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…
Please enjoy this latest report for BBC Radio 4 and The World Service on the subject of last weekend’s series of performances in the bascule chambers underneath Tower Bridge. Hidden below the waterline deep underneath one of London’s most iconic structures, these cathedral-like spaces serve to contain the gigantic counterweights during the lifting of the bridge’s central span (each weighs about a thousand tonnes or something ridiculous like that), but until last weekend few indeed would have been aware of their existence and fewer still would have been granted the privilege of climbing down into the chamber for a closer inspection. In fact, for the many hundreds of people strolling along the bridge around lunchtime last Saturday, the only clue that something out of the ordinary was about to occur below them would have been the sounds of distant brass pulsing mysteriously from somewhere beneath their feet. Or perhaps a Robin The Fog-shaped blur that nearly ploughed into them while heroically sprinting the final 200 yards to the entrance down to the chamber – thanks entirely to the incompetent, ever-delayed machinations of the accursed Southern Railways. Sorry if that was your umbrella…
The initial inspiration for the project came from a recording of this vintage machinery at work that was originally made by Ian Rawes of The London Sound Survey. Iain Chambers’ coming across it proved to be the catalyst for an original composition ‘Bascule Chamber’ in which the brass section of the Dockside Sinfonia play along with the sound of the bridge to uncanny and beguiling effect. Before long this unlikeliest of stages was set for a series of concerts featuring two more original compositions by Iain and an interpretation of John Cage’s ‘Aria’ by the soprano Catherine Carter; each performed live and taking full advantage of the chamber’s unique acoustics.
It doesn’t take much imagination to realise just how far up my street (or hidden somewhere beneath it) all this activity is, particularly as I’m a huge fan of both The London Sound Survey and Langham Research Centre, the radiophonic performance group of which Iain is a key member; so I’m aware of the potential for accusations of bias. Nonetheless, I feel no hesitation at all in labelling these events a triumph and it would certainly appear that the enthusiastic reception from the crowd bears me out. Equally, so does the many disappointed people I’ve spoken to since who didn’t manage to get tickets. All I can say is that I hope my report gives some flavour of what went on down there and that apparently the concerts will be broadcast in full on good old Resonance FM at some point soon. Plus you can find both of these estimable gentlemen discussing the project and much more on the London Sound Survey blog here.
Moving on and continuing a busy weekend (though thankfully with less sprinting), I’d also like to present a few images from last Sunday’s sound installation at Mansion House in St. Helen’s Square as part of Vespertine York‘s latest sold-out event: A new sound-work created entirely from magnetic tape and the various ticks and chimes of the numerous antique clocks that until recently had populated this now empty shell.
Vespertine cordially invites the people of York and beyond, to a guided tour of the Mansion House with a twist! This event will be a rare opportunity to see the Mansion House as it is awaiting renovation; the unfurnished, raw building will provide the perfect backdrop for performances and music.
The source material was collected a month or so beforehand. In the intervening period all of these vintage timepieces were removed, along with the furniture, carpets, paintings and other fixtures, pending the building’s year-long closure for extensive refurbishment. It was a strange experience indeed to bring these recently gathered sounds back to the newly bare walls and exposed floorboards – almost like filling this grand building with the memories of its own departed furniture. The results were very positively received by the groups of visitors touring the house, with one even moved to compare it to the soundtrack to Tarkovsky’s Solaris. That, my friends, is one way to make me very happy!
Also on the bill were the truly remarkable Sheffield-based anti-choir Juxtavoices and the multi-instrumentalist duo McWatt – both well worth checking out – plus food, drink, games, stories and more. And all for free! No wonder it sold out so quickly! Thanks very much to everyone who came along and showed their support and to Vespertine York for being such amazing hosts and for giving us such an awesome space to play with. It’s the latest in a series of events they’re curating, so their website is definitely worth a perusal and you’re advised to book your tickets early.
And as a last-minute edition to today’s business, I’m happy to announce that I make an appearance in the latest issue of Caught By The River‘s regular publication An Antidote To Indifference, writing about some of my adventures in tape, alongside articles by Melissa Harrison, Chris Watson, Richard King, Emma Warren and many more. This is the second issue to be edited by legendary sonic curator Cheryl Tipp of the British Library’s Sound Archive (amongst many other goodly works) and thus promises to be even more of a cracking read than usual. Pre-order your copy here.
News of the new Howlround album arriving imminently. But after all this I might want a nice lie down first…