Saturday, 18 October 2008

Greenbelt Quickie (7)

Praying should not be like ordering a pizza on the telephone.

Return to Blogging

It's been a wild few days; time spent in Norfolk, a few days in London seeing Queen and Paul Rodgers and then James Blunt on consecutive nights at the O2 Arena with my lovely Girlfriend. then having a 2 day migraine as a reminder of the rich food and drink enjoyed during that time. I have to say I found the O2 to be a mixed bag experience- very, very corporate with prices to match, but the actual arena to be a great place to see bands, if you can let go of the whole feel of being inside a huge financial punter-reaping machine. Both bands were great, quite different in production and presentation, highlights including Roger Taylor doing a drum solo whilst his drum kit was built around him, and Mr Blunt suddenly jumping off stage and running to the middle of the arena where a piano arose from the crowd on a small stage.
We stayed in Docklands and had a mooch around there, looking at the Excel centre (there was a hairdressing conference happening whilst we were enjoying breakfast there), and then some time in Canary Wharf. Had my first rides on the Docklands Light Railway, and generally had  a great time.

Greenbelt: Nominated for an award 2

Greenbelt has been nominated for the 'Best Family Festival' and Best Festival Toilets' in the Virtual Festival Awards. Well it would wouldn't it?!! Ahem! They can be clean, filthy, comical and the focus of many Greenbelt anecdotes over the years, so I suppose it's only right and proper that they are recognised in some small way. Lets hope GB wins.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

A Word Cloud: Northern Lights, Barnabas

Have stumbled on these, a current hot potato in the advertising world. The word cloud checks the frequency of words in a text, increases the size and then creates a cloud of words, usually with links to other sites. This one was crated by Wordle. Ideal for the short attention span of the internet world. heres mine, based on the Lyrics to 'Northern Lights' by Barnabas.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Pedestrianism: An accidental Cult. Update

An eighteenth/nineteenth century pursuit of walking fast, with the most celebrated exponents walking 100 miles in 100 hours, some even to keeping to doing that distance by doing a quarter of a mile in a quarter of an hour! For 100 miles! It was the forerunner of the frankly ridiculous looking sport of speed walking that canbe seen in various athleic events these days.

Also Pedestrianism is a mysterious group win the states who's website is more to sell T shirts and paraphenalia and to state that 'Pedestrians' dont follow anyone, walking their own path, but look out for other pedestrians; presumably those who've bought the merchandise and wear it, in all walks of life. A kind of Freemasonry lite, except even more pointless.

Does give me ideas for my new cult of pedestrianism though....

Friday, 3 October 2008

Lawson Dodds Wood: Numbers. First thoughts

An Exciting new release today, one that I've been waiting for ever since seeing the trio at Greenbelt this year. Greenbelt fave Steve Lawson has teamed up with a couple of excellent chums in Drummer Roy Dodds And keys/guitarist Patrick Wood to form an Improv jazz 'power trio', Lawson Dodds Wood. All the music is totally improvised including a few overdubs of sax, clarinet and voice on a few tracks, and then edited into a more concise release. All titles are given numbers, hence the title. As an added bonus for early orders, there is a download file of four of the raw unedited tracks, including one, 'Number 3' not included on the actual release proper.

It starts with the piece entitled 'Number 5' with chopped wah wah rhythms under a pentatonic gamelan motif. It evolves as Jazz is wont to do into more standard fare perhaps, but impeccably executed. Nice ebb and flow as 'Coltrane lite' sax and some clarinet winds around the themes, ending n a nice bubbly synth sound. At 14 minutes, the longest track.

 'Number 1' has a wonderful ghostly underwater organ sound and is more moody, 'Number 7 part two' begins with a nice pulsing bass and promises much, but fades out just as the groove is imposing itself on your conscious.

