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Tuesday, March 30, 2004


The bright skies of the morning got lost in the encroaching sea fret this afternoon. This had the effect of making the crisp dry washing on the line turn damp and limp.

Starting to deal with backlog of items that have been neglected over the last few days – mostly DGM web site issues.

Listening To. . .
Music from the films of Francois Truffaut by Georges Delerue
Band of Brothers soundtrack by Michael Kamen
I Hear The Water Dreaming by Takemitsu.

Also listening to the original Obscure label version of Christian Zeal and Activity by John Adams back to back with the Nonesuch recording by de Waart and the San Francisco Symphony.

This piece features directions to players to add relevant sonic “found objects.” Whilst the orchestral playing on the Nonesuch recording is stronger and confident, the addition of a taped Southern preacher, looped and cut-up, sounds very lame and frankly tired. 

The Obscure version (performed by the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and conducted by Adams himself) utilises a verbal punch-up about religion between a DJ and a caller to the radio phone-in. This has a wry wit utterly absent from the modern version which sounds po-faced and “ironic” by comparison.

Clearly this recording was of key importance and influence on Brian Eno coming as it did five years before the release of My Life In The Bush of Ghosts.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Marijuana Girl Bremen Town Musicians

No smoke without fire...

Marijuana Girl
Bremen Town Musicians
Inner Knot

Departing from the sublime anthemic rock of their eponymous debut, Bremen Town Musicians cut loose into stretchy, less certain territories with their follow-up release, Marijuana Girl. Using group improvisation as the starting point they’ve pulled off a beguiling blend of avant space-pop.

The amorphous character of this outing is sometimes suggestive of the darkly turbulent cavities between the songs on
Bowie’s Outside (which were the product of studio improvs themselves).

Vocalist Cary Moss’s guttural rasp oozes menace on the dense, oppressive atmospheres of "13 Thousand Men", eventually dissolving into paranoiac yammer on the Can-like "I Wouldn’t Join A Club That Would Have Me As A Member."

Perhaps the
high point of the album can be found on the magnificently saturnine "Atomic Wheel." The white-hot slivers of creepy, shivery guitar never fail to ignite although the trippy waltz of the genuinely divine "Sweet" could seduce the radio waves given half the chance.

Groove-based Improvisation and free-association vocals can be notoriously difficult to carry off; it’s always a high-wire walk between percipient know-how and verbose noodling.

Though there are a couple of lapses in concentration here and there (the title track perhaps being the guilty party here), the overall impression is that of a band pushing away from the comfort zone into something altogether more ambiguous. Thankfully they pull it off with great assurance and make the whole thing rather listenable into the bargain.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

From Pine Falls, Manitoba To Whitley Bay

Last night my mother’s nephew, Brian, came to have some food with us. Since he just flew in from Pine Falls, Manitoba, I hope the grub was worth the trek.

If this were Ian Wallace’s diary I would no doubt regale you with the menu that consisted of Chicken and smoked bacon marinated in honey and tarragon served with rocket salad and pasta along with a freshly baked loaf (containing sun dried tomato and olives) with a freshly made pear frangipane tart with strawberry’s and cream. But it isn’t, so I won’t.

Brian is over here to officiate a wedding today and then flies back for Canada on Monday. Now that’s what I call dedication to the extended family.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Three Phone Calls Ysterday

First call: Jakko Jakszyk; calling on his mobile thus variable reception. Catching up with Jakko World – Django has chicken-pox and recently Jakko went to see Vanilla Fudge in concert!

Second call: Martin Ellis; a landline call from about ten miles away. Crackly reception throughout but from what I could make out, Martin has commissioned me to write a piece on Prefab Sprout’s Paddy MacAloon.

Third call: Robert Fripp; speaking from Chicago with reception so clear, he might have been phoning from next door. With three hours between planes, Robert sounded chipper and upbeat.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Fragile Archives

Yesterday I was chatting with Chris Wilson – he designed the KC book. I had tried to access four CDRs of scans of King Crimson but I could only open one of the discs. Even then, none of the images would open despite running with applications that normally deliver the goods.

