Week from Monday 31st August 2015

Life goes on... I'm still glued to the grand tour cycling highlights everyday... I still set aside an hour or two every week for catching up with the podcasts... I still take my tablets and grapefruit and walk everyday... I still have to sit in front of this computer thing everyday, for business and pleasure... but as the Bank Holiday looms, marking the transition from August into September, life as we know it is turning increasingly, excitingly CRIMSON... The KC/UK tour is kicking off in Aylesbury tonight. This is the first time a King Crimson has played here AT ALL this millennium (one show at Shepherd's Bush Empire in the year 2000. Yes, I was there.) The last proper nationwide tour was in 1982. Imagine that. Older than this diary in any form and more years ago than we've had an internet!

I guess for the general populace, the first sign that something strange is going down was when a gentleman appeared on "MASTERMIND" this weekend with King Crimson as his specialist subject. Across the land, the Crim fanbase dutifully played along, shouting the answers at their tellies. I know I did. I confess I had to 'PASS' on one question because, in the heat of the moment, I just couldn't remember in time the title of the part of "Lizard" that has Jon Anderson singing on it. Some bright spark has now posted the questions (but not the answers!) on the DGM Guestbook, so that folks outside of the UK can 'have a go'.

I'm looking forward to what the TwitterScape has to offer this week (not to mention the DGM Live pages and Mr Levin's photo diaries), as we set off on what I like to call "The Road To The Dome", but I'll forgive certain individuals if they're just a little bit too busy to post updates! And it IS a Bank Holiday, after all!

Meanwhile, TICKETMASTER sent a cursory (and, one would presume, automated) e-mail containing a "REMINDER" that "MY EVENT" is coming up this week, plus a link to the British Rail journey-planning website and 'like'/'share' buttons for both Twitter and Facebook. All of these are things for I wouldn't normally need help remembering or achieving for myself, thank you for asking. That, though, has been pretty much the sum total of their involvement in the transaction, for which they can justify the extortion fee that they heap on top of every ticket's face value these days. They are merely, when all is said and done, an ADVERTISING AGENCY; useless, annoying, non-productive, opportunistic middlemen, the GoCompareTheMeerkats of the music business. Bring back proper English queuing for stuff, that's what I say!

(The gradual blushening of the font here is a snazzy little HTML trick I just taught myself, and is in no way a reflection of the state of my BLOOD PRESSURE which, I'm happy to report, is gradually going DOWN. Whatever you might glean from the ranting!)

Today, Tony Levin's photo diary included (amongst all the great band rehearsal shots) a picture of the merchandising table for the shows. I'll be taking a pocketful o' pennies along (well, a Visa card anyway!) for this year's version of the TOUR BOX. As for the 'Cyclops' t-shirts? Pfft! Nah! Horrid! You can keep those!

Tuesday morning... the SET LIST from the first Aylesbury show is now online, and they've included one or two mellotrontastic goodies From Ye Olden Days Of Yore (no spoilers!). Jakko has said in an interview that the band has about three hours of repertoire to draw upon now, so each two-hour show will be different to the last. Blimey! They're turning into the Grateful Dead!

First comments on the GussetBook suggest that 'the new stuff' is very strong indeed, especially "Suitable Grounds For The Blues". I have reservations about anything based on 12-bar blues changes (re: "ProzaKc Blues", "Potato Pie"), however loosely - that is usually a sign that the artist has run out of ideas and has resorted to the safe option of 'that old chestnut'. I'd be surprised if that is the case here, but we'll see...

I'm not sure how familiar Shelfy is with the streets of Brighton, so this morning I've been hitting the maps so that I can familiarise myself with the one-way systems, especially those around The Steine. I once knew Brighton & Hove with advanced-level tourguide familiarity, but only as a PEDESTRIAN. Calculating a simple point-to-point 'satnav' route plan, using the postcode of our destination (the car park in Church Street) as the end point, I see that it recommends entering Brighton from the north, coming off the A27 somewhere up thataways. I, on the other hand, would recommend entering the town from 'below', along the sea front from Portslade. That is the most "NAVIGABLE-BY-LANDMARKS" route: that is to say, you can recognise the places you are approaching long before you get too close to them... although at least a couple of the 'landmarks' by which we would once 'navigate' are no longer there these days!

