Manifesto - A Universal Declaration of Indespendence by Howl in the Typewriter
(PUMF 777, 2018 - click to buy)
1 Manifesto - A Universal Declaration of Indespendence
- Review by Smart
King Dan, December 2018
This is, quite simply, a brutal album. It plies your ears with an
ever-changing series of musical styles (so much so, in fact, that at times
I found myself thinking that this was a compilation album of different
bands and, given the list of people who contributed their vocals for the
chorus sections, that's not surprising) and a message that could be
incredibly negative . . . but, despite the complexity of the problem being
laid out there's an underlying atmosphere of hope to the lyric. I've
listened to the thing several times, and find that each listen draws me
further into this netherworld, this complex alternate musical dimension.
With each listen I hear things I hadn't heard before; I glean another
layer of meaning from some words that had passed me by previously. With
each listen I move closer to being transplanted from Planet Earth and
deposited on Planet Howl. With each listen I find myself thinking that,
maybe, that wouldn't be such a bad idea . . .
You need to hear this album. World leaders need to hear this album. Howl
in the Typewriter for President!
- Review by Hiroshima Yeah! #166, December 2018
"Pumf Records has been releasing music since 1984, often to little or no response", begins the press release, before going on to state that Howl in the Typewriter's Manifesto (subtitled A Universal Declaration of Indespendence) is "a single 64-minute-long song, a vehemently vitriolic anti-advertising rant weaving in and out of aural coherence with traces of electronica, reggae, thrash punk, noise and abstract experimentalism threaded together with the ever-changing time signatures synonymous with Howl in the Typewriter's oeuvre, and featuring guest chorus contributions from a list of underground luminaries too numerous to mention". Bizarrely, and no-such-thing-as-coincidentally, one of these "underground luminaries" happens to be someone with whom I had a bit of a postal spat back in the mid-1990s; someone who informed me rather haughtily, when I was the CEO of KAW Tapes, that I "shouldn't be charging people money for stuff that's so badly recorded", seemingly unaware of respected lo-fi artistes like Daniel Johnston, The Mountain Goats, Guided By Voices and, for that matter, Hank Williams, The Carter Family and Robert Johnson. Another weird coincidence (?) I simply MUST mention is that this anti-advertising-themed CD arrived while the UK was in the midst of Black Friday FEVER, yet another steaming pile of dogshit that we've inherited from the good old U$A. What further proof do you NEED that we are, in fact, all living in a simulated reality?! But, getting back to this here Manifesto album for a
moment . . . it's a beautifully packaged, intricately woven tapestry of serious social commentary and sweary slapstick that sometimes reminds me of Luke Haines and prompts the listener to "turn against entrepreneurs" and "become the person that you want to be
[. . .] no longer trapped into buying what they want to sell, boxed and gift-wrapped". In that spirit, I have a couple of spare copies of this, if anybody out there would like one. Er, IS there anybody out there?!
- Review by Andy
Martin, November 2018
In a glossy flyer that accompanied my copy of the album, pStan states that he was averse to advertising it since to advertise an album devoted to an intense criticism of advertising must constitute the epitome of
hypocrisy . . . however, this is grimly ironic because if ever an item merited an advertisement then it is Manifesto by Howl
in the Typewriter.
Now I admit when I first received the album my initial reaction was: Ye Gods, a 64 minute slab of continuous music. Can I be bothered with this right now? You see, at the time of typing this, I am in the midst of writing and recording works for our 37th album (I am one quarter of UNIT) and I really didn’t want my attention distracted by the work of other people. (When we’re working on an album I don’t listen to music from any source other than the group
- in fact, I rarely listen to any music these days that isn’t baroque or contemporary classical.) However, I thought of the years of continual support and encouragement
pStan has given the group in general and myself in particular and it seemed churlish to shove the artefact into the ‘pending’ tray. Besides, the ornate and finely crafted cover intrigued me.
When UNIT completed Roads - Bridges - Space for the album Rock In Opposition: Phase 3 in 2007 we celebrated in style: at 23 minutes duration, this was our longest number. HITT have completed a single work of 64 minutes duration. Apparently it took them 7 years to finish so perhaps it is appropriate its catalogue number is PUMF 777. Now
then . . . how do I respond to a work of this nature? A practical consideration: the presence of numerous profanities (generally a feature of HITT I find annoying, purely because I don’t like swear words unless they are used extremely rarely and for a specific purpose) and the sheer length of the number probably precludes any possibility of radio airplay.
Now for an admission: in the past whenever I’ve received a full album by HITT, although I am confident there will be 5 or 6 tracks I really enjoy, there are always other tracks I find tedious and I have to force myself to refrain from pressing the ‘fast forward’ or ‘skip’ buttons. Perhaps now you can appreciate my trepidation upon receipt of an album comprised of a single
track . . . of 64 minutes duration! Now for another admission: I sat here for every second of those 64 minutes and not once was I bored or irritated
- not once!
When I was made redundant in 2016 I tried for months to find employment, alas without success. When, with extreme reluctance, I signed on the dole, I confronted a bizarre situation: I was obliged to sit at a desk occupied by an immigrant who only came to this country in 2015. She informed me it would be almost impossible for me to find a job or make a claim for ‘universal credit’ (as it is now called) unless I possessed a computer connected to the internet and a mobile phone. It took me less than a second to process this preposterous assertion.
“If you are trying to force me to purchase electronic gadgets before you are willing to proceed with my claim then you leave me no option but to take legal action against this office. Are you prepared to take the consequences of this?” She hummed and hawed for a few seconds and tried to convince me my life really would not be tenable without these electronic gadgets so I added the following injunction (I recorded the interview).
“Besides, since I was made redundant in June and it is now September, we may assume I do not possess any funds and certainly no spare cash with which to purchase a computer, an internet connection and a mobile phone.” This generated a further awkward moment before she decided to fetch her line manager, clearly unable to deal with my case without assistance. 2 hours later my claim was filed and their machine trundled ever onwards with only a hint of a bump as its wheels and gears tripped over the absence of a mobile phone or an internet connection in my personal details. Why do I share this with you? Because, to my knowledge, never has any pop group sought to address this
issue . . . until now. Manifesto says / shouts / whispers / screams exactly, precisely how I felt in that job
Is this the first occasion on which a pop group / artist has issued a CD for which I can honestly state I agree with and endorse 100% of its lyrics from start to finish? Probably. When I mentioned the probable absence of radio airplay earlier, it was not my intention to be flippant
- I stated this as an unfortunate product of the nature of this magnificent CD. You see, if any CD deserves to receive radio airplay then it is this one. Perhaps if a radio friendly version was made in which certain sections were separated into individual tracks and the swear words omitted or bleeped out then some of the contents might receive airplay. However, the aural impact of this mighty work might then be
weakened . . . and that’s what this is: a mighty work.
Twitter, Flicker, Face Book, My Space, Spotify . . . am I still out of date? It seems every year there are another 2 or 3 new forms of social media interfaces designed to ensure people stay stupid by spending most of their time staring at a little screen.
Work . . . buy . . . consume . . . die (The Pop Group). New Car, New Car, Buy Now, Buy Now (J G Ballard). The lyric to this album merits publication as a separate text if only to ensure it is read and understood.
What of the music itself? Often I find some of the HITT contributions to
godspunk [Pumf Records' compilation album series] are a sonic mess that simply irritate
me . . . although almost as often I find other contributions are superb pop songs (but meticulously mutated pop songs, of course). The music on offer here tends toward the latter idiom although there is a hard edged style that often ventures perilously close to progressive rock. Well, that’s not a problem for me
- I love progressive rock - but its subtle complexities may be missed by people accustomed to more accessible music.
The frequent changes in metre, often within the same brief section, the use of major seconds and augmented 7ths and 9ths in the vocal harmonies and the diligent attention to detail (such as the decision to utilise this or that instrument for this or that riff / melodic fragment) reveal why this album required such an extended gestation period. At 36 minutes into the work we enter the world of brutal electronics favoured by Whitehouse and Throbbing Gristle although (alas) this doesn’t endure for long enough in my opinion.
This work benefits from being heard twice from start to finish - once through speakers and once through headphones. This is because the power (especially in the louder segments) can best be appreciated when heard through speakers but the intricacies of the various layers of voices, instruments and taped voices benefit from listening to the work through headphones. Ye Gods this must have been an absolute nightmare to mix. Rarely do you require the booklet which has the complete lyric printed in it;
pStan ensures those words can be heard with magnificent clarity. All in all, I am astounded by the sheer complexity of the work combined with the relentless anger expressed, even during quieter, gentle sections of the music.
