My impartiality is probably open to question where this one is concerned. Never mind that I know the bloke, but I actually contributed some vocals, as did my wife, and I know at least a couple of the other people who similarly responded to Stan Batcow's request for remotely recorded guest vocals. Please sing these words, he said, and send me the file so I can weave it into something I've been working on; and we did. Please feel free to grass me up to the trading standards authority if this is a problem.
Howl in the Typewriter is the organ of Stan Batcow, so to speak, former Ceramic Hob and punky DIY stalwart since at least back when I was still at school. He's been at it for a while and is yet to show any sign of reigning it in or, for that matter, giving too much of a shit about sales or catering for any specific audience. Musically he's always carved his own furrow, as does this album, and it's a furrow which still very much works for him and has come to sound more and more unique with each passing year as the part-timers fall by the wayside.
Manifesto is, perhaps typically, an H-bomb scale potshot taken at the commercialism against which Howl have been pitted all these years; and it's a single song lasting over an hour, or at least that's one way of looking at it. Another might be as Crass's Yes Sir, I Will with tunes, or even one of the more impenetrable Jethro Tull concept albums, A Passion Play or one of those; except this is better, or at least I like it more. Howl play a hybrid of punk rock and techno hung on some sort of vaguely proggy structure, themes repeat here and there morphing into reggae, thrash, power electronics, and just plain oddball without it seeming too much like a collage of disparate elements; and whilst its sheer scale and duration is a little demanding, it keeps moving, changing, and manages to never outstay its welcome. I seem to recall reading that Manifesto has been seven years in the making, which I can believe because of the elegance with which all the parts fit together to form a coherent whole, despite being born from a million random elements pulling in different directions. I'm very impressed.
Myself and the misses turn up at around the fourteen minute mark if anyone is interested.