Please enjoy the latest edition of the Near Mint show on Resonance 104.4FM, featuring a field trip to sunny Southend to visit this week’s special guest Jennifer Lucy Allan. Writer, journalist, former staffer at The Wire magazine, co-runner of the rather super Arc Light Editions label, qualified carpenter and the first person ever to undertake a PHD on Foghorns, it should be immediately obvious why we asked if we could have a rummage through her collection. And what a rummage it was…
It’s a pretty heady brew she’s served up for us, featuring everything from a Japanese record on the subject of earthquakes, super-rare Finnish jazz, 60s Bollywood, Pierre Henry’s magic space pop and even some forthcoming Arc Light Editions treats from the legendary Joan La Barabara. Huge thanks to Jen for a great show and you can find this show as well as all previous episodes in the Near Mint series on my Mixcloud page. I rather think that future guests are going to have to work jolly hard to keep up the standard we’ve maintained on the series so far!
And finally, thanks to Ben Soundhog for digging out this stimulating visual accompaniment to the show’s opening track:
A double-bill of Resonance radio treasures for you today. First off is the latest episode of the adventures in compulsive record-collecting series Near Mint, presented by myself and fellow obsessive hoarder Hannah Brown. This week Hannah take the controls to bring you a Synaesthesia special – to whit, a mix of ‘delightful smelling’ tracks – that is, it’s the music itself that smells nice rather than the vinyl it’s pressed on. Synaesthesia is a neurological condition where, in some cases, music can evoke ‘phantom smells’ for the listener, and Hannah, being something of an expert on the subject, has carefully curated a playlist of the highest olfactory excellence. It’s probably not a coincidence they sound pretty good too. Good work, Hannah Brown. Going to be very poor tracking down my own copies of these gems:
The Pastels – One Wild Moment (Stereolab Mix) (Up Records)
Happy Meals – Altered Images (Night School)
Brooks & O’Hagan – Calibair (Ghost Box)
Jonti – Nightshift in Blue (Stones Throw)
Jane Weaver – It’s Not Over Yet (Bird)
Vermont – Übersprung (Kompakt)
Secondly, I should also thank Alan Gubby of Buried Treasure for joining me on last Saturday’s OST Show in Jonny Trunk’s absence and for bringing in such a fine selection of music, to all the listeners who rang in for the competition with their appallingly bad puns and to Ghost Box for letting us give the Hintermass album it’s ‘world exclusive first play’ (allegedly). The full three hours are available here in two parts, warts and all, exactly as they went out, which is quite a sacrifice for me – I usually don’t let anything out the gate until I’ve buffed it to a high sheen. You’ll hear an unreleased “John Baker” cue (we’re 99& certain!). lots of falling about laughing occasionally leading to coughing fits, a couple of slices of dead air you could drive a bus through, and the unfortunate use of the term ‘eclectic’; but also some truly extraordinary and sublime music. Kettle and earphones on…
On a similar note, Jon Brooks of the above Brooks & O’Hagan and Hintermass, but also of The Advisory Circle too has very kindly donating a signed test pressing of his solo LP Shapwick to the Resonance FM fundraising auction. An LP that was released in a very limited edition back in 2013, sold out within minutes and then a repress sold even faster. At the time of writing you have five days left to enter this auction or face paying £65 on Discogs for a copy. Once again, all proceeds go towards keeping the greatest radio station on Earth transmitting for another year. Worthy cause, great LP. Get with it:
Yep, it that’s time of the year once again where the world’s greatest radio station asks its listeners and supporters to dip hands into pockets and donate towards keeping them on air for another year. But it’s by no means a one-way street as there’s a whole pile of special broadcasts taking place all this week and an online auction with plenty of fantastic objects, artifacts and experiences you can win in exchange for your cash: Record bags, festival tickets, a psychedelic tour of London in a Rolls Royce – the full list can be found on the bespoke Resonance Fundraising website here. I’m currently bidding on brunch for two at the Oxo Tower. There are a couple of Howlround items up for grabs as well:
First off, the final remaining copy of the Torridon Gate LP, number 100/100, hand-numbered and stamped, screen-printed cover by Hannah Brown and printed translucent sleevenotes. A one-off pressing of 100 copies only, the entire stock sold out in a single afternoon back in April 2015, but we’ve been holding this one back especially. Click on the above image to bid!
