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Here you can find links to free music, videos and literature by Mike Dickson, Systems Theory, Greg Amov and the Ashley-Dickson Immersive Experience.


Journal 2022

31st December 2022: Also Fantastic.

Fucking HELL!

(Franco Valdez, for Royal Obrero in Bolivia, via @GoalscorerC)pic.twitter.com/TXtpfpc6ov

— MUNDIAL (@MundialMag) December 31, 2022

24th December 2022: Fantastic.

Fucking hell. pic.twitter.com/SLQxbgcvrl

— Jonathan Norris (@jonnorris12) December 22, 2022

21st December 2022: 'In a certain point we may find that there is no distance between us and the music and that point all the words fall away. If we expect another peak experience we deny ourselves the opportunity.

'Once we cast aside all our demands and expectations return to that point of silence within ourselves something becomes available. The direct experience of engaging with music - with silence, with the real, the authentic, the true - is readily available if we can get ourselves out of the picture, seeing things as a child.

'Abandon all these concepts of 'what is King Crimson?' and engage with King Crimson and that experience is available. So once we have had that experience what do we do to enter that open innocent and silent space where all becomes possible once again? And then - aahhhhh - there it is. It never goes away - it never ever goes away. That quality of experience is always present, but we are not. So the focus of our personal endeavour shifts, not to seek music, because music never goes away. The aim becomes being personally present.'

20th December 2022: Obliquity released. This one comes without eyebrows as a conscious decision to stop the endless tinkering that can sometimes happen. Twenty bits of arranged air sculptures each of which lasts for exactly 120 seconds. Certainly the last this year, maybe the last for a little while. We will see.

19th December 2022:

18th December 2022: Incredible.

17th December 2022: Check this brilliant montage on the BBC Sports web site. Outstanding stuff.

15th December 2022: Not a blistering goal-fest of a World Cup, but then I suppose we have come to expect that now. It hasn't been like that in years now. But it does seem to be the time for this man, at last...

Comparisons to the other famous Argentinian are maybe more academic, as at the height of their powers they played the same stromg running game, although one is more demonstrably a team player than the other. Perhaps the better comparison is with this guy...

The latter didn't just have skill and strength and command the game: he also has a clarity and speed of thought that still mesmerises to this day...

The best words written about him (to me) are from Eduardo Galeano's beautifully poetic book Soccer In Sun and Shadow where he is described like this...

A hundred songs name him. At seventeen he was champion of the world and king of soccer. Before he was twenty the government of Brazil named him a 'national treasure' not to be exported. He won three world championships with the Brazilian team and two with the club Santos. After his thousandth goal, he kept on counting. He played more than thirteen hundred matches in eighty countries, one after another at a punishing rate, and he scored nearly thirteen hundred goals. Once he held up a war: Nigeria and Biafra declared a truce to see him play.

To see him play was worth a truce and a lot more. When he ran hard, he cut right through his opponents like a hot knife through butter. When he stopped, his opponents got lost in the labyrinths his legs embroidered. When he jumped, he climbed into the air as if it were a staircase. When he executed a free kick, his opponents in the wall wanted to turn around to face the net, so as not to miss the goal.

He was born in a poor home in a far-off village, and he reached the summit of power and fortune where blacks were not allowed. Off the field he never gave a minute of his time and a coin never fell from his pocket. But those of us who were lucky enough to see him play received alms of extraordinary beauty: moments so worthy of immortality that they make us believe immortality exists.

6th December 2022: Sharing a breakfast room with lots of Geoffs again. All in company polo shirts, reading their phones and gearing up for their Big Presentations at the 2022 Sales Conference being held later this afternoon. Got to love this existence. Went a bit mad with the Peroni last night. Hugh was a scream. He does that impression. You know, that guy. No the other one. From the telly. That's the one. I couldn't stop laughing because if I stopped I'd be on all fours, howling like a feral dog.

3rd December 2022: Oh my god almighty...

An excellent documentary about a band that is well-worth documenting because they were that important.

For a long time they were the only band that really mattered to me. Better yet, with only a very few exceptions, what they did outside (or after) the band was in no way as significant or as meaningful as what they did inside it. Two of them didn't do anything at all.

Their first album was a seriously significant work of bravado and necessity. The music was shocking enough, but the lyrics hit you like a hammer. As someone who really loathes most rock and roll lyrics, the sheer literacy of the words they hit you wish was astounding to me. Heroin remains one of the most utterly exhausting things to listen to, and Venus in Furs still lives up to the title it earned, being who else ever sounded like this?

Warhol was indeed a pencil sharpener. They didn't need him at all. But what he did was bring their sound to a greater recognition. Did everyone who heard the record go out and form a band? Obviously not, but those who did made the most important bands you or I have ever heard about. To stand in a Lou Reed concert is to stand in the same room as a proper artist whose influence was felt by millions and millions, often without them knowing it: play two or three chords and make it about something.

Not to belittle the efforts of Morrison and Tucker, but the documentary really focusses upon the incredible love/hate relationship between the two leading men. Had they never have encountered one another it's genuinely likely that modern music would either never take the route it has taken, or that it would have taken far longer to get there. Punk would never have happened, so we would maybe have been stuck with the vapid sounds of 1970s pop or the emptiness of 1970s progressive rock. But more than that, there was a much greater revolution at work than just the moving of the music. It was the whole notion that you could not rely on anyone else, and that if you wanted something done you had to do it yourself. That whole movement sparked of what we now see. A feeling that capital can offer nothing but exploitation. That one can reach others directy without the intermediacy of business. That creativity means more than marketing. In many ways it is what we now have thanks to the power of the Internet, and it foreshadowed that by knowing that what could be cooked up in a garage or a bedsit had every part of the same power and folly as something rolled out by an oiled machine whose only gearing was set to take. We exchanged cassettes and photocopied fanzines. Back then we felt that some day all music would be made that way. These days it feels like it is true. It's what I am doing right now. That much is owed to a notion that came from knowing no one else could be trusted to make what you wanted to make and that all advice was bad advice. Where did that in turn come from? It came from being able to play two or three chords and make it about something. Get over that hurdle and the rest comes of its own accord.

