News from the Conning Tower: New year, new you

Hello you. Happy new year. Enjoy the break? Yeah, not bad. Quite quiet, actually. Mostly family, you know…

Right, so just a quickie to update you all before we go on our spring/summer hiatus/sabbatical/furlough. It looks like there will be three releases before we hibernate: a brilliant new album from Wilfried Hanrath, a career retrospective from Manipulant and first out the blocks will be the superb hard-electronic/acoustic collab from Hypercube and UNIC6, entitled Binary Planet:

We’re aiming for a 19th January release for Binary Planet, to be available on all major digital platforms, plus CD via Bandcamp.

More on this and the other new releases soon.

News from the Conning Tower: That was then, this is now.

Hi, Submariner-in-Chief Rob speaking. I just wanted to send a seasonal message and update you on news for next year.

So, what a year! It was, I suppose, SBC’s first full year as “a thing” (we first released stuff in 2017 but I think it was this year that earnt our spurs, carved our niche, twisted our sobriety…?)

We did a lot of stuff, we did a lot right; we did a few things wrong too, but I look on those as part of the learning process and we live to fight another day. Lots of achievements, both artistic and technical:

  • Our first cassette release
  • A release nominated for the Schallwelle Music Awards
  • Three releases available as hardback book/CD packages
  • Our first play on BBC 6 Music
  • Our first review in “proper” music magazines
  • True multimedia, with a series of original paintings in our merch shop
  • Launched a monthly playlist, Submerged.
  • A new drop-ship CD manufacturer, enabling release of CDs where it would have been cost-prohibitive previously
  • Experiments with new streaming services, Choon and MusiCoin

We’ve also raised a shedload of cash for charities (you may recall the initial reason for us existing at all was the One String Inspiration project, which raised money for Syria Relief). Since then we have raised many hundreds of pounds for:

A huge thank you to all the artists who donated their time and talents to the projects that made this possible.

So with the Christmas season approaching, I think we’ve deserved a rest, so you’ll see the activity and social media posts start dwindle now until the New Year. Regardless of your religious persuasion, I’d like to think we’d all want some peace, and maybe even muster up goodwill to all men. And if you are really stuck for Christmas gift ideas, who doesn’t love a Bandcamp download?


2019 on the Submarine

So… one of the big lessons that 2018 taught me was not to bite off more than I can chew. A number of artists have approached us regarding potential releases and we’ve had to turn them away, because next year is going to see a change to the rate of releases from the Submarine Broadcasting Company. The reasons are manifold, but the main two are that I’m just not getting time to work on any Beltism material and that Simply Will Not Do! Also, I’m finding it difficult to find time to properly promote a release before the next one is upon me, so something has got to give.

To give you an idea of when things might happen, we have four releases on the slate for January and February: these include a stunning new album from Wilfried Hanrath and a new retrospective from Manipulant, plus other stuff that’s still top secret. But after February, the intention is to slow it right down, with perhaps only another six releases until 2020. Who knows, maybe by April I will be bored out of my mind and be desperate to release more material? But that’s the current plan.

A note to our existing and prospective artists: don’t be afraid to get in touch about anything you would like to release through SBC, but note that we will be making some changes to the way we work. Probably the most material of these changes is that we will be imposing a lead time, so we will need lots of notice prior to release, but there will be some other changes which we’ll discuss at the time.

Toneshift Review of Das 7. Siegel by Hans Castrup

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Hans Castrup | Das 7. Siegel
Submarine Broadcast Company (CD/DL)

A document of a 3-channel electroacoustic sound installation at Museumsquartier Osnabrück by musician and visual artist Hans Castrup.Das 7. Siegel (aka The 7th Seal) is based on a print by Albrecht Dürer from 1498. The piece runs for over thirty-six minutes, opening with a soft smouldering drone. A dragging clang and whistling wind enter. The atmosphere just drifts, that is until a series of what sound similar to the magnitude of computer dial-up penetrates the peace. And suddenly its whispery winds once again.

This cyclical channeling of pitch is not lost on callous ears, instead it brings with it a auditory chasm, bridging the state of mind and body. While it would be easy to offer a cauldron of pure noise effects, or go the opposite way and wallow only in the murky sleep-inducing drone, Castrup has opted…

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News from the Conning Tower: Menhir and leaving richmond

Our final two releases of the year will be released in December; both are new artists to the Submarine Broadcasting Company, with contrasting styles but both represent the highest quality of music possible.

First out the blocks are Spanish project Menhir, with their beautiful and startling Sound Track, part of their multimedia project, Desert Series.  The album is inspired by the Sahara desert and the saharawi refugee camps. The music forms the original soundtrack of the documentary “My First Life”, by the Mexican filmmaker Carlos Hernández. The film describes the birth and first days of a child in the camps. This collaboration led to the creation of the video-art Desierto (see excerpt below), which won 2nd prize at CNP Partners Proyector Festival (2018), and a photo series, which together make Desert Series.

