Week from Monday 2nd October 2006

In addition to the roads around our friendly neighbourhood airfield being closed to the public (to allow for bomb disposal operations of some kind), we had another overnight deluge last night (continuing this morning), so many a Hampshire road has been transformed into a temporary boating lake. Surprisingly though, I did NOT come into the orifice to find the carpet soaked.

Saturday afternoon brought some GREAT RADIO: In "Discovering Music", Charles Hazlewood presented a blow-by-blow analysis of BELA BARTOK's Second String Quartet (Should that be a 'bow-by-bow' account? ...Ed). I adore all six of  Bartok's String Quartets, which I imagine as the missing link between Hungarian folk music and "Larks' Tongues In Aspic". LISTEN especially to either the Second or the Fourth Quartet, if you think that description a bit far-fetched. This programme was followed by a "World Routes" special on the music of OKINAWA, presented by Paul Fisher, possibly the one 'westerner' who can claim to be any kind of authority on Oriental music. There were lots of tantalising musical snippets and an interview with SADAO CHINA, the man who put NENES together and who is no mean sanshin plucker himself!

Ah, excuse me while pop down and get my new spectacles...

My MAHLER PROJECT reached an impasse. "What is a 'Mahler Project'?" I hear you ask. Well, I have purchased all of Gustav's Symphonies on cassette over the years, but now I've been collecting them all AGAIN in digital format for PODCARRYING usage. However, neither of the local ' libraries' had the SECOND SYMPHONY on disc. I attempted to 'digitise' a copy from my splendid but ancient pre-recorded cassette. This method yielded far too much background noise for headphone listening, so I gave up. I took a trip to the Portsmouth Central Library where I WAS able to rent the aforementioned work on compact disc, so the project can now be completed.

OTHER MUSIC NEWS... A mailing from the Brighton Dome (promoting a gig by John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and Stan Webb's Chicken Shack) had this to say... "British blues just doesn't get any better than this!"...Is THAT any kind of recommendation?

The BIG BIG news of the week, though, is the announcement that this summer's WOMAD FESTIVAL was the LAST to be held at Reading/Rivermead. Next year, Womad will celebrate its 25th Anniversary at a new site "SOMEWHERE IN WILTSHIRE". Evidently they DO take notice of those audience survey forms then?! It is generally agreed that Rivermead was getting 'too crowded' (even with this year's slightly desperate new site layout). I also got the impression that the Womad organisation and Reading Borough Council had increasingly different agendas about what the Festival should stand for. And, as we know, councillors and festivals don't mix. So WOMAD will finally return to the West Country where it started! Hoorah!

Week from Monday 9th October 2006

Speaking of the West Country... It seems that, by word of mouth, I've become something of a WEBBO BY APPOINTMENT to the motorcycle industry of Wessex. I have to teach ANOTHER bike shop how to maintain their own website. At some stage I will have to take a trip "TO SEE THE PONIES" south of Salisbury but, as Shelfy is on a month's JURY SERVICE, I may have to go by train and foot. Hooray! I can feel an ADVENTURE coming on!

The new STEVE HACKETT album arrived... It's full of the usual mixture of styles one has come to expect from the Hackster and his chums, and is totally "SUITABLE FOR SAILING". One pleasant surprise is a version of Dylan's "Man In The Long Black Coat", which still bears an uncanny resemblance to our very own "Lunatics' Pressgang".

Meanwhile, in the wonderful wacky world of "Contemporary Music"... On this week's "HEAR & NOW" programme, there was a performance of one of HEINER GOEBBELS' radio 'operas', with the Ensemble Modern and some narration by David Tennent, the Swiss bloke who was once the child star in "The Tin Drum". Remember Heiner's earlier work, "Landscape With Argonauts"? Well, this one was "Landscape With Distant Relatives"... GREAT RADIO, not to mention great research for our own 'spoken-word-with-music' project.

Last week (I only just got around to listening to it), there was a concert by THE STEVE MARTLAND BAND as part of Radio Three's "Listen Up!" event. Martland's music just screams "FILM SOUNDTRACK!" - even though most of it wasn't originally supposed to be, it gets regularly plundered for TV documentaries and adverts (For Those Times When Philip Glass Just Won't Do). The music he writes for his Band could best be described as a prog-jazz-math-rock take on Michael Nyman (on speed).