At 41 minutes into the piece we are treated to an arrangement of the famous Bolero by Maurice
Ravel . . . bizarre yet oddly appealing. At around 44 minutes most of the instruments are omitted and a brief (too brief) solo vocal section provides a respite from the extreme complexity of the music which in places is as dense as any work by Gentle Giant (and from me that constitutes high praise as I love the work of Gentle Giant).
However, please don’t allow my references to progressive rock and Gentle Giant to deter you if you are averse to that kind of music. This never sounds old fashioned or retrogressive; indeed it is very much music of the 21st century. The presence of numerous other individuals, most of whom contribute to
godspunk, adds further lustre to the project, as their voices and instruments appear briefly now and then in the manner of sonic commentaries on what HITT perform. It’s really very clever but never does it sound contrived or twee. The opening rifferama returns near the end and this creates a unifying factor although the final section in 7/4 metre is one of the work’s most impressive sections if only because of its admirable restraint.
Also oddly appealing is the artwork. This is what one notices first of all. The disc is enclosed in a gatefold glossy cardboard sleeve that opens out to reveal data on the inner pages with a booklet under the other flap. The front cover features an intriguing art work by Andy Paciorek. The name of the group and album title are reserved for the back cover. Initially I read the subtitle under MANIFESTO as ‘a universal declaration of independence’ but on closer inspection the final word is actually ‘indespendence’, the word ‘spend’ being the operative element here. There is even a padded cloth inside the card sleeve to protect the disc.
In my opinion (for whatever that may be worth) I consider this to be the very best work HITT have ever created. Indeed it is so superlative I wonder what they could possibly do next to surpass it in terms of its content and excellence.
- Review by Mark Wharton,
Idwalfisher, December 2018
I like pStan Batcow. I really do. I have lots of reasons to like him, one of them being that he managed to survive a stint in the Ceramic Hobs which, when you learn that
pStan never touches a drop of John Barleycorn is nothing short of remarkable. He’s quietly run the Pumf label for many, many years now with little in the way of recognition and he used to send me his
godspunk compilations until he either a) got fed up of my negative reviews of them or b) got fed up of me. I haven’t heard from him in a very long time and thought that maybe he’d fallen out with me which, with hindsight and knowing
pStan a tiny bit, is very un-Batcow-ish of him. How silly of me. Howl in the Typewriter is
pStan’s also long-running-with-little-in-the-way-of-recognition solo project. I remember listening to a Howl cassette on a train going somewhere a long time ago and marveling at
pStan’s ability to weave samples of TV commercials and humdrum conversation in to his songs, something that he’d bring with great effect to at least two Ceramic Hobs albums.
After listening to Manifesto I now realize that me and pStan have even more in common; a genuine loathing of advertising, consumerism,
capitalism and greed. For Manifesto is pStan’s rock opera cum concept album regarding the nefarious ubiquity of advertising, consumerism,
capitalism and greed and probably lots of other things too. The way such things pervade and sully our quotidian experience, the way such things reduce everything and everybody to a marketable commodity.
Advertising is hard to ignore and easy to hate. Personally it makes commercial radio and television unbearable for me, it makes news media websites a pain to load and while technology has led to more tailored and specific advertising I still think all those hours of having sat through Tampax and Head and Shoulders adverts are hours I have wasted and could have spent more creatively. Top of the Grinding My Gears List comes car advertising. Do people really see an advert for a car and think to themselves ‘you know what I think I’ll go out tomorrow and spend 15K on the new Golf’
- and why do adverts for cars always show happy people driving around deserted streets on their way to the shops or pulling surf boards off the roof rack in deserted coves when the reality is the roads are full of potholes and psychotic meatheads trying to overtake you in a 30.
I’m sure pStan feels the same way. Over the last several years he he’s been compiling all the songs that make up Manifesto and has finally in 2018 put it all together into one big long track. And while I applaud his sentiments entirely I found sitting through this hour long magnum opus a bit of a tough listen. This mainly due to all manner of people contributing what becomes the theme of the release; the oft repeated mantra
"We don’t fucking want
What you're trying to fucking sell
Shove it up your fucking arse
Then fuck off and go to hell"
which is hardly Bob Dylan, but you get the sentiment. pStan’s guitar playing is all buzz and saw, many tracks are built on a drum machine pattern and are littered with samples of mundane television adverts for breakfast cereals, detergents, fabric softeners, buy one get one free offers, he sings/talks about the uncaring nature of big business and every heartfelt bit of it resonates with me but as an item of listening pleasure I found it tough going.
pStan’s biggest problem is that without advertising he’s struggling to spread the word. Oh the irony. I’m here though and I’ll tell you that for £5 [including p&p] you get a delightful gatefold CD sleeve with booklet and two stickers, one of which is a picture of a burning cigarette with the word ‘idiot’ running through it.
pStan’s next project perhaps?
- Review by Mick Magic, The Magic Net, Dec 2018
It started with an e-mail from pStan on February 13th;
"I wonder if you'd be willing to record a vocal for me for inclusion on the long-planned-but-getting-nearer-reality next Howl in the Typewriter album? It has an anti-advertising theme, and its chorus is going to be the following lines (being returned to sporadically, but in a different form each time): "We don't fucking want, what you're trying to fucking sell, shove it up your fucking arse, then fuck off and go to hell." Could you record those words for me, however you want them to scan - spoken, sung, screamed, whatever? I'm asking quite a few people then hopefully each chorus will be very different whilst being the same. If you catch my drift."
Of course, I'm no great fan of commercialism myself, and who could turn down the opportunity to do some swearing on another band's album? The Man From Del Monte, he say "Yes!" Little bit of irony there. ;-) Well, the finished product turned up here a week or so ago (a few copies to boot, nice man, mostly), and very nice it is too. Presented in a gatefold card sleeve, even including a black cloth insert to stop the disc getting scratched, complete with libretto booklet (and trust me, "Alternate medicines from China, insert tampon into vagina" beats anything you'll see in Sammy Cahn's famous "Songwriter's Rhyming Dictionary"!) so you can Singalonga-Max. Well,
Rantalonga-pStan. It comes in with a bang on a kind of XTC meets
Chumbawamba vibe, and doesn't let you off the hook for the whole of its 64 minutes. It's not tracks as such, there are no 5 minute bursts of creativity followed by 2 second silences, it is all one coherent work, a suite, if you like. OMG! IT'S A FUCKING CONCEPT ALBUM! That's wonderful, it isn't something you'd expect at this end of the musical spectrum, concept albums are normally the remit of funny looking dudes in wizard's capes (sorry, Rick) and daft buggers who think their Ford Escort can travel through time and space (um), but this is thoughtful post punk, complete with stranger elements and a serious message; heavy indie and psyche bits, Germanic elektroniksche (yes, I do make these words up), TV cuts (a word from our sponsor) and abstract experimentalism. This musical (and elsewhereical) warning about the evils of consumerism was a hugely ambitious idea that has been heroically realised and is well worth the fiver
pStan is charging for it, though I still think he should have done it at £4.99 and really milked the irony! You'll find a couple-of-minute-long teaser on the Pumf website, and a slightly longer extract on a special radioshow Lord Litter (a fellow contributor, as was Shaun Robert of
Factor X, another name that will probably be familiar to M&E fans) put together for Hal McGee's Electronic Cottage.
pStan deserves an award if just for the epic mastering this must have entailed, highly recommended.
PARENTAL ADVISORY: Do not play in front of 5-year-old daughters, unless you actually want them to tell Grandma to fuck off and go to
hell . . .
Howl in the Typewriter remixes The Melodramatic Monkey and cousins
(PUMF 714, 2013 - click to buy)
1 Funky Freedom
2 Pissing in the Coffee
3 Gobble Fez
4 Cortex = Wabbly Rat
5 Broadcast FAH
6 Day-Glo Cartoon Karate Chop
7 Howling Typewriters
9 Pissing in the Coffee
- Review by Incendiary,
It’s a remix album. Shall I stop there? Had enough already? More than that, a remix album done by a bloke you’ve probably not heard much about, remixing tracks that aren’t (and probably never will be) on Spotify or iTunes or whatever, moreover, a bloke who runs a truly underground concern dealing with way out sounds culled from the four corners of the British Isles. So remixes of originals you’re never likely to hear by a bloke you have barely heard of; a sort of squaring the circle, a ridiculous exercise if you consider a remix is something that brings new interpretations to commonplace, well known sonic artefacts. No matter. The beauty of music is that it can - if you so wish - have no strings attached. And if you like wading through the ephemera of someone’s psyche, then this is for you.
