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CASTLES IN SPACE

Howlround

A Loop Where Time Becomes (Rare & Unreleased Recordings 2012-2017)

    Castles in Space is delighted to have been able to curate an album pulled from Robin The Fog's unreleased tape archive. A true innovator and incredible live performer, Robin comments on the album "A Loop Where Time Becomes. Rare and Unreleased Recordings 2012-2017"

    After twelve years, ten albums and innumerable live shows (including at least one former underground reservoir), the Howlround sound has indeed changed quite a lot, but the basic ethos remains the same as it did back in 2012. All tracks are created by manipulating field recordings dubbed onto analogue tape, with all digital effects and artificial reverb strictly forbidden - a process that has been described by Electronic Sound magazine as ‘conjur[ing] magic’. Of the twelve tracks here, only one has been physically released on a limited edition and long out of print compilation. A second appeared on a download only release several years ago and a third was created as part of the unreleased soundtrack to a documentary. Everything else on this compilation is seeing the light of day for the first time.

    All were created in South London at various periods between 2012 and 2017, five years during which the project evolved from the Radiophonic mournfulness of 2012's debut album The Ghosts Of Bush ('The ultimate Hauntological artefact' - Simon Reynolds), to 2015's tour with tape legend William Basinski, to 2016's darker and weirder soundtrack to Steven McInerney's multiple award-winning film A Creak In Time and on towards what would become the wilder, gnarlier noise of 2019's The Debatable Lands. This retrospective from the first five years marks the gradual evolution of Howlround from the earliest days conjuring 'aural ectoplasm' from nocturnal field recordings of the last days of an underground BBC studio to increasingly spurning of the external world altogether by creating blistering no-input noise and raw analogue feedback. It's been quite a trip.

    Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan

    A Shared Sense Of Purpose (Inc. Vince Clarke Remix)

      The first track on the album, A Shared Sense Of Purpose, reflects this optimism, and is the lead single from the album. This will be released in 7” and 12” vinyl versions. Both versions will be accompanied by an exclusive remix from the Godfather of New Town Synthology, Vince Clarke. To say that we’re excited about this, would be an understatement!


      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: It's no Secret how big a fan I am of Warrington-Runcorn, and this nifty little twelver (as we never call them) sees, for my money, GCF's crowning glory from the brilliant new LP extended, prog rocked and then remixed by none other than the great Vince Clarke. It's classic WRNTDP, classic Vince Clarke, and classic CiS pressing and printing quality. Beautiful in every way and a perfect companion piece to the superb new album.

      TRACK LISTING

      A Shared Sense Of Purpose
      A Shared Sense Of Purpose (Single Edit)
      A Shared Sense Of Purpose (Vince Clarke Remix)
      Oakwood
      A Shared Sense Of Purpose (1973 Version)

      Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan

      Your Community Hub

        Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan's new album, Your Community Hub, compellingly continues his sonic exploration of the New Towns movement. The issues the councillors, planners, and architects set out to solve still resound and echo throughout society.

        For the latest instalment in this unique project, Gordon Chapman-Fox turns his laser eye to focus on Community and the Community Centres that populated Warrington and Runcorn in order to provide all the facilities people needed within a five minute walk from their home. These planning ideas predated the current discussions of fifteen minute cities by fifty years.

        Those 50 years have seen a decline in our community centres and services: handy access to a GP or dentist, Post Offices, youth clubs, local shops, banking and much more. Successive governments have undermined and eroded those basic services. The decline in community services has also been matched with a decline in community and shared experiences with a knock-on effect on the population's health and well-being. The disastrous austerity policies imposed over the last 15 years have exacerbated this long, slow reduction in available spaces for people to meet and communicate, with seemingly no recognition of the societal impact that causes. Short-termism at the expense of the community and how we live our lives.

        Margaret Thatcher's statement that "there is no such thing as society" has been taken as a mission statement by successive Conservative governments who have aimed to remove as much support and communality from the citizens as possible. It continues now, the wrong-headed idea that everyone can be left to fend for themselves.

        Chapman-Fox's latest album decries the cruelty of where we find ourselves in 2024 and his quiet incandescence about the loss of optimism for what communities should be and could be. It's his most powerful work, and as always, it will deeply resonate with those who tune in to his unique vision and unparalleled productions.

        As ever, beautifully packaged and designed by Gordon, the album artwork features photographs from the archive of the architect Peter Garvin, which was kindly provided by his son Richard Garvin. The photographs show Peter's work on the Castlefield Community Centre, a sleek modernist structure clad in white ceramic tiles.


        STAFF COMMENTS

        Barry says: The master of story-driven progressive electronica returns for his latest opus, full of the bombastic basses and twinkling arpeggios he's become known for. It's been a joy seeing Gordon's development as an artist and storyteller, and 'Your Community Hub' couldn't be any more perfect a summary of that development. Grand, evocative electronic soundscapes.

