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Tuesday, February 29, 2000

A Duet With Jeff Fayman

You know how some musicians have a reputation for being difficult ? Well, here’s some further proof. I’m talking about fellow DGM diarist Jeff Fayman who has been given a golden opportunity to make something of his sorryass career by donating a loop or two to the forthcoming Ian Boddy / Sid Smith collaboration.

Instead of just getting into the studio and laying the thing down in one, he writes and wants to know something about the project !!!

Dear Sid--or Sid Baby as you will soon be known in the Hollywood Record Industry,
Judging by the current state of New music available today, I don't believe that not playing an instrument nor having any studio experience is any sign of a weakness--in fact, from my perspective, it seems to be the surefire indication of a Top Ten hit!
I would like to hear a little more in detail of what you're trying to do so that I could see if I might be able to provide you with something so that you don't walk into a studio with "just your dicks in your hand"...

So I send him back this reply which I’m sure, dear reader, you would agree is HIGHLY specific and INCREDIBLY detailed.

"OK Fayman
A bit of tedious background. Ian Boddy is a UK based synth- player who I've known since the mid seventies. He's released about 15 albums under his own name and about a year ago I helped him set up a label dedicated to electronica. The label is called DiN and so far four albums have been released with another two to go out by April this year. My role so far has been to provide a pair of punters ears to the music and to write some blurb for Ian's website.

Over the last few months, the pair of us have been talking about doing some kind of project together. here's a snippet from my original proposal to Ian Boddy;
"OK Bodman. Here's a proposal for a new DiN album. We set aside six dates in the new year. Three for playing and three for mixing and post production. See what comes out of the first three and if we both agree on where it might be going, then we proceed to the next step. If not, then it can be abandoned.

Here's the concept –
A series of chance encounters, juxtapositions and extremes - improvised in the DiN studio utilising as much or as little of the Boddy hardware as possible. This might involve –
gritty and lo-fi - a bit of rough noise round the edges combined with some of those gorgeous synth scapes you've been grooving around to over the last year.
Extremely short cut-ups percolating throughout (the same piece but processed beyond recognition) the album; Is that static the TV going off channel or what ?
Extremely lengthy cut -ups taking sampling to it's extreme and making it listenable
Redefining the notion of "song" - ghosts of what could be songs alluded to rather than played hover in the far distance of the purest reverb Starting with colour and ending with patina. Some samples of mine as the basis of exploration and composition for example The first ten seconds of Vertical Invader by Weather Report - other samples from Trey Gunn and Robert Fripp. The Pat Mastelotto drum track. Overdriven electric guitar - distortion and scratches form the basis of a cut and paste, sampled rhythm track A radical remix of an existing DiN track (or rather elements transmuted into something new). Or not."

So Fayman, I think the idea would be to assemble a series of small detailed events and see how they hang together. So if you do want to provide something go for ambiguity rather than specifics - it might be a dat recording of the traffic outside your front door could be you whistling in the shower - Hell it could just be the sound of your shower ! or you might want to go for a loop style thing - any key ....whatever....
Have a think kidda...."

Now dear reader, I think you’ll agree that in that post I was being a paragon of openness and availability. But take a good look at what I get in return !!!!

Dear Smith,
I'm a simple soul who has a limited grasp of "heady" concepts. I would appreciate if you would take a breath, grab teddy bear, properly medicate yourself, and elucidate--not hallucinate--in English, just what I might provide that would be most beneficial to you.
Unless you want the sound of a brisk fart whistling through the "lo-fi" end of a telephone answer machine--do you want atmospheric washes?--or the sound of washer/dryer rhythms?--the harmony of hummingbird wings rustling against an open spring window?--or the sound of cattlerustlers yodeling on a three week trail drive--give Smith...

Now as tempted as I am by the sound of a Fayman fart, I’m starting to get a little miffed. I mean, I always thought these musician types were meant to be creative and have a little imagination. So I fire off this note from Whitley Bay to LA;

“Crikey - you bloody musicians....
How about a drum track to die for ? Elvin Jones meets DJ Spooky ? or Play blue with washes of yellow running through the middle (mind they don't all turn green though )”

So, just when I think I've got things sorted...

this just in from Fayman…..
“How much yellow?...”

And the moral of the story is don’t use musicians when you’re trying to record an album. Crikey, I don’t know how Robert and Toyah put up with this guy !

Monday, February 28, 2000

Radio Stockhausen

At the Osteopath to get this niggling pain in my lower back dealt with before it becomes a problem. It pranged in a big way when I picked up Joseph’s quilt off the floor. It’s the same back problem which is chronicled in the road diary in the P4 booklet. Whenever I hear that album, it always gives me a twinge.

Debbie and I spent the evening upstairs listening to the radio. As chance would have it BBC Radio Three broadcast a live concert from London’s Royal Festival Hall featuring the music of Karlheinz Stockhausen. Quite marvellous. Stockhausen used to be a bit of a hero of mine in the early 70’s. I think the first piece of his I heard was Telemusik closely followed by the wondrous Stimmung. The former created out of the painstaking editing of magnetic tape and the latter created out of nothing more than the human voice. Yet between the two a continuity and a concern with pure sound in space.

Last night the concert warmed us up with Klavierstrucke, with all it’s sharp clusters of notes and silences. This was followed by the monumental Gruppen performed by no less than three orchestras.

As it played I worked on a series of small pastels, overlaying washes of colour onto an acrylic backdrop and then etching out smaller details. The music certainly helped this process along no end.

After all the applause had died down, Stockhausen himself came onto one on the podiums and took us through some of the points of interest in the big score focussing on how you get three orchestras playing in different parts of the score to all come out at the same end point. Then they played it all again. Riveting stuff.

Perhaps the intervening 40 years since it’s composition and the resulting adventures in modern classical music have taken a bit of the spikiness away but it still retains it’s humour and forward momentum. There remains at it’s core a striking originality which is still capable of dazzling and entrancing the generous listener. For example, Debbie’s take on it was that it wasn’t at all bad and very good is some places. Certainly not as extreme as some of the music I play around the house she pronounced. So, for those who write Stockhausen off as unlistenable, think again.

What might be of interest to visitors of this site is that KS has created a bit of a cottage industry around his own work. He now has his own label, website, all the masters of his back catalogue, all the original tape pieces and all the scores and a huge archive. Of course some commentators have derided old Stocky as being a control freak for taking this course of action. Sounds familiar ?

Debbie and I go on to chat about the KC book and how we might get the thing published. Vanity tells me that it would be great to get a “real” publisher to take the thing up but from what Andy Mabbett tells me of his experience of publishing books about Pink Floyd, an awful lot of compromising has to be done to achieve the goal.

What might be a better bet is to go for a bank loan and publish the thing myself – selling directly to enthusiasts via the web and so on. I must say that this has an appeal and as Debbie says, our house is big enough to store a couple of thousand books.
Sean Hewitt is coming up to stay in a couple of weeks and I’ll discuss these ideas with him in a bit more detail.

A delightful e-mail from fellow DGM diarist Jacob Heringman who is just about to leave the country to go on his honeymoon. At the risk of sound like a bit of a luvvie, it’s really nice to be part of this virtual community – very supportive and generous.