Secondly, an even-rarer test pressing of latest album Tales From The Black Tangle. Hand-written label, numbered 2/6, in full-colour LP sleeve. This album is also now completely out-of-print and despite lots of harrumphing from the populace in general, there will be no re-presses. Sorry, all, but a promise is a promise! This is your last chance to own a slice of Howlround history! Click on the above image to bid!
Next up, and forgive me for banging on about this again, but I really am super-excited about this coming Friday (19th), when we’ll be rocking the Book and Record Bar in West Norwood, with all proceeds going to the fundraiser. Lucky Cat Zoe, Hannah Brown, Michael the Landlord and myself along with very special guest DJ Food will be manning the decks from 8pm and there’s a raffle with fabulous prizes and a bar (please don’t spill any on the vinyl). Rumours that DJ Food will be giving away a large chunk of the records he plays remain unconfirmed, but persistent. Part two of his guest appearance on mine and Hannah’s new Resonance show ‘Near Mint’ is repeated this Friday at 10am, but you can also now listen to both parts on my Mixcloud page here.
The following afternoon, I shall be heading to the studio to present a marathon fundraising special of The OST Show in regular host Jonny Trunk’s absence. I’ll be joined by Radiophonic expert and Buried Treasure Recordings commander-in-chief Alan Gubby, who in a message probably unintended for publication has assured me he’s cooking up a stew of everything from “gritty 7″ rock n rollers to groovy radiophonic funk with lots of abstract tape experiments and early synth minimalism in-between – a couple of unreleased [insert names of legendary Radiophonic Workshop figures] bits, plus a competition prize package of Buried Treasure releases including the last vinyl copy of The Vendetta Tapes” – that last being, of course, the vinyl LP of unreleased John Baker cues, released last year and leaving Radiophonicists the world over in a state of complete frenzy. If you missed it the first time around, here’s one final chance to get your hands on a copy. Tune in, 15.30 on Saturday…
Speaking of Radiophonics and proof if any were needed of just how important Resonance FM is as an alternative broadcaster, have a listen to Rebecca Gaskell’s documentary on Delia Derbyshire Day that was broadcast last week as part of the station’s regular ‘Clear Spot’ feature. You might recall my BBC report on the event from a few weeks ago, but this goes into far more detail than can be achieved in four minutes and really lifts the lid on just what a remarkable composer she was, featuring lesser known extracts from her archive plus extended interviews with festival curator Caro C, archivist Dr. David Butler and musician Mandy Wigby – plus I’m proud to say I had a small consultancy role and sourced some of the music. It’s always nice to be useful!
And lastly, another superb Clear Spot from a couple of weeks ago was ‘Beauty and the Bleak’, produced by Art Assembly’s Julia Dempsey and mixed and edited by myself in a frantic scrabble to meet the Tx deadline – but it was more than worth it! The second of Art Assembly’s in the series of Saisonscape: Decay programmes, this edition features extended interviews with poet and musician Autumn Richardson and sound artist Lauren Bon discussing their work. Their locations and subject matter differ greatly, but their approaches to the subject of decay, isolation and, yes, bleakness, compliment each other beautifully. A real pleasure to work on, this one, event if it was a bit of a narrow squeak to get it finished!
And lastly, while it doesn’t really have anything to with Resonance, there’s another chance to hear Howlround’s sound installation ‘Mansion House Clocks’ produced for Vespertine York last September, at St. Mary’s in the city’s Castlegate area. From 17th-20th, Vespertine York are kicking off the year by exhibiting some of the bespoke works they’ve commissioned over the past year along with a programme of workshops and other delights. Further details here. That was a jolly fine installation, even if I do say so myself…
Adventures in compulsive record-collecting with obsessive hoarders Robin The Fog and Hannah Brown. This week: part two of a visit to the record room of DJ Food, in anticipation of his headlining set at our Resonance FM fundraiser at West Norwood’s Book and Record Bar this Friday. Are you ready to move out in style? Go, dig it out and swing with it!
