Week from Monday 6th February 2017

I hate being TOO busy, because I don't have time for sensible things like writing diaries. It's Wednesday already and I haven't even had a shave yet... but I put in a solid weekend's work on the RPM PROJECT. Tim had sent me about fifteen minutes of new SOLO BASS before Friday was up, and from that I was able to come up with one of my trademark, ambient "MINT-O-TRONICS" soundscapes, clocking in at around nineteen minutes (working title: "Pathopoeia"), and two shorter tracks (working titles: "Reflective" and "I Don't Know What To Call This One"). "THIRTY-SIX MINUTES OF MUSIC IN TWENTY-EIGHT DAYS..." you say? Pah! That's for babies! Providing what I've already done meets m'colleague's approval, we're well on the way to doing that much in TWO WEEKENDS! As for what we are going to call 'the band', I think we both like the name NET PROPHET at the moment...

I've just been googling and wiki-ing for information about BLACK SWANS, because one has just turned up at Gosport's boating lake. They're an Australasian species that were imported for 'decorative' purposes, a bit like peacocks. Most of those in these islands are captive (e.g. in bird sanctuaries) and clippéd of wing, but there are apparently three hundred or so flying about in the wild. So we are most honoured by your presence, Swanny Your Black Bludgerness. You shall henceforth be commemorated as a #ViewFromTheWalkies

For the last few weeks, my Sunday evening treat has been to curl up in front of a BOLLYWOOD MOVIE, which usually occupies AT LEAST three hours, because they simply don't make SHORT movies in Mumbai! But this week, I'm watching something else just as long. BBCFour is showing Opera North's production of Wagner's Bühnenfestspiel "DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN", starting with the relatively short 'preliminary evening' "DAS RHEINGOLD". Leeds Town Hall is probably nothing like Bayreuth (though I'm sure the seats are more comfortable!), but the critics do say that it's a good version and I'm rather looking forward to it.

Week from Monday 13th February 2017

...Not bad, although the 'GESAMTKUNSTWERK' wasn't really 'total' enough for me! Semi-staged in "Proms" fashion, the production expected too much to be inside YOUR own head - The treasure was imaginary, the two Dwarfs were bigger in stature than the Giants, and there was a rather small (and not terribly threatening) thunder god with an invisible hammer. There is some very nice use of split-screen video FX to make up for it and I particularly liked the guy playing Loge. But I really prefer the Bayreuth model of having the orchestra hidden away, instead of the actors standing in front of it! But you know what they say, 'YOU NEVER FORGET YOUR FIRST TIME'. The first telly "Ring" I ever watched (1980?) was filmed at the Bayreuth Festival, with PIERRE BOULEZ conducting. I've seen a few more since then, but that's the one by which all others will be measured. The METROPOLITAN OPERA version, conducted by JAMES LEVINE, was pretty nifty too...

Now that I've figured out a way to make INSTAGRAM useful for those of us who AREN'T of the phone'n'Facebook persuasion, I was able to archive all of the #ViewFromTheWalkies images all under one roof. I'd tried Instagram on a previous occasion, decided that it was completely useless for those of us who use actual cameras, and chucked it away again. It turns out that to be able to upload pictures to Instagram via a 'PROPER' computer, it is necessary to have a third-party app called GRAMBLR on your browser (What is it with these software developers and their missing 'E's?). Of course, you still have to put up with Instagram nagging you to do things the millennial way and use an iPhone or Android! I managed to upload all one-hundred-and-twenty-odd pictures to my page, but I've yet to tag or caption them with any explanatory information. That's a project for another day... because THIS weekend's priority is to finish the final track for the NET PROPHET album, before Tim flies south for a few days to escape the New England winter!

This morning's walk involved a goodly dose of HILL-CLIMBING, as I made my way back up the slopes from Titchfield and its gnarly medieval church. My Achilles' tendons are not thanking me for it! (In fact, I think I might have pulled something?!?)