Sunday, February 27, 2000

An Invitation To Robert Fripp

Up early to see a subdued dawn of grey flagstones. Breakfast with the children and listen to the radio – current affairs and soap opera. I suppose it’s my own snobbery that I regard the likes of Coronation Street, Eastenders, Brookside (all long running TV soap operas) almost beneath contempt and yet I’ll happily waste an hour listening to one on the radio.

Get to work on the luminous figure that swam up in the blackness of the painting that I started yesterday. It starts becoming a very specific figure which not being able to draw to save my life means I’m in trouble. However, I stay with it for a while longer.
Out shopping with the children in search of Pokemon stickers. The kids are obbessed with this cartoon programme that is on TV at the moment. Not just my kids either by the looks of it as every place we go to has sold out. Grey and dull weather with flecks of rain as we walk back home. The kids draw pictures of Penguins and I start trying to breath some life into this mystery figure on the board.

Somewhere on this computer there lies the neglected scraps and detritus of a book about KC. I must start gathering it all together and get on with plugging the gaps.
Taking a break to check on e-mail. Jeff Fayman and I discover a mutual interest in Englebert Humperdick and some fine theories about the male condition. I’ve had a series of e-mails over the last few days and I discover that we appear to share a similar sense of humour. It’s a good job he’s over 3000 miles away otherwise we’d never get any work done.

I read with interest on Jeff’s diary about the potential collaboration with Robert. Spurred on, I send Jeff an invite to get in on the ground floor with the Ian Boddy / Sid Smith project which goes into the studio in the next fortnight. In the same e-mail, thinking only of his best interests, I also enclose the invitation to Robert Fripp in case he’s at a bit of loose end at the moment and adding that;

“I've noticed that you've been getting too many good reviews in the mainstream press recently. I'm sure that between Fayman and Smith we can reverse this curious and worrying trend.”

This morning RF responds with;

“Dear Sid, Don't worry - the release of the new KC CD will turn that around! Yo! R.”

E-mail from Ian Boddy who likes the first instalment of my copy for the new album between Ian and Chris Carter (ex Throbbing Gristle). However, Ian would like some more copy that is music related. I pride myself on avoiding any mention of the music at all but understand that if visitors to the DiN web site want to get a sense of what Boddy and Carter are up to, then I better get some blurb written for him. They are currently having problems agreeing on a cover design. With a reckless disgregard for my own advancement in life, I bravely and selflessly offer one of my own smeary splodgy paintings as a possibility. Mmmm.

Tune into the diaries of Steve Ball and Bull Reefer. Life in Seattle seems very exciting indeed. I must try and devise a way of getting over their for a short break. Seattle is such an exciting city although I’ve only ever been passing through – once with GC and once with Projekct Four. BTV seems to be getting well underway and I’m pleased to see that Travis Hartnett is one the team – at least I think he is.

Listening to The Penguin CafĂ© Orchestra catalogue since we’re on Penguin mode this afternoon and the best news of all is that Debbie has returned from Birmingham. Hooray !
Tonight’s agenda includes Tea, Time Team, story time, bed time, candle –lit bath for D and I and then the slow oblivion of bliss.

Saturday, February 26, 2000

Purcell Arcs

Gorgeous quality of light today and the air is very breezy and refreshing. Spring is springing with great velocity.

Morning taken up with painting. The Planets Three Flew Round lays on the table measuring 97cm x 48 cm. I had started to add text to it but the idea doesn’t quite work as well as I thought. It removes some of the mystery which I always think a painting should have and so I laboriously and painstakingly remove the words.

As I move around the house tending to chores, the title of the piece niggles at me. The phrase “The Planets Three Flew Round” is borrowed from the Blake prophecy America and although the words lend the piece extra legs it doesn’t work as well as it did for me. Instead I opt for the somewhat grandiose “Purcell Arcs II”. I’ll see how that works for me over the next couple of days. Elsewhere in the house, Tom and Joe groove about leaving no chair unturned in their wake.

A new painting as yet untitled is begun. As usual I have no clear idea of what’s to happen. After an hour or so it seems to be a luminous figure against a black murky backdrop. I give it a break and cook food.

By one o’clock we are on the Metro and off to the opening of a new exhibition by potter and all-rounder Bloomsbury type Quentin Bell. The Bell family were there and seemed particularly pleased with the exhibition. A good crowd assemble and I meet up with a colleague from work. A good time was had by all particularly as the Gallery had the foresight to hire two magicians which does appear on the surface of things to be gratuitously child-friendly.

Of course some of the themes in Bell’s work deal with theatre and sleight of hand and the second of the two magicians even has a couple of tricks which involve painting as a theme. They perform in front of Kurt Schwitter’s MerzBarn which is a bit of magic all of it’s own.

Needless to say Joe gets picked as an assistant for a trick and is in his element. Whereas Tom tends to be painfully shy, Joe has no inhibitions whatsoever and often gets up in public. I was so shy as a child and couldn’t get on a bus without blushing and feeling like I wanted the earth to swallow me up. I meet up with John (a chum from work) and his wife and their youngest daughter as arranged and after the show is finished we head over to their house on the hills of Gateshead.

A pleasant time ensues but if I think our house is busy it is nothing compared to theirs. In short it reminds me of nothing less than King Cross station on a busy day. The hustle and bustle of comings and goings of children and their extended families is slightly bewildering. I suggest that we issue name tags so I can keep track of who’s who.
A fabulous feast follows and we head back on the Metro sometime after seven o’clock. It’s cold and a wild wind is starting to whip up. Remarkably, the boys tell me they are looking forward to going to bed !

Talk to Debbie who is in Birmingham visiting friends. Good to hear from her and looking forward to her return on Sunday afternoon. The house seems to rattle a bit without her. Mind you after the maelstrom of John’s house in Gateshead, the roar of the silence is most agreeable

Friday, February 25, 2000

When You Gotta Paint ...You Gotta Paint

The most beautiful sunny morning. Brilliant light floods the yellow room and the reflected glow fills me with a desire to paint. Getting a couple of household chores out of the way (hanging out the washing and getting in some food), I open all the windows of the house and fling back the doors to get some air flowing through the place.

I dig out a large painting which I’ve worked on in a distracted kind of way for nearly two years. This might suggest to the casual reader that I’ve been gripped by some artistic battle which has prevented me from completing this masterpiece of blurred smudges. Of course, it’s been simple laziness on my part that has stopped me completing the task.

On the other hand, it may well be that this particular piece and I have been waiting until we are both ready and in sympathy with each other to engage and get on with it.
John Kimber (change agent and part-time dauber of canvas) reckons when you’ve got to paint…er…you’ve got to paint. I’m sure he put it better than that but you get the drift. Sure enough the creative juices just flow and flow this glorious morning and after a couple of hours of careful outlining, overpainting, sponging and smearing, I’ve got something that doesn’t look like a moody seascape.

Instead it’s a busy collection of various sized arcs whizzing about in all directions. The arcs themselves are mainly browns and blues against a backdrop of yellow ochre. This in turn is then over laid with smudges and sponging of yellows of various intensity, whites, greens and blues. It’s called “the planets three flew round”. Don’t ask you had to be there.

