TADA!!! ADAADAT vs. Assembled Minds – New For 2016

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Straight out the gate and into 2016 is Trade And Distribution Almanac Volume Five, the latest in the ADAADAT label’s on-going series of compilations exploring the fringes of contemporary experimental electronic music. And just look which contemporary experimental fringe-bothering duo have been chosen to kick the proceedings! You can hear Howlround’s contribution, exclusive new track ‘Bush Fountains VIP’ by clicking here. The opening track on the compilation, it features a sample of a drinking fountain recorded in Bush House that somehow managed to get left out of the Ghosts Of Bush sessions.

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Must say I’m very pleased to have been asked to contribute as releasing something on ADAADAT has been on my bucket list for the best part of a decade, thanks to it’s long and distinguished catalogue that also includes chip-tune gabba classicism from the mighty DJ Scotch Egg, splattery hardcore from Germlin and pretty much everything else from the criminally-overlooked Hungarian Surf-rock duo Agaskodo Teliverek (seriously, watch the video). Still alive and well today, ADAADAT’s latest release features twenty solid tracks of contemporary experimental electronics by the likes of Rutger Hauser, oMMM, Atom Truck and label head Romvelope. What’s not to like? Thanks to Mr. Bjørn Hatleskog for masterminding this one. We owe you a shandy!

In other new release news, goodly egg and fellow Radiophonicist Matt Saunders formerly of 4AD darlings Magnétophone is all set to launch the latest album from his Assembled Minds alias. Creaking Haze And Other Rave Ghosts is the inaugural release on Patterned Air Recordings and has received airplay from Gideon Coe and Tom Ravenscroft on 6Music and the nod of approval from Simon Reynolds and Wyrd Britain amongst others – and deservedly so, it’s a fine piece of work. I was very pleased recently to receive a CD in the post, which arrived in the most splendidly elaborate packaging, with lots of inserts, sleeve-notes and a nice leather cord to keep it all in place. It also contained a press release, which, as has become something of a tradition, I feel moved to quote from at length, rather than come up with any fresh ideas of my own. It’s been a rather long day, you see:

This is an album that almost doesn’t exist. It’s a cloud of old memories, a collective remembrance-pool of distant Saturday nights out, rave-fields, night-clubs, dancing getting intimidated, getting high, feeling the love of the tribe but always looking over your shoulder for some dark threat or other (and best not to mention the bad trips).

Assembled Minds CD Garden

Creaking Haze is foggy, hauntological techno; a strange mix of British suspense/horror film tension and euphorically happy-beat-cycling. Listen closely and you’ll hear rust-flakes from the eerier moments of Tubular Bells, broken pistons from a flipped Detroit techno juggernaut, even flickery moon-bell-echoes of Morris jigs and baton clashes. It’s a wyrd electronic album of rural myth and country-fear and it’s flipside, city-rites and night bus anxiety…

Can’t argue with any of that, can you? Though I must say, having read both press release and sleeve-notes before listening, I was fully expecting it to be a rather gloomy and fragile ‘Death Of Rave’-style affair, like the work of occasional collaborator Farmer Glitch’s erstwhile Hacker Farm, Leyland Kirby or even one of Burial’s slightly less polished efforts. And while there is nothing wrong with any of that in the slightest, this album is actually a more rousing effort, mixing its fuggy and spectral electronics with liberal dollops of house and techno and pushing up the tempos steadily as the album progresses. Either way, it’s been on solid rotation for the last few weeks here at Fog Towers, particularly in the mornings, when I take it with coffee whilst trying to prepare myself for the day’s first coherent thought.  Early contender for album of the year? Quite possibly…

Assembled Minds Cover

Buy it here and check out the Patterned Air’s website here. The label claims to fall in the sweet spot between ‘early electronics, old techno, classroom composition, sleep music, general eeriness and weird things’, which I’m guessing will tick an awful lot of boxes for you as well. One to watch, I shouldn’t wonder, especially as there is said to be a collaborative work between members of Coil and Mount Vernon in the works. Now THAT should be interesting!

