Week from Monday 7th April 2008

Where the hecking flip did THIS come from?? After several delightful Spring days, which found me yomping around in little but a t-shirt, I peeped out through the blinds on Sunday morning to find several inches of snow on the ground!

I did indeed meet up with KEN DEAD this weekend, as he brought with him a chewed-up cassette containing the 'master tapes' for his "KEN DEAD 5" concept album (a concept involving Christmas songs, the failure of America's doughnut crop, ultimate world destruction and a post-apocalyptic government made up of notable "Frenzy Society" alumni. You really DON'T want to know!). He had made the common mistake of playing his ONLY copy of the tape on a car stereo system which, as they are wont to do, ate it. I have agreed to restore the tape using my special digital equipment (and/or screwdrivers) and post the best bits on his MySpace. This I have now done, including an item of particular interest to our friends "SUCK MY BEATLES". This is what Ken's MicePace blog now has this to say on the subject. Or Does It? Or Not. :

Ken Dead writes... While meandering through the back catalogue, I recalled an album from the late 90's that never saw light of day. The 5th Ken Dead album was due to be released as a concept Christmas album. As a story teller, Ken was often praised for his ability to weave complex and yet non-complex stories into the everyday ruminations of a rock God. This, however, was not the case with the 5th album. Stories are for children, yet aren't we all children who have grown? Or not. The question is, is there a question? And the answer should not be multi-choice and vetted by a school marm. Is it? And there in, is the question? May there not be? I can only say Hollywoodn't. What would Frankie do? Frosty the Snowman a drug dealer? You decide. Ken Dead 5. The Christmas album. Available this Easter. Get it now before the tapes fail. Non-digital and some might say, non-musical. Who knows?
The Pedantic Pedestrian writes...
Ken Dead flew into the UK this weekend and, following a secret meeting in a nearby car park, I now have in my possession the original master tapes of the legendary, hitherto thought lost "KEN DEAD 5" album! The tape itself was in a sorry state, but with the aid of a Phillips screwdriver and various kinds of lump hammer, I have now rebuilt the cassette and transferred the contents to this new-fangled digital medium we call EmPeeThree. Listening back to the album for the first time after all these years, every note and nuance lovingly restored, I fought back the tears. As indeed will you. On the player, you can now hear my own mix featuring just SOME of the musical highlights from this meisterwerk, arranged as a sort of suite called (rather accurately, I thought) "Excerpts from Ken Dead 5". As well as this, you can now thrill to Kenís loving tribute to the unique musical partnership that was Paul & Linda, 'Live & Let Die(t)'."

I went on a NOWTING to see how far I could get on one of our local bus company's "FIRSTDAY HAMPSHIRE" tickets. It wasn't nearly as interesting a day-out as it promised to be, but I did get to listen to hours and hours of "AFRICA BEAT" podcasts while I watched the suburbs go by.

I'm trying out a new[er] version of Serif's WEBPLUS software, which I downloaded from their website... and jolly good fun it's proving to be! But I'll be blowed if I'm going to phone them up (again) to 'register' the software, only to spend seemingly hours on the line while a telesales person tries to sell me something else. Why do Serif still persist with this method of registration, while everyone else worth their silicone lets you do it online? I suppose it works for them, but I find it rather offputting.

Week from Monday 14th April 2008

It's allergy season, ALLERGEE! ALLERGUM! ...except that today, instead of the FUNNY EARS, I've got FUNNY EYES instead! Both peepers are itchy and puffed up... but the ears work perfectly well and I'm enjoying another set by Bill Rieflin's SLOW MUSIC PROJECT, which I've just downchucked from the DGM concern.

Tonight, I'm on New York time, as I've got up to watch progpopsters ASIA via the erratic medium of webcast. I tend to agree with the reviewer who said that their recent material is no great shakes. In fact, they've never bettered their classic first album. Just as well, then, that they played virtually all of it tonight! But the highlights of the evening were all 'other' bands songs. They did top versions of "Roundabout", "In The Court Of The Crimson King", "Fanfare For The Common Man" (jam-tastic!) and, most astonishingly of all, "Video Killed The Radio Star". It's just a shame that webcast quality doesn't do it justice, that's all!

I had to dash out to buy a new MOUSE, and I also picked up one of the latest computer periodicals with its coverdisk-full of THINGS USEFUL & NOT SO. A(nother) 3D modelling programme turned out to be less than useful and a video-uploading tool made unreasonably huge demands on the computer's operating system. On the plus side, I have a newer version of my favourite FTP application FILEZILLA, while a photo browser/organiser programme generates rather nice HTML slideshows, which may come in useful. The magazine itself alerted me to some VERY useful plug-ins just available for FIREFOX. Very useful indeed, in fact. (That's enough about computers... Ed)

My eyelids have now receded, but they are left rather wrinkled and red as a result. I look like a freshly shaved panda. There is suddenly a cold wind about, which doesn't exactly help matters... THE HUMAN NAIL lent me a disk full of samples to sift through for useful stuff. We watched a video of Nipponese space cowboys ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE. As the saying goes, "You had to be there...". I would imagine this would be more fun to participate in than it is to watch. I am reminded that this Saturday's GRUANIAD has a free copy of the original "Godzilla" movie enclosed in its covers. It'll go on the pile with all the other free weekend deeveedees I haven't had time to look at yet (although I expect THIS one will actually be KEPT after I've watched it!).

Week from Monday 21st April 2008

My fiftieth birthday came and went without so much as a blip on the radar. I went 'round for a curry with Mr & Mrs STEELBANDPROJECT, and discussed the latest news (publishable or otherwise). Had a very philosophical discussion about IMPROVISATION, in music and life. Went surfing for info on CESARIA EVORA, the Queen of Mid-Atlantic Miseryguts Music. ABDULLAH IBRAHIM (in this locale, a major influence on all things South African and Jazz-related) is coming over to play the Barbican next month. Unfortunately, on that very same day, prior meetings and rehearsals have been booked, while I will be attending the Balkan knees-up with FANFARE CIOCARLIA in Brighton. But I'm sure it'll be on the radio eventually. 