To accompany the work, I’ve got a shed load of Henry Purcell. As the choirs boom out their sacred music, one cannot help but filled by the joy of being alive. Some days are like that aren’t they. This is beautifully complimented by Andrew Keeling’s sublime O Ignis Spiritus, performed by the Hilliard Ensemble.

I had several e-mails with Andrew this morning firming up arrangements for out meeting up in the next fortnight. It occurs to me that we’ve never set eyes on each (as far as I know) so I guess I’ll have to wear a pink carnation or something. Mind you, I’ve got a big T-shirt with the legend “Fat Geordie Bastard” across the chest. That should do it.
Mid day I stick on some Crimson and plump for Poseidon. Is it just me or does the drumming pattern on the verses very like those played by BB on Exiles ? Give it a listen and see what you think.

The best of the light has gone and I get back to work on some pastels and finish the piece nudged into existence by AK’s One Flesh which features Jacob Heringman on Lute. Music for the afternoon comes courtesy of Barre Phillips and his classic 70’s album Moutainscapes. This also features John Surman. I saw the pair perform many years ago with stunt trombonist Albert Mangelsdorf when they performed under the name of MUMPS. Boy could those guys play.

I follow this up with Proverbs and Songs by Surman. This album was recorded at Salisbury Cathedral a couple of years ago and though it contains some fine moments, it doesn’t quite hit the Smith spot. Still, I stay with it and listen to it all the way.
The problem is that there isn’t enough depth to the composition or the way the words (proverbs and songs taken from the Bible) are integrated with the music. My guess is that it was probably stunning if you were there.

The boys arrive having been picked up from school by my mother. I’ve cooked the famous red gunge and within the twinkling of an eye, we swoop down on the table like ravenous beasts. I get the old Brio train set out and the front room (which does not have a carpet) makes an ideal venue.

My mother and idea offer strategic advice but this is all but ignored as little Sam and Melina (kids from next door) come in and roll up their sleeves and get involved in the extensive track building.

We’ve only half the team with us tonight as Debbie and her children, Sam and Alys are off down to Birmingham to see friends and relatives. However, we are not letting the grass grow under our feet as tomorrow we are attending an opening of an exhibition at the Hatton Gallery. The joy for the kids is that the opening is being augmented by a magic show. I don’t know who’s more excited – me or the kids ?

Thursday, February 24, 2000

Blue Sky Thinking

Brilliant blue skies this morning as I take the boys to school. The bus runs early again and is deserted for most of the journey. Our half hour journey only takes 20 minutes because the traffic is so light and of course there's nobody at the bus stops wanting to get on board. They're all at home thinking they've got another five minutes before the bus comes.

At work the finishing touches are being put in place with the Tom Phillips exhibition and the possibilities of working with Eno/Sylvian/Hassell/ et al collaborator, Russell Mills, took another step closer this week which we’re very excited about at the AdHoc gallery.
Spend a couple of hours tonight splurging white and grey paint about on an already scumballed board. Almost inevitably, it ends up looking like another seascape. Listening to KC circa 1984 while I do and find it livens things up no end.

Put a couple of things in the post for John Kimber of leafy Highgate. One is taken directly from the summer sketchbook which documented the very last Summer of the 21st Century. Essentially it’s a blue and white blur of oil pastel.

The month of March looks very promising indeed. I’m hoping to pop down the Country to hear Andrew Keeling’s lecture about prog-rock. Hopefully, we’ll have time for a cup of tea and a chat. We’ve never actually met in person so I’m looking forward to putting a face to a name.

The very next day, I’m hoping that Ian Boddy and I will be able to begin work on our collaboration for the DiN label. Our intention is to work very quickly in the studio, improvising around some pre-determined structures and colours. Pat Mastelotto donated some loops many moons ago for the project and we’ll be dusting these suckers off and seeing how we can mess about with them.

It occurs to me to try and blag a loop from RF but my guess is he’ll be revving things up around KC in the not too distant future. Still, we might well try and lift a sample here and there (subject to permission of course). You can be rest assured that I’ll keep the reader of this diary informed to the point of complete tedium on progress on the Boddy / Smith album.

The following week-end Sean Hewitt has booked in and we’ll be taking the opportunity to review progress or lack of it on the book. I mention the book only because you’d never know what I’m doing here on the DGM website.

For any new readers of this diary, I’m supposed to be writing a book on Crimson. This is my ear-view of the music interspersed with some interviews from Crimson member past and present. Having Hewitt come up to visit will provide me with a much needed impetus to close down some of the prevarication and bet-hedging that I’m indulging in. Time to put or shut up.

Wednesday, February 23, 2000

Dream on. . .

A gentle sunny morning with a fine spray of pink-tinged mist over the sea. A post from Andrew Keeling suggests that my dream regarding trepanning might be “the anima may be trying to inform you of her presence, by drilling into your head: by getting you to think about the possibilities of the realities of the unconscious.”

Andrew goes on to postulate that “A man is often visited in dreams by a known or unknown woman, which is a symbol for the feminine nature of a man's unconscious. The anima (soul) is a psychopomp: she leads a man to his vocation, to the reality of himself, of who he is and to the 'self'. Who was the woman you saw in reality? The woman who you dreamed of? What are your associations with the woman? Is she an artist? An intellectual? The things you know about this woman could be important in determining things about yourself which are reflected in this woman's characteristics /skills. “

Andrew suggests that I start reading Jung who wrote a thing or two about this kind of stuff. The power of the dreams to invade the waking world is quite amazing.

The post brings a bumper crop of CD’s and chief amongst them is the final mix of the new collaboration between UK synth ace Ian Boddy and ex Throbbing Gristle colourist and industrialist, Chris Carter. In their first collaboration, they’ve created a stunning panorama filled with the vast empty echoes of lost, imagined cities. The provisional working title of this album is Caged and I’ve been playing it non stop tonight.
So what kind of music is it?…

…ominous chimes murmur as wavelengths drift and merge…signals like hammered steel beaten at night, as lonely as Morse…frequencies slip transmuting temple bell tones to clear light …refracted transmissions out of time, the twisting roar of forgotten highways…a place where soundtracks of long deserted arcades still play…windblown fragments glimmer in the twilight… flotsam and jetsam of ghost-notes swept in on a intense tidal wave of startling sonics…pulsing neon shards of music caught in the sizzling rain swept streets…

Quietly stunning…The album should be released around the beginning of April. Watch this space for details.

Tuesday, February 22, 2000

A Woman Drills My Head

An e-mail from Neil Talbot down in Brum comes in regarding my previous entry about dreams and their interpretation.

On the populist level here are any number of tacky books purporting to be a dictionary of dreams which aren't of any value beyond being spurious entertainment. On the other hand the classic psychoanalytic texts by Freud and Jung are not for the weak-hearted (like me!). However, I'd put my money on Tom Chetwynd's Dictionary for Dreamers (Vol. 1 of Language of the Unconscious) first published in the early 80's by Harper Collins Aquarian Press, but I don't know if it's still available anywhere, and regrettably don't have a copy either. I have vol. 2 of the Language of the Unconscious trilogy - Dictionary of Symbols, which I browse frequently.