As ever with Howl in the Typewriter you never know what you’re going to get. Like calypso tracks of yore, the songs are often about anything. Though there’s a mindset that hints towards darker, more brittle mental states throughout his work, it’s fun, somehow . . .
We start with a fifteen minute smorgasbord known as Funky Freedom, originally composed by Cyril Bagels. Funky it is too, a sort of tripped out travelogue with plenty of interludes, interspersed with ridiculous interjections from all manner of instruments the sound is regularly moved around to face a blast of metal, folk or just plain daft comedy.
Pissing in The Coffee (from the Melodramatic Monkey) is something else entirely: a blurting snarling thing replete with the maddest lyrics this side of Dr Seuss. I’m not sure whether the vocals slag off mice or the sexual proclivities of small town England. Maybe both.
Following that, Gobble Fez is a very scary, claustrophobic thing indeed, a cautionary tale no less, and
Cortex = Wabbly Rat the musical coda to the paranoid soliloquy we’ve sat through. Things calm down with the take on The Death of The Enlightenment Project’s
Broadcast FAH, another long track (topping the opener by a good two minutes) which initially draws on that Germanic sound that Reichmann and Moebius and Plank perfected on Sky records. Then we’re deep into soundscape territory with field recordings, radio edits and sequenced drum patterns all thrown into the mix. Bedroom Andriessen shaking hands with Poundland Orbital . . . somehow the DIY feel of this track adds a lot of charm.
The Style Pigs’ Day-Glo Karate Chop is a tinny, Casio-laden squawk, again full of daft bits amidships, (a sheep and heavy breathing this time) whereas
Howling Typewriters is a veritable symphony of typewriter samples. And some trippy noises. Seriously. Data’s Cat’s
Quank gets the freaky treatment next, the track, spaning eleven minutes, has echoes of the Trans Europe Express compilations, coming on a bit like Coldcut at times. Which is totally fine. Then we get another take on
Pissing in the Coffee (a remix of a remix no less) and we’re done.
So, well, erm, in retrospect, very interesting Lord Dowdy. Very interesting
Judas Kiss - the lost songs by
Howl in the Typewriter (PUMF 665, 2010 - click to buy)
1 Subject - Sanctuary
2 Like an Astronaut
4 I am the Owl
5 More Water
7 Only Falter
8 Three Course Collision
9 Nowhere Tonight
10 Reptiles A-Z
16 Sole Discharge
17 Judas Kiss
- Review by Incendiary, September 2010
The sleeve notes to this album are worth your perusal. Stan, the man behind Howl in the Typewriter, sent a number of these tracks into various record companies or promoters for inclusion on a number of interesting projects and compilations. Some were successful, some, like the track
Uninspired, sent to sit proudly on a compilation of silence, or Etiquette (a track that would grace an LP based around the life of Vincent Price) were not. Now, this should give the uninitiated an idea of the world of Howl in the Typewriter. It seems to be a world where no idea, however bizarre or sensible gets overlooked. Stan’s vibe is a questing one, looking for answers in the most overlooked of places, and making quite an inspiring racket along the way.
There are some crackers on here, it must be said. Even if you sometimes wonder where Stan’s head is actually at. The opener
Subject: Sanctuary is a great song: a menacing, restless argument underpinned by a fuzz bass part of some power. I also love
Drifting, not only because of its drugged up sloth, but also for its great lyrics: (“There’s a tortoise retreating from ambient
rage”) . . . Three Course Collision is also a great number, a fuzzy sing-along with bags of charm.
Stan’s vibe is a very personal one. No punches pulled, regardless of the sonic template. A good example is the one-two that appears early on in the LP: contrast the amicable sub/lo-fi-Fall rumble of
Like An Astronaut or the batty squeaking on Mediaevil. Both are pretty personal, one dealing with a simple crush; the other, quite surprisingly, attacking the Paparazzi responsible for the death of Diana Spencer. There’s also the downright eccentric: as well as the tracks mentioned in the opening paragraph (all of which are hardly standard tracks) you can listen to the unhinged duo of
I Am The Owl, and More Water. I Am The Owl splodges around amiably enough before morphing into the kaleidoscope of samples that is
More Water, which is, quite frankly, off its head. Nowhere Tonight is how to blow up a car set to music. And
Reptiles A-Z is exactly what you’d guess the song to be.
The undoubted pièce de résistance on Judas Kiss, though, is Stan’s take on the Boredoms LP, Soul Discharge. This is no ordinary tribute, as the whole LP has been edited in the shape of the song
Sole Discharge. As well as being a feat of no little inspiration, the track itself is a master class in off-the-cuff editing, and sits up there with the Faust Tapes for me.
I’d get this, quite simply because I can guarantee you’ll have nothing as remarkably individual as this record in your collection. Highly
- Review by Idwal Fisher, September 2010
Judas Kiss is a collection of Howl in the Typewriter recordings spanning 14 years. Most are culled from submissions to compilations that never got to see the light of day; the Vincent Price comp, the Boredoms comp and my favourite the concept album of silence to which Stan sent some silence titled
Uninspired only to see it returned seeing as it was the only submission outside of the label proprietors own. For the most part though Stan’s work with HITT spans a pop punk aesthetic mixed with synth wash, high end production, vocal samples ripped from Hollywood through to police radio all coupled to a jolly hey-nonny-no I’ve had three pints and I’m fresh aesthetic. I like it for so long and then it all feels as if you're trapped in some relatives house at Christmas with your hyper ten year old cousin who wants you to play with his Tracey Island when all you want to do is nod off with the Radio Times over your
". . . ear-movies from an imaginary industrial
- Lord Litter, in a personal e-mail to pStan Batcow, 1st September
- Review by Biscuit Psychosis, July 2011
"Mishocarn-n Cintus Depraw Ganket"
In the review for godspunk volume nine I wished for a new Howl in the Typewriter full-length. It appears the PUMF fairy was listening because lo and behold here one is. In hope that the very same fairy is still listening I will now wish for the entire recorded works of Dandelion Adventure on CD please.
Judas Kiss (subtitled The Lost Songs) is a kind of tying up of loose ends for Howl. Various tracks here were originally released on compilation albums or were submitted to various projects that never saw the light of day. You would think that would give the album a rag-bag compilation kind of vibe right? Wrong! The amazing thing here is that this sounds like a genuine album and these tracks sound like they belong together. Funny how things work out eh?
Without question Judas Kiss is the best Howl in the Typewriter disc since 2002's classic Grand Theft Audio. Eclectic for sure but it never sounds like random bandwagon hopping. Take opener
Subject - Sanctuary for instance, it comes on like a much darker, less annoying version of The Cure, 2 tracks later and you'll meet
Mediaevil which is gloriously unhinged, a bit like Rudimentary Peni jamming with Pere
Ubu, Only Falter comes over all post-punky and even nods to Joy Division. In between times you'll get frothy twisted pop, a harsh almost Beefheartian rumble and a few nods to the soundbite genius of Grand Theft Audio too. Howl's contribution to an aborted Boredoms tribute album
Sole Discharge has to be heard to be believed.
All in all an incredibly satisfying release, the lyrics are often personal but are never grating or self-obsessed and I'd defy anyone to be unable to find something here to suit their musical taste. Following as it does in the wake of storming releases from The
Def-A-Kators and Ray Reagan it prompts the question is this the golden age of PUMF records? Answers on a cardboard number 7 . .
Through the Ages, Live (Evil - Vile - Veil!)
by Howl in the Typewriter (PUMF 532, 2005 - click to
1 Heeby Jeeby Insect Wriggle
5 Labyrinth #7
7 Twist & Shout
8 God is Dead
9 Beaten Track
10 Train Disaster over the Tay Bridge
12 See the Neck
13 Blackpool Rap
17 Twist & Shout
18 The Breakfast Song
21 Xmas ’88
23 Three Course Collision
"An exclusive tape of live gubbins from this underground mad genius with a bunch of mad tunes to warm you through your twilight
- Umbababayeee catalogue,1999 (regarding the original release)
"I regret never having managed to see Howl in the Typewriter live - I wish I had, at least once . . . it would have been a great opportunity to walk out of an event in righteous
- Smart King Dan
Friendship's Death by Howl in
the Typewriter (PUMF 497, 2004 - click to buy)
1 Black September
2 1970 wednesday, september 9
3 1970 thursday, september 10
4 1970 friday, september 11
5 1970 sunday, september 13
6 1970 tuesday, september 15
7 1970 thursday, september 17
8 Friendship ReAnimated
"Just thought I'd write to let you know I've listened to your latest CD more times than any other I've heard. Particularly like tracks 1,2,3 & 8. The last one is a bit episodic and gets a bit Orbitally towards the end but it has had a fair ol hammering and is danceable(!). Bit melodic for you though . . . nice
- John Tree, in a personal e-mail to pStan
Greatest Hits (of someone else)
by Howl in the Typewriter (PUMF 462, 2003 - click to
1 Twist & Shout
2 Chas'n'Dave dub
3 In the Mood
4 Within You Without You (interpretation)
5 Billy don't be a Hero
6 God Save the Queen
7 Twist & Shout
8 Revolution 7
9 Rockaway Beach
11 In the Nude, mix
12 Teachers & Critics
13 Twist & Shout
- Review by War Arrow, The Sound
Projector #10, 2002
This seems to be Howl's own version of Bowie's Pin-Ups or Bryan Ferry's These Foolish Things. Or even Ringo's
Sentimental Journey. All the tracks are covers, or at least heavily derived from other people's songs. Some have appeared on other tapes, although most are new to me.