The Delaware Road: Album OUT NOW, The Launch Party 14th November 2015

Delaware Road Poster

Pleased as punch to be part of this stellar line-up celebrating the launch of Buried Treasure’s gorgeous new 19-track concept compilation of modern day Radiophonia. The album (available here) is available now on CD for a mere SIX POUNDS and tickets to the launch party (available here) for include a complimentary download. I’m told both are selling fast, so don’t sleep on this one! Please enjoy this rather super trailer with further atmospheric details:

Forthcoming Decay Plus Throwback Friday: Savamala Revisited

Saisonscape Decay Poster

Excited to announce I’m off to Indonesia for a week hunting for new sounds to incorporate in some future work, and am looking forward to some adventures in the land of gamelan and birdsong! This means I will be largely out of contact for the next week and unable to respond to the usual deluge of listeners’ letters, fan mail and demands for cash, so please bear with me. I shall certainly be back in good time for Howlround‘s tour with William Basinski & Kepla – I wouldn’t miss it for anything and the London date at Cafe Oto sold out weeks in advance!

Hopefully all should tick over quite nicely for a week in my absence. Album number FOUR is currently being manufactured and I hope to have a further update soon. But for now, I thought I’d leave you with this extract from the Howlround archives while I’m away, especially as today, Friday 4th September, marks two years since the official launch of our second LP Secret Songs Of Savamala in Belgrade, Serbia:

Spanish House Launch Party Poster

The album launch party, as you may recall, took place within the ruins of  The Spanish House, the former customs building with the highly evocative flooded basement that had inspired its creation . The above film, created by combining the first side of the LP with the beautiful photography of Milica Nikolic Micikitis, was screened that evening to an crowd packed with collaborators, colleagues and friends, sounds and images reverberating off the roofless walls and into the night. It was a very special feeling to be able to return the sounds back to their source, though for some reason I’ve never shared it online until now.

My grateful thanks go once again to Milica, vocalists Mirjana Utvić and Anita Knežić, Leila Peacock, Axel Humpert and the staff of Camenzind Belgrade, NO-FM and the Goethe Institute. Good friends all and I miss them. Hopefully we’ll all work together again before very long. Belgrade certainly isn’t short on items of sonic fascination!

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For further details on that album’s gestation, you can also check out this archive interview with Tiny Mix Tapes from a few months later where I talk about …Savamala and also its predecessor, The Ghosts Of Bush. Thanks once again to Daniel Emmerson for this one!

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Right, that’s quite enough nostalgia to be getting on with, better dash to the airport. Hopefully see you at Cafe Oto on 15th!

Into The Freakier Zone: Nocturnal Transmissions From The House Of Howl

Howlround back in the lab for one final stab at finishing the new LP. This Vine video uploaded by Chris during the session (he has a smartphone!) caused much excitement on Twitter over the weekend, so I thought you might appreciate a re-appraisal. Look closely and you’ll count four machines in use simultaneously, with tension and restraint being provided in the absence of a mic stand by Buddah (which is oddly appropriate), the handlebars of my bike, a pint glass full of batteries and small change; and of course my ‘Stockhausen Syndrome’ mug, which is probably the single funniest object I own…

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The redoubtable Mr. Maconie.

A number of surprisingly effusive people have already contacted us enquiring just what kind of composition were we cooking up with such a glorious tangle of tape and when they would be able to hear the results? Well, sooner than you might think as it happens as I shall be doing a turn on Stuart Maconie’s Freakier Zone on BBC Radio 6 Music this coming Saturday evening. We’ll be discussing the relationship between music and foley, which is of course PURE HOWLROUND TERRITORY, so I’ll be playing some selections from our catalogue including an extract from this latest work-in-progress, as well as examples of some of my favourite ‘composed sound effects’ from the great Radiophonicists of the past. There might even be something from the forthcoming Howlround album! Join us there, won’t you?

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Jardins Efémeros – More Clippings From The Gardens

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Viseu’s ‘Praça D. Duarte’ at the height of festivities. The Funerária D. Duarte where we staged our sound installation is second-from-right.

Now that the dust has settled, Howlround would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who attended both our performance and sound installation as part of the Jardins Efémeros Festival and also to everyone who helped in making it come to pass. There are far too many people to name individually, but particular gratitude must go to Sandras Oliverira and Rodrigues, Filipe Oliveira, Lino Ferreira, Jose Cruzio, the staff of both the Nacional Museum Grão Vasco and the Funerária D. Duarte and of course the ever-resourceful sound engineers Cristóvão Cunha and José Marques for putting up with our myriad of strange demands! And of course to Rui Miguel Abreu for kick-starting our participation in the whole affair – we owe all of these people several beers and will do our best to make good on this at some point. It was certainly one of our most memorable performances both for location, attendance, reception and dramatic incident – though thankfully poor Delia now seems to have recovered! Here’s a brief extract again in case you missed it:

Howlround Live Cloister 1

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We’re thinking of incorporating a glitterball into all future Howlround performances!

