Week from Monday 5th January 2015

NEW YEAR... Now I have to get used to typing '2015'. There's a sort of changeover period when your brain is still stuck in old habits - you accidentally write the old year, then delete it and write it again. I did it just then...

I confess I'm fiddle-arsing with the new phone, trying to get some of its archaic software to work (or in some cases, trying to get it to STOP working - Yes! ruddy F***BOOK app, I mean YOU!). I've configured most of the data-heavy stuff on the phern so that it will ONLY work when there's a WI-FI connection present. In other words, they won't drain my phone bill simply by existing! It works okay in my own room, needless to say, and I've also successfully tried it out in a couple of 'public' locations. Current wallpaper is the PJ CROOK painting used for the cover of "THE NIGHT WATCH".

CC has been complaining aloud about F***BOOK on her blog again. I told her that I'd recently heard someone describe F***BOOK as 'a gallimaufry of galoots', which we both thought was rather splendid (I can't remember who said it or where, but it certainly sounds very 'RADIO FOUR'... or perhaps I just dreamt it?)

Today, I'm looking at ways to improve the 'TRAINING' pages on Uncle Willy's website. I'm creating another slide show, but I could definitely do with some nicer pictures... but more exciting than that, I'm waiting for my 'replacement' copy of "STARLESS" to arrive! As before, the good people of ParcelForce have been sending me texts at all hours of the day and night to let me know its progress. I've just had one to say it's only ninety minutes away...

magiKC moments I... The Glasgow version of "Fracture" with the 'surprise' middle section... The restored "Law Of Maximum Distress" improv sequence from Zurich... Steven Wilson's spacious remastering of "Schizoid" from Amsterdam (as a whole though, I prefer the original "Night Watch" mix of the Amsterdam concert)... meanwhile...
emory0 -> DGM LIVE Guestbook
"...so here’s my last musical wish... How about Robert Fripp playing Soundscapes with Keith Jarrett improvising on piano? Even if this turned out to be a disaster for some bizarre reason (such as incompatible genres & styles or if some poor schmuck took a flash photo), it’d be a fascinating disaster, as their music-making methods share many common notions, I think..."
I cited Robert's afternoon collaboration with Keith Tippett at the ICA in 1980 as an example of how Frippertronics/Soundscapes and (that which for the sake of argument we shall call) "JAZZ" piano may or may not work together. While Fripp's soundscapes are (necessarily) drone-based and modal and the leadlines he might choose to superimpose tend to employ unusual synthetic scales (not a trace of 'the blues'), Jarrett's piano style is strictly rooted in the conventional western (i.e. post-Bach) major-to-minor way of doing things. He will also modulate the key, should the mood take him. Furthermore, Keith Jarrett might well have written the book on electronic piano technique during his stints with the Charles Lloyd and Miles Davis bands, but nowadays he is rather snooty about ANY kind of electric music. He is also notoriously uncompromising with the people he works with.

But the idea DID intrigue me. What WOULD it sound like if Jarrett & Fripp COULD play together? Could they find some common ground in a parallel universe? This got my creative juices flowing, so I thought I'd do a little "kCOLLISION" experiment. It took me a while to find even short examples of their work which would fit together, because of the reasons given previously. I chose a section of Jarrett's "KÖLN CONCERT" that was reasonably 'static' and then tried to find a Fripp piece that would 'go' (settling on a five-minute section of "BRINGING DOWN THE LIGHT" from Sylvian-Fripp's "The First Day" album). In the end, I had to cheat a little and adjust the pitch of the soundscaping to match Jarrett's piano (which, you may recall, wasn't exactly to concert pitch). I was quite pleased with the result and, though it breaks my rule about making this stuff 'public' without permission, decided to put it on my YouTube. However, I wasn't allowed to navigate the Guestbook readers towards it, so no one will ever know!
YOUTUBE DISCLAIMER: This music is not really mine. I've done dozens of these sorts of musical mashups, but I've never made them public. On this occasion it was germane to a topic of conversation over on the DGM Guestbook, so I decided I'd share it here. However, the good folks at DGM, citing reasons of copyright infringement (Hey! that's YouTube for you!), wouldn't allow me to post a link on their pages. Fair enough. So it is doubtful that anyone will ever hear this anyway! I will leave it here for now, but if either of the artists or their representatives complains, then I will gladly take it down.
DREAM DIARY... Took my computer on a skiing holiday...

