Week from Monday 6th March 2017

I'm having a rush on "HOT TICKLES" compilation CD-Rs, two assembled in one weekend! Two-and-a-half, if you include the leftovers slated for the NEXT volume! Besides the backlog of KING CRIMSON single-track downloads from the 2016 Eurotour, there have been a number of MARKUS REUTER-related Bandcamp things arriving, including those long-awaited STICK MEN 'bonus' tracks (mainly instrumental versions of "PROG NOIR" tunes) and some tasters for upcoming April releases... and, let's face it, they've all got to go SOMEWHERE!

Catching up with the PODCASTS, as well as a backlog of "LAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER" clips (I don't get to see them straightaway, due to all those "not available in your territory" copyright restrictions)...

A few days on (and a handful of plays), and the new TIM BOWNESS album "Lost In The Ghost Light" still hasn't really grabbed me yet... It's jolly pleasant and all that, but if anything it's TOO RUDDY NICE! The music is cosy and safe, with no jarring surprises whatsoever. Every musical phrase and chord change is resolved in a conventional, western, post-baroque fashion, making it seem very OBVIOUS and unchallenging. The vintage instrumentation places it firmly in the box labelled RETROG (standard sub-category: GENESIS circa 1973). As ever, Mr Bowness' sweet voice is drizzled on top of it like honey over baklava. It's unquestionably PERFECT, but that's what I find troubling. Then again, I will probably grow to LIKE this album for precisely the SAME reasons that I find it all a bit "meh!" at present...

But perhaps, given my current chosen diet of AFRICAN FUNK, STICK MEN outtakes and other MARKUS REUTER projects, pastoral 'PROG-NICE' is just not where my ears WANT to be at the moment?

I can tweet all day about MUSIC I like (or don't like), with the occasional pithy observation about CURRENT AFFAIRS thrown in for good measure, and interact with just a handful of regular tweeps. Which is kind of how I like it, really. But enter into a conversation about CATS and... Ooh boy! Mister Popular, all of a sudden! I'VE WON THE INTERNET!

Earlier, I'd left an amusing comment on one of TOM COX's postings (Some misguided reviewer on Amazon had complained about the "bad language" in his "nice animal books") and, suddenly, nearly a hundred catpeople 'LIKED' me in the space of a few hours... Given the current state of the REAL WORLD, it's somehow comforting to confirm what we've suspected all along, that CYBERSPACE is completely OWNED by furry feline creatures and THEY know EXACTLY what THEY'RE doing.

It's a right ol' kerfuffle to update the TWITTER app on MY LITTLE ANDROID, and no mistake! For the last month or more, I've been getting notifications that there is an official UPDATE available. I run the procedure to obtain it, it spends a while downloading 'SOMETHING' and then says it can't install it. Something is blocking it, possibly my overzealous security precautions! So I've been stuck on an OLD version of the Twitter app, ever since I got the phone last Christmas. I've tried disabling the app itself while the new version tries to install, or toggling the 'Allow Apps From Unknown Sources' doobry that is supposed to STOP you from doing anything dangerous (Besides, it's NOT from an 'unknown source', it's from GOOGLE PLAY itself!). In the end, I did a successful 'update' by UNINSTALLING the old app altogether, and then downloading and installing the new one. But I don't fancy having to do THAT every month or so! I need to study THAT INTERNET THEY HAVE NOW, see if I can find out what's going on...

(It appears this is a very similar problem to one that APPLE iPHONE users encountered a while back. Guess what? TWITTER's 'advice' on this occasion WAS for users to uninstall the old app and download the new one!)

This week's top-notch Bandcamp acquisition has been "THE STONE HOUSE", an invigorating improvised session featuring guitarist MARK WINGFIELD, fretless bass guitarist YARON STAVI, ace drummer ASAF SIRKIS and someone you might have heard about, MARKUS REUTER. Now THIS is exactly "where my ears want to be at the moment" (what with this and two weeks of SIDCASTS to listen to, poor old TIM BOWNESS has still not had much of a look-in!)

I was digging around in the RADIO TAPE ARCHIVES, looking for something entirely different (as yer do!), when I stumbled over a forgotten 1991 set by the diminutive pianist MICHEL PETRUCCIANI, recorded by the Beeb at the Glasgow Jazz Festival. Not only does it feature an imaginative medley of tunes by Miles and 'Vishnu and a terrific rhythm section (including the African percussionist ABDOU M'BOUP), it's also got that ADAM HOLZMAN fellow on keyboards. It's all a bit ruddy good really, and I find myself wondering if there is MORE. I hit the googlesphere and it turns out there is a live album from that very same tour (recorded at a show in Metz; subsequently released on Blue Note; definitely worth looking out for!). They also recorded another gig in Umbria for the telly, which, naturally, is 'OUT THERE' on the yewchoobs...