'I don't have any heroes; they're all useless.' - John Lydon, 1976

1st December 2022: Still very much enjoying this band.

Funnily enough, I am still more keen on their very early material. This one has that burst at the end when it all just comes together which I find almost as satisfying as Starless.

29th November 2022: So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.

27th November 2022: I am a wealthy, educated Roman citizen in the first century CE. What am I knowledgeable about?

Let's say I live in Herculaneum. I've been given the best education, but what were they educating me in? I'm assuming math is a given, but what historians have I read? Who are popular scientific writers? I'm contemporaries with Pliny the Elder, but is his writing popular enough while he's alive for me to know? What philosophers are commonly read? Is religion considered a topic for intellectuals, or do they see it as superstitious?

So if you're a man in the upper classes (equites or senators), your entire education is designed for one thing: to boost your political career. As a young boy, you learned Latin and Greek, history (Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon), geography (Strabo) and some basic mathematics (but less than you might think - you'll have stewards and other servants to run your estate for you). When you're a young man, you might go to Athens to study philosophy for a few years (Julius Caesar did, along with many others). To be civilized, you'd be expected to know large amounts of the Iliad and Odyssey, as well as other Greek literature.

But your biggest subject is going to be rhetoric. You're going to be visiting the Roman forum to hear court cases being argued. You'll be expected to argue in court and in the Senate House one day. You'll study orators like Cicero, or maybe the fashionable "Asiatic" style of oratory popular in the Near Eastern Greek cities. Your teacher will set you debates on famous historical or literary, and you'll have to argue both sides convincingly.

You're also doing military service and learning how to ride, hunt, etc. One day you may be a governor of a province, and you'll have administrators working for you but you'll still need some knowledge.

If you're an elite woman, you're less likely to be literate, but plenty of women were. You've had a similar education in your early years, but with more emphasis on managing a household. You wouldn't have the secondary education in rhetoric.

In terms of religion, you're expected to participate in public ceremonies, but your beliefs could vary. Maybe you've read Epicurus, maybe you're more of a Stoic or a Cynic, or maybe you're interested in the fashionable eastern religions of Isis or Cybele. Lots of options.

Streeberry2 quoted from here.

My favourite ever what-if scenario is here and concerns at the base of it, the greatest goalkeeper the world has ever seen.

23rd November 2022: What a city...

22nd November 2022:

Wife: Thank the Lord, he's pulling that bottle out of the trash. Little Girl: Maybe now he'll stop ranting about God all the time.

20th November 2022: Per last entry, Obliquity is progressing per the plan. The first track sounds like it could be by a moody Fripp on a rainy Sunday when there is nothing on the telly, almost. I'm not completely sure how good some of these are, but there are certainly a few gems in this. I am also trying not to break my 'half hour rule' but it's sometimes really difficult not to tinker with something you have just heard from the day before and apply a quick fix. (Such as a reverb tail which was chopped by the two minute marker) Some of these remind me of the interludes in Six Consequences where I faded in something that seems to have already developed, and let it drift out again as it moves on, leaving the listener with the impression that they have only seen a small fraction of movement of the whole, when in fact the before and after never really existed outside their minds. To that end: 'Obliquity is a characteristic of being deliberately indirect or vague, especially to fool or deceive someone'. That seems to make it all fit well.

World Cup 2022 in Qatar started today. Couldn't give a damn. Gary Lineker's intro to the BBC coverage was extremely well put and was actually impressive and sincere. So many of his colleagues are simply taking the coins from a hideous and brutal country just because they can. Looking at you Beckham...

David Beckham signed a deal with Qatar worth 150m to be their global ambassador. If this was divvied out among the 6500 workers who died building Qatar's World Cup facilities, each family would get roughly 23 grand pic.twitter.com/IQg21McoPw

— Christopher???????????????????? (@westworld73) November 12, 2022

We are also getting way too excited about Scotland beating the Pumas by a convincing margin at Murrayfield. For the vast majority of the game we were playing against 14 men, and when they had two others carded and were down to a dozen the first thing that happened was that they scored a converted try. We're not strong enough in defence, we have a poor (but improving) discpline and we never seem to be able to have that real killer touch when the game is in our grasp. Incredibly, we were on the verge of actually beating the All Blacks but couldn't get the ball over the line four times, despite them having the most porous defence I have ever seen them carrying. We were also beaten by a very poor looking Australia right at the death. So frustrating. It's maybe just as well that we have what may be the best fly half in the game right now. ('What...better than Beauden Barrett?' I hear you ask...well I think he actually might be)

13th November 2022: Just had an idea. Obliquity to be structured as a series of random 2 minute pieces (maybe 20 of them?) where I can doodle with all kinds of terrific synth sounds I have found over maybe 3 or 4 tracks (lead/double pad/bass?) without having to think about protracted compositions. Further: get them all done in one or at most half an hour. We'll see how this pans out. So far I've done five and they have come out well enough.

