Peter Howell & John Ferdinando

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Peter Howell & John Ferdinando were involved in several recording projects in the late 1960s and early '70s that fused the poppier sides of British folk-rock and British progressive rock. In particular,…
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Peter Howell & John Ferdinando were involved in several recording projects in the late 1960s and early '70s that fused the poppier sides of British folk-rock and British progressive rock. In particular, their very limited-edition (50-100 copies) pressings of albums by Agincourt and Ithaca are valued by some specialist psychedelia collectors. Though a little lo-fi compared to records from the era of a similar nature on bigger labels, the albums to which the pair contributed have a nice light, airy, slightly naive feel, and are considerably above the average for such rarities of the time and style.

Before doing the Agincourt and Ithaca albums, Peter Howell and John Ferdinando also put out a limited-edition LP in early 1969 of the soundtrack they did for the Ditchling Players' production of Alice Through the Looking Glass. This project arose out of an outgrowth of the pair's interest in recording material on their own equipment, outside of proper professional studios. The small town in which they resided, Ditchling (in Sussex, near Brighton), became aware of their activities and asked them to provide the music for the local stage production. Using many instruments (including guitars, organ, glockenspiel, piano, autoharp, mandolin, and sound effects), they constructed a musical backdrop that was akin to their future, slightly more celebrated efforts, but a little folkier and more basic. It was nice, low-key, almost wholly instrumental, whimsical period British psychedelia, but understandably more on the level of incidental music than an artistic statement. Unfortunately, the album was interrupted by insertions of jarring lo-fi spoken word extracts from the play, though most of the space was taken up by the music, which was acceptably well recorded.

Howell and Ferdinando stopped working together in the '70s, after Howell (who'd been a BBC studio manager since 1970) began working at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, where he worked on background music for radio, television, and film. The Alice Through the Looking Glass album was reissued in 1997 as a limited-edition LP in a press run of 1000 copies by Tenth Planet.