Sunday, 14 August 2011

Kinder Scout

Hi guys

Sorry for the lack of updates. Been away on honeymoon and working lke mad over summer :) Just a quick update before the big update due next week. Kinder Scout (Danny Norbury, Jason Corder and myself) released our debut very recently on the wonderful Japanese imprint - Preco. You can hear samples on Boomkat here:

Read full review of The Writing Life - KINDER SCOUT on ©

Its a limited edition release outside Japan and almost sold out so better be quick! Hope you like it x

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Japan (2) - Andrew Khedoori

On Friday March 11, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit Eastern Japan, creating a tsunami which caused an enormous amount of damage. Some of the worst hit areas in Japan are very close to our hearts as we have many friends up there and my wife actually lived in the Sendai area for almost 2 years. At this difficult time I have to confess that my mind wasn't on the label and its relevant news. However, I ended up reading through some interviews we started in the Japan series I had done before the earthquake, starting off with the Lawrence English interview a few months ago. Its just so good to see what Japan means to people on a very personal level, through their different experiences. When so much of the news and 'support' feels alien and impersonal, reading these words has been a light in the distance.

So, the second interview in our Japan series is with Preservation head and all round man of loveliness, Andrew Khedoori...

1.) When did you first come to Japan?
We went for the first time only last year (2010) in late June/early July

2.) Did you have any preconceptions before first coming? How were these similar or different to what you actually experienced in Japan?

I did a lot of research so I felt I knew what we would be (kinda) up for in terms of getting around, finding and seeing places and sites and eating. Still, the experience itself was way more than the sum of those parts.

3.) Have you been back since then?

We'd love to! But not just yet

4.) Which places have you visited in Japan? Do you have a favourite?

We went to Osaka, Kyoto (visiting Himeji and Nara from there), Hiroshima and Tokyo. I think overall we were charmed the most by Kyoto - its blend of traditional/old-word and modern Japan was something we loved and felt just right, and it felt the humblest of the places we visited with a village-like atmosphere to it.

5.) Would you say Japan has influenced you in anyway? If so, how?

The one thing that really stood out about Japan to us was its people - everyone we came across was so lovely and so many were passionate about what they did and things they had to offer. In a multi-cultural society like Australia's, you get a lot of differing approaches and attitudes wherever you turn on a daily basis. This can be great of course, but were were really taken by the shared sense of purpose in seemingly everyone we met.

6.) What are some of your favourite things in Japan?
Once again, just the passion of everyone with what they do - their stores, restaurants, gardens and parks, design, the love of art - a really valued thing there - it's a very giving culture.

7.) Do you have have personal recommendations for people who are visiting Japan?

We loved the homestyle cooking of Obanzi in Kyoto. The izakaya on the 52nd floor of the Sumitomo Building in Tokyo. The one at the bottom of a hotel in Shibuya (I can look these up if you like Ian!). The fresh seafood restaurant next to our hotel. The tiny but crammed record stores all over. The Bamboo Forest in Kyoto, the mountain hikes and outdoor onsen at the end of it. The moss gardens. Cow Books!

8.) What do you think of Japan's music scene? How does it compare to other places in your opinion?

There's a great range of creativity going on and seemingly singular - while there's an absorbption of sounds from all over the world, everything has a unique feel to me; a kind of force to it that's not quite urgent as such but just ever present and definitive.

9.) Could you imagine living in Japan? Where would you like to live if you could?

It sounds like a nice idea! I'd have to learn some of the language though - I think it'd be practically impossible otherwise. I might find Tokyo a little too overwhelming to live in on a daily basis, so maybe Kyoto?


Buy some of Preservation's work here

Friday, 7 January 2011

Japan (1) - Lawrence English

A few weeks ago now, we had a crazy live schedule here in Tokyo with the likes of Lawrence English, Machinefabriek, Will Long, Jan and Romke Kleefstra, Danny Saul, Anne Chris Bakker and Greg Haines, among others. One day Lawrence and I met up with Rutger (Machinefabriek) and the boys as Lawrence has been to Japan many times before but this was their first time. Lawrence decided that Akihabara ('Electric Town') would be a good spot to go with the lights, crazy Gatcha-Gatcha comics, maid cafes, geeky electronics shops, gadgets and machines. I must admit that I have hardly ever been there before - apart from needing wires and such things, I've never had a good look around for all my years in Tokyo. It got me thinking about how different people see Japan as its a fascinating country and even with over 6 years (on and off) under my belt, I only just feel like I am scratching under the surface a little bit even now. With that in mind I decided to speak to friends and acquaintances about all things Japan, to discover how it has influenced them and what they feel about this amazing country I am so privileged to live in. (Ian Hawgood)

This will be the first in a series of interviews over the coming months with various artists, label owners, photographers and designers who all have very different experiences of Japan. And what better way to start the series than with Lawrence himself...