The music is a unique blend of analogue synths, voices and electric guitars, mixed with medieval cellos and sandstorms. You can hear Lepsir, the opening track from the album below:

 


Also in December is the brilliant new single Moon Health from leaving richmond. We discussed with Jordan from leaving richmond about the pitfalls of the many micro-genres of electronic music (vaporwave, synthwave, mallsoft, glo-fi, dreamwave etc. etc.) and came to the conclusion that “electronic” would cover it, although I reckoned there were some nice retro touches, and Jordan likes the “chill out” tag. The best plan is to listen to it and decide for yourself. You can hear the lead track Moon Health today, but you’ll have to wait until the release date before you can hear its companion piece Wanderlust.

AFRODUBISM!!

The Glove of Bones explains all you need to know about Afrodubism…

Glove Of Bones

Spirits of Afrodubism

Today sees the release of the third (well fourth, but that’s a minor detail) GoB collaboration with ambient musician and guitar addict Cousin Silas.

This is the latest in an accidentally thematic series of ‘dub’ albums. Whether they are strictly speaking dub is up for debate, but there’s an underlying sonic connection to the form in there.
Now, whilst I’m broadly against ‘artists statements’ or digging through sources, connections, thought maps and project Gant planners and firmly believe Manifestos only count as useful when they mystify and confound their cause; I do think that this needs a little fleshing out. But I’ll be brief.

This song set features a number of speakers who have at various points given me contemplative food for thought. In the wider world, in these strange and faintly worrying times, there seems to be various National inclinations to look backward, not inward in…

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Review of Cousin Silas and Pendro ‘The Audio Scullery’

Submariner-in-Chief Rob reviews the recent work from Cousin Silas and Pendro:

The Audio Scullery is the latest collaboration between Cousin Silas and Pendro – an interesting joint venture on several fronts, not least perhaps the perceived difference in styles: Cousin Silas, a musician I tend to think of as melodic and accessible, and Pendro, who I generally consider to be a more dark and experimental sound designer. I am famously poor at identifying genres (not ideal when you run a netlabel, but hey-ho) but I would say this joint album could legitimately be described as dark ambient. It’s definitely dark, maybe not as full-on scary as Pendro’s previous album Figmentland, but certainly ominous and unsettling in places.

The album opens with the fabulously inventive Silence of Rooks. Full of foreboding, with strange bird calls, and an insistent booming drum that propels it along, not unlike the orc drums in the mines of Moria.

Altogether lighter, my favourite track is The Tempered Isle. A floating synth pad provides a bed for free jazzy piano chords followed by sublime fluid jazzy bass figures, with incidental sounds and noises laced through. It genuinely wouldn’t sound out of place on Miles Davis’ In a Silent Way (except I suspect Miles would have wanted to add at least some trumpet.)

New Aurora that follows is a shifting soundscape of electronic bleeps and glitches, reeling and reiterating, drifting in and out of focus. Part of the beauty of this track is that it’s particularly nicely judged; the noises never overwhelm the track as a whole and don’t overstay their welcome.

Incubators is dark. Properly dark. Washes of noise, unidentified animal sounds. Even the addition of analogue synths halfway through doesn’t lessen the nightmarish qualities. It’s not clear what the titular incubators are for, but whatever it is that’s being incubated, it isn’t human.

A slight reprieve from the darkness, Mandrake Drift is a meditative, floating ambient piece, full of reflection. A Glacial Swell that follows starts in a similarly ambient fashion, all resonance, almost redolent of Buddhist singing bowls, across which Silas’ haunting eBow guitar cuts through, rather like a solitary uilleann pipe.

Morphology is a soundscape, mournful and glacial. Here the sounds are slow and stretched, and dotted with radio interference, and the album closes with the fittingly entitled The Exit Road, but it’s far from a happy ending. It’s a discomfiting drone, with ghostly, disembodied voices bathed in echo. Maybe the exit being referred to here is an exit from this mortal coil?

So, feel-good background ambient music for yoga and Pilates this is not. It’s a brave and sobering listen, with Pendro’s trademark attention to textures and sound-staging. It’s thought-provoking, occasionally startling and if you enjoy your ambient dark and unsettling, you’ll find this entirely rewarding.

You can hear and download The Audio Scullery from Pendro’s Bandcamp page here.

News from the Conning Tower: Whettman Chelmets single out today

As previously advertised on this very blog, Whettman Chelmets’ glorious new single is released today. It’s a lovely slab of retro shoegaze goodness. Here’s the story:

“Alas… The Sun is Shining and You are Still Alive” finds Whettman Chelmets exploring more of the guitar sounds and textures that defined his teenage life, and that sound lends a nostalgic longing to each these three tracks. The first track hits right of the bat with the artist plunging into shoegaze, fuzz-echo noise pop structures reminiscent of the Jesus and Mary Chain, The Cure, and Phil Spector. Track two takes on acoustic treatments and blends them with 4/4 kick drums, reverberated guitars and chimes that weave to a grandiose apex with nods to the The Tornados’ “Telstar” and other larger-than-life sounds. Track three slows it all down to a glacial pace and unfolds guitar textures over the course of nine minutes, moving from a dreamy yearning to crushing waves of feedback and noise. At 18 minutes, Whettman Chelmets takes us on a journey through fuzz-tinted memories.

