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Cassettes, for all their perceived charm as a retro format, were for the first ten years of recording the only format that was available to me. By the beginning of the new milennium I had acquired a CD recorder and I could finally put out material in a digital format and without significant signal loss, although for the time being my four track originals were still being recorded to cassette. Also: Hoog was, once again, the final Entropy Circus album.
I had moved to Forest Road, just opposite Walthamstow police station. It was also my first Warner flat; a type of purpose-built flat characteristic of the area and built between the turn of the last century and the twenties. They have arched doorways with two, typically green, doors; one goes to the upstairs flat the other one downstairs. We were in the upstairs flat. My semi-hermetic lifestyle in Walthamstow had not been significantly affected by Bridget; she was possibly the most-antisocial person I have ever met, and my studio at the front of the flat, named Eight Leggy DeLongy, had immediately become a productive place to work.
The material on Hoog is similar in spirit to Paddington Hardstare. Some of the instrumentals are a little more sparse: Ribble Manilla is all parched mathematics, with slide guitar and an Indian harmonium, an instrument that I had found in the local Cash Converter; and At The Terebinths of Mamre is informed by Ali Farke Toure’s desert blues. In other places though: Theme From “Helicopteur Police” and Benelux, there is a romped up, slapstick quality to the playing.
In terms of songwriting, Villejuif Metro Song, with its cry of “why must you pass me by?” is a significant piece of drone pop. Gatport Airwick, described by Dag Luterek in his review in Freq as having a “galloping teaspoons beat”, is a playful homage to the faux-operatic style of Amon Duul II’s Soap Shop Rock. But it’s on the closing track, The Royal Theodesic Dome, where the eschatological sense of finality is established. The Entropy Circus is over, long live the Entropy Circus. The sea sounds on this track were recorded in St Ives in Cornwall, a location that I would return to again and again, and all of these tracks refer to fictionalised locations. Even if Villejuif is a real place in Paris, and Gatport Airwick is merely a spoonerised version of a real place, they have all been transformed in the songwriting process into unreal worlds. The project of finding another city immanent behind the London we know was no longer so desperate as it was when I was recording Monorail; Walthamstow held the keys to many new worlds.
Hoog, or Go Hoog, was never intended as a coherent album. By the time I had enough material to go onto the CD, I had acquired a Fostex A8, an eight-track reel-to-reel machine, which would revolutionise my recording processes, and rather than mix the old four track cassette material with the new sound, I decided to clear the decks for a new project. Having said this, the tracks on Hoog are at least as solid as those on Paddington Hardstare, and perhaps its lack of intentionality is part of its charm.
Recording onto CD for the first time freed me from the idiosyncracies of designing for a cassette case. Perhaps it is for this reason that I also decided to free myself from the restrictions of the CD jewel case, and devised a simple fold of two pieces of paper which would not require adhesive. I printed the design, which was still black and white, straight onto heavy buff-coloured paper. The image on the front is of a library colleague, Sergio, for no really good reason other than that it was a good picture. On the back, some shadowy figures that I photoshopped onto the background of a Moscow metro station are represented as the Entropy Circus: Spiro Arker, Archie Donkor, Jerry Cornelius and Zali Krishna.
Hoog can be streamed or downloaded from archive.org.
Next: Quails Are Given.