Week from Monday 6th December 2004

There are voices in my head. They are exquisitely harmonious, due to having listened to far too much BEACH BOYS' music of late. "BRIAN WILSON presents SMiLE" has had a semi-permanent place on my Walkperson since I bought it; there has also been a documentary about the "SMiLE" phenomenon on BBC2, plus a repeat showing of the "PET SOUNDS" concert on BBC4. As you will see elsewhere, I have nominated "Brian Wilson presents SMiLE" as my unchallenged ALBUM OF THE YEAR - I just wasn't sure in my own mind whether it should be nominated in the 'New Albums' category or the 'Reissues & Back Catalogue' one, given its [apparent] vintage!

Suddenly, on BBC4, it is WOMAD time again! There has been a fresh batch of - ahem! - highlights. This week, there were thirty minutes of the LUCIANO set (ie, the second half of the set, when Luciano himself was actually on stage) and the uplifting NIGEL KENNEDY & KROKE gig (I was right - it WAS music more suitable for listening to at home, rather than in a heaving Siam Tent!). Previous weekends have seen the TINARIWEN set receive an airing, as well as half-an-hour of the tedious DAARA J shout-a-thon. Next weekend brings footage of AMPARANOIA, a patchy but commercial blend of Hispanic styles (with occasional ill-advised broken-English singing), and a welcome repeat of the flamenco-bop-tastic OJOS DE BRUJO set from 2003...

"ART" NEWS: I feel dutybound to mention the TURNER PRIZE although, this year, none of the nominated work touched me on any level whatsoever. Everyone was trying just a little TOO hard to be "POLITICAL, MAN!". By any definition I know, LANGLAND & BELL are surely 'designers' rather than 'fine artists'. They build bridges. They print banners. Their work contains lots of injokes about architecture and function, but no real substance. Having said that, out of all this year's exhibits, their 'computer game'/virtual reality walkabout of Osama binLaden's [alleged]house is the only thing that really sticks in the mind for more than five minutes. KUTLAG ATAMAN works in video, but the subject matter is less than thrilling, being of talking heads from various parts of the Middle East yakking about reincarnation... that same ol' HI-DEF SCREENS SUSPENDED IN A DARKENED ROOM-type installation really. YINKA SHONIBARE's African space suits were good fun, but the rest of his stuff rests on a single, feeble gag about racial-stereotype-reversal... high production values, but little else. The ultimate winner was JEREMY DELLER, whose work is also glossily-produced but vacuous. There is SOME personal concept at work here, somehow linking rave culture, brass bands, Texan vox-pop films and a swarm of bats. I didn't get it.

Week from Monday 13th December 2004

It's taken thirty years, by I've just got some 'new' albums by my favourite seventies medieval prog-yokels, GRYPHON - two seedydisks which gather together their sessions and concerts for the BBC. And, of course, most splendid they are too [apart from the sometimes eccentric instrumental mix - I'm guessing that the BBC sound engineers had never before been required to balance an amplified bassoon, an electric guitar and a descant recorder!]

I'm happy to report that YOUSSOU N'DOUR is actually making LISTENABLE music again: his concert with the Egyptian strings of the FATHY SALAMA Orchestra was showcased on that Lucy Durán's Radio 3 prog. Oum Kalthoum-tastic!

There is some VERY STRANGE GOINGS-ON at 'THE FREAK ZONE' this week, even by their standards. THE RESIDENTS? KRYSZSTOF PENDERECKI?? On daytime pop radio??? THE PEDANTIC PEDESTRIAN tried to congratulate the show by e-mail, but couldn't get connected... Have they changed their e-mail address without telling anyone? Anything sent to the usual address gets returned as "unknown recipient", no matter which e-mail account I send it from. They have revamped the 6Music website and the e-mail links there don't do anything either. And there's been no 6Music newsletter for a couple of weeks. There'll be no more NOTES FROM THE PEDANTIC PEDESTRIAN until they sort themselves out - Ha! So! Perhaps THAT's what they've changed it for?!

Shelfy turned up with an Xmas "present"; a bag of GRANNY TURNER'S BASINGSTOKE DRY ROASTED ROBINS (in fact a rather nicely produced ARTifact).

Week from Monday 20th December 2004

The folks at BBC 6Music have STILL not sorted out their ONGOING E-MAIL NON-RECEPTION SITUATION... "THE FREAK ZONE" are (is? am?) aware that nothing works properly, as there was a comment about it on last night's show. I BLAME THE GOVERNMENT, who are currently questioning bbc.co.uk's "competitiveness" in the www-dot "marketplace". They are insisting that they cut back on some of the bits of the BBC-i website[s] which, they claim, are already catered for "in the commercial sector" (Says who? Somebody in high places is getting backhanders from the e-MONOPOLIES and no mistake!). Anyway, I have noticed there HAS been some hasty tampering done to some of the BBC sites I use regularly, the upshot of which is that things don't actually WORK as well as they did before, if at all - eg; e-mail links, searches and the like...

It's the last working week before XMAS, so naturally it's getting really busy all of a sudden! Today alone, I've drawn a picture of a caravan to go on a fag lighter and have signwritten a window for one of the many nail-bars that are springing up all over little Gozzy.

The EXTREMES OF PIANO TECHNIQUE were explored this week, with Radio 3 broadcasting the CECIL TAYLOR set from the London Jazz Festival and Channel 4 showing the long awaited film about KEITH JARRETT. This diary will now take a break for the ten days of the holiday period, as I will be away from my peecee for all that time!