11th November 2022: Just discovered the rather extraordinary music of Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan whose music is bannered as 'Music for a broken concrete utopia' which is a sensational phrase. In his own words, the man behind this says that 'My music is inspired by electronic music of the 1970s and the brutalist architecture and utopian ideals of the British New Town programme.' Holy hell.

Got to love those album covers. Is there any phrase in the English language more horrifying than 'interim report'?' And is there a sight more appalling than the blight that is a cooling tower? Or four of them? There is something about this that reeks of a sense of utter despair. I will monitor this on Bandcamp right now with interest...

Just signed up for Mastodon. To describe it as 'clunky' is an understatement.

9th November 2022: Antiquity released.

A fairly rare occurrence: I corrected an error that I was getting annoyed over on Mandala. Specifically, Mandala 06 has a cello line that I liked so much I used it to drown out the electronics happening underneath it. The line is good, admittedly, but there were two problems with it: firstly, it was too loud and went on a bit too long, but worse it was voiced using a cello section from an orchestral library which used a 'sustain' on the cello, but with too much of an attack. The effect was that some of the faster notes were muted badly and lost a lot of the impact. Unfortunately, another issue was that I played the lines so well that the notes were (more or less) naturally quantised to the bar lines, which meant that it also (ironically) sounded a bit off-time. Too loud; too long; too slow an attack; too artificial. Did I say there were two problems? I meant four, obviously. So - the line was stripped back to incude only three repetitions allowing the sound to be heard beneath at first until the last iteration when the cellos could let rip.

Why mention it? Because I usually don't look back at older works with a view to correcting them. I see them as little events that happened and which should be left well alone. I am mindful of the story of an artist (it might be Rene Magritte) who was known to take paints and a brush to galleries in secret so he could correct the errors (or improve) on his paintings once they were hanging in exhibitions. Maybe that's a more extreme version of what I am describing here.

Eleven days to go until the Qatar World Cup, and I think I can say that I frankly couldn't care a damn about it.

31st October 2022: Currently having an explore of this thing - the SynthMaster 2 Player brought to me by the terrific work of Sumn Sumn Sumn....

It's a versatile little instrument with some really nice arpeggios and sequences. There's a lot under the hood in this one, all of which needs greater time to inspect than I can presently spare. Best if all, it's free for a while...

Have we gone back in time by a couple of weeks?

Harder to shed than herpes, it would appear. Surely to Christ we can do better than this. Event the Tories seem to be infuriated by this. Here in a pithy nutshell is all you need to know about them:

"If the accommodation isn't good enough for them they can get on a rubber dinghy back to France," Conservative MP Lee Anderson tells Suella Braverman.

Braverman: "My friend is right... Any complaints that the accommodation isn't good enough is frankly indulgent and ungrateful." pic.twitter.com/ZjoUa1Rulv

— Adam Bienkov (@AdamBienkov) October 31, 2022

26th October 2022:

24th October 2022: They don't make films like they used to...

Nice to see the massed purple rinses and purple faces of the Conservatives grass roots tugging each other off over 'how far they have come' in allowing a brown man to become Prime Minister. That he's the same as the rest, just a bit less obviousy dull as Truss is not something that occurs to them. Still no answers, still no real empathy and certinly no ability to fix the fuck-awful mess we are wallowing in.

Well duh, Rishi.

Then you hear the likes of this and realise just exactly how far they have come.

Plus ca change, plus ca meme fucking racists

20th October 2022: Well, thank Buddha that's over.

Also, journalism at its finest...

In which Krishnan Guru-Murthy calls Steve Baker a c*nt
pic.twitter.com/FZqDy3zvhB

— Rupert Myers (@RupertMyers) October 19, 2022

17th October 2022:

What is the point in having a deputy PM? pic.twitter.com/YviRd6qChC

— LfB (@LiveFromBrexit) October 17, 2022

16th October 2022: Finally got to the end of Traumazone. Boris Yeltsin gets drunk and lot and often. People long for the good old days of Stalinism. At least he made the trains run on time, or something like that. The Oligarchs get their way and their man in the end. Interesting to hear that the IMF saw Russia borrowing furiously to pay for the country but were only paying off old debts, so they handed them $4.8 billion to assist. And every last drop of it shot off to Jersey from where it simply vanished. The lack of pretence is simply astounding.

Talking of which...

This is the actual Health Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, yes? Can we all just break the law now when we feel like it? It's not the act: it's not even the consequences. It's the certainty that there will be absolutely no repercussions or accountability for this sort of thing that appals me. This sack of shit can just say that safe in the knowledge that now it's OK to do that.

This is glorious...

"...a planet-sized mass of overconfidence & ambition teetering upon a pinhead of a political brain"

The above from YouGov on 13th October 2022. It fills me with no joy, though. Labour are a bunch of pro-Brexit shysters as well.

15th October 2022: Messing about with FRMS - a granular synth from Imaginando. It definitely has possibilities, but I am just trying to figure out how and where for now. It lets you granulate anything - even live input. And it has a clean interface too...

Housebound thanks to a sudden and late burst of COVID-19 I've managed to make some headway with Antiquity which is pleasing on one level, but it's happening at a faster rate than I am used to, and I am only thinking now that I might have to unpick bits of it.

Wading through the latest seven parter from Adam Curtis on BBC iPlayer...

It feels weird to watch it without the usual narrative from the film maker, but you soon get used to that as the film itself is utterly compelling and may well be Curtis' finest stuff to date. It reinforces the (rather obvious) argument that Russia may well be the worst place to live in the world. Up to part four of seven now. Yet to see Yeltsin drunk, but we'll get to it I am sure.

