1-2 Weeks
The Hildreth Tapes


To source the material for Neil Michael Hagerty & The Howling Hex's Hildreth Tapes, Golden Lab approached Matt Valentine (Tower Recordings/MV & EE) as he was both a big Neil fan and had the key to the "Tapers Pit" city. He got back to us right away and told us he was on it and, within about a week, he'd mailed us a data CD with a note marked, "Howdy Nick, here's a whole lotta booty. You GOTTA credit Jim Hildreth." There were seven performances on the disc captured from six shows and over eight hours of material. Hildreth, we learned, is a notorious NYC taper who's turned up to practically every weirdo show in town armed with a pair of binaural mics and a digital recording device, and, after Matt put out the appeal, he'd replied to say he had these shows recorded from over a 10-year period, most of the shit being from the first half of the '00s with the exception of one show recorded in 2010, and was more than happy to donate them. We took a listen. Sound quality-wise, the stuff varied as mics were placed in different spots at each show so there was no real consistency there, but what did come through were the performances. Long, drawn-out solos with intensely applied wah from 2001/2002... relentless, insanely extended repetitions of All-Night Fox riffs from 2005... cabaret-style medleys with paradoxically slapdash precision from 2010. All incredible and, on top of all that, ready-themed by the fact of its source: these were The Hildreth Tapes. Golden Lab set about the lengthy process of mastering it in a tiny flat in South Manchester in the winter of 2012. The result is this 3LP set, which features typically gorgeous, gatefold artwork by the venerable Lucy Jones. The sound quality has been homogenized to the best of their capability to give smoothness of flow to the sequencing (the label decided not to present the material in chronological order, rather in order of vibe -- this is just what felt right) and the required kick-up-the-arse where mic placement had failed to do so. And they think they have managed to get it sounding pretty sweet. Finally, Jim Hildreth gets some credit for his years of efforts in the name of preservation.