        TRACK LISTING

        1. A Shared Sense Of Purpose 
        2. Rapid Transport Links 
        3. Cul-de-Sac 
        4. Summer All Year Round 
        5. Facilities For All Ages 
        6. Pedestrian Shopping Deck 
        7. A New Town With An Old Sense Of Community

        Stellarays

        Winter Resort Music

          The inspiration for winter Resort Music is derived from a childhood passion for Winter Sports. It's all about the spooky synths, mainlining radiophonic electronics, subconscious TV memories and an awe about what these athletes could do on the slopes when you were living in the suburbs.

          Can anyone forget the glowing figure-skaters, dancing into the public consciousness? The perfect beauty that melted girl's and boy's hearts around the world. Sunday afternoons spent watching guys flying on long jumps into the endless white cosmos. Never really sure what was happening, but just thinking "I want to be in the chalets with these people, hitting the glühwein. An alien, unreachable world where fabulous people were doing fabulous things.

          Portugal's Stellarays were also watching and have distilled these memories into a gloriously authentic reimagination of how those memories still reside within us. Winter Resort Music is such a potent memory bomb which takes what we know and enhances it in order to make it better. A prism of nostalgia that speaks to the purity of the whiteout.

          This wonderfully handsome release with artwork by Castles in Space mainstay, Nick Taylor is a perfect artefact of library music, beautifully put together by Bruno, Centeio and Corinna.

          It pains my heart to report that this is a posthumous release for dear Bruno, who we lost earlier this year at the ridiculously unjust age of fifty.

          Safe travels, my friend. May your slopes be finely manicured as you head down the cresta runs to the great frozen lakes. Salut! 

          Apta

          Submerge EP

            A special ‘Submerge” 12” EP featuring a bunch of reworks of this pivotal track from Apta's forthcoming ‘The Pool’ album on Castles in Space.

            Kicking things off, Apta's own rework of the original sees the shadowy textures and droning wall-of-sound backdrop turned into a static-strewn dreamland of a piece, underpinned by a flickering guitar riff, cracked snare drums and fuzzed-out Odyssey strokes before launching into the euphoric half-time vocal refrain. 

            The follow-up sees Clay Pipe boss, illustrator and musician step into her Hardy Tree guise for a beautifully hypnotic waft of wistful folk-tinged electronics and shimmering ambient textures. It's warmly nostalgic, and packed full of all the feel of a lovely Clay Pipe release. 

            Following on from that, modular wizard Polypores takes pieces of the original and stretches them into an organic swell of texture and movement, warping the low basses and flickering modular plinks (and / or plonks) into a beautiful, undulating wall. 

            Flip over and It's none other than the brilliant Pye Corner Audio, providing an organically blooming suite of saturated percussion and woozy drifting oscillators, in peak PCA fashion. There are few artists that can do as much as with little as Martin Jenkins can, and hearing his audio sunshine underpinning the vocal line is breathtaking.

            It's good to get the ears nice and soothed too before the aural assault and hypnotic spirit-cleansing heft of the legendary Gnod. Dubby throbbing bass and cavernous reverb tear the original into shards and piece it together as a churning, industrial powerhouse before shooting the rest into the endless reaches of space. 

            Closing things out on a space theme is the ideal way to do things too, with Field Lines Cartographer's remix taking things waaay into the outer reaches. Grounding bass churns and stellar synth sweeps float below the modulated vocal line, resulting in a perfectly crafted drone, rich in melody but untethered to the earth. 




            STAFF COMMENTS

            Mine says: The first taste of a new album from our very own Apta (the best egg) sees the lead single twisted and churned into a variety of sounds from Pye Corner Audio, Polypores and Gnod as well as a reworking of the title track from the man himself. Lovely stuff.

            TRACK LISTING

            A1. Apta - Submerge
            A2. Emerge (The Hardy Tree Remix) 
            A3. Emerge (Polypores Pink Oceans Remix)

            B1. Emerge (Pye Corner Audio Remix)
            B2. Emerge (Gnod Remix)
            B3. Emerge (Field Lines Cartographer Remix) 

            Den Osynliga Manteln

            Under Gron Himmel

              Based in Malmö, Sweden, Den Osynliga Manteln (The Invisible Cloak) comprises producer duo Ola Sandberg and Fredrik Grönvall.

              They describe their intention as making albums that tell stories and make journeys through textures and soundscapes of fictional places and spaces. With one foot in the past and the other in the future, the music is created to conjure both nostalgia and activate the imagination of what’s not yet here, touching both the known and the unknown.

              If Under Grön Himmel has an apocalyptic feel, it's reflective of our tumultuous times which pulled the music into a different and darker post-pandemic territory than their stunning debut. "Insekstfolk" (CiS, August 2021).

              The title translates to "Under Green Skies" which points to the melancholy but also, the potential beauty of our doomsday. The fever dream depicts an alternate reality, a different planet, some kind of shift. A turbulent place, a fugue state, a death of sorts.

