Week from Monday 6th October 2008

The Chunderproject is now called "STEVIE CHUNDER & MAGIK COW: A YOUNG PERSON'S GUIDE TO THUMB SOLDERING". So There. Over the weekend, I played around with a few artwork ideas to go with it. But, EVEN BETTER THAN THAT, I have just added some typography to a very strange Binky-supplied photograph (of some woodland growths which uncannily resemble spooky creatures).

Over said weekend, I found myself (yet again!) having to restore (that is to say, re-install from scratch) COREL DRAW because it had become unstable (that is to say, UNUSABLE WITHOUT CRASHING!). Meanwhile, I read a collection of DAVID LYNCH interviews, watched the rather strange movies "PAN'S LABYRINTH" and "SECRETARY" and attempted to listen to some noisy Japanese bands, but they didn't suit the mood somehow (whatever kind of mood would that have to be?).

Another 'project' is coming to fruition. The RENALDO & THE LOAF remix album "The Music Is Taboo" is now being assembled for download and CD-R. I've been asked to supply a 'master' of my version of the Renaldos' "Absence" (in the form of a 320 kbps MP3) for inclusion. Which Is Nice.

Back at the Gozzywood studio complex, we do some last minute tweaks to the CHUNDERPROJECT before the Nail shoots off to Vienna for a couple of days. All the tunes are mastered, the running order has now been agreed upon and the cover picture has been selected. I also advised on some 'swirly lettering' for the "SWARM" album, a 'various artists' tribute to a best-forgotten Bee-Movie... but we are using his rather old version of COREL DRAW which doesn't really lend itself to such niceties. 

As a taster, I've posted the Chundertrack "STAND BY..." on the still erratic Pedestrian music player. It sounds like "Tammy Winnit arm-wrestling with the Residents 'round at Dave the Gravel Yodeller's house..." according to Shelfy.

A bit of essential shopping to do: I've run out of office paper and I'm down to my last half-dozen blank disks. I also have to call in at the health centre to have my blood pressure ascertained, as per my optician's instructions... 

They call me "THE SPHYGMO KID"! I find myself 'volunteering' to wear one of those 24-hour BP monitor strap-on walkman doobries... I'll be glad to take it off, then I can have a bath (...and catch up on some sleep! Having a built in alarm clock that wakes you up on the hour, every hour? How can sleep deprivation be GOOD for your blood pressure?).

I am currently lost in the appropriately named book "Lost In A Good Book", a book by JASPER FFORDE, whilst listening to some vintage JOE ZAWINUL.

Week from Monday 13th October 2008

Crikey! It's WEDNESDAY already! A sudden flurry of 'proper' work for OOR WULLY, means that I haven't given this diary any attention. Whoops! ain't that always the way? Actually, I've MAINLY been sitting around at Shelfy's WAITING for "LAST MINUTE" information and stray logos, so that we can DO the 'proper' work! We've actually done the SAME work at least three times over, because PEOPLE IN POWER keep changing their minds. This is where your lottery money goes, folks! I've also offered to update the MySpace page for THE STEEL BAND PROJECT to match the new work that Shelfy is doing for them... despite their having BLANKED ME for four months, thus leading to the conclusion that it's no longer any of MY business!

It looks like we are surreptitiously building a CULT OF PERSONALITY, at least in the United States, around our chum SNILTWEASEL (DIRECTOR). He getting quite a fanbase! What is more, this morning, STEPHEN COLBERT has been added to  the FoR&R friendspace, which'll certainly make his day.

...And suddenly there's ANOTHER week gone! I can't keep up! In the words of Sandy Denny, "Who Knows Where The Time Goes?"... In fact, I can't help thinking that this CENTURY is going by a lot quicker than the last one. I mean to say... who'd'a thunk I'd live to see 2008? Two Thousand and Eight? Twenty O-Eight? That's supposed to be THE FUTURE! Seven years ago, did they sent a manned spaceship to Jupiter to meet the big black paving slabs? Nine years ago, was the moon blown out of orbit by a rather underwhelming Gerry Anderson special effect? Is it really twenty five years since we were at war with Oceania and we mooched around in grey overalls, drinking cheap gin, while our TV sets spied on us? Come on World Government, where's my silver lamé suit with the big shoulder pads? I demand my hover car NOW!