Generally speaking, I prefer Stan Batcow's original material. In The
Mood and Within You Without You in particular fail to really take me anywhere. That said, he comes up with a storming version of
Rockaway Beach, and a Twist And Shout slowed down to a laborious snail's pace. Also, there's a medley of Devo numbers (from their 'Jocko Homo' period) which gets full marks in all subjects. The uncanny resemblance of Stan's voice to that of Mark Mothersbaugh is enough to suggest that this is the man to call if anyone out there has ideas about a Devo tribute band. Moving on, the most weirdly inspired number here is the piece based solely upon Chas & Dave samples - some from songs by the duo I don't even recognise - respect due! All this and
God Save The Queen too, and not the Sex Pistols take either. What the hell is going on in this man's head?
Stan's twisted aesthetic, particularly where sampling is concerned, actually reminds me of a more abstracted version of hip-hop producers like Irv Gotti or The Alchemist albeit on a reduced budget This isn't the greatest Howl tape I've heard, but it shines brightly in a good few places. It's sufficient to fuel my continued praise for this oddball recording artist and to make me glad I've discovered the world of Howl
in the Typewriter, particularly when I remember some of the utter fucking turkeys I've had to sit through whilst writing column.
Voltmeter Abacus by Howl in the
Typewriter (PUMF 406, 2002 - click to buy)
"Four live-in-the-studio, one-take recordings with no overdubs or post-production.
The track titles - Sinister, Chant, Unlistenable, Minimal - somehow do more in the way of description than any other combinations of words, however lengthy, could possibly
- Smart King Dan
Grand Theft Audio by Howl in the
Typewriter (PUMF 378, 2002 - click to buy)
- Review by War Arrow, The Sound
Projector #10, 2002
Well, it's full marks for the title even before we start. Howl is mainly
Stan Batcow who's been at it for years through the medium of cassettes, and the odd flexidisc. And now a CD. In many ways, Stan’s work highlights exactly what is wrong with the
CDR glut that has all but killed the similarly independent, but otherwise quite different home cassette boom of years gone by. People just have more money now.
Possibly too much. Anyone can do a CDR they say. No they fucking can't. I
don't have a CD burner. Maybe I should go for the bread, water and instant noodles diet so
I can afford one, but frankly I've had enough of such austerity. The fact is that many people start, or at least started, recording music on cassette because that was what was available and affordable, and there's nothing which stimulates invention and innovation so much as having only a minimum of equipment which barely works, because you can't afford to repair or replace it. For example, I've just been listening to an old classic from 1982
- Adventures Of Twizzle's Complete Sensory Deprivation C60: a mono tape recorder, an echo box and - well - that's pretty much it, but against all odds (one would imagine) it still sounds as exciting as it did a whole scary twenty years ago. And why? Because with a budget of £1.49 AOT obviously must have come close to
sweating blood in order to get the best out of their ludicrously humble recording set up.
Today it seems - and I don't give a fuck how much of a self-important arse this makes me sound - these CDR kids just don't have the background of struggle which allows them to truly develop and focus their art. They just haven't paid their dues. One flick of a credit card and the stuff comes out of its box, is wired up and next day - wow - another teeth grindingly tedious CDR of formless pointless looped laptop wank that the world doesn't need. Gods! It makes me baity!
Howl, on the other hand, have covered the groundwork, coaxed noises from fizzling bundles of wires and, over the years, become intimately familiar with the ropes. Of course, having been at it a while, Stan has actually accumulated some half-decent equipment as well as an understanding of how to use it with a modicum of inspiration. So here at last is a CD (and a proper CD mind) from one of those 'cassette bands' everyone seems to get so sniffy about.
As basic concepts go, vaguely techno-inspired instrumentals laden with sampled snippets of dialogue may not be what you'd call revolutionary, but this hardly matters when its done with such originality and a finely developed sense of the bizarre. I mention techno only as the nearest available point of reference, there's only about two or three tracks which you might dance to if you really felt so inclined. Elegantly understated tunes and superbly orchestrated samples, or other effects, carry the music here. At times it is uplifting, at others positively haunting (track 17, for example, which displays the most moving use of mains hum I've ever heard), in turn both scary and funny, even irritating in the case of one track which sounds like tinny music from a computer game you'd find in a chip shop about ten years ago. Sampled dialogue, particularly from film soundtrack (I've spotted bits of The Thing, Blade Runner, and even
Zardoz) can be one fuck of a cliché in the wrong hands, which it usually is, but here it takes on the quality of a Max Ernst collage, creating a whole separate universe with its own laws and logic - until one eventually forgets this method was also employed by Sigue Sigue Sputnik in order to convey how futuristic they were. It's kind of like
a DJ album without turntables, but a whole lot better than DJ albums usually are. Maybe a DIY Fat Boy Slim if he was blessed with imagination, or Scanner if his stuff wasn't appalling toss. Or maybe if the Severed Heads had pursued the line of 'Dead Eyes Opened' a bit more. Is this plunderphonics or something?
I don't know. Actually, I don't care. It's a cracking album and I haven't stopped playing it since it popped through my letterbox two months ago. Howl In The Typewriter have done what few have managed - released a CD which is
as good as a cassette. Redundant CDR laptop bores take note.
"A tapestry of hope and
- Danny Noble
- Review by Node
Pajomo, Winter 2012
A sample heavy solo project by Pumf Records main man pStan. Some of it rocks, some of it jerks, some of it slithers, but all of it is damaged and quite electronic. It's all over the place and 24 tracks long, but entertaining in small doses.
- Review by Andy
Higgins, Blackpool Rox II #5, May 2003
This release is a compilation of three mini LP's by Howl in the Typewriter.
It has 24 excellent and innovative tracks nicely packaged onto one CD. A colourful collage of out takes, soundbites, backing tracks, dubs and music covering subject matters (as far as I can gather) as diverse as insects, God, nuclear war, suicide spots and drugs. I really like the yellow packaging and the fact that all the tracks are depicted in picture rather than written form. If Warp records or Aphex Twin released anything as good as this we would see the collective music press falling over one another gushing in a mutual jodrell fest / "no, you're the genius" sycophantic squirm. This is really good, if you like music you owe it to yourself to check this
out . . . especially if you live in Blackpool and this is taking place in your local geography, it would be remiss of you to
ignore it! Amazing. (9/10)
- Review by Cheeses
International mail order service, 2002
I've been in contact with Stan of Pumf Records for probably less than a year,
initially through the two Ceramic Hobs CD's. I would have stocked them, as I enjoyed them thoroughly, but felt that they would seem out of place on the Cheeses International stock list. However, with this gem (also out of place) I've stuck my neck
out, as this is one of those very few albums that every home should have. On the blurb that came with my complimentary copy was the name-dropping of Negativland
& Severed Heads. I'm not too familiar with the latter's output, but I can certainly declare that it rekindles the finer moments of Negativland's work: 'escape from noise' & 'helter stupid'. The majority of this (if not all) is made up of samples of recognisable
bands / tv etc. Listen to the Beach Boys as you've never heard them before
& wasn't that an over-enthusiastic (as ever) Johnathan Pearce? The CD is split into three sections of 8 tracks each but instead of titles they are represented by a symbol: 'skull
& cross-bones', 'a pair of scissors' & 'square root of minus one' etc. Highly recommended, essential listening, a disc you'll go back to time and again. Also,
HitT have released a double tape set entitled: 'Dog-turd in Shrewsbury', if that isn't incentive enough to support this man then what is?