1.) When did you first come to Japan?

The first time I came to Japan was 2001 I think...

2.) Did you have any preconceptions before first coming? How were these similar or different to what you actually experienced in Japan?

Well to be honest, having grown up on a steady diet of Astroboy, Macross, Akira and a string of Leiji Matsumoto cartoons, I think some of my visions of Japan were like warped imagined retro-futurist visions with a whole lot of angular haircuts and impossible technological advancements. I of course knew nothing like that would be the case, but at the same time the social geography and architectural form of a place like Tokyo is still quite alien.

3.) Have you been back since then?

Yes about 10 times for concerts and recording projects, it's always a pleasure.

4.) Which places have you visited in Japan? Do you have a favourite?

I've visited a good deal of Honshu and Kyushu - yet to get to Shikoku or Hokkaido, but I am hoping to visit both sometime in the not too distant future. In terms of favourite places, there's a good deal of them. I love the coast along Hashima. I love Okinawa, if anyone ever needs a reason to go there beyond it's amazing landscape, I completely recommend the milk in Nago - god's personal stash I am sure...There's also a few spots of forest in the North of Kyushu I love in summer - incredible cascades of semi and other animals.

5.) When you last came to Japan we met up in Akihabara, which is not a place I have ever spent a huge amount of time in I must admit. It has always seemed a place to just run in to pick up electronics for me, yet it is also a major hang-out for the "otaku' (loosely translated as 'geek' or 'nerd') sub-culture. Is this relevant to you and what is so interesting for you about the area?

I think Akihabara is the representation of a curious juxtaposition for Japan. It typifies the technological successes of the country that brought up such prosperity in the 1980s, but at the same time is overtly showcases the more (at least from a western view point) unusual aspects of Japanese culture - Hentai, Cosplay Cafes and whatnot. My friend Takashi described Akihabara is Tokyo's great shame, which I can completely understand from an internal viewpoint - it collects together more extreme aspects of contemporary life in Japan and houses them neatly one on top of the other.

I think as a shock and awe experience for first time visitors Akihabara is very much worth a visit. But on a more practical note it's still an incredible place for selecting all manner of things from super 8 film through to contact mic parts....

6.) Would you say Japan has influenced you in anyway? If so, how?

Probably, as much as any place impacts on my work. I've certainly made a lot of field recordings there over the years and a great many of those have either been featured or influenced some of my recordings.

7.) What are some of your favourite things in Japan?

Fresh Doriyaki at the Shibuya Food Court
Katsu Don in Uguisudani
Mr Donut anywhere
Milk from Nago
Onsen Tamago in Beppu
Fukuoka Street Ramen (whilst it still survives...)
Seemingly seasonal Gatcha Gatcha
Tireless consumption on a scale that eclipses the rest of the world
Watching shop assistants selling items at the end of escalators - elegant human robots.
Catching up with friends and family there...

8.) Do you have have personal recommendations for people who are visiting Japan?

Well some of the above. Mostly just get discoveries are not often to be had in guide books, much like anywhere else in the world. And be open.

9.) What do you think of Japan's music scene? How does it compare to other places in your opinion?

I think certain cities, like Tokyo and Osaka for example have had particular explosions of activity over the years - early in the 2000s for example the experimental scenes around Offsite were amazing. Osaka in the 1980s had such a great noise scene. Recently tokyo has produced some amazing avant pop artists. I think Japan, having such a dense population, produces fairly strong musical statements that can grow, mature and fade quite quickly. There's a number of Japanese musicians I feel are very unique and versatile - take Otomo Yoshihide for example - he's a real powerhouse of activity.

10.) Could you imagine living in Japan? Where would you like to live if you could?

Probably not living there permanently. But visiting for a few months at a time I could certainly imagine.

