Week from Monday 4th February 2008

...so I've got this title, "CHTHONIC BOOM", now all I need is a piece of music to go with it... I've got a really mad, pointillistic piece on the go, made up of chamber music samples and whole-tone piano riffs, but I don't think I'm ready to go "PUBLIC" with it just yet. It's probably one of those 'works in progress' that needs burying for a few weeks and then coming back to afresh, to see if it's any good or not.

I've just been compiling the statistics for the STEEL BAND PROJECT website[s]. Most encouraging. It's remarkable how much traffic has been generated by the MySpace site; doubly remarkable, as there STILL isn't any music on the page!

My 'favourite' band this week is THE VAN ALLEN BELT... like the Shangri-Las might sound, if they'd been produced by Van Dyke Parks or maybe Kramer. ...I was just clearing out my e-mail bin, when I spotted this from KEN DEAD. It seemed worth sharing: sure sounds like ART to me...

"...under the Ken Dead name I wrote and performed a 'song' called "Door Chime". I basically sampled a 'Ding Dong!' sound on my pedal board and then kept sampling it in different keys, while my alleged singer said things along the lines of: 'The door is ajar... The lights are on... Your handbrake is set... Please buckle your seatbelt... Your lights are on...' - Plain, simple, caustic." 

Friday brings the big "HELP SEND A LOCAL CHILD TO SOUTH AFRICA" fundraising do at Fareham's top concert venue. As you can imagine, with such a wide VARIETY of different music on offer, some of it was terrific and some of it was truly horrible (no names, no mandrill). The musical highlight for me was the Concert Orchestra's arrangement of DANNY ELFMAN's "Music For A Darkened Theatre" suite. 

Week from Monday 11th February 2008

My spacechums, BRIAN RENALDO & DAVE LOAF, have recorded an in-depth and amusing transatlantic interview, which is currently being 'serialised' on that IN PRAISE OF BOREDOM podcast doobry... my comments about KEN DEAD have caused Shelfy to have strange dreams, in which he shares a Bud with Mr Dead and watches a demonstration of spotwelding in a Cheers-like American bar...

Suddenly, the weather is glorious. Having got my signmaking and magazine ad jobs out of the way, I treated myself to one of my MIDWEEK SKIVE-OUTS. I went over to Southampton to see the exhibition "A RATIONAL AESTHETIC: THE SYSTEMS GROUP & ASSOCIATED ARTISTS" (catchy title, Bob!). These were [this was?] a group of British artists (Malcolm Hughes, Jeffrey Steele, Richard Allen, David Saunders et al) thriving in the late-sixties/early-seventies, a couple of whom taught at Portsmouth Poly... a sort of sub-genre of Minimalism and Constructivism, maybe with a little Op-Art on the side. Most of the work falls into the 'INTERESTING' category rather than being particularly PLEASING (it's certainly great GEOMETRY, but is it ART? Discuss.). However, at least one perspex construction did make me go "WOW!", while another large piece I'm sure I recognised - Was it used as an OMD album cover or maybe on a Zang-Tuum-Tumb compilation?

I also took advantage of the HMV two-for-a-tenner bins, to replace another couple of RUSH albums with shiny round ones (Did I mention I was having a CRAZE?), and found a REMMY ONGALA cassette and some jazz items in the JERRIDY SHOPS. Oh, and a STEPHEN FRY book.

Another [semi]day spent e-scurrying on behalf of the "STEEL BAND PROJECT", now that I've been sent the 'tour' schedule for their March visit to South Africa: Dates are posted, research is done (for hyperlinks wherever possible) and all looks tickety-boo.

I've been trawling the archives for [yet] more pictures to go in the JOHNSON'S GRIDLING BAND MicePace photo-archive... I still have to plug a couple of gaps in the "STAR PROFILE" caricatures collection, just as soon as Shelfy lets me know which ones he's missing... excuse me while I download that 'new' FRIPP & ENO album...

Week from Monday 18th February 2008

I went to my first CAR BOOT SALE in aeons, but apart from a pleasant walk on a frosty Spring morn, I didn't get anything out of it.