- Review by Modern Dance
What do Paul Jones, Vincent Price, Zardoz, Bladerunner, The Man With X Ray Eyes, and loads of cult inconography have in common? Many samples of the above can be found flitting in and out of the tracks on this album. Where to start? Imagine William Burroughs during his cut up period, and him having access to a computer, a sampler, and creating soundscapes, and then sending them off to Andy Warhol far the final edit. Grand Theft Audio is a compilation of three mini
LPs by Howl, and despite my initial reservations (i.e. before I played it) it's absolutely brilliant. There are so many aspects that make this an incredibly good album, first, you can spend an age working out who's who and what's what, especially with the samples kind of sneaking in and out. The music 'collages' work pretty good as well, with guitars keyboards and soundscapes forming nothing short of a
multi-layered cultural mosaic. The tracks don't have titles, as such, but all are represented by dingbats. Dingbats, for those of you who aren't familiar with the name, is a form of small icons that come as a standard 'font' on most computers. These Dingbats, for instance, when you spell a word, they come out as little pictures
and / or symbols. Track 13 is a banana, track 24 is a cross, track 17 is a telephone. There's 24 tracks in all, with one or two recurring samples and 'themes', but due to the nature of the editing and production, they're quite different. It has to be heard to be believed, a jolly good time can be had by
- Review by Mark Wharton, Just Glittering, 2002
It's great to be able to tell all you fun seekers out there that you should go out and buy this piece of plastic because if you like any of the following - Nurse With Wound,
Negativland, Future Sound of London, The Orb, Cosmonauts hail Satan and (as the press release says) 'very probably a million and seven other bands' - you will like this. Twenty-four tracks all with their own symbol so as to confuse the fuck out of people who sit around pub tables discussing this sort of crap because Mr Howl couldn't be arsed to make up names for
'em . . . but that's the smallest gripe you're going to get because this is sample heaven with dodgy bits thrown in for all those who like any of the above. If I was going to be extremely uncharitable I could say that this is an easy way to make music, but having tried it myself I now know differently. And where the hell did he get half those samples? My favourite is 'the gun is good, the penis is evil' (spoken in a deadly sotto voce alien god like
stylee) which comes in late on track twenty-three (the pointy gloved finger track) but there's lots more you should seek out. Maybe invite some friends round and play spot the sample over a glass of sherry and some finger
"This album is presented as three mini-albums on one CD, having suitable sections of silence in the correct places, to remind you to turn it off if you're not ready for more . . . what a considerate touch! On more than one occasion I found myself imagining I was listening to cassette recordings, and once got so involved that I actually left my chair to intervene in the recording process, it all having started to go horribly wrong. The packaging is truly beautiful, and if a little enigmatic, well, it's what we've come to expect. I'm prepared to state that this was the happiest 67 minutes I've ever spent in my life - and that includes taking into consideration those eight minutes behind the bike sheds with Tracey Posser in
- Smart King Dan
Forays (Mystical, Imaginary, Dreamlike, Illusory)
by Howl in the Typewriter (PUMF 364, 2001 - click to
3 Fire Addict
5 The Inside
8 Cathedrals of God
9 Children of Odin
- Review by War Arrow, The Sound
Projector #10, 2002
The claim so often made of this or that artist as ‘defying categorisation’ is a devalued currency through overuse, but I still think Howl
in the Typewriter is one of the few to whom it genuinely applies. Howl is too chirpy to be industrial; too dark and abstract to be pop; too eclectic, enthusiastic, and too reluctant to suck its cheeks in for the ‘serious’ avant-garde. It is ironic that in these times where crap and noise and hiss has become an aesthetic in itself - Stan ‘Howl’ Batcow whose adherence to the DIY ethic is borne of necessity rather than marketing strategy - languishes in undeserved obscurity.
By Forays I take this to mean experiments, although as one of the most consistent
HitT collections I’ve heard, it seems to be almost begging for an independent film to soundtrack. Eleven numbers of which only one is really a song as such, fleeting comparisons are drawn with Severed Heads, John Carpenter, and even Public Enemy. But Stan has a quite distinctive language of favoured sounds and these are enough to make it pretty clear that such influences are probably in the ear of the beholder. As always there’s a fair helping of old Roland boxes: TB303 (the acid house fave) and - I’m guessing TR606 drum machine (you’ll recognise it when you hear it), and hearing these again, still used with invention, and still sounding fucking great, I’m beginning to suspect it won’t be long before they’re eulogised in the same way as the Hammond organ. Likewise there’s the odd bit of oozing squeaky synth recalling times when everything sounded like Harold Faltemeyer, although I suspect this is no Les Rhythms Digitales style ironic appropriation - Stan probably just likes the sound.
And it works. Although we get plenty of samplers at work, HitT manages to defy expectations, so you don’t end up thinking ‘that’s the sub-Kraftwerk number, that’s the Minnie Ripperton number’ and so on. My only criticism is that some places sag under the weight of their own complexity.
Yo-Yo bangs like a shithouse door in a gale, but would bang more without the slightly muddy spoken bit over the top. Still, its great to hear music that positively leaps out of the stereo like this without bringing a whole suitcase full of agendas and knowingly raised
"Elevator is great - I love the 'childlike' tune to it - the beat doesn't pummel or punish you, it's just kind of 'there' in a nice subdued way.
The Inside is excellent as well - I love that kind of 'childlike' / 'circus' feel on the melodies for both these tracks. I don't mean 'childlike' as in simple two-note jobs, I mean the quality of the tune is like a nursery rhyme. [Howl] should get a job doing music for kids' TV.
Weevils is fabulous too, and no beat. Motorbeat I find interesting - lots of good textures and
- Stream Angel
Beware The Edible Fruit – Assimilate That Lion
by Stream Angel and Howl in the Typewriter (PUMF 329, 1998 - click
1 Beware the Edible Fruit
2 Assimilate that Lion
- Review by War Arrow, The Sound
Projector #10, 2002
Two thematically related pieces by artists working at least partially with each other’s source material. Stream Angel’s side is pretty darn basic, consisting of snippets of dialogue and snippets of music from phone calls, taped conversation, television, and so on - no layering, just an overworked pause button. For all that, it’s fairly engrossing.
I understand Stream Angel (who is a him rather than a them) was once
involved with semi-legendary cassette monsters Adventures of Twizzle which
makes sense because they were pretty fucking nutty at times as well. Here, like a Bash Street Kid with attention deficit syndrome, we ramble between a speak and spell machine discussing the appeal of ladies’ bosoms, a traditional Japanese interpretation of
'The Laughing Policeman', and just about everything else, ever. Oh - and Oliver Hardy saying ‘hard boiled eggs and nuts’, which gets top marks, obviously. It’s like some fascinating glimpse into the mind of an English Buddy Bradley as it collapses - or perhaps explodes - in a random scatterburst of conspiracy theories, puerile gags and daytime television. Assimilate That Lion is a little more coherent, being held together by wandering twittering loops and some layering of the sound, although the snippets of dialogue are a little less visual, a little more abstract, rendering it as a sort of Zen response to
Beware The Edible Fruit. I’m not even sure if you’d call this music, and in fact, I don’t really care. Despite its flaws - which can only really be considered flaws if you expected something else - it holds your attention for the full sixty minutes and survives repeated listening without the novelty waning. This is a good example of something else that the mighty cassette still has in its favour. If this was on CD, there might have been the temptation to jazz it up a little, wipe its nose and make it put on a clean shirt, which could have easily resulted in something more readily accessible, but much less interesting. As it stands, you get the pure undiluted stuff, dodgy edits and
all. It reminds me oddly of some things on the Australian label Dual
Plover, except here, nothing has been lost in the transition to round
7 X 7 by
Howl in the Typewriter (PUMF 315, 1998 - click to buy)
1 Last Seen Carrying An Axe On Victoria Road, Cleveleys (with guests: Yesmeansno)
2 A Dislike To Anything Other Than Metal (with guest: Andy Boot)
3 Rocket Ship (with guests: Thee Shrinkwrapped Genious, Crayola Summer & Edith Spon)
4 The Seventh Revelation Of St Albert De Sandoz (with guests: Acidfuck)
5 Three Part Harmony (with guests: Smell & Quim)
6 Sound Effects (with guest: Norman)
7 Suppose They Give A Nuclear War And No-One Comes (Dedicated To The Neo-Simon
Le Bon Regime) (with guests: Cute Horse)
8 Personal Messages From Yesmeansno; Andy Boot; Thee Shrinkwrapped Genious, Crayola Summer & Edith Spon; Acidfuck; Smell & Quim; Norman; Cute Horse.
