Week from Monday 3rd August 2009

...but video quality is even BETTER on Facebook, according to Bunny. Well, I'm not about to find out if that is the case, however much she tries to persuade me! Is there some trick to Facebook that makes 'social networking' a doddle compared to MySpace? What is its magical appeal? Because all the people I know who have JUMPED SHIP to Facebook are those who didn't try hard enough on MySpace in the first place - they set up a profile and then appeared to get bored with it. Possibly because it requires a degree of effort to set it up, or perhaps they became disillusioned because they didn't instantaneously have millions of friends (I'm reading between the lines here). INTERACTIVE, guys! I believe that if all you require from a social networking site is somewhere to PICK UP new friends or keep up with old ones (as a normalian), then Facebook probably IS for you. But for networking between MUSICIANS and ARTISTS, then MySpace is still the preferred (and established) option.

A second JOXFIELD mix has been done over the weekend, layering some more of their samples over a drums and bass (NOT "drum'n'bass") track recorded for an XMAS TREES (or is it SKULL PAGODA?) song about University Challenge. Accompanying visuals have been constructed, using pictures of street performers which I took at the Brighton Festival a summer or two ago. Another couple of tracks have been completed for the SKULL PAGODA (or is it XMAS TREES?) project, both deliciously psychedelic yet strangely post-punk at the same time. Which Is Nice.

But I've been neglecting my reading. Perhaps I should just go and lose myself on a beach somewhere... Not with the weather we're having, I won't!

The TV BY TEARS MySpace page is now up and running*. Wonderful to hear the tunes again (several live recordings, although I can't place their provenance at the moment. South Parade Pier, perhaps?). The page could do with some more visual and biographical content, but I'm sure that will come with time, if Rabbithole devotes some effort and attention to the task. Meanwhile, there are some SKUNK FUNK performances posted on YouTube. Entertaining enough, to be sure, if a little incomplete - but Slobby is not going to win any globes for his cinematography! MERVYN PURVISS himself has also [re]launched HIS MySpace page. Let's hope he persists with it this time! [*No, wait, make that TWO pages!]

Week from Monday 10th August 2009

Ha! so now it's BUNNY's turn to prompt me when I don't update my postings on time...

I've been trawling the archives for visual material to send to Rabbithole to add to the TV BY TEARS pages - articles singing their praises from both the online and print editions(!) of  "THE GRIDLER", poster and cassette graphics, some "press releases" we made up, that sort of thing. I expect there is plenty more where that came from, if I dig a little deeper. I haven't even started looking for the photographs yet!

Binky's video for the SKULL PAGODA track "Holocaust of Love", in which I had an "ACTING" part (pretending to play the toy drums, operating puppets), but did not contribute to musically, has now been posted on that YouTube. My home-made bass guitar, however, IS heavily featured in the fillum, as indeed it has been on several new tunes recorded at Nail Studios; the young fellow seems to have grown attached to it, along with the bright orange Jazzmaster replica he is currently 'resting in his account' for someone... I made a start on a jolly new rhythmic excursion, but I don't know where we're going with it yet.

I found time to catch up on M'READING this weekend, and finally got around to finishing "A Short History Of A Small Place" by T.R.PEARSON. To be honest, I'd picked it up, put it down, picked it up a while later, backtracked and read bits over again, so often that I've probably read the whole thing twice. But there's some highly-quotable stuff there and you do find yourself "reading it aloud in your head" at times. In a recent charity shop moochabout, I found a big hardback volume containing the whole "HITCH HIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY" five-part trilogy (having originally bought all the separate books in paperback, back in the day), so I might read that again (again again) next. We DO seem to be on a nostalgia kick at the moment...

So far, I've resisted Bunny's 'invitation' to join her on that PhraseBook or whatever it's called. But I HAVE now opened up an account on the blogging site LiveJournal, as she intends to keep her private musings even MORE private from now on (mainly from her employers!). It's nice to be able to stick your oar in now and again when your chum's ramblings strike a chord or hit a nerve (Were there enough archaic figures of speech in that sentence?)