11.) Please tell me 5 words you associate with Japan.

gatcha gatcha

lawrence english
someone good

buy some of lawrence's work here

Friday, 31 December 2010

Exhaustive Review of the Year

I'll be honest and upfront, and admit that just the other day I was having a good old moan that this year had been an awful year as far as 'ambient' music goes with a good friend of mine. Yet oddly enough, when asked to make a list of my favourite releases in the past year, I found myself with literally hundreds of records which have blown me away. Getting married and playing music loudly in our apartment has meant I have had less time for typically long-form experimental / ambient work than I used to sit down with, which is a shame...but then again a lot of what I have heard sounds like drivel so there you go. What has stood out is that which is a little more thoughtful than we have typically heard in the past year in my honest opinion. NO, I haven't heard everything and wish I could be more open to other works, many of which I have no doubt forgotten (which says enough right?) Also, I decided to not include anything from Home Normal as it would cover the top of the list, and quite frankly I find it quite bizarre that label heads can openly rate their favourite releases within their own label. Still, I digress...this year has seen a handful of labels from the UK really evolve beautifully, with Under The Spire, Hibernate and Fluid Audio really impressing immensely in particular. As well as these, the Audio Gourmet netlabel has proven to be an enormous hit (with 2 releases in my top 50 of the year) whilst the continual development of the electronica label Acroplane continues to impress. My favourite release of the year was a very tough choice indeed, and to be honest I had a very hard time ordering the top 10. However, for everything it represents, with its experimental nature (but not in a shit avant-garde way), typically gorgeous packaging, and quiet soul (oh so different from the line-up of 'look at me' releases of the year) was The Humble Bee's 'Morning Music' on the rather superb Cotton Goods label. I remember the artist telling me about the project in person and thought it was a lovely idea, but I had no idea quite how unique and beautiful it would turn out's how The Humble Bee described the project: "each day for four weeks I recorded one song, I allowed myself one hour to write, record and document the song. I worked between the hours of 6:00am - 7:30am at which time I had to set off to get to work. The result was 28 songs, lots of drawings of the tape looping systems and each day a photograph of the set up and the view out of my window into the snowy january sky." For everything it represents and is, The Humble Bee 'Morning Music' is my album of the year. (Ian)

1.) The Humble Bee - Morning Music (Cotton Goods)
2.) Hummingbird - Our Fearful Symmetry (Fluid Audio)
3.) bvdub - The Art Of Dying Alone (Glacial Movements)
4.) Maps and Diagrams - Tintinnbulate (Audio Gourmet)
5.) Demdike Stare - Voices Of Dust / Forest of Evil / Liberation Through Hearing (Modern Love)
6.) Danny Saul - Kinison - Goldthwait (Hibernate)
7.) Part Timer - Real To Reel (Lost Tribe Sound)
8.) Andrew Hargreaves - Defragment (Lacies)
9.) Herzog - Small Loves (Audio Gourmet)
10.) Field Rotation - Acoustic Tales (Fluid Audio)
11.) Laura Gibson and Ethan Rose - Bridge Carols (Baskaru / Headz)
12.) Happenstance - Mobeer: 010 (Mobeer)
13.) Rafael Anton Irisarri - The North Bend (Room40)
14.) James McDougall - Mountain Upon A Phosphorescent Sky (Impulsive Habitat)
15.) Federico Durand - La Siesta Del Ciprés (Spekk)
16.) Nicolas Bernier - Strings.Lines (Cronica)
17.) Pausal - Lapses (Barge Recordings)
18.) Christopher Hipgrave - Slow With Pages Of Fluttering Interference (Low Point)
19.) Alice Cohen - Walking Up Walls (Olde English Spelling Bee)
20.) Nest - Retold (Serein)
21.) Forest Swords - Dagger Paths (No Pain In Pop)
22.) He Can Jog - Songbook (Listening Party)
23.) James Ferraro - Night Dolls With Hairspray (Olde English Spelling Bee)
24.) Emeralds - Does It Look Like I Am Here? (Editions Mego)
25.) offthesky -iterate i. (Acre Records)
26.) Vertical67 - Wicklow House (Acroplane)
27.) Yellow Swans - Going Places (Type)
28.) Keith Fullerton Whitman - Disingenuity (Pan)
29.) Pawn - Above The Winter Oaks (The Land Of)
30.) The Sight Below - It Falls Apart (Ghostly International)
31.) Brian McBride - The Effective Disconnect (Kranky)
32.) Shackleton - Fabric 55 (Fabric)
33.) Jasper TX - A Voice From Dead Radio (Under The Spire)
34.) Library Tapes - Like Green Grass Against A Blue Sky (Auetic)
35.) Thomas Fehlmann - Gute Luft (Kompakt)
36.) Seaworthy & Matt Rösner - Two Lakes (12k)
37.) Upward Arrows - Upward Arrows (Under The Spire)
38.) Konntinent - Arev Benn (Sweat Lodge Guru)
39.) Chihei Hatakeyama - Ghostly Garden (Own)
40.) Hype Williams - Find Out What Happens When People Stop Being Polite, And Start Gettin' Reel (De Stijl Records)
41.) Actress - Splazsh (Honest Jon's Records)
42.) Andrea Ferraris/Matteo Uggeri with Mujika Easel & Andrea Serrapiglio : Autumn Is Coming, We're All In Slow Motion (Hibernate)
43.) Mount Kimbie - Crooks & Lovers (Hotflush Recordings)
44.) Milieu - Our Blue Rainbow (I, Absentee)
45.) BJ Nilsen - The Invisible City (Touch)
46.) Derrick Hart – Fall Asleep To This (Resting Bell)
47.) Erik K Skodvin - Flare (Sonic Pieces)
48.) Flying Lotus - Cosmogranna (Warp)
49.) Clem Leek - Holly Lane (Hibernate)
50.) Celer - Salvaged Violets (Infraction)

