and substance – Wallpaper* Magazine
I’ve gone on about this album quite a lot this year, I know, but I’m still tremendously proud of it – and of Steve’s magnificent film. Click here to listen to me discussing the album with Elizabeth Alker, as featured on Shawn Keaveny’s 6Music breakfast show, improbably enough. Still can’t quite remember how that happened, but I still totally owe Elizabeth a pint for this one…
Happy New Year! Hope you all had a smashing festive season and wishing you the very best for 2018. Christmas is always a very special time of year at Fog Towers as I leave the cares of the big smoke behind and head up north to the family bosom, catching up on local gossip and enjoying both home-cooked food and and endless rhetorical questions about how could I possibly have gotten the dogs that filthy along the way. On the other hand, the frequently foul Cumbrian weather also offers a green light for a yearly indulgence in one of my less admirable tendencies: drinking beer in front of repeats of both Bullseye and Knight Rider.
It’s like he’s staring right into my soul and berating all of my post-1983 life choices… pic.twitter.com/67KH6BtLXx
— Robin The Fog (@RobinTheFog) December 28, 2017
Though about as far removed from each other as can possibly be imagined, David Hasselhoff and Jim Bowen were both staples of a 1980s childhood, and the fact that there is absolutely nothing else on that I want to watch is either an indictment of the current state of British TV or merely the natural continuation of a befuddled sense of judgement instilled in me by such programming as a youth: at that tender age the sun-kissed open highways of California seemed to merge so seamlessly with the efforts of Ian and Carol from Barnsley to win a Mini Metro. However, I wouldn’t want you to think for a moment that I’ve slipped into slovenly habits, for there has been much activity afoot during the large stretches of the day when neither show was on. Firstly, there was my 2017 Best Of Mix, finished just before Christmas:
A heady brew of some of the very finest music to have crossed my threshold in the last twelve months, it’s currently riding high in the ‘Experimental Chart’ (at this stage I will take whatever accolade I’m handed) and still available above for your listening pleasure. But even these delights are small potatoes compared to the various kinds of excitement caused by transforming my parent’s dining room into a mini Radiophonic Workshop!
Pure Feedback created on Mum and Dad’s dining room table. pic.twitter.com/HrfC6TiTec
— Howlround (@Howlroundmusic) December 30, 2017
Don’t tell Mum pic.twitter.com/BcBAGLJ721
— Robin The Fog (@RobinTheFog) December 30, 2017
Don’t tell Mum, part 2 pic.twitter.com/CzR3TV7u6X
— Robin The Fog (@RobinTheFog) December 30, 2017
My experiments were messy and hugely fun, though frequently thwarted by the table having to revert to its original intended use (typically signified by arrival of actual potatoes). Nonetheless, these sessions generated a great deal of interesting new material that I’m looking forward to tinkering with further, once I’ve found a restraining mechanism as reliable as Mum’s novelty reindeer candlesticks. While such experiments have left me firmly convinced that I really must bring a 30kg suitcase full of tape machines home for all future Christmases, I should clarify that there was a very good reason they accompanied me on this particular occasion: ‘Winter Solstice Soundscapes’ at Carlisle’s Vinyl Cafe on December 21st:
I know I’ve said it before, but if you told me a few years ago that one day before too long I’d be able to buy LPs by Meredith Monk and Sun Ra and Lee Hazelwood in my old hometown just by walking into a shop (and getting a coffee and scone while I was about it), I would have shaken my head sadly and fetched you a doctor. But it’s true. And so of course when proprietor James suggested I come and play some haunting sounds to warm up winter solstice, I jumped at the chance. And when I then asked my Dad to give me and my 30kgs of equipment a lift to the venue, a twenty-mile round trip in the pouring winter rain, he jumped at the chance too!