The new album following Antiquity is to be called Obliquity: the deviation from sound thinking and moral rectitude. Sounds like I've just given myself licence.

6th October 2022: Utterly delighted to finally have this on vinyl:

More about this later...

2nd October 2022: I see Behringer are keeping their story alive even yet which I suppose is good but it's just another example of the weird way people can jkust 'announce' their intention and leave it at that, with the acceptance being that they are actually doing something. I don't doubt that they are, but this is a long time coming. Should be worth it though. (Sudden memories of Duke Nukem Forever.)

30th September 2022: A throwback indeed to 1968 or so when this was all over the TV. It fascinated me as a child, but I had no idea at all what it was about...

Watching this

29th September 2022: Back to the cow. This one seemed so utterly strange to me. As in, almost bewildering. Some of my lesser Floyd-heads of 1979 belittled it, saying that it wasn't that good but I was captured from the very start, with the dissonant brass strange bass rumbles. The cello melody and Gilmour's follow-up soloing was inch perfect with a marvellous modulation that even I could follow...Em Am G Bm G#m A# D# Am

I played it to death. I even liked the Funky Dung bit. And the weird vocals. RAPA-KEETA-ROCCO--CHAAAAaaaaa There was nothing bad about any of this and I couldn't understand why my counterparts (with one notable exception) all hated it. And then it all comes back to the place from where it started! It sounds like a triumph!

And then...it goes mighty weird...odd screechy sounds. A piano playing unlike any piano I had heard until then. Some weird blasting sounds that I didn;t know were that of Mellotron brass until much later, and which hugely influenced me in playing the wilder stuff on One Step to Freefall on the first Systems Theory album. Then it all comes back in a weird mash and it comes to the same triumphant conclusion again, this time for keeps!

The second side wasn't great, if I am being honest. I didn't like Waters' breath-light If and I was not a fan of Fat Old Sun either (which I once saw written as Fat Old Son on a track list from a Japanese bootleg), but I loved everything about Summer 68, and for very good reasons too....

Loved that chord sequence too on the brass section...

A D Em(addA) Dmaj7/F# Dm Cmaj7 Dm7 Cmaj7 Dm Cmaj7 Dm7 Cmaj7 Dm

Bb C F Bb E A D G/D D G/D D G/D D G/D

I had no idea what he was singing about. And in some ways I still don't. But what it did let me know was that I really liked this band, and that frankly most of what I liked about them was because of this guy:

If Waters was the brains, Gilmour the soul and Mason the..er...drummer...then Rick Wright was the beating heart at the centre of it all. Without him, none of it would have been possible.

23rd September 2022: ...and talking of fiscal honesty:

"In an interview with the BBC, Ms Truss said that spurring economic growth may mean doing unpopular things". Like putting the UK back into the EU and leaving aide the racist incoherencies of political chancers like UKIP, you mean? Has this dense cow not learned anything? Or has the bar dropped so significantly that amnesia is no longer a bar to political ambition?

Less than a decade ago, it was reported to us all that Fred Goodwin, received a £2.8 million bonus in 2006 and a £2.9 million pay out the following year when the worst of the wrongdoing occurred. He now enjoys a £342,500 pension paid for by the taxpayer. (The above quote comes from the Daily Mail, of all places)

For anyone who thinks that parliamentary standards are still something to be proud of, I present as evidence this utterly corrupt cunt:

When asked by @CatSmithMP if her constituents would get a say on #fracking, @Jacob_Rees_Mogg ludicrously suggests the opposition to fracking has been funded by #Putin. pic.twitter.com/JySIYxhqS8

— Liz Webster (@LizWebsterLD) September 22, 2022

If Scotland does not vote for complete independence from the UK at the next referendum then I will take that as a final answer as I can only surmise that we get exactly what we asked for.

Just finished watching Italy v England.

Holy hell.

22nd September 2022: Equity released. I sound like a financial advisor. I actually used to work beside people like that. Weirdos whose actual dearest vocational wish was to sell insurance policies out to people in return for an excellent fiscal return on their investment to safeguard your future and give you (here's that most hackneyed of blackmailing advertising expressions coming right up) peace of mind. These people are downright strange, and not just a little dishonest.

20th September 2022: It wasn't broke, so why did they try to fix it?

An obvious answer comes to mind, of course...same reason that explains the Immersion boxes and the remixes and the repackages and the 200g vinyls and the rest of it. A dearth of real product being reimagined to feed our love of nostalgia. Or Money for Nothing, as someone else said. How else are they to keep the wolf from the door?

Oddly, I played some of the hugely maligned studio album from Ummagumma last night and found myself liking it as I really always have done. Yes, even Rick Wright's bit.

I have seriously strong memories of first really listening to that on the Black Isle when I was maybe 14 or 15, all on an EMI cassette recorded from a mate's vinyl, filled with crackles and pops. Same holiday I also bought Atom Heart Mother on vinyl from a record shop somewhere in Dingwall, I think. I will get around to that one soon.

Good grief - I still have the cassette...

Note the weird and smudgy handwriting, and the fact that I recorded it in mono on an ITT Studio Recorder 65 in 1979. I was 14 at the time. It was barely ten years since the album was released.

19th September 2022: A nation loses its fucking mind.

18th September 2022: Finally saw Godspeed You! Black Emperor at the Barrowlands last night, after the gig was cancelled due to COVID-19.