THE MAD IMPULSIVE FOOL Shelfy has e-mailed me to say that he's bought another unwieldy vehicular extravagance on a whim, this time in the shape of an ex-US Army bus (fitted out as a motor-caravan). Perfect for Kesey-esque road trips, but possibly not welcome at any musical event we might choose to visit!

On Wednesday, I hopped on a train to Salisbury and went on a six-mile hike across Wiltshire. It rained a bit, but at least it was NICE RAIN, nature's very own coolant. The real purpose of my journey was to instruct another motorcycle shop in the art of maintaining their own website. Once I'd furnished them with some of Freeware's Finest for editing the existing pages and uploading them to their site, they seemed to find it all fairly straightforward (That is to say, I haven't had any phone calls of the "How Do You Do This?" variety YET). I was offered a lift back to Salisbury AND they paid me in cash money, with a generous bonus AND promises of more work to come. WHICH WAS NICE. I spent an hour or so mooching around the shops of beautiful downtown Salisbury, until the weather turned nasty again. I bought "In The Wake Of Poseidon" on CD for the THIRD time, because now it comes with two bonus 'single' tracks. I also found a copy of THE CURE's singles anthology "Standing On A Beach", on a cassette, in a charity shop, for 49p.

On returning home, I found a package had arrived from the good folks at DGM. Imagine my surprise upon opening it when, instead of the latest 'Club' release (of KING CRIMSON live in Munich in 1982) I had been expecting, I found an erroneously-sent "Collectable Crimson Volume 1", one disk of which is the whole of the 1974 set from The Casino, Asbury Park, Noo Joisey. This is a gig long sought by all KrimsofreaKs, permanently topping the "DGM Live!" downloads 'chart'. Some of the show appeared on the 'posthumous' "USA" live album, but with fan-frustrating edits and overdubs. The other half of the package is the [crunch-tastic] gig from Mainz in Germany, recorded a couple of months earlier, which I now appear to have a 'swapsy' of (so someone will be getting THAT for Xmas). I quickly noticed that the labels are switched on the two disks, so that the "Asbury" disc reads "Mainz" and vice versa. Whoops!

I'll still have to buy the "Munich'82" disc, though...

Week from Monday 16th October 2006

This weekend, I watched "Buena Vista Social Club" again (There was a free copy with The Observer). I read Leonard Cohen's novel "The Favourite Game". I also enjoyed a cracking Bollywood action movie called "DHOOM!" (imagine "Ocean's Eleven" crossed with "The Italian Job" only with more motorbikes and featuring gratuitous bhangra routines - camp as a row of pink tents!).

I felt a sudden need to translate the title "Tales From The Winged Eyeball" into German (The best I could come up with was "Flügelaugapfel Geschichten" - any other offers?).

The best evening for TOP RADIO COMEDY (still the FINEST KIND of comedy, in my opinion) has lately been on Mondays, with vintage editions of "The Goon Show", "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue", "The Sunday Format", "The 99p Challenge" and Alexei Sayle's "Lenin Of The Rovers" all getting an airing on BBC 7.

"Only two things are infinite - the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not so sure about the universe..." Albert Einstein.
"It's not getting any smarter out there. You have to come to terms with stupidity and make it work for you." Frank Zappa.

Week from Monday 23rd October 2006

I went for a jaunt around that Southampton on Saturday, but the current batch of art exhibitions turned out to be none too appealing (Lots of dreary 'official' portraits of City dignitaries of the past; some rather chocolate box-y watercolour landscapes). I visited the "RECORD CHAIN WITH AN ONOMATOPOEIC NAME", where I purchased the 'new' discs by JOHN McLAUGHLIN ("Industrial Zen": a welcome return to the kind of amped-up speed guitar he gave us in the seventies) and ANOUSHKA SHANKAR ("Rise": spiritually-charged 'indo-jazz fusion'-type stuff, which would have been impossible to enjoy in a heaving Siam Tent on a Friday night at WOMAD, but which is just the ticket for Sunday morning bathtubs). I also found some more 'SPOOKY ELECTRIC VOODOO'-period MILES DAVIS ("Agharta") at a ridiculously knockdown price. You May Sing The Body Electric, But We Shall Sing The Body Gas...

This week, we watch the skies for the defining sign that Autumn is upon us - that is 'The Coming Of The Brent Geese To The Playing Fields Of Gosport'. The weather's getting damper, but it's still not COLD enough for long trousers! Many poor little creatures are confused by the mild weather, with reports of magpies STILL NESTING in some parts. No one is seriously considering hibernation yet. There's even been some REALLY early signs of Spring reported (Snowdrops for goodness sake??!).

