Week from Monday 7th December 2015

I had a fiddle with LINUX MINT CINNAMON over the weekend... and, no! I still DON'T "see what all the fuss is about". Maybe I'm being naive, but I don't recognise that it offers anything that would be considered 'BETTER' than the other, less 'hungry' versions of Linux Mint. I'll grant you, CINNAMON is a lot more 'finished' than when I first tried it (four or five years ago), but I still think MATÉ offers more scope for PERSONALIZATION on a stable platform... and surely that's what owning a Linux is all about? CINNAMON might appear more impressive 'out of the box' for some. It's certainly dead easy to get going. If you actually like how it LOOKS, then you're probably onto a winner. It seems a lot of people DO like its style. But I don't so much, so I would HAVE to change things. I really don't like the big black menu panels. I think the Mint-X icons look a bit old-fashioned now. And this is where the problem lies. I have found that as soon as you start to tinker with CINNAMON's appearences, it is far too easily 'BROKEN'. MATÉ isn't like that. I'm keeping CINNAMON installed on my Virtualbox 'TEST BED' and I'll certainly have another 'play' later. Maybe I'll have one of those revelatory "I'VE SEEN THE LIGHT, LAWDY LAWDY!!" moments, but I somehow doubt it. I'll stick with MATÉ for serious use. IF IT AIN'T BROKE, etc. etc...

Sigh! unpaid 'RESEARCH', that's all I seem to be doing these days... NERD STUFF! Don't even get me started on the problems involved in copy-protecting Powerpoint presentations...

Ah! The STICK MEN European Tour 2015 t-shirt has just arrived from the IAPETUS concern's cut-out bins, sent via actual POST involving actual German postage stamps and everything. There are some more nice collectible postcards and a TOUCH GUITARS sticker included in the parcel as well... I think the STICK MEN are one of the few bands left that I would still make the effort to go and see live. I've seen and heard them in the context of a CRIMSON PROJEkcT show, of course (which was splendid, if one allowed for the horrors inherent in LONDON CONCERT ATTENDANCE)... but I'd quite like to 'tick them off the list' in their own right, preferably in a smallish jazz club full of polite attentive audients.

This feels like a "RAINBOW DOME MUSICK" afternoon... also chillin' to IAN BODDY and MARKUS REUTER's 1999 ambient classic "DISTANT RITUALS", just made available as a free download via that Bandcamp concern...

I spent Thursday afternoon at the EMPORIUM OF HAIR getting a radical new cut... well, it's a 'radical new cut' that looks not entirely dissimilar to the one I had a couple of years ago before I let it grow out.

Back to Gozzy again, this time to collect my much-delayed SPECTACLES... Then I went over to the Gunwharf branch of HMV to try out some headphones. I wasn't impressed with any of them. Then again, the demo music that they pump into them is almost certainly in the form[at] of MP3s, so it all sounds horribly compressed and isn't a fair demonstration. (Honestly! Kids today! THIS is what music sounds like to them?!?) One model, manufactured by the HOUSE OF MARLEY concern, DOES show some promise. I shall have to go back again with my own choice of music on CD and give 'em another go...

There's now a charity shop in Fareham that has a disproportionate number of MILES DAVIS seedydisks for sale. I've given them all my SWAPSIES.

Week from Monday 14th December 2015

Continuing my unpaid SELF-EDUCATION, today I've been learning how to author a DVD! I've been compiling all of the YouTube clips of the AVRO VULCAN's last flight onto a disk for my Mum's Xmas prezzy. I'm trying out the Windoze version of an Open Source program called DVDSTYLER which turns out to be just the business, especially in the way it lets you create the menu screens and wotnot. The app shows its Open Source origins by [a] being a bit lacking in help pages or operating instructions of any kind, and [b] displaying a load of command line stuff on the screen as it generates the ISO file. Which makes me feel right at home! I am really impressed with the program and, more importantly, the results it generates.

I hopped on a train to SOUTHAMPTON for Part 2 of the HEADPHONE SEARCH... First I went to HMV, to once again try the various models I'd struggled with last week, but this time I took my own source of music. Sad to report, they STILL sounded bloody awful, even the MARLEY ones that I thought weren't half bad the first time I tried them. The CBSO conducted by Sir Simon Rattle sounded like it was being miked up and played through a Marshall cabinet. Miles Davis was playing a large brass kazoo. King Crimson were playing in a pub toilet. I concluded that the best of the bunch in HMV were a pair from SENNHEISER. Took notes, plodded on. I tried the MARLEY 'phones in Curry's as well, just to make sure. They certainly would suit those that ONLY listen to reggae and urban music, but they are not a good ALL-ROUNDER. A more expensive pair of SENNHEISERS in Maplin's showed promise, but they still didn't have the WOW FACTOR...

It is becoming clear that if I want HI-FI, I need to go to a HI-FI store! I browsed through the RICHER SOUNDS brochure and saw that they had a pair of 'phones from AKG, reduced to the same knock-down price as the MARLEYs, so I went in and asked if I could hear them...

NOW THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT!!! Now the CBSO are in a nice concert hall instead of a tin barn, Jakko's wide stereo reimagining of King Crimson's "ThraK" really DOES go "THRAK!" and "B'BOOM!" and "VROOOM-VROOOM!" as indeed it should... and Miles' 1960s Quintet is in the room with you!

The other headphones that I'd heard during the course of the day weren't remotely in the same league (even the ones that cost more!). Once again I felt sorry for the YOUNG'NS O'TODAY who blissfully go about their lives thinking that a compressed, farty, Spotified mush is what music sounds like. But sod the lot of 'em, they don't know what they're missing, I'm one happy bunny! "Akustische und Kino-Geräte Gesellschaft" - I must remember that...