"Liked the first track - elements of the Residents and Throbbing Gristle doing a Spam 69 cover version . . . listened to the rest of side one and can't 'dig' it - it all sounds a bit too 'bleak' for me . . . side two, Yes! Yes! This is the best so far. I love it when (it all) stretches out and goes all psychedelic Balinese - great pantomime delirium bash . . . doesn't seem to relate to the backing tape . . .nice 'drummy' noises though. I really like the concept and the unusual process."
- Stream Angel
Memories of Nothing by
Howl in the Typewriter (PUMF 259, 1995 - click to buy)
2 G-Rave-y Train
- Review by M&E News, 1996
This little package is absolutely essential for the collections of serious students of underground culture,
coming from HitT, aka the eccentric Stan Batcow. The cassette is one track per side, around 8/9 minutes each, and every one of this strictly limited edition is individually mixed
from the masters, so no two copies are identical! Side 1 is Blend, a quirky Cardiacesque collage of noises and twee tunes, with many weird bits and samples coming and going. Cut-ups and tape loops, lots of hiss and din, eclectic and
wacky, to say the least, and as ever, Stan's approach is
fresh and totally unique. Mr.Batcow is indeed no.1 in a field of one! Side 2 is
G-Rave-y Train, a decent little dance groove given the HitT
treatment, made me want to wear a baseball cap backwards. Of course, your copy won't be exactly the same as mine, or anybody else's for that matter. Curiouser and
curiouser. With the cassette comes a little thesis, in the form of an 8 page A6 booklet, being a tongue-in-cheek investigation into the works of the zany Stan Batcow (mad batcow disease?)! Also, there is a lovingly crafted A5 book, 36 pages plus a poster.
The book's a great read, a history of HitT, press clippings, colour photos, Stan's very strange sense of humour, interviews with the man himself, various quotes about
HitT from such wonderous underground luminaries such as me . . . all in all, very funny, a must. The fart of Primley's rating: *** (you can't live without it)!
- Review by Robin
Duke, Evening Gazette, early 1996
First off the mark is stalwart Stan and his Howl in the Typewriter. The one man industry and institution has notched up 11 years on the outer limits of acceptability and to celebrate the achievement, Stan has compiled
Memories of Nothing, a History of Howl from 1984-1995. It comes complete with a cassette and small booklet.
- Review by War Arrow, The Sound
Impressive. Included here are a couple of booklets. The first Is a modest
dissertation about the music of Howl in the Typewriter, which to be honest, it being largely the subjective opinion of a third
party, I didn't find wildly illuminating. The second, slightly more
ambitious tome is an exhaustive history of Stan Batcow's numerous works. Being autobiographical, and including reprints of various
zine interviews, one might suspect Typewriter-dude of a certain maniacal egotism. If this is so, it certainly doesn't come across in the text, and such quibbles are soon forgotten once you get reading. The picture which emerges of Howl's twenty year involvement in the world of weird tapes and music, of which even the author doesn't seem to have noticed, is of a unique and undiscovered genius. I'd say one of the last great eccentrics, if it didn't sound so patronising. Accounts of Howl's sporadic and bizarre live events demonstrate this vividly. One featured taped music whilst Santa distributed presents (squeaky toys) amongst the audience. One witness insists it was the real Santa; he saw Stan shortly after the event and realised he wouldn't have had time to shave off that huge white beard. During another event, each audience member was given their own brussel
sprout. Only one person declined, fleeing from the venue, thus having to be chased in order to become the lucky recipient of the aforementioned vegetable. A lot of this stuff suggests Coum Transmissions without the pierced knobs, bad-guy fixation or art school element. Much of this probably explains why Stan has remained in such relative obscurity. He does whatever he feels is most appropriate (or even inappropriate) at the time, whether this be poetry, stories, heartbreaking pop music, walls of howling noise, or brussel sprout donation. Howl
in the Typewriter defies easy categorisation and saps like us usually regard such eclecticism as a sign of inconsistency. Let's face it, even the most out-there taboo smashers tend to stick to a formula. Derek Bailey doesn't do cockney knees-up. LaBradford have yet to crunk that ass up on some New
Orleans bounce. Oval's Tijuana brass album is conspicuous by its non-existence. This doesn't seem to bother Stan. He just does what he wants, when he wants to do it and so annoyingly well that maxims
about being a jack of all trades don't come into it.
As if to ilustrate the above, the cassette contains a ten minute excerpt from a live mix of loops and sound sources that lasted eleven
and a quarter hours. The whole thing exists spread over the 77 tapes that make up this limited edition package. Therefore each copy is a unique recording. Mine is a wailing assemblage of bits and pieces, strangely reminiscent of very very early Devo, which just makes me wish I'd been at some of those Howl gigs. This is a pretty humbling experience. Read this fascinating booklet, enjoy the music, and someone for fuck's sake give this man buckets of money and make
him famous. It's all very well you sitting there stroking your beard at
the Beefheart retrospective in Mojo, whining about how modern music is boring. Either you ain't looking in the right places, or you
have all the personality of an issue of Reader's Digest.
"Memories of Nothing is wonderful. I love rock biographies, and can easily read a book on any artist, even if I never listen to their music. The whole layout - cover, inserts, sticky photos etc. is exceptionally unique, as is the idea of the 'one-off' cassette. What comes across very strongly is . . . attempting to do things differently - 'against the grain' as it were, and I very much appreciate that in art. Reading the book brings a joy to my heart that there are other people out there who are challenging the 'norms' and formulas. It's very well written, too!"
- Stream Angel
The Not Unpleasant Smell of Horse
by Howl in the Typewriter
(PUMF 245, 1995 - click to buy)
1 I am the horse
4 Dead men
9 Xmas '88
11 Jaw meal terror one
14 What goes down must come up
15 Beaten track
"I Am The Horse could have been a huge hit in the 1970's - it has a great 'quality' to it (& very catchy too!) Every time I listen to it I have visions of Top of the Pops in the 70's and some archetypal cheeky Jack-the-lad, always grinning, shoulder-length hair, stripy shirt 70's dude doing the singing. Chines is magnificent! The one thing I'm not sure about is the backing music . . . hmmmmmmm! - but I suppose it's not that important. As a concept, a 'slice of life' and a piece of social anthropology it's matchless. Perfection!"
- Stream Angel
". . . 'I am the
Horse' is one of the coolest songs I've ever heard in my 39 years on
- BiLLHeLm Brewer, in a personal e-mail to pStan Batcow, Jan 2018
The Book of Ptath by
Howl in the Typewriter (PUMF 196, 1993 - click to buy)
1 The Return of Ptath
2 A Goddess in Chains
3 The Man from A.D. 1944
4 200,000,000 Years in the Future
5 Secrets of a Temple
6 Flight Through the Night
7 The Realm of Darkness
8 The Climber on the Cliff
9 The Citadel Palace
10 The Book of Death
11 The Ring of Power
12 The Torn Page
13 Journey of Minds
14 Triumph of the Golden Goddess
15 The River of Boiling Mud
16 The City Three
17 The Nushir of Nushirvan
18 Land of the Volcanoes
19 Battle of the Goddesses
20 The God-Chair
21 The Zard of Accadistran
22 Within the Walls of Death
23 Food of the Killer Screers
24 The Sea of Teths
25 Rendezvous in Khotahay
26 Invasion of Gonwonlane
27 The Fall of a Goddess
28 (The Return of) The Return of Ptath
- Review by War Arrow, The Sound
A whole hour of keyboard instrumental based around a pulp science fiction novel, from which the tape takes its title, by A. E. van Vogt. This could be a recipe for disaster, but not so. Although clearly not recorded in Abbey Road studios with Kraftwerk members standing by, ready to lend
HitT another truckload of electronic wotnots, it ain't hard to tell that a lot of effort has gone into The Book
of Ptath. As the sleeve states, each track is intended to provide musical accompaniment to a chapter of the book, and it's recommended that you read said tome whilst listening to this cassette. An intriguing idea, which I may one day try to make some time for. Anyway, there's some fantastic wee
fragments of ditties here, betraying an ear finely tuned to the rigours of melody, harmony, chord progression, and all that sort of thing. Even ignoring the sleeve notes, tins really does sound like a partially completed film score. Much of it is visually evocative without any prompting from individual titles like
The River of Boiling Mud or er . . . The Zard of Accadistran, whatever de fuck dat am be. Oddly, perhaps the tape's only failing is the inevitable result of its success
- being a soundtrack album of sorts, it sometimes comes across as being a little jumpy. In its home environment soundtrack music is generally punctuated by quiet passages of speech or whatever (unless you're watching porn classic Just Married or Sylvester McCoy era Doctor Who, both of which suffer from inappropriate and continuous musical accompaniment) but of course here, these aren't provided unless a conscious effort is made by the listener. But as criticisms go, the fact that I've been fooled into treating this like a soundtrack rather than simply as a tape of music, must say a lot about its ample
- Review of A.E. Van Vogt's
paperback novel 'The Book of Ptath' by War Arrow, May 2011 - the full
review is included in his 2013 book "Crappy 1970s Paperbacks with
Airbrushed Spacecraft on the Covers", published under his other name,
My first encounter with The Book of Ptath was a few years back, not the actual novel, but a cassette by Howl in the Typewriter released as a soundtrack to the same. The cover blurb suggests one might like to read the novel whilst listening to the tape, and I made a mental note to that effect without really believing I'd ever get around to it. Well, I still haven't, not quite. It takes longer than sixty minutes to read the novel, but I've given the tape a few spins during the daytime whilst doing other things, and having finished the story from which it draws inspiration, I'm impressed at how well it captures the mood of the book.
Howl in the Typewriter is the vehicle of one Stan Batcow, a man who has been churning out music for almost as long as I can remember and is long overdue wider recognition for the unique furrow ploughed by his numerous diverse endeavours
- everything from salsa, to peculiar pop songs about cheese, to imaginary soundtracks such as we have here. It's basic by some standards, but none the worse for having the spirit of Oliver Postgate hanging around in the background. At times it nods vaguely towards The Residents, or Severed Heads, or 1970s Open University incidental music, or Pertwee era Doctor Who, or Jim Thirlwell's Foetus records before he abandoned the Philip Glass fixation and took to growling about people named Bubba over fuzzy guitars; but above all, its distinctively true to Stan Batcow's approach to music (which becomes more apparent with each listen), and is informed by an understanding of a soundtrack being something other than just instrumental pop songs plastered arbitrarily onto a moving image.
So onto the novel: I'm still finding van Vogt hard work in places /// (large review section removed
here) /// Suitably odd, and if far from his best, it's still reasonably compelling; and if anyone gets any bright ideas about a film adaptation, they really need to give Stan Batcow a call.
"There's certainly a wealth of different styles, textures and 'feels' to the various tracks - diverse or eclectic as they say. One track even sounds like the spitting image of Tangerine Dream! It's hard to follow which track's which, but I think my favourites are
The Book of Death and The Ring of Power. I hear lots of Casio sampler on (the album) - am I right?"
- Stream Angel
Dog-turd in Shrewsbury by
Howl in the Typewriter (PUMF 161, 1991 - click to buy)
4 Water yr. plants
5 Peter's back
11 In the nude, mix
14 Koumoli Ushi
16 I, eye
17 Gronk (zorrad Mix)
20 In the mood
21 Within you without you (interpretation)
23 Twist and shout
24 Revolution 7
1 Concerto for a dish of frogs
III See the neck
V Labyrinth #7
VI Beaten track
2 Life and its reflection
V Young adult
VI 20's - 30's
VII Middle age
VIII Old age
- Review by War Arrow, The Sound Projector,
Stan is kind of hard to pin down musically, but I'm beginning to see a sort of pattern. I've always been a fan of the one man band. There seems to be a certain type of individual whose creative excellence goes stratospheric when unhindered by other folks, spare-wheel bass players getting in the way trying to add a bit of an Oasis feel to the mix. I'm talking about those authors of a song so big that it just nails
you down within the space of an opening bar, filling your field of vision and eclipsing anything else for the space of a few minutes. Eno (first two or three albums), The The, Nine Inch Nails, Foetus, Severed Heads - forget the odd lapses - just think of 'Third Uncle', 'Perfect Day', 'Head Like A Hole' or 'Greater Reward'. Pure joyous pop doesn't have to be musically conservative or monotonous, or thick-as-shite! Howl
in the Typewriter, as I now realise, definitely ranks as highly as any of those mentioned above. Don't be put off by the curiously uninviting title, this is an astonishingly fine use of two and a half hours of anybody's time. As I've grown to expect, it's all over the place. There's a whole half hour of harrowingly noisy live material, complete with unenthusiastic commentary from audience members in the background; tape collage experiments;
In The Nude which pre-empts both Jive Bunny and Fat Boy Slim; a collaboration with Yximalloo; two bizarrely chosen Beatles covers; and songs the calibre of, for example,
Melt and Share which are, just . . . I dunno . . . fuck
. . . I can't explain . . . sheer genius. Listening closely one notices that whilst Stan's recording set up isn't lowest common denominator, neither is it hugely extravagant so it is a testament to his skill that he achieves such synapse-tickling results. Many of the songs make use of Roland's 606 and 303 (drum machine and bass computer) and rarely have I heard the same clobber being used so extensively without any hint of repetition or overall same-iness creeping in. I could carry on like this for ages, but such a catalogue of effervescent praise would probably get embarrassing after a while, so please just take my word for it. It's all good. Just buy the fucking (excuse my French) tape, okay! C'mon! What are you waiting
for? Do yourself a good thing! Buy it now!
- Review by Steve
Snelling, Skeletons Making Love, 1990
If [Life and its Reflection] doesn't scare the balls off you then nothing will 'cause it really shit the life out of me.
The track in question was recorded live in Blackpool - Stan must have had a lot of balls doing this live, it's about life being a slow strangulation process and how we're born into the world to be part of a cruel machine, to be force fed false morals and values when all along we've been given the death sentence from birth. Not for the
"Dog-turd in Shrewsbury is wonderfool / WonderBra / WonderBread. There's buckets of invisible glue there - the quality of it as an overall 'thing' transcends any 'problems' in the material itself. Not that there's anything significantly 'wrong' with the material other than some of the sound quality could be better. No, I just mean 'The Sum is Greater Than the Total of its Parts' - it's something I would gladly show / play / demonstrate to people and say 'This is a Classic Underground Project'. There's tons of great material there - how lovely to hear
Water Yr. Plants again - I would say that it's my favourite Howl in the Typewriter track ever. I used to have it on a compilation . . . but, whatever happened to that tape, goodness only knows. The third guitar to appear has such an amazing sound (after the scratchy reggae guitar and the jangly guitar) - that watery sound is pure bliss to these ears. I've heard Snakefinger get equivalent noises to that. Life and its Reflection is a truly intense experience. The ending on it is one of the best endings I've ever heard."
- Stream Angel
review by G, K and L, Ablaze #8, 1992
A red C90, a grey C60, a badge, a booklet and seven posters all in 'a
lovely, clippy, sealy plastic bag'. Features Water Yr. Plants,
and Melt. Value for them that digs such. /// G: (taking the tape
out of the bag) I feel like Quincy. / K: Who's Quincy? / G: bad television
pathologist. / K: This is great, it's a great pop tune. No, honestly, it's
basically one man. / G: there's no-one there to tell him to shut up. / L.
There is here, though. Bring back National Service. He should get his hair
The Very Worst of Howl in the
Typewriter by Howl in the Typewriter (PUMF 140, 1989 - click
1 Close (instrumental)
3 The Happening
5 How I Died
7 Dream Question (remix)
8 Discovery (remix)
9 To Anger
10 Deceiving Snack
11 Radio Futura (version)
- Review by War Arrow, The Sound
And I quote 'All tracks are . . . guaranteed crap in one way or another and therefore suitable for inclusion on
this . . . compilation'. Fucking hell, Stan! Have some self-respect! Wipe your nose! Pull your socks up! Repeat to yourself 'I am
British . . . I am British . . .' I'm sure it can't be as bad as the unnecessarily self-deprecating title implies.
Okay, so it's not a patch on The Book of Ptath, or even Going Down the Cat
& Trifle from which half of the tracks here are taken albeit in remixed or otherwise alternate form. The only real problem that I can discern is that some of this sounds like it was rendered before Mr Batcow saw the folly of recording his ditties inside a diving bell 500 metres below sea level, with the portastudio bolted onto the outside of the structure. But then again, the more familiar I become with some of these songs, the more their finer qualities shine through the bronze-age studio murk. It's largely guitar, bass and drum machine again, but I'm beginning to notice a certain 'greater than the sum of the parts' factor. Certain guitarists, irrespective of technical prowess, are notable for having a distinct individual style, like their own musical language. I'm not even referring to the obvious examples like Snakefinger or whoever. Killing Joke, The Cravats, Devo - all benefited from guitarists with a subtly distinctive sense of timing and notation that proved difficult to confuse with anyone else's playing. It isn't just the notes, it's where they go and so on, but not really being qualified, or even sufficiently interested in the technicalities, I'll leave it there before I embarrass myself. Anyway, to get to the point, Stan Batcow seems to have his own distinctive musical language,
particularly on numbers like the hopelessly catchy Close - one of those rare examples of something that can be described as
'chirpy' and 'good'.