And what a magnificent festival it’s been, encompassing performances, installations, workshops, sculptures, exhibits and DJs that took over the whole town, attracting both young and old, local and international. Unfortunately, the preparation of our own works required much squirrelling away in the backroom of our temporary studio-cum-abandoned-tie-shop and missing some fine work as a result, but we did our best to catch up where possible. Pye Corner Audio (the only other UK act on the bill) and Not Waving‘s joint set was predictably awesome but there were plenty of new personal discoveries too including supercharged garage punk from Dirty Coal Train plus ethereally brilliant solo sets from Johnathan Saldanha and Hysterical One Man Orchestra, both of HHY & The Macumbas. To our great regret we missed their group’s collective performance due to being locked in the museum (and who hasn’t had that happen to them at some point?), but made up for it with Lybomyr Melnyk‘s lengthy, dexterous and evocative solo piano works in the splendour of Viseu’s 16th Century Cathedral, not to mention Barcelona’s Eli Gras incorporating sound toys and bizarre home-made instruments into a set that had all the infectious enthusiasm of a kid in a sonic sweet shop. Away from the live music, DJ Sonido Tupinamba dropping some Yma Sumac and Martin Denny in the town square was a perfect backdrop to a restorative afternoon beverage and I really should also thank that one bar (the name of which escapes me) that both allowed and encouraged me to spin Oldskool Hip Hop on a borrowed laptop. Fun times, but there’s so much that I’ve left out!

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A Town Transformed
Eli Gras
Eli Gras tears it up. She built all of these instruments herself and they sounded as amazing as they looked.
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Anita Ackermann’s ‘In The Light Of Movement’ installation. Head-torches a must.

Sadly the festival (including our sound installation at the Funerária) ends this weekend, but if you’re in the vicinity there’s still plenty to see before the curtain comes down and the gardens themselves are cleared away on Sunday night. Our thanks go once again to festival curator, organiser, lynchpin and hardest working woman in Portugal, Sandra Oliveira, for putting the whole thing together and not sleeping for days. We’re hoping you get to have a holiday at some point – and that you’ll let us come back next time!

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Sandra Oliveira with requisite head-torch. I think the other chap might be the Mayor.

Live From Jardins Efémeros: “Bizarre Sounds Of Which Even You Might Like!”

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A rather hurried post at the culmination of a manic week preparing for our sound installation and performance for the Jardins Efémeros Festival in Viseu, Portugal. A more considered write-up will doubtless be forthcoming, but for now I thought you might enjoy these images and this extract from last night’s set in the magnificent C15th cloister of the Nacional Museum Grão Vasco – our first ever open-air performance!

Thankfully the intense heat combined with a slight breeze that threatened to blow our tape loops around had calmed by the time of our 23.30 performance, though the evening was not without its dramatic moments, including a significant chunk of our set in which our reel-to-reel machine ‘Delia’ appeared to give up the ghost completely. For added intrigue, it just so happens that our performance occurred on the 14th anniversary of the death of her Radiophonic namesake. I’m not a superstitious man, but I’m pretty certain there’s some symbolism at work in there somewhere. Thankfully she clicked back into life after some tense moments and a lot of silent pleading and is now recuperating in our surprisingly plush hotel:

Delia Recovers

Away from the stage, our sound installation at the Funerária D. Duarte runs throughout the festival and thanks must go to the staff for being so obliging in allowing us free play among the coffins in the back room.

The Funerária D. Duarte

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The work itself is some twenty-seven minutes in total and consists of the Funerária staff (all members of the same family) talking about their work mixed in with a soundscape of Viseu using recordings gathered from local abandoned buildings and subjected to the patented Howlround treatment at our temporary studio in the back room of a former tie shop. Our favourite piece of feedback so far has got to be a reported  ‘Mummy, where are all the dinosaurs?’

Tape Mess 4

Jardins Efémeros runs until 12th July and it’s proving to be a remarkable achievement, quite literally transforming the town. Our gratitude must of course go to festival curator and lynchpin Sandra Oliveira, our translator Lino and all our new friends for being so welcoming and supportive. We’ve been so busy preparing for our own contributions since our arrival last week that we haven’t actually had time to check out much of the festival yet, but one thing that particularly captured my own imagination during a brief tea-break was Vanda Rodrigues‘ ‘Cloud Room’, stepping into which felt like entering a Boards Of Canada video!

