Week from Monday 3rd December 2007

In HIS diary this week, ROBERT FRIPP airs his thoughts on the difference[s] between a 'diary', a 'journal' and a 'blog'. Actually, I've never been too sure about this myself. I think THIS is probably more of a JOURNAL. I'm not sure Mr Fripp offers a clear definition either, although he clearly shares my dislike of corrupted or de-evolved English (as opposed to CREATIVE use of language). How one goes about journalising, diarising or 'blogging is largely determined by one's chronological age, not to mention one's level of literacy and E-CONFIDENCE. I quite like Fripp's term "E-FLURRYING" - it sums up EXACTLY what I do on a computer!

Sometime yesterday, I passed the 500 FRIENDS mark ("501, to be 'pedantic'..." - Thanks JAN!). So, to celebrate, in the early hours of this morning, I uploaded a NEW TUNE - Yes! REALLY new this time! Called 'MIDIeval', it's partly based on a quaint little tune I came across in the "WORKS IN PROGRESS" archive, while I was searching for something 'Christmassy' for submission to a BENT MUSIC yuletide compilation project. I never DID find anything 'Christmassy', apart from a "CHRISTMAS GHOST STORY" which, whilst amusing, was neither well recorded or coherently recited, so... maybe next year, guys! Being on a BALKAN kick at the moment (inevitably), the 'MIDIeval' tune gave me an excuse to try out a bit of the old DIGITAL DULCIMER (or should that be "SYNTHBALOM"?), as well as some good old-fashioned SPACENOISE made by overloading the VST sampler with metallic percussion sounds. I'm quite pleased with it... NOTE TO SHELFY: In thirty-odd years of BUFFOONERY, did 'The Artists Formerly Known As Johnson's Gridling Band' actually EVER do a proper CHRISTMAS song at all, 'pagans' that we are? I couldn't find one...

Whilst waiting for this week's print job to be finished, I've been doodling with a piece of 3D rendering software that came with a recent PC magazine. I've come up with some gorgeous landscapes which'll probably get used as backgrounds for something or other. I've also been searching through old coverdisks to find 'objects' that I can use/alter... "JOOST A BIT O'FOON!" but all useful research... The first tangible 'public' result is the image of the surreally floating legs (walk on water? walking on air? spacewalk?) that now serves as my profile 'logo'.

By way of an exercise, I downloaded the drumless version of TUNER's tune "11.11" from the Krimson News site and did my own version of it. I probably won't submit it, but it WAS a good test of my drum programming skills (or maybe lack of...) and that's what matters. In any case, I couldn't in a million years better the version that RYAN SMITH (aka The Smith Project) has just done!

And So Farewell, KARLHEINZ STOCKHAUSEN. His influence, over just about ALL the creative music I have EVER listened to, is incalculable. As one of his students, Wolfgang Rihm once said (my emphasis), 

"Stockhausen gave us the courage to think that ANYTHING was possible in music".

Week from Monday 10th December 2007

I got involved in a 'discussion' on BILLY JENKINS' 'blog about how ALL kinds of  music should be sold together in alphabetical racks, rather than be separated by arbitrary 'genres'. It's a delightful idea but, of course, for the HMVs and MeagreStores of this world, it would be completely impractical system for both the retailer and the consumer. Anyway, this got me itching for some good old-fashioned "BROWSING THE RACKS FOR SURPRISES", so I went over to Portsmouth in the hope that Ross Records is still there! And lo! even though it too is devoting more and more floor space to games and movies, there were indeed bargain surprises to be had:- an ASHRA compilation (patchy), STEVE HACKETT's "To Watch The Storms" (the Special Edition with booklet) , HAWKWIND's "Space Ritual" (essential! replaced my aging cassette copy at last!) and a COLOSSEUM twofer, all at sub-5 prices!

Well, whatever the motivation was for LED ZEPPELIN to play the O2 EnormoShed, by all accounts it WAS a cracking show! I was one of the countless millions who DIDN'T go, of course. By the dubious magic of cameraphone (pronounced CAM-UH RAFONEE, with the emphasis on the last syllable), shaky vidclips have already started to appear on YouTube! Curiously, after years of Percy saying to anyone who would listen that he would "NEVER, on any account EVER, be persuaded to sing THAT  bloody song ever again, no siree..."  - yes, they DID do "Stairway To Heaven".

I'm now going to listen to the highlights from BILL BRUFORD's appearance at the London Jazz Festival (with Dutch pianist MICHIEL BORSTLAP) that were aired on last night's "Late Junction" (it'll have to be on tape though, as the BBC Radio Player hasn't been updated yet - it's still got LAST Wednesday's show on!)

Well... I finally did it. I've read James Joyce's "FINNEGANS WAKE" from cover to cover. It has taken me from June to December to do so and I shan't pretend that I ABSORBED it all - some sections are impenetrable to the point of being dull - but it HAD to be done. If anyone needs PROOF that I got through it, my Penguin paperback now looks WELL thumbed and pencil-marked, very much a WORKING copy! Now I shall take myself off to the Library for some LIGHT reading...

Shelfy has e-mailed to tell me that I am now a member of a 'jazz' band called "GO SPORTPANDA FAST! FAST!". I gather from this that he has a new GarageBand project on the go, which is making use of one of my semi-abandoned "WORKS IN PROGRESS" disks.