Given earlier misgivings, how was it? Well Hope was better than before (ie, shorter) but the sheer volume was shattering and frankly...it was all so repetitive. One thudding line after another. Staccato violin. Legato violin. Crashy drums. Efrim letting rip with an obnoxiously loud line that was calculated to deafen rather than delight. All done with that same old slow 4/4. Whatever there was once there has long gone. Evidence for this is the fact that the biggest (and only) cheer of the night came when they started up East Hastings which went as well as you can expect, after which they did that somewhat hackneyed thing of leaving the instruments feeding back and repeating as they left the stage one by one with a brief wave. meh.

Actually no...there was another moment of excitement: when Sophie's amp detonated and there was a five minute pause while the audience knew something was wrong but no one was saying what or why. Really guys, take a mike on stage with you, even if it's only to let the audience know? That said, they launched straight back into Bosses Hang (from the mediocre Luciferian Towers) where they left off. That was actually impressive.

Support act was Kevin Doria, a dronemeister who attacks a bass with what looks like an E-Bow producing some of the most grating screeches you can imagine. Really mate...I'd look for another career.

11th September 2022: Work progresses in an uncertain direction. Equity is being fermented but as ever I am never sure just how valid this is going to be. The first track has been started and scrapped three times already. Part of the reason behind that is an ongoing and deeply irritating bout of tinnitus which I have had ever since I flew to Canada in the 1990s and found my ears didn't recover for about four days due to a sudden drop in altitude, or something. It doesn't get better. It's a steady whine in my right ear and a less pronounced one in my left which seems to come and go with a combination of stress and temperature. I try to convince myself that it's not really affecting me, but that combined with the onward march of the years means that I know I have lost about 10% (at least) of the top end of what I can hear.

5th September 2022: In praise of DAC Crowell. Not much I can say about him that isn't written here, I suppose, which the label I first met his music on. In particular, this one grabbed me immediately. If you think you can hear traces of this embedded within the weird lurking ambiences of this tune then you'd be right:

Like the music of the previously mentioned (and more than likely to be mentioned again) Steve Moore, DAC seems to exert influences where I often least expect it to happen. It's like having your own set of Eno's Oblique Strategies at hand for those moments when nothing seems to be happening in a straight line. 'Do the first thing you thought of and build on it with confidence' is a strong starting point to take for anyone who thinks that they have run out of steam. 'Pick out an instrument you have never used before and send it to the front' is another decent one. I should know. I've just done it on the next project whose title is Equity.

20th August 2022: Still mulling over Genesis as a whole. I wonder if they would have been better if they had not ditched the Mellotron as they did? Here is an idea of how Many Too Many might have sounded has they not decided to go down the route of The Next Shite Genesis Album:

12th August 2022: Waterhouse:

10th August 2022: In praise of my favourite cow:

More about this particular Ermintrude later...

7th August 2022: Maybe I have been indoors too long or something. Working away last week I happened to play this, more or less by accident:

(Album sleeve by Paul Whitehead, who of course more famously did the sleeves for Systems Theory...)

Now as any fule kno, I really don't get along terribly well with what passes for the mainstream of progressive rock because a lot of it thinks it's so not mainstream when in actual fact it is pandering to the same rock and roll sensibilities as everyone else (and thus they are either ignorant or elitists) and because so much of it is so po-faced and determined to be serious music played by serious young men who, as one typical exponent of which has said, often have earnest attitudes, beards and spectacles. The impression that I get from a lot of this stuff is that public schoolboys are impressed with the Anglican church and the thunderous noises that the organist can develop, and hence, being unable to afford an instrument like that, they try the same thing on guitars and drums and write daffy lyrics that reflect their romantic love of mythology and sixth form poetry. And then others like what they have done and copy them instead, only learning from the earlier mistakes made by their mentors and yet having a tenth of their talent. Simple really. Copy. Transform. Combine.

So anyway...to this album. It surprised me as there was a lot of maturity going on here, playing with contrasts of strength and shade (often with some really ropey edits...I'm looking at you, Stagnation) but overall with enough movement to retain interest and an interesting continuity of sound that seem to sinew their way throughout all the tracks on it.

So...why the great surprise? Well, it's not just that it's an example of Trad Prog Rock which I have found is actually to my liking, it's also because the accepted assessment at the time I first encountered this band was that this was The Shite Genesis Album. (I also noted that no one spoke about their debut album, ever and I later found out exactly why) Having now listened to it properly maybe for the first time in my life I am now wondering what made this album so unloved. At the time of my youth, copies of their other albums flew off the shelves of the beloved Ace Music Centre (RIP), whereas this solitary copy sat there unloved for years at a price of £1.20. I bought it, maybe because I felt sorry for it. I still have it.

This, after all, is the album that convinced Steve Hackett to join the band, isn't it?

And there you have it. It's The Shite Genesis Album because Steve Hackett is not on it.

Evidence for this? Easy. Here is the album seen as The Next Shite Genesis Album:

Controversy? I think not. Aside from the fact that the production makes it sound like the band are reclining somewhere in the next county, the songs are unmedicated guff. It's all moist eyed unlistenable MOR arse-wash, and sounds like they took an active decision to predicate their musical future on Your Own Special Way enough to make an album bursting full of it. Yes, it starts out almost promisingly, but it very shortly collapses into mushy froth. The Lady Lies is a fabulous example of young men who never really got past sniggering about girls and stuff without any notion of what they were talking about, blissfully unaware that their earnest beard and spectacles were acting as an effective repellant.

And of course, it is a Hackett-free zone...