It was a fantastic evening, with performances from Howlround and local ‘Hauntronica’ artist The Heartwood Institute, plus mulled wine and mince pies for everyone. While the crowd seemed to enjoy Howlround’s set, I must confess I was less happy – as is frustratingly common with tape performances, everything sound-checked beautifully, only for naughty old `Daphne to completely lose the plot for the entire duration of the set, foregoing her usual ‘whirling dervish’ tape delay splendour in favour of some kind of inexplicable and apparently unfixable grating electrical hum. In hindsight it would appear that powered speakers mess with her delicate little insides, bless her, though as you can see from the short Twitter clip posted above, she did appear to have regained her senses by the time she reached my parent’s dining table. I’m just hoping all this doesn’t foreshadow another expensive repair bill – I swear in my next life I’m just going to stick to mastering something inexpensive and simple, like a flute, penny-whistle or kazoo. Anyway, here’s a brief, hum-free extract from the set, combined with some faintly-trippy home-made visuals created one evening last week using a phone camera, a wine glass, and a fervent desire not to leave the sofa (Bullseye was about to start and my comfortable seat was being eyed by a muddy spaniel).
Super, smashing, great. My sincere thanks to James at The Vinyl Cafe for having me, and I implore you to visit the shop on Carlisle’s Abbey Street if you’re passing – or at least visit his website and/or Facebook page. Thanks must also go to Stephen Benson for the gig photography displayed above (follow him on Instagram, why don’t you?) and to Jonathan of The Heartwood Institute for both playing an awesome set and providing the PA. His latest LP Secret Rites has just been released this week on the mighty Polytechnic Youth label, and damn fine it is too. Why not put that Christmas money to good use and bag yourself a copy?
Yes, that is the Knight Industries Two Thousand leaping off a 200ft cliff before landing smoothly on the beach below, in complete disregard of the basic laws of physics. There’s a very good reason the show wasn’t called ‘Faintly Plausible Rider’! pic.twitter.com/MYhJLeL6hE
— Robin The Fog (@RobinTheFog) January 2, 2018
Hello You. Presenting for your delectation my latest hotly-anticipated annual Best Of Year Mixtape, featuring a great big sackful of my Foggy favourites from 2017. Over two and a half hours of amazing tunes from the last twelve months, lovingly mixed and blended for your infotainment. It seems to be going down a storm on the social media as well, so why not join the party and fill your boots?
— Robin The Fog (@RobinTheFog) December 24, 2017
It’s been such a bumper year for music and I’ve been so swamped with amazing new material that it’s been hard to pick a single favourite LP; though it might well be Simon James’ brilliant Akiha Den Den soundtrack, which has been providing plenty of spooky atmospherics to my recent nocturnal perambulations around the hometown.
I do have a favourite track, though – The glowering ‘Boylan Devils Mix’ of ‘Glass’ by Logos. Beautifully minimal, bleak and brutal, in places it’s little more than a single bass note baring its teeth, while shards of noise whip and whirl around your ears. I’ve been trying to make Howlround tracks like this all year (with occasional success – results forthcoming in 2018), but nothing beats the moment here when all the other elements fall away and the ‘drop’ hits you. This whole ‘Weightless’ scene has fascinated me this year, though I’m aware I might be a little late to the party…
A close second, for very different reasons, was Orbital’s cover of Kraftwerk’s ‘Numbers’, recorded exclusively for that most excellent of publications, Electronic Sound Magazine. Of course, compared to Logos and Boylan’s effort above, this track has a rather vintage feel, but I loved the playful use of samples and the quirky humour they applied to this famously austere Teutonic classic, blending that familiar itchy rhythm track with recordings of actual ‘Numbers’ stations, a trip to the Supermarket and dear old Polly Styrene to give it a uniquely British spin. Plus they’re one of the greatest live bands ever:
These are just two among many – I could write pages and pages about all the great music I’ve been sent this year, but time is not on our side and I’ve spent a fair proportion of today chasing the Christmas spirit round the bottom of a glass, so it’s probably best to quit yammering and just give you the aural injection. For added intrigue I’ve included links to a few of my favourites below. All of them are worthy of both your time and your money – and released on tiny independent labels, so probably sorely in need of both!
That’s probably enough to be getting on with. Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, particularly the ever-growing pool of artists, producers, DJs, collectors, curators, nerds, oddballs and weirdos that I’m privileged to call friends – I’m a lucky chap indeed to be surrounded by such richness! Here’s hoping for more sonic adventuring in 2018…