Relocating - please follow the link for new content
Thursday, 16 December 2004
Foundlings Twelve: Leave him alone with rage
Source: ‘Turn of Events’ by Nigel Suratt)
Like the last time he looked onto this page,
When it spat like the recollections of
Condescending scum of a bygone age.
Didn’t put his hand to his mouth to cough.
Savage relinquished memory they gave.
Take it away, leave him alone with rage.
Let the sense of their dignity behave,
Be the measure, be the temperature gauge.
The sun sets like it never did before.
Sky goes red, anger passes into peace,
Leaves the madness which knows how to keep score,
Places itself in the solitude which
Makes itself uncomfortable so that he’s
Alone in the dark waiting for some switch.
Thursday, 9 December 2004
I was really pleased to receive a copy of an email from Gerald yesterday with a copy of a note from one of the poets. The poet, Karen Mondale, was writing to say thank you for the review. I was really positive in the review, because this was a book of wonderful poems, many of them deeply moving.
Why do I mention the email? The thing it brings to mind is the remarkable ability of the internet to connect people. I have had five situations recently where something I have put on the internet has put me in contact with someone with whom I would normally have no hope of making a connection. It's a fantastic way to break down barriers.
Monday, 6 December 2004
After years of work, creativity, blood, sweat and tears - it looks likely that Garbarek is now going to get the levels of recognition that he deserves. That's great news.
Monday, 29 November 2004
Wednesday, 24 November 2004
Seeing him this third time, I was a bit concerned that the concert might not take me anywhere that I hadn’t been before. I was so wrong. In the space of two and a quarter hours the music took in reggae, South African township, tango, Indian raga, as well as the sounds you would expect if you’d heard anything by this jazz saxophonist. The music was the expression of cool that you would expect from a Scandinavian jazzman, but at times it really rocked too.
The stage was set out with four clear spaces, one for each of the musicians. A grand piano and keyboard marked out the space for Rainer Bruninghaus, a stool, and Eberhard Weber’s unique upright electric bass together with foot pedals and monitors set out another area. Then there was a huge arrangement of percussion, gongs, cymbals, pots and drums where Marilyn Mazur would play. Finally a microphone waited for Jan Garbarek, who brought his saxophones and flute onto the stage in a leather bag.
The music was a mixture of pieces taken from the Garbarek back-catalogue and after more than fifty releases in various groups, solo and with other artists, there was a wealth of material to choose from. The sound was a bit muddy to begin with, it was difficult to hear Weber’s bass. This was soon resolved though, and the interplay between the four musicians became increasingly intricate, balanced and beautiful. This was four individuals who have learnt to play together without the interference of ego. Each gave the other space – there were solo pieces from Bruninghaus, Weber and Mazur – each of these was stunning. Bruninghaus produced a piece which had echoes of Debussy and Bill Evans. It was magnificently lyrical. Weber used an echo pedal to create loops and layer the sounds as he put together a frenzied piece. There was humour too, as he played around with the sounds he created. Mazur was as much the dancer as the percussionist, moving effortlessly around the enormous battery of instruments. Talk to anyone about a drum / percussion solo and we mostly yawn. But this was different – she produced such a melodic approach to the work that one was left breathless. It was a real piece of performance.
And beyond all of this, there stands Garbarek himself. His modesty on stage is clear to see. The music he played was beautiful, at times lyrical and at others stark. The emotion in the music is that of something which finds its way to the soul within. Garbarek at his peak has the ability to reach within and find something that resonates to a universal depth.
This was a wonderful night of entertainment – moving and engaging. I guess I am just going to have to spend the next few weeks listening to more and more of the CDs I have by Garbarek, and buying more to fill the void.
Tuesday, 23 November 2004
At the weekend I went with my family to see the Jan Garbarek Group in concert at the Liverpool Philharmonic Halls. It was an amazing concert. A review will be the next post to this site. But in the meantime, I thought it would be useful to write a bit about Garbarek’s work over the years.
I heard my first Jan Garbarek album back in 1980. It was ‘Places’, an album recorded with Bill Connors on guitar, John Taylor on organ and piano, and Jack de Johnette on drums. It was the most amazing music I had heard, unlike anything I had experienced at that point. This was music for the heart and soul. It took me a while to figure out that it was the absence of a bass guitar on the album which contributed to its unusual feel.
Since that first listen, I have accumulated some 21 albums by Garbarek, ranging from the frequent trips with his Jan Garbarek Group, which has settled in recent years as Marilyn Mazur on percussion, Eberhard Weber on bass and Rainer Bruninghaus on keyboards and piano. Then there has been Garbarek’s work with various Asian musicians including Zakir Hussain, Trilok Gurtu, Shankar. Work with Anouar Brahem has taken in Arabic music from Tunisia. Singers like Marie Boine and Agnes Buen Garnas have brought Scandinavian folk music into the mix. And finally, the hugely successful collaborations with the Hilliard Ensemble has brought jazz improvisation to the world of classical choral music. Throughout all of this, there is the sure tone and soundscapes that Garbarek has made his own. His growing body of work encompasses all that is Nordic, all that is Scandinavian, north European, and pulls further out to capture the soul of humanity.