The one song that the mush-brained wheel out from this collection of unbearably dreary tunes as walking in a proggy wonderland is the barrel-scraping-then-digging-a-bit-further effort called Burning Rope. And why? Because it has a cool guitar solo on it, that's why. And you know what else, I think I know exactly what Mike Rutherford was thinking when he played it. 'Look at me everyone! I'm being Steve Hackett! We don't need that twat any more! It's me! At last! And I'm squirting over the front rows!!'. And then solo stops and it drops back to Tony Banks' fuck-awful lyrics and that cancer on the face of the planet that even burrowing weevils avoid called soft rock.

And don't get me started on that single. I think we all hated that at the time and were unable to articulate it. When I saw them live circa Duke (which I admit had its moments, but they were kept well at bay by the likes of free-flowing audio excrement like the utterly foetid Misunderstanding) they closed the show with that, and then returned to the stage for an encore of The Knife which I had to admit surprised me. Judging by their shocking performance of it, it seemed to surprise them too.

What was missing was stuff like this...

In short...invention. I'm not saying all Hackett's stuff was good - let's face facts...after the four listed above he disappeared up his own fundament only to return some considerable time later - but some of it was very good and it suddenly became clear where this probably came from when considering the band as a whole. Losing him meant that all that genuine weird touch left them completely, which is why I particulary like this one, having the right balance of invention, wit and quite beautiful arrangements which to my ears at least were driven by Hackett:

..aside from the title track of course, which is a bubbling hot mess of drivel.

So there you have it. Genesis are rubbish and it's all Steve Hackett's fault.

6th August 2022: Ubiquity released.

19th July 2022: Ubiquity really shaping up now. Some eyebrows to be done on it, but for the most part it's just rolling together well. Ubiquity 09 is more or less done in one pass. An excerpt:

16th July 2022: Two more excellent VSTs that have been discovered through the power of the YouTube channels run by Venus Theory and Sumn Sumn Sumn...

Surge XT is a remarkable sounding synth which is open source and (hence) 100% free and seems to have everythng you need on it. It can sound a trifle thin at times and some of the presets are a bit Mario Brothers at times, but at the price it is worth it. You could play with this one forever.

The other is this delay named Deelay which might make you roll your eyes when you hear 'just another delay VST'. So try playing it. I can guarantee you that it will sound like nothing you have ever used before. Try the settings I have put together on the illustration above. I was utterly blown away.

10th July 2022:

Large shout out to Decent Sampler which is pretty much what it says. There are some free instruments on the site, but the real gold is found at PianoBook where there seems to be hundreds of sample libraries available for this sampler, including the sampled sound of an actual foghorn, which seems...weird. The lo-fi textures and mild and weird abuse of instruments puts this on nodding terms with Spitfire Audio Labs.

3rd July 2022:

1st July 2022: Possibly the funniest sports-related story I have ever heard:

I am wondering what sound Dave Lee made.

30th June 2022: Straight from the Department of That Was Nearly Interesting: Playing around with what I have stored on my music making systems I came upon this, being the original template made for Vermillion 01, being a fairly good example of the way I programmed the music to exist:

The same template existed for all three tracks, with the same fades, the same pans, the same length, the same tempo an the same overall render. Once the template was made up the rest was only down to me selecting the voices (and the key) for the chords. In this case, everything came from Spectrasonics Atmosphere which was my favourite synth of them all for years and years, and which I still use to this day.

While one track was rendering, I was mixing down the preceding track's video (which took the longest time as it had to run in real time), and while that was happening I was auditioning voices from synths to feature in the next track. Hectic stuff, but I got what I wanted: an album a day for a week. Granted it's not all great, but there is some compelling stuff in there. Vermillion may well be the best of them all.

29th June 2022: Well now...look at what Lego Thing I have...

Also just acquired another vinyl of a perennial favourite...probably the last one that was any good before they became utterly awful:

I've only ever had this on pre-recorded cassette, which sounded tinnier than could be imagined. The really good news is that this contains Awaken. The bad news is that it includes a lyric sheet. The cassette didn't, so I really thought the lyric was 'Awaken genital mass touching'. (It actually is 'Awaken gentle mass touching', which makes even less sense)

There is a breed of Yesfan who actually thinks this song (specifically) and album (in general) is overrated. In some ways it is, but it's better than that dreary Delirium noise that happened before it, and is certainly light years better that the audio faeces that came after it.

People forget that GFTO came out at the height of punk, got positive reviews in the UK music press and went to #1 in the UK album charts. There was even a hit single from it, and nearly two. Then again, Chris Squire toured the album with a triple necked bass on a revolving stage. Plus ca change... It goes to show that the simple narrative doesn't really sit well with reality. I can still remember circa 1979 playing Thin Lizzy, The UK Subs, Yes, The Who and Pink Floyd in the same day at a friend's house without any sense of anything other than we liked it.

Those hanging out in street uniforms with the correct haircuts were mostly seen as fashion icons who had as much stuff to do with us as what Vivienne Westwood meant to what the average person was wearing at the time. It's all down to $$$ in the end. You could buy 30 quid leather jackets with SMASH THE SYSTEM written on the back in faux Tippex which were made in China. "They're selling hippy wigs in Woolworths. It is 91 days to the end of the decade and as Presuming Ed here has so consistently pointed out, we have failed to paint it black."