Marshall McLuhan & Quentin Fiore – The Medium Is The Massage (2nd excerpt) (Columbia)
The Electro-Harmonix Work Band – I Am Not A Synthesiser (Electro-Harmonix)
The Dreamies – Programme Ten (Stone Theatre)
The Hellers – My Life Story / In The Elevator (Command)
Ken Nordine – Lavender / Flesh (Phillips)
John Rydgren – The Dark Side of the Flower / Here Lies The Church / Move Out In Style (No Label)
Many thanks once again to Strictly Kev for opening up the contents of his magic record box for us and if this little lot doesn’t whet your appetite to come and see him in action in West Norwood this Friday, then surely nothing will. Except, of course, the knowledge that all money raised will be going directly towards helping to keep the greatest radio station in the world on air for another year. And the fact that Lucky Cat Zoe, Hannah Brown and my Foggy self will be spinning some tunes too. Plus the bar. And the raffle. Who are you to resist such delights?!
Presenting the first episode of Near Mint, a brand new Resonance FM series, Tuesdays at 1800 GMT on record collecting, record collectors and the compulsive and foolhardy pursuit of blowing all your earnings on the pursuit of strange and obscure vinyl, a subject I consider myself something of a scholar. Presented with my old Resonance chum Hannah Brown, this first edition is the first of a two-part special recorded inside the record room of Strictly Kev aka DJ Food. In anticipation of his star-turn at our ‘Digging Deep’ Resonance Fundraising Night at the Book And Record Bar in West Norwood, on February 19th, we thought it might be fun to have him to spill open his secret record box and allow us a peek into the contents. Playful psychedelia, cut-ups (metaphorical and literal), locked grooves, direct-to-disc booth recordings, children’s songs about the elements… The results were far too good to contain in a single half-hour programme, so part two will follow at the same time next week. Here’s what we played:
Alan Copeland – Mission Impossible Theme / Norwegian Wood (ABC)
Stock Hausen & Walkman – Buy Me, Sue Me (Hot Air)
Unknown Auto Recording (My Bike) (Calibre)
Christopher Rollen – #7″ (Hosing Records)
Johan Timman – The White Blood Cells and the Antiibodies (Look Out For the Killer) / The Brain (excerpt) (Hausa International)
Golden Orchestra & Chorus – The Space Alphabet: Comets / Hydrogen & Helium (Golden Records)
Alen Robin – Introduction / Humphrey (Janus Records)
The John Benson Brooks Trio – Love Is Psychedelic (Decca)
Marshall McLuhan & Quentin Fiore – The Medium Is The Massage (excerpt) (Columbia)
A little post-show detective work revealed the above ‘Auto Recording’ to be a rather lo-fi cover of this. Though I must say I prefer our unknown friend! When was it recorded? Where? And who was this unknown motorcycle enthusiast? It’s the fact that we’ll never, ever know that gives it it’s savour!
Many thanks to Kev for not only pulling out such incredible treasures, but for taking the time to photograph the sleeves and send them over so that you can enjoy poring over as much as I did! And to cap it all he’s only gone and designed us a new poster for the fundraiser as well! If all this classy material doesn’t encourage you to come down on 19th, nothing will!
Crumbs, it’s been a busy couple of weeks. Let’s start the beginning with my report for BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight on the recent Delia Derbyshire Day that took place at HOME, Manchester and that I was lucky enough to attend. Partly intended as an introduction to one of the great pioneers of the Radiophonic Workshop, much of the ground covered here will already be familiar to regular visitors to these pages; but listen closely and you’ll catch a couple of exclusive extracts from works that have lain unheard in Delia’s archive for decades! It’s a real privilege to be able to bring you even this small taster!
Part of my on-going commitment to keep the nation’s airwaves just that little bit Radiophonic, this report also went out on The World Service a few days later and was posted on The Today Programme’s Facebook page; all of which has hopefully helped to continue the festival’s stated aim to both preserve the legacy of this remarkable lady and to inspire new generations of electronic and experimental musicians to carry her work forward. This year’s third annual Delia Derbyshire Day, the brainchild of electronic musician and sound engineer Caro C, featured new additions to the archive in the shape of two films with original Delian soundtracks: One of These Days (1973) directed by Madelon Hooykaas (who flew over for a personal appearance!) and Two Houses (1980) directed by Elisabeth Kozmian. There were also two new artist commissions for the event, a beautiful original soundtrack and performance by Mandy Wigby (you’ll hear an extract from it closing the report) and film-maker Mary Stark‘s striking visual interpretation of a freshly-prepared sixteen-minute montage of sounds from the Delia’s archive put together by curator and archivist Dr. David Butler. David is the man who has been chiefly responsible for the mammoth task of cataloguing, restoring and preserving Delia’s archive since the University of Manchester took possession of it several years ago, and in his estimation, the freshly discovered archive material used for Mary’s film would have last been heard by the wider public at least forty years ago, if at all.