Elsewhere in the music world, on Friday night DEUTSCHLANDFUNK (I know it only means 'Radio Germany', but it somehow sounds better in the fatherland mothertongue!) are broadcasting the first half of STEVEN WILSON's show in Cologne (or Köln, if you prefer) from earlier in the year. Laptops at the ready!

Tony Levin posted the first couple of setlists on his photoblog, so I was able to correct and update my own list. I think some of the posters on SETLIST.FM must have cloth ears. Their version of what they HEARD seems somewhat different to what the band say they PLAYED! ...and the contents of the TOUR BOX have been announced. Musicwise, I already have much of it in other forms, but it's a ruddy COLLECTABLE, innit!? DGM's very own production alchemist and clandestine Vicar, DAVID SINGLETON, is doing Q&A sessions before every show on this tour. It would be interesting to hear what he has to say, but I don't think we'll get to Brighton with time to spare before six o'clock.

Since this morning when the latest VUELTA news broke, I've been looking for somewhere on Twitter to slip in my "FEELING A SENSE OF SCHADENFROOME" joke. No opportunities have yet presented themselves, so I'll leave it here instead! Just as I was beginning to give up all hope of TREK FACTORY RACING winning anything this season, they had their day in the spotlight, helping to control the peleton for most of the day and setting up things nicely for DANNY VAN POPPEL to win the sprint and the stage. (Elsewhere, the team they've sent to the TOUR OF ALBERTA has also been doing well, winning the TTT.)
TWO THINGS I COULD NEVER HAVE IMAGINED A YEAR AGO:-
1. me on Twitter
2. a King Crimson UK tour
As the shade of RED gets to its hottest on this page, it's all becoming a bit exciting now. I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve, unable to sleep, anxious but in a good way, adrenal glands working overtime (I think I'll have to whip out the old SPHYGMO just to check myself out!). Tuned into the German radio to hear the first half of STEVEN WILSON's Köln shindig: Not surprisingly, it's the usual "HAND. CANNOT. ERASE." set and the broadcast sounded nicely atmospheric via my Apple earbuds, with everything in its 'proper' place in the stereo. The lad cleaned up at this week's Prog Awards, apparently winning so many trophies that he was giving them away to his band members by the end of the evening!

IT'S HEEEEEERE! Dawn breaks on Saturday the Fifth of September 2015. Disappointingly, there's no glorious RED sunrise to mark the occasion. It's a bit grey and autumnal, cool, moist and windy. It doesn't yet look like the sort of day you'd choose for a day at the seaside! "The last time King Crimson played Brighton Dome was 11th December 1972. Tonight, 43 years later they are back..." remindeth the Twitters. But it's still a Saturday, so first I have to do all the comparatively normal Saturday things: catch up on the week's TV 'stories'; go round to the shop for supplies; bathe and shave; hit the social networks... As You Do... so it's a happy birthday to MEL COLLINS and congratulations to BRIGHTON DOME for winning an award for its customer service. I shall expect nothing but the best!

Despite all my usual efforts, we still managed to get lost on the way to Brighton. As we struggled with stubbornly creative ways to avoid the A27/A23 combo, we ended up in some interesting and inexplicable places (bits of Worthing that I had personally never seen before). But we had plenty of time to get lost in and cassettes-full of 1980s music to get lost to... Once we'd 'booked' into the car park, we sat and ate our sandwiches, closely watched by one of Brighton's famously streetwise herring gulls. We tried to figure out a 'system' of how to find our way back to the car in the dark. Then we got lost again for a bit... Time for the traditional fight over the merchandising stand, the traditional message about turning off one's electronic devices (this got a round of applause) and the traditional Watching Of The Roadies, while a stringy Frippscape drifts away in the background, pleasant but largely ignored... SHOWTIME!
OBSERVATIONS FROM THE DRESS CIRCLE... Nothing you THINK you've heard by the 'new' King Crimson - the rehearsal tapes, the Orpheum CD, the Albany b***leg (come on! we all know it's out there!) - can prepare you for the experience of being in the same room as this seven-headed beast when they are in full swing.

Walk On/Monk Morph Chamber Music - Having the band amble onstage and immediately start noodling about on their instruments and 'tuning the air', strikes me as very Zappa-like way of opening a concert. But doing it along with a pre-recorded orchestra tuning up, the very same piece of audio-verité featured at the end of the "Islands" album, is pure King Crimson!