Week from Monday 20th February 2017

Welcome to my 'EPHEMERIS' and thanks to HAGGARD HAWKS for that "Word Of The Day"... I'm now fairly sure that the "NET PROPHET" album with TIM WEBB is a done deal, bar a few additions to the sleevenotes. Last night, I burned everything onto a CD so that I could hear it properly on a HI-FI. There's a couple of bits that are musically (a tad) weaker than the rest, and my attempt at doing a 'DUB' track that would accommodate an 11:8 rhythm turned out even messier than I would like... but all-in-all it's pretty good. This has been an opportunity for me to be a lot more SPONTANEOUS than usual - COMPOSING ON THE FLY, as it were - because of the time restraints. I always work FAIRLY quickly, but my usual creative method is to try out an idea, then come back to it later (often MONTHS later!) 'TO SEE IF I STILL LIKE IT'. But that won't work when one has just twenty-eight days to form a 'band' and record an 'album'!

I need to pick the brains of some of my chums who are long-time INSTAGRAM users, because I don't see a way in which one can go back and retro-actively tag the pictures with further information, at least not without that 'all important' phone app or F***book account. In fact, I think the site has already lost/ignored any info that I DID attach to the pics when uploading them...

After quite a few months - nay! years! - umm-ing and ah-ing about what to do about that dead BANDCAMP, I finally came to a decision. Rather than just close down the dust-blown, tumbleweed-strewn thing altogether, I thought I'd pass on 'the keys' to CC, so that SHE can make a go of it (either that or close it down herself!). She may consider herself free to change ANYTHING (username, passwords, content, graphics, the whole kit and caboodle), providing she keeps me posted about what she's up to. I have left nothing on the site EXCEPT the four "CC:PP" albums. I took down "TALES FROM THE WINGED EYEBALL" a few months ago, because Shelfy is now hosting that on a Soundcloud. Time to move on...

I'm currently having another TANGERINE DREAM craze! I've even dipped a toe into their glossier 'EIGHTIES FILM SOUNDTRACKS period, although I still much prefer the ANALOGUE 'SEVENTIES, when all's said and done. This has come about after I did a little bit of FAKE TANGS music of my own, using 'by-products' left over from the stuff I've been recording with Tim.

This week, we also experienced another UNEXPLODED WW2 BOMB SCARE in Portsmouth Harbour, near enough to the Interchange to affect every kind of transport going (or rather, NOT going, anywhere!). Then, on Thursday, we brace ourselves for the arrival of 'STORM DORIS'. Naturally, the HASHTAG WAGS have leapt on the opportunity to call this "DORIS DAY"... No long 'WALKIES' today then. Just MARCEL MARCEAU-ing across the road to the shops was enough for me this morning!

DREAM DIARY... I travel in a 1940s-vintage green bus to "Purbrook", which mostly consists of a single tower block perched on top of the hill... It is built entirely of red brick, as are the surrounding pavements and roads... I am desperate to continue my "photographic assignment", but I get stuck in a basement cellar... I somehow squeeze through a broken window hole JUST big enough...

Week from Monday 27th February 2017

End of the short month... It's CARNIVAL time, Fat Chewsday, MAWDY GRAW, "LAZY LES' BONTEMPI RULER!", pancakes, and all that... plus today's the day when Tim delivers our finished 'product' to the RPM CHALLENGE people, via a record store in that OTHER PORTSMOUTH (the one in the NEW Hampshire).

DAZE OUT FRIDAY... Once I'd taken care of some BIZNIZ in Gozzy, I hopped on a sequence of buses to PORT SOLENT. I'm reliably informed (by their own website) that it is there I will find the nearest branch of COTTON TRADERS, where I can buy some of their remarkably comfy slip-on walking shoes.

Ironically, Port Solent is NOT a place designed with pedestrians in mind. I almost wore out my current pair of shoes just yomping from the nearest bus stop, searching for access to the 'Boardwalk' shopping area, and then taking several WRONG TURNS just trying to find my way back out again!

Taking advantage of my FIRST DAY HAMPSHIRE bus ticket, I proceeded from there into THE CITY ITSELF, and the Gunwharf branch of HMV. I wanted to buy the new TIM BOWNESS album (and did), but I also espied, in the dwindling 'world music' section, a new Cherry Red reissue which gathers together the works of the pan-African band MATATA. A long time favourite, they were probably my first exposure to African music of ANY sort (let alone of a sort that was obsessed with the musical stylings of Mr JAMES BROWN!). I'd discovered them 'the first time around' on slightly dodgy Belgian cassettes. They sound even better in glorious hi-fi!