              At the same time there’s a psychedelic undertone to the record, a transformational arc spanning from the first hiss to the last. The titles of the songs align with this theme, translating roughly as "Glitter Mountains", "Purple Forest", "Movement of the Hills", "Triple Moon", "The Planet Whisperer" and "Triple Sun"

              An array of analog synthesizers and electrical organs rescued from flea markets meets tape hiss, saxophones and a hidden vibraphone. Drum kits, electric bass and guitars, the occasional vocals dubbed with an eighty year old piano and glittering bells. Under Grön Himmel has layers of dust from the distant past yet it arrives here in a polished chrome vessel from the future. It's like Neu! broke out the jazz chords and the whole album has an un-graspable quality that's hard to define. Like a benevolent psychedelic mist, it’s here to hold you at the end of times and celebrate its beauty.

              Ola Sandberg

              Invisible Room

                Ola Sandberg is a Swedish producer based in Malmö — a multi-instrumentalist with a masters degree from the Royal College of Music in Stockholm and a deep love for sound. As well as sound installations, film scores and collaborations (making up one half of Den Osynliga Manteln), Ola has an ongoing solo project called Osynliga Rum, or Invisible Room, which is also the title of the first record coming out of this project. Invisible Room circles around the idea of using music making and sound as ways to explore the audible qualities of architecture, while also using architecture to explore sound, and having it guide and shape the music being made. Sandberg was influenced and inspired by, to name a few, Paul Horn's sonic experiments in both Inside the Taj Mahal and Inside the Great Pyramid, Pauline Olivero playing in a huge underground silo in Deep Listening, and Alvin Lucier's acoustic explorations in I Am Sitting in a Room.

                Invisible room was created and recorded in St John’s Church in Malmö during March of 2021 using a modular, analog synthesiser, speakers and microphones. Building on the premise that the essence of a room, the space it holds, is invisible but audible — the music was created with the purpose of exploring and activating the sonic aspects of the room, aiming for a non hierarchical relationship between room and sound. Many nights were spent alone in this church and over eight hours of music was created and recorded.


                Will Gardner

                Remains

                  "Remains" is the debut album from composer and sound artist Will Gardner.

                  Will has worked extensively behind the scenes as an arranger, orchestrator and pianist in both Berlin and London, arranging strings for alt-J, Daughter, Låpsley and Madness. This debut solo work explores the experience of caring for his father through the final stages of Parkinson’s dementia.

                  The album is both an aural imagining of the dementia experience (it’s memory slippages, disturbances, delusions and paranoias) and also a deeply personal account of grieving for a parent, and what it means to grieve for someone who is still alive.

                  The composition process started after Will began reading from his Dad’s personal diaries which stretched back over twenty years. The exploration of memory through music is a constant thread throughout the album.

                  “I became quite preoccupied with the idea of memory whilst reading the diaries and caring for my Dad (who’s own memory was faltering). I was thinking about where memories belong, who do they belong to, what does it mean to ‘share’ a memory, and where do they go, shared or otherwise, if they are ‘lost’?”

                  Will began to compose themes using extracts from his dad’s diaries. Fragments of the text were used to derive the rhythms and melodies on which the tracks are built. Through this process, a sort of translation occurred: the immediate meaning became lost, but an imprint of it remained within the music.

                  The old family piano keeps returning as a presence throughout Remains - a seared memory alongside strings, voices and other indiscernible textures, often altered and disfigured through digital effect chains. Ideas repeat themselves. Moments of clarity fall away into fog; sounds glitch in and out of focus and are distorted almost beyond recognition. Signals of separate audio chains influence each other, morphing together in an uncanny conversation - mirroring the deterioration and disorientation brought on by the disease.

                  Despite the gloom, however, there is a softness that underpins these nightmares. “Whilst trying to capture this dark and incoherent internal world that my Dad was experiencing, I noticed that I kept returning, somewhat counter-intuivately, to quite delicate, soft sounds. I realised that these sounds were like seeing my own reflection emerge within the work - my own sense of concern for what he was going through and my own grief for what was being lost day by day."

                  "Remains" deals with a raw, complex subject from multiple angles, slipping back and forth between Will’s own perspective and the imagined perspective of his father.

                  Growing up in the Fens, East Anglia, Will’s early life was steeped in classical music. His earliest musical experiences were singing as a chorister in Ely Cathedral and he went on to study classical music at Cambridge, and obtain a piano diploma from the Royal School of Music.

                  On graduating, Will moved to Berlin and spent a number of years working for composer Jonathan Bepler on Matthew Barney’s experimental operatic film "River of Fundament". It was here that he began to explore electronic music and sound design for the first time.

                  Will moved to London in 2016, where he established himself as an in-demand musician, working across a variety of different genres and practices. In 2021 he wrote and conducted the arrangements on alt-J’s fourth studio album The Dream, and in 2019 was commissioned by Låpsley to write a collection of works in response to her second album "Through Water", to be played on her European Tour. He has also written arrangements for Daughter (Rough Trade 2023), HMLTD’s "The Worm" (2023). His film and TV orchestrations can be heard in Sky Atlantic's "Tin Star" (2017), "Oceans Eight" (2018), and BAFTA-nominated "Blue Jean" (2022).

