Week from Monday 4th August 2008

My own musical dabblings have fallen by the wayside this weekend, with so much NEW MUSIC (in every sense) to listen to. I made a start on the backlog of WOMAD broadcasts, a new FRANK ZAPPA disc has landed on my doorstep, there was a STOCKHAUSEN evening at the Proms, another must-have KING CRIMSON concert has been downloaded and, of course, the BUTTHOLE SURFERS concert has been enjoyed time and time again. Not to mention several diskloads of interesting stuff that chums have thrust towards me! And I have newish albums by JOHN McLAUGHLIN and DJANGO BATES which haven't yet had the attention they deserve.

Resigned to the fact that I will probably NEVER AGAIN have the opportunity to see KING CRIMSON play live, I have nevertheless been avidly scanning the blogs and message boards for commentary on the chaps' brief return to live activity. The comments following the band's Nashville 'warm ups' have been mostly favourable, with rhythm twins 'P@ & GAV' receiving much of the praise. A depressing number of posts were from Americans who appear to know nothing at all about King Crimson, but 'went anyway'. Any complaints seem to fall into one of the following three categories, thus separating the men from the casual audients:-

1. We couldn't 'SEE' Robert Fripp; he was hidden at the back behind a stack of gear. 
Definitely no surprise there then!


They didn't play any 'NEW' songs.  Regular visitors to DGMLive! would have known that the band have not prepared any new repertoire for these dates.
3. They didn't play any 'OLD' songs. The oldest piece is "Larks' Tongues II" from 1972. The most recent is "Level Five" from 2001. What were you expecting, "Epitaph"?

Meanwhile, the French-Canadian faux-Genesis THE MUSICAL BOX have announced a tour in which they will re-create the 1976 "A Trick Of The Tail" live shows in their entirety. Does that mean that their lead singer announced his departure halfway through the "Lamb Lies Down..." tour, in order to pursue a career paying tribute to solo Peter Gabriel and will soon be spotted sporting a shaven head, wearing an orange tabard and clutching a teddy-bear? Has the band recruited a second drummer for the tour who used to play in both Yes and King Crimson tribute bands? Has the 'new' singer stocked up on hockey shirts for the occasion?

"THE FUTURE IS, OF COURSE, BIOSCOPIC..." All of a sudden, we're in the film business again! Whilst I was au chez Nail, returning a borrowed disk, SHELFY turned up with props and ideas, with aim of MAKING A MOVIE... well, a short "LARRY THE HADDOCK" film, anyway. A fun day was therefore had by all. With Cowes Week getting underway in the background, a semi-naked Nail sat on the Stokes Bay shingle (smoking a pipe rather than a Park Drive - it's far more photogenic) as Shelfy hobbled by in an unconvincing shark suit (Depping For Dolphins), calling him "NAMES!". Let's see the post-production boys work their magic with this one! Later, in Shelfy's back yard, The Nail had to pretend to be a "WEIRD CAKE", as various ingredients were poured over him from the shed roof. Spectacular! I understand the resulting films are to be used to accompany some of Shelfy's collaborative pieces with [one of 'Our Friends In The North'] ZEPHYR HAPPENSTANCE. I wait with bated breath for the outcome. 

Shelfy has had all of his old super-8mm films transferred to deeveedee. I went through them, mainly looking for suitable clips to go with my "CHTHONIC BOOM" excerpts, for posting on the MicePace. A couple of his art college pieces suit my/our music very well, while another film shot from the back of the Vicarage is strangely synchronicitous with the JGB's "Tongue Song". There was also a 'scratch' animation I had once created by applying indian ink and letraset directly onto an old Disney cartoon reel. It looks surprisingly good on DVD, but I can't actually 'use' it as such because the Disney characters are still recognisable.