Over the weekend, I borrowed CARAVAN's "35th Anniversary Concert" DVD from the library - You might remember, this was the gig at UCL's Bloomsbury Theatre (on their 2003 "UNAUTHORISED BREAKFAST ITEM" tour) that I couldn't get a ticket for, so I went instead to Southampton's glittering nightspot (!) The Brook, a couple of days earlier. As a piece of video, it'll not win any awards, but as a audio-visual souvenir of a great gig, it'll certainly do!

We now know that next year's 25th ANNIVERSARY WOMAD FESTIVAL will be at Charlton Park (near Malmesbury, in darkest Wiltshire, just off the M4, past Swindon), home to the Earl of Suffolk & Berkshire (Huh?).

BEST AND WORST THINGS TO COME THROUGH THE DIGI-BOX THIS WEEK: The BEST thing to come through the digi-box this week was BBC [Radio] 7's "THE SUNDAY FORMAT". An audio parody of a Sunday paper's glossy supplement, it never ceases to astonish me just how much FUNNY STUFF they manage to cram into their allotted time. One of their half-hour scripts must be two inches thick! The WORST thing to come through the digi-box this week was the film "THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN", not to be confused with "The League Of Gentlemen" or "The League Of Gentlemen's Apocalypse". This was not THE most dreadful pile of coypu's grunties I've sat through this century (That would still be the first "X-MEN" movie), but it came close. What is it with Hollywood's ongoing obsession with 'adapting' comic books ("Graphic Novels"? Oh puhhleeze!), so that they can sell twaddle like this to the sub-literate? And what was SEAN CONNERY thinking?

Suddenly, just as I was charging some batteries so that I could listen to MILES DAVIS on the bus home, my recharging device started making some really obnoxious, clicking, arcing sorts of noises, so I unplugged it pretty damn quick, just in case the smoking started! I went to the shop of "THE LAMINATED BOOK OF DREAMS" to buy a new one. This is my second visit to said establishment in as many days: Yesterday, I went there to get a SCART video switcher, on behalf of M'Colleague The Glass Lady, so that I can plumb in her new-ish Freeview box.

Week from Monday 30th October 2006

On Saturday, I had to sit in the orifice, waiting for a delivery that didn't arrive. I found myself VISITED BY THE MUSE and I churned out one of my typical 'soundtrack' pieces, featuring Cricket Noises, Synthesised Oriental Plunky Things, Rattlin' Percussives and Underlying Drones. YOU KNOW THE KIND OF THING. I also took this opportunity to download a five-minute taster for the latest FRIPP & ENO project, a "Hot Tickle" from the DGM LIVE website.

BBC 4 showed a documentary film on the career of boss funkateer GEORGE CLINTON. There were lots of tantalising glimpses of  Dr Funkenstein and the ParliaFunkadelicmentThang Mothership in action, but far too much of the programme was taken up with YAKKING...  Several people, whose connection to the subject in question was tenuous at best, offered opinions they seemed unqualified to give and which I simply didn't care to hear. This just makes for frustrating viewing, which is often the case with these kinds of films. The Who's "THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT", shown on one of the ITV channels last night, still stands as an object lesson in the PROPER way to intercut archive music footage for a SATISFYING FILM EXPERIENCE.

This week, I visited the EMPORIUM OF HAIR for some overdue TONSORIAL TEASING 'N' TWEEZING.

I've compiled all of my recent MP3 'backing tracks', accumulated for the "TALES FROM THE WINGED EYEBALL" project, onto one big 'multi-session' MASTER DISC. I find I've got nearly three times the amount of music we're eventually going to need (and the hits jus' keep on comin'!!). Needless to say, not ALL of it is first class, top-notch, USEFUL stuff and there will be a lot of 'quality control' needed when I start receiving the voiceover tracks...

I've started reading THOMAS HOLT's latest(?) 'historical' novel "MEADOWLAND", this one being an amusing tale concerning the first Norse settlers in the New World. The story takes place just as the former Roman Empire was being transformed into the 'Holy' one... With Hilarious Consequences. I stumbled onto Mr Holt's 'historical' works having previously enjoyed many of his comedic 'fantasy' novels. So now, if  I see ANYTHING bearing the name Tom and/or Thomas Holt (which I haven't already read, that is) on the Library shelves, I snap it up immediately!