His ability to work the tone of his saxophone into the timbre of any of the wide range of other instruments and voices he has worked with, is striking.
I have seen him live three times, and am always struck by his incredible ability, combined with a humility on the stage. His stage presence is quiet and unassuming, but his music is at once passionate, lyrical, and then gentle and yearning.
The latest album, “In Praise of Dreams”, is a beautiful work of understatement. Garbarek works with Kim Kashkashian on viola and Manu Katche on drums for this latest album. His compositions capture beautifully the interplay between viola and saxophone. The melodies are stunning. It’s an album that rewards patience and repeated plays. Having just looked on the ECM Records website (Garbarek’s label for the last 30 years or so), I see that this album has remarkably managed to chart in both Germany and Norway. That’s quite an accomplishment for a jazz album that makes no compromises to popularity. Not only am I listening to this album, but it has also drawn me back to the other albums I have by Garbarek.
Coming next… the review of the concert.
Thursday, 18 November 2004
Tuesday, 16 November 2004
gardens of gardenia blooms
of second glances never sent
melancholic sycamore copters
spinning at my feet.
nose-caught scents of cow-slips
which recall beechams empty bankments
steam gone, are now held together
by the bankments of the sea-side place.
recollections make me age
make me youthful again and yet
awareness of years spinning faster
closer to ground the staleness of age.
second glances never as strong as the first
once seen is enough to myth
is too much to revisit and demystify
like tyntowyn now not canute's cave.
private symbols are not the language
of public words but the comparison
of fates leaves us spinning together
like copters on an autumn afternoon.
Monday, 15 November 2004
Anyway, this entry wasn't going to be an advert for a record shop. I bought two fantastic albums which sound as good today as they did when I first heard them. Television's first album, 'Marquee Moon' came out in 1977, just as punk was taking hold in the UK. I remember being really impressed with their attitude, the guitar work, the sharp lyrics, and the tightness of the music. It still sounds fresh and alive after nearly 30 years. There is a re-issue of this CD with bonus tracks, but I went for the basic album which is just an excellent exercise in economy and precision. As a band, their tightness of form and total sharing of the space in the music reminds me of jazz rather than rock. All four musicians are working away in every second of the music - but it's music at the heart of rock's new wave of the late 70s, forming a neat bridge between the excesses of late prog rock and the primitive naivete of punk.
A year later the first album by Suicide was released - another band from New York. I bought both their first two albums as they were released, being really excited by the newness of their sound. They were minimal, proto-punk, and yet listening now it's obvious that they were also deeply rooted in rock 'n' roll. The first album is now a double CD with bonus tracks, and two extras on the second CD in the form of a live gig at CBGBs in New York and a live cut from Brussels. The live material is really interesting showing as it does the two extremes of reaction to their work. They live up to the idea that reaction is better than apathy. The crowds that saw their early worked reacted with passion or hatred. There didn't seem to be any middle ground. The Brussels concert ends in chaos.
Suicide's music still sounds cutting edge today - their experiments are still unsettling. The epic track 'Frankie Teardrop' still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.
Friday, 12 November 2004
Damien Rice - eskimo
Nick Drake - One of these things first
Johnny Cash - One
Neil Young - Like a Hurricane
REM - Night Swimming
David Byrne - Au fond du temple saint
Tears for Fears - Pale Shelter
Prefab Sprout - Steal your thunder
A couple of beers to go with it, and the result was a fantastic evening.
Monday, 8 November 2004
So I will then...
Meanwhile hits to this weblog pour in steadily - I will soon be reaching my 300th visitor. And I will soon be posting my 100th post too, which surprises me. When I started this, I wasn't sure how long it would last for. At the moment it feels like something that is ongoing, that is adapting and adjusting to my tastes as I progress, and taking in different things as I go.
Last night we sat down again and watched 'Mona Lisa Smile'. This time I was impressed. I'd heard this film described as 'Dead Poets Society' with women instead of boys. The comparison is inevitable, but I found the theme of feminism and the status of women in 1950s America really well handled. Julia Roberts was brilliant in the lead role. She underplays beautifully, giving space to the rest of the cast, leaving a clear impression of this character that she plays, someone who is struggling against a system, but with a share of doubts.
The scenes in the classroom are really well put together. The cast of girls (Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ginnifer Goodwin) in the class that she teaches 'Art History 100' to, are brilliant. On the DVD there is a short documentary film where the actresses give their reactions to some of the art that is in the film. It's interesting to see them being interviewed - and see the changes from character to actress. And Juliet Stephenson as the school nurse is brilliant - dismissed from the film far too soon. This is a film well worth watching - and I didn't find myself laughing at scenes that weren't meant to be funny, which I did with 'Troy'.
As I type this I am listening to 'Genevieve' by Scott Walker - marvellous! It's amazing to be alive with so much culture around me to absorb.
Wednesday, 27 October 2004
As I type this the DJ, Ken, is online playing "Freeform radio for the chronically impatient. Avant-garde pop, poppy avant-garde, loud guitars, lots o' Japanese and 45's played slow. Playlists posted in real time on the web so you can play along at home or work." It's great fun - Stina Nordenstam has just been playing. Apparently later today their DJ Kenny G (who has worked with People Like Us - see earlier posting) is doing a 3 hour show with 360 half minute songs on it! Sounds a bit like The Residents gone crazy! I love this surreal, comic, mad, 'because it's there' approach to things.