As you might well imagine, all this was absolute hog heaven.
What I found particularly inspiring about Caro’s approach to curating this event was her determination to look forward as well as back and to pass Delia’s work on into the future. ‘Someone’s got to inspire the next generation of wonky musicians!’ she laughingly tells us, and having sat in on the festival’s afternoon workshop and watched children of all ages happily creating their own experimental sound works with bowls, gongs and whistles, I’m certain the job has fallen into the right hands. Meanwhile, work on restoring the archive continues and hopefully before long they’ll be ready to share even more new surprises. But for now, bravo to everyone concerned and particular thanks to Caro, David, Madelon and Mandy for being such excellent and inspiring company. I could not have asked for a warmer welcome. Hope to see you again next year!
Moving on, I’ve finally had a moment to upload our debut TV appearance on the BBC’s flagship technology programme Click onto youtube. Now you can sit back and enjoy our unique combination of fascinating sounds, vintage equipment and ravishing good looks just by clicking on the link below, rather than all that messing about with iPlayer. It’s also happens to be a rather useful introduction to just how we created some of the sounds that were used on our last album and the recent compilation The Delaware Road (plus a forthcoming Howlround album as it happens, but that’s not for a while yet). Assisted by the brilliant Victoria Forbes, the end section of the report has been extended a little in order to allow the viewer a longer, uninterrupted listen to the track we created that day with Spencer Kelly and his team. Though of course the track is also still available in full as a free download from my Soundcloud page if you want to go the whole hog. I figure it’s always nice to have options.
Speaking of compilations, I’m very excited to reveal that ‘OH’, our recent collaboration with Ray Carmen’s abandoned playground project has been chosen as the opening track of UK Experimental Underground 016 Survey, a new album from Unexplained Sounds Group and curated by sound artist Raffaele Pezzella aka Sonologyst. The latest in a series of compilations exploring the contemporary electronic music scenes in a number of different countries (and the second concerning the UK), it also includes works by Merkaba Macabre (aka Steve from Psyché-Tropes), Pascal Savy, Tom White, Ian Haygreen and much more. Check it out in full here and see if you can get permission to join their Facebook Group while you’re at it – it’s a veritable treasure-trove of curios and obscurities!
In other news, we’re rapidly approaching that time again where Resonance 104.4FM asks for the help of it’s many listeners and fans the world over in raising money to fund another year’s work, so please do what you can and help this remarkable station continue it’s mission in broadcasting the weird and the wonderful and giving sounds and voices on the margins a chance to be heard – not to mention it’s wide roster of valuable community, political and discussion programmes. For our part, Howlround are going to be auctioning off some rare vinyl (more on that to follow soon), but for now I’m hoping to encourage you to attend a special fundraising event I’m organising with my esteemed colleagues and longstanding Resonance teamsters Lucky Cat Zoe and Hannah Brown:
Please do join us at West Norwood’s Book And Record Bar on February 19th, where we’ll all be spinning some discs and raffling off some covetable items, with all proceeds going to help keep Resonance on air. I’m also very excited to announce that we’ve managed to convince legendary DJ, producer, graphic artist and Resonance supporter Strictly Kev of DJ Food to headline for us (though rumours of him planning to give away a significant chunk of the records he’ll be playing remain unconfirmed at the time of writing)! The Facebook event page is here, so please feel free to pledge your allegiance. And of course you can always donate to this worthiest of causes any time you like by visiting the Resonance website and pledging some money, which is like pledging your allegiance only even more so.
