Week from Monday 2nd June 2008

I went over to Portsmouth in search of the Diocesan Office, now strangely separated from the Cathedral and moved to the Continental Ferryport. Go figure!?! I finished my selection of ROAD TAPES and set about putting my navigation aids in order. Who needs satellite navigation, eh? I remember the days when people read MAPS! (No, seriously... who really NEEDS a satnav?).

People don't believe me when I tell them that Shelfy and I can do the "EIGHT CORNERS OF HAMPSHIRE" in just over four hours and on less that £20-worth of petrol (even now, at THESE petrol prices!). But, with the aid of some seriously heavy DUB and the progressive stylings of PROJEkcT FOUR and GONG, we once again did just that. Now all that remains is to tot up the bill!

I put in some more hours at the HUMAN NAIL's "studios", adding my several penn'orth to some ongoing material, which may or may not be credited to ThE cHrIsTmAs TrEes. I "SPRINKLED SOME FAIRY DUST ON 'EM", with my non-technique on the alto saxophone and INTERESTINGLY-TUNED ELECTRIC GUITAR, as well as laying down some keyboard parts which are just as likely to become PEDANTIC[ly] PEDESTRIAN[ized]. Meanwhile, back at my lab, I've put the finishing touches to a piece I was dabbling with on an oldish version of CAKEWALK, by way of an exercise in step-time MIDI programming. It's a sort of polytonal piano/marimba duet, which I've called "Wavestand Offmex" for no obvious reason. It would be nice if some 'proper' musicians could transcribe it and PLAY IT FER REAL! Coming soon to a MySpace near you!

Week from Monday 9th June 2008

On Saturday, it was the [Official] 50th BIRTHDAY of one MERVYN PURVISS, who gathered together all his former bandmates in a public house in Portsmouth for some good old fashioned, nostalgia-soaked, open-mike JAMMIN'... Actually, the musical content was of far less interest than the opportunity of meeting up with a few fellow quinquagenarians for a good chinwag and to see who's got the fattest after all these years. 

It WAS nice hearing a handful of TV BY TEARS numbers though, while THE GREATEST UNSUNG BASS PLAYER IN THE SOUTH, Our Nev, soldiered on through a SKUNK FUNK piece, despite having damaged his left wrist (His solo consequently went a bit "Jazz Odyssey", but what the hey!?). SKUNK FUNK are currently without a sax player, which rather leaves a hole in their sound (No, I didn't volunteer my services - Pshaw! As if!). There was also an ABSOLUTE ZERO reunion of sorts, with a few hoary old pub-rock standards. RABBITHOLE SAM switched between bass and drums according to which 'band' was on the 'stage' at the time. Show-off! I took a number of pictures, which I shall 'artwork' and e-mail to the lad himself over the next few days.

I finally have the VITAL INVOICE to deliver to Portchester. Well, I could have posted it, but where's the fun in that? I went along the SECRET GREEN PATH around Fareham Creek, posted my letter and then - what the heck! - carried on all the way to Cosham, perused the many JERRIDY SHOPS, before catching a train home. The big WALK OF THE WEEK, with a blister or two to show for it.

Work continues on material for ThE cHrIsTmAs TrEeS project or projects. Our funky little 'jazz' number, still under the working title of "A CERTAIN PATIO", has been posted on ThE TrEeS MySpAcE in an unfinished form. It'll probably be 'finished' [to my satisfaction, anyway] before this week is over, with possibly a different title altogether (although I AM becoming rather attached to THAT one).

Week from Monday 16th June 2008

"A CERTAIN PATIO" has had its final tweaks (Version 3.1, folks!) and was indeed finished to my (and, ultimately, The Nail's) satisfaction. I think we WILL be keeping that title. I also put together another 'by-product' project, a short 'orchestral' work (late-Romantic, with touches of the Second Viennese School?), [re]using keyboard parts that may or may not be intended for a narrative section. It is now languishing on MyMySpace under the name of "ETIENNE L'OIE" or "A CAREER INTROSPECTIVE". Binky informs me that ThE ChRiStMaS TrEeS 'album' now has twenty-three tracks on the go, not including remixes!

A beautiful Sunday morning so, natch, I went for a walkies to the CARBOOT SALE. Not a bad showing, but I was not tempted to part with any of my cash on this occasion... Every time I think that a yomp across the Isle of Wight might be on the cards, the weather starts to look threatening. So I've been keeping my jaunts 'LOCAL'.

Cor! STORMY'S MONDAY DOWNLOAD is a bit good this week; an all-too-brief glimpse of  a 2004 rehearsal, featuring Messrs BELEW, LEVIN and MASTELOTTO laying down some funky grooves. MORE OF THIS KIND OF THING PLEASE, MR MUNDY!