Monday, 25 October 2004
Friday, 22 October 2004
Yesterday a few interesting things happened on the poetry side of things. I bumped into one of the leaders of our local poetry group, First Thursday, who told me that they want me to do a reading next March. I'm really pleased about this - it will be the third time I have done a reading at this group. I will probably present some material from 'the alice conversations'. It seems a long way off, but I am looking forward to doing it.
I also had a letter from Suffolk with details of the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival's tour, which includes a performance in Manchester - I'm currently considering whether to go to that. I just might. The letter also included a CD of poetry from the festival, which I've dipped into a little this morning. I need to be in the right mood to listen to this. It is available for free by following the link (www.thepoetrytrust.org). This whole mailing looks like a marvellous idea. It must be really well funded to be able to do this.
The third thing which happened was an email from Australia. I had sent an email to Alison Croggon earlier in the week, commenting on her plans to put her weblog on hold for now. I've enjoyed reading this weblog in the past, and wanted to thank her for the work she had done on it over the months. She wrote back to me, which was nice. I really like her work, especially 'Mnemosyne', a chapbook produced by Wild Honey Press.
Wednesday, 20 October 2004
1. Tom Waits - Real Gone
2. Jan Garbarek - In Praise of Dreams
3. Jimi Hendrix - Blue Wild Angel: Jimi Hendrix Live at the Isle of Wight
4. Various Artists - Cash Covered (cover versions of Johnny Cash, from latest Mojo magazine)
There is so much great new music around at the moment. I'm dipping into the new Tom Waits album a bit at a time. Like most of Waits' recent albums, it needs time and small bursts before you 'get it'. The melodies are hidden away in subtlety. There is some amazing guitar work on this album from Marc Ribot. I first came across his work on the David Sylvian 'Dead Bees on a Cake' album where he brought the blues to Sylvian's work.
I've been a fan of Jan Garbarek's work since I was 16 and have collected 20 albums by him over the years. I've also seen him live a couple of times. He is a true musical visionary, producing his own soundscape and musical worlds. A few years ago I read Michael Tucker's 'Deep Song' which is a great book introducing Garbarek's work and its influences. This new album has Garbarek on saxophones, synthesisers, samplers and percussion. He is accompanied by Kim Kashkashian on viola and Manu Katche on drums. It's a very sparse album, filled with real beauty in its melodies. The interplay of saxophone and viola works perfectly. Garbarek has a great ability to work well with collaborators. This album is up there with Officium and Mnemosyne which he made with the Hilliard Ensemble. The way that the saxophone and viola work together reminds me of those two earlier albums. Truly magical.
The Hendrix album was a real bargain, picked up for £8-00 - a double album documenting the 2 hours of concert at the Isle of Wight festival not long before Hendrix died. I've not had time to get to the end of this album yet - got stuck in the middle of the drum solo! The versions of familiar tunes - 'Purple Haze', 'Hey Joe' and 'All along the Watchtower' are all brilliant, and it is good to have a decent booklet included too.
The Johnny Cash tribute album has a wide mix of artists doing their take on the music of Johnny Cash. It's a great piece of work - Mojo magazine are giving away some brilliant cover discs. Recently they had an album of music that influenced Led Zeppelin which was also fantastic - included Robert Johnson, Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Spirit, Howlin' Wolf, John Fahey.
As I type this I am listening to the album 'Finn' from 1995 - an album by Tim and Neil Finn. I'd forgotten how good this album is. There's a new album out by the brothers, and they are on tour at the moment. I've heard a few tracks from the new album - sounds good. As I said earlier, there's so much good music around - makes me wish I got freebies from the record companies. Well, I can wish, can't I!
Wednesday, 13 October 2004
All I have so far is that it will be a sequel to 'the butterfly principle' and that it will have Alice as a main character, and probably Jim too. I need place, incident and some sort of plot ideas to get things moving.
I'll do some more work on it tonight.
The challenge has been taken up and is being absorbed into my consciousness as a 'can do this' image.
Tuesday, 12 October 2004
I thought I would produce a sequel to the first novel which I wrote - "the buttefly principle" - which is still unfinished. I guess I ought to finish the first one before the end of this month, as a warm-up and to get me back into the characters from that book.
The objective of the initiative is to encourage the writing of 50,000 words in one month. I just need to settle to produce 1,700 words each day to achieve this. It's going to good fun - and a bit of a haul too.
I'll keep updates coming here...
Monday, 11 October 2004
The other show is the one I really want to write about though. It's by a band I hadn't heard of - Sound Tribe Sector 9. They have a website at www.sts9.com which has some info. The music is made up of a series of lengthy jams - sometimes they sound like the experimental fractals of King Crimson music from the Projekcts albums. Other times they sound like techno-ambient and at times the music takes on a jazz improv feel. Altogether it makes for a brilliant couple of hours of music. There are nearly 200 concerts on the archive website - plenty to choose from. I picked a concert from last month, the most recent one to be uploaded. This whole project is a marvellous way to bring music to a wider audience than it might otherwise achieve.