Week from Monday 20th October 2008

The latest treat from the DGM vaults is a R.A.B.A.B.T.A.L. recording of the 1973 KCrims tearing up the Olympia in Paris. There is a very generous IMPROV-TO-SONG RATIO with this show; in fact the songs seem to be just there to hold the lengthy improvs together! Shame the tape ran out before the end of "Schizoid" though! If that weren't enough, I also have a new KClub release to look forward to this week; featuring the DOUBLE TRIO's last ever gig in Philadelphia... Oh! and there's the FRIPP & ENO remasters as well... sigh!

Shelfy has decided to give his RABBIT SHOW REJECT site a makeover (it is rather YELLOW!) ...and I've been doing some ray-traced bunbuns that are his for the using. This 3D modelling lark is becoming something of a HOBBY project - it has no real PRACTICAL use in my 'work' life (that I can think of), but it's a fun way of using the computer as ART-FOR-ART'S-SAKE. I was particularly chuffed with the two "newly discovered ancient monument" pictures, featuring some rabbit-shaped sphinxes poking out of the desert.

Monday finds me SUMMONED to help The Human Nail install new security applications on his peecee; his current Norton licence runs out this week, so I've set him up with a suite of  FREEWARE alternatives.

Tuesday finds me SUMMONED to the Health Centre to discuss the results of my blood pressure test. My BP is a little bit high, but not dangerously so. But then I knew that already. I now find myself SUMMONED to partake in all those other healthchecks that I've spent a lifetime avoiding. This is what you get for turning fifty, I suppose. Welcome to the caring, sharing NHS.

Wednesday finds me SUMMONED to the church hall to assist in a market research survey. Ten bucks is ten bucks, eh?

On Thursday, I was in Gozzy depositing some money, so I paid a visit to THE NAIL's to drop off the VELVET UNDERGROUND box set that I'd promised him, either as a loan or as a swapsy (However, a SUN RA album in which I expressed an interest, by way of a trade, has mysteriously gone AWOL). I found myself contributing to a couple of new tracks (some sax noise, natch, and a couple of bass geetar parts), but I'm afraid I couldn't muster up much enthusiasm for his NEW MUSICAL DIRECTION. He is trying to conjure up what he terms "the good old days", by recording the new project on 4-track tape! If, like me, you remember the FGAC recordings of twenty-odd years ago, you'll realise that this was "the good old days" when everything drowned under a wash of irreparable distortion and tape rumble. Frankly, not where MY head wants to be at this moment in time, wallowing as I am in the EDGY MINIMAL-YSTICISM of the Fripp & Eno reissues.

I had another flurry of digitising old tapes; mainly obscure stuff that'll probably never see the light of day on 'real' seedydisk (rare-ish vinyl, radio sessions), but which I consider irreplaceable ne'ertheless, sentimental old bugger that I am.

Week from Monday 27th October 2008

"It's Monday, You slither down the greasy pipe..." - no, better not quote any more of that, he might sue. As I've vegged out for most of the weekend, I decided to walk to Gozzy this morning, stopping off Chez Shelfy to deliver the now-obsolete "ESSENTIAL FRIPP & ENO" cassette into his sweaty clutch. I helped him tweak a few things on his MySpace page (the music uploader is still giving him gyp) and we discussed THE STEEL BAND PROJECT. A visit downtown for my usual Monday tasks and then I have to go the the health centre AGAIN for the last of my 'healthchecks'; an electrocardiogram (the All-Body Hickey Machine) and a pee on some litmus paper.