Ultimately, one has to suppose that dream interpretation is a bit like interpreting the message of the I-Ching - the dream or the veiled message is a secret doorway through which only the observer - whose unconscious/subconscious mind affected the pattern and progress of the dream, or the throw of the coins in the I-Ching - only he or she can really read the signs relative to their own existence. But altogether it's a tricky issue, and too many toes have muddied the water already.

I know what you mean Neil about it being tricky. Here’s one I had a while back taken directly from my notebook.

I'm with a woman (a distant work colleague who in real time I have little or nothing to do with and only see about once a year) and we are getting very excited and sexually aroused. She embraces me, caressing my forehead. She's whispering something to me but I can't make out the words. I know she wants to do something to me that I don't want her to do but I don't know what it is and that makes me feel anxious

Then she moves me into a horizontal position and picks up a small domestic drill. My pulse is racing as she moves towards me and gently traces the drill bit across my forehead. I hear her whisper to me not to worry and that everything is going to be alright. There's a mixture of sexual tension and, well just tension in the moment. She turns on the drill and begins to trepan me.

The sound of the drill and the sharp sensation are suddenly lost in a blissful warmth. I float away to the sound of her voice soothing me and I'm rising into the air, golden and glowing with some kind of inner light. I realise that I'm actually flying upwards.
The dream ends…

This was so vivid, I woke feeling very perplexed and disturbed at the combination of powerful emotions the dream produced. Travelling into work that morning, I was very troubled. Later, I chaired a meeting and throughout the meeting, these feelings and images haunted me making it difficult for me to concentrate. After the meeting, I went into the reception area and sure enough, there was this distant female colleague.
I was so astonished and actually blurted the whole dream out. She smiled and listened in an encouraging sort of way whilst backing off and moving toward the door and off to her meeting. I haven't seen her again. Hmmm.

Debbie and I are going out tonight to see American Beauty (Kevin Spacey film. She has her cut especially for the night and even as I type is loudly proclaiming her desire for a large hot dog. What can it mean ????

Listening To...Lemon Crash CDR by the Europa String Choir

Monday, February 21, 2000

Keeping an eye on Peter Sinfield

In work before 8.00 a.m. accompanied by a wonderful slow burning sunrise. The day was spent being part of a bureaucracy, moving paper from side to side, up and down and the like. This goes on until 9.00 p.m. when I throw the towel in.

The only highlight of the day was watching a clip of a programme on Greg Lakes’ I Believe In Father Christmas. Lasting about five minutes, it featured some archive footage of ELP performing Knife Edge, Lake now and then and Peter Sinfield talking about the origins of the lyric. Quite entertaining. Bed and Rachmaninov await.

Sunday, February 20, 2000


Up early on this gorgeous Sunday morning and the soothing strains of Travis Hartnett (aka Tik Tok) A Single Glass Of Water…makes a perfectly blissful accompaniment to the shifting shades of yellow’s and whitey-blue over a deep calm sea.

It surely doesn’t get much better than this.

The Hartnett album was released in 1999 and has been a quiet Smith fave since TH sent me some copies over. Essentially a series of folding guitar loops, it’s a cross between Brian Eno meets Rafael Torrell’s Wave Field album. Burning embers of loops smouldering in the distance. Quite quietly beautiful. Travis who lives in Texas was going to be coming over to the UK last year to play some dates but it didn’t work out. Hopefully, there’ll be another opportunity at a later date.

I had a very troubled night’s sleep which has left me feeling disconcerted and a bit blurry around the edges. I try and access the dream’s but they are blocked. The ‘great’ Kimbrini of leafy Highgate keeps a dream journal and when I was there earlier in the week, we had a brief discussion about dreams and their analysis. Kimber leafed through my notebook and came across an entry where I noted down the sequence of events in the dream but offered no analysis as to there potential meaning.

Our conversation galvanised me into keeping a book by the bed but these last few mornings nothing has been accessible. Perhaps I’m dreaming too hard. I resolve to try and find a book of dreams and their interpretation. Any offers of advice or loans to the usual address please.

Debbie and I walk along the beach and find lots of treasure – brown, green, blue and clear glass fragments litter the sand for us. The beach is full of people and dogs and the air is clear and bracing. Glorious sunlight. We always tell ourselves that we are so lucky to have the sea right next to our house.

I cook lunch for everyone and am rewarded by everyone going out to the cinema to see Toy Story 2. I take advantage of the weather and over paint half a dozen boards in the back yard. When these dry they’ll be transformed into works of art – well big boards with smears of colour splodged about them at any rate.

The gang get back from the cinema and I cook the evening meal. More work tonight on filing and archiving old diary entries going back over six years.

I crack on with a bit of the book and a bit more painting – alternating between the two. The beasts that need slaying are (in no particular order) Side Two of Lizard (excluding Bolero), Side Two of ITWOP (excluding Cat Food) and Starless (aarrgh ! – you wouldn’t believe the amount of drafts that I’ve gone through on this.)

Painting tonight. Starting off with greens and browns. Large, bold strokes using the widest brush I have. Muddying the water until I can see what it is It’s an alchemical process – turning one thing into another working towards slow transformations. What I start off with is rarely what I end up with.

After two hours and sit back and survey the damage. It’s full of turbulent cloud formations, of mud slides and avalanches of dirt and chaos. Out of the murk there are small events full of bright sparkling. They are like tiny celebrations of purity, glistening gems, occasionally unearthed by the seismic explosions. Different rules and methodologies occur in mid stream. I’m going to concentrate on one section or point. Then my eye wanders and the brush follows and my plan of attack is abandoned. For example, on this one I’ve carefully installed a line of black using a palette knife. It runs vertically, bisecting the paper into two halves. As I stare at it now, I know it’s a mistake and doesn’t work. Of course when I put the thing there in the first place it was absolutely right. Now I’ll take it off.

Depressingly enough, I could be describing my approach to writing this King Crimson book.

Saturday, February 19, 2000


A lovely Saturday morning. The warmth and richness of the sun is breath-taking. The children bang and clatter around an I work on no less than nine pieces in the little black sketchbook.

There’s a nice theme developing in the pastel scrawls and scratches, going for texture rather than definition. I enjoy the discipline of working in such a confined space where the slightest mark achieves maximum impact. Make any mark you like - as long as it's the right mark.

Debbie and the kids go out into town to shop and I work on the book trying to get my head around the Double Trio. Phew – there’s a lot to get through starting with the Vroom sessions and ending up with the Broadway shows. I’ve never managed to download the Mexico City shows and thus this performance escapes the Smith scrutiny.

An e-mail from Neil Talbot describes problems he’s experiencing with his computer. Computers infuriate me beyond belief as I struggle to get downloads or install programmes. Like many others I tried downloading Mexico but without success. I fear BTV will pass me by completely.

Debbie and I go out for a meal at the Kismet restaurant at the top of our street. Good food and even better company. We round of the evening with a truly dreadful video called Convergence. Set in Seattle, it chronicles the gathering of mysterious forces which cause time to slip and…..oh wake up at that back. It’s not that bad. Ooops, sorry it is.
We turn out the lights and are about to make the long haul upstairs but are side-tracked by the stunning blue-yellow light of the moon.


