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…
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:
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!
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!
Right, that’s quite enough nostalgia to be getting on with, better dash to the airport. Hopefully see you at Cafe Oto on 15th!
It’s #FundRaisingWeek once again at Resonance FM, which means another seven days of special broadcasts, one-off events and lots and lots of highly desirable items up for grabs in this year’s Ebay auction, with all money raised helping to keep the greatest radio station in the world on air for yet another year. And in these straitened times they need your help more than ever. So, what’s up for grabs in 2015? Here’s my own contribution:
‘A Howl-To Guide’: A Day Of Tape-Loop Creation With Robin The Fog
“A glorious morning spent searching for extraordinary noises in ordinary places in the company of sound artist and composer Robin The Fog, followed by an instructive afternoon dubbing those sounds onto magnetic tape and creating and editing wondrous tape loop compositions, with the results to be broadcast on Resonance FM at a later date. Recording and editing equipment, including tape machines and razor blades, will be provided and the lucky winner(s) will be sent home with a tape spool of their handiwork”.
Speaking personally, a day spent doing this sort of thing is my idea of heaven, and I’m hoping lots of you will agree at least enough to make a decent bid. Further details (including an important disclaimer against razor-related loss of thumbs or other injuries) plus innumerable other delightful items available at the Special Resonance FM Fundraising website here. But the vast majority of you who require no more persuading to support this worthiest of causes can simply whizz straight over to the item’s Ebay page and BID NOW!
— Robin The Fog (@RobinTheFog) February 9, 2015
Please make the bids nice and high, because 100% of the money raised goes straight to Resonance, and of course because playing with tape is tremendous fun and I’m reliably informed that I’m reasonably affable company. If this workshop ends up being even half as profitable as last year’s ‘Howlround Haunts Your Home’ project, the lucky winner is in for a very enjoyable experience indeed:
Another item currently up for grabs is an old favourite – ‘Play OST For Me‘, in which the highest bidder wins the chance to present their very own bespoke edition of The OST Show, with all their favourite soundtracks and every whim indulged by that redoubtable broadcaster, smutty raconteur and general man of letters Jonny Trunk, who has promised to be on his very best behaviour for the occasion. This item always proves surprisingly popular, so GET BIDDING QUICKLY! I shall be popping up on this Saturday’s show to promote both this and the aforementioned tape editing workshop, plus we’re also expecting a visit from the brilliant Pete ‘Monsterism’ Fowler; who has very kindly donated this completely awesome original work to the cause:
My sources tell me there may also be a four-year-old guest on the show, but he is purely there for entertainment value and most certainly NOT up for auction. More details on all of this as we get them and I might even be able to shoe-horn in some new tape music by Howlround that’s currently in production. Unless Jonny pulls that face again. You know the one:
Another year, another bout of the dreaded winter lurgy, resulting in two weeks of shocking inactivity, where my most productive achievement was alternating between staring at the ceiling and the discovery of several justifiably obscure shades of Glen A. Larson on youtube:
Rather beneath my dignity, I’m sure you’ll agree, but slightly more engaging than the ceiling.
My recovery has been significantly, ahem, ‘energised’, however, by the simultaneous arrival of several new projects from some esteemed friends and former colleagues, and as a token of my gratitude to these brilliant people I’d like to share them with you here and now. It will help to both spread the word and also make me feel less bad about having few of my own 2015 achievements to shout about as of yet. First up is the long-awaited publication of a collection of short works by storyteller, broadcaster and former America’s Got Talent contestant Guy. J. Jackson:
In this collection of rare, hard-to-find, and often too-short short stories, Guy J. Jackson wields his not particularly helpful but still relatively charming (at least compared to being chased) worldview in order to pretty much study and correct all of humanity’s foibles, or at least the ones that need correcting by the end of this year.
More familiar as a performer of stories in the verbal tradition, through innumerable shows on both stage and radio, short movies and a couple of albums (you might remember our collaborative Notes On Cow Life cassette from 2012), Guy’s distinctive mix of creeping intrigue and amiable surrealism loses nothing in it’s translation to the page (though I’ve included a recording of his reading an extract below for added measure:
The stories vary from several pages to the merest few lines and are great to dip into, but better to immerse yourself in – indeed I read the whole thing in one big greedy sitting. Grab your own copy here.
Next up, are you familiar with the work of DCW Briggs? He’s a graphic artist, comic publisher, musician and all round good chap, who has produced a huge body of work over the years, under a number of pen-names [pun intended] such as Hills Have Riffs, which just happened to be the nome de plume he chose when we collaborated on a 2013 mini-album Earl Grey Whistle Test, recorded in Bush House’s Studio S6 in the months leading up to the Ghosts Of Bush sessions:
Dave’s latest exploit is a collaborative exhibition with Andrew Walter at Studio 73 in Brixton Village at the behest of the excellent Indestructible Energy zine, featuring new works, collage, short-press comics and more. This Saturday (17th) sees the closing party, with live music from Mark Dicker, formerly of Trencher playing on a PA system loaned to him by noisy tearaways Part Chimp. Several years ago I found myself on the same bill as Trencher, and seem to remember their set being so loud that those watching in the front row actually appeared to be swimming through a sort of hot and viscous sound-soup. The prospect of one of their number playing on any kind of sound-system that Part Chimp consider fit-for-purpose in a space that small strikes me as a thrillingly brave and foolhardy move.