Meanwhile, back at ThE ChRiStMaS TrEeS HQ, I was videoed wearing an APE MASK and FLUORESCENT WIG, whilst pretending to play the saxophone. We are plunging deeper and deeper into the world of "WORLD", with increasingly exotic rhythms being thrown into the mix. I find myself sampling some percussion parts from an old LES BAXTER album to create a rhythm track. The ensuing piece narrowly avoids sounding like SANTANA, before careering off on its way to somewhere more S-T-R-A-N-G-E, as we add layer 'pon layer of SWOOSHING COSMICNESS. Imagine, if you will, a Brazilian version of CAN. Or something. Before I departed this afternoon, I tapped out a 'touch guitar' riff over a fresh beatbox rhythm... which means that TRACK 25 is now under construction! After my Friday visit to the dentist for my six-monthly scrape, I started work on another couple of REMIXES BEFORE THE FACT, which kept me amused for much of the weekend.

I've been listening lately to the kind of music that  E-V-O-L-V-E-S  V-E-R-Y  S-L-O-W-L-Y  O-V-E-R  A  L-O-N-G  T-I-M-E :- Another evening on the West Coast with Bill Reiflin's SLOW MUSIC PROJECT, freshly downloaded from the DGM concern (the third and best of their gigs, albeit the shortest)... and a couple of sets by the Australian "but-is-it-jazz?" minimalists THE NECKS.

Week from Monday 23rd June 2008

FIREFOX 3 is here! It is a delight to use; faster[?], securer[?], newly-feature-packed and kinda purdy lookin', while retaining all the things we've grown to love about previous versions of Mozilla's finest... 

PLUS: I'm glad to report that whatever bug, glitch, fatal script error or incompatibility issue it was that made Firefox Mk 2 crash when I tried to use some of the 'new' features on MySpace, does not appear to trouble this version (touch wood!). I theoretically should no longer need an additional, 'spare' Opera browser just to work 'behind the scenes' with my MySpace[s] (touch another bit of wood!). 

MINUS: On the down side, many of the useful little plug-ins and extensions I'd accumulated for the earlier versions of Firefox, including the amazing Flash Video Downloader, don't work with the new version. Hopefully, someone is working on updates for these as well (touch some more wood!). The brand spanking new web security plug-ins that the brand spanking new AVG Anti-Virus Free Version 8 installed for my Browser Of Choice just a couple of weeks ago, are now already obsolete and, apparently, no updates exist as yet. The additional security features that are actually built into Firefox 3 should do a similar job of keeping out the baddies (touch a rather large plank of wood!). 

I've just been setting up a top secret bulletin board site for the STEEL BAND PROJECT, using that Google Groups malarkey. It's a 'fabulous instrument', as Shelfy would say; my only concern is that one's messages get time-stamped as if one was living in California. This is, apparently, "A FEATURE", and nothing to worry about.

My ChRiStMaS TrEeS reconstructions are now building into one long continuous montage a la "THE FAUST TAPES", or some such. The working title is [currently] "RE-ROUTED TrEeS" and will probably be twinned on a disk with "CHTHONIC BOOM", as if they were two sides of an LP (ask your grandad!). Back in Studio Binky, we've now got to the stage where I'm lending a fresh pair of ears to some of the material recorded previously by The Nail and Gregson. Nothing really needs adding as such, it just calls for some judicious tweaking to what's already there.

Poor old NELSON MANDELA. Decades of selfless adversity and what does he get for his ninetieth birthday? A concert by SPIKE EDNEY'S ALL-STARS!

Week from Monday 30th June 2008

As Portsmouth swelters in the heat (such exotic smells!), the month's FESTIVITIES draw to a close with some 'gypsy' music on the Bandstand, courtesy of  BESKYDY and BOWS & BELLOWS. I thought Bows & Bellows were the better of the two acts:- two ladies singing in various Balkan and Baltic languages and accompanying themselves on accordion and fiddle (and sometimes an occasional flageolet or french horn). Beskydy were okay, but I've heard better (quite recently as it happens). I like my Balkan music to be a bit rough around the edges. They played like a bunch of music teachers, and probably were... very 'worthy' musicologically speaking, but lacking any real fire... There was also a CAR-BOOT SALE going on further along the Common, while Castle Field was hosting some kind of flea market combined with a Sea Cadets display. The Guildhall Square, meanwhile, was laid out like some huge pavement café, complete with chairs, tables and umbrellas (which caught the breeze dangerously), and a swing band played Glen Miller's entire repertoire to anyone who would listen.

There was a free DAVID BOWIE promo-seedy in the Mail this Sunday. Not having heard the likes of "Hunky Dory" for thirty-five years, I'd forgotten just how good some of those songs [could] sound. I could probably put up with never hearing "Starman" ever again (or the live Spiders From Mars, for that matter), but the inclusion of a 'rarity' from the "Low" sessions and some re-mastered goodies from the "Lodger"/"Scary Monsters" years sold it for me!

I've just finished reading ROGER McGOUGH's autobiography; an engaging story told in an amusing way. Then I started to read the memoirs of someone else 'WHO WAS THERE' in the 1960s (albeit in an ENTIRELY different world!), the chief of NASA's Mission Control, GENE KRANZ. But what should be a VERY exciting story indeed, is made to seem disappointingly mundane by its telling. The book went back on the pile destined for the Women's Institute jumble sale.