Larks' Tongues In Aspic (Part I) - If you've been sneaking a look at the setlists this week, you'll know that the band has now settled on this as an opening number, having tried various different permutations during the American tour earlier. Let's be honest... "LTIA1" is what you always WANTED a King Crimson concert to start with! It is magnificent. It remains magnificent. With bells on. Literally. Right away, you realise that Pat Mastelotto has finally found his rightful calling, channelling the spirit of Jamie Muir, with all manner of metal oddments and squeaky toys to hand. The thumb-pianos are nowadays digitally-sampled, of course. The only things missing are the blood capsules!

Pictures Of A City - Anyone who ever saw the Schizoid Band will know that Jakko can always put in a good vocal performance on this one (this was THEIR traditional opening number, after all) and Mel Collins can still skronk like a good'n', making you think it's 1971 all over again.

Radical Action (To Unseat The Hold Of Monkey Mind) > Meltdown - Something new... This is the very FIRST time I've heard this music EVER, so forgive me for not knowing where one song ends and the next starts. As a rough guide, there is an instrumental bit followed by a vocal bit. All the Crimson hallmarks are present and correct though: Disciplined crosspicking, some THRAKky moments, as well as some jazzier interludes that recall earlier times. I even heard a section that reminded me a little of The League Of Gentlemen (only with MUCH better drums!)

The Hell Hounds Of Krim - Much has been written elsewhere lately about KC's uniquely bananas concept of having three drummers in one band (or one drummer with twelve limbs), so I won't go on about it again here. Speaking as someone who immediately falls into a coma at the very mention of the words "drum solo", I dreaded the prospect that there would be quite a lot of this sort of thing in the show. BUT... seeing it, rather than just hearing it, I can appreciate this COMPOSITION with freshly non-rockist ears. I think I now 'get' it, by approaching it in the ritualistic spirit of Kodo or Burundi or Gamelan percussion, rather than as the sort of thing that, say, Phil Collins and Chester Thompson used to do.

The ConstruKction Of Light followed by Level Five - A couple of pieces of 'math rock' from the later "Belew Years", but given a whole new (humanising?) dimension by the inclusion of Mel's sax and flute work. You also have to admire how Tony Levin has adopted/adapted Trey Gunn's bass parts and made them his own.

Banshee Legs Bell Hassle - In which the drummers explore the more melodic parts of their extensive hardware, a delightful little Gamelan-sounding interlude, again made all the more interesting by having the benefit of "watching how it's done". This would probably have segued rather nicely into "The Talking Drum"... but no, instead we get

Easy Money - OMG! as you kids say... If you'd suggested to me a few months ago that I would ever get the opportunity to hear "Easy Money" performed by King Crimson without someone first inventing the time-machine... I don't mind admitting that I felt a tear roll down my cheek during the 'improv' section. I don't think music gets any better than this. And you can quote me on that.

Epitaph - Bill Reiflin here wears his 'other' hat as provider of one of the Mellotrons. The other appears to be conjured forth from out of Robert's guitar, following a happy accident involving a MIDI channel or two during an earlier band rehearsal. My attention here was mainly caught by the drummers (again!), watching with amazement how they've reinterpreted Michael Giles' (typically light-of-touch) parts for three people without things getting too overbearing. Jakko's vocal performance was again spot on, thanks to his years of apprenticeship in the Schizoid Band. (Is it too late to re-evaluate the 21st Century Schizoid Band as a 'PROJEkcT'?)

Interlude - A delightful little 'chamber' piece, involving a couple of flutes, an upright bass and some atmospheric string sounds... As well as evoking Messiaen's "Quartet For The End Of Time", I also hear this as a distant cousin of the 1973 band's "Trio" with maybe a hint of Mel's "Flute Trio" from the Schizoid Band years.

The Letters - Jakko has really made this "Islands" number his own and you can tell that he actually likes singing it (probably more than Boz ever did!). I loved the way they played those hugely contrasting baritone-sax/guitar ensemble oompahs and, again, I gazed in wonder at the way that the percussionists passed the parts around without getting each other's way. Then when Jakko sang the final acapella lines, you could hear a pin drop...

Sailor's Tale - Wait! Did I just say that "music doesn't get any better than this" when referring to "Easy Money"? Well, this too comes pretty close to musical nirvana! The skronking sax! The Mellotron! Fripp's Electric Banjo Riffs From Beyond The Seventh Galaxy! The blissful din of it all!