Friday, February 18, 2000

The early bus misses the kids

The children and I make our way to the bus stop. Thankfully, all of the snow is gone much to the boys chagrin. We only just make the bus which decides to leave Whitley Bay a full five minutes before it should.

This results in an empty bus bereft of the regular passengers and their children. Such spectacular wrong-footing means that the bus is actually a full ten minutes earlier than usual. I wonder about the trail of people left waiting at bus stops wondering where the bus might be. In the playground, the remains of snowmen tilt alarmingly as the sun goes to work on them. The boys race off into the distance shouting and yelling to their mates.

Work happens and seven hours later after a day spent pushing paper around I’m back at home.

My mother (who usually picks the boys up from school on Fridays) tells me that she’s being tested for angina – a condition which causes a hardening of the arteries. She’s perfectly calm about this and not at all worried. In her seventies, she’s as active as ever and has a much better social life than I have. Her involvement in the local church and its extended community means she’s never short of anything to do or someone to meet. However, the real secret to her vigour is her capacity to mix and meet with people who are much, much younger than she is.

As we talk we can hear the sound of the boys upstairs saving the universe on some computer game. My mother also helps out in the boys school as a classroom auxiliary and she takes a dim view of the amount of time that children spend on computer games. If she could do it all again, I suspect that she’d want to be a teacher despite the daily horrors which Debbie regales us with.

Listening To…
Earthbound by KC
Crikey – this stuff is good. It’s years since I’ve listened to these particular albums. Groon seems particularly impressive with Mel Collins pushing hard between jazz and rock.

Thursday, February 17, 2000

The litany of harsh indifference and neglect

It’s a gorgeous dawn filled with pastel shades of yellow against grey-blues as Debbie and I crunch our way through the snow and ice to the Metro station at Whitley Bay. I work in a place called North Shields and she works over the other side of the river Tyne in Jarrow as a primary school teacher.

In the 1930’s Jarrow became well known for its people’s march to London to lodge a petition protesting about the “distress in the regions” as mass unemployment and the breakdown in social cohesion was euphemistically called in those days. The petition was duly lodged and of course, nothing changed.

Well, the second world war came along and for a brief time, there was jam on the bread and then back to ship yard closures and the decimation of local industries. Somewhere underneath all of this social boom and bust, were a community who eked out an existence on the margins of society, where the conventions of family bonds and responsibilities have slowly corroded.

Most of Debbie’s class come from seriously dysfunctional families where abuse, neglect and the failure to thrive are almost the norm. It’s not uncommon for children to come into school under their own steam, having had no breakfast and clearly having slept in their clothes. The intervention of already stretched social care agencies seems to do little to alleviate the social and spiritual poverty of these children.

In the 21st century the harsher effects of generational poverty and social exclusion are cushioned by satellite TV, the proliferation of cheap drugs (tobacco, alcohol and cannabis) and the ubiquitous mobile phone. The acquisition of these material comforts are given the highest priority and in many cases, to the exclusion of their children’s needs and aspirations.

The well intentioned question of “How was your day?” doesn’t really provide enough scope to adequately describe the teaching of children in this little part of the world. As Debbie describes the litany of harsh indifference and neglect as it manifests itself with her class children, tears come to my eyes.

After our meal, Tom and Joe do their homework. Tom has to do his own version of one of his favourite stories. Determining that Harry Potter, The Hobbit and Doctor Who and The Day Of The Daleks are too big to tackle, Tom opts for the strange world of Edward Gorey our large collection of his work called Amphigorey which collects over 20 of his dark stories.

Gorey is an American writer and illustrator who manages to imbue his Victorian world and its characters with a bleak mystery and air of impending menace. Tom draws out the best scenes from the Bug Book and does a splendid job. From 5.30 p.m. until bedtime at 7.30 a.m. Tom and Joe work cheerfully and without complaint on their respective pieces.
After bed time stories are dispensed, I start work on a series of small scale pieces involving water colour, oil pastels and pencil. Working very quickly, I try to create a backdrop against which I intend to place…something?

Listening to...
Islands by KC
A Single Glass Of Water by Tik Tok
Various Loops by Markus Reuter
The Hapless Child and other stories by Michael Mantler

Wednesday, February 16, 2000

Talking To Tom Phillips

Leafy Highgate. . .

Up nice and early in bright and sunny Highgate after sleeping very soundly. Refreshed by the previous night’s chat, I bound downstairs and do the breakfast thing with Kimber.
As we sit munching on toast and drinking mugs of hot tea, a squirrel scampers about the trees in the garden. We talk about the progress of the book and Kimber makes some very useful suggestions as to how I could improve the books’ readability. As we talk, it occurs to me that the biggest improvement in readability would be to get the thing finished.

At the moment it’s firmly in the doldrums, languishing on the sea and waiting for the wind. Whilst I’m much calmer about the lack of progress in my writing (i.e. stop worrying so much) I nevertheless feel that I’m going to have to get the oars out and start rowing.
If there is ever a good time to try and get a book about King Crimson published it’s going to be 2000 and the release of the new album when there’ll be some interest and increased profile of the band . So there’s a window of opportunity which I’m going to miss if I’m not careful.

Essentially, it’s going to be like sending a demo tape around the record companies and trying to hustle some interest. I shudder at the thought of the energy that will be required. If I think it’s hard work now, it’ll be nothing to what lies ahead.
It’s such a lovely morning and the chilly edge in the air puts a spring in my step as I go off to have my meeting with Tom Phillips and his assistant, Lucy Shortis. After a geometrically satisfying tube journey from Archway to Oval, I connect with the lumbering 36 red bus and take a tour of a crumbling London in the early days of the 21st Century.

The house which Phillips uses as a studio is crammed full of paintings, prints, models and all kinds of paraphernalia which makes my pulse race. It’s strange to see this items and paintings casually propped up against a chair or stacked to one side with bits of orange peel on the top when they are normally seen in large coffee table books or previously viewed in catalogues and on gallery walls. We mull over the details of the forthcoming exhibition. I feel decidely star-struck.

Later that day, Kimber and I meet up in Border’s on Charing Cross Road. I’m not sure what we’re looking for but we seem to find it quickly enough. Over a meal we discuss a slightly prickly interview with Bill Bruford in a US magazine called Progression (?) and the prospect of Moles 81 KCCC release.

I never saw Discipline although I was in London working on a piece of performance art at the Tate Gallery with the artist Charlie Hooker. I recall seeing the adverts for the shows and to my eternal regret I didn’t get to any of the shows.

We call into Moles Jazz specialists just over the road from Kings Cross station where I find a copy of The Hapless Child by Michael Mantler. It’s a stunning album that was first released in the early seventies and features Robert Wyatt singing the words of American writer Edward Gorey. Not ever seen it before on CD and so I snap it up despite the severe lack of funds.

Kimber and I make our farewells and plans are put in place for a return visit in April when I’ve got some business at the Hayward Gallery. On the train back, Debbie rings me to find out the time of my return and to warn me that Newcastle is gripped by ice and thick snow.