Friday, 8 October 2004
1. Porcupine Tree - In absentia. Heavy heavy heavy.
2. Marc Almond - Stranger Things. Luscious sounds.
3. Okna Tsahan Zam - shaman voices. Already raved about this album on this blog.
4. King Crimson - Lizard. Second album by this band, a bit dated but good fun to listen to.
5. String Cheese Incident - tracks for download from their site (http://www.stringcheeseincident.com/copy.sounds.htm). Incredibly talented band in the Grateful Dead and Santana mould. A friend brought an album back from the US this summer - heard it and thought Wow! Had to get hold of some stuff.
6. Gong - Other side of the sky: a collection. Double CD collection, reminds me of the albums I used to have and why I raved about them, even the silly bits!
7. Tortoise - Standards. New discovery for me - in a field of their own!
8. Various Artists - Wein, Weib und Gesang (Download from Kikapu Records at www.kikapu.com). Five hours of music for transferring to an mp3 CD.
9. Tom Waits - Blood Money. This is a brilliant album. I'm listening to it to gear up ready for buying his new album 'Real Gone'.
10. Sigur Ros - Ba Ba Ti Ki Di Do. Spectacularly weird mini album from a collaboration performance with Merce Cunningham and Radiohead.
No wonder I'm feeling good at the moment!
Thursday, 7 October 2004
These have a deeper range of meanings, and are 'characters' that I can work with through diverse contexts. Bringing them back again and again lends strength to the creative process.
Last week Blue re-emerged in a poem called '21st Century Blue' which I am now working on.
Two preoccupations for my poetry - process and content.
Wednesday, 6 October 2004
There's material from Allen Ginsberg in the Naropa Audio Archives. There's so much to look at and download here and it is all legal, since this is a project initiated by and including the US Library of Congress and the Smithsonian as collaborators.
Tuesday, 5 October 2004
Monday, 4 October 2004
This looks really good. National Novel Writing Month - or NaNoWriMo for short. It starts on 1st November and participants have until the end of November to write a novel of at least 50,000 words. The full description is on the site - it's about setting the standards low to make sure you reach that goal of writing a novel. A great idea to overcome that perfectionist streak in us all which stops us from getting into certain projects, and from completing other ones. I'm thinking about it - might just take part! It's a couple of thousand words a day!
Friday, 1 October 2004
I have spent the last 24 hours using every available minute to pull together the party music - I'm trying to put together a mix of mainstream with the occasional unusual track which is accessible to the wine drinking party go-er who is busy talking to someone as the music plays in the background. I have even slipped in a couple of tracks from the Okna Tsaham Zam CD. I have put together about 6 hours of music - could easily have come up with double that!
Doing this process is a way of exercising the long term ambition I have to be able to do a radio show, perhaps once a month. I would love to spend an hour or two each month sharing music which I think is wonderful with anyone who want to listen. If anyone out there knows where I can do this - on the net, or on the air - email me or leave a comment below...
You only get to live your dreams if you ask the question and put the request out there.
Monday, 27 September 2004
I'm reading "Leadership and the New Science" by Margaret Wheatley at the moment. It's a fascinating read, taking in the breadth of new sciences from quantum physics to chaos theory. I like the way she begins and ends each chapter with a vivid image, and piece of descriptive writing.
I've given a web-link to her website where she has posted a whole stack of articles which she has written. I'm going to browse through these over the coming weeks. Worth a look, I think.
Booklets published August 2003:
'zen words' (bw001) 52 pages
a collection of poems which explore language, landscape and the self, each poem captures the indefinable and attempts to distil it in words. These poems create vivid moments, with their use of language.
'umbrian images' (bw002) 36 pages
a sequence of poems reflecting on a holiday in Italy, which captures both the sense of location and the wonder of the Italian language. The poems included in this collection also capture Assisi just weeks before an earthquake destroyed frescoes and buildings.
Friday, 24 September 2004
I bought the most amazing CD. It's an album by Okna Tsahan Zam. He plays the dombra, which is beautiful to hear, but it is his voice which is breath-taking. I know that's a corny expression - but this literally does stop you in your tracks. He is Kalmyk, a Mongolian. He sings using overtone chanting, called hoomii. The CD came with a bonus DVD on which you can see him doing this chanting. He can produce two notes at the same time, which then resonate together. It has to be seen and heard to be believed. The music on the album is stirring, soul reaching music. It is interspersed with fragments of sounds of the landscape. The whole album is something that you really should hear.
Thursday, 23 September 2004
when the first shards of light at early morning
had glanced over the hills.
then was the moment when
I fully realised that all this searching
collecting of myths, looking beyond beauty and nature
would leave me now, emptiness
glances across a crowded room
people we once respected, open to criticism.
inside my own mind, of course,
I knew all too well that the special moments
of a life long-lived, now loved, would come in time.
blue as a colour that I shared so often
and yellow as a sign of morning’s hope
whilst standing alone, looking into the waves ahead
and just wanting it all to stop
for a few seconds of silence
where the river meets the sea, your thoughts and me
no longer as lucid as a sheltering sky
making no sense and wondering why
light opening outwards, learning to fly.
- from 'the alice conversations'. Work in progress.