I remember on its release a great debate about whether the album cover's buttocks belonged to Jon Anderson or not. One look at both should have confirmed that notion right away. (By 'both' I mean 'both the image of the model and Jon A', not 'both buttocks'. In LA they covered up the man's buttocks and thighs with a pair of trousers on billboards)

18th June 2022: Watching a documentary about Margaret Thatcher is a deeply disturbing experience. For me, it's a reminder of what I felt about her and the depth of loathing I had for her and the entire Conservative Party of the day: the divisive force that she was and the appallingly carefree and planned way that three million people can be bargained into helping out an economy which seemed to be aimed at people who supported her. But worse, it's a reminder of a time when there were politicians who actually believed in what they said - however appaling it might be - and who were prepared to stand by their convictions, no matter what the consequences. I hated her and still do, but you could strust she meant what she said and stood firm on that: at least you could stick a glove on her. The shapeshifting shits we have now don't even have that going for them.

12th June 2022: Checking Webalizer for usage statistics for this website reveals that there has been a significant spike in visitor numbers. However, quite a few of these seem to relate to hits on non-existent pages such as /wp-admin/install.php which suggests that it's simply people (or bots) looking for an attack vector. Some of the URLs are so weirdly specific (and long) that it's clearly some sort of methodical, programmed approach. Personally, I would have thought that once you get a 404 from the site then you should assue I am not actually using Wordpress, but there you go.

Reflecting on Project-X now. The second track is actually quite mesmerising.

Playing with the sound of a harp now. Bill Bailey was right. It reeks of vanity, but it does make for a decent arpeggio and can even provide a good rhythmic accompaniment. Here's an example from a long-term favourite album.

Now watching...

5th June 2022: What a depressing mess we are in.

Next one up is called Ubiquity. There's a reason for this.

Latest purchase from GForce is this majestic thing...

The chances to get to grips with this is minimal, I think. The manual is daunting alone. You'd need a screen like an iMAX to see it all clearly (and I don't have such a thing) and to even attempt to figure out all the controls would be something akin to a degree course. Still, the presets are terrific. This will take a lot of exploring...

Jazz for people who don't like jazz...

I genuinely think there are people who claim to like jazz only because saying otherwise would render them outcast from smart society at large. I'm not worried about saying I find an awful lot of it incomprehensible nonsense designed to get the players off more than the audience. I also think there is an awful lot of real garbage out there labouring under the jazz moniker because it makes it easier to explain why they are making no money. No wonder Zappa called Jazz 'The Music of Unemployment'

As he says in The Real Frank Zappa Book...

"In 1969, George Wein, impresario of the Newport Jazz Festival, decided it would be a tremendous idea to put the Mothers of Invention on a jazz tour of the East Coast. We wound up working in a package with Kirk, Duke Ellington and Gary Burton in Miami at the Jai Alai Fronton, and at another gig in South Carolina. The touring package did not carry its own PA -- we had to use whatever speakers existed in each of the venues we were booked into. The hall in South Carolina was rigged with small jukebox speakers, set in a ring around the building. Useless, but there we were -- we had to play the show.

"Before we went on, I saw Duke Ellington begging -- pleading -- for a ten-dollar advance. It was really depressing. After that show, I told the guys: "That's it -- we're breaking the band up."

"We'd been together in one configuration or another for about five years at that point, and suddenly EVERYTHING looked utterly hopeless to me. If Duke Ellington had to beg some George Wein assistant backstage for ten bucks, what the fuck was I doing with a ten-piece band, trying to play rock and roll -- or something that was almost rock and roll?"

(from 'The Real Frank Zappa Book', 1990, Simon & Schuster)

4th June 2022: Project-X released. No fanfare again. This is developing into a pattern now.

Reporting back soon on a couple of useful VSTs. I really need to prune them sometime. Only so many reverbs are useful...

21st May 2022: Yes, all very quiet I know. Some things happening. Nothing worth reporting.

1st April 2022: Inertia released. No fanfare. Done quietly.

27th March 2022: Found another terrific piano VST, quite unlike any other. Very retro, very detuned, very much like the old ten-a-penny upright Joannas found in the corridors at primary schools up and down the country. Some of the notes are very dead sounding, which almost convinces me that they are individually sampled, but that would be a lot of effort to go to.

Were it not for the fact that there are a load of paying plug-ins that I really like, I am pretty convinced you could put together a formidable rig by using only freebies. For ages I used RedTron (when I didn't have the real thing to hand) instead of anything more expensive simply because it sounded fantastic. It still does.

On that subject, the long-promised free DAW from Behringer sounds fairly spectacular too and will come with a bunch of free VSTs as well so there is that to look out for (although it has been promised since 2020...)

21st March 2022:

7th March 2022: Tangerine Dream last night at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh. Very loud stuff indeed, no doubt helped by the fact I was sitting centre front in the firing line. I didn't know one thing they were doing (other than Stratosfear which started it off) but it was all pretty compelling stuff. Aside from the New Edgar strolling about like he is adjusting things in a lab - which he was essentially doing - there is a new and much younger guy feverishly hammering away on... stuff and a young woman playing the electric violin and trying to make herself heard above the detonation of the sequencers all around her.

Good show in an impressive venue, though. The sound was excellent if a trifle muddy at the very loudest times and the projections were really quite compelling too. Excellent stuff.

5th March 2022: Playing about with some ideas from the Mk II plug in. Unfortunately, I find it unstable (it crashes in Reaper and as a standalone without the least warning) and to make matters worse I have only just this morning had my first ever stability problem with Reaper (v6.51) which sees the whole interface vanishing without a trace. More weirdly, there is no 'Reaper crashed on loading this project, are you sure you want to do this again?' warning which to my mind means that it's flaking out at a fairly low level. Great.

Anyway. Get this magic from the original source...

4th March 2022: Another all-time favourite....

2nd March 2022: Candid thoughts from the pen of the writer: BANDS I FEEL I OUGHT TO LIKE MORE THAN I ACTUALLY DO #4 - Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

There are these...