Larks' Tongues In Aspic (Part II) - Whoomph! straight into "LTIA2" with no "Talking Drum" as a safety net! Boy, does that 10:8 swing with this line-up!

Starless - I always regarded "Starless" as a summing up of everything in the King Crimson "Way Of Doing Things" and it would be my go-to demonstration track to play to folks who say "Nah mate, never 'eard of 'em!" (That was the astonishing reaction I got from a number of so-called friends when I mentioned that I would finally be coming to see this band). As "LTIA1" has established itself as the ONLY way to start a King Crimson set, so "Starless" is now the only possible way to end it. This version of the band really do a cracking job of taking it through all its tos and fros, ups and downs... Was that another tear in my eye?

As the auditorium rose to give King Crimson the standing ovation they truly deserved, I felt like the band had only been playing for ten minutes, such was my sense of immersion in the music! But it was probably closer to two hours in real life! A further twenty minutes of music was to follow, by way of an encore...

Devil Dogs Of Tessellation Row - The infeasible multi-limbéd drum beast presents another composition which, if anything, was even more Burundi-inspired than "Hell Hounds". Seeing and hearing three men do that cross-handed thing on the floor toms, effortlessly in unison... phew!

The Court Of The Crimson King - I think this song got the biggest cheer of the evening. After Robert had told everyone he couldn't play it any more, we feared the worst. But of course, Jakko has had many a year playing this one in his 'audition' band, the Schizoids, so we knew that he was more than familiar with it... leaving Robert free to play the second Mellotron (without touching the keyboard!)

21st Century Schizoid Man - Pat even has a sample of the introductory wind noise in that kit of his somewhere! I didn't think it would be possible to approach this number with fresh ears, after forty-odd years of familiarity, but it still has the ability to grab you by the lapels and scream in your face "Who else would have thought of doing this, eh?". I can't begin to imagine how other musicians would have responded to this level of ensemble playing in 1969. Not exactly "Honky Tonk Women", is it? I think everyone got to take a solo along the way, including a prolonged one of the drum persuasion by Gavin Harrison. If anyone can make me care about drum solos, then he can!

And that's yer lot! Not a word has been spoken on stage all evening. No one moved much except to change instruments. The band members' Sunday-best suits made them look a bit like an Irish showband. There were actual paper score-sheets in evidence. Someone said it was more like a classical concert than a 'rock' one. It was similar in one vital respect, in that the stage lights didn't do anything at all (except change to blood red during "Starless"). They didn't feel the need to distract you (or the musicians) with special effects. If you wanted back-projections and varilights, then you should have gone to the David Gilmour concert down the road (no disrespect to the Floydies intended). Here the music was all. And I appreciate that.
Wow. Magnificent. Gobsmacked. Breath Taken Away. It's going to take me a few days to absorb what I just heard, what I think I heard and how I heard it...

Returning to the starlit roof of the car park, the STREETWISE SEAGULLS are putting on the next part of THEIR show. Little showoffs. They circle over the town, underlit by the urban illumination, so that they appear to glow in the dark. Eerie... (Earlier in the day, we'd observed how 'streetwise' the local SQUIRRELS are as well... Now out here in the suburbs, we're used to seeing squirrels. They're so common that you'd hardly consider them to be 'tourist attractions'! But they don't exactly welcome human interaction either, scurrying back up the nearest tree as soon as you approach them. The ones in the Pavilion Gardens, on the other hand, will attract a crowd and are happy to pose for photographs if you pay them in tidbits.)

You'll not be surprised to learn that we also got lost on the way home. The literally misleading "DIVERSION" signs, put in place by the fiendish Sussex Highways Department, to 'help' you avoid the mess at Shoreham, cunningly bring you right back to the place where you started! But we made pretty good time, once we were actually going in the RIGHT direction again! Very good time, in fact, I was home by midnight!

Straight to bed, back to "NORMAL": I will awake with one of my 'non-alcoholic hangovers'; it will be Sunday morning; I will watch this week's episodes of "Nashville" and "Montalbano" and catch up on yesterday's bicycle race; I will break fast; I will take my tablets; I will do the crossword; I will run my weekly security checks on the peecee... "NORMAL", I tells yer.

