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Wednesday, July 23, 2003

A Strange Sky

Looking out toward St. Mary's Island from the end of our street.


and back in the direction of Cullercoats

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Rainy Day Cats 12 & 35

Not a day for being out of doors...


Especially if you're a cat. This is poor old Dixie from a couple of doors up

and this is Billy from next door, who is fixing me with the Billy Mind Meld...

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

ELP: Musical Indigestion

I blame Sean Hewitt. It was his fault. He rang last night to tell me about his latest purchase – Works Volume One by ELP. I can’t adequately explain why but I had this overwhelming urge to play the album myself.

For me, this is one of those albums which you are only ever going to play once. It’s useful to have it in your collection (mine came courtesy of Kimber Kast-Off several years ago) if only to wave it at your children when anarchy and chaos threaten to engulf the world, as in “Stop that now or I’ll play Works Volume One!”

I know there are many people out there who would regard this application of ELP’s recorded works an effrontery to their good taste. It’s not my intention to offend such souls (hello Chris Wilson, Kimberman, perhaps, even Sean Hewitt himself).

Indeed as a callow teenager I once had a quick fling with the band which lasted a good two or three years. But after Trilogy things didn’t sound the same. Actually, that’s not quite true. Things did sound the same and therein lies the problem.

ELP’s music had always been a rich concoction with a little bit too much of everything thrown in for good measure. The tracks got longer, the vibe got flashier. Yet for all their full-fat, full-on flavour I found I’d developed a kind of musical indigestion. After a while I could face any more.

So then Sean Hewitt comes along to tell me that he’d just bought Works Vol. 1 in the bargain bins of
Nottingham. We played a sneery riff between us and then moved on to other matters. Yet, as the Newcastle performance poet, Nod, used to say “an idea grew in my mind like a carrot.”

I couldn’t shake the perverse desire to indulge, like looking over the edge of a very tall building. It's scary but some dark impulse compels you to do it. As a result, I ended up playing both sides of Works Vol.1.

Consequently I’ve come to understand that one of the qualities in music I respond to is that of mystery.

Is the music full-on broad-brush or does it contain a subtle combination of space and light between the notes which produce something outside the actual notes themselves?

Is the dynamic creating waves or causing ripples? Does it have restraint and control or does it constantly play to the crowd?

Though played by essentially capable musicians, the music of Works Vol.1 (and quite possibly Works Vol.2) is about something else altogether.

How do you get your argument across? By taking out big, bold adverts on large roadside hoardings or by sending out a reasoned, carefully worded statement? Both have their place in the world, performing useful but different functions. I know which I prefer.

Monday, July 14, 2003

Stretched Landscape

I've been working on a painting called Stretched Landscape. I think it's finished.





Sunday, July 13, 2003

Stretching Out

There are at least 301 tasks which I should be doing but sometimes when you’ve got to paint, well, you have to paint. So, I painted.

One canvass started from blank the other was a continuation of an idea which got kick-started earlier this year largely inspired by Michael Peter’s excellent Burning Shed debut album, Stretched Landscape.

I often work like this. Short initial bursts followed by long periods of gestation where alternatives and possibilities percolate. And sometimes they don’t, so it gets left on the shelf waiting for the right moment to come along. This is of course an inherently lazy and wasteful method. Sometimes I feel impaled on my habits.

The Raikes Gang have been walking up to Tynemouth and back on this glorious sunny day, allowing me to prepare another culinary epic involving pasta and tomatoes. When Debbie got back she was puggled and lay flat out on the lawn.

Happily, I was voyeuristically placed to capture these moments of relaxation. We’re thinking of setting up a DebbieCam. I hear tell that many women are to be found posing in front of camera’s on the internet. Is this what they mean?

Friday, July 04, 2003

The Art Of Sacrifice dbkaos

Gizmo overload

The Art of Sacrifice
dbkaos

DiN
15th September 2003

One of the perennial problems facing just about every exponent of electronica these days that they run the risk of getting caught in the glare of the headlights of the equipment and technology as it hurtles toward their home studio.

Discovering the potential sound world lurking in the dark just beyond the beam of the mainstream and presets is a far more precarious task.

The latest release (the fourteenth!) on Ian Boddy’s adventurous and stimulating electronica label, DiN, provides evidence of this dilemma.

Art of Sacrifice by dbkaos illustrates that no matter how many gizmos or bits of cool software you may possess in the end what really counts is how you use it.

Whilst there’s nothing particularly bad about Art of Sacrifice, the real problem is that there’s nothing exceptional about it either. A fairly flat, homogenous production manages to coat everything in a sonic veneer which allows little or no distinguishing features to emerge.

This is not a bad album but it is a bland album, and sometimes these two commodities can be worryingly interchangeable.

There’s a good album drifting around in here somewhere but frustratingly it only floats to the foreground occasionally.

Composer and performer behind dbkaos, Dave Hickman’s tendency to opt for some well-worn, zero-gravity (i.e. lightweight) clich├ęs – principally the arsenal of Bleep and Booster sound effects - coupled with a overbearing and unadventurous four-to-the-floor tempo of the drum machine jades the aural palette after a while.

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