It occurred to me how fragile archives can be. If, for example, Chris W went up in a fireball of spontaneous combustion taking his Apple with him (God forbid), then these files would be lost forever.

Eek! Fortunately the original items are all back with their owners but you get the idea. I’m meeting up with Chris next week and he will supply me with a new set of scans. But I’m going to make multiple archives just in case.

I worked late into the night on screenplay III. It’s dumb of me because I know there’s no money in this project. However, I’m so involved with this piece that I find it hard to put it down right now. I feel a bit bedraggled this morning but even as I was preparing breakfast for Tom and Joe, various revisions and ideas were popping up in my befuddled brain.

Emails relating to G3, Peter Gabriel and the 21st Century Schizoid Band are currently passing through the ether. More KC eye-witness accounts are edited and a worrying pile of personal admin glowers at me from the corner of the desk. I might go and do the sock-sort as a way of avoiding it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Damn Cats

Every item of washing hung out on the radiators last night was on the floor this morning. The bin in the kitchen had been overturned and its contents liberally spread across the floor I lovingly mopped yesterday.

A discography I’d foolishly left on the floor - I’d been using it as a headrest during my exercises yesterday - had its title page shredded, and not one but two kitchen rolls on my desk had been used as a scratching pole, putting them beyond use.

As if this wasn’t enough, these malevolent psycho-fuckers have the brass-neck temerity to entwine themselves around my ankles and purr as I stoop to retrieve the shards of toilet roll from the floor of the downstairs loo. Guess what? They want me to feed them!

The received wisdom is that you don’t put cats out at night. I’m not so sure. These cats need to be occupied with something less damaging like crapping in and digging up our neighbours gardens. Arrrrrgh!

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Uphill Tasks

A slightly unfocused kind of day where it seems to take ages to achieve something that would normally be dashed off in no time.

Spoke to Sean Hewitt who raved about seeing Brian Wilson in Birmingham last night. The Smile tour was Newcastle bound but I balked at the £50 a ticket. Not that he isn’t worth every penny of course. Instead I opted to buy tickets for the comedian Bill Bailey in May.

Whilst I was in the box office of Newcastle City Hall I noticed a poster for the up and coming G3 concert – “featuring Robert Fripp” it said. The last time Robert came to play in Newcastle was at the City Hall on 21 March 1973.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Decibel Misery

A truly dreadful nights sleep – the kind you’re glad to wake up from. Debbie told me I was snoring a lot. This was a direct result of sleeping on my back which I’m doing because I seem to have a cricked right shoulder at the moment. Obviously, in my sleep, I’m keeping off the sore part but in doing so creating a world of decibel misery for the woman who shares my bed.

As Dude and Bob (our current houseguests) said their farewells this morning, I headed off to get the bus into Newcastle. Usually I would get the Metro in but the drivers are taking industrial action at the moment. Actually, I like getting the bus. I always sit on the top deck and watch the world fly by.

A working lunch with Martin Ellis of Zymurgy publishing; we discuss my involvement in his Northern Stars project which is being written by John Tobler. By way of a Keeling-esque moment of synchronicity, the postman brought me (amongst other things) a photocopied article on Tony Visconti written by John T himself.

Thereafter, it was back home for housework and cooking. And then waiting for Debbie to get home. She works in Gateshead. From her school to the front door takes an hour. She left work at 4.15 p.m. but didn’t get through the door until 7.30 pm. Apparently most of the buses in Gateshead went off or were subject to mysterious delays. She shovelled the food down, came upstairs and did lesson planning for an hour and then went to bed. Sheesh!

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Pure Painting

Yesterday I worked on a couple of ideas for paintings following on from the Reuter / Boddy sessions in Middlesbrough a few days ago.

It’s been a long time since I wielded a brush in anger but I enjoyed where things were going; five small paintings and outlines for a larger version as and when I get the time and perspiration.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

So Much For The Indestructable CD

House guests, Dude and Bob, arrived last night although Debbie and I were fast asleep and Sam had to let them in. They were due to arrive last weekend but blizzard conditions prevented their journey from Northampton. And this morning, the weather is positively glorious.