Monday, 20 September 2004
I also got Rupert Loydell's 'The Museum of Light'. I'll put comments about this here when I have had time to look at it. Two more books were - William Oxley's 'Collected Longer Poems' and 'Poetry with an Edge' edited by Neil Astley. I'm looking forward to a few train journeys in the future when I can work through these.
Music in the background - 'Tremble Peady' by People Like Us (Vicky Bennett), brilliant and weird...
Mike Snider has been looking at my weblog, and has put a link to it on his site. Well, thanks very much for that! Mike's various sites are well worth a visit. There's a link to his weblog over in my 'Weblogs I Watch' column to the right. Or you can follow the link in this entry.
Friday, 17 September 2004
I browsed through 'The Book of Demons & Pearl' by Barry MacSweeney. This is powerful, ranting poetry with vivid use of imagery. One to spend some more time on. Then I dipped into a book I have by e e cummings called '95 poems'. I haven't sat and read his work for years, and I was quickly reminded of the moments of epiphany that arrive as you decipher his poetry. My favourite from last night is set out below. Tip: look for the word wrapped around the bracket first. It's a beautifully poignant piece of work with so little material achieving so much.
And there's a link on the web, where you can read 153 of his poems (don't you just love the internet!) It is here.
Thursday, 16 September 2004
There is a statement on the website:
"Many thanks to the brilliant Ubuweb for hosting the tracks below to make it more accessible for more people to download for free. We strongly believe in the power of profit through free distribution, and the publicity that comes along with that - so we are putting our money where our mouse is. Often people have never heard of an artist because they aren't being distributed through as many channels as they should be, due to the very poor state of music/media distribution for non-major label music coupled with ignorance of the way that avant garde art forms infiltrate mainstream culture."
All of this music is helping creativity to move again. Last night I spent a couple of hours preparing my third book of poems for publication by bluewater books. It is called 'edge of water'. See an extract from it here.
I've also been writing new material for the next collection, 'the alice conversations', due out soon. I wrote something last night, which veered off into recollections of summer holidays as a child in Margate, Kent, England. Strange that it should come into my mind, but there's a useful vein to mine there.
I'm having artist days - to focus the musical background as I work away at the computer. Today was Robert Wyatt day, spent listening to the 7 albums I have by him. This was prompted by being hugely impressed by listening to the Soft Machine double album 'Peel Sessions' yesterday. I've had this for a while now, and his taken until now to grow on me. Upcoming artist days include King Crimson, David Sylvian (guess that'll last a few days as I have so many albums by him!)
And here's a crazy idea for digesting. I've always dreamed of being a DJ. So, why keep it as a dream. I'm going to do what I can over the next couple of months to see whether I can find some means of getting on the air even if it is only for an hour a month. Signing off now, turning dreams into reality.
Monday, 13 September 2004
On the plus side, I bought an album of remixes yesterday which is brilliant. I've been listening to loads of music by Miles Davis over recent days - Bitches Brew, In a Silent Way - both of them in the Complete Sessions format which represents a staggering array of music in a highly prolific period.
Well yesterday I bought the panthalassa remixes. I've already got the original (?) album put together by Bill Laswell. This is a collection of remixes by half a dozen DJs including Laswell himself. I love the idea of working with original material and generating something new. It always gets me thinking about parallel ideas in the world of poetry. Variations and versions. I've done some of this with 'Blue's Song of the Earth' and 'Zen Poems'. With the first collection I worked with found texts, and with the latter I re-worked poems into new variations as the collection developed. I'm going to do some more experimenting later this week, using the panthalassa album and its remix version as source material to generate some poetry. This should be great fun!
Thursday, 9 September 2004
Light Sparkle and Thread of Colours
Alice is standing – waiting – wondering – without pause
Now she looks at me, and she sees through
Sees the energy flow within, up and down my spinal column
She understands and feels this flow,
Drawing it up from the ground, pulling it down through my crown
She watches as the energies mingle,
Light sparkling of orange, red,
Green, purple, and white, white, white.
All colours flooding through my mind,
Swirling and swaggering
Awakening me, bringing greater intuition.
Then she sees through the fog of greyness,
And with fingers of an adept
She threads colours through the mist, weaves them together
Creates a river, many coloured and flowing with warmth.
Now I am sitting on a chair.
No, more like a throne.
My arms resting on the arms of the throne,
I seem to be moving through the air, neither up nor down
Feeling intense heat,
Flushing through my body, pushing out all
Negative thoughts, cleansing
My energy system.
And I am at the feet of thousands of others,
All smiling, seeing me
And not seeing me.
Being a part of a great mass,
Not alone, not individual,
Merged with the entirety that is all, that is one
Male and female, spirit and soul. The conversation
Means much when words are no longer used,
When synergy comes through, when qualities merge.
The edge of understanding is a step into air,
Hands over the eyes,
Helping to channel the seeing in the mind’s eye.
There is air, there is no movement.
There is fire, there is no burning.
There is water, no drowning.
There is earth, no burial.
Through elements comes balance, and through
Balance comes the energy to move forwards,
Break the wheel, pass onwards.
Tuesday, 7 September 2004
I also received the latest lists from Peter Riley's poetry books by mail service. There's some interesting items on the list - I think I feel an order coming soon.
