A quick and very late update this week, typed in haste while sat on the floor in Amsterdam airport, returning from a digging trip to Slovenia and the Netherlands with some rather groovy ‘Ex-Yugo’ electronica LPs under my arm and a slight headache. But that’s not important right now. I must just very quickly draw your attention to the latest episode of Resonance FM’s crate-digging showcase spectacular Near Mint, which this week features a thumb through the stash of the Ljubljana-based turntablist and producer DJ Woo D. And what a stash it is….
Knocked together in a single take from recent acquisitions, lounge oddities and the kind of fabulously obscure funk that you and I don’t stand a cat-in-hell’s chance of ever finding for ourselves, it’s a heady brew that I’ve had on loop for the past week. And certainly a damn sight better than the Toni Braxton and Chris DeBurgh currently emanating from the airport toilets. Bad taste knows no borders….
First point of business today is this superb all-dayer fundraiser at the Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff being put together by the redoubtable Ian ‘Uh Oh’ Watson, fine artist, sculptor, noise-maker and humanitarian. The event is raising funds and awareness of the plight of refugees, with particular emphasis on the current situation in Calais. Hope to see as many of you as possible there to enjoy this rather super line-up, all for a worthy and most important cause. Donations and gifts of unwanted clothing in good condition will also be gratefully accepted at the event:
— Ian Watson (@uhohwatson) May 18, 2016
And yes, I am only too aware that the above tweet sits to one side of the page and makes the website look untidy. You couldn’t possibly have more OCD impulses currently being triggered over this than I have. But what’s much more important right now is that you absorb the information in contains and turn up on the day with lots of items of clothing (and perhaps some cash) so that the good folk of Newport2Calais can put them to the best use possible. It’s also Howlround’s first trip to Wales, which is quite exciting. What’s not to like? See you there!
Speaking of Howlround, thanks to everyone who came down to Bad Timing’s sold-out event The Other Side: An Audiophonic Séance last week for giving me and the tape machines such a warm welcome. A tip of the hat must go to fellow performers Evie Salmon and James Riley, English Heretic’s ‘Documents’ project and especially Bad Timing mainstay Jo Brooks, who did quite spectacular things throughout the evening with a handful of old cassette and CD walkmans (walkmen?) and a contact mic. Thanks must also go to @StrayTaoist for taking the above rather spiffy photo of the performance. Even on four hours sleep and with a stubborn cold, I really do seem to just smoulder in black and white, don’t I? What a pity life has to be so colourful the rest of the time. Which brings us semi-neatly to…
By strange coincidence, at roughly the same time as I was snottily dragging a suitcase full of tape machines off the Cambridge train, my latest piece for BBC Radio 4 regarding the previous week’s Great Gatsby-inspired evening at Senate House was being given an airing on PM. Having a report on this flagship of current affairs is always a significant event for me, as it’s the one time there’s even the remotest likelihood that any of my work will reach Mother in her kitchen and win me some much-needed parental approval points. Though I think she prefers Radio 2 nowadays, for some reason…
The purpose of this most glamorous event, as hostess Sarah Churchill breathlessly explains, is not only to pay tribute to this classic novel of prohibition-era New York, but also to debunk a few famous myths and give us a better idea of the kind of world Scott Fitzgerald was addressing when he wrote it; thus helping us to view the story in new and often dramatically different ways. To receive the full effect one required authentic period food, costume, ‘historical perfumes’, newsreel footage, appropriate dances (not the Charleston!) and the nagging feeling of being decidedly under-dressed, despite wearing that one button-down shirt kept for job interviews and funerals. It is true that such glamourous shindigs are not usually my stomping ground, but my editor seemed to feel that such an evocative event might benefit from a little Radiophonic treatment – plus I still haven’t paid off my last tape machine repair bill, so it’s a welcome cash-injection. It’s equally true that something of a complete tonal gear-change is required when moving from the ragtime, evening gowns and bathtub gin of London to the more honest Cambridge fare of tape loops, coleslaw sandwiches and a bottle of lucozade. Nonetheless, temporally-speaking these two very different ships did more-or-less pass in the night and I like to think I managed to avoid sinking either of them. Have a listen and hopefully you’ll agree.
