Week from Monday 6th July 2009

Sunday morning, another little walkies to a CAR BOOT SALE is just the ticket. A good turn out of exhibitors and much to peruse, what with the hot weather and all that. I gleaned a couple of half-a-quid CDs and a pocket Shakespeare book that turned out to be a major disappointment even at ten-pee!

The external hard drive on the Binky studio peecee, popularly known as THE BIG BRAIN, has been taking longer and longer to boot up of late. Today, after several hours of [his] waiting, it still hadn't done so. All my efforts to diagnose the problem from a software angle came to nothing. I suspected that the drive itself has failed. I took it home to try it on my own peecee. Same result. I'm now pretty SURE the drive has failed...

...But on Tuesday - don't ask me how! - we managed, with patience and luck, to coax the thing into firing up. Thus I was able to rescue all the valuable data onto another drive. I must say His Binkiness is taking this extremely calmly (must be the meds!). If this was all of MY ART potentially going up in smoke... 

I copied all the stuff onto another partition and then reformatted the 'questionable' disk, checked it for bad sectors and then reformatted it again, just to be sure. The computer now launches the external drive immediately on start-up, as indeed it should. Amongst the stuff rescued were the master 'tapes' to several completed ART RATZ albums and the only-just-finished video for one of the "Strange Daze" songs, featuring lots of lips almost-synching and yours-truly pretending to look busy in a frightful fluorescent wig (The whole shebang has now been posted on our various SpacePages).

I've been advising anyone who will listen to upgrade to FIREFOX 3.5... not only does it (touch wood) make the BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH less likely when those bloody great Flash movie adverts lock up the MySpace log-in page (today's was one for that frankly unappealing new Sasha Baron Cohen film), it also APPEARS (touch wood again) to have cured Bunny's recurring "FLASH-on-MYSPACE-on-FIREFOX-with-FIREWALL-on-VISTA" problem, which featured big grey boxes where the Flash and Java content SHOULD be. Also, I haven't yet on this occasion (touch some more wood) encountered any problems with the 'new' Firefox making my favourite add-ons obsolete.

I anticipate that SHELFY will point out that I've been talking [what he considers to be] computer-related GEEK-SPEAK for several paragraphs now, and asking why don't I do something INTERESTING for him to read about instead.

Week from Monday 13th July 2009

"Sir! With regard to your blogodiary inserts recently. You have been 'computer based geek speeking' instead of entertaining me with tales of mysterious car boots and 'funny ears'. What we need is 'funny ears'!"

This week's CAR BOOT SALE turned out to be a lark. Already overwhelmed with gratitude by the fact that the rain had held off, I stumbled over a MAJOR find. A one-armed man with funny ears sold me a delightful panorama  - unsigned, but I recognised it as being by an artist (whose name has escaped me at the moment) who has previously been a topic of discussion between Bunny and myself. The style was unmistakable, featuring as it does a tiny, nearly unnoticeable, dancing cat. Just when you thought my weekend couldn't get any more ENTERTAINING...

I've been experimenting with a PC version of  ye olde SOUNDTRACKER music programme beloved of us COMMODORE AMIGA veterans. What this now means is I've been able to generate some of my off-kilter drum patterns WITHIN the PC box, instead of all that kerfuffle involved with plugging the Amiga into the back of the PC and recording that way - a process which has become more difficult since I upgraded the PC, because I can't monitor the sound in real time without additional hardware. As well as some DARK & GOTHIC, DOOM & GLOOM stuff based on Joxfield ProjeX samples (for their consideration, once they return to MySpaceLand), I generated some handy little modules featuring LE MYST RE DES VOIX BUNNY, for future use as backings, and a couple of 7:8 rhythms tracks for those JAZZIER MOMENTS. Now that the latest ART RATZ project has been completed*, this is when I start stockpiling WORKS IN PROGRESS for whatever comes next. [*Having said that, we keep adding 'secret bonus tracks' to make up the running time!]

His Binkyness has been trying out some guitar processor software that came on a music magazine coverdisk. Seems he's got it working, to the point where you CAN now make his guitar SOUND like it's going through an Orange amplifier and a custom rackful of effects. But between us, we couldn't work out how to record the resulting PROCESSED sound. As the Gear-Box software we've been using does exactly the same job (and WORKS), it's no biggy - but he, bless him, has persisted. Perhaps he secretly yearns to record himself sounding like a SATRIANI or a VAI which, we are led to believe, is the goal of EVERY aspiring guitarist. Meanwhile I tried applying 'TOUCH GUITAR' tunings and 'technique' (if I may use that word to describe what I do!) to whatever plank I could lay my hands on, in order to find something 'NEW' and inspiring. But nothing yet.

I had to go for my six-monthly DENTIST appointment. He said my teeth are alright, but my gums will have to come out - Oh no! THAT old chestnut! No, really nothing to report, aside from my usual niggles about coughing up £16.50 for a perfunctory two-minute examination.