Sid has just posted the 'definitive' KCrimTour setlists online, so I just amended mine (above) to match. I refer you back to my previous comment about folks on SETLIST.FM having cloth ears! Nothing but positive comments about last night's show on Twitter this morning, but I don't think I'm the only one who can't yet find the words (not even one-hundred-and-forty-characters-worth!). Everyone else seems equally 'gobsmacked'.


Week from Monday 7th September 2015

This morning, I tried to compose my thoughts about the show, but I ended up just writing that bit about squirrels and seagulls instead! I guess that's why I could never call myself a JOURNALIST - I can't just sit down and address a subject 'to order'. Elsewhere, folks are only now starting to post reviews of the EARLIER gigs on their bloggies, so maybe I'm not alone in thinking that it takes a while for it all to sink in. I've been gradually adding to my notes, a little bit at a time, as it occurs to me. You couldn't, by any stretch of the imagination, call the kind of stuff I write here a "REVIEW", merely my own gathered notes and observations. It's a "Dear Diary..."

A couple of other twitters have reported that they have had difficulty listening to any OTHER kind of music, once they'd had THE KING CRIMSON EXPERIENCE. I'd take that one step further. I haven't listened to much music AT ALL since then, Crimson especially. The "Tour Box" that I purchased at the merchandising stand remains unopened. It would only disappoint at this stage. It's almost as if my overwhelmed brain is currently saying "WHAT DO YOU NEED MUSIC FOR? YOU'VE ALREADY HAD SOME!" Instead, I have found more time for reading, something that I'd rather let slide of late. Shelfy lent me his copy of one of NEIL PEART's motorcycle diaries "GHOST RIDER", so I am thoroughly engrossed in that. Silence is a rhythm too.

Okay, it's Tuesday now... nice day, time to venture out into the "REAL" world, stretch the legs, tie up some business, interact...

I'm easing myself back into music now... I've been listening again to the STEVEN WILSON half-concert that was broadcast on German radio last week. Curiously though, at the moment "Club Country" by the ASSOCIATES is permanently EARWORMING in my head and has been stuck there for days!

THURSDAY, it's a gorgeous day (a situation that is not going to last through the weekend, apparently)... so I extended the WALKIES with a bus ride to SAY'FAMPTON. I hit HMV for a couple of newish releases from the ESOTERIC concern:- the first album (1974) by the noodly jazz-rockers ISOTOPE (with sleevenotes by one SID SMITH.... now where do I know that name from?) and the expanded version of the only album (1971) by soulful mellotron-merchants SPRING (I always thought they were Welsh, but apparently they originated in Leicester). With purchases in rucksack, I then took up the walking theme again, around the park... I settled on a bench for a while and absorbed some rays and another chapter or two of "Ghost Rider"... then the adjacent benches started filling up with the local wino population, so I moved on...

It's a nice surprise of a morning when you open an email that starts "JOHN WETTON IS FOLLOWING YOU ON TWITTER"... Massive excitement followed by massiver disappointment in the VUELTA yesterday, as Trek's HEIMAR ZUBELDIA was in the breakaway (and thus in the final sprint), only to be beaten to it by a ****ing SKY rider! That makes it DOUBLY infuriating in my book! (How can anyone in all conscience support anything that carries the Murdoch Korps brand anyway?)

Now then, about that King Crimson "TOUR BOX" that has sat on the shelf unopened since the weekend... I finally think I feel worthy...

DREAM DIARY... I'm searching in the wardrobe (that I don't have) for some waterproof leggings (that I don't have) so that I can go out on the motorcycle (that I don't have) in the rain for the first time...

