Week from Monday 7th December 2009

They haven't yet unfixed the recent 'improvements' to the homepage... but the 'SPACEmonkeys have now added an improved PLAYLIST capability to the music player. This means that, in addition to uploading ten tunes of our own for the world to salivate over, we can enjoy the feature that 'civilians' have had for ages, which is to organise lists of links to OTHER people's songs as well. I have taken advantage of this to put together a "MINTY'S CHOICE" playlist, partly to coincide with my "PICK O' THE YEAR" (coming soon to a 'blog near you!). In addition, I've compiled a "FRIENDS & FAMILY" list, featuring collaborative efforts and close personal chums. I hope this new featurette will encourage more people to tick the "allow others to add tracks to their profile" box, when they update their music postings. It's another good way of GETTING IT OUT THERE. Although I'm also inclined to believe that those who make a living from their music might be LESS likely to 'share'. Hmmm...

The format of the ongoing "PPvXT2" project now seems likely to be thus - Thirty little miniatures, mostly of a minute or less, and one enormous thirty-minute DRIFTWORK, involving fairly long loops which never QUITE cross in the same place twice - self-generative CHANCE MUSIC! All of the sounds that I've used have stemmed from the most recent CHRISTMAS TREES recordings, but few of them are recognisable once I've done with 'em! The short pieces are more "composed":- I'm using my Tracker to re-sequence the Trees samples in weird combinations over exotic time signatures. Categorise on this!

Week from Monday 14th December 2009

...although inspiration comes but in dribs 'n' drabs. I have a few little pieces that sound complete in themselves. Others sound like they might be the basis for something else. Like all of these projects, I shall VERY GRADUALLY accumulate material on the hard-drive until the process becomes one of SELECTION and JUXTAPOSITION. Meanwhile, there are still highlights from the LONDON JAZZ FESTIVAL trickling out of the airwaves and I've started on the task of digitising some old cassettes of THE NICE, rough though some of them be.

I found a copy, in a charity shop, of Rock Scully's book about his life on the road with the GRATEFUL DEAD. So that'll be this week's BOOK O'CHOICE, then. It makes a change from my 'default setting' of reading PG WODEHOUSE.

Week from Monday 21st December 2009

WHERE MY MUSIC'S AT... I find it the easiest thing in the world to generate l-o-n-g,  d-r-a-w-n  o-u-t, ambient pieces. I can do that in my sleep (and in other people's). To produce very short, concise pieces is more of a challenge. Which is why I'm doing JUST THAT with my new project - FOR THE CHALLENGE! It's gradually evolving into a VOCAL album... of sorts... well, there are vocals on it. But I'm mainly using voices for added texture and colour, rather than in the "YOU HAVE TO HEAR THE WORDS" sense. I am still in awe of anyone who can write ACTUAL SONGS, with proper LYRICS and VERSES and CHORUSES (and TUNES?!) and all that malarkey. It's a mystery to me and no mistake. But this is about as close as I'll ever get. I've been dipping into the "PATHETIC ENTRIES" archive for some suitable 'vocals' to sample and, in certain cases, shaping the music around the rhythm of the speech. So none other than Sniltweasel will be making a guest appearance. Shelfy has also sent me a recitation of a newly unearthed poem, one that inspired the title "PALE DEFINITIVE MUTILATION" but which was never used for that project. In another stunning example of XENOCHRONY/SYNCHRONICITY in action, his recording perfectly fitted with one of the ready-made instrumental tracks. 

I can't help noticing that, because I am basing all of the tunes on samples from recent CHRISTMAS TREES sessions, there's quite a lot of GUITAR on this one! I've got so many guitar 'stems' to work with, in fact, that I never need to go near a REAL guitar (or even the bass variety) for some considerable time. Heck, my bass guitar isn't even in the house anymore, it's down at Studio Binky!

I tuned in as usual to BBC 6Music yesterday to hear "STUART MACONIE'S FREAK ZONE". But it was more than I could handle! This week's 'theme' was 'CHILDREN'S MUSIC'. The featured album was by DONOVAN. The horror! The horror! After about ten minutes, this hyperglycaemic concoction had me reaching for the off-switch. I had to listen to some free-form jazz to clear my head!

So here it is, December the 25th... Just so's you know, MY festive lunch consisted of a Waitrose Mozzarella & Roast Tomato Wrap with Peppery Wild Rocket & Pesto, with a side helping of garlic bread and several cups of Typhoo's finest. My Christmas television consumption was zero (although I have recorded "DOCTOR WHO" for later), preferring instead to spend my day with Radio 4 and some light reading, with "THE SIMPSONS MOVIE" and a little KING CRIMSON on DVD as my evening treat. Somewhere along the way, I set another "PATHETIC ENTRY" to music. I'm currently ending my day (or starting Boxing Day, depending on which way you look at it) with a deliciously funky MILES DAVIS concert (from the Fillmore West in 1971) streamed via WOLFGANG'S VAULT. Business as usual, really...

Week from Monday 28th December 2009

Well, here we are then, about halfway through the interminable recess... and I think I may proudly claim that I have eaten LESS food and watched LESS television than I would have done during the same period of time the REST of the year. I have however had my fair share of GREAT RADIO! This week's "FREAK ZONE" was more to MY taste, being a "1969 SPECIAL". All of the music in the show was recorded in that 'historic' year, including the featured album "UMMAGUMMA", a nice big [audience baiting] chunk of PETER BROTZMANN's jazz-din-opus "Machine Gun" and a "Live Freaks" slot with the PLASTIC ONO BAND (more audience baiting: although I still maintain that Yoko Ono was the best thing ever to have happened to The Beatles!). Elsewhere on the dial, there have been more PROMS and LONDON JAZZ FESTIVAL highlights. And if you can tell me a better way of spending a morning than by having a cozy lie-in while listening to a PG WODEHOUSE dramatisation, closely followed by a MARX BROTHERS skit, well then I'd jolly well like to hear about it! Who needs telly, eh?

It's a gorgeous crisp 'n' frosty morning, so I'm venturing out on a WALKIES... down to the Harbour (Doing things the Heritage Way!) to say hello to the wildfowl.

New Year's doodah... I decided to get a nice early night, because I wanted to wake up to see in the new year with LITTLE FEAT's live webcast (so I'm really on Eastern Seaboard Time). Of course, I'd quite forgotten to remember that, in this country, one is NOT ALLOWED to get a good night's sleep on the 31st of December. Should you slip into sleepytimelalaland, you are rudely awakened by the sound of heavy artillery outside your window... I suppose three hours is enough sleep for anyone, then...

Oh... and while I'm in GRUMPY OLD PEDANTIC mode... All this "END OF THE DECADE" retrospective nonsense that is filling the MEEJAH: Can I just point out that we are now ENTERING the TENTH year of the third millennium? WE HAVE ONLY COMPLETED NINE! The world proved itself to be lacking in basic numeracy, by celebrating the start of 'THE NEW MILLENNIUM' after only nine hundred and ninety years of the old one had finished. In order to save face, we are stuck with an 'EVERYTHING A YEAR EARLY' timeframe from now until doomsday (anytime soon, folks...). HARRY SHEARER also picked up on this point in his "LE SHOW" broadcast this week, referring to "that kooky decade with only nine years in it" (I may be paraphrasing here).

Actually, it turns out that the pyrotechnics that woke me up at midnight did me a huge favour. Had I slept through to the time I'd set the alarm for, I would have missed much of Little Feat's first set! They started an hour earlier that I had calculated.