Friday, 3 September 2004
Wednesday, 1 September 2004
Anyway, all of this leads me to another station which I disovered recently. It broadcasts out of New York, and has web streams and archived material at its site (http://www.wfmu.org). I've been downloading shows and listening to them at leisure. The diversity of the material played on this station is fantastic. One of my favourite shows so far is 'World of Echo' which plays jazz, left-of-centre, punk etc. It's refreshing stuff hosted by a guy called Dave Mandl who has his own website too, linked from the station's pages. There's also a programme called 'The Radio Thrift Shop' hosted by Laura Cantrell, which plays mostly Country music. Now I find country music difficult to listen to - but the stuff she plays is brilliant. Lots of really early material - bluegrass and stuff like that. She also plays early jazz. A whole heap of gems in each show.
Why, you could be listening to it whilst you're reading this!
Thursday, 19 August 2004
Last weekend I went on a spending spree, and bought some of the Led Zeppelin back-catalogue which is missing from my collection. The first two albums really are something else - both released in 1969. I can't help wondering how it was possible to produce albums of immense creativity and exploration every six months or so back at the end of the 60s, whereas these days average time is every three years or so to produce an album.
It makes me truly respect the work of bands like Led Zep and The Beatles. It wasn't just the breadth and range of what they did, but the speed with which they did it too.
On holiday I read Mark Haddon's 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time'. I know I must be the last person to read it. I really enjoyed it - no need for a review. There are already loads of them out there on the net. I also read 'A Walk in the Woods' by Bill Bryson which was a good read - made me laugh out loud which is unusual (maybe the wine had something to do with it). Finally I read Anthony Clare's 'On Men' which was thought-provoking and infuriating too. I can't say I entirely agreed with what he had to say in the book - but some of the points were poignant. Verdict - heavy going, but worth the effort for the arguments it can cause.
Thursday, 15 July 2004
So, I did a google search on 'web page changes alerts' and found a load of different approaches. They fall into two categories - web based and software based. I chose one which is web based, and free. It's 'WatchThatPage' available here:
WatchThatPage - Monitor web pages extract new information
It looks really good. You can set it to send emails at a frequency to suit, with details of which of the pages have updated. Let's hope it's 'as good as it says on the box'!
Monday, 12 July 2004
Intuitive ideas and thoughts are blipping into my mind in a way that surprises me. I wonder whether these thoughts were there before, but went unacknowledged, or whether there are thoughts in my mind that I wouldn't have had before.
The whole idea of chakra working is fascinating. I'm reading a book about all of this at the moment, called 'Wheels of Life' by Anodea Judith. I've just started to dip into this book - it looks really fascinating. It draws quite heavily on the work of Caroline Myss. I read her book 'Anatomy of the Spirit' a couple of years ago, and particularly like the way she links together chakras with qabbalah ideas, christian ideas and hindu approaches. Joining up systems is a great way to encourage harmony in the world, rather than division.
Friday, 9 July 2004
Interested? Click on the title for this post to link to the site, which is called Montague Terrace after a song title from Scott's first solo album.
And yet, over a year ago I tried listening to 'Tilt' - the difficult album from the 90s. I didn't get it!
So, it was with some uncertainty that I got hold of a copy of 'In Five Easy Pieces' earlier today, and put it on the CD player. It's a five CD compilation album - huge in scope.
Well, I have listened to the first album whilst working this afternoon. It is beautiful. The richness of his voice, the gorgeous arrangements, the spread of material and moods. I love it!
I'm really looking forward to working through the other four CDs over the next few days.
Thursday, 8 July 2004
Tuesday, 6 July 2004
Gladwell covers a set of key principles and issues, looking at the roles of different types of people in building networks, communicating messages etc. He also looks at the importance of numbers - the maximum numbers for a circle of intimate friends, and for our circle of influence. He talks about the number 150 as key to manageable groups, organisations and societal sections. This is really interesting. What about the current trend towards ever bigger schools and hospitals? Is it any wonder that these organisations become dysfunctional when they are not organised around core units of 150 with strong identities for each.
The case study which looked at policing in New York, and the way they turned that city round from a lawless chaos to one where things were rapidly coming under control again, is fascinating reading. I hadn't seen it that way - a different and convincing view is always worth looking at.
The book is light on references, and attributes for the theory underpinning the work. But I think it is a better book for that - it is so readable.
I will never look at Hush Puppies the same way again.
Go get it! And enjoy it, I'm sure you will.
Wednesday, 16 June 2004
I am relaxing, listening to an album of chants called 'Om Sai Ram' which creates a gentle state of tranquility. This is interrupted only by the occasional click of computer keypad, and the sighing of the cat. Sometimes peace is the right state of mind.
I have nearly finished reading 'The Tipping Point' by Malcolm Gladwell which is an absorbing book full of fascinating facts and theories. I'll post a review of it in a couple of days.
Monday, 14 June 2004
This is my first attempt to produce something on the blackberry. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it's a great way to comment on the move. Just a case of getting used to the keyboard!