Much has been written recently (quite a lot of it from the paranoid conspiracy theorists) about M!¢r0$ØfT adding 'telemetry' to WINDOZE 10. This, so the argument goes, is legalised SPYWARE, which allows M!¢r0$ØfT to gather data about you, whether you asked to participate in their schemes or not. Now it turns out that they've backported this to Windoze 7 and 8 as well, by including this... ahem... "FEATURE" in a number of recent WindowsUpdates. Now I'm not as paranoid about this sort of thing as quite a lot of Americans appear to be (after all, it would only give M!¢r0$ØfT access to exactly the kind of information about you that you've already given to g00g1e and all those 'social' networks that you belong to!) but it did start to make me wonder. Merely as a TECHNICAL EXERCISE, I thought I'd read up on the subject, discover which WindowsUpdates it was safer NOT to have (just for the record, the main ones are KB3075249, KB3080149 and KB3068708), and follow the instructions on how best to remove them. I'd already done something like this previously, to get rid of M!¢r0$ØfT's persistent "GWX" nagging about updating to Windoze 10 (that was update KB3035583, by the way). It was because of M!¢r0$ØfT's backdoor approach to sneaking stuff onto my computer that I'd already changed my Windows Update Manager settings to 'manual' instead of trusting M!¢r0$ØfT to do it all automatically for me (clearly a wise move, as it turns out). This time, just to be sure, I was also shown how to change some settings in the Task Scheduler Library to stop the unwanted updates popping back again (again, following the instructions of folks who know what they are doing, rather than any "DIY" flailing around in the dark on my part!) and to disable some 'Remote' settings (Don't need 'em. I'm not on a network with any other computers, I STAND ALONE!). The only downside to this fiddling that I can see was that it reset the 'odometer' on the Windows Update Manager to zero. It's now telling me that I've never received any Updates at any time! Speaking of which... IT'S TIME FOR THE SUNDAY ROUTINE!

Week from Monday 14th September 2015

Over breakfast, I am watching last night's ITV4 highlights of the final stage of LA VUELTA. Like the 'processional' finale of the TOUR DE FRANCE around Paris, this circuit of Madrid is not really supposed to count for much, the race having already been decided in the mountains the day before. But the sprint is still contested for the Green Jersey competition. Trek's DANNY VAN POPPEL (ah! but... he's moving to Team Sky next season. Traitor! UNFOLLOW!!!) was narrowly beaten in the final flurry for a stage win (Trek Factory Racing: Always The Bridesmaid). The overall Red Jersey was won by Astana's FABIO ARU. Well deserved and well fought, although perhaps he only got the OPPORTUNITY to compete once his team leader Nibali was disqualified for cheating...? But everyone agrees that 'THE MAN OF THE MATCH' and 'THE ONE TO WATCH' for future Grand Tours is Giant Alpecin's TOM DUMOULIN (I think that, between now and next year, the commentators should agree on how to pronounce his name!) ...and thus ends my interest in SPORT for another year. SPEAK OF IT NO MORE.

MUSIC TO READ TO... I prefer something a little 'abstract' at the moment. A bit of the old TINKLY-BONK jazz. I spent a couple of hours reading "GHOST RIDER" yesterday, and the music that "worked" as room ambience was the Torn/Karn/Bozzio album "POLYTOWN" and a live session by BILL BRUFORD's (acoustic) EARTHWORKS. But music with vocals, big tunes and catchy choruses, such as ASIA? Far too distracting, even at a relatively low volume.

Uh ho... I can't connect to the COFFEECUP site this morning to upload this stuff - Although, of course, if anyone other than me is reading THIS now, then you'll know that I do get through eventually... Ah! here we go!

WALKIES about town... I found a [nearly] new pair of HI-TEC "HILLSIDE WP" yompin' boots in a charity shop for under a fiver! That's saved me at least £50 in Millets then! My old ones have almost worn through the soles, so I was in the market for a new pair soon anyway! The only "modification" needed was to swap out the laces (the tubular ones are prone to wearing through and fraying in no time at all) and putting in some cushioned insoles (took the existing ones out of the old boots as they were fairly new replacements.) That's my prime mode of transport SORTED for the next few months then!

Just a shortish walk this morning... I watched a young fox trying to chase a pigeon (and then looking all embarrassed when he couldn't!)... I did my regular circuit of "The Farm". A bunch of Malaysian naval officer trainees were jogging the same route.

The British leg of the KING CRIMSON tour ends this weekend, with the last two shows being in Edinburgh. Everyone agrees that the paying punters have provided a better standard of REPORTAGE on this tour than the 'professional' hacks (who, presumably, got their seats for free, therefore CARING about it less). The so-called 'reviews' in the GUARDIAN and the FINANCIAL TIMES have been singled out as examples of lazy writing, thrown together by 'pop music' 'journalists' with ill-informed preconceptions about 'PROG' in general ("songs about unicorns and wizards...", "pieces which sound like they're influenced by Spinal Tap's 'JAZZ ODYSSEY'..." etc. etc.) and the KCrims in particular. The FAN BLOGS, on the other hand, show a real understanding of the music (although this often means they tend to go over the same old historical background details already covered elsewhere) and are generally A BETTER READ.

