It’s been a lot of fun playing gigs with Layla since our album, Red Goddess (of this men shall know nothing) was released back in March. Thank you to everyone who invited us to play and all those who said very kind things to us after shows. Thanks also to Ben Goldberg at Ba Da Bing! for the gentle push in this direction. I should also mention that WE FINALLY HAVE A WEBSITE!
Personally, I’ve never had a great relationship with playing live: when working as Xenis Emputae Travelling Band, the music was often conceived of as a by-product of another, visionary, process. Taking it into a concert situation often seemed counter to my aims – although I did have fun at The Small Music Theatre, Greece and forming a ‘super-group’ with members of Lanterns and Ashtray Navigations to play at Thornborough Free Festival. Of course, I did rather enjoy playing with Ashtray for a three-year stint circa 2004-2007 – a highlight being playing at Ali Fib Fest 2 in Paris, alongside Lil’ Howlin’ Wolf. Sneaking on the bill for Sonic Youth’s All Tomorrow’s Parties at the last minute was also pretty good…
Of course, a lot of what Layla and I have done since we started working together in 2010 has had some sort of public component. It was integral to Almias: taking our obsessive exploration of a place into a psychogeographic walking tour. We followed it up with a loosely-knit ensemble called The Institute of Stone Age Sex, performing droning versions of folk ballads and sections of Don Cherry’s score for Holy Mountain.
But performing with Hawthonn is something different. IOSAS was never a serious project in the same way as Hawthonn. Obviously the way the songs have been conceived in our two albums means we have a very particular relationship with them, and – while some of our equipment could do with an upgrade, especially our bargain-basement Behringer mixer – we’ve given them the best presentation possible, and it works surprisingly well. At this point, I should say how grateful we are to S.’. of the Psychogeographical Commission for his work on assembling visuals for our performances under his other alias, Aetheric Anomalies.
It was a great pleasure to finish our current live commitments at the Tor Festival in Hebden Bridge last week. We’ve been regulars at previous events (when it was held at Todmorden Unitarian Church), so looked forward to playing with such an excellent lineup. The day was not disappointing (Guttersnipe, in particular, played the best set of theirs that we’d ever witnessed – read all about it here), and I think we played our most confident set, with a great projection of S.’.’s work running behind us. Furthermore, the day was memorialised in the form of a cassette titled The Harrowing of the North, compiled by Neil Campbell and released on Noel Meek’s End of the Alphabet Records. Neil asked people to submit things that weren’t necessarily representative of what they do (hence the eight-second track by Guttersnipe). There’s a Hawthonn track on there, as well as a solo piece, both of which ultimately stemmed from articles written on this blog. So, if you’d like to know more about Hawthonn’s Diamond of the Day, check out this post on Merlin, Mellotrons and the Poetry of Consciousness… and if you’re interested in how Eustace (for B.C.) was written, then why not dive into the weird world of musico-angelic cryptography?
You can buy copies of The Harrowing of the North from End of the Alphabet, and also listen below.