magiKC moments II... The second improv from Arlington Texas, when the band channeled "My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts" several years too early... The Arlington "Schizoid"... The Atlanta "Dr Diamond" (as we say 'round here, 'Rough As A Bear's Arse But Twice As Lively')... The Missing "Money" from Mainz (REALLY filthy b***leg recording, but worth preserving for the rather odd instrumental section when Robert breaks into his "Sailor's Tale" thing all of a sudden)... Aaah! come to think of it, I don't have time to listen to anything EXCEPT King Crimson at the moment! As if "Starless" wasn't enough to keep me happily occupied, the BRAND NEW release "LIVE AT THE ORPHEUM" is due to plop on the doorstep any minute soon...

Week from Monday 12th January 2015

...thus I find myself trying out various combinations of gear to assess the best way to listen to all these newfangled DVD-Rs. I want to hear one at its best to discover if they really ARE better than a regular CD. My own 'domestic' DVD player doesn't produce a quality listening experience, at least not compared to the dedicated CD deck, so that's not going to prove anything. It appears that my Windoze 7 isn't even set up for playing DVDs of any kind, on account of me keeping all my music stuff on the Windoze XP partition.

Hoorah then for VLC MEDIA PLAYER (and the PULSE AUDIO codecs) on m'Linux laptop! In combination with a pair of them trusty white iPOD earbuds (still far better than ANY of the over-ear 'cans' that I have at my disposal) and with some judicious tweaking with VLC's built-in graphic equalizer, I'm RIGHT THERE in the middle of Los Angeles' ORPHEUM THEATRE, surrounded by three drummers, a guitarist in each channel, a certain unmistakable basso profundo in the middle ground and, of course some flying saxophonics...

So is a DVD-A better than a CD then, you ask?** Well, that depends if you've got a hi-fi-worthy DVD deck or not. Which I don't. I still prefer the sound of my 'audiophile' CD Player moving real air through real speakers. Quite frankly, I've never found a pair of headphones that sound NATURAL to me. But maybe I'll start warming to this earphone-listening lark, now that I've discovered what PulseAudio can do for me.

(**The man in Southampton HMV says 'Most definitely, yes, MUCH better". But then HIS headphones, he tells me, cost well over £200 and he has an expensive BluRay/DVD deck to boot. I guess that's the idea behind these 'multi-format' releases. You pick the one that suits YOUR own gear and ignore the others!)

It also rather depends on the quality of the original recordings, of course. The words "silk purse" and "sow's ear" spring to mind. For example, I'm finding the Steven Wilson mix of the Amsterdam concert to be a rather claustrophobic listen when compared to the "Night Watch" version I'm used to. Maybe that one will sound better The Linux Way? Further experimentation will ensue...

MONDERGREEN NEWS... The TV crime series "SILENT WITNESS" (or, as I like to call it, "Solent Wetness") features some theme music in which a boy soprano sings in Latin... Am I the only one who thinks the first line sounds like "HERE COMES GOATY LEGS..."? (I think you probably are, yes... Ed.)