Cloud Room

Jardins Efémeros Festival, Viseu, Portugal

Howlround will be performing as part of this year’s Jardins Efémeros Festival (or ‘Ephemeral Gardens’) in Viseu, Portugal on July 3rd at the Nacional Museum Grão Vasco. We’ll also be producing a sound installation in a funeral parlour! Click on the image below for more details and the full festival line-sup can be downloaded as a PDF here. Further sounds and images to follow – plus Pye Corner Audio and Holly Herndon are playing too! Hurrah!

Jardins Efemeros Flier

It’s the first event in what is shaping up to be quite a busy summer for Daphne, Delia, Magdalena and Elisabeth, our quartet of sprightly though occasionally wonky reel-to-reel machines. So busy in fact, that I thought it might be an idea to embody it in poster form:

Howlround Live Poster Final Summer 2015

In the meantime, thanks to everyone who came to Speak No Evil‘s ‘Light And Shadow Salon’  last Thursday and to the staff of New River Studios for going above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that our quartet of tape machines got home safely (it’s a long story). Great new venue, hopefully we’ll be invited back soon. I was intending to post an extract here from this first Howlround performance since that Barcelona basement last summer, but unfortunately due to a technical glitch I’m currently unable to do so. However the entire event was being simultaneously broadcast on Sonica.FM, so with a bit of luck we might be able to work something out. Thanks to everyone who came up and told us how much they had enjoyed our set, but for added amusement I shall leave with you with the unsolicited advice offered by an older gentleman in the audience who, after observing us conjuring a mass of howls, shrieks and clanks from our quartet of elderly reel-to-reel machines and a vast tangle of ageing, twisted tape, remarked that our live set needed to be a bit ‘slicker’ and ‘more professional’ if we were going to get anywhere. I thanked him and suggested he check out our alternative website http://www.spectacularlyandheroicallymissinghepointofthewholedamnedenterprise.com

Beacons, Barcelona and Bridges – Summer In Review

My first post in almost a month and I’m afraid it’s another rushed one, mostly playing catch-up and paying some Howlround-related dues. Firstly, Chris and I would like to express our sincere thanks once again to the amazing JP and Ale of 4’33” Cafe for not only hosting us in Barcelona back in August, but for turning the results into this beautiful short film posted onto Facebook. A wonderful souvenir and a perfect introduction to the Howlround live experience! Please enjoy:

Secondly, The Quietus has published a very entertaining review of this year’s Beacons Festival by that most affable gent Jonny Mugwump, including some decidedly favourable comments about Howlround’s late-night tape-loop contribution. You are warmly encouraged to read it in full on their website here, but for our immediate purposes I’ll just modestly quote the flattering bit:

“…[Howlround were] by far one of the strangest sets of the weekend as well as being one of the highlights […] uncanny, mesmerising, difficult and sublime. Utilising vintage reel to reel tape decks, Weaver manipulates physical loops of tape that Robin feeds into the machines. The utterly indescribable sound however is lent extra gravitas through the almost theatrical physical requirements of the performance. There are giant loops of tape hanging everywhere and the delicacy and intricacy of handling them lends the set an overwhelmingly eerie atmosphere. Howlround live is a séance – the act of channelling rendered in physical form. Suitably sonically infected, the night takes on strange shapes and you sit down with new friends knowing that this is exactly what a festival should be about”. 

While Mr. Mugwump naturally has our gratitude, it’s also a relief to hear he survived long enough in order to file his report – I’m told the weather really did get rather biblical after we left. In addition I feel I must apologise to him and to all of you for the slight grammatical error I caused while tweeting about it. Promise it won’t happen again:

Finally, my thanks to the lovely and ever-patient Kaitlyn Spillane and my other stateside friends for an incredible three weeks of American adventuring. From the burning forests of Yosemite, to the salt planes of the Mojave desert, the ghost towns, abandoned hillside military encampments, empty motels, ‘wave organs’ (more of which later) – we covered it all.  There’s a huge amount of recordings to wade through and it may be quite some time before I’m ready to share anything, but share it I certainly will in due course. In the meantime, please enjoy this recording of that most iconic part of San Francisco’s soundscape, the foghorns of the Golden Gate Bridge. The extract below was made in the densest fog I’ve ever encountered – despite standing directly underneath the gigantic, bright-red, mile-long, 230 metre-high  structure the bridge might as well have not been there at all. I don’t even think it’s too much of an exaggeration to say that you can hear the fog in this recording – certainly not when you consider the fact that sound does travel differently in foggy conditions. Unfortunately, one sound that travelled rather too well was  that of a nearby trio of wastrels who were so entranced with this mighty display of the elements that they decided to chinwag incessantly about nothing throughout all of  my efforts to capture it. Ah, well, sometimes you have to let the world in.