I ended my week by "RUNNING AWAY TO SEA"... I hopped on a Fastcat to Ryde for one of me little yomps around the OILERWOIT. Actually, it wasn't MUCH of a challenge yompwise. I just went down the coastal path to Fishbourne and then back again to Ryde along the main road. A mere stroll in the suburbs really. These days, to GO WILD IN THE COUNTRY, you have to go to the very opposite end of the island.

Week from Monday 11th August 2008

Whatever the "WOMAD EXPERIENCE" is, I've slowly come to the conclusion that THAT is exactly what you DON'T get from Radio 3's coverage of the event! It just doesn't come across on the wireless, YOU HAD TO BE THERE! And since I WASN'T THERE this year, all those hours of broadcasting that I'd accumulated on the digibox were becoming a waste of space. Having merely dipped into the programmes, I've dumped them from the hard-drive in frustration. As usual, there is far too much waffle ABOUT the music, instead of letting the music do the talking. Those tiresome set-padding audience-participation routines are even MORE annoying in SOUND ONLY. Radio 3's presenters (Metro-centric World Music Elitists to a man!) still sound SO condescending; like they assume that their target audience know NOTHING about the music under discussion (Do they know WHO their 'target audience' is?). The 'featured artists' on the Radio 3 stage garner the most airplay, but these are NOT a representative cross section of the WHOLE festival. Many of the 'big names' with HEAVY REPRESENTATION will not have given the Beeb licence to broadcast their performances. Listening to Radio 3 Award winners playing acoustically in a BBC caravan is not the "WOMAD EXPERIENCE" as I knew it for twenty years. When you catch an earful of something you DO like, then the musical snippets are frustratingly brief (One-and-a-half songs by RACHID TAHA? Do us a favour!). I've said it before in these pages; there is one festival for the PAYING audience and a completely different one for the BBC staff. I got much more of a sense of atmosphere from browsing the amateur clips that REAL AUDIENTS have posted on YouTube (especially the flypast by the Red Arrows!).

While I'm ranting about the BBC.. It's PROMS time again! Invariably, if I tune into the Proms to hear a performance of a much loved 20th Century classical piece, I am ALWAYS disappointed. I don't know WHY I do this to myself year after year! The jobbing musos of the BBC Orchestras will almost inevitably mangle one's favourite music by playing it too fast or too slow, there will be clunkers in the brass section or the sound balance will favour the WRONG instruments entirely. The recent so-called "Jazz" Prom was a good case in point. While I can't say if the [excellent] new pieces by GWILYM SIMCOCK and JASON YARDE were 'accurate' performances or not, at least they had the benefit of a professional jazz rhythm section who knew how to tune their instruments! On the other hand, while I can't fault the playing of clarinettist MICHAEL COLLINS or the charisma of conductor CHARLES HAZELWOOD, the orchestra's performances of STRAVINSKY's "Ebony Concerto" and BERNSTEIN's "Prelude Fugue & Riffs" were irretrievably damaged by having a horribly set up drum kit placed centre-stage, instead of at the back, where orchestral percussionists or, indeed, big band drummers rightly belong. "Boom! Boom! Boom! Thud!" it went, like something that belongs in a circus. Most distracting! Plus the tempo of the "Ebony" sounded all wrong. Or was that just the drummer putting me off? Ah well, I've lost count of the number of duff renderings of "The Rite Of Spring" I've heard over the years, including one memorable example where THE VERY FIRST NOTE was a clunker! Masochistically though, I keep coming back for more. Next week, the BBC Scottish Symphony are going to rip into some VARÈSE... whoop-de-doo!

Week from Monday 18th August 2008

Towards the end of last week, I was running around like a blue-arsed wha's'name, trying get all my little 'proper' jobs done and dusted before my printer chums close their shop for a week. Another mad flurry was caused when my new digitellybox stopped functioning properly. As it was still under guarantee, I was able to get a replacement. One with a fully working hard-drive which is, hopefully, able to receive software updates without crashing!