Week from Monday 17th August 2009

I tuned in to the BBC PROMS on Friday night, mainly to hear the STRAVINSKY in the first half ("Apollo") and, out of curiosity, to hear JOHNNY GREENWOOD's new work for strings. Lulled into a state of lush stringy bliss by those first two works, I was NOT prepared for what the second half of the concert delivered... Forget your psychedelic-krautrock-spacepunk-music: The TRIPPIEST ART I've experienced in ages is HARRISON BIRTWISTLE's "The Arches" from his operatic work "THE MASK OF ORPHEUS". I don't know what the heck it has to do with any Greek myth I've ever heard told, but as a work of COMPLETE ABSTRACT MINDF**K... Wah! The music is like all the weird 'ballet' sequences of  "200 MOTELS" mixed up with the most percussive bits of EDGAR VARESE and PIERRE BOULEZ, but in Crystal High-Resolution Surround Sound. The libretto is pure stream-of-conSCIENCE 'word absorption', delivered in disjointed bursts that care not for the conventional rules of human speech pattern or language. The members of the orchestra (with two conductors - did I mention that?) are required to involve themselves in the TOTAL THEATRE: they pretend to sleep through the electronic interludes and to flash mirrors into the audience during certain transitional passages. Maybe it was my getting the sound balance in the room JUST right for the occasion, or maybe it was anti-histamine semi-spaced-out-ness, but I was transfixed. "WHAT CAN I SAY ABOUT THIS ELIXIR?"

The "INDIAN VOICES" Proms on Sunday turned out to be a bit disappointing. Some of the devotional and traditional music during the day was okay, particularly MANJIRI ASNARE KELKAR. But the "BOLLYWOOD FINALE" during the evening was far too smooth and slick and had NONE of the quirkiness that I find appealing in the best FILMI music. Plus the 'dance spectacular' didn't really come across on the radio!

Of course, nostalgia IS the order of the day... BBC FOUR dedicated an entire evening to programmes marking the fortieth anniversary of WOODSTOCK, including the 'Directors Cut' of the movie itself, the "Hotel California" documentary about the 'West Coast' rock scene, a 1970 concert from the Beeb archives by CROSBY & NASH and another showing of the classic SANTANA "Sight & Sound In Concert". But as Shelfy points out, I was a MERE EGG in 1969, too young to be of the WOODSTOCK GENERATION as such. 

My own 'Woodstock' would have been ten years later, with the KNEBWORTH festivals of the late seventies. All of which brings home the fact that - yikes! - it's also THIRTY YEARS to the month since I saw LED ZEPPELIN play their last ever British gig (reunions excluded)! A glimpse at the Knebworth footage on Zep's "DVD" box set will give you a little taster of how good the band sounded on that occasion. On the same day, we also heard TODD RUNDGREN'S UTOPIA, THE NEW BARBARIANS (the Rolling Stones spin-off band), SOUTHSIDE JOHNNY & THE ASBURY JUKES, COMMANDER CODY, oh... and CHAS & DAVE... all for seven-and-a-half of your English Pounds Sterling.

I've just written a gushing review of JUDY DYBLE's gorgeous comeback album ("Talking With Strangers") over on the LiveJournal blog. Already, the lady herself has posted a comment on my 'Space thanking me for the nice words. Gee, I love this 'social networking' malarkey!

Week from Monday 24th August 2009

Ooookaaay... I haven't yet got ANYTHING to report this fine Monday morning, but now there is someone out there who actually appears to 'worry' about me if I don't post anything at all... which is, in itself, a nice thought.

All this nostalgia... I spent much of the weekend compiling an MP3 disk of 'SEVENTIES FESTIVAL FUN:- b***leg live recordings of the kind of big name "guest" West Coast artistes that would come over and play our little Festivals in the seventies (some GRATEFUL DEAD, some CSNY, some JEFFERSON STARSHIP, some COMMANDER CODY). Zonked Out Music For A Wet Saturday Afternoon.

There is now a link to my "glowing" JUDY DYBLE article via the DGMLive news pages (but how and why did they use my real name?).