Week from Monday 19th January 2015
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY... Having got my copy of GENESIS' "Wind & Wuthering" for Christmas, I'd eagerly paid out a further £2.20 for a concert ticket... and so, on the 19th January 1977, we trudged through a wintery Southampton to catch the lads in action at the Gaumont. Remember those white aircraft lights glaring through the smoke and dry ice for the big "Afterglow" finish, like on the cover of "Seconds Out"? Well, it was THAT tour! ... also ... IT WAS EXACTLY FORTY YEARS AGO THIS WEEK (21st January 1975) that we smiled upon some 'Visions Beyond the Emerald Apocalypse' on the occasion that JOHN McLAUGHLIN brought the Mark Two 'big band' version of the MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA - also featuring JEAN-LUC PONTY - to the Portsmouth Guildhall. Just for the record, this particular spiritual journey had a ticket price of exactly £1.00...
There's been much discussion on the DGM Guestbook about how 'quiet' "LIVE AT THE ORPHEUM" is mastered. True, I do find myself turning the amp's dial up to between -18.75 and -17.5 dB (as opposed to its 'NORMAL' 'comfortable listening' setting of between -30 and -26.25 dB) to achieve the desired effect. Someone even enquired if there was "a bad batch of CDs" going around. I concluded that, like a lot of contemporary 'classical' recordings, this album is completely free of any COMPRESSION. The quiet bits are quiet and the loud bits are loud(ish - providing you turn it up!). I refer you back to my previous notes about headphone usage. Personally, I was relieved to find that the three drummers DIDN'T dominate the proceedings TOO much (compare and contrast with the ALBANY EGG bootlegs). You can hear everyone on the stage clearly. As for the pros and cons of the album's forty minute length:- I kind of agree that 'TWO SIDES OF A VINYL L.P.' is a good benchmark for playing time, even if that way you don't "get everything". ALL KILLER NO FILLER!

On the subject of LIVE HIGHLIGHTS... Over the weekend, I found a copy of MILES DAVIS' "Plugged Nickel" sampler (excerpts from yet another of those 'COMPLETE' boxed sets) in a charity shop. It was sold at a knocked-down price on account of it being damaged. I'll risk it, says I. On arrival home, the visible scratches did indeed cause the seedy to skip. As it WAS ruined, I saw nothing to lose by submitting it to some radical treatment... I gave it the once-over with brush and toothpaste (which 'tricks' the scratches by abrading the disk, leaving a sort of matte finish to the playing side). I then submitting it to a half-an-hour on the hand-cranked 'DISC-CLINIC' polisher while I sat and watched telly. Don't try this at home, kids, it doesn't ALWAYS work! But on this occasion it did... and I was able to hear an uninterrupted seventy-odd minutes of the legendary sixties Quintet tearing the roof off the Chicago nightery...

Down to Gosport for my Tuesday 'ROUNDS'... there's a great deal of BRENT GEESE activity. Seems they can't decide where to settle this morning. As I sat and watched from the Asda car park, vast echelons of them (How many platoons in an echelon?) are flying from the creek to the sports fields and back again...

After a fortnight or so, the stricken cargo vessel "HOEGH OSAKA" is still stranded in the Solent, lopsided as ever. I gather they're pumping out its bilges today and towing it away tomorrow...

I went for a walk into town to buy a big CD WALLET for all those "HOT TICKLES" compilations to go in (I'm up to VOLUME 65 now!)... I found a rather awesome glossy book about ALFRED HITCHCOCK in a charity shop for £2.25...

Sunday the 25th is "BURNS NIGHT", whereupon the Celtic world inexplicably celebrates the life of an absolutely dreadful poet, by consuming equally poor-quality food and drink. Nowadays, I prefer to remember it as "MERZ NITE", as it was on this day in 2002 that I joined those paying homage to dADa hero KURT SCHWITTERS. We did this by listening to freeform jazz and improv, watching low-budget performance art, witnessing inaudible poetry recitals and doing some collage, all in the foyer of the Victoria & Albert Museum.

"There is no death, there is just a change of our cosmic address..." So Farewell Then, EDGAR FROESE

Week from Monday 26th January 2015

Up bright(?) and early, thereby testing the ALARM CLOCK function on my new Android... the toilet doesn't work**... I'm off to the Doctor's for a check-up. SHELFY emails with a "routine enquiry" as to whether I'm still alive or not. I tell him that the Doctor has just confirmed that I am. The 'CONVERSATION' soon turns to nonsense (Don't they all?) about a dream in which BUCKS FIZZ order A3 posters from our print shop, 'intricate scientific apparatus', "RENAULT ET MADELEINE", King Crimson miming on "Top Of The Pops" (which really DID happen!) and "MY AUGUST BANK HOLIDAY NIGHTMARE"... (**I just realised that anyone reading that would think that my new Android phone comes with a toilet. They're not THAT good yet.)