So, come down on Saturday, pick up some great short-press comics and original artwork by Dave and Andrew, have your ears blasted off and served back to you and perhaps invest in a copy of Indestructible Energy’s latest issue too. And of course you can always visit Dave’s DCWB Website. He doesn’t update it all that often, but it’s always worth the wait.
Moving onto equally exciting news, namely the recent launch of a new collaborative EP from Franziska Lantz and Howard Jacques. Franzi has of course appeared in these pages before, when we collaborated on Whirled Service, a session for BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction that I keep meaning to dig out the archive. Howard you may know from Resonance FM‘s excellent Bermuda Triangle Test Transmissions Department. The duo’s debut 12″, recorded as DPM357x is the first release on Franzi’s Global Warming Records, and while I know it’s a bit early to claim this as one of my records of the year, stranger things have happened! Purchase your own copy direct from the artists after their performance for Club Integral at Stoke Newington venue ‘The Others’ on January 23rd. I shall be there (in my capacity as a fan) and hope you’ll join me. Further information for those of you who are socially-mobile on their Facebook page here, including details of the other acts on the bill – No Cars, Flameproof Moth and Rucksack Cinema. Who says we’re running out of band names? UPDATE: You can also purchase it HERE. Which you jolly well should.
Finally, do you remember my writing last year about the kickstarter campaign to fund the recording of the Synaesthete album Array? Well, I’m happy to say the campaign was a success in more ways than one – this debut long-player from Sarah Tanat Jones’ sophisticated synth-pop project would be brilliant even if you weren’t a complete sucker for multi-tracked vocals, syncopated hand-claps, tick-tocking drum machines and lush, hand-painted artwork (Sarah takes care of that too). Available now from Kit Records and hugely recommended for fans of Tune Yards, Glasser and other left-of-centre electronic pop delights. Jolly good label, that Kit Records…
Right, that’s probably enough to be getting on with and certainly enough to stave off any more forbidden Glen A. Larson-cravings (or ‘Grand Larson-y’, if you’ll pardon the pun). As for my own affairs, I’ve got a couple of rather intriguing tape-music projects lined up for the next couple of months, which could prove most interesting as long as long as my own health and that of my tape machines holds out. They’ve been rather poorly too, of late, but I’m determined that the usual battle between triumph and disaster will resume with renewed vigour next week. And don’t forget to keep an eye out for this, out soon on Buried Treasure:
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:
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!
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!
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:
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!
Dear Slap-Up Media,
Thanks you for your email. It’s really good to hear that my work is reaching such a wide variety of places and I thank you for taking an interest. I have to confess, however, at being just a little confused as to your reasons for getting in touch.
If indeed you have visited my website (and let us assume that your writing to me regarding its content suggests that you have), you will have noticed that it’s primarily concerned with the subjects of Radiophonic broadcasting and experimental music, with particular emphasis on the activities of the tape-loop quartet Howlround (who, as I’m sure you’re aware, unveiled some brand new material EXCLUSIVELY on NTS Radio’s Alien Jams show last week and are playing their last gig for the forseeable future on May 7th at The Electric Dog Show, Power Lunches, Dalston). However, with the exception of occasional reference to the anti-social hours one is forced to keep while ploughing these particular furrows (including the long nocturnal sessions working on their highly-regarded 2012 LP The Ghosts Of Bush), I think I’m correct in stating that my extensive online content has rarely if ever turned to the subject of purchasing beds. It has certainly never been my aim to send my readers to sleep, and while I have had my music branded ‘eerily soothing’ in the past; I’m not really sure it’s the kind of soundtrack a customer of an online Bed Store would find conducive to a restful night’s slumber.
I’ve had a look at the website of the company in question and was pleased to note that their products do indeed appear sturdy and reliable. In fact, it looks like a pretty classy operation all-round, which leads me to assume that they make considerably more money flogging Ottomans and Mid-sleepers than I make shifting my small back-catalogue of short-run, experimental tape-loop music. Therefore I can’t help thinking that any organisation expecting me to endorse their already very successful business on my own personal web-page while palming me off with a measly twenty quid is frankly one open-coil spring short of a Star-Ultimate Maestro Mattress. Sorry, but I just don’t get out of bed for that sort of money if you’ll forgive my labouring a point.
In short, while I thank you for your offer, Slap-Up Media are going to have to consider slapping up quite a bit more before I start going to bed with any large corporations. At least buy me dinner and some flowers first. A ‘slap-up dinner’, naturally…
Very best wishes,
Robin The Fog
PS You’ll notice I’m typing these words at four o’clock in the morning, which should give you a pretty good idea of just how qualified I am to be giving anyone advice on the subject of going to bed.