With work well and truly dried up for the foreseeable future, I fancy I might take off for a few days and have another crack at circumnavigating the Isle of Wight on foot. Last time I attempted it, many summers ago, I got driven back by 'inclement' (understatement!) weather after only one night. Taking the clockwise coastal path, I only made it as far as Sandown. As we currently await the backlash from a hurricane system over the Atlantic, I shall give the long term forecast a look before I decide what to do!

The weather forecast forecasts weather... So if I'm going to get out, then a series of "ONE DAY EVENTS" is more plausible. On Tuesday, I went for a walk to the top of PORTSDOWN HILL, taking my camera and recording every single footpath along the way, as well as the view from the top. Ulterior motive: I want to see if I can embed a "PHOTO-BLOG" page in my LiveJournal. Once I've figured it out for myself (creating the page is easy enough, but it remains to be seen whether my HTML is compatible with theirs), I can share the secret with Bunny for her gardening diary.

Week from Monday 31st August 2009

August Bang Collar Day... Hey! I actually had some PROPER WORK to finish off this weekend. Now there's a turn up! 

There was some cracking stuff to be heard on the PROMS this weekend. Of course, the great thing about enjoying the Proms via the iPlayer is that you ONLY have to listen to the 'cracking' stuff. You can skip past all that tedious Schubert and Beethoven (and lacklustre performances of Stravinsky that never fail to disappoint) and cut straight to the chase! 

First, to the second half of Saturday night's telly broadcast, for a sparklingly detailed rendition of MAHLER'S FOURTH. It was performed with Swiss precision by the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra under David Zinman, with Dawn Upshaw as the soloist in the final movement. It's such a treat to hear Mahler played WELL at the Proms, instead of a dreary performance by a bunch of drones on MU rates. I was hearing the under-appreciated Fourth Symphony in a whole new light.

Then I backtracked to Friday's late concert by the NETHERLANDS WIND ENSEMBLE, performing three deliciously punchy pieces by LOUIS ANDRIESSEN and two of his 'students'. On the strength of the piece "De Staat", Andriessen is a composer I really should investigate further! Like JOHN ADAMS, he takes the basic LANGUAGE of "minimalism" - the arpeggios and the rhythmic block chords - but uses it in a more complex, less static, MAXIMUM style. [Compare and contrast with Adams' "Slonimsky's Earbox", performed earlier in the week.] The concert opened with STEVE MARTLAND's jazzy "Beat The Retreat" - always a favourite! Completely new to me, though, is the music of CORNELIUS DE BONDT. His "Doors Closed" features disturbingly low synthesizer drones and classical 'quotes' (from Beethoven's 'Eroica' and a piece of Purcell) which "JUMP-CUT" in a most extraordinary, Zorn-like fashion. The piece has all the hallmarks of something that has been composed on a computer and then transcribed for "real" performance. SO IT SHO' SPEAKS MAH LANGRIDGE!

THIS WEEK'S BOOK OF CHOICE:- I have decided to reacquaint myself with Aldous Huxley's "BRAVE NEW WORLD". It was 'required reading' on the school curriculum all those many moons ago, as a sort of 'COMPARE & CONTRAST' with George Orwell. However, unlike just about EVERYTHING ELSE on the EngLit syllabus, it was a book I rather enjoyed! Let's see if that is still the case...

Well, I HAD planned to spend an afternoon enjoying last night's PROM, a concert featuring two 'spectacular' percussive pieces by XENAKIS - but the danged iPLAYER isn't working again! [I WAS eventually able to record the concert "for Ron" during the evening, while I was watching Star Trek]

Oh, and while we're on the subject of the Proms... When did it cease to be a FAUX PAS to applaud BETWEEN the movements of a symphony? I was taught that it was NOT THE DONE THING, that you save your ovations for the END of a performance. But not, it would seem, anymore... I'm hoping for that moment when some 'old school' conductor turns round and tells them to shut up! [moan moan bla bla bla dumbing down bla bla bla people today bla bla bla no ruddy manners bla bla bla not brought up proper bla bla bla state of the country bla bla bla Daily Mail bla bla bla coming over 'ere bla bla moan moan]

"Chronic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most undesirable sentiment. If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can and address yourself to the task of behaving better next time. On no account brood over your wrongdoing. Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean..." ALDOUS HUXLEY