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Boomkat LOVE the new Home Normal releases

Boomkat have been big supporters of the label since the very beginning and have always given us thumbs up for our releases. Continuing in that vein is their recommendation for our three recent releases by Gurun Gurun, Nicolas Bernier and Taishi Kamiya. Below you can hear tracks from the album directly from Boomkat...

Read full review of Gurun Gurun - GURUN GURUN on ©

Read full review of The Dancing Deer - Nicolas Bernier on ©

Read full review of Spectra Of Air - TAISHI KAMIYA on ©

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Home Normal Xmas Live Party in London with Yellow6, Ian Hawgood, Konntinent, Danny Saul and Seasons (pre-din)!!!- 17th December

FRIDAY 17TH OF DECEMBER we'll be having a bit of a knees up in Angel, London. Playing at The Wilmington Arms will be: guitar god Yellow6 coming down for a rare London show, I'll be flying over from Japan to make an appearance and some wild improvised noise with my good friend Konntinent (think 'Konngood'). Uber-special guests will be of the usual Manchester flavour (in keeping with last years Boats / Danny Norbury bash) with the lovely Danny Saul and Seasons (pre-din). Danny is the owner of White Box Recordings, one half of the excellent Liondialer (with Greg Haines) and has just released a rather wonderful record on the ever reliable Hibernate called 'Kinison - Goldthwait' (a Boomkat album of the week no less). Seasons (pre-din) is the rather fabulous Type artist who released Your Eyes the Stars and Your Hands the Sea to critical acclaim last year.

It promises to be a very special night indeed. Online tickets are just £4 but these are limited and there aren't many left now. On the night we'll save a few at £6 a go. We'll also have the latest releases including the bvdub release (not officially released until January) on sale for just a fiver on the night. Hope to see you there! x Ian


Buy Konntinent 'Opal Island' here
Buy Ian Hawgood's work here
Buy Danny Saul 'Kinison - Goldthwait' here

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Sophie Hutchings - Becalmed (Review)

The Home Normal store recently started stocking Preservation releases. I've been a huge fan of the label for a while, a personal favourite over the past year being Pimmon's incredible Smudge Another Yesterday. The latest from this fabulous Australian label is by the pianist Sophie Hutchings, with her debut 'Becalmed'.

Now whilst many people will roll their eyes at yet another solo piano record in a kind of neo-classical vein (and there are a lot doing the rounds right now which may or may not be a bad thing), 'Becalmed' is about as beautiful as it gets. It takes a lot for me to be forced to sit down and listen to a whole album on first go these days, to be totally honest. But the sheer choice of direction, melody and beautiful weighted timing of the pieces left me in a sort of trance really. And whilst a lot of solo piano works, such as the excellent Nils Frahm for example, remind me of autumn or at least the change of seasons, this record is beyond that, beyond time and beyond this world in some ways.

'Becalmed' is an album that is both bursting with emotion, and yet restrained enough to not make said emotion sickly sweet or over the top. Its an incredibly measured and mature album (apparently the first track 'seventeen' tells the age of the artist when she recorded it!) Yes, some people will not find enough in it being a largely solo piano album in that neo-classical vein. And whilst there is a movement doing the rounds right now, this is quite a different record from those...a little less vain, a little less obvious, an album of genuine and unabashed beauty and delicate temperance. Superb and one of the highlights of the year for me so far.

You can hear Sophie's work here:
For more on Preservation please go here:

You can buy 'Becalmed' from the Home Normal store here: Sophie Hutchings - Becalmed
There's also a great interview with Sophie by our friends at Fluid radio: