Week from Monday 1st March 2004

Good news, bad news... I won a FIVER on the Thunderball lottery and I received another "free" DVD from the Daily Mail. However, it wouldn't play on my machine - it locks up on the language selection menu. I "DID" the car boot sale this week (it's about time I took some stuff to SELL for once!). I purchased some of ye olde vinyl at a pound-a-pop or less: PETE SINFIELD's "STILL" solo album (SO VERY 1972!), a late sixties INDO-JAZZ fusion-type thing (I couldn't resist the cheesy cover, plus it's got KENNY WHEELER on it) and CHARLES MINGUS' "MINGUS MINGUS MINGUS MINGUS" ("Mingusite - For That Unsightly Hole In Your Jazz Collection"). I also got some computer CD-ROMs which may or may not contain USEFUL THINGS. I spent a day or so converting the NUGGETS box into MP3s for the ultimate virtual JUKEBOX-full of TRASHY AMERICAN MUSIC.

My two major WORK PROJECTS are out of the way for now (just waiting for the money to roll in!), so I had a bit of a springclean on this heeyah peecee. I purged the harddrive(s) of unwanted CHAOS 'N' KERFUFFLE and, where necessary, reinstalled some things afresh, in readiness for the new CORELDRAW that, I hope, will be arriving next week. I just remembered that I lent my WEBMASTER artdisk to Shelfy for his ART-OBJECT-ENTITY, so I must demand it back, as I need some of the clipart contained therein.

From the good people at Songlines Magazine and World Music Networks, I received a free (subscription-incentive) copy of the sublime ROUGH GUIDE TO SUFI MUSIC disc, or as I like to call it, "DEVOTIONAL DITTIES FOR DIZZY DERVISHES"... and last night, I finally got to hear (nearly all of) the rest of the progtastic GENTLE GIANT "In Concert" broadcast from 1978, via the 6Music digital space wireless. As I pointed out previously, every time 6Music have broadcast bits of this concert in the past, they have played the SAME THREE SONGS in varying order. I've just been having a go at the DGM "DEGREES OF SEPARATION" contest for this month, trying to join the dots between ROBERT FRIPP and DOLLY PARTON... "Men! It Can Be Done!"

Week from Monday 8th March 2004

It's official... I have NO NEED in my life for a MOBILE PHONE. They've just excommunicated me for never using the wretched thing. Tired and emotional and plagued with boils, I spent the weekend VEGETATING OUTWARDS. I caught up on a couple of episodes of Vic 'n' Bob's new show "CATTERICK" (Note to Shelfy: DON'T WATCH THIS, IT'S NOT FOR YOU!), watched the documentary about GRAM PARSONS and resumed my reading of the GRATEFUL DEAD book, "A Long Strange Trip" (Such detail! Halfway through the book and we've only JUST got to the release of "Workingman's Dead"). I taped (and listened to repeatedly) that swingtastic CHARLES MINGUS elpee that I bought at last week's car booty.

Progress has resumed on the MILLENNIUM/SPINNAKER TOWER-TYPE THING over(bearing) Portsmouth Harbour. It fails miserably to resemble the shiny futuristic object portrayed by the computer-generated models and instead looks like a battleship-drab piece of defence hardware, a weathered old radar mast, hand-painted by squaddies on jankers. In that respect, it is indeed symbolic and representative of all that this city has come to stand for... I received this piece of what-we-doctors-like-to-call-feedback on the subject from Shelfy, which I shall share with you, dear reader, in full...

"I read with interest your diary bit about the so-called Tower of Bulbul or whatever it is. When I observed said concrete insult to the tax payer of Pompey this morning, I couldn't help feeling that the thing was staring at SHAPELY, OOH LA LA GOSPORT and getting an erection! If this town of ours falls with child, I for one am prepared to cast the first stone! Portsmouth: do up those fly buttons and get back to your duties!"

Well, thank you for that... There is lots of that lovely FUNNY FOREIGN MUSIC on Radio 3 this week: On Monday there was a Welsh/Indian theme to the evening, with the flying santoors of SHIVKUMAR & RAHUL SHARMA playing a late night raga at St David's Hall in Cardiff, and HARIPRASAD CHAURASIA performing a Bansuri Concerto with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Tuesday had an unusual version of one of JOHN ADAMS' pieces, performed by those SOUTH BANK GAMELAN folks ("Do You Want To See The Puppets?!"). The concert in which MUSZIKAS swapped notes on BARTOK with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra was also rather special...

BeebFour had a documentary on Future-Primitive Sculpt-Dada CONSTANTIN BRANCUSI, mucker of Duchamp and maker of ELEGANT THINGS, who is currently "ON AT THE TATE". A Buddhist monk was on hand to attest to the "Spiritual" quality of his work. "Minimalism On A Maximum Scale"? That's a hundred years old already!