DREAM DIARY... At a "hotel/conference centre" (albeit one with a strangely 'student accommodation' vibe), apparently somewhere in Worcestershire... I met a lady Doctor who has a striking resemblance to the actress Ming-Na Wen... There is some cycling and hillclimbing involved, but mainly, a lot of sitting around in a nicely furnished flat with a bunch of people I didn't know (but they all knew me)... I make everyone lunch, dominating the conversation and being particularly erudite (told you it was a dream!)... A woman's voice screams repeatedly "Meet my lovely brother!"... A bowler-hatted Victorian cockney (probably played by Michael Elphick) leads me to a market square, where some Black and White Minstrels are opening up boxes of butterflies and releasing them over the crowd...

Week from Monday 21st September 2015

As usual, I'm checking the TWITTERVERSE for linked reports about the previous night's KING CRIMSON show (in this case, Paris). But it is clear that, this morning, it is HASHTAG PORKGATE that is 'winning the internet'... [hashtag] TwitterPureGold!

This week's - ahem! - schedule involves a flurry of work for L'EMPORIUM DE COIFFURE, a review of 'where we stand' with all of UNCLE WILLY's left-in-the-air jobs (including a telephone discussion about that testing [TESTING! TESTING!] e-book project)... and a BLOG project of my own, in which I discuss the pros and cons of BANDCAMP, for musicians of the "working" variety and otherwise. This started out as a Twitter conversation (with STEVE LAWSON) which got FAR too wordy for Twitter. Better to compose one's thoughts in something a little more expansive.

The WALKING REGIME continues... although, as the mornings become increasingly AUTUMNAL, I find myself needing to put on more and more layers of clothing in which to work up a sweat ("Winter drawers on!"). My hoodie from the 2013 STEVEN WILSON tour is the Suitable Outermost Garment Of Choice at the moment. This morning's yomp (Thursday) involves a walk to the Health Centre to collect a prescription ticket. Of course, I can't resist also browsing a couple of charity shops along the way...

On Saturday Night Sunday Morning, RADIO 3 gave a live broadcast of MAX RICHTER's record-breaking eight-hour ambient piece "SLEEP". The studio audience were invited to bring their own jammies and sleeping bags. But as MUSIC TO SNOOZE TO, it didn't really work for me. I got too involved in the music. BRIAN ENO defined 'ambient' as "music that can be ignored as well as listened to" (I may be paraphrasing here). But in order to sleep, you'd have to IGNORE it. I couldn't. I listened instead. I grew up with all that minimalist 'DEEP LISTENING' music (yer Enos, yer Glasses, yer Rileys, yer Reichs... yes, yer Fripps and yer Reuters). I'm sort of tuned into it. I can't 'ignore' ANY music now, which is one of the main reasons why piped muzak of any kind is so irritating and why I can't have music on while I'm trying to concentrate on something else (um... like sleep, for example). Instead of hearing Richter's music as a floating nebulous nothingness, I found myself in a constant analytical state of "This is a nice chord, where does it go from here?". I couldn't drift off to sleep with it, even at a subliminal volume. I had to get up and turn down the hi-fi so that I COULD sleep... but it was nice to turn it back on at half-past seven this morning to wake up to. And a recorded excerpt might 'work' for an afternoon catnap, played at a more substantial, room-filling volume. (I still wouldn't recommend you try DRIVING to it!)