'Number 6' begins with some guitar harmonics and voice and a wonderful simple but effective bass line, before more mellow sax takes a melody, and then acoustic guitar tabla-esque percussion and the voice create a not quite jazz/world music melange. Very tasteful.

with 'Number 2' beginning with bass loops and discordant key sounds and Fender Rhodes, there is the merest hint of a skeletal song, phrases stating a construct, with the spaces emphasizing the tone which tenor sax then lightly skips between. Nice drum work on this. Nice slow ly dwindling ending that evolves into a slightly discordant coda.

'Number 4' Drum entrance that reminds me of the live version of Genesis 'I know What I like'  jazzy guitar, shimmering bass. definitely picking up a vague Genesis vibe, even some Lamb lies down-esque keyboard sounds. Gently ebbing and flowing, pulsing even. It morphs into acoustic guitar taking the lead in a more traditional jazz way.

'Number 7 part 1' - staccato discord leading to tentative keys that slowly revolve into melodic resolution., though that threat of harmonic clashes always remains. Nice use of distortion. Its these shorter tracks that almost justify the release as an album, and shows thought has been expended on programming something pleasurable. This piece end son a slightly tentative note, enticing the listener that there is hopefully more to come, the tension has been set up, the release to be granted with more music to come. Lets hope, at any rate!

On this first listen I have to admit to not taking in too much of the percussion, which for me, being a drummer, means it is played impeccably and precisely, not becoming too obtrusive. At  the  Greenbelt gig, I was entranced by Dodds as he flew from controlled power to absolute perfection of deftness of touch. On this release it errs on the side of that deftness of touch, perfectly fitting the context of the Album (can we call them that these days?).

A fantastic album! Jazz? Possibly, though the music certainly 'slants', it never stays on one genre long enough to pigeonhole it completely. There is much depth to it, great for quiet contemplation, and will certainly get many, many repeated plays. If they ever play in your neck of the woods, don't miss them, its time for a tour now lads!

No Pussyfooting with Oblique Strategies

A new version of this 1973 classic has just been released, and raises some interesting points. It is considered one of the first ambient albums, though Tangerine Dream and Popol Vuh got there first. There was an element of surprise that Robert Fripp, he of King Crimson, and Being married to Toyah Wilcox fame, seemed to change tack quite so radically. Just two long tracks full of Eno's Enossifications of Fripps highly compressed laser guitar lines, with the First track, 'Heavenly Music Corporation' Being absolutely beautiful, and still on another listen, surprisingly proggy in places. The Second Track, 'Swastika Girls' is slightly less successful, not wuite having the same flow or impact, but it remains an album that is perfect for the right chilled moment. Wallpaper music it aint.

The interesting bit about the release is that is has expanded to two discs, with the extra tracks being reversed versions of the two tracks, prompted by the fact that celebrated DJ, the late John Peel famously played the whole album backwards by mistake (when playing it from a reel to reel tape player in case you're wondering how!) and only Brain Eno noticed. Apparently when he rang up the BBC to point this out, he was met with the reply 'Yes we get a lot of comments like that about this stuff' or something very similar! Also included is a half speed version of 'Heavenly Music Corporation' , which runs to 40 minutes, prompted perhaps by Sid Smith (as stated in the liner notes) who used to play it at the old 16 2/3 speed that some record players had.
It is an interesting exercise, and I'm not entirely sure that it undermines and makes redundant the artistry in creating music like this, which lets face it, has more than its fair share of detractors. well, it's either that, or it displays the absolute brilliant genius of the music in that it can be played backwards, forwards or slowed down (why did no one speed it up too?) and still stand up as impressive. Or would no-one notice, as did Mr Peel, Fripp, BBC et al?
Perhaps it could have been instigated by a forerunner of Eno's and The late Peter Schmidt's 'Oblique Strategies' a set of 100 cards first published in 1975, that give guidance to the perplexed, ponderous and procrastinating. In this time of people needing something to guide them ever more as the wend their way through life, surely a pack of cards is as good as anything? It certainly seems to work for artists, but I wonder if a politicians speech, a ministers sermon, or a workplace meeting would appreciate such an exercise?