Well, what have I been listening to recently? I heard my first album by Sonic Youth - I think it's their first one. It's good sometimes to discover these people even if it is 20 years after everyone else. It was music of its time, but moving somewhere new. Interesting and worthy of a few more plays
Thursday, 3 June 2004
I’m reading a book by Michael King at the moment – “Wrong Movements: a Robert Wyatt history” which is interesting, not least because I am really interested in the work of Robert Wyatt. It’s an interesting approach to biography, written mainly through the words of those interviewed, and fragments of data relating to concerts, recording dates etc. The author’s words are few – at first I found this a bit odd. But it does construct a story really well, without the usual purple prose of music biographies.
The reason I mention this is because Robert Wyatt co-wrote the first track on ‘Music of Airports’ and plays the piano phrases on which the track is built. Life is a series of connections and synchronicities.
The poetry for ‘the alice conversations’ is progressing steadily. Here is an extract from one of the poems written:
Alice in replay / relay
Resonance and replicate
Words tumbling along like a chaotic maze of messes
The light was barely visible, just out beyond the turn of the road
Where he could clearly see she was standing
Resonate and replicas
Sounds fumbling inside like it's all gone wrong now
She turned to look at him, the mark on her cheek
From the cut that had scarred, clearly visible in the light from the lamp-post
Resounds and reposition
Colours crumbling around the merest guesses
Car tyres screech as the mondeo flashes around the corner
Heads towards him now, glancing the kerb near where she stands
Restate and replace
Touch the crumbs that feed the mouth
Violence is a space we find between the sense of us and them
Seconds that make every difference, when all will change
Remonstrate and replay
Wherever it will lead him
Rain falls on the daylight street, nothing left now
Of the moment when fates crossed and openings slid together.
Wednesday, 2 June 2004
Out there is just about anything you want to find out about. A few years ago, if I wanted to know what had happened to a particular band or musician it was near impossible to find out. If there was no recent material in the local record store, there was no other easy way to find out.
Thanks to the web, I can find out about anyone. So, I set out on a search to find out what had happened to The Residents. This was a band that a mate of mine was in to when I was a teenager – we used to listen to their albums when they came out, and were usually impressed at just how weird, imaginative, and downright strange their music was. The album I remember most vividly was ‘Eskimo’ which was presumably put together in a studio, but sounded like an on-location recording in deep dark cold eskimo country. It was odd – no songs as such, but a fascinating listen. Then there was the take-off of The Beatles with ‘Meet The Residents’. Well, a quick search with Google, and I found www.theresidents.co.uk which tells me that there is a whole heap of material out there – the band carry on working, producing mysterious material underneath the cloak of anonymity. Their work continues to display everything dadaist, avant garde and post-modern. And it has all become available again thanks to the advent of CD technology. Time for some real exploring I think!
Meanwhile, my musical indulgences continue with recent purchases of albums by Tom Waits (www.anti.com) ‘Blood Money’, Steve Hillage ‘L’, Morrissey ‘You are the Quarry (excellent new album!), and Wire’s ‘Chairs Missing’ (with the superb single ‘Outdoor Miner’ from 1979). Great music all round. I’m also listening to Miles Davis / Gil Evans ‘Complete Columbia Recordings’ borrowed from the local library. Stunning music – older than me!
Thanks to the internet I have discovered that Steve Hillage has been working for the last decade as a duo called System Seven with Miquette Giraudy (www.a-wave.com) and has produced 7 albums. Worth an exploration, I think.
Language – I’m working more on ‘the alice conversations’ poetry sequence which has now reached 11 poems. I want to get on with this and complete it soon. It’s shaping into an interesting poetry sequence. Final push…
Wednesday, 19 May 2004
Making a blog entry whilst travelling has always appealled - now I can!
This entry is being written on a palm for transmission by email the next time I log on.
I know it's boring reading but then most new experiments probably are.
Roll on a blackberry with a proper keyboard!
Monday, 17 May 2004
Blogspot has gone through a major facelift. And I didn't notice, because I haven't been visiting for a little while. Well, I'm back - and promise more entries before the end of the week.
There's a lot to write about - music, poetry, reviews and a heap of other things.
In the meantime, this is the first entry sent to blogger by email - hope it works!
Wednesday, 14 April 2004
Meanwhile, thoughts continue to develop on the next two publications from bluewater books (site needs updating, but it is here). I’m working on the idea of producing a booklet with a mini-CD included. I’m really impressed with those little CDs that are about 3 inches across, play on ordinary CD players and hold about 20 minutes of sound files. Small enough to fit inside the back of a booklet. More news on this as the idea develops.
Musically I am still bouncing around inside the back catalogue of Joni Mitchell – scope for months of exploring there. At the weekend I bought the new album by The Divine Comedy which is back down to just Neil Hannon again. He moved to Ireland and his wife had their first baby since the last album. The album is a set of beautiful pop songs. Sounds like he has been listening to Scott Walker and maybe Frank Sinatra a lot lately. Orchestrations and production are wonderful. Favourite songs so far are ‘Absent Friends’ (title track), ‘Come Home Billy Bird’ and ‘Our Mutual Friend’. I also really like the sentiment in the last track where he sings about his ‘charmed life’ to his baby, hoping that his baby will one day ‘call your life a charmed life’ too. I know it sounds a bit coy, but within the confines of the song it works really well.
