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News from the Conning Tower: t.r. hand

Everyone here at the Conning Tower was winding down, lowering the periscope, ready for the traditional English August of drizzle and traffic jams, when a most remarkable thing happened… a new EP from the reclusive guru of mind-training, self help/abuse and prison tattoos, t.r. hand, landed on the desk.

There’s a super-size serving of concept in the EP ‘The Checking’, and in addition to t.r’s trademark washes, sound collages, chops/screws and deep atmospherics, there are spoken vocal readings/recitals from Bonnie J. Currie which give the tracks a whole new focus and impetus. Once again t.r has coerced the Glove of Bones into producing the cover/track art and it is glorious.

05 Junk Devotion

After checking that the restraining order was still in place,  and that our A&R man’s tetanus jabs were up to date, we set out to get an interview with t.r. hand in a disused warehouse. This is what happened:

SBC: Can you give some explanation of the ideas behind this work and its points of reference?
TRH: Have you been watching One Punch Man on Netflix? It’s like that. If you get an idea, the last thing you should do is grab it and choke the air out of it. Tickle it, ask it questions. Listen, don’t talk.

SBC: There is a running theme in the work, a narrative. How did that come about?
TRH: From a broad suggestion. I didn’t choose it, other than signposting its huge source. I didn’t know the performer, nothing other than ‘some words’ was suggested.

SBC: Did the narrative alter the project?
TRH: Yes.

SBC: Can you explain?
TRH: No. Well, almost no. The grip on the idea wasn’t ever so tight that it couldn’t transform. Everything is transformation. A stick of charcoal in your fingers and a piece of paper. Both ask for transformation. When I received the narrative recordings they changed the project. Pretty much completely. The original project is probably flipping and flapping around somewhere waiting for an oxygen intake. Is that the natural selection of ideas? No idea. The critical thing though is I’d imagined some scattergun / sound bite content. That’s what I was geared up to work with. Bonnie’s work though was so full of understanding of the subject and passionate in it’s presentation, the original idea seemed trivial and it would have been wrong to strip it from it’s context and use little bits from here and there for effect or imposed meaning. I ‘get’ the source but of all the many words in books, this set are the most inviting for the imposition of personal meaning.

SBC: For any readers out there, what is the source?
TRH: They are from the Red Book by Carl Jung. Look it up, it’s not easily summarised. Go with the flow. Pretty sure civilization will come back to it after the apocalypse.

SBC: That isn’t very positive for a self proclaimed Guru?
TRH: Truth hurts, which probably explains the current global collision.

SBC: In your somewhat small public scope, you do use the hashtag #guru. Do you have any reason or explanation of this?
TRH: There’s an underlying, no, overriding sarcasm in that question isn’t there? The ‘Self Help’ industry is on the ascent, most of it is lunacy. It’s all very tribal. So, I’m happy to hit up on a level playing field. I’m pretty much in the peace and love wing, anarchic, left leaning libertarian sect. It’s niche but I’m sure there’s an audience. Albeit briefly.

SBC: Thank you.
TRH: Can I go now?

01 Whispering Knights

We are presenting The Checking as a digital download, or as a super-deluxe hardback book/CD package, including 24 pages of Glove of Bones’ designs. Both formats are available from the Bandcamp page.

Review: The Modul 303 Benefit Album Vol 2

One of the revelations of operating in the world of netlabels was when I realised there is no huge gulf between the big name successful acts and the independent artists; there is quality to be found at every level of fame and accomplishment, you just need to know where to look.

I mention this because Studio 4632 know exactly where to look. Concentrating on electronic and ambient music, Candy L and Studio 4632 continually release music of the highest quality; this particular album, The Modul 303 Benefit Album Vol 2, whilst not strictly limited to artists from the Studio 4632 stable, maintains this tradition. You would be hard-pushed to find a better collection of electronic/ambient music, regardless of label or budget.

When discussing this album it’s worth noting that there are a number of styles and genres contained here; if electronic music suggests ethereal ambient soundscapes washing over you, there’s much more to this compilation. Indeed Candy has sequenced the tracks with great care such that tracks of similar style and tempo are grouped together and the listener is gently transitioned between the various genres.  The album starts with the contemporary uptempo music of Altocirrus and the positively danceable sounds of Globotom. Thaneco’s ‘Temple IV’ features a playful bassline accompanied by swirling, bubbling synths, building into very satisfying piece. Mixtaped Monk, who follows, delivers one of few guitar-based tracks on the album, the heavy yet haunting post-rock ‘Sense in Sensation’.

As we move out of the uptempo tracks, Glenn Sogge’s ‘Insert Modul 30ED3 Here’ is an exquisitely atmospheric piece, slightly melancholy and despite the hi-tech connotations of the title I felt something ghostly about it. A ghost in the machine perhaps. Another highlight for me is Jaime Munarriz’s delightfully textured ‘Blind Line in Nairoby’,  which changes as it progresses, taking the listener on a journey through a changing landscape. The track that follows, ‘So Little Time’ by Cousin Silas, is achingly beautiful, built on bell-like synths and ornamented with Silas’ trademark crystalline guitar and piano figures. Earthborn Visions’  ‘Kaumendert’ follows, starting with a vaguely ominous asymmetric bass line; additional layers appear as the track progress which help to soothe the sense of foreboding, but it’s a fantastically clever, unsettling piece.

The track from Kellerkind Berlin, as the name suggests, contains many delicious references to the Berlin School of synthesizer music; unusually it also contains a waltz sequence, and even more unusually it succeeds brilliantly, with a natural, deft and airy approach.

Probably my favourite piece on the album is the haunting ‘Journey’s Least Travelled Path Never Ends’ by Playman 54  (Colin Blake). This beautiful piece is centred around Colin’s dreamy, melancholic piano, with synth pads that have the effect of making the listener immediately nostalgic. In a previous review I likened Colin’s work to that of Harold Budd or Roger Eno; this is music of the very highest order and deserves a far wider audience.

There are a couple of beautiful tracks featuring the late Wolfgang Gsell, himself a frequent presence on Modul 303. Both tracks are collaborations, firstly with Lutz Thuns and then Martin Neuhold. Both are joyful, uplifting pieces that feel to me like celebrations of life and nature.

The album closes as strongly as it opened with the cosmic sound of Tim Kays, the playful fairytale soundtrack of EternalKeys and the striking words and music Allen Pitt’s majestic musical poem, ‘Albion’.

I would wholeheartedly recommend this album to anyone interested in exploring the output of Studio 4632, the broadcasts of Modul 303 or just top quality electronic instrumental music. There’s a minimum $3 price tag on the album but I’d suggest you should really pay north of $10 as this is a genuinely superb album.

News from the conning tower

We have, finally, managed to consolidate all the Submarine Broadcasting Company onto one Bandcamp page; due to the way we started out, everything was very organic with a band here and a compilation there, but with a busy year ahead we felt it was worth trying to create one single storefront so nothing falls down the gap.

So, from now on, your one stop shop for all things SBC is…
https://submarinebroadcastingco.bandcamp.com

(The other pages will stay around for the foreseeable future, but this is where the action will be)