And finally this week, with yet another tonal gear-shift, it’s time to present the latest edition of Resonance FM’s Near Mint show, where Hannah Brown and myself look back on 2016 so far and pull out some of our favourite releases. It’s a brisk and breezy selection and by the time you get to the penultimate contribution by Brood Ma, you may well find yourself grinding your teeth along in sympathy. I would even have described the show as ‘banging’ if Hannah hadn’t spent six whole minutes telling me off for trying to do so. Apparently such a word is not to be bandied about by a gentleman of my cultural cache, time of life or income-bracket. It’s a real minefield out there, isn’t it?
Apart from the exceptionally high quality of each of the tracks featured here, there will be no major surprises if you’ve been regularly visiting these pages over the last few months, with the one possible exception of the rather enigmatic Freeholm Wilson; who seems to have rather sprung up from nowhere all of a sudden. Superb debut album Children Of June is currently only available digitally, but I do happen to have got my tacky paws on an advance copy of the clear vinyl edition and hopefully you’ll be able to as well before too long.
This week’s Near Mint show on Resonance FM is the first of a two-part special delving deep into the record collection of singer, multi-instrumentalist, sound designer, robot-builder and puppet enthusiast Sarah Angliss. She took some time out from her busy schedule of recording and composing to give us a tour round the contents of her record box and the result is an effortless journey from bird song to Messiaen to punk rock to schlager-pop. Anyone familiar with Sarah’s work will already have figured out how she joins the dots between all of these things, while the rest of you are strongly advised to visit SarahAngliss.com and have a gander. Our finest show yet? Quite possibly – until next week when we let loose the ‘Wildkatze’!
But there’s quite a bit to get through before then, as the coming few days are shaping up to be unusually full of social engagements, partly because I’m coming to the end of my latest recording project and thought it might be time to get out of the studio and enjoy some fresh air. Firstly, I’m heading to the latest Club Integral event at The Others in London’s Stoke Newington this Friday 22nd April, where I’ll be spinning some discs in-between performances from Brunk, Tristan Burfield, King & Cornetto and Ntchuks Bonga). Further details can be found here. Club Integral events are always fantastic, Tristan Burfield is an old acquaintance and my record collection is of course the stuff of legend; so I’m very much looking forward to it!
The following evening, Saturday 23rd, Howlround will be taking part in the Open Jack Weekender Festival at New River Studios, Manor House. Three whole days of glorious sounds from the cream of London’s noise-makers at this excellent new venue that’s rapidly acquiring an impressive reputation. We’re playing on Saturday evening and I’ve just discovered that our quartet of increasingly cranky and unpredictable reel-to-reels will be gracing the stage directly after the eye-popping, brain-fizzing audio-visual delight of a live set from Sculpture – so no pressure there, then!? Details of the full festival line-up can be found here. Out-of-town friends might also like to know Howlround are playing The Other Side: An Audiophonic Séance in Cambridge on 12th May, and Cardiff on May 28th. Further details will follow in due course.