This THUNDERY, humid weather doesn't suit me at all. I'm having one of my 'graines (consequently, I think I'll give the computer a miss for the rest of the day!).

Week from Monday 20th July 2009

I DREAM IN COLLAGE... tiny pieces of my life, in discontinuous JUMP-CUT, span the semi-waking hours; photomontage... disparate elements of everyday activity in a juxtaposed MERZBILD, thrown up in the air and left where they fall for me to make sense of; screenshots and logfiles in a buffer that needs optimising; tiny creatures dance to a score of simultaneously spinning, stuck-in-a-groove SOUNDBITES... bits of conversation taken out of context, a punchline from a week ago, a bassline from here, a line of lyrics from there, a half-remembered melody which lodges there insidiously, never resolving, never reaching the end of a stanza, ne...ver fin.....

I suppose it serves me right for fixating on KURT SCHWITTERS, watching all those DAVID LYNCH movies and listening to JOHN ZORN! The Radio 3 PROMS season has started, and I have my 'free' calendar from the BBC "Music" magazine stuck to the wall, behind my monitor where it can't be missed. The whole caboodle kicked off appropriately enough with a [not-bad] performance of IGOR STRAVINSKY's "Fireworks". Then there was a whole bunch of other stuff that didn't particularly appeal to me. There was some big band jazz from STAN TRACEY and his muckers on Saturday night:- pleasant enough listening, solid business-like arrangements, some good soloing but nothing astonishing. Today [Monday], I'm looking forward to the lunchtime concert of "MUSIC FROM THE TIME OF HENRY VIII", performed by the vocal ensemble THE CARDINALL'S MUSICK.

Friday... and after a morning of fixing people's websites, I went down to HUMAN NAIL CENTRAL to participate in his latest video extravaganza, along with GREGSON THE PANTHER. I had to pretend to play some small toy drums, whilst dressed in a chorister's smock, a false nose, two eye-patches and a straw hat. Gregson sat in a wheelchair, dressed in a tiger-skin patterned shirt, sunglasses and a surgical mask - oh! and a false nose - while pretending to play my home-made fretless bass. Then we had to do some low-budget puppetry with 'rock chick' dolls. I also found time to add some more touches to a SKULL PAGODA (or is it XMAS TREES?) song about University Challenge.

Week from Monday 27th July 2009

Well, you'd think now that the kids have broken up from school, that it would be the START of Summer... but the weather's taken a turn for the worse again, the evenings are getting shorter, the TOUR DE FRANCE is over...

...the WOMAD FESTIVAL has come and gone. Not that I went this year, of course. I can stand in the middle of a swamp WITHOUT forking out three-figure sums for the privilege, thank you very much. I dipped into the RADIO 3 coverage though. But experience has taught me that what you hear on the radio bears no resemblance at all to the ACTUAL festival experience of the average punter. What you DO hear on the radio, in fact,  is mainly what is happening on (and behind) the RADIO 3 stage itself. Not a true reflection of the festival as a whole. The 'big' names on the main stage do not, as a rule, grant broadcast rights for their performances. So they don't even get mentioned. I also still find the "TALKY" content of the broadcasts rather irritating and the TONE of the presenters thoroughly patronising. So I mainly stayed away this year. There was a rather good BBC PROM televised on Friday (Takemitsu and a couple of other Japanese composers, plus some Ravel and Debussy, played by a rather good French orchestra and some Oriental folks). There was a terribly dull one on Saturday evening (Elgar, Delius, Holst - if this is 20th Century "English" music, then you can keep it!).

I have produced a new piece of music based on samples from a recent download from my Swedish chums the JOXFIELD PROJEx. But I couldn't make up my mind whether it was "FINISHED" or not. It needed a certain SOMETHING... but anything I added to it musically just cluttered it up somehow. Everyone I played it to agreed that that it sounded complete in itself. So I wondered if maybe it needed a VISUAL element, in the same way as I did little pieces of abstract video 'ART' for several other tunes that I couldn't otherwise find a home for. It's an atmospheric little work, featuring lots of breaking waves and wet squirty things and goes quite well with the music. Only thing is, I had to build it out of the readymade stock footage that comes with the MAGIX programs (the ones that we use to make our fabulous music). I'd like to do something 'ORIGINAL' sometime, but I don't want to get involved in all the paraphernalia that Binky uses. We shall see. I might do another piece of music for the JPs and see where it goes. Anyway, bottom line, I'm happy to report it's gone down well with the Joxfield boys. They're as pleased as punch that their music is inspiring all sorts of audio-visual projects at the moment (they have a Hungarian friend who has now done four videos for their pieces). As well as sitting on MySpace, the video is also posted on YouTube, because the JPs prefer that option. The quality is MUCH better on the MySpace version...