Week from Monday 13th March 2017

Sunday afternoon, and I found myself doing the AMBIENT SOUNDSCAPE thing again... This one was derived from recordings of a cheap wooden flute, subjected to all manner of F****ertronics and ring modulation and such. At some point the PROCESS takes over and it literally records itself! But that usually means that, even after I trim out some of the fat afterwards, these soundscape watchermacallits tend to be AT LEAST twenty minutes long, far too big to share with the public on the SOUNDCLOUD. Since it's going to end up on the YouTube instead, I also have give the punters something to LOOK AT as well, so that means finding some sort of visual element to accompany the music. This is the BORING, perfunctory bit for me, mainly because I've no patience for, nor do I particularly care about, doing the 'pretty pictures' part of the deal... I have to load everything into a movie editing programme, lay it out on a 'timeline', then sit there for ages and wait for it to generate a compressed MP4 file, that is generally of an inferior sound quality to my original, just so that it is YouTube-friendly. In this case, I found some stock footage of cloudy skies, THAT'LL DO! You can only have so many TRAIN videos...

I almost feel guilty teasing some of my transatlantic chums with #ViewFromTheWalkies images of sunny 'spring' days and clear blue skies, as many of them are still up to their necks in SNOW! The east coast is in a right old sub-zero state this week, following the arrival of so-called 'BLIZZARD STELLA'. M'colleague TIM was even without electricity for a time. All in all, here on the SOLENT DELTA, we've been pretty lucky with our winter weather...

The NET PROPHET track "Knavigation II" was played on the community radio station WSCA-FM (in Portsmouth, New Hampshire) at approximately five-fifteen GMT, Sunday teatime... Not having any sort of playlist at hand, I can only refer to tracks in descriptive terms. I tuned in to hear a 'jam band' track that sounded rather like PHISH, followed by a singer-songwriter who sounded like EDWYN COLLINS or someone like that. Our tune was sandwiched between an oddball character (of an decidedly "FILTH-O-BOP"-sounding nature, as it happens - THAT kind of 'production'!) and a really cool jazz track, which TIM informed me was probably a side-project by one of his bandmates... who, having suffered a recent back injury, recorded the whole thing lying down... I thought our track stood up quite nicely on the 'wireless', if only for the production value!

Weekend from Monday 20th March 2017

I've been listening back to the ANDERSON RABIN WAKEMAN show in Brighton, via 'That Internet They Have Now'... They've definitely got tighter since the earliest shows in Florida! I'm pleased to see that they've added some more '80s Yesnumbers to the set and omitted the feeble, out-of-context ballads like "The Meeting" and "Leaves Of Green" (although, according to chums who witnessed them in the flesh in Bournemouth and Hammersmith, they haven't quite scrapped those altogether). It is the 'MORE' part of "AN EVENING OF YES MUSIC AND MORE" that makes it worth hearing - several of the songs have new introductory sections (overtures, if you will!) and there are some tricky new arrangements to keep things fresh (for them AND for us!). As I pointed out earlier, the difference between this line-up and the other surrogate "BAND THAT LIKES TO CALL ITSELF YES" comes across in the audio alone - These guys SOUND like they still enjoy doing it!

This week I'm kicking off the (mainly postal) PHASE ONE of the "GOD ON A PUSHBIKE" duplicate'n'collate-o-thon. Tomorrow will find me trawling the POUND SHOPS for the best deal on envelopes! I'm not THAT concerned that they have left it till EVEN LATER this year, because they're clearly not!

Tim is hopefully planning to upload the NET PROPHET album to his Bandcamp in the next few days. Let's see if we can finally earn some dollars from it (ha ha ha!). This morning, I revised the sleevenotes (and CD artwork) to match. The weakest piece on the album, the rather messy "dub" effort, will now become the 'HIDDEN BONUS TRACK', plus three of the "SOLO BASS IMPROVISATIONS" 'remixes' will be added to the running order. Meanwhile, I've had some ideas for NEW music that we could collaborate on. I sent him one of my f****ertronic loopy soundscape thingies, to see if he can improvise some bass over that, plus I have one or two more rhythmic 'world music' ideas that might lead to something...

Masses of (overdue?) UPGRADES to run on m'LINUX LAPTOP this morning, including whole new versions of FIREFOX and LIBRE-OFFICE, plus lots of changes to 'libs' and plug-ins and wotnots. It's probably true to say that I spend more time updating that laptop's office suite than doing anything useful with it! While I've got the CLI/TERMINAL open, I'll just look at the WEATHER. The #ViewFromTheWalkies has been alternating between "CLEAR BLUE, SPRING IS HERE!" and "WET'N'WINDY". Currently it is the latter. Southampton Weather Centre tells me that it will revert to the former, over the next day or so.