                  All of this collaborative experience across multiple genres plays a significant part informing Will’s own sound. Comfortable in both studio and concert hall, he demonstrates a wide variety of creative techniques from both classical and electronic music traditions.

                  "Remains" is the work of a skilled and experienced practioner that is both fragile and powerful at the same time. It's an album that stays with you long after the needle has been lifted and ironically, lives long in the memory.

                  Lone Bison

                  Wave Construction

                    Lone Bison / Nick Bonell lives by the sea in Ramsgate. Mainly a guitar player and pedal junky, Nick bought a used Korg MS20 and fell in love with synths. As one half Stuntmen, Nick released the sample-heavy single 'You're the Beat Find' on the very groovy Tummy Touch label, which led to him scoring three Ford adverts in the U.S and a few pieces of well-used production music - which paid for more synths and pedals! An album, 'Transistor Memory' and single 'Drugs' came out via Dom Martin's Polytechnic Youth records in 2021.

                    Lone Bison's music is influenced by Krautrock, electronica, post-punk, soundtracks and post-rock.

                    Wave Construction is his first album for Castles in Space. There will be many more.

                    Maria Uzor

                    Soft Cuts

                      This debut album from previous Sink Ya Teeth member Maria Uzor treads softly upon opening, before charging headfirst into a cosmic landscape of electro, avant-pop, footwork and stark techno.
                      Nine tracks delivered as the building blocks for a world seen through Uzor’s eyes where there are no boundaries, there are no walls, just a gentle beckoning to be yourself. ‘Soft Cuts’ is a joyful and groove-led journey with unexpected twists through the darkness.

                      Eclectic and esoteric, the album revels in it’s own diversity. There are echos of Aphex Twin in there, of Zapp, Kate Bush and Drexciya. And yet for all it’s influences, Maria has created a body of work that’s beautifully seamless in it’s amalgamations. Play loud and lose yourself to find yourself.

                      This past year has seen Maria Uzor release the first single ‘Ventolin’ from the Soft Cuts album to praise and support from John Kennedy (Radio X), Amy Lame, Tom Ravenscroft, Deb Grant, and Jamz Supernova (BBC 6 Music). She has also played festivals including The Great Escape, Nox Orae (Switzerland) and Manchester Psych Fest, and collaborated with Acid Klaus, !!!, and A Certain Ratio.

                      STAFF COMMENTS

                      Barry says: As perfect as it is for home listening, there's no doubt that the endlessly talented Maria Uzor's music is courting the dancefloor, with shimmering arps and hefty percussives perfectly working beneath her haunting, perfectly produced vocals. A heady, dynamic mix of gothic wooze and dance-adjacent rhythm.

                      Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan

                      The Nation's Most Central Location - 2023 Repress

                        The fourth Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan album, The Nation's Most Central Location is released via Castles in Space and it's another absolute gem. This album sees Gordon Chapman-Fox (the man behind Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan) explore the north-south divide and reflect on 40 years of broken 'levelling up' promises.

                        With eight tracks across 40 minutes, the album offers Gordon's usual mix of mournful remorse and upbeat optimism. Gordon has now added an underlying anger that burns through on tracks such as London's Moving Our Way and A Brighter And More Prosperous Future.

                        STAFF COMMENTS

                        Barry says: A much needed repress of the great Warrington Runcorn's 'The Nation's Most Central Location', a benchmark release in the Castles in Space catalogue and a beautifully enchanting LP throughout. You need this in the collection.

                        ALSO, Gordon's come and signed a load of records for us! When they're gone..

                        TRACK LISTING

                        1. Just Off The M56 (J12) 03:06
                        2. Rocksavage 05:36
                        3. Daresbury Laboratory 04:51
                        4. London's Moving Our Way 07:13
                        5. Thelwall Viaduct 04:37
                        6. Europa Boulevard 07:05
                        7. Busway 03:14 
                        8. A Brighter And More Prosperous Future 04:12

                        Mount Vernon Arts Lab

                        Deltic Vespers

                          Underground legend Drew Mullholland started recording as The Mount Vernon Arts Lab In the late 1990's. It was just one of the many names he was testing out for his imaginary groups and if things had gone differently, this album would be credited to Hyperion Illusion.

                          Expertly mastered by Antony Ryan at RedRedPaw and mostly sourced from long lost cassettes rescued from chaotic rehearsal rooms and the apartments of Glasgow friends, Deltic Vespers contains the pre Ghost Box recordings and is the ultimate statement on Mulholland's early experimentations. It's like peering into a disorderd vision of an alternative 1990's where instead of Britpop and it's phony psychedlia-lite, we got the full strenght Owsley acid version. The electronic elements are also there from the start, pulled from the unlikliest of sources and proving that Mulholland's invention and drive to get the sounds down has been there since day one. Fantastic stuff now preserved for posterity. You're welcome.

