Andy Uzzell joins us for the latest instalment of The Listener; the man behind London-based tape label, Misophonia Records. The label itself is graciously approaching the six-month mark, kick-starting Pink Midnight’s ‘R-DA-Epoch’, followed by released from D. Hale, SALTINGS, Ade Hodges, and generous double-tape by Kepier Widow (just finished its second rotation on the faithful RTR hi-fi!).
Andy talks us through timeless listens, discovering new music through trusted recommendations, and the multiple reasons why the cassette tape is such an attractive medium.
How did you first get introduced to ambient/drone/experimental music?
I am an old punk at heart but with regard to experimental music I think it all started for me with Cabaret Voltaire followed in short order by Throbbing Gristle. Shortly afterwards I was introduced to Nurse With Wound and that lead to a rabbit hole that I am still spiralling down (For my sins I am still trying to track down everything on the NWW List). From the ambient perspective I have to mention The Orb – they were the first that proved to me that music doesn’t have to loud and noisy to be satisfying and from them I discovered Pete Namlook and when all of these strands collided, well, sufficient to say I never heard music in the same again.
What is the one album that you can play over and over without it getting old?
So many! The aforementioned Cabaret Voltaire’s ‘Red Mecca’ is never far from my turntable and the first SALTINGS album I heard (‘Lightkeeper’) is similarly always close at hand. At the risk of sounding sycophantic, the Michura Aoyama ‘Screen Shot’ tape on RTR has had an awful lot of play. Away from the more experimental side of things all of Dead Sea Apes’ output is spun regularly and, possibly the album I have listened to the most, Bowie’s ‘Hunky Dory’… bliss!!
How do you seek out new music? Once you’ve found it, what is your perfect listening environment?
Word of mouth, social media, Bandcamp – they all play a part in the discovery. I have a couple of FB friends whose music taste I trust completely and so there is pretty much a constant stream of new music …. I love it! With regard to listening – I shut myself away in my ‘mancave’ … just me, the stereo set-up and shelves and shelves of vinyl, tapes and CDs (oh, and a lush reclining armchair)…lights off, a cup of tea and I’m as happy as Larry. I’ve just recently sorted out the leads which let me run my laptop through my amp so digital music gets ‘the treatment’ as well.
Can you tell us about your favourite new release from the last 12 months?
Aside from the quality releases on Misophonia? Again, so many. Two stand out…the latest from the Reverb Worship label – a self-titled CD-R by The Northern Lighthouse Board is shaping up to be one of my faves of the year: deep and mysterious full of found sounds, spooky soundscapes and goats! I was recommended an album a while ago – ‘Precis.Aimant’ by Carla Diratz & Pascal Vaucel – ostensibly free jazz with some divine vocals by Diratz and a sublime Robert Wyatt cover (‘Sea Song’) but so much more. It’s going to be of those albums that stay with me for life.
As RTR is a tape label, we have to ask: What attracts you to the cassette medium?
Hmm… A question that I have been mulling over for a while. For me I think there are three aspects to this. Firstly, and this is why I set up Misophonia, it seemed to me that most of the genuinely experimental and though provoking music comes out via tape and I think this is a reflection of the money and ‘risk levels’ involved. There is an element of nostalgia for those of us ‘of a certain age’… The halcyon days of homemade mixtapes and tape exchanges. But I think mostly it is the warmth and intimacy that attracts me the most. As much as I love vinyl (and I DO love vinyl) the connection between artists and listener is sometimes lost whereas listening to tape affords the listener a certain emotional link. The connection between ears, head and heart cannot be underestimated and, at the risk of sounding like an old curmudgeon, it is something sorely lacking from the conveyor belt of pre-packaged pop… soulless!