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Jim Moginie and Howlin' Wind

The Blessing

'The underwater quiet and spookiness was all around, curling and twisting beneath the surface of the Great Southern Ocean.

I first met Andy Richardson aka Howlin’ Wind in the early 80’s, when he returned from London where he studied with William Bennett for 9 years and also won plaudits as busker of the year with his residency in Green Park tube station. Winter after winter, a campaign worthy of the Somme, this stint created the performer in him, an apprenticeship of fire that bred a toughness that has stood him in good stead. When I first heard him play a wind instrument, I recall it was an empty beer bottle, and the sound richocheted off the Notre Dame in Paris, where the band, broke, and some friends, also broke, went after making the album Place Without a Postcard. I couldn’t believe the volume of it…it was deafening, like a stack of Marshalls, and was delivered with an impish Santa Claus type glee. His enthusiasm for the flute is infectious. Since that time I have seen him perform often. His command of the flute is amazing. His tone is fat and dynamic, really strong. He can drop into pure tone or harmonic over blowing Roland Kirk isms at the drop of a hat. Thus I came to the altar of the flute as, well, a believer.

A quiet pause, a late night meditation. Is it sweet dream you never had? A soundtrack begging for film? Write your own review. No north coast dolphin nose singing here. Sinister undercurrents of sinew and blood. Like nature, angular, not always reassuring.

After living for a time Melbourne, he decamped to Apollo Bay where he found a hillside block and, in true style, preceded to build his house himself, by hand. He wasn’t a builder by trade but again his enthusiasm got the thing built and a fine home it was. Around that time he was signed to Sony Classical and worked like a demon doing gigs all over the place. We have collaborated on many projects, usually myself in the control room, or playing guitar, but never one with just the two of us playing together for a whole album. We had talked about that one, but never got to it.

The sound of a wave crashing in the distance, a gull on the rise, a wind picking up, grass flattening. Quiet driftwood, being bleached in the sun. Glass blunted, polished by a tumble across the ocean floor.

I was to stay at Howlin’s place when I came down to Apollo Bay in 2003 to do a couple of gigs with my friend Neil Murray. I showed him my little Fender Champ amplifier and a couple of pedals. Before we knew it we had 3 guitar parts on tape. Over the next 2 nights we came up to the studio very late at night and put down more rumbling loops of degraded guitar. Overdubbed a couple of guitar parts that felt good onto that. Then onto the next piece. It was quiet in the room when played, but huge in the speakers on playback.

I had always secretly wanted to make a record like this, harboured all through my rock past, and loved the organic-ness, the distortion, the quiet power of it, the quest for tone and ‘expanding the palette of the electric guitar’ (use this phrase with caution.)

Shafts of light cutting through the junction of water and air. The diver’s breathing and consciousness reduced to the very moment at hand. Existence in the in and out breath. This is what the mystics and poets all talk about.

The funny thing is neither of us remember making this thing. Is that a good sign or not? It didn’t feel like we were making a record, Somehow it became one...

Howlin ‘s flute I have never heard better. The flute and the guitar sound like they’re part of the same thing, whatever that is. My only explanation is all that underwater quiet and spookiness was all around us, curling and twisting beneath the surface the great Southern ocean when we recorded this music'.

Jim.

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