                          DELTIC VESPERS Notes from DREW MULHOLLAND:

                          "My favourite memories are the odd ones. Sharing Larry Grayson’s old dressing room, author Lawrence Norfolk telling a journalist that the Mount Vernon Arts Lab was one of his go to bands when writing, organising the first concert of electronic music in a nuclear command bunker in 1998, playing shows with Silver Apples, Add N to (x), Stereolab, Broadcast, Sonic Boom, Project D.A.R.K.
                          "Recording with Adrian from Portishead, Norman from Teenage Fanclub, Isobel Campbell, Coil, appearing on telly with Eugene Reynolds pet DALEK, chatting with Stuart Moxham from Young Marble Giants, a backstage conversation with Tim Gane about playing the Status Quo riff over & over for 90 minutes, Pete Kember excitedly calling me having just spoken to Delia Derbyshire, and later Delia herself telling me of her friend-ship with Brian Jones, and once during a performance in Liverpool looking up to see legends Paul Simpson and Will Sergeant in the audience, and finally having played in Shepherds Bush with nowhere to stay we ended sleeping on industrial sized bubble wrap.

                          STAFF COMMENTS

                          Barry says: Ooof, another essential release from the endlessly talented Drew Mulholland. 'Vespers' sees woozy synths and hissing tape artefacts, airy arpeggios and driven pulses coming together into a surprisingly cohesive, beautifully finished end product. Another killer outing from Castles In Space.

                          Jilk

                          Syrup House

                            Syrup House is the follow up to Jilk’s 2022 Castles In Space album, “Haunted Bedrooms”.

                            Haunted Bedrooms established the Jilk sound with a clash of cascading chamber instruments meeting brittle electronics and experimental noise. Frequently quiet and emotional but also edged with spikes and sharp teeth. On Syrup House, however, the collective dig out a much smoother and sweeter sound. And while ‘expect the unexpected’ should still be your guiding principle, here you can dive deep into luscious droning textures and swelling orchestration which sits alongside the warmth of analogue house and techno.

                            A series of church based improvisations are reworked into clockwork symphonies of clattering percussion and driving, joyous synth workouts. Vocals are much more present in the Syrup House, as Jilk draws from ethereal dream pop motifs while deconstructing traditional song structures into warm blankets of cloudy dynamics.

                            Syrup House follows a loose narrative about a magic-realist night club that appears and disappears at will. Inside, a labyrinthine interior contains corridors of ecstatic love and self realisation. Ultimately, during testing times, it is compassion that will prevail and Syrup House is where that compassion goes to dance away the blues.

                            Jilk are a UK based collective of musicians, fusing a bewildering collage of home-found sounds with the ambient soundscapes of washy synths, exquisite strings, insect-like clicks and cuts, and huge gorgeous waves of all encompassing experimental noise. Collaboration and open minded exploration are at the centre of all that they do.

                            On this album Jilk were: Cags Diep, Paul Eadie, Neil Gay, Jon Gibson, Nuala Honan, Emma Hooper, Andreas Laudwein, Kayla Painter, Beth Porter and Jon Worsley.

                            Syrup house was mastered by Shawn Joseph at Optimum Studios, Bristol.

                            Kayla Painter

                            Infinite You

                              Castles In Space are delighted to welcome Kayla Painter to the fold and she brings with her a brilliant new extended EP, ‘Infinite You’.

                              Following a few false-start early releases with other labels, Kayla has been building her own head of steam via her Bandcamp page since 2017 or so, self-releasing a slew of fine offerings. Chief among are the attention-grabbing ‘In The Witch Elm’ single which found her working with sounds from the Delia Derbyshire archive, the ‘Cannibals At Sea’ cassette EP on which she explores her fascinating mixed Fijian/British heritage, and the recent pink cassettes of ‘Planet 9’, a journey to the outer reaches of our solar system.

                              A self-confessed space freak, she’s a big fan of the ‘Alien’ films, oh and ‘Arrival’, with a taste for sci-fi aesthetics… which all very neatly tees us up for that debut Castles In Space offering. So what’s ‘The Infinite You’ all about?

                              “We measure time and our experience on earth in a particular way,” says Kayla. “But in space none of those rules apply. At the edge of a black hole space, time and the laws of physics no longer apply. That's amazing. If you take away these parameters, these ways of measuring our understanding, what are you left with? It completely blows my mind.

                              “We live by these measurements so rigidly, We think this is what time is, and this is what a day is... and we take that as absolute truth, but none of that is real, it's all just constructed, which I find exciting. We like to think we understand our existence, but when you start to look into space, you realise we don't really understand much at all. ‘Infinite you’ explores multiple possibilities of existence, it's about looking to the universe and questioning everything we thought we knew.”

                              STAFF COMMENTS

                              Barry says: A superb outing for Kayla Painter for electronic powerhouse Castles In Space. There are as many moments of crystalline beauty as there are terse atmospheric swathes of drone and glitched electronics. It's both warmly reminiscent of something *just* on the edge of your memory and entirely new. A beautiful, exciting journey.