I've now sent Shelfy a zip-folder-load of freshly scanned archive pictures, gleaned from the dusty, yellowing and faded pages of old diary cuttings, that live in a storage box under the bed. I'm sure there MUST be others. Meanwhile, I stumbled over a (Canadian) website called SUCKMYBEATLES.COM, which is jam-packed with hundreds of reasons why The Beatles are rubbish. I happen to harbour a lifetime belief that The Four Laughable Moptops are grossly overrated as a musical force, so I found the whole thing hilarious. I know at least one other person who'll agree with me (Hello Blockhead!). Yes, okay, they DID do "Strawberry Fields"... and I rather like "Tomorrow Never Knows" and "Only A Northern Song"... oh bugger! 

It is with great pleasure we welcome KEN DEAD & THE DODGY MEN into our little MicePace community. I've helped him upload some sounds and pictures, 'introduced' him to some 'friends' and given the page a little HTML makeover, before releasing him and it into the wild. I had a lot of fun revisiting the Dead repertoire, selecting six items to go on the media player - golly, all those versions of "Wild Thing" to choose from! 

MERVYN PURVISS has also stuck his head above the MySpace parapet... Is all this sudden burst of activity because of SHELFY'S DREAM!?

I went for one of ME DAZE-OUT. Winchester was the choice of destination today. The weather is not as nice as it was a couple of days ago, but it's still okay for walking about in. Trawling through the JERRIDY SHOPS and flea markets, I found a slim volume of JAMES JOYCE's which I'd hitherto been unaware of:- a posthumously-published, semi-autobiographical (aren't they all?) work called "Giacomo Joyce". I also seized upon a (still factory-sealed) seedydisk of STRAVINSKY's "Oedipus Rex" for a fiver.

Week from Monday 25th February 2008

This week's CRAZE has been for LITTLE FEAT:- I had a sudden urge to listen to several of their seedies'n'tapes and I downloaded a complete performance from their website (recorded at a festival of two summers ago near Washington DC). Jamtastic! I've just learnt that Little Feat AND Hot Tuna are supposed to be playing at WOMAD this summer, but I don't really see myself affording  nearly £150 to attend (as well as an additional £100 for seamless galloshes).

I'm just making a start on this year's BIKE-RIDE-COLLATE-&-MAILSHOT-A-THON for the Historic Churchpeople. You mean it's nearly March already?

A "STEEL BAND PROJECT" "meeting" on Wednesday evening led to a good old-fashioned HANGOVER on Thursday morning... I personally blame the chocolates[!]

Shelfy was lamenting that it was COMPUTERS that spelt the end for our communal "CLUB NIGHTS"... but I don't recall it happening like that. CLUB NIGHTS at the GOLD LAMÉ SKELETON's fizzled out around 1990 ("THE DIVORCE YEARS"), at which time affordable peecees were but a gleam in Bill Gates' eye. We did have Amigas, of course (some of us still have!) and before that, the dreaded Sinclair ZX Spectrum, but I fondly remember these introducing a whole new element of strange creativity to our little get-togethers. As well as the new ART possibilities, who can forget the endless games of GILZEAN SCRABBLE (triple word score for "DIDALDYDMADITE")? ... Hey! does anyone know a six-letter word for a kind of fan, fashionable in the early eighteenth century?

The subject of "RENAULT ET MADELEINE" (our Franglais cod-Cajun number) came up in conversation - don't ask how! - so I promised Shelfy that I would convert this 1987 Gridling classic to a streamable format forthwith. And while I was zooming through the tape looking for it, I came across a number of other little gems that would also be worth sharing with the world. This included a delightful but overlong ambient electronic piece called "Algebra", which I have now excerpted for my MicePace, plus a couple of strange 'folk' songs (I am not going to talk those about until Shelfy has heard them).

This week's downloaded-in-it's-entirety concert treat is PROJEkCT TWO, a-vroooming and a-thrakking and a-werning in Cleveland, Ohio, complete with a near-riot during the second set (someone stopped the concert with their - oh no! - FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY!).