Week from Monday 17th December 2007

The BBC Radio Player was finally sorted, and I was able to hear the rest of the BILL BRUFORD & MICHIEL BORSTLAP set. I also did some further impromptu e-flurrying yesterday teatime, as one of my friends and collaborators THE DARKENING SCALE got some unexpected daytime radio exposure on BBC 6Music. Whatever next?

My choice of "LIGHT" reading this week is JOHN McCABE's "Herding Cats", a comedic crime caper set in the fictitious West Country town of Taunsley (which is almost certainly based on Taunton). This little bit of home truth tickled I enormously:-

"...While Simon had previously believed that having a loud car was about as useful as having a heavy boat, Maxx Power had urged him to make the transition. As far as he could see from reading about it, there should be an inverse relationship between the cost of the car and the power of its stereo. A crap, rusting Nova like his own should therefore have a hi-fi of stadium proportions. Further, the louder the equipment, he had been led to believe, the worse the music it should play. Hummable pop songs or pleasant acoustic ballads should be abandoned in favour of extended and repetitive outpourings of ultra-low frequency vibration. When he heard such vehicles zooming down the High Street, it was almost as if they were being propelled merely by their bass lines..."

I bumped into THE HUMAN NAIL, just as he was about to zoom off to Vienna again, and he tells me he now has a couple of websites fully operational, hosted by the Tripod concern... one is the ZIMPOON DISCS site, presumably replacing the old StuporNet-hosted one, while the other goes by the name of RAPACIOUS OWL, or 'raphowl' for short. Links are being added to my blogspace as we speak.

I was suddenly taken by a creative urge to rework the piece that THE DARKENING SCALE concocted from the samples I sent him. With the working title of "Right Back Atcha!", it's taken on a decidedly DUB-LIKE quality, as I've emphasised the intrinsic reggaeness that was hinted at in the original mix. David, still made up about being played on the FREAK ZONE, votes it a winner.

I finally have something to go on the 'News' page of the STEEL BAND PROJECT website. Its vast tracts of white emptiness were starting to get embarrassing. I've also put a nice seasonal spin on the homepage slideshow presentation and sorted out a 'new' batch of video footage for YouTube.

A new KcrimdisK arrived from the DGM Collectors' Club, which was a doubly pleasant surprise, as it was due to be dispatched on the 18th of December and I hadn't  realistically expected it to cross the Atlantic in time for the festive season - kudos then to the US Postal Service! The disc features yet another magnificent set from KING CRIMSON's German tour of 1974, during which time, as far as I'm concerned, they couldn't play a duff gig if they tried!

Week from Monday 24th December 2007

I don't know about you, but I find that this time of the year there is actually LESS telly to watch. All of the quality viewing that I normally enjoy has been brushed aside to make way for the kind of FESTIVE FAMILY FUN that I wouldn't give time of day to... 

I've just sat through the Hollywoodized version of "THE HITCH-HIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY" and, while it had its entertaining moments, it was just plain WRONG!

Hang on, I got mail! I've just received an entertaining e-missive from THE ARTIST FORMERLY KNOWN AS KEN DEAD, our man in Washington... I must communicate immediately and with comedic intent! ...The HUMAN NAIL, meanwhile, has gone native. His Xmas message (presumably from Vienna) is entirely in German, not one of my strong languages.

Well, for Xmas, I have the SIMPSONS MOVIE on deeveedee (a small screen cannot possibly do it justice?) and the new ZAPPA WAZOO seedydisks to look forward to. However, while I am typing this I've decided to listen to HAWKWIND and TANGERINE DREAM real loud BECAUSE I CAN!

I have now set up a MySpace page for the STEEL BAND PROJECT, although we haven't got many friends or any music yet (although whomsoever is running the page on behalf of that PETER GABRIEL bloke was mighty quick to respond). Next week, when everyone is back to "work", I shall do some serious networking on their behalf... And Shelfy has set up HIS new MySpace (GO SPORT PANDA! FAST FAST!) and, this time, I have kept his passwords in a safe place just in case he loses them again!

Well, as 2007 fizzles out, I shall go and watch "THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES" and wish you all a Happy New One...

Week from Monday 31st December 2007

The new STEEL BAND PROJECT MySpace got over a hundred hits in the first 48 hours and has already made a few prestigious and useful contacts. Which Is Nice. I also discovered that many members [of one of the affiliated bands] already HAVE a nice little networking 'infrastructure' of their own in place and, of course, they are far more "IN THE LOOP" about things than I am!

Having comedically communicated with KEN DEAD just before Xmo, I decided to remix one of his songs by way of a belated gift. I gave his song "L.A." (from the legendary 3rd album "BACK FROM THE DEAD") the ambient electronica treatment. I'm quite pleased with it, but I don't know if he will be!? At least it didn't turn out like Yes or Gentle Giant, eh?

Sadly, I've just learnt that THE FREAK EMPORIUM is closing down. I admit I wasn't one of their biggest customers, but it was always nice to know that IF one heard something 'freaky' on the radio, there was always SOMEWHERE to go to buy it, now that we don't have record shops. Their weekly, catalogue-sized e-mailings were never less than informative and entertaining.