                              TRACK LISTING

                              1. Quantum Superposition
                              2. Broadcast From The Collapse
                              3. Infinite You
                              4. I'm Out Here
                              5. Burning Through The Atmosphere
                              6. Mountains Of Death
                              7. I'm By You
                              8. Echoes Of Pluto

                              Imperfect Stranger

                              Everything Wrong Is Right

                                Imperfect Stranger is the pseudonym of Glasgow based soundtrack composer and producer Kenny Inglis. “Everything Wrong is Right” is his debut solo album for Castles in Space.

                                Born in 1975, Kenny didn't listen to much music, unless it was the opening credits to a TV show or a film score that had caught his ear. "I loved the pre-title music on a lot of those 80's U.S. TV shows. From the family orientated stuff like The A-Team, to darker dramas such as The Equalizer. My mother would let me stay up to watch the opening sequence of the latter then send me to bed because the story would be too heavy for a kid. That left me with this hanging sense of ambiguity as to what would happen in that hour after the titles came up.”

                                Exposure to a work colleague’s tiny project studio in a kitchen cupboard was a lightbulb moment for him and the experience of utilising music technology as a way of writing and producing entire tracks stirred a wave of determination to chase a career in music using the opportunities that technology could offer. Kenny figured the best way to move forward was to start a small project studio and learn his craft as a recording engineer. "It was a bit of a shock to the system. I literally had no idea how to work any of the equipment. Kenny focused on learning as much about the craft as he could whilst winging his way through recording and mixing everyone from the likes of singer/songwriters to bands, to voiceovers artists and anything in between. "Eventually, I stopped writing the music I thought people would want to hear, and started writing the music I wanted to make. I didn't come from a music loving background, but I was always obsessed by the way music and film would interact - how music brings this atmosphere and tone to even the most mundane visual stuff. I wanted to capture that. I wanted to grab some of that ambiguity I felt from the TV shows of my childhood and make it into a project of some sort". That project was Spylab. A dark, downtempo project with a cinematic edge. The initial demo consisted of three tracks, with the melancholic 'This Utopia' leading the playlist.

                                "At the time you did demos on normal cassette tapes. I remember having this endless battle with the bias control to try and get the best sound I could on these little tapes. Ten went in the post one Monday morning, and the following Monday there were three offers from three different labels. Studio K7 were interested in a singles deal, as was Flying Rhino in London. But then there was an offer from a Chicago based label by the name of Guidance Recordings. They wanted an album, and were offering a $15,000 advance. It wasn't a difficult decision to make"

                                Writing and recording Spylab 'This Utopia' began in 1999. The album took a whole year to produce. The album was to catch the attention of Mary Anne Hobbs at Radio One. At the time Mary Anne was presenting The Breezeblock - a late Sunday night show with an eclectic playlist of alternative electronic music. Picking out the album's title track 'This Utopia', Mary Anne would go on to play it no less than 8 weeks in a row. A request for Spylab to DJ on the show was to follow. "I had never DJ'd before. I think I had a week to figure out how to do that and put a playlist together. I'm not entirely sure how I pulled that off.” In March 2001 the Spylab album was finally released to a hoard of excellent reviews. A North American live tour would follow. From the launch party in Los Angeles, to a sell out show at SXSW in Austin. "I then started a new project under the name Cinephile. It had some of the core elements of the Spylab sound but it was deeper, more cinematic.” Kenny received news that a track from the previous project Spylab had been requested by HBO for the first episode of a new TV drama called Six Feet Under. This was to become a major turning point in Kenny's career. The Spylab track 'Celluloid Hypnotic' dropped during a poignant party scene of the first Six Feet Under episode. Within a couple of days Kenny was getting requests for music from other music supervisors. "It was a chain reaction. The Six Feet Under sync was like the tip of an iceberg. One day I called CBS in America and they put me on to the CSI music supervisor and I managed to get on a call with him. I sent the Cinephile stuff out and within a few months I got this fax through from CBS - a quote request for one of the tracks for a potential use on CSI. It changed my life."

                                The tone and style of Kenny's music sat perfectly with the CSI score requirements. So much so he found himself part of a pool of incidental writers who worked on all three aspects of the franchise - CSI, CSI: NY, and CSI: Miami. This would continue until 2013, when the last of the series would come to an end.

                                "I was juggling a bunch of stuff for those ten years. Writing material for CSI, whilst releasing new Cinephile stuff and playing live. As Cinephile continued to gather pace, one of the tracks from Kenny's efforts on CSI was chosen for the Hollywood trailer for the Samuel L. Jackson film 'Lakeview Terrace'. Further trailers would follow, from Gangster Squad to Dead Man Down, Spike Lee's Undisputed Truth, to Fifty Shades Freed.