Sure enough, as the train nears Durham the white-out begins and by the time I get into Newcastle I’m amazed at the amount of snow and ice that is around. Back home, I find Debbie, a bottle of wine and a generous amount of good food waiting for me – what a winning combination.

Talked to Andrew Keeling over the phone tonight and it seems likely that we’ll be able to meet up in March when Andrew delivers his lecture on Prog-rock.

I ask about a potential release date for his new CD on DGM but AK isn’t really sure when it’s likely to hit the streets. Having been lucky enough to have heard a pre-release copy of this music, I can tell you that it is such a strong collection of pieces. The revelation I experienced whilst listening to the Hilliard Ensemble’s performance of O Ignis Spiritus is still with me.

Debbie and I catch up on the news with each other and although it’s only been a day apart I’ve missed her dreadfully. Bed and the oblivion of dreams await.

Tuesday, February 15, 2000

London Calling

Leafy Highgate. . .

An uneventful journey from Newcastle to London. Beautiful crisp light and serene skies all the way. Once in London I get over to Tower records and make enquiries after the first This Mortal Coil album. This is belated Valentine’s present from me to Debbie. I had totally forgotten the occasion and thought to make it up by getting her one of her most desired albums. Sadly I discover that there’s no call for TMC in London and thus Debbie’s desire remain thwarted.

Eventually, I get the tube over to leafy Highgate and arrive at Kimber’s house. It’s a while since we met up and there’s a bit to catch up on. The Kimberman is now set up in business for himself and we discuss the liberating effects of self –employment as well as some of the worries it can bring. The importance of naming comes to the forefront as we wrestle with the title and trademark possibilities of Kimber’s business and a dispute with the Patent Office. A bit of brain-storming, floor pacing and the odd creative flurry has us well on the way to solving the problem. We chat through some of the current possibilities of long distance crimsonising assuming the double duo declines to play the UK. Our deliberations are helped along by watching the KC DVD. It’s my first seeing of the thing and I found myself very impressed by the sound quality and definition.

Crikey – it’s gone 2.00 a.m. Time for bed.

Sunday, February 13, 2000

Sitting In An English Garden

Emerging from the fog of illness which has dogged me this last fortnight, I bask in the sun’s warming rays and drink in the sights and sounds of the English at rest in their gardens.

There’s a feeling of slow unfurling and you could be fooled into thinking that the summer has arrived given the vibrancy of the light and the warmth of the sun. I know Summer must have begun because I have donned the Panama hat. In England the wearing of a hat, particularly a Panama which is clearly alien to our prevailing climate and obviously anachronistic, is considered an emblem of eccentricity.

So, sitting in an English garden and everyone in the house and some of the neighbours kids are helping out. I use the term “helping” in the loosest sense of the word.
Sam is scrunging the lawn, Tom is assisting with the holding the cable at a level that manages to lop the heads of various slumbering plants, Joe is looking at the shipping that passes by at the bottom of the street, Carl and Andrew are (the boys from next door but one) are investigating the natural life (or lack of it) of a pea-green caterpillar and in doing so, are significantly reducing it’s future prospects, Debbie is weeding and hoeing and I’m documenting the entire scene for posterity.

We have a quick chat over the garden wall to our neighbour Dave, (two doors down) about our lack of life in the soil. We hatch a plot to hold a party in the next few weeks where people come along with a bag of bulbs or seeds or anything that’ll grow. As we talk, I warm greatly to the idea of a bring a plant party and start to look at the potential dates. Everyone is invited as long as you bring your own compost.

A mountain of e-mail has stacked up on the domestic PC and apart from looking at one or two personal messages of support and good wishes (thank you Sean Hewitt and Jeff Fayman), I find the effort of wading through them just too much.

This coming week I’m in London to see Tom Phillips (actually his assistant, Lucy Shortis) regarding his forthcoming exhibition at our small municipal gallery. Whilst there, I’ll be fortunate enough to stopover at the Kimberman’s household in leafy Highgate. This is just the kind of re-charging I need after this prolonged bout of illness and doldrums. Some people have the capacity to engergise you and the ‘great' Kimbrini definitely puts the wind back in my sails.

Finally, in response to Alan Cohen’s post in the guestbook recently …
Listening To …
The Queen Is Dead by The Smiths (no relation)
Nothing Matters by Robert Lloyd and the New Four Seasons
Late Junction (Mon – Thurs, Radio Three)
Masques by ProjeKct Three
Andrew Keeling CDR
New Music for Voices by The Hilliard Ensemble
The Extraordinary Garden by Charles Trenet
Soundtrack to Vivement Dimanche ! by Georges Delarue
Turn The Bloody Stereo Off And Come To Bed by Debbie Raikes

Monday, February 07, 2000

Transitions and transformations

Spent most of yesterday in bed or in a supine state although the highlight of the day talking to Steve Lofkin who lives in Farnborough. I met Steve on the Level One Guitar Craft on Raft Island in Seattle and we’ve kind of kept in touch ever since. Steve plays regularly with Bert Lams and is considering attending the GC Level Two in September which I’m toying with doing myself.

Forgot to mention it in a previous post but during the week-end I received an e-mail from a chap called John Stevens who was a Guitar Craft registrar in the early 90’s. The spooky thing is John now lives in a village called Lauder which is 25miles south of Edinburgh. This is also happens to be where my sister lives.

Small world eh ? Mind you, my sister prefers equestrian company to that of humans, so unless John has kept back from me the fact that he is a horse, he’s unlikely to have bumped into her. John was also at the gig at Newcastle City Hall in 1973 where I made the transition from being Colin Smith to Sid Smith.

Today up at 7.00 a.m. to watch the slow unfurling of a sunrise. Burnished pinks turning to ochre to light yellow, simmers above dark greys and blue/blacks. The scene changes with each passing minute. Within 20 minutes, the sky is completely transformed in to a panoply of colour and light. Majestic reds and vermilion’s vie with each other next to aqua blues. The sea is now the colour of raw sienna mixed with pink. Quite astonishing.

Feeling very, very tired today and left work early to get some rest. Head spinning and groggy. A minor tiff in the house ensures that a bad atmosphere percolates through the rooms and liberal deposits of resentment and strop are to be found on the slouched-couldn’t-care-less-shoulders of the teenagers who inhabit Victoria Avenue.
Well tonight, I couldn’t care less and I’m off to bed.

Sunday, February 06, 2000

NIce conversation - shame about the smoke!

13.00 p.m.
I allow myself a bit of a lie-in and don’t get up until after 8.00 a.m. Debbie sleeps on. It’s a lovely light morning with good sunshine and a very gentle wind. Little fishing boats from Cullercoats and North Shields parade past the window, a calm sea without a ripple on it. The usual parade of Sunday morning promenader’s begins and I have a plan to join them later today with a visit to the local second-hand markets via the sea front.

Last night’s meal was lovely. Nice conversation, great food and very good music. The down side is that by the end of the night, I was gripped by an asthma attack which was exacerbated by our hosts smoking a large amount of cigarettes. Though they were considerate by cutting down on the amount and frequency and opening windows, back doors and the like, the close proximity of cigarette smoke was just too much.