I might as well update the WINDOZE versions of Firefox and LibreOffice while I'm at it... Except it is a RIGHT ROYAL PAIN IN TH'ARSE to update LibreOffice on Windoze! Unlike the LINUX version, which can be dragged up to speed pretty much automatically (and certainly painlessly!) via the Ubuntu repositories, using good old reliable sudo apt-get upgrade, getting the latest version for Windoze requires that you download an installer file and start everything from scratch. You have to make doubly sure that you download the 64-bit version (not always clear from the download site - read the small print!), so that matches it the version of Java you are using, or you will find that your database program doesn't work properly and you just get annoying and unhelpful onscreen messages instead! Just to be on the safe side, it seems best to remove the old version first. To be really REALLY comfortable in your skin, you find yourself using IObit Uninstaller to purge EVERY LAST VESTIGE of the old one. It took me little more than five minutes to get my Linux laptop running the latest version of LibreOffice (along with the latest everything else). It took at least an hour and a half, and considerable trial and error, just to get the new LibreOffice working on the M!¢r0$ØfT beast, before I could carry on with updating a simple mailing list database. If I was a conspiracy nut, I'd think it was something to do with M!¢r0$ØfT making life extra difficult for those of us who shun THEIR Office suite.

Week from Monday 27th March 2017

I've yomped a goodly few recreational miles this weekend, first doing the rounds of the CHARITY SHOPS in Winchester and then the first of this year's CAR BOOT SALES. All to no avail. I don't think I have much of a NEED FOR ACQUISITION at the moment. Maybe I've become a lot more choosy (selective? disciplined? bored?) about speculating with my ninety-nine pee? But for the most part, the tat'n'junk on offer DESERVES to have been discarded.

But after my ACQUISITIONAL DRY SPELL, my constitutional walk into town today was more successful... a couple of things that one might safely call 'JAZZ'... DAVE DOUGLAS' "The Infinite" album of 2002 - anything that has URI CAINE playing Fender Rhodes on it is okay by me! - and "Conversations", a 'violin summit' session between L. SUBRAMANIAM and STEPHANE GRAPELLI, which suffers a little bit from its glossy 'eighties New Age production values, but has some tasty playing on it ne'ertheless.

The latest edition of "WEB USER" magazine is jamtuckered (as always) with handy information and hints about keeping yourself 'SAFE' on that interweb they have now. Already this week, I've switched my anti-virus to the latest version of AVAST (no matter what others I try, I always find myself coming back to that one!), and I've changed the AD-BLOCKER on my default browser to AD NAUSEAM, a new fork of uBLOCK ORIGIN which claims to hide the annoyances from your sight, without denying due blood money to those suckers who rely on adverts for their income ("clicks them in the background", it says here). I suspect I'll still have to maintain STYLISH scripts to hide the stuff that REALLY niggles me, like that "sign up for our newsletter" pop-up that appears EVERY TIME you land on the DGM LIVE homepage, or all the 'begging letter' pop-ups on Wikipedia, or the sponsored 'MOMENTS' crap on Twitter. But it's good to know that the art of ad-blocking has moved on apace. I've also been following the article on "STAYING ANONYMOUS ONLINE" and I've learnt a few things...

Wednesday is set aside for counting & labelling & folding & collating & enveloping & more labelling & posting... There are some WORKY things that can't be done with music playing, at least not by me anyway. Things like writing HTML/CSS code or using Corel Draw, for instance. But when I'm in the midst of counting & labelling & folding & collating & enveloping & more labelling & posting, I HAVE to have music in the background. It helps along the repetitive nature of the task. For me that usually means relying on what the RADIO has to offer, because I don't want to have to stop to change discs all the time. But there isn't a jazz station worth its salt hereabouts and, obviously, daytime pop or rock stations are completely out of the question. In the past, I've left PROGZILLA RADIO playing in the background, but that actually starts to annoy me and my critical sensibilities after a while... so that leaves BBC RADIO 3 to tide me over in a non-offensive and occasionally EDUCATIONAL manner (I now find myself having a bit of a RACHMANINOV craze, because of him being the current "Composer Of The Week").

Ah! Remember the anticipation of buying and hearing a new GENESIS album? Sigh...

...for 'twas ON THIS DAY in 1980 that GENESIS released what was, to my mind, their last wholly satisfying album "DUKE". That same day was also the last time I ever saw the band live, at the HAMMY'O. In hindsight, the 1980 tour was probably many people's last chance to hear (a still fairly 'proggy') GENESIS in a sensible guildhall-sized venue ("as revealed by orange lights and a smoky at-must-phere"), before they fully embraced their cheerful brand of stadium pop. Of course, this afternoon, once all the envelope stuffing was out of the way, I put the CD on to mark the occasion and had a jolly good sing-along. The least said about the inevitable AIR-DRUMMING the better.