                                At the same time, Kenny picked up his first factual commissions in the UK, and this too would be the beginning of a regular run of fully scoring factuals and documentaries. By 2021, six of these had won BAFTAs. He also would find himself soundtracking adverts for the likes of Nike, Audi, and American AirlinesIn early 2020, Kenny made a return to focusing on his own music under the pseudonym Imperfect Stranger. A tweet from Colin Morrison from Castles In Space regarding a charity compilation album 'The Isolation Tapes' caught his eye. Kenny had made a start on his debut album as Imperfect Stranger and submitted the track 'Hymn To The Sun' (which would become the lead track on the album). Further discussions ensued, and the album found a home on CiS. "I had been doing TV and film stuff for almost ten years. It paid the bills and was as close to a 'real job' as I'd had, but I yearned to get back to writing for myself, so doing an album for Castles in Space was a joy.

                                “The music I write is like a diary. There's an authentic narrative to everything i do. I don't write tracks for the sake of writing. I write tracks to diarise and process the stuff that I've lived through, and the experiences that have come along with the passing years. That's what makes me tick. It's a very public and vulnerable way of expressing myself. If people want to know the real me, all they have to do is listen."

                                Dalham

                                Funf

                                  For the first time, Jon Michaelides allows his Dalham project more space to breathe in two new long tracks of sky-scraping, world building ambient (or is it) techno.

                                  Dalham is the long term of project of Suffolk born Londoner, Jon Michaelides.
                                  Here he discusses “Fünf” (his fifth release, natch), which is subtitled “The Past Is a Foreign Country”: “There have always been “ambient” tracks on previous albums but they have in some ways served as a bit of peace and respite from the more busy percussive tracks. The purchase of some effects units triggered the decision to use delays and reverbs during the composition process much more and an entirely ambient record seemed the best vehicle for this. I was simultaneously attempting, and not for the first time, to fully grasp the concept of special relativity and so a record about time and space, focussed on the manipulation of time (delay) and space (reverb) was born.

                                  “Some of the phenomena associated with this theory, for example the relativity of simultaneity, lead to the questioning of the nature of reality and at times a sense of disconnect with much of what was happening in the concrete world. Coupled with the desire to revisit the past, where certain friends and family are still alive and well, this set the emotional tone for these two extended tracks. Fünf is a journey to acceptance. Not only is the past a foreign country, but our passports have been revoked and we won’t be returning.”

                                  It’s interesting that Jon uses the term “ambient”: ”I guess I call it ambient because it doesn’t have any ‘beats’ but yes, it is still very rhythmic.”

                                  For many, these compositions will sound too intricate and complex to be termed “ambient”, but as ever, we find it difficult to find the words to describe the unique music that Jon makes. A true individual, there is literally nobody else that sounds like Dalham.

                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                  Barry says: Dalham's 'Funf' is a wonderfully realised selection of crystalline synth walls and cavernous reverbed spaces, bringing to mind a juxtaposition of the evocative soundtrack work of Drokk or Survive mixed with the ambient swells and catatonic heft a-la Jon Power / Blanck Mass. Another amazing CiS release.

                                  Debut album from Luke Requena on Castles In Space. “Mirror Stage”. As the Lacanian title suggests, it is a collection of meditations and self-reflection translated into sonic explorations of the space that connects the macrocosm and the microcosm. Inspired largely by Tarkovsky’s film Solaris, the making of “Mirror Stage” was a musical journey of internal struggle across subconscious landscapes.

                                  Requena is a composer and multi-instrumentalist based in Vancouver, BC. Although his main source of sound is analog synthesizers, he also integrates santur, guitar and organs into his pieces. Drawing influences from artists such as Günter Schickert, early Pink Floyd, and classical Persian music, “Mirror Stage” emits waves of sonics and lush textures while exploring the dark cosmos. It’s a genuinely enthralling work.

                                  Luke has already released a double album, “Nocturnal/Seasonal” with John Jeffrey, drummer of Moon Duo, for the Castles in Space Subscription Library as part of the new age electronic jazz project, Oscilloclast.


                                  TRACK LISTING

                                  1. Metallic Plastic
                                  2. Venus Maternal
                                  3. Comet Mist
                                  4. Death Sunrise
                                  5. Subjugated Moons
                                  6. Sleepwalking Seagull

                                  Hattie Cooke

                                  Bliss Land

                                    “It's about the in-between moments.” - Hattie Cooke “Bliss Land” is the new LP from Brighton born artist Hattie Cooke. Her third album and debut release for Castles In Space opens up her sound by managing to find a balance between the introspective and the communal. It is an album that looks forward whilst acknowledging the creators past creating a work full of a nostalgia that also feels vitally current. Initially conceived as a soundtrack album, during its creation, “Bliss Land” morphed into a beautiful set of personal songs born out of anticipation, excitement and anxiety.

