After a busy 2005, Ectogram spent most of 2006 away from the spotlight, a rare exception being a hometown gig at The Skerries in Bangor on February 26th, alongside Micrographia and Jacobi, both of who are very fine groups. Ectogram used the opportunity to try out a bunch of new material they had been working on over the preceeding weeks. A very enjoyable evening was had by all.
However, the lack of public appearances was somewhat deceptive as the group were very busy "behind the scenes" for most of the year. Maeyc's home studio facility up in the Ogwen valley finally became functional (if not actually completed) at the start of the year and Ectogram spent regular sessions there throughout 2006 exploring new approaches and developing new ideas. This activity has yielded many hours worth of recordings, ranging from abstract explorations of sound and space to melodic and structured (if not quite conventional) songs.
In June, the group were invited to record in southern Germany by producer Hans-Joachim Irmler with a view to releasing the resultant material on his label. Again, the sessions produced a variety of material from which was culled two hour-long improvised soundscapes together with eight more concise and structured pieces.
Ann and Alan returned to Germany in September for the 2006 Avant Garde festival in Schiphorst. Although not playing in their Ectogram guise this time, they both managed to participate in collaborative sessions with other artists during the festival and sowed the seeds for some future international projects.
Albums of the year 2005
Electric Deckchair made a top ten appearance in the 50 best albums of 2005, as decided by Italian stations Radio Capodistria and Radio Torino Popolare's popular "London Calling" show. Apparently the top 10 albums were played in their entirity on the station's New Years Eve special.The full top 50 can be seen here . Ectogram will also be appearing on Italian TV in the coming months - more details as we know.
New album out
The new Ectogram album Electric Deckchair is now in the shops. Divided into two traditional LP-length discs, each sequenced to stand alone in their own right, the album comes closest yet to capturing the live essence of Ectogram, masterfully captured in the Bryn Derwen studio by sonic wizard Michael Auld, with the only subsequent overdubs being vocals. Click on the sleeve for further information and reviews.
Electric Deckchair should be available in all record shops (at least in the UK) via Shellshock/Pinnacle distribution (cat. no. ANKST 115), and online from the Ankst shop at www.ankst.net
Ectogram recently finished a trip round the UK with legendary krautrockers Faust on their Faust in Autumn tour.
Between October 27th and November 8th, they visited Hendre Hall in Bangor, The Tunnels in Aberdeen, the Coal Exchange in Cardiff, The Metro in London (also with Charles Hayward and Stella Maris Drone Orchestra), The Old Market Theatre in Brighton (also with British Sea Power and Stella Maris Drone Orchestra) and the Academy in Newcastle. The tour was a big success and Ectogram made lots of new friends and had a great time, as well as getting to see Faust six times in a fortnight!.
The two groups then parted company and Ectogram headed back to Cardiff to play at the Cardiff Screen film festival on November 10th to mark the World premiere of the movie "Y Lleill" (see below), to which they provided the soundtrack (see info below).
Ectogram at the Drones Club (picture by Joachim Gaertner of S/T) - more pictures here)
On Saturday 15th October, they played at the Drones Club at The Others, 6-8 Manor Road, Stoke Newington, London N16. The bill was: S/T (from Frankfurt) / Ectogram / Burning Idiot Noise (Brighton) / Raagnagrok (London). The event was organised by the Kosmische collective, who run regular live events in London as well as having their own excellent weekly radio programme on Resonance FM, dedicated to highlighting adventurous and explorartory music.
Festivals in Germany
Ectogram at Scheer, 13th August 2005 (L) and Schiphorst, 17th September 2005 (R)
Ectogram recently appeared at two festivals in Germany, both organised by members of krautrock legends Faust and both amongst the most enjoyable gigs they've played.
The second annual Klangbad festival took place between the 12th and 14th of August on the banks of the Danube in southern Germany where Hans-Joachim Irmler of Faust runs the Klangbad studio in the town of Scheer. Also on the bill were Faust, Circle, S/T, Steven Wray Lobdell, Cpt. Howdy, Audiac, Nalle, Nista Nije Nista and Das Weeth Experience. A wonderful time was had by everybody and a DVD of the event should emerge in due course.
returned to Germany a month later to play the Schipho'
Avant Garde Fiesta at Schiphorst in Northern Germany (between
Lübeck and Hamburg) from 16th to 18th of September.
Interestingly, the lineups for Faust at the two festivals were completely different. At Scheer, it featured original organist Hans-Joachim Irmler and original drummer Arnulf Meifurt (who hadn't played together in over 30 years!), alongside long-time members Steve Lobdell, Lars Paukstat and Michael Stoll. The Schipho' lineup, on the other hand comprised the other original drummer, Werner "Zappi" Diermaier and original bass player / singer Jean-Hervé Peron, alongside new members Olivier Manchion and Amaury Cambuzat from the French group Ulan Bator.
Shooting is now complete for the forthcoming movie Y Lleill, for which Ectogram provided the soundtrack. The film, which tells the story of a fictional Welsh rock group and their eventual disintergration due to internal and external pressures stars ex-Carbonvein singer John Reynolds.
Ectogram provided both the group's music and incidental music for the film, which is due to be premiered at the Welsh Film Festival in Cardiff on November 10th. Alternative versions of some of the songs in the film will also appear on the forthcoming Ectogram record Electric Deckchair.
Whilst working on the new record, Ectogram have continued to play a few low-key hometown gigs. On October 23rd 2004, they played at the Railway Institute in Bangor, alongside David Wrench, Dethkit, The Hollow Men, The New Dodos, Anaemic and Nixon and Jarvis. In a concise 26 minute set, they played four relatively lengthy numbers: Small Things Crawling / Come Get Some / Black Lime Tree / Daisy Rind.
Ectogram at the Railway Institute, Bangor 23rd October 2004
Another recent live appearance took place on July 4th at the Old Glan in Bangor. Although the group had never played the venue before as Ectogram, all three members have a long history of playing there individually, and in various combinations, dating back over 20 years. Some of you may have been there on the 22nd of January 1982, when Maeyc and Alan's legendary group The Pinecones played probably their finest (but sadly also penultimate) gig. Others may fondly recall the evening of Friday August 6th that same year, when both Maeyc and Ann performed solo sets under their stage names Paul Cone and Nancy Chair respectively (alongside sets by Jim Wistful, Adrian Smart and Iorwerth Evans), or maybe you will warm to the memory of the only ever performance by Alan and Ann's first joint group Karnarvøn Kästle. Also worth mentioning is Alan and Maeyc's dubious honour of inventing the concept of the "Tribute Band", 20 years ahead of the pack, when their group "The Pink Ones" performed a complete set of Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd material, together with far out light show and free sugarcubes on the 27th October 1981!
Anyway, back in the (almost) present, the Ectogram set on this occasion comprised: Overstopped / Cloud Trouble / A Dent In The Sunshine / Roses / Small Things Crawling / Cleaver In The Nightingale / Black Lime Tree / Daisy Rind
The group are now working with legendary studio whizz-kid Michael Chocolate on material for the new album and also for the soundtrack of a forthcoming film, more details of which will appear as and when they become declassified.
Damo Suzuki gig
Ectogram played at Hendre Hall (yet again) on May 2nd 2004 as support to legendary ex-CAN singer Damo Suzuki. As well as playing their own set (comprising Overstopped / Small Things Crawling / In The Shadows / Black Lime Tree / Cleaver In The Nightingale / Daisy Rind), the group also then backed Damo himself for part of his set, following on from Ruthin group Manchuko.