I’ve also been enjoying this brief but beautiful EP by John Hall, stalwart member of The Octopus Collective and Full Of Noises, our friends up in Cumbria. “Born in Ashgate Maternity Home in 1959 and again in 1973 in Some Kinda Mushroom Records on Newbold Road”, Four Short Guitar Tunes and Six Iron Gates was recorded in Ulverston and is available now as a limited edition 7″ through his own Bifocals website. Beautiful cover art too. My copy came with three collectable ‘Sweet Charity’ cards, documenting John’s adventures in Oxfams and British Heart Foundations up and down the country, so I guess I’d better start collecting those too…
And finally, a belated RIP to Denmark’s First Lady of electronic and concréte music, Else Marie Pade. From her earliest realised compositions in the 1950s, to working alongside Pierre Schaeffer, to a recent collaboration with Jacob Kirkegaard; her life-long quest to discover new sounds and her fascination with the subject right up to the end is truly humbling. And that’s before you even consider her work in the Danish Resistance during the war. A remarkable life indeed…
To celebrate my heroic non-inclusion in this year’s Record Store Day, due in no small part to failing to get my affairs in order, I was planning to use this week to spring something exciting onto a grateful world: namely a surprise vinyl reissue of Howlround’s third album Torridon Gate, in an edition of 100 only, complete with gorgeous screen-print of the sleeve by Hannah Brown of Modern Day Magpie and a natty translucent inner. However, thanks to the noble efforts of the good folk on my mailing list, I’m unable to do so…
The fact is, I sent my subscribers an email last week giving them first dibs on the new record and they literally bit my hand off – the entire edition sold out in less than twelve hours!
Sorry to disappoint those of you who missed out, but that really is your lot! The ‘name your price’ digital download is still available, but the number of regretful, peevish or outright inconsolable missives I’ve received in the last few days tells me it’s proving little consolation. However, the fact is that in my original email I promised it would be first-come, first-served, with no second edition and no re-reissue. And I intend to keep that promise until such future times as when it will prove especially financially lucrative to go back on my word and let everyone down – a major career retrospective, perhaps, a deluxe vinyl box set in mahogany, a nomination for the Mercury prize, that sort of thing. Frankly, such worries are quite a way off yet – not much point having a major career retrospective without having a major career first. But I digress…
I do plan to spring other surprises in this manner in the future as it’s quite an enjoyable (if not particularly lucrative) way of running my affairs and keeping my followers on their toes. If you’re not yet on my mailing list and gaining such preferential treatment yourself, why not send an email with the subject line ‘Yes! I wish to be kept on my toes re. this kind of thing in the future’ to robinthefog at gmail dot com? I will take care of the necessary and first dibs on my next vinyl surprise will be yours for the taking!
To Radiophrenia news now, and congratulations to Mark Vernon and his team for the culmination of a successful week of broadcasting to Glasgow and the surrounding areas on 87.9FM (while streaming worldwide online), with a wide and varied programme of original radiophonic works, lectures and performances, including a couple of new works by myself (along with the writer Leila Peacock, of course).
I’m extremely proud to report that one of them, ‘Mount Shock – Music For Microphone Cradle’ was chosen as the work to mark the final broadcast, signing-off and closure of the station at roughly ten minutes to midnight on Sunday 19th. Quite an accolade with over seven hundred pieces to choose from!
Penultimately, the Howlround tape-loop quartet finally came out of dry-dock last week when I performed a solo set (Chris still being on his arts residency in Dubai) for the music technology students of Havering College in Essex. It was good to be back behind the spools and the students responded well to my demonstration of what it’s possible to achieve without resorting to plug-ins, fx pedals and other bits of digital technology. In fact it went so well that for a moment I almost felt ‘cool’ and ‘relevant’, but thankfully those feelings passed before I attempted to get too far ‘down with the kids’. Could have been seriously embarrassing for a chap of my vintage.
And lastly, I’ve moved house too. 80+ boxes of vinyl, tape spools CDs, books and other assorted ephemera (not to mention my army of tape machines) have been successfully transferred to my new abode in Penge, thanks to the efforts of some very strong friends (both literally and metaphorically). This photo was taken at about the halfway point, when there was still some floor-space in which to stand swinging a camera. No such luxuries now. I haven’t seen the carpet since:
There are those who claim that moving house, performing a Essex-based solo tape-loop set and releasing a new record in the space of less than forty-eight hours is sheer, unadulterated lunacy. And you know what? I wouldn’t dream of arguing with such people. The upshot of all of this is that I’m currently sans-internet at the newly-appointed Fog Towers, which is why I’m writing this while day-drinking in Crystal Palace, next to two men engaged in a fascinating discussion about why it’s never a good idea to take cocaine at a funeral. If you’re thinking that sounds rather like stating the bleedin’ obvious, I should inform you that some poor misguided chump once offered me viagra at the send-off of a much-loved elderly relative, so perhaps such activities are more common than you or I might imagine. But all that’s for another time…
Anyway, for these reasons, and all of the above, it’s an exciting time. More soon, my friends, and don’t forget to subscribe if the mood takes you!