As we got into the taxi a little after 1.00 a.m., Debbie and I were wheezing away like a pair of old bellows. By the time Debbie and I had de-briefed and picked over the conversation with a welcome cup of tea and an even more welcome blast on my inhaler, it was well after 2.00 a.m.

Catching up on my e-mail this morning, I’m obviously more in tune with William Blake than I realised, given that I state that I bought the book of poems in 1883 in yesterday’s diary entry. Bonus prizes are on their way to several regular readers who point this out.
I used to date a book when I bought it though this is something I haven’t done for many years. Sad really as the little date inside the book tells its own tale bringing me back to a particular place and time.

Clearly for a period in 1983 I was being heavily drawn to Blake. The start to this was Kathleen Raine’s account of Blakes art which I picked up on the 5th April 1983 at the University Book Shop’s second-hand department. It cost £1.50. Almost one month later I moved onto the Bronowski selection of poems 1st May 1983. That kept me going until 24th June when, perplexed and baffled by what I had been reading, I had to buy A Blake Dictionary – The Ideas and Symbols of WB by S.Foster Damon. I really pushed the boat out for this as it cost a staggering £2.95. Once again it was picked up from the second-hand section of Newcastle University.

I go back to bed feeling dreadfully flat and continuing to struggle to breathe. I doze through the radio programme Desert Island Discs. Debbie pops out to the local corner shop and picks up The Sunday Times. I check out the Record Of The Week which is The ProjeKcts Box Set.

Hooray !

The reviewer seems surprised as to how contemporary sounding P3 and P4 are. Whilst there’s no doubting the collective efforts of all concerned in creating this extraordinary music, it struck me on the P4 tour in 1998 that Pat M was playing a crucial role in providing the bridge between vision and practical delivery of a newer, fresher sounding Crimson. It’s this aspect of Pat’s role that seems to be the important factor – of course the fact he can play the drums as well, seems to be an advantage as well.
The positive review for this and those for Cirkus leads me to predict that the next Crimso album will attract many plaudits in the “straight “press and it will start to be respectable in polite circles to admit to liking King Crimson.

Saturday, February 05, 2000

From one age to another. . .

Responses to the Thrak pieces are swept in off the tide of cyberspace. As usual, Hewitt not only takes me to task for poor grammar and spelling (a big hello to Bill Rieflin – Sid waves to Bill – Bill scowls and throws a pencil) but pushes the narrative along by challenging or countering some of the points I make. This is a good thing and it enables the writing to grow and develop beyond my own lazy tendencies and assumptions. The power of music and its capacity to transform ordinary moments into an experience that borders on the supernatural is well documented, not least by one or two other diarists elsewhere on this web site.

Today, I had my own taste of this powerful phenomena nearly five minutes into The Hilliard Ensemble’s performance of Andrew Keeling’s O Ignis Spiritus. Alone in the house, I was working on a sketch inspired by another Keeling composition, One Flesh, and as the graceful curves of the music unfurled, I became aware for the first time what the voices were actually singing. The realisation that William Blake’s words were being invoked, that they had lain concealed in the music unnoticed by me for days, I think was the catalyst for this moment of epiphany.

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour

As Blake’s words swam out of the music, an electric shiver crackled across the back of my neck and I was transfixed in a moment of exquisite beauty. Actually, lost would be a better word as there was a sense of profound movement, of surging forward into light.
The moment released me and the world began to turn once more. I was left feeling very shaken. I wandered downstairs to the red room and rummaged about for the book of Blake poems (which I bought on the 1st May 1983) and spent much of the afternoon reading through the selection.

In his introduction to the slim volume, Jacob Bronowski writes;
“To Blake, the world of his poems was not a retreat from but an expansion of his everyday world. It is the belief of imaginative poets that they are the symbol and voice of universal experiences more lasting than the accidents of time. Their poetry speaks from one age to another, because it is founded in experiences which are simple, common, profound which are human and universal. “

Debbie and I are invited to dinner tonight and as a prelude to going out we end up having an impromptu dance around the yellow room with In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel at an ear-bleedingly loud volume. The children look on in horror as the grown-ups let down what’s left of their hair.

Friday, February 04, 2000

Drudge…politics…drudge…bright moment…

A reader of this diary recently asked me in an e-mail what it was that I did for a living. OK here it is…

Drudge…politics…drudge…bright moment…

One bright moment in a day of drudge came in a creative meeting where we were discussing some future projects for our small municipal arts centre. A colleague expresses his view that he’d like to look at a music project using Northumbrian pipes. “Well” I said all smug “there’s a blokey I know …”

A quick phone call to Matt Seattle and we have the bare bones of an idea starting to take shape. Matt is helpful and confirms what might be possible with only the sketchiest of details to work with.

Drudge…nice conversation with canny colleague….drudge…press office on the phone regarding a personnel issue turning nasty in public…drudge … plot …plan…drudge…and so on.
Brightness comes when work is finished and the kids turn up full of beans. I don't see them until bedtime. As they are wrapped up in a game.

Thursday, February 03, 2000

A Sense Of Community

The kids are fed and dressed and we are ready for the bus journey. Over the sea, a truly spectacular sunrise is unfolding. There’s such a subtle range of colours – around four different blues, three to four reds, and so many types of grey I’ve lost count. Put them all together and there’s a sight to melt the heart and free the spirit.

Check the e-mail and find a bundle of delights awaiting me and no spam. Travis Hartnet tells me that the Rothko chapel is well worth a visit if I’m ever in Houston. He also hints that he might be due a visit to Seattle in the not too distant future. Lucky Bugger. Way to go Hartnet – you’re one of the good guys.

Also interested to hear from Neil Talbot somewhere in Birmingham UK. I first met Neil at the Epitaph Playback in London a couple of years ago, although the two of us had been shadowing each other on ET at the time. We were both getting our Epitaph boxes and had to give our names. As each of said who we were, we each recognised the other’s name and did that double take kind of thing – “Ah, so you’re NT / SS”

We met up again at the Nightwatch Playback and he even got to play a bit of mellotron as we were waiting around. In recent times, he’s been working on some song writing and of this he says “Demo CDs of 2 songs being mailed to A&R people at various Record Companies this week, one with lyrics penned by yours truly about 20 years ago when I was doing my Bob Dylan thing in folk clubs.

I also laid down tracks for a song called Chambers of Your Heart - Keyboard/drum track, guitar and sounded a bit like Genesis playing with broken arms on a day when everything went wrong, but - like throwing paint on a canvas and not being sure of the outcome- it gave me a great deal of pleasure to have a go again at doing something creative.”

Good luck to Neil as he goes around the A&R carousel.

At work today I talked to Lucy Shortis who works with Tom Phillips. We make arrangements to meet up in the next couple of weeks to sort out a catalogue for the forthcoming Tom Phillips exhibition. This means that I’ll hopefully be staying at the Great Kimbrini’s house in leafy Highgate when I’m there.

Also in the e-mail tonight a note from David Cross agreeing to do an interview for the book. Arrangements need to be put in place but this is good news. I always loved Cross’s playing and look forward to getting his take on some classic Crimsonising.