I'm not sure if I can be bothered to write a full "PICK O' THE YEAR" blog just yet. Maybe in a couple of weeks. If you know me, you won't find any big surprises really... but here's a list of what counts:-
New Releases 2015

1) Tim Bowness - "Stupid Things That Mean The World" (InsideOut)
2) Gavin Harrison - "Cheating The Polygraph" (KScope)
3) Stick Men + David Cross - "Midori" (Unsung)
Also (in no particular order):
David Cross & Robert Fripp - "Starless Starlight" (Noisy)
Markus Reuter - "Mundo Nuevo" (Unsung)
Steven Wilson - "Hand. Cannot. Erase." (KScope)
David Gilmour - "Rattle That Lock" (Sony)
King Crimson - "Live at the Orpheum" (DGM)
Reissues, Archive & Back-Catalogue

1) King Crimson - "ThraK" (DGM)
2) Miles Davis - "At Newport: The Bootleg Series Vol.4" (Sony)
3) The Isley Brothers - "The Real..." (Sony)
Also (in no particular order):
Weather Report - "The Legendary Live Tapes 1978-81" (Sony)
Yes - "Progeny: Highlights from Seventy-Two" (Atlantic/Rhino)
Loose Tubes - "Arriving" (Lost Marbles)
Spring - "Spring" (Esoteric)
King Crimson - "Tour Box 2015" (DGM)
Miles Davis - "The Last Word" (Warner Brothers)
Matt Berry - "Opium" (Acid Jazz)
Live Events

King Crimson @ Brighton Dome, Saturday 5th September 2015
(Once again, there's no competition in this category!)
Week from Monday 21st December 2015

Friday the 18th December came and went... so that's it... I guess 'WINTERVAL' starts here then... Hey! listen... I'm a teetotal, vegetarian non-believer. What the feck has a Christ Mass got to do with me? I generally need A PROJECT during this time to stave off the boredom. I will probably do some more work writing Uncle Willy's 'book' for him. I need to compose my thoughts for the "PICK O' THE YEAR" blog. Procrastination, procrastination, procrastination... In the meantime, I've put aside some nerdmags to study (fresh learning on keeping M!¢r0$ØfT out of my head); I'm reading Scrib McNally's big fat analysis of the GRATEFUL DEAD and all things post-war beatnik; I'm catching up on last week's telly ('cos there sure as hell won't be any good stuff THIS week); I've got all those lovely boxsets and some new headphones to look forward to...

FRANK ZAPPA's 75th Birthday came and went. Once again, I forgot to 'eat good chilli and listen to "Three Hours Past Midnight"' by way of celebration (although I did suggest that to someone else on That Twitter They Have Now). Howard Goodall pointed out that Zappa was the only composer ever to have a jellyfish named after him.

Walking the dog. Except for the bit about 'the dog'.

On Christmas morning I posted my ONE THOUSANDTH TWEET, a retweet of the Big Bang Theory's fansite wishing everyone a MERRY NEWTONMAS. I finished off a little piece of musical nonsense and posted it on SOUNDCLOUD. So that was number one thousand and one. RADIOHEAD gave all of their followers the present of a free download. Which Was Nice.

I watched the last episode of my Scandinavian Noir treat for this year. Noodled over some music that didn't really go anywhere. Drank a lot of tea. Listened to lots of Miles Davis. Ate some Thai snacks. Watched some of the "ABSOLUTELY" box-set. Twittered a bit too much. Just a typical weekend really...

Week from Monday 28th December 2015

One a day, I've been 'rediscovering' the KING CRIMSON "40th Anniversary Series" studio albums via my new AKGs. Hearing them afresh, with the benefit of some new found clarity, has been an absolute revelation. I never before realised how "psychedelic" some of those new mixes are. Even "THRAK"!

FAREWELL THEN, LEMMY... I'll never figure out how he survived THAT long! Apropos of nothing, I spent the early part of the morning 'researching' the STAN GETZ & CHICK COREA discography, trying to identify the wrongly annotated Italian bootleg album that Sid Smith just bought.

The climate has gone completely banoonoo this last few days, what with STORM FRANK and the continuing floods up north. Closer to home, bits of Southsea and Hill Head are breaking off and falling into the sea and there have been trees appearing in the middle of the road where trees shouldn't be. There have been occasional calms which make a quick walkies possible, but it's been mostly the kind of weather that looks okay through a window, but you wouldn't necessarily want to go out in it. The Icelanders (apparently) have a word for that:- "GLUGGEVAÐER". That's "Gluggevaðer" in lower case (I just wanted to show off some more UNICODE characters!)

Anyway, Happy New Year.

NEW YEAR NEW MUSIC... BBC Radio 3 celebrated New Year's Day by broadcasting KARLHEINZ STOCKHAUSEN's pioneering electronic meisterwerk "HYMNEN" in its entirety, including the orchestrated third movement. I must say I preferred the bits WITHOUT the orchestra a lot more, but either way, it's a lot better than that Viennese 'OOMPAH-PAH' concert (ghastly 19th century europop!) that we usually get at this time of year!

On the night, I had the radio on as "background" listening... but the following day I plugged the headphones into the 'puter and hit the BBC iPlayer for the full immersive experience. PHWA-HOO-HOOOOO! THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKIN' ABOUT! PLURAMON!!! It's a krautrock klassik and no mistake!

The broadcast was met with enthusiasm by the good folks on Twitter (well, the kind of folks on Twitter that I associate with, that is). "Beats the Two Ronnies any day!" said one convert. So maybe now, people will 'get' me when I express the long held opinion that "REVOLUTION 9" was the best thing that The Beatles ever did...?