Week from Monday 28th September 2015

GIMME THE MOONLIGHT (AND LEAVE THE REST TO ME)... In this locale, we have a pretty poor track record where the observation of once-in-a-lifetime ASTRONOMICAL PHENOMENA is concerned. Total and partial eclipses, meteor showers, planetary transitions... they all pretty much pass us by, obscured by clouds and light pollution. But last night we had our turn. There was a 'SUPERMOON', which occurs on the rare occasion when a lunar eclipse coincides with the Autumn Equinox. I was able to watch the whole thing from start to finish, without having to leave my bed - I could just look up and there it was! Over the course of about eighty or ninety minutes, little Luna went from 'big white smiley face', via 'man with flat-top haircut', 'grinning Cheshire cat' and 'cashew nut', to become a small orangey-brown planetoid that resembled Pluto or maybe Tatooine. All in a beautiful clear sky, broken only by the occasional distant flash of foolish persons trying to photograph it with their camera-phones.
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY... (Haven't had one of these for a while!) On the 28th September 1978, we saw a CHARISMA RECORDS double bill, featuring jazz-rock favourites BRAND X and the cathartic, angst-ridden stylings of PETER HAMMILL, at the BRIGHTON DOME. Brand X (the excellent P.Jones / J.Goodsall / M.Pert / P.Robinson / C.Bergi line-up) were promoting their latest "MASQUES" album, while Hammill had just released "THE FUTURE NOW", the one with the half-shaved face. He was accompanied by Graham Smith on violin and David Jackson on multiple winds, both colleagues from his Van Der Graaf days. I wasn't that au-fait with Hammill's music at the time, so I probably found his set a bit hard-going (Heck! I still find his music hard-going NOW, if I'm not in the right mood for it!) The Brandies (as no one ever calls them) were quite superb as usual. They were, after all, the band we were there to see. We were, by this time, already well familiar with all of their music on vinyl and/or cassette, and we had witnessed them live, earlier in the year, at Knebworth...
I had a visit with the DENTIST today... I'm mainly there for my "SIX-MONTHLY", but during the routine poke-around, we also solved the mystery of why there is a particular tooth in my gob that always acts like a magnet to seeds and grains. Whenever I eat wholemeal bread or sesame buns or muesli or the like, it is a surefire thing that a bit of seed will get lodged in that same tooth every time. It turns out I have an old filling that's sort of collapsed inwards over the years, leaving a slight gap between it and the 'proper' tooth. I have thus made another appointment to have it drilled out and refilled. That'll be fun.

Down to L'EMPORIUM DE COIFFURE to do the 'SELFIE WALL'... finding the hard stuff had already been done for me! A quick trim and a photo opportunity for Twittering... I popped over to Gunwharf HMV, where I treated myself to the new DAVID GILMOUR album. Delightful. It sounds EXACTLY like a new David Gilmour album.

In an excellent full page review, MOJO MAGAZINE's Ben Thompson had this to say on the occasion of KING CRIMSON's opening night in Aylesbury:-
"It's like watching Ornette Coleman's Prime Time play the Moody Blues' greatest hits..."
Also, more revealingly:-
"I hadn't seen King Crimson play live before, due to a hereditary terror of long-time frontman Adrian Belew (all of my family have it - it's like the Mallens' streak!) and there's no other incarnation I would prefer to have belatedly lost my Crimson cherry to than this one..."
The European leg of the (UNANIMOUSLY acclaimed, I think it would be safe to say) KING CRIMSON tour has now drawn to a close in Utrecht, allowing Mr Fripp to return home to his lady wife and rabbit. It was interesting (and a little frustrating) to peruse all the set lists to see what songs had been played elsewhere on the tour that they DIDN'T do in Brighton ("One More Red Nightmare"; "Red"; "Suitable Grounds For The Blues"; "VROOOM" and its Coda; a "Talking Drum" to precede LTIA2; "A Scarcity Of Miracles" or "The Light Of Day"). Meanwhile, Messrs Levin and Mastelotto have gone straight to Italy to start a STICK MEN tour, without so much as a short breather in between. Then the whole band will reconvene again in November (Friday 13th!) in Canada, eh?

TWITCHING NEWS... I knew that crows could be aggressively territorial, but on this morning's WALKIES I watched one trying to see off a dirty great heron who had dared to land in 'his' field.

I'm doing some (typically last minute) Powerpointing... but today's FAVOURITE WASTE OF TIME is playing around on a promotional website for the new CHARLIE BROWN & SNOOPY movie. There you can create Peanuts-style caricatures of yourself and your friends. I found that the best approach was to assemble one's basic character from the various readymade elements available, then save the result as a bitmap so that it can be further edited in the 'paintshop' of your choice. It took a couple of goes before I got it 'right', but for my own picture, I selected a haircut, glasses, trousers, boots and a plain black tee from those available... then I painted in an earring or two and some stubble. I also mapped a King Crimson "Elements" logo onto the black t-shirt to make it unmistakably ME! Voila! The Peanut Minty is now on my phone wallpaper and is also my Twitter avatar... Here's a thought to end the month:-
Mitch Benn • Biggest shock about the co-writer of 'All About That Bass' being shafted is the revelation that it took two people to write 'All About That Bass'