The first results of our little MOVIE MAKING sessions of a couple of weeks ago have now appeared on MySpace. The well known story of LARRY THE HADDOCK has now been given the full GOZZYWOOD treatment (that's what they'll be calling Gosport soon, just you wait!), set to a delightful score by our SpaceChum ZEPHYRFRIENDLY. It can be viewed on the ODD-POP page. A heavily-solarised still from the HUMAN CAKE MAKING scenes (still don't know what that's going to end up as - it's all still lurking in Shelfy's head somewhere!) now appears as the 'logo' picture for the StEvIe ChUnDeR page. Which I'm told is now to be referred to as the "SteViE CHunDeR & ThE GenitAL BeN SaLt liCK Lady No" page. Whatever that means. The name probably would have been even longer if MySpace didn't put a limit on the number of characters you can type in! I was amused to see the 'related links' that YouTube generated for the nonsensical title "MANG MANG SCRELT". There appears to be an infinite number of Oriental people called Mang Mang Something!

WHO PUT THE 'POO' IN POOLSVILLE?! Our very own and very Dodgy KEN "Blockhead" DEAD can be seen in... erm... action with the POOLSVILLE BAND PROJECT on this community website (link somewhere below). With SPECIAL GUEST APPEARANCE by none other than one MERVYN PURVISS!

Hot off the press (well, the mixing desk anyway!), DGM have already released the first complete gig from the just-finished KCrimBeast US tour. In fact, so quick off the mark were they at making the set available as a download, they haven't even produced the PDF sleeve art for it yet! For the record (or for the MP3?), this was the second night of three at Chicago's top nighterie the Park West... A bit loose around the edges at times, but when it gets going, it positively ROARS... just as long as you have an appetite for LOTS of DRUMMING!

Today, I found myself recording the SOUNDS OF THE LAVATORY at Gozzywood's top recording facility (Ah! that old chestnut!). This resulted in a sample loop that provided the 'percussion' for a little semi-acoustic hippyditty. It has more than a hint of the Fry's Turkish Delight tune, or something by the Floyd (Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Cistern?), but it emerges off the back of a LOUD AND SCARY segment, in the manner of the Butthole Surfers' "Jimi".

Week from Monday 25th August 2008

It's "Au-gust Bank Squalor-Day!" as the imaginary Fish once wrote... and the weather is fighting against any long term plans. I read some TOM HOLT, tried out another piece of 3D modelling software, watched Tim Burton's "BIG FISH" (again) and "THE SIMPSONS MOVIE" (again), took in a CAR BOOT SALE, delivered crates of jam to Stubbington Fayre, listened repeatedly to the 'new' KING CRIMSON concert, some TANGERINE DREAM... oh, and wrote a haiku (haven't done that for a while)...

Contrast between light and dark
Or just lots of brown?

Shelfy has posted some our "TALES FROM THE WINGED EYEBALL" episodes on a NOO JOYZEY-based website called Glubdub's RADIO EARWAX. He tells me that the track "Startled Bear Sailing" has had some good reaction from the 'community'.

The "OFFICE AMBIENCE" today is "Thread", the long-awaited and much-lauded album by THEO TRAVIS & ROBERT FRIPP, freshly downloaded from the Burning Shed concern - "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, WE ARE FLUTING IN SPACE..."

Back in GOZZYWOOD and things are getting ludicrously PSYCHEDELIC (I blame the solvent fumes in the High Street). Today's drums 'n' drones 'n' blips are worthy of inclusion in another STRUMPFEN project, and probably will be. The SteViE ChUnDeR version of the material is about twelve minutes long and inexplicably includes a chorus or two of "Bright Eyes" thrown in for good measure. My STRUMPFEN eighteen minute version (Well, it's quasi-krautrock - all pieces HAVE to be eighteen minutes or thereabouts!) has the working title "Chunderstrumpfen" and has expanded in all directions, with longer sections of EVERYTHING. It has to be said that recent repeated exposure to the BUTTHOLE SURFERS has also had an effect...