                                    Speaking about the themes of the albums, Hattie says: "It wasn’t until the album was finished that I realised what it was about. I had recently graduated from university and people were beginning to take more notice of my music. I was excited about the possibilities of the future, but at the same time the immediate future had been put on hold due to the pandemic, so I was frustrated and anxious. And then whenever I think about the future, I can’t help but think about the past and where I’ve come from and what I’ve been through to get to that point. So in some ways it’s a reflective record and in other ways it’s a record full of anticipation. “One Foot Out The Door” is a track that really resonates with me - it’s about that liminal space between the past and the future when you’re on the threshold of something. I think that’s what the album is about, it’s about the in-between moments. "I grew up on a small council estate on the outskirts of Brighton in a house that was full of music. Both my parents played guitar and my dad also bought and sold records for a living. I taught myself the guitar when I was twelve and made plenty of music throughout my teens. At 17, I won a scholarship to study at the British Institute Of Modern Music and continued writing and playing local shows. I also started to learn how to record and produce my own music on GarageBand as a necessary alternative to going into an expensive recording studio. GarageBand has some fantastic synth and electronic drum sounds and that’s when I became more interested in electronic music and music production. In 2015, Third Kind Records approached me after hearing my songs on a homemade demo CD that a friend had passed on. We released my debut album in 2016 and I’ve been making and releasing music ever since.”

                                    Hattie writes, records and produces all her own albums, however she is keen to express how others have helped shaped parts of Bliss Land: “The record isn’t a completely solo effort, I had people along the way to help shape this album into what it became, although I had complete artistic freedom to let the album grow into what it wanted to be. I had invaluable help from Dom Keen who helped me mix the album. We spent a good number of nights in his studio drinking gin and trying to get everything just right. He did things to the music that I would never have even considered doing. I had no idea what compression really was until the making of this record, which probably sounds mad considering I’ve produced three records but when you’re self-taught you can miss out learning about so much! Antony Ryan’s mastering added a whole new dimension to the record as well.”

                                    “Bliss Land” is an album soaked in the outer edges of pop music making it a cohesive and beautiful album full of dense textures held together by Hattie's unique voice. It’s an album that will undoubtedly chime with a cross section of audiences. So where does Hattie see her music in the landscape of the current UK electronic scene? "There’s a lot of instrumental/soundtrack music coming out of the scene, a lot of synthwave music which seems to be a real throwback to the 70s and early 80s. I think that’s because so much of the music coming out of the scene is made by those who grew up during those decades. So I think I’m a bit of an outlier when it comes to the UK electronic scene for two reasons. Firstly, I’m at the lower end of the age range and secondly, I’m a woman in an extremely male dominated scene. “Bliss Land” is intentionally quite poppy, which seems to be less in fashion at the moment whereas my other instrumental stuff is more inspired by classical music than by IDM or ambient music, so I think I’m coming at writing and producing from a slightly different angle. However, I still definitely feel part of the scene. There’s a particularly strong sense of community within the UK electronic scene on Twitter and I’ve been nothing but welcomed and supported by the artists, fans and labels. It’s like being part of a strange and wonderful family.”

                                    You’ve made a video for the track “Youth” with Chris Standley from Rogue Robot which is both funny and shot through with real melancholy. “Youth" is about reflecting on the past. I turned thirty this year and sometimes (more than I'd like to admit) I worry that I've gotten more boring as I've gotten older. I was pretty wild and unhinged when I was younger and sometimes I miss those mad nights out where it felt like absolutely anything could happen - although saying that I just don't have the energy to stay up for three days or the stomach to cope with the hangovers anymore. Still, there are days when I miss the way that everything feels new and exciting when you're in your late teens/early twenties - everything is more intense when you're younger and the world around you seems bright and buzzing with life. I've been thinking about it a lot this past year. I've not had much to do for the last twelve months besides walk around on my own and reflect on the past, since the future has basically been put on indefinite hold, so that has almost certainly fed into some of the lyrics and maybe even the feel of the music.”

                                    The album is already garnering a lot of attention and praise. What’s next for Hattie after the album is released? "Who knows what’s next! I have plans to tour the album when the world opens up again. I’d also love to have the chance to score a film or to work with some other artists doing guest vocals or some remixes. And I’d like to get back to doing some music-related charity work again as my family were supported by a number of charities when I was growing up and think it’s important to give back when you can."

                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                    Barry says: Having formed one of the most enduringly superb 'pseud-ost' releases of the past few years in 'The Sleepers' for the excellent Spun Out Sounds, Cooke hits electronic stalwarts Castles In Space for her excellent new LP 'Bliss Land'. Brilliantly toeing the line between electronic and acoustic, there are moments of pure Broadcast-y bliss and echoes of the soundtrack moments from the previous LP too. Do not sleep on this one.

                                    TRACK LISTING

                                    Side A
                                    1. I Get By
                                    2. Mistaken
                                    3. Cars
                                    4. One Foot Out The Door
                                    5. Youth

                                    Side B
                                    6. Don’t Wanna Talk
                                    7. Invisible Lines
                                    8. Fantasies
                                    9. Lovers Game
                                    10. Summer Time

                                    Dinked Edition Bonus 7”
                                    1. One Foot Out The Door (Acoustic Version)
                                    2. Above My Bed


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