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.
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).
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…
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!
A big thank you to Mr. Louis Pattison for a jolly nice review in this month’s edition of The Wire. Unfortunately, those hoping to get their hands on the last of the Vinyl will find it too late to be of much practical assistance as it is now officially all sold out, once and for all. Ghost Box took the last fifteen and they sold out in about five minutes. Hopefully the fact that the digital copy is still available here and will be for the foreseeable future is of some consolation. The Wire is, of course, widely available from all good Newsagents (and some bad ones too). It was also a very thoughtful of the magazine to choose the exact same font colour for their front cover as we used for ours. The marketing practically writes itself!
It’s that time once again where I present you lucky folk with a lovingly crafted mixtape of hand-picked favourites from the past twelve months.
I should clarify that, despite the hubris-laden sentiment of the title, this could hardly be considered a definitive best-of. Heavens, no. Any attempt to get a serious handle on all the astonishing music that was released in 2015 would surely be about twenty hours long and cripplingly expensive to compile. Instead, I have attempted to balance obvious classics with lesser-known personal highlights – and some tracks that I feel were just downright slept-on. There’s much to treasure here, but also a number of glaring omissions in spite of my best efforts. By the time the mix had been online for a mere half hour, I’d already noticed the absence of the beautiful Millenium Mills by Aino Tytti on Touch, and final, posthumous album The Thing by psychedelic rock-types Cove. Both appalling oversights on my part – very sorry, chaps, but I’ve no doubt there are plenty more ‘how could I have forgotten?!’ moments that await me still. Probably in the small hours….
Regrettable oversights aside, the one thing that does unite many of these works is that they were created by people I am privileged to call colleagues and friends. In fact, musically or otherwise, one constant throughout 2015 has been the presence and support of so many awesome and talented people. I’m a lucky chap indeed to have such friends. Happy New Year to each and every one of you!
Let’s hope all our dreams come true in 2016. Apart from that one about being naked in the Maths exam, obviously…
Very excited to announce Howlround’s TV debut on the BBC’s flagship technology programme Click is now available here for your viewing pleasure (we feature about 10 minutes in). I’m posting all this slightly belatedly as I was out in the wilds of Yucca Valley without internet during it’s first airing and remained in blissful ignorance of such exciting developments for an unprecedented 36 hours. Anyway, please watch and enjoy affable host Spencer Kelly paying a visit to the New Broadcasting House studio featuring the creaking mic stand that has given Howlround so much raw material to play with over the past year; then heading to our own studio where we introduced him to the machines and allowed him free reign of the mixing desk. I think he rather enjoyed it!
As if all this wasn’t exciting enough, the track we created during the team’s visit is now available from Soundcloud as a complimentary download, so feel free to make a few Clicks of your own in this direction:
The feature also included footage from last year’s set for 4’33” Cafe at The Base Elements Gallery in the gothic quarter of Barcelona, so I thought you might appreciate another airing of the original video with a nod and a wink once again to our friends JP and Ale!
In other news, finally back from a whirlwind couple of weeks in the US, playing Howlround’s first American shows, doing a spot of record digging and having our minds expanded with a ‘Sound Bath’ at The Integraton, a truly remarkable domed structure out in the wilds of Yucca Valley – and the only venue I’ve ever visited that was financed by Howard Hughes and built under the guidance of alien intelligence. The day concluded with some late-night desert recording with my old friend Guy J. Jackson in freezing conditions under a full moon in the back of an abandoned tour-bus, though thankfully free of extra-terrestrial intervention. More on that at some point later…
Huge thanks must go once again to Erik and Ben of the excellent Gray Columns, to equally splendid support band Offret and to Andee, Allan and Kirk of aQuarius recOrds, San Francisco for making it all possible. And especial thanks to Guy and Holly, plus my ever-patient and brave travelling companions Gemma Ritson and Kaitlyn Spillane! When can we do this again?