The post brings me an unusual item. It was meant to be a demo version of Centrozoon’s Songs Unsung but when I opened the padded envelope this is what came out . . .

Friday, March 05, 2004

Nice View Shame About The Tea

Another beautiful morning here in Whitley Bay and, as you can see from these small snaps, Tynemouth as well. Despite a slight sea fret coming in the morning was warm and very nice. I stopped off for a spot of lunch at the newly opened beach tea rooms. What was it like? Do you really need to ask? Great view though and at least that was reasonably priced.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Good Old Days,Sad Old Days

After a pleasant and constructive meeting with the chaps at the offices of Locus , I popped out into Newcastle and met up with my old chum Chris T. Trying to decide on a tea shop in Newcastle isn’t as easy as you might think. Most are now coffee shops or panini vendors.

Now whilst I’m comfortable with the latter option (and they are nearly always better than “traditional” English tearooms), Chris tends to be more conservative in his tastes and so we wandered off on quest for poor service and indifferent food.

Our journey took us through the bottom end of Newcastle City centre, as it leads onto the river and we sauntered past St. Nicholas and the Castle Keep.

Chris and I used to work together on a dig underneath the railway arches sometime back in the early seventies. I was only on site for a few weeks. I didn’t have either the stamina or the archaeological savvy of Chris to be able to make a career of digging up the past.

From there we were only a hop skip and a limp across to St. Mary’s. The tea rooms here are newly refurbished but the core values of insouciance and lack of inspiration are maintained in a menu that is run of the mill and of average quality, but for which top dollar is charged. So, of course we sat down and tucked in.

Chris and I go back a long way and the world isn’t the same as when we found it or each other. Often our discussion drifts into who we were when we were teenagers. In this context I often feel the pull of older times as an invasive nostalgia that can be unsettling and leaves me feeling sad. I’m not sure what or from where the sadness is emanates, I only know I feel it.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Cha Cha With The Hellboys

Hell Of A Time

Cha Cha With The Hellboys The Hellboys

I know what you're thinking. Does his guitar have six strings or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all the excitement, I've kind of lost track myself. But being as this is Tom Redmond, the most demented Hellboy in the world, who would blow your ears clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?”

Quicker than you can retort “Is that my only choice?” the Hellboys, spawned somewhere between the trash cans of New Jersey and the far-flung seminaries, boot camps, etc, of Guitar Courses, have been entertaining the troops with such dysfunctional classics as the Chord From Hell and the Janov-induced Hellboys Blessing for some time now.

The animating force behind The Hellboys, Tom Redmond, has been sticking it to the smug and stiff, the affected and vain, the misguided and just plain confused on more Guitar Craft courses than you’ve had hot dinners. And that’s just the Crafty lifers.

However, this is not just a collection of one-liners although there are some greats including my favourites “If you practice too much you’re out of the band”, “Louder always wins” and “Shut up I’m talking”.

Despite the self-deprecation and disarming disassembly that Redmond and his Hellish legion perpetrate, there’s an uplifting aspect to all the brown-notes and wrong-footing. "Don’t Tell My Wife" is frighteningly catchy and "Missed The Train" is well, just frightening.

Expect your mirth muscles to be well and truly exercised (or should that be excised) by "Robert Ain’t Your Father", with its jaunty waltzing interlude that is not so much Harry Lime but more quicklime given its ability to have you dissolving into laughter.

Not everyone will appreciate the humour though. Sometimes with a joke, you had to be there. On the other hand, you could just “honour convenience”, save yourself the trouble by picking up a copy of Cha Cha With The Hellboys.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Crimson In Philadelphia 1982

This morning, the weather in Whitley Bay is very agreeable although if you were to ask my neighbours, they might complain to you about the ambient noise round these parts. This morning the yellow room is quite literally vibrating to the sounds of vintage Crim in Philadelphia 1982.

This is an outstanding set.

When I hear the band as “on” as this, I’m shot through with pangs of regret that I never got to see this line-up in action.

Though some readers will roll their eyes as a moist-eyed Smith indulges in yet another sycophantic drool, Adrian Belew’s impact and energising effect cannot be underestimated.


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