Back to the 'MONDAY MORNING ROUTINE' stuff...

With all the continuing discussions about Robert's SOUNDSCAPES on the DGM Guestbook (someone has suggested that they are ideal music for doing your school homework to) and the sad passing of EDGAR FROESE (which I first learned about via that very same Guestbook), we remind ourselves that TANGERINE DREAM were already doing 'CHURCHSCAPES' (i.e. playing gigs in cathedrals) at a time when being 'a small mobile intelligent unit' was still but a twinkle in a Fripp's eye. The Tangs even played in Coventry Cathedral, some thirty-four years before Bob and Theo did the same (Don't go looking for TD's so-called "Live at Coventry Cathedral" DVD, by the way, it's a bit of a rip-off by all accounts!) This afternoon's 'homework' is being done to the accompaniment of The Dream playing in RHEIMS CATHEDRAL in 1974, not all that long after "PHAEDRA" came out.

There's a new INTERNET BROWSER on the block... VIVALDI has been built by some of the guys who originally developed OPERA, who have now 'forked off' and started their own company. I'm trying out the "TECHNICIAN PREVIEW" version. I can immediately see the appeal for folks who liked the 'old' Opera, but who feel that the newer versions have gone too far. It is nice and fast and free of bloat (so far).

But... MAJOR POINTS AGAINST... I HATE its visual styling. It's got that "LEGOLAND" (flat blocks of plain colour) Windows 8 look to it, with simplistic monochrome icons which, to me, look like the kind of clunky 8-bit graphics that you used to see on Ataris and Amigas in the 1980s. Maybe it's JUST ME, but I think they're really UGLY and a thirty-year step backwards in the fine art of graphic design - and I said so when I saw Windows 8 for the first time. It lacks TEXTURE and, above all, it looks plain WRONG on any other operating system that ISN'T Windows 8. One chap on the GooglePlus Community suggested that these might just be 'placeholder' graphics, but I'm not so sure. As I say, some folks actually LIKE this sort of thing, as might be suggested by the number of "W8-STYLE" icon themes for Linux that have appeared on Noobslab. Takes all sorts, I s'pose...

The on-page font rendering in Vivaldi is rather hard on the eyes (those 'smooth' fonts, rather similar to recent versions of Internet Exploder and Opera... which again suggests that Vivaldi has been tailored for W8 users). I haven't yet found a way for the user to tweak the settings for this, so I trust this might be something that's still in development. I shan't be making this my DEFAULT BROWSER anytime soon, but I have revised COFFEECUP's 'browser testing' list for the purpose of previewing pages.

Yesterday, I took that rail journey to BRIGHTON that I'd been promising myself since New Year's... The weather is not that great, but there's nature-watching along the way... I caught a glimpse of some DEER, some RABBITS, some of those cute ALPACA hanging around the backs of caravan parks... and HERON on the ARUN... and I'm not sure, but I may have seen a couple of HARES as well... I spent a few fruitless "ONLY LOOKING" hours wandering in wonderment around the Laines (Honestly, the things some people throw out!)... Rummaged through the record bins, AS YER DO... I have to say, RESIDENT RECORDS is not what it used to be (more floor space taken up with the fashionably lucrative vinyl), but the other second-hand dealers in the area still had much to offer. I came away with a few choice JAZZ items I didn't know I wanted... There's an icy wind cutting through from the north as I sit on Brighton station... That snow must be getting closer...

I installed the new version (4.4) of LIBRE OFFICE on m'laptop. I'm most impressed. I'm now even more baffled as to why folks still, in this day and age, ignorantly fork out actual MONEY to M!¢r0$ØfT for the dubious pleasures of their Office software... I've also found a Linux version of 'tavli'-style BACKGAMMON to enjoy. Well, when I say 'enjoy', I mean scream at the screen in frustration! It's pretty much impossible to win a game, because (just like that old version that I used to play on the Amiga) it quickly becomes apparent that the computer always throws the best dice for itself!