We’re proud to announce that Flutterama, the seventh album from Half-handed Cloud, is scheduled for release on June 17, 2022, and available for pre-order here, on LP in Oxidized Tape Brown vinyl, CD, or Wild Bilberry Purple cassette, alongside a limited-edition patch and a biodegradable balloon. 

A handcrafted artist’s book by John Ringhofer, limited to only 15 copies, is also available for purchase in a special LP bundle. These individually-numbered artist’s books, made with the 180-year-old cyanotype (architectural blueprint) process, utilize “genuine Finnish sunlight,” and incorporate moving parts and hand-painted sections.

The first single, “Handles,” is available for listening now, alongside a video shot in the John’s adopted home of Helsinki, Finland with Super-8 movie film. Both are available for listening and watching here.

Also today, Half-handed Cloud released a 2002 interview with John and Sufjan at WBAR Radio in NYC. John and Sufjan play lots of songs together from each others’ then-burgeoning catalogs and discuss busking in NYC, Christmas, feline breathing disorder, and Sufjan’s then-forthcoming album Michigan and the 50-States project. It’s one of the earliest broadcast recordings of either John or Sufjan made available to date. Listen to it here.

Our relationship with Ringhofer goes a long way back. In 2001, we released Half-handed Cloud’s debut album, Learning About Your Scale, under the catalog number AKR002, marking it as our second album (Sufjan’s A Sun Came was AKR001). Since then, John has toured and recorded with Sufjan and many other AKR artists, and we’ve been fortunate enough to be his record label of choice for many of his releases since then. 

We’re honored to be able to release Flutterama, an album that so potently demonstrates John’s ability to manipulate notes and instruments and ideas into such remarkable music.   

Flutterama is a record of 18 jubilant indie-pop songs, investigating spiritual incompetence with lively arrangements and radiant melodies that skillfully dissolve into deterioration using herky-jerky tape manipulation, analog wow-and-flutter, and an animated orchestra of home-recorded sound effects.

Ringhofer’s work on Flutterama was mainly inspired by late ’50s/early ’60s pre-synthesizer academic tape music (Henk Badings, Tod Dockstader, İlhan Mimaroğlu, Malcolm Pointon), along with Frances Mary Hunter Gordon’s adolescent liturgies (recorded at Abbey Road during The Beatles era), turbid sights and sounds in Guy Maddin films, R. Stevie Moore’s home-taped pop universe, Alberto Burri’s stitched wound burlap assemblages, Lou Barlow/Dinosaur Jr’s lo-fi “Poledo” sound collage (which name-checks Jesus), Julie Canlis book A Theology of the Ordinary, Wallace Berman’s visual collage, and The Raincoats’ magnificently shaky D.I.Y. aesthetic.

The tape machine itself plays a vital role in the album’s drive, interrupting moments of ecstasy and revelation with varispeed pitch shifts and grainy decay. These tape-fiddled tunes – recorded on a 16-track reel-to-reel recorder – employ surprisingly little synthesizer (“it felt like cheating,” says Ringhofer). He preferred to craft most of the album’s effects the long way, frequently going behind the back of rock instrumentation by hand-feeding ½” magnetic open reel recordings of deflating balloons, chord organs, tablecloth swipes, piano (occasionally tracked with a baby on his lap), brass, some guitars, and a quickly-cranked half-speed music box. Ringhofer was assisted by long-time Half-h contributor Brandon Buckner on drums, and single-song backing vocals from Anacortes, WA songsmith John Van Deusen.

To read more about the album, click here.