You can purchase the single on our Bandcamp store or iTunes, and listen on Spotify or Deezer.

Forthcoming Attractions: Hans Castrup

Here in the Conning Tower we’re entering another one of our fabled busy periods; this Friday sees the release of Whettman Chelmets fuzz-drenched shoegaze maxi-single Alas… the Sun is Shining and You are Still Alive (see previous blog post), followed on Monday by a new album by multi-media artist Hans Castrup.

Das 7. Siegel (The Seventh Seal) is a recreation of the soundscape from Hans Castrup’s audio-visual installation, exhibited at Museumsquartier Osnabrück in 2017 as part of its exhibition “Dürer und Ich – ein Künstlertreffen“.

The original work comprised a triptych of paintings, with audio exciters attached to the canvasses, transforming the paintings into giant loudspeakers. These speakers were then fed with two overlapping instrumental loops of different lengths from two CD players. Each day the CDs would be paused and restarted the following day so that each day’s performance would be unique.

While we’re not able to provide the triptych of paintings to act as loudspeakers, Hans has recreated a mix of the two audio loops interplaying against each other and captured this on CD. We are presenting the CD in a deluxe metal box, with one of Hans’ paintings on the front cover, and two further paintings on an accompanying leaflet, which supplies more details about the exhibition and Hans’ installation.

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Das 7. Siegel CD and presentation metal box.

But that’s not all…

Hans has made six original new pieces of art to celebrate the album’s launch. These pieces are designs painted in acrylic on CD bases. You can buy one of these stunning works exclusively from the SubCastCo merch store. They’re incredibly beautiful and absolutely unique. Four of the six designs are illustrated below:

 

Forthcoming Attractions: Cousin Silas and the Glove of Bones; Whettman Chelmets

Aloha. A brief update about two releases we’ve just made available for pre-order. As ever, we’re fashionably late to the party, announcing our first two cassette releases.

First up, we’re delighted to welcome Cousin Silas back to the Submarine Broadcasting Company imprint, on this occasion in tandem with our resident multimedia artist The Glove of Bones. The album is Spirits of Afrodubism, and it’s a glorious combination of Silas’ melodic and lyrical guitars, ambient synth pads, cut-ups and aural collages, found sounds and African iconography, all fused with a dub treatment that fans of King Tubby or Bill Laswell will love.

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Artist’s impression of a cassette.

We’re positioning this primarily as a cassette release, but it will also be available as a digital download from our Bandcamp store.

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Yes, yes, we know. You wait thirty years for a cassette release and then two come along together. Tres amusant. Our other forthcoming attraction is the new single/EP/maxi-single (that’s still a thing, right?) from Whettman Chelmets.

Alas… The Sun is Shining and You are Still Alive is a tryptych of nostalgia and reinvention. The lead track, The Sun is Shining is gorgeous slice of fuzz-drenched shoegazery that invokes the memory of the Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine et al, with nods to the big production techniques of yesteryear.

Whettman says:

Track two takes on acoustic treatments and blends them with 4/4 kick drums, reverberated guitars and chimes that weave to a grandiose apex with nods to the The Tornados’s “Telstar” and other larger-than-life sounds. Track three slows it all down to a glacial pace and unfolds guitar textures over the course of nine minutes, moving from a dreamy yearning to crushing waves of feedback and noise.

Alas… The Sun is Shining and You are Still Alive is available on CD, rubine red cassette (!) and digital download.

We are offering the digital download at the laughably paltry price of £1 (one pound) for a limited period only, so come get some.

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News from the Conning Tower: t.r. hand and Glauber K. de Souza

Ah, autumn, season of mists and mellow fruitlessness. Our release for the tail end of September is ‘Suburban Solitude’ from our resident mystic t.r. hand in collaboration with Glauber K. de Souza of the Amao Quartet.

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The album contains the field recordings and sound collages you’ve come to expect from t.r hand, but taken in new directions with electro-acoustic instrumentation from Glauber K.S.

It’s a meditative and subtle work, one that demands to be listened to at length; a soundscape that needs to envelop you and move you.

We’re delighted that this work has already picked up a positive reception; most of the tracks are too long to be radio-friendly but this album will reward the listener that seeks it out.

As with the previous t.r. hand album, we’re delighted to offer this album in both digital and physical editions. Suburban Solitude is available from our merch store as a deluxe book/CD package, designed by the radical design collective Glove of Bones. As you can see, it’s a beautiful thing.

 


In other news, we have some groovy stuff still to come this year. A very special album by Hans Castrup, new work from Leaving Richmond and Whettman Chelmets and the sophomore album from GOATS. Come get some!