Week from Monday 5th January 2004

Back to "NORMAL", I guess... I currently find myself typing out the new "WHAT'S ON" list for a local birdwatchers' society... hmm! ...and you thought I had a thrilling lifestyle...? This afternoon I have to report to the Hair Emporium so that the girls can have at me with razors. I must be insane.

The new KING CRIMSON DVD has, of course, brought much joy. The Tokyo disk is an absolute aural and visual treat in its entirety and has been watched over and over, but the "bonus" BOOTLEG TV disk is a little more problematic. The video content, though of "HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE", is not of a quality that warrants repeated viewing at all. The audio content is, of course, wonderful and needs to be listened to again and again. The disk has apparently been encoded in such a way as to allow the "Improv" sections to be played in a random order, but this does not seem to work very well and does not make for a "CONTINUOUS LISTENING EXPERIENCE". So I decided to do an audio "souvenir" copy of the Shepherd's Bush concert for my own use (I was there, you know...), so that I may listen to it at any time without all that tedious mucking about with remote controls.

I've just got 'round to listening to the TERRY HALL & MUSHTAQ concert from Radio 3's World Music Day... fair makes you want to wrap a scarf around your head and live in a caravan (in Coventry?).

On Thursday, I suddenly found myself having to replace the CD writer on this here PC. That's an expense I could have done without, plus I find I will have to learn a whole different way of compiling and burning CDs. I haven't had the chance to try it out yet, I spent much of the day scanning and modifying pictures of myself.

"Independence Day" was on again. I love watching movies of an APOCALYPTIC bent, I somehow find them strangely comforting. Go figure.

Week from Monday 12th January 2004

As you will by now have noticed, I did a little bit of work over the weekend tweaking the appearance of THE SECRET SPACE WEB THINGY for the new year, while at the same time designing - well, re-designing anyway - a leaflet for our friendly neighbourhood INSURANCE PEOPLE. It is, at the moment, precipitating the proverbial quadrupeds and I am listening to a tape of Friday's "Jazz On 3" concert by basso profundo DAVE HOLLAND and the boys. Also high on the playlist at the moment is (what used to be) Side One of the NEIL YOUNG "Decade" compilation, the "side" with the wired and wonderfully garage-y BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD stuff.

I had my first go at using my new replacement CD Burner by doing a test compilation of odds'n'sods that wouldn't fit on other compilations - I'm sure we've ALL done one of those at some time - wherein The Beach Boys nestle uneasily between Jefferson Airplane and Sam The Sham & The Pharoahs, and Johnny Winter follows on from "Earth Angel" by The Penguins! Normally at this point, I might use the word "ECLECTIC", but I won't...

There is just one important entry in Saturday's diary - "GET CARTRIDGE!" ...hmm... sounds like a good name for a movie (explanation: I had to go into town to get a refill for our laserprinter).

Week from Monday 19th January 2004

Throughout the weekend, I dipped into the Barbican's CAGE/UNCAGED season, through the magic of wireless and SPACE TELLY. The media had a field day over the BBC Symphony folks "performing" JOHN CAGE's "silent" "piece" "4'33" ("arranged" for full orchestra!). It is astonishing that this piece should STILL be considered controversial and newsworthy (as in "And finally on tonight's news - look at the MODERN ART, isn't it whacky?"), over fifty years since it was first conceived. It WAS an extraordinary occasion though, notable for the way the audience mainly managed to confine their coughing to the "gaps" between the three "movements". All eyes were fixed on the conductor, who turned the pages of the "score" at the appropriate moment - three mainly blank pages marked only by the movement number and the simple instruction "TACET". As a "performance" it was not so much sublime as subliminal. Elsewhere, there were examples of Cage's GAMELAN-A-LIKE exercises for PREPARED PIANO, as well as works by Cage's American contemporaries and musical near-relatives. I especially thrilled to HENRY COWELL's Piano Concerto (its subtitle should be "DEATH OF A STEINWAY"). Imagine, if you will, "Rhapsody In Blue" played by a pianist wearing boxing gloves and you'd be somewhere there.

The new FRANK ZAPPA/ENSEMBLE MODERN disc arrived on my doorstep. It is an exceptional achievement in the history of contemporary music. I could single out the way the Ensemble players have managed to ACTUALLY PLAY the hocketted transitions between guitar and piano on "A Pig With Wings", which were originally only possible using memory-intensive multi-samples on the Synclavier, but the WHOLE THING is incredible ... And there's a nice version of PEACHES EN REGALIA for the old folks ... And DAVID MOSS gets to do his funny voices.

One or two individuals reading this will be thrilled to know that Thursday marks the start of the Chinese YEAR OF THE MONKEY. "Kyung Hua Ning, Log Tin Ribs And A Few Pineapples" to you all!

Week from Monday 26th January 2004

After watching last week's "Timeshift" documentary, I was verily in need of further PROG sustenance this weekend. I gravitated towards GENESIS doing "The Lamb" at the Shrine Auditorium, KING CRIMSON live in front of a Hyde Park full of Rolling Stones fans and - sorry, Blockhead! - YES live in Amsterdam with the rockin' teenage European Festival Orchestra, which I'd freshly purchased on the new-fangled DVD format. Negative point(s): The naff animations are best left turned off, Mr Squire plays an almighty ESKIMO BLUE DAY clunker of a bum note on the "Würm" section of STARSHIP TROOPER and the accompanying rockumentary is rather difficult to take in these post-SPINAL TAP days.

Meanwhile, this week's "Jazz On 3" featured Lebanese oud-carver, RABIH ABOU-KHALIL and his pan-global bunch of funsters recorded at the London Jazz Festival, last November.

I've just got an e-mail from BINKY concerning new ZIMPOON products, so excuse me while I create a few hyperlinks... I can't actually upload stuff to the ZIMPOON website on his behalf anymore, because I recently had to reinstall my dial-up connection and so I no longer have AUTHORISED ACCESS under the new settings. He'll just have to learn to do it himself! Shelfy sent me a picture of his latest VEHICULAR EXTRAVAGANCE, an LD ambulance of WELSH extraction. It is very pretty and will, no doubt, be the TALK OF RIVERMEAD next summer.

It is Thursday morning and the snow lays cold and thick... well, cold, anyway. Break out the parkas and tigerbalm the extremities!

Goodness me, I can't stop listening to YES at the moment, it'll be one of those passing crazes that we all get from time to time. I can still remember exactly where I was when I heard "The Yes Album" for the first time and for over thirty years now I've had a LOVE/HATE relationship with the music of YES - I LOVE their sweeping majesty, their way with a quirky offbeat and their contrasting passages of elegaic beauty and awesome bombast. I HAVE A PROBLEM, however, wi' t' space cadet Anderson, his overbearing sub-Donovan tweeness and his inability to string together a comprehensible English lyric (Proper English done good like what us normal people does). I suspect I am not alone among YES fans, in having acquired the ANDERSON DESENSITISATION ANTIBODY, the effect of which is an ability to render oneself oblivious to this man's nonsense, allowing one to enjoy the music unhindered - "TO CHART A COURSE AMID THE PIFFLE HOW THEY UTTER" as the man himself might have said... Eager readers of this diary might have noticed that I just rewrote that paragraph in its entirety since yesterday, I wanted to HONE THE SATIRE a little.