Speaking of Sculpture, their latest release Zyprazol is now on-sale and, entirely predictably, it’s a thing of wonder – another 7″ zoetrope picture-disc containing two tracks of tape hiss, drum machine clatter and electronic blatt and squelch. It looks and sounds unsurprisingly amazing:
The thing I love about this duo is that their sounds and images always compliment one-another perfectly, more so than any other audio-visual project I’ve ever witnessed. Incorporating a unique combination of vintage techniques and technology, adapted and modulated for the 21st century, the blips and splats of the sounds perfectly compliment the giddy psychedelic tumble of the visuals – and both are manipulated live on-stage! It’s brain-candy of the highest order, which should further help to clarify, why I am nervous about having to perform after them on Saturday night! Check out this promo video and you’ll surely sympathise:
Anyway, you’re advised to get your order for the 7″ in quickly as the last one sold out very fast indeed and then proceeded to go for ‘Bugs Bunny Money’ on Discogs (damn those flippers!). Make sure you also bag yourself a copy of the new Brood Ma LP Daze on Tri-angle Records, another set of dark, digital delights from the mastermind at the heart of the Quantum Natives collective. Highly praised in The Wire, even deeper, colder and harder than last year’s POPULOUS and already shaping up to be one of my records of the year. Can’t recommend it enough!
On a slightly less abrasive note, check out is this latest ambient mix from Pernille Krogmog, one of my friends from Copenhagen’s Strøm collective; recorded at one of the regular God Goes Deep events at Vor Frue Kirke or The National Cathedral of Copenhagen. Contains Aphex, Noto, Eno and even something from the Howlround archive that some of you might remember. I’ve been using it as background music for my quiet moments of contemplation over the last few days, though as it’s been quite a busy week, I’ve struggled to make time for the full hour. Would have just loved to have heard these sounds echoing around the insides of the National Cathedral – perhaps some other time, Pernille?
And finally, on a completely different and thoroughly abrasive note, do you remember a light-hearted article I published three years ago on the subject of ‘The Illuminati’ and the apparent campaign to suppress their activities that was being single-handedly waged by ‘Hard-Dance’ DJ from Wisbech? No? Well, neither did I until last Sunday morning. It was hardly award-winning journalism and not terribly serious in nature. In fact I’d completely forgotten ever writing it until, appropos of nothing, I received the following message:
“Remove that page or I going to cops as it’s slander and has efcted my life and bookings so you got 2dsys if from this messages if not I will speak to the cops” [sic]
Those of you with better memories may recall that the man in question, a certain Mr. Basshammer, had originally expressed some concern back in 2013 that the article cast a less-than-favourable slant on his life’s work. But once we’d chatted (amicably enough) via Facebook, he seemed placated, particularly once I ‘d pointed out that a) there really is no such thing as bad publicity and b) it’s very hard to imagine a scenario in which comparing one’s artwork to a 17th Century Bavarian philosopher’s head exploding could be considered in any way character assassination. I had certainly assumed the matter closed and carried on in blissful ignorance right up until the moment three days ago when the above suddenly popped into my inbox over the breakfast table. It seems that Basshammer had suddenly re-decided that this obscure blog post that everyone else had forgotten about is having a detrimental impact on his life and was now planning to summon ‘The Feds’. I must say that for a man who releases mixtapes peppered with references to ‘sucking’ this and ‘f**king’ that, he gets offended REALLY easily.
On the plus side it was very decent of him to have allowed me to keep the article online for a further two days, as this gave me the opportunity to share it one last time with my Facebook followers, imploring them all to fill their boots and enjoy it all over again while there was still time. Indeed, as news of the scandal broke and more people picked up on the story, my website experienced it’s busiest day for months! In fact, it’s enjoyed more hits over the last 72 hours than Basshammer’s Soundcloud page appears to have received in the past three years. On the less positive side, I was sloppy enough to miss his imposed deadline and I’m now writing this from under my desk while waiting for the flying squad to bash the door down. Tell Mother I regret nothing…
On this week’s Near Mint show on Resonance FM, Hannah Brown and I continue our search for treasure in the ridiculously overpriced Jungle. On last week’s show, as you will recall, we played a mere handful of oldskool hardcore and jungle tracks and ran up a staggering bill of £2097. On this week’s part two you’ll be excited to learn we be push back the boundaries of plausibility even further! Can you guess our grand total without peeking? Would you pay this much for a stack of rare white labels? Would you play them on the radio at tea time on a Tuesday? Would anybody? I was really hoping they would re-schedule this week’s show to run just after Calling All Pensioners, but my appeals fell on freshly deaf ears.