I'm glad I heard those other two tapes before this. The occasionally muddy quality kind of marks it out as being strictly for the hardcore fan, a description which, much to my surprise, I seem to be gravitating towards. The Very Worst
of Howl in the Typewriter is in hindsight, probably a reasonable title, given that even this offal tastes better than the finest banquet you'll get at many other overrated musical tables. Will no-one throw an expensive recording studio at this man and surround him with guitar-shaped swimming pools and buckets of cocaine?
Going Down the Cat & Trifle by
Howl in the Typewriter (PUMF 98, 1987 - click to buy)
6 Chocolate Fly
7 Twist And Shout
8 Another Cat Is Dead
12 Spineless Worship
13 13 Bar Blacks
15 To Anger
16 Dream Question
17 Heeby Jeeby Insect Wriggle
- Review by Robin
Duke, Evening Gazette, May 1988
. . . back in action with the release of a very flexidisc on his home-based Pumf Records
label . . . a dangerously catchy 'Close' by Stan's Howl in the Typewriter incarnation.
- Review by War Arrow, The Sound Projector,
I was drawn to this album by virtue of these being the first HitT studio recordings - the first album is often the best, it being produced before Lionel Bioplasma (or whoever) has had the chance to descend into a rut
of tired cliches trading on former glories - and the title which recalls the days when the Sounds obscurist chart provided safe haven to works like Dickie Davies Eyes by The Boiled Eggs or One On The
Clapometer, or whoever it was.
The first time around, Going Down The Cat & Trifle is initially unimpressive, comprising mainly home studio songs built around guitar, bass and drum machine, with the odd bit of synth here and there. There may be a few raised eyebrows during moments like the chorus of one punkier tune that seems to be saying: 'Blood, death, devastation, war,
horror . . . cheese!', like this is a list which should make obvious and immediate sense to everyone. Two or three plays in however, things do start to happen. It's well recorded if a little flat sounding, but I'm beginning to wonder if this is due just to my own prejudices regarding the instrumentation. Were the recording even worse, with a dustbin lid drum kit and a few blues standards chucked in, doubtlessly it would've been hailed as a lo-fi classic by now. So on closer inspection the realisation dawns that the Batcow has a nose for some serious tunes, hooks, riffs, and all those other things that serve to negate the relevance of a lavish production sound. The
tape is clearly a child of its time, when the term punky didn't automatically mean spikes, studs and a howling wall of fuzz guitar urging us to smash up the local branch of Dixons. For a start, it's musically inventive without going too haywire, well-played, nicely timed, not too loud, you can hear the words etcetera etcetera. It's enough to make me wonder what some of this would sound like re-recorded for a fancy-pants studio produced CD, and enough to induce a certain disillusionment with a cassette scene that seems almost exclusively dominated by shit-dull badly recorded improvisation, or folks disappearing up their own laptops in the name of random squeaky noises. A little more eclecticism would be nice, and a little less fear at the prospect of producing something that someone somewhere might actually enjoy. Good stuff. Perhaps a few more of you lot would benefit from a stroll down the Cat and Trifle.
- Review by Purple
Ribs and Protruding Guts, 1988
Cat & Trifle - 19 tracks of sheer mind-fuck! Totally awesome - with
titles like Heeby Jeeby Insect Wriggle and Another Cat Is Dead
this is hot stuff. Also a white blood-cell numbing version of Twist
- Review by
Soft Watch, 1993
[Howl in the Typewriter
gives us Close] with various echoed effects heroically adding strange, even
surreal aspects to this, a far more 'constructed' track - a full local group sound with a post-Punk,
post New Wave feel. They have a fairly mellow sound & a catchy song here, which
with decent studio production might clean up into an indie hit, although maybe Father
Time has put paid to the old indie school where the likes of the Swell
Maps could record 'Dresden Style' in all its ragged glory & make it a hit.
Certainly worth the money, these people have a chunky charm & an old style
attitude which seems sadly lost outside these small pockets of time (and
after all, if you know Blackpool, you know how little the fickle concept of
change means to locals). Not everyone's taste, but I enjoyed it, and maybe you will
too. Oh, yes, another thing which is timeless is the endemic quality of yer
Would you Believe? There’s a Happening!
by Howl in the Typewriter (PUMF 70, 1986 - click to
1 Spineless Origin
4 To Anger
7 Labyrinth 7
10 13 Bar Blacks
11 Love Everybody
12 Staff Of Life
13 Would You Believe
14 Gronk (portion)
15 Swamp Thing
16 The Happening
- Review by New Blood for Young Skulls, 1986
I smile inwardly when my mind wanders off to [PUMF 70] . . . A
recording of the summer of love, which of course doesn't come close to capturing the [live] event, but it is deadly enough to leave you with the impression that you missed something very dangerous indeed, just what did happen is left lingering in the minds of the demented
- Review by The Reaper, 1986
How Stan gets away with it I'm not quite sure . . . 30 minutes of total noise left the crowd staring in disbelief . . . is this art or is it bullshit? Who cares, it's good fun anyway and the smoke bomb was perfect.
Remember the ones A-void used in the Rock Battle? This was the same and
smelt just as bad. He even managed to set off the fire alarms in the upstairs
room . . . a crazy night soon to be released on Pumf.
- Review by Steve
Snelling, Skeletons Making Love, 1987
Howl are very unique and to be honest I find it hard to define the actual
sound and motives that lay beneath HitT. I reckon it's somewhere on the
borders of The Door and the Window / Throbbing Gristle, shades of the
Velvets, mixed with Stan's own thoughts and ideas. To put it in a nutshell
HitT are experimental punk at its best.
Worlds Tour - LIVE on Saturn and Jupiter
by Howl in the Typewriter (PUMF 49, 1985 - click to
3 Heeby Jeeby Insect Wriggle
5 Obnoxious Interlude
8 Funky Wonderbean
9 Daddy's Car
10 Heeby Jeeby Insect Wriggle
11 Rotting Fish And Happy Hedgehogs
13 God Is Dead
14 Scared To Clap
- Review by Robin
Duke, Evening Gazette, November 1985
The erratic but enigmatically interesting Blackpool 'band' Howl in the Typewriter is the latest line-up to be featured on the esoteric Blackpool-based cassette-only
label, Pumf Records. The sound quality is a little suspect due to all tracks being recorded live at the combo's various gigs
- well, two of them anyway (Blackpool's GPO Club and Preston's Caribbean Club) during August.
It's all very much an acquired taste, with tracks such as Rotting Fish and Happy
Hedgehogs and God Is Dead being strictly for believers.
"Even as far back as ’83 when Howl In the Typewriter released
'Planets Tour - Live On Saturn and Venus' and the sound was little more than a post Cabaret Voltaire electro-whine over a drumbox with minimal noise manipulation, you’d still get a song like
Heeby Jeeby Insect Wriggle, where the bass just starts thundering away like that Chris Squire solo in the Yessongs version of The Fish, and you get jostled out of your
noise-on-a-cheap-C60 slumber and start nodding and swaying, to the consternation of your fellow commuters."
- Laurence Burton
- Review by Robin
Duke, Evening Gazette, November 1985
BLACKPOOL-based Pumf Records have recently released their latest [album]
'Rotting Fish and Happy Hedgehogs' by Howl in the Typewriter . . . a little more
esoteric. Imagine Frank Zappa and John Cage trying to peel a pickled egg on a musical saw and you are getting there. It won't cheer you up.
Love and Degradation by HITT
(PUMF 175, 1992 - click to buy)
- Review by Lecithin
Slde one (Love) is amazingly nice with its recurrent watery /
waving keyspiano loop drone dream thing - bells, sounds .voices, a special blend of affection soup.
Degradation has its own recurrent theme in the form of garbled distracted gargling and
choir boy / monk chant intermissions. Not as nice as side one , but I guess
that's the point?
"Love is a spiral insana - stunning! Hypnotic - psychedelic - 'out-there'. Hard music to give your attention to - at some points, it's just 'there'. Great to hear Incredible Shrinking Man on Euphonium. Degradation - once there was a Very Hungry Caterpillar. There he was, strolling along, when what should he see, but a big pile of albums from BWCD - "Yum! Yum!", he thought - "I'll munch these!". So, he did, but little did he know . . ."
- Stream Angel