Wednesday, 7 April 2004
Another website I have revisited recently for the first time in a while is Bill Nelson’s website, Permanent Flame. There’s a really good diary at this site which is worth a look. Bill Nelson has given up on the recording industry and gone out on his own to produce music himself using Lenin Records for distribution. I remember being really enthusiastic about the music of Be Bop Deluxe when Nelson was their guitarist. I’m curious to hear some of his more recent stuff. The last I heard by him was a few tracks on a compilation from Robert Fripp’s label. These were highly creative, imaginative and eclectic pieces with great tunes too!
Thursday, 25 March 2004
- King Crimson: Lizard
- King Crimson: Lark’s Tongues in Aspic
- King Crimson: Starless and Bible Black
- Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & Michael Brook: Night Song
I really like working through a particular artist’s music listening for development. The CDs I listened to by King Crimson are only a small part of the collection by them and their solo counterparts – but very enjoyable all the same!
Last night I was listening to Jan Garbarek’s album ‘Dis’ (ECM Records) which has the sounds of giant wind chimes on it – these were built and installed on a cliff top, then recorded. The sound is fantastic, and idea of an instrument that is played by the elements is wonderful. The rest of the music, played by Jan Garbarek and Ralph Towner is excellent too. Time for a bit of Garbarek indulgence too I think.
I had an interesting idea for taking forward ‘the alice conversations’ poetry sequence yesterday. I am going to search on google with the words of the title and then use the pages that I come up with as word sources for the poetry that I create. Interesting idea…
Wednesday, 24 March 2004
What music have I been listening to whilst I've been away? Even that was a bit out on the edge - I've been listening to lots of obscure ambient and noise music, with a share of found sounds too. Then I have also been listening to plenty of Radiohead and the last few albums by jazz saxophonist Charles Lloyd.
My interest in Buddhism continues...and I am thinking of doing First Degree Reiki.
Oh, and my PhD thesis was submitted a couple of weeks ago - time to wait for the viva now...
Books - finished reading John O'Farrell's "The Best a Man can get" which was both hysterically funny, and painfully uncomfortable. A great read.
Well, it just took a few minutes and I'm back on line. I wish the redesign of the website was as straightforward. Can someone explain to me where I will find a free idiot's guide to Frontpage so that I don't keep pressing the wrong buttons and ending up with completely dysfunctional web pages? Please email me if you can help.
Thursday, 22 January 2004
Do I know what my overarching goals are for this year? Some of them, yes! But without a direction, we just wander around aimlessly.
My musical interests are broad, and widening – that is a good thing. But I do need a road map to follow sometimes.
My interests in reading and writing are also very broad – yes, that’s a good thing too. But the map needs to be set out so that I don’t disappear under a mound of books and CDs.
So, what am I reading and listening to at the moment:
1. Paul du Noyer – Liverpool: Wondrous Place
This is a marvellous book which looks at the music scene in Liverpool since the 50s. It covers all the major bands and artists that came out of Liverpool. It’s brilliant to read about the scene when I was there, and a part of it. Some of the writing also encouraged me to dip back into music that I had forgotten about. If you haven’t read this book yet, you should – it is a great read.
2. Peter Senge – The Dance of Change
This is a book about organisational change – I’ve read about 100 pages of it so far and it is packed full of interesting ideas.
1. Misha Alperin - At Home
Beautiful solo piano album by a jazz pianist. Sounds more like Debussy than jazz.
2. Bob Dylan – John Wesley Harding
Yes, I know I must be virtually the last person to ‘get’ Bob Dylan. But I am now digging back into his really early stuff which is fantastic. This one has ‘All Along the Watchtower’ on it.
3. Antiopic – Allegorical Power Series Vol. 6
A series of albums for free download (www.antiopic.com) which comprise a lot of strange and wonderful noises from the world of music concrete / avant garde and just plain bizarre.
4. Julian Cope – Autogeddon
Yes, I do realise that he’s completely bonkers. But he does write great melodies, and I love all this barking mad stuff. It’s great to hear someone pursuing things to the extreme.
5. Eberhard Weber – Pendulum
An album of solo double bass sounds a bit worrying, but Eberhard Weber is in a league of his own. This album comprises a set of loops and echoes that build up into some beautiful songs.
Tuesday, 20 January 2004
So why am I focusing on The Monkees and Robert Wyatt. Well, over the last few weeks I bought the CD collection ‘The Definitive Monkees’ which is a wonderful reminder of how good they were. The sleeve notes also tell the story of them – how they were thrown together for a TV programme that was aimed at capitalising on the Beatles phenomenon that had come over to the US from the UK. What I didn’t realise was just how quickly the four members of the group re-wrote the rules and took over the music making and song writing.
Of course the link to Robert Wyatt is set out above. But the other reason why I mention him is because I recently bought ‘Cuckooland’ and ‘Solar flares burn for you’ – both of which are excellent albums. They demonstrate the singular talent and vision of Robert Wyatt. Over the years he has quietly projected a marvellously self-effacing personality. It’s easy to get carried away with the modesty he displays and not realise just how ground-breaking his work really is.
Monday, 19 January 2004
Well, apologies for disappearing around Christmas and New Year – but I’m back again. I took a much-needed break, and then spend 10 days travelling a lot for work which exhausted me and kept me away from the screen and keyboard.
Now for some serious blogging….