I'm waiting for Shelfy to send me some artwork so that I can knock up a "temporary" website for THE STEEL BAND PROJECT (and we can only guess at THEIR definition of "temporary"!). In the meantime, I shall listen on the iPlayer to last night's "JAZZ ON 3", featuring DJANGO BATES' stoRMChaser big band recorded live in Brum. Several times, in fact.

   A bit of nostalgia for the old folks... and a welcome opportunity to see some bands from "MY DAY" in a decent hall instead of living-room-sized venues like the Wedgewood or the Brook, which is the usual lot of bands whose "appeal has become more selective". The ONLY 'young' person here at the Portsmouth Guildhall is Purviss Jnr! Even I feel young next to some of this lot. The whole gig is SEATED, for crying out loud! It's not exactly a sell-out though. Remember, I was able to buy a front row seat nearly a week after tickets went on sale...
   Mervyn, being a 'proper' musician, concerned with such archaic things as 'playing the right notes', says that THE GROUNDHOGS were the worst he'd ever heard them. I admit I've heard better myself. Perhaps the restriction of having to play for less than sixty minutes didn't suit them. Perhaps the sound wasn't as good from Mervyn's seat in the rear stalls. I had the benefit of a crystal clear backline 'n' monitor mix. Tony McPhee certainly attacked his guitar with a disregard for the niceties of conventional notation (although he looks and speaks a little like Max Wall these days). During the interval, even Rhys asked "What scales was he using?". Bottom line, I just thought they made a good honest RACKET, nothing more, nothing less. We think that the bass player was Dave Anderson out of Amon Dull II and Hawkwind. ** Highlight: "Eccentric Man".
   When all is said and done, MARTIN TURNER'S WISHBONE ASH are their own 'tribute' band; note-for-note renditions of tracks from "Argus" et al, played by highly competent soundalikes. But for the presence of the eponymous bass player, whose sartorial style is part-Keith Richard, part-Davy Crockett, they look like they also keep day jobs and they'd otherwise be playing the chips-in-a-basket circuit, in bands called "Créme Brulée" or "Sounds Unlimited". They give the public exactly what it says on the tin. I must concede, they ARE rather good at it. *** Highlight: "Phoenix".
   The first album I ever bought as a teenager was "FOCUS At The Rainbow", but I never had the opportunity to witness them live until now, thirty-five years later. Still led by the yodelling eccentric Thijs van Leer, with the return of Pierre van der Linden (unfortunately, still inclined towards interminable drum solos!), there are now TWO original members in the band! Nils van der Steenhoven (is that right?) sounds so much like Jan Akkerman in his heyday, you be forgiven for thinking it's 1973 again. Only with better sound equipment. I had a perfect audio experience from where I was sitting, directly in front of the guitarist. Unfortunately, Thijs had his keyboards up on a riser, so whenever he sat at his antique Hammond, I could only see the top of his hat bobbing up and down! He certainly is a corpulent figure these days; when he took centre stage for some jazzy scat singing, I was reminded of George Melly! The set list contained all one might possibly wish for, including a lengthy version of "Eruption". Alas, there were no songs from my own personal fave "Hamburger Concerto", but you can't have everything! A couple of newer, yet unmistakably Focus-oid songs showed that they don't JUST play to the nostalgia crowd. Bassist Bobby Jacobs was also able to show off his 'jazz' credentials. A total joy from start to finish (but deduct half a star for wasting valuable playing time with a drum solo!) ****[*] Highlights: The funky jam that preceded "Sylvia"; the segue from "Focus I" into the excerpt from "Anonymus".

The 'new' web project has been finished (to MY satisfaction, anyway) and has been dispatched to Shelfy the 'creative director'. Doubtless, further flurrying will ensue (If it doesn't merit at least a couple of 'meetings', then it don't count for sh*t!)...

Saturday night, I tuned into the FabChannel to watch a live webcast of  Funky Dreads On Metal LIVING COLOUR, from the Paradiso in Amsterdam. Great stuff (although Will Calhoun is another one who doesn't know the optimum length of time it is possible to endure a DRUM SOLO!).