Week from Monday 15th March 2004

Those RADIO 3 WORLD MUSIC AWARDS rolled around again, prompting the following thoughts on THIS MUSIC WE CALL WORLD...

If the awards proved just one thing, it is that there is just as much BAD MUSIC around the planet as there is good. Just because a song is in a tongue other than English, that does not make it WORLD music. Cheap pop music is just cheap pop music, wherever it comes from, and is mostly unworthy of any SERIOUS studied attention. Use your ears.

Supposed wordsmith BENJAMIN ZEPHANIAH demonstrated a unique talent for mis-pronouncing proper nouns, no matter what the country of origin. See how many of these you recognise: SEV-ARRUH NAZ-ROCK-ANNE, TRO-LOCK GAR-TOO, OH-HOSS DAY BRAY-HOE and my personal favourite, OZ TRIBBER-LASTOZ.

The best WORLD FUSION comes about when cultural styles are allowed to SMASH HEADLONG into each other, not by being lovingly and gently blended into a smooth syruppy mush. The very best, genuine WORLD MUSIC (rather than specifically local or traditional music) has an indefinable, anarchic CIRCUS quality. Consider the following: 3 Mustaphas 3, Os Mutantes, Manu Chao, Tom Zé, Los De Abajo, Ozomatli, Shibusashirazu, Cicala Mvta, Ojos De Brujo and now THINK OF ONE. The AFRO CELT gentleman's dedication to Joe Strummer was therefore particularly apt (although I think that the music of AFRO CELTS falls squarely in the "smooth syruppy mush" category).

If HIP-HOP shows no musical imagination beyond copping licks from what is currently hot on the streets of Compton or the Bronx, and the lyrical content of the RAP is not perceivable as good POETRY, then we are merely left with A BUNCH OF BLOKES SHOUTING AT YOU accompanied by a banal drumbox preset. This is unappealing, no matter what language it is in. If DAARA J represent the future of African music, then I for one do not wish to go there.
I submitted the above rant to SONGLINES magazine, so see if THAT stirs up the METRO-CENTRIC WORLD MUSIC MAFFIOSI.

I've spent a couple of days getting to grips with CORELDRAW 11- no drastic changes to the bits that I use on a daily basis and I can't see that Vector Animation capabilities are going to be much use to ME anyway - and I've been trying out a "new" bitmap painting prog from the folks at Serif. Whether it'll ever replace PhotoPaint (or even my eight-year old version of Paint Shop Pro) in my affections, remains to be seen.

I got a most amusing piece from Shelfy about his new VEHICULAR DELIGHT. I will add it to his SHELFSPACE page shortly.

Week from Monday 22nd March 2004

I've just received an e-missive from that HUMAN NAIL about the new ELK PSYCHIATRIST seedy, so I shall add that info to his popup shortly. There is also a new webbo address - I hope I haven't got to change every damn ZIMPOON link on THIS site!?

Loads of broadcasts to catch up with over the weekend including, in no particular order, the BILL FRISELL & DJELIMADY TOUNKARA gig at the Barby, some Desert Blude from TINARIWEN, WRECKLESS ERIC being Eccentric and English, THE BAD PLUS also at the Barby... and I still haven't got round to watching "BEST IN SHOW", the spoof, if you will, DOGUMENTARY from the folks who brought you "THIS IS SPINAL TAP".

And so to Saturday, when I went to Southampton for "AN EVENING OF GENESIS MUSIC PLUS" with the progmeister STEVE HACKETT, the only man still holding the baton (or "carrying the can", depending on your point of view) for this kind of music. It is still, most definitely, SUITABLE FOR SAILING. If anything, the concert was even better than the one before Xmas, with lots of nice surprises thrown in: a couple of new songs, some old favourites ("Defector" songs seem to be particularly RE-DO-ABLE with this line-up), a newly-arranged "LAMB" medley and "BLOOD ON THE ROOFTOPS", a song which even Genesis themselves didn't play live in 1977 (Uh oh! ...a singing drummer - Remember what happened to the last one?). The version of the frankly-Crimsoid JAZZ-METAL OPUS "Mechanical Bride" was also the most bonkers I've yet heard.

E-Mail to SNILTWEASEL (DIRECTOR)

Sorry it's a week late(r), but here's the griff on the SUITABLE FOR SAILING Steve Hackett gig at Southampton Guildhall 20/3/04.

1st set
Valley of the Kings (thanks to John Wood at Steve's office for supplying the name of this one! Sounds a bit like "The Steppes" or even "Mint's Bolero"!)
Mechanical Bride (this was the most BONKERS version of this quasi-"21st Century Crimsoid" piece I've yet heard them play - the sax solo was totally OUT TO LUNCH - and I mean that in an Eric Dolphy sense!)
To Watch The Storms/The Frozen Statue (medley of toons from the latest waxing - mad riddims and a good flute solo - vocals much better than the weird studio version)
Slogans (the VERY fast one from "Defec(a)tor" with some good jazzy guitar bits thrown in)
Serpentine Song (the one that sounds a bit like the Crim's "I Talk To The Wind" - nice touch was a soprano sax solo on the "coda" instead of flute)
Ace Of Wands (Yes all of it, not just the beginning bit this time!)
Hammer In The Sand (songs from "Defec(a)tor" are getting dusted down for this band - nice piano)
The "Agnostic" set (Blacklight, Classical Gas, Horizons and a trio piece that may have been by Satie or was it Morricone?)
Blood On The Rooftops (in its entirety, for the first time EVER live - Genesis didn't play THIS one live in 1977 - with a singing drummer... uh oh! remember what happened to the last one?!)

2nd set
Broadway Medley of 2004 (okay that's MY title - a bit of The Waiting Room leading into, oh... what's the third track on side one of The Lamb? Fly On A Windshield...Ed)
Please Don't Touch / Firth Of Fifth (the big instrumental medley)
Dark Night In Toytown (working title, also called New Gluck Song 'cos of the source of the keyboard riff)
Dark Town (reeeeallly heavy on the instrumental bits)
Brand New (still think this one sounds like something from Big Generator-period Yes)
The Air Conditioned Nightmare (nice to hear this one rolled out again after all these years)
Every Day (still sounds splendid)
Clocks (the drummer's starting to get into this one and the solo is starting to get longer! Big finish!)

Encores
Spectral Mornings (of course)
Los Endos (of course)

The "Agnostic/Acoustic" malapropism is Hackett's. The "Defec(a)tor" joke was Nick Magnus' (late-seventies Hackett keyboard player). I tried, in an e-mail, to explain to the band what SUITABLE FOR SAILING means as a style of music, but it's probably an in-joke type thing that doesn't translate. 

Of "Blood On The Rooftops", Hackett announced "Here's a song I wrote in 1976, with a drummer who's since done quite well for himself." That's a matter of opinion!

Happy sailing!
The Prog Dinosaur

Week from Monday 29th March 2004

"Mixing It" looked promising this week, featuring as it did THE BAYS, a band who "don't use sequencers, only play live, never rehearse and have never released any recordings... We constantly surprise each other with the samples we bring to a gig...". Sounds pretty neat, huh? In reality though, they lacked any imagination to venture beyond the clichéd restrictions of techno dance music. The samples in question were of the "UHUH... OOH YEAH" variety beloved of EVERY hip hop "artiste" EVER. After a very short time, I found myself "agog with indifference", as Kenneth Williams once said. Was this some kind of April Fools' hoax? For a while now, I've been having an adverse reaction to this no-brainer electro stuff - It's "MUSIC TO DISAPPEAR UP YOUR OWN ARSE TO" - I mean what's the point of making a big fuss about NOT using a sequencer and then using a laptop to make EXACTLY the same kind of textures as an old Roland analogue? It just too damned EASY!

Craving something a lot more organic, down home and dirty, I've been listening a lot to the TINERIWEN session (Source: last week's Kershaw), as well as the FESTIVAL IN THE DESERT recordings (Sources: various)... BALLOOOOOZEHH! Eager to use my credit at the MVC store, I bought the first TRAFFIC album in freshly re-minted digital format, finally getting to hear it "properly" after all these years, rather than through the medium of "TAPE-TAKEN-FROM-GOLD-LAMÉ'S-SCRATCHY-MONO-VINYL-ELPEE".

I've just spent some time up to my neck with HTML code and Xara Webstyle, experimenting with a SECRET PROJECT that may... or may not... become... apparent... shortly... THERE! DONE IT! As you can see, I've ended up with an all-new navigation bar to this here site, using pretty little icons, with flags that pop up, to tell you what they mean and that (I didn't actually use ANY of the ideas that I was trying out with Xara Webstyle, but it WAS fun and useful experimentation ne'ertheless)...

And lo! My online prompt, for MERVYN PURVISS to supply us with the address to his SKUNK FUNK website, has yielded a result... it's there at www.skunkfunk.info ...Check out MERV's "RANT" page, it's a hoot! Brief techy note to the Webmaster (Is that you RAAAABBITHOOOOLE!!!???!): The JPEGs on the "PICTURES" page could do with OPTIMISING a bit, for a speedier download...

I also got an e-mail from John Wood at the STEVE HACKETT concern, naming the opening song that I couldn't identify (the one a bit like "The Steppes" or, indeed, "Mint's Bolero"). Now I feel SUCH a fool... speaking of which, greetings to everyone on ALL BUFFOONS DAY, April 1st...