Another dose of Neat Mint next week. For now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to re-mortgage my flat. It’s rented, but I doubt the landlady will notice…
Gather round, friends, lots of exciting new stuff to talk about this week. First off the latest Near Mint show on Resonance 104.4FM sees myself and Hannah Brown taking a trip deep into the jungle, where we’re searching for treasure – more specifically, the rarest and most ridiculously over-priced treasure we can find. It’s the first of a two-part special playing the most expensive hardcore and jungle we could… well, I was going to say lay our hands on, but at these prices that would be fraud.
I’ve spoken often on these pages about my great love for oldskool and hardcore jungle music of the 1990s and my quest to fill the odd gaping whole in my otherwise robust collection. But the sky-rocketing second-hand price of some of the rarer 12″s over the last couple of years has really started to hamper my efforts – and I’m not the only one to notice. For example, the record shown above is our opening track, a 1994 single-sided white label by DJ Crystl that’s currently retailing on the Discogs website for £125.22 – and that’s the cheapest record featured on the programme. A legendary producer and a great track – but is it really worth that much? Mind you, it’s probably a little early to start asking that question, I can inform you in the second part next week the silliness levels go right off the chart. Listen closely and savour the experience, you’ll almost certainly never come across these records in the flesh…
In other news, Buried Treasure Recordings commander-in-chief Alan Gubby has been extremely busy of late, producing and uploading a number of videos from last year’s Delaware Road launch party, including this rather spiffy video trailer:
You might remember his appearance as my special guest on Resonance FM’s OST Show last month, where he treated us to some as-yet-unreleased Radiophonic delights. Well, after the success of the launch party and the plethora of extremely complimentary reviews that has followed in the album’s wake, he’s let slip that he has big plans for the future of the project, including a series of further live dates and even a screen-play in development. I will of course keep you informed on all the latest. In the meantime, you can find the Delware Road video playlist in full here. And the label is also poised to release an album by Delaware contributors The Dandelion Set. Only one track from A Thousand Strands 1975-2015 is currently available online, but it’s a collaboration with the legendary Alan Moore and an absolute belter to boot. Have a listen:
Over in Portland, Oregon, my good friends Gray Columns also have an excellent new album to show off. Making good on the anticipation caused by posting a couple of tasty tracks online last year, debut full-length release Cloud of Night is a single track split into four movements and recorded in just two days. Described as ‘masterful, beautiful, and the right kind of unnerving’ by ExperimentalPortland.com, it’s a dense and gorgeous tangle of crepuscular drones, creaks and crackles. Erik and Ben, I salute you. Now when are you going to come over here so we can get that collaboration started?! The kettle is on…
Speaking of talented comrades, very excited to hear new material surfacing from Ordinate. The duo of JP Hartnett and John Flynn (who also records solo under the name Spaces) contributed a track of thick, murky techno to Earwiggle’s excellent Eight Wigglin’ Ways To Die compilation last year and now look set to release their debut 12″ next month. To further whet our appetites they’re produced a session for Mantis Radio On FutureMusic.FM, choc-full of new and unreleased material. Have a listen to the programme, then befriend them on Facebook and Soundcloud, why don’t you? Can’t wait to hear the finished release!
Gosh, what a bumper crop of awesome stuff I’ve unearthed this week. I really am too good to you….
An absolutely classic Near Mint show on Resonance 104.4FM this week, featuring a trip through the record box of voracious digger Tom Central. Resident DJ of long-running club night Soundcrash, one half of the Shapes Of Rhythm duo and the man behind the rather super Keep Up! label, his collection is literally groaning with killer library, Bollywood and psychedelic jams from years spent scouring record shops across the globe for the rarest and strangest vinyl – that is now threatening to take over his house. We’re very happy he let us have a rummage – but also extremely jealous. Have a listen and you will be too!
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: