Sunday, 26 October 2014
(A Year in the Country)
This third album from London's finest manipulators of magnetic tape, Howlround, is a slow burning, deeply atmospheric corker. Produced entirely from recordings made from the gate referenced in the title, the duo of Robin (the Fog) and Chris (Weaver) have coaxed a dizzying array of unsettling and even sorrowful sounds from this most functional of objects and have layered them to astonishing effect.
The Howlround modus is based very much on that of the early years of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and as such they record their sound sources onto loops of tape of varying sizes which are then played via three tape recorders with all processing and editing done within the machines. In this way the composition that the two have persuaded the tapes to reveal is as otherworldly and queasily creepy as it is beautifully earthy. There's a gritty texture that evokes stories of the gate's history, it's place and it's age but through all that there is movement. The sounds expose themselves, transform and meld producing a piece of music that is at times introspective, at times vociferous and in a constant state of resurgence and restless agitation.
The end result as presented here is a piece of music that whilst acknowledging the debt it's playful manner of execution owes to the workshop of the 1960s, is, in conception, timeless and really rather fun.