Tonight, Steve Cowgill calls round. He was my best man at my wedding and we’ve known each other since 1975. He’s an astounding bass player, pianist and a cool trumpeter but he makes his living as an electrician / decorator. Except of course, he doesn’t. He’s flat broke and has got big companies post-dating their cheques until the end of March. He looked tired and grizzled and sick as a chip.

Debbie is out tonight babysitting for the house two doors up. We live in a pedestrianised street of large Victorian houses overlooking the sea. There’s a small community of young (ish) families who all get on fairly well. We’ve all got tons of kids and during the summer it is not uncommon to find a house full of twenty young children. The great thing about this kind of extended community or family is the degree of support we all offer each other. So, the delightful Debbie is doing her bit looking after the Maddox household while I hold the fort here.

The sense of community extends to other places – even when they are places which don’t exist in real time. Like the diaries. I was talking to Jeffery Fayman about this point only the other night. The sense of support and above all the generous good will that I’ve sensed and experienced in this short period has been quite amazing.

Not wishing to get too self satisfied about all this, I suppose its because we all want to be here. I mean, even if you click on my diary site by accident, there’s nothing forcing you to send a quick post saying “Hey – I like this stuff. Too much Bonzo’s “ or whatever. Yet people do take the time to make contact and offer positive or constructive comments. For me, though I moaned the other night about the number of e-mails in my in-tray, it’s a good feeling being part of this community or extended family.
Speaking of which, it is exactly two months since I started keeping this DGM diary.
I celebrate by listening to Andrew Keeling's CDR which is a future I would never have been able to connect with were it not for this diary.

O Ignis Spiritus performed by the renowned Hilliard Ensemble is a wonderful piece of music. The melody weaves like smoke spiralling skywards. Though it shares little or nothing in common with Purcell’s music, I am reminded of that crystal-like clarity which can be found in some of Old Henry’s pieces.

Off The Beaten Track contains a lovely warm performance by Cathy Stevens. Cathy plays violectra with the Europa String Choir, keeps a diary on the Guitar Craft site and taught me to find my centre of gravity in a ballroom in Germany. I find the music on Andrew’s CD so bright and engaging – up beat even. There are moments where the music is dense and intense and suddenly the most sublime melodies burst through from the undergrowth.

One Flesh with Jacob Heringman is all summer bittersweet in places, passage of time, clouds scudding by in others. Quite beautiful. I’ve begun a series of small pastel sketches as I listen to it.

Wednesday, February 02, 2000

John Wetton In Whitley Bay

The circle of chaos that is the Green Room at meal times was completed tonight by a phone call from Sternly Muckraker. I mention to him that I had been spammed by someone. The anonymous spammer had subscribed me to a porn site and a site that specialises in dirty jokes. E-mails arrived asking me to confirm my subscription which I declined to do. This was not done on any grounds of moral fortitude on my part but rather out of terminal boredom with sites like these. Hey ! I can subscribe to my own porn sites thanks very much.

The real purpose of the call was to get Sternly Hewitt booked in at Whitley Bay for some serious anorak flapping. It seems that this is likely to happen in March. So I look forward to knocking the book into some shape with Sean in person.

Tonight John Wetton and Carl Palmer plays at The Dome in Whitley Bay. I’m unable to attend as I don’t have the necessary cash to be able to buy a ticket and I wasn’t able to blag a freebie off the promoter. So my evening is completely Quango-less.

Played Andrew Keeling's CD a bit more tonight. Quite thrilling though I have to say that the arrangement of Peace by RF is sounding a touch out of place with the rest of the music. Debbie takes a listen and describes it as “somebody having trouble with their instrument”. So, a message to Andrew; you’re definitely heading in the right direction with this CD.

The music of Part’s Fur Alina to guide us towards our bedtimes. Bliss awaits.

Tuesday, February 01, 2000

Gold Over Grey

7.15 a.m.
Up early to turn over the Rothko calendar. The stunning “White Over Red” is revealed. Painted in 1956, it vibrates before my weary eyes and charges me up for the morning. I find his work endlessly inspirational with such a strong calming presence to it. As I look out of the window toward the sea, the painting on the go could well be called “Gold Over Grey” and it’s just as inspirational as the Rothko.

Checking my e-mail, I’m stunned by the numbers of posts that lie in wait for me. Many are from readers of the diary who offer kind words of support and praise. Getting this kind of feedback gives one a real boost.

In amongst it all is a post from Sternly Muckraker who prompts me to ponder on the structure of the KC book. The current thinking is to split the book into eras. Thus;
Section One:
Plus interviews with key members
Section Two:
McDonald & Giles ( I know, I know)
Summit Studios
Plus interviews with key members

And so on.

The post arrives bringing a CDR of music by fellow DGM diarist Andrew Keeling. The letter that accompanies it says;

Dear Sid, Here is the CDR of what may well constitute my eventual DGM release. If you could listen and let me know your views on a) structure (does it feel right/balanced)?;b)inclusions/omissions (is, for example Quickening The Dead consistent with the other pieces);c)anything else which strikes you. Yours, Andrew

To those who haven’t heard the Opus 20 release on DGM, Andrew’s composition Meditato is a thing of constant joy and beauty. Every time I play it, it seems to open off into new directions. This quality in music is what tells us whether a piece is any good or not.
11.30 a.m.

Talked to Russell Mills today and gave him an outline proposal for our sound art installation idea thingymajingy. He’s very interested and what’s even better is that he lives in Cumbria so he’s not too far away at all. We talked about his forthcoming exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in London which also features several other artists who use sound as part of their work.

A double CD is going to be produced with contributions from all of the participating artists including Brian Eno. I wangle myself an invitation to the opening which means I’ll be London-bound (which is only marginally better than being egg-bound) in April.
Next to the gallery we have a 24 digital studio and an artist like Mills would make obvious sense to exploit the potential synergy between the parts of the organisation.

At the opening of the Panayiotis Kalorkorti exhibition at the AdHoc Gallery (the new name for our small municipal art gallery ). I take Debbie and her daughter Alys along to join the great and the good from the art, business and political community. My mother, Doreen, also turns up along with Chris Taberham, the chap who only yesterday was moaning about Healthy Colours by Fripp and Eno. Tonight, he finds these colours much more to his liking.

A truly mountainous pile of e-mail’s waiting for me when we get in. Too much to deal with tonight. Seems people like Rothko judging by the number of e-mails that deal with him.
I’m thinking of asking Dan if I can attach a little link like the biog one at the top of this diary into which I can tip one image of the week. So this week would be Panayiotis Kalakorti, next week would be Sid Smith, the week after would be Tom Phillips and so on. I have no idea whether or not this is allowable under the rules governing the diary site. Would any readers of the diary be interested in this small addition to this page ? If so, let me know.

Tonight the diary is written with the sounds of Andrew Keeling’s CDR filling the room. There are some stunning pieces of music featuring the likes of Jacob Heringman and the Europa String Choir’s Cathy Stevens. Andrew has done a very interesting arrangement of Peace by RF performed by Mr.McFall’s Chamber. I promise Andrew to give the CD a critical going over by the week-end.

Now, I’m going to be brutal and leave a heap of e-mail unanswered and go and de-vibe with Deb.


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