I've uploaded another pair of new toons to my MicePace. "KING JOHN'S PARADE" is my cut-up of sounds from the "Ken Dead 5" tapes (although so heavily electronicified that Ken's own mother wouldn't recognise 'em), while "BACHING UP THE WRONG TREE" is a bonkers piece which sounds like a jazz drummer having an argument with a "DOYYY-CHER" synth player who's trying to show off his neo-classical licks.

I think that the HUMAN NAIL and SHELFY are having a competition to see who can accumulate the largest number of MySpace pages. Hardly a week goes by without yet another one popping up... Meanwhile, MERVYN PURVISS seems to have finally paid some attention to his page, having launched it over month ago.

I've just been out to buy a new SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA with some birthday money, as the old one, a two meagre-pixel Nikon, is showing its age (Aren't we all?). What is more, it always ate batteries at an alarming rate, a fault of early Nikons, I'm led to believe. As is often the case with ME AND MY TECHNOLOGY, the new Samsung I brought home tuned out to be faulty. There was (probably) a problem with the built-in software which meant that it didn't always boot up properly. The motor would run to 'park' the lens, but then... nothing! No LCD display and the power switch wouldn't function to turn the beast off again. The only way to turn the camera off was to take the batteries out! Anyway, long story short, I now have a replacement and it's a doozy! The first thing I did with it was to get that long-time-gestating, low-budget, quasi-Philip Glass minimalist, TRAVELLING VIDEO off my chest, by taking a railway trip to Southampton.

On Saturday, we learnt the news that HUMPHREY LYTTELTON had left us for that big jam session in the sky.

Week from Monday 28th April 2008

DISASTER STRIKES! Moments after having a phone discussion about setting up online databases and sundry related topics, my peecee had a sudden-death scenario. An entire hard-disk partition became inaccessible, making me suspect that some kind of Trojan doobry might be responsible. So, I have just spent a large chunk of the weekend reinstalling my entire operating system and applications folders from scratch, having first backed up my vitals onto a delightful new 500GB external drive. Remarkably, I was OFFLINE for less than a day. The only thing I have irretrievably lost is my database cardfile that contained a catalogue of my music collection. Cess Lavvy, as they say...

By Monday morning, I THINK that everything is back to some kind of 'normal', ready for some kind of 'work'. Inevitably, there will be other things that I have forgotten, that I will find missing, when I come to need them in the course of my everyday activities. I've just realised, for example, that my 'address book' will need updating, as it was last backed up last September. At least it WAS backed up!

The latest dispatch from the DGM Trainspotters' Club has arrived all the way from Beverly Hills. It's a fine recording of the 1982 KING CRIMSON baffling and/or thrilling New York with its 

"...synthesis of meditative third world kineticism and sensuality, with new world technocratic precision..."
(Greg Tate, "Village Voice")

...and I think we all know what THAT tastes like, eh kids? I have also completed volume twelve of my "Hot Tickles" compilations, with last Monday's "STORMY DOWNLOAD", a hot-off-the-desk recording of the new 2008 rhythm twins PAT & GAV, running through a variation on "B'BOOM", which includes more of those 'third world' elements we all love... as I type this, I've just got to BILL BRUFORD's solo on "Indiscipline" (a LISTENABLE drum solo!), which reminds me that it is this Thursday I'm going to see the good fellow 'making it up as he goes along' in Southampton with MICHIEL BORSTLAP... 

As is so often the case with me, I arrived at the Turner Sims FAR too early, despite taking a slower than usual pace than is my custom, and taking a little diversion downtown, where I failed to purchase THEO TRAVIS' "Double Talk" album on CD (I'll settle on the downloads. By the way, if the opening track "Ascending" isn't a homage to FOCUS, then I don't know what is. But I digress...)

Not to worry, it's a lovely evening, I can sit outside and watch the ducks... A cup of tea later and I take my seat in the auditorium. And what a seat! I couldn't have been any closer to the instruments if I had been sat UNDER the piano. In fact, I'm risking "tennis spectator's neck" from panning from one side to the other (drums to the right, piano to the left, drums to the right, piano to the left, drums to the...). It goes without saying, the music is wonderful. The nearest point of reference I can think of for Michiel's playing is THELONIOUS MONK: fractured and 'pointillistic', yet still melodic in spite of itself. In fact it is not unknown, after an evening of 'making it up as they go along', for the chaps to finish with a Monk tune; a "Round Midnight" here, a "Bemsha Swing" there. Quite often though, it is doubtful that even Monk's own mother would recognise it, as they are wont to take the tune into WEEEEEEEIRD new directions... Bill's drumming continues to develop OUT THERE. In this context, all vestiges of his rockist past have virtually disappeared, replaced by something altogether more ABSTRACT... an evening of TOP-NOTCH TINKLY-BONK... 

As is [also] so often the case with me, I had to leave before the end to catch my train (thus missing any Thelonious Monk tune they MAY have played). But I picked up a copy of their live deeveedee on the way out. Luckily, the merchandisers did not take plastic, thus saving myself from myself. There was so much on the table I WANTED, but with only twenty quid cash in my wallet, I had to PLUMP for one item.

Watching the DVD, it is easy to see how Bruford & Borstlap have HONED their improvs over the last five or six years. In the early days, Michiel relied a lot more on electronics, while Bill's drumming is still recognisably EARTHWORKSMANLIKE. These days, there is more SPACE in their playing.