Curiously, I had no trouble at all getting tape machines Elisabeth and Magdalena through airport security. As one official shrugged – ‘It’s cool, this is Portland’! Which may also help to explain my discovery of this little gem while perusing a local emporium. I can feel a new mixtape coming on already…
And finally, I must quickly plug the latest instalment of Art Assembly‘s ‘Saisonscape Decay’ radio programmes that was broadcast last week in anticipation of their show at Cafe Oto. Featuring Lisa ‘Sleeps In Oysters’ Busy, Graham Dunning, Kemper Norton and Sarah Angliss discussing their work in conversation with host Julia Dempsey and mixed and edited by myself and partner in tape Chris Weaver. In fairness, he got the lion’s share of the work as I had a plane to catch!
Taking place in autumn, “Decay” reflects on the natural cycle of the season – leaf litter and organic material dropping to the ground and breaking down into one, renewing the soil with a rich and nourishing composition. This programme focuses on artists who use archives of field recordings, folk story and who layer instrumentation, objects and found sound. Sounds, ideas and material mulch into new combinations, providing fertile ground for unexpected work.
New material is expected imminently from each of the programme’s guests and I’ll try and cover as much of it on these pages as possible, but for now I can confirm that Lisa Busby’s new solo album Fingers In The Gloss is out already and available here on limited CD. There’s also this decidedly eerie promotional video for the single ‘Hollow Blown Egg’ to savour. So many talented friends!
The Radiophonic Workshop (yes, THE Radiophonic Workshop) have just posted a link to the new Howlround LP Tales From The Black Tangle on their Facebook page. And there is no way I’m going to allow the incident to pass without at least one small trumpet from the rooftops.
You hear that?! Friends! FRIENDS! Oh, my!
Right, off for a nice lie down. As you were…
Absolutely delighted to present the brand new Howlround LP Tales From The Black Tangle, available to pre-order NOW from my special boutique imprint The Fog Signals. The vinyl has finally arrived and is looking absolutely fantastic, shrink-wrapped with a full colour sleeve in a tasteful matt-finish, with artwork by myself and a beautiful rear photograph by the talented Victoria ‘Ringmaster’ Hastings. We’re very proud and excited, even more so when I tell you that in less than twenty-four hours a THIRD of the stock has been snapped up! It’s selling fast, so if you want to get your hands on a copy, might I suggest moving swiftly?
And now the obligatory press statement: Following a busy summer that has seen the duo touring with “Disintegration Loops” legend William Basinski, profiled on BBC 6 Music’s The Freakier Zone, creating sound installations inside venues as varied as a Portuguese funeral parlour and a reservoir beneath Copenhagen; tape loop wranglers Robin The Fog and Chris Weaver are delighted to announce the launch of their fourth LP as Howlround – Tales From The Black Tangle
The pair create their music following a strict rule – all digital effects and artificial reverb is strictly forbidden. As with previous albums, Tales From The Black Tangle was created entirely by manipulating natural recordings on a trio of vintage reel-to-reel tape machines. Their increasingly spectacular live performances are no exception to their analogue-only rule, and see the pair leaving venues strewn with miles of tangled magnetic tape. Distant trains, industrial sirens, foghorns, ship to shore distress signals, and even a BBC microphone stand in need of some oil, are all are folded into the duo’s darkest and most eerily compelling work yet. A recent vinyl reissue of last year’s Torridon Gate album sold out in a single afternoon, so anticipation for this latest release is high.
You might remember that a small part of the sessions for this album were captured in this rather super Vine video Chris took over the summer, so it’s great to finally be able to present the finished results in a format longer than six seconds:
Right, I’d better get off down that post office. Thanks so much for all of your custom so far and for the very positive initial feedback I’ve been receiving. I haven’t even had time to do press yet, so there’s no official reviews to speak of, but you can rest assured that if they’re positive they’ll be trumpeted from the roof of Broadcasting House…