Golden Gate from Fort Point-lo
I’m sure I don’t need to explain that this photograph was taken from the same point as the sound recording, but on a different day. But just in case…

Incidentally, fellow Hitchcock devotees might like to know that this was taken from almost the exact same location as the one from which Kim Novak threw herself into the foaming waters of the bay during one of Vertigo‘s more dramatic moments. Listen to the booming of the foghorn over the thunder of the seawash here and I think you’ll get a real sense of just what a poor decision this would have proved:

They certainly wouldn’t have got much filming done on the day of my visit, though nowadays the heightened security measures would have prevented the need for any heroics on the part of Jimmy Stewart. What price freedom, eh?

A Most Uncommon Type – Keira Rathbone and the Sounds From the Vaults

It’s been rather quiet on these pages the last couple of weeks, though I can assure you in the off-line actual world things have been busier than ever. Much of our time has been taken up finishing off the next Howlround project – we’ve been beavering away at in secret for a couple of months now, it’s pretty much finished and sounding quite super;  just waiting for our mastering guru to work his magic. We’ve also got a couple of rather exciting live appearances coming up in August – our first in several months – with details to follow. But for the moment our most pressing item concerns a typewriter and some tunnels:

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Yes, celebrated typewriter artist Keira Rathbone‘s latest exhibition BRINK comes to The Vaults gallery at the end of this month and features a number of collaborations with artists of different persuasions alongside her own distinctive works – including a new sound piece produced by Lolita Laguna and myself. Our contribution was produced several weeks ago by visiting the cavernous halls beneath Waterloo station that make up the exhibition space, armed with some recordings of both Keira’s typing (she uses a contact microphone which makes it sound tremendous!) and the ambient sounds of some of the locations where she produces her work; such as the river bank of her native West London. These sounds were played  through a portable amplifier placed at one end of the vault known as the ‘long wet room’, with the results being recorded at the other. This new recording was then played back into the space and the process repeated – five times!

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Laptop and amp in repose.

It was an idea partly inspired by works such as Alvin Lucier‘s I Am Sitting In A Room and Jacob Kierkegaard‘s wonderful and terrifying 4 Rooms, where continuous recording and playback within a given space starts to expose that space’s natural resonant frequencies, often rendering the source material completely unrecognisable as it does so. This kind of transformative-process and the ease with which it’s often possible to break down common or everyday sounds into something wholly other is, as regular visitors to these pages will attest, an obsession of mine;  though even I was astonished at the metamorphosis that had occurred by our fifth attempt. And because of the continuously ‘active’ nature of the space, each subsequent layer added it’s own  flourishes; be it the sporadic water dripping from the ceiling or the bass-heavy rumble of train wheels overheard. At the time of writing Lolita is putting the finishing touches to this dense sonic stew and the resulting composition will be installed in the space as part of the exhibition, premièring at the private view on July 31st. The rough-cut sounds great, so I’m very much looking forward to hearing the finished work being ‘put back’ into the space. Seems only yesterday I was doing the same thing in Belgrade customs house!

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Results actually quite a bit more deafening than you might imagine from this picture…

To celebrate the launch of BRINK and as a promotional wheeze, Keira has set about immortalising the assets of her various collaborators by producing typewriter portraits of their eyes and ears. To that effect, here is a picture of her posing with my left ear, a salute not only to a body part described as ‘damn sexy’ by someone on the internet; but to an organ that has consistently earned it’s place as my very favourite and most-useful physical accoutrement:

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Anyway, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that Keira’s work is amazing (as is Lolita’s!!), so make sure you pay the exhibition a visit somewhere between 1st-23rd August.  The official Vaults website has further details and there’s also a Facebook event here for you social media types. She has even suggested we have a DJ battle as part of the private view, so there may be one further collaboration to come!

Finally, outside of the vaults I’ve been immortalising some assets of my own, chiefly by making another ‘guerilla’ promotional video for Howlround using my favourite tape loop, which sadly expired from sheer exhaustion not long afterwards. Thankfully it’s appearance in this video has given it a kind of immortality, so why not click play and help a small part of it to live forever? Moreover, particularly as the sounds in this video have gone on to form the cornerstone of our next release, why not watch it over and over and over again? In doing so you’ll increase our play-count and be granted rare insights not only into how the loop came to meet its end, but also just what I have been doing with my evenings over the past few weeks.  You might even gain a teasing-yet-fascinating glimpse into our new release’s gestation – everyone wins, most of all YOU!