...and there are these...

...and that is the issue.

Their first stuff was properly good, with music like Moya and anything from F#A#-Infinity. The first time I heard Sleep I nearly left the road. It was all about shadows and locomotives and distant detuned radios with incomprehensible words and melodies that most people would simply kill each other to get near. How can East Hastings start off like that, in the most delicate manner and end up in a seething wall of feedbacking guitars, thundering strings and double time drumming? How did you make that compositional journey?

"The car's on fire, and there's no driver at the wheel / And the sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides"

Then they chose to break up indefinitely. It became an hiatus which saw a return in 2010 with an album that lacked all of the above.

Where there was melody there were now uninteresting and interminable drones; where there was delicacy there was now ham-fisted crashing; where there were arrangements there was now simply...nothing. It's a whole load of noise, and I hate it. I hate it because it's dull, but I also hate it because it's not what they once were and doesn't show their abilities at all. It's as though they have decided to appeal to a young metal crowd who just want the noise and who have no interest or patience in decent tunes or anything else that defined the talent which separated them from everyone else. If you can bear to wade through the mess you might find the odd tiny moment here and there, but it's no longer worth it. They've lost it.

Yes, I know things never stay the same and that people want to change, and I also know that the band doesn't have the same people on board and that even between the releases I like there are changes which not everyone appreciated (I have to admit that moments in Yanqui U.X.O. are brilliant, but it doesn't all match what I like). But good god...play to your strengths, will you? Go see them live and you'll still find them playing their old stuff in a spirited way, which is more than I can say about the (terribly mis-named) Hope drone that starts off every blasted show now with 13 minutes of nothingness.

So why do I do it? Because I cannot do the stuff they do so much better.

25th February 2022: Stand by for more about this...

22nd February 2022: Spent some time doodling. Not a single solitary idea came to mind. Am I out of things to play now?

11th February 2022: Goodbye, Ian. Your music changed my life, so much for the better. Always in your debt.

Not of course saying he was responsible for all of what it contained, but I can still remember waking the day after I first owned the first King Crimson album to wonder if I really had that music or if I had dreamed it. The closing moments to Epitaph still sound as strong and as vital as ever and seemed to come from some other place that was both impossibly inviting and yet reeking of menace. Even more alarming was the title track which positively reeked of crimstone (that's a typo, but I am leaving it in) and which seemed to shape-shift constantly, veering from howling strings, to delicate reeds and had a coda that could hardly be a better metaphor for the way the band itself finally detonated.

The preceding photograph of Ian was taken in Toronto in 2001 when Ian came along to a Mellotron Symposium on the invitation of Streetly Electronics. He's seen here playing Rick Blechta's renovated sound effects unit. As he picked at the notes I stood next to him and heard him muttering that the last time he had even touched 'one of these things' was 14th December 1969 at the Fillmore West, San Francisco. Frankly, if he ever had affection for this instrument it appeared to have withered by this point, but he happily showed me the inversions he came up with for that coda to Epitaph which made sure the most piercing sounds from the rising notes in the C/Bm sequence were heard. He also pointed out that the reason that they got 'that sound' out of the instrument was because they recorded it not by DI, but by miking at a distance to capture the sound as it came out of a stack at tectonic plate destroying volume, thereby getting a whole lot of resonating artefacts which lesser mortals would never have even thought about.

It's certainly a pity that the band folded in the time and manner that it did, but it's an even greater pity that the reflective angst caused by that decision seemed to affect Ian so much that the first thing that he blurted out at the KC/1969 reunion in London in 1997 was an apology to all for leaving with Michael to strike out on their own. Hindsight is marvellous. So is personal ambition. There is always a lingering suspicion that the shock Ian's departure caused to the guitarist ('My stomach disappeared. King Crimson was everything to me. To keep the band together, I offered to leave instead but Ian said that the band was more me than them.') was such a personal blow to him, that his later timing of reintroducing Ian to the fold in the mid seventies during the making of Red only to fold it himself almost immediately was perhaps less than accidental.

(Something I found only recently quoting Peter Giles seems to give lie to the initial offer of Fripp's to leave the band to keep it together. When courting Greg Lake, the offer was made for him to replace Peter Giles on bass and vocals, or even maybe replace Fripp on guitar. Of this, Peter says 'That thing of Fripp offering to leave is just a ploy, basically. It would have happened quite naturally. Fripp is very cute with political moves.' The article also has a great quote by Gordon Haskell: 'The King Crimson weapon is musical fascism, made by fascists, designed by fascists to dehumanize, to strip mankind of his dignity and soul. It's pure Tavistock Institute material, financed by the Rothschild Zionists and promoted by two poncy public school boys with connections to the city of London.' Doesn't sound like he really enjoyed it much. Oh well. Hey ho.)

How would it have developed had he not left? No idea, but neither he nor Michael were happy, so it was more or less inevitable that they would leave and start off the profoundly fractured history of the band which never managed a consistent lineup until 1980. Someone did mention once that he really thought the band was a separate creature which would have evolved the way it did, regardless of the line up, implying therefore that Ian would have been a willing participant in Islands and Starless and Bible Black, which I really cannot see.

Still enjoying this after 50+ years:

8th February 2022: I cannot imagine any place, any time, any circumstance where this record will not seem beyond fabulous.

7th February 2022: A sudden influx of money from Bandcamp for some reason. Maybe they are having a sale. Weirdly, the one that sells the most there is Honfleur which I admit to finding puzzling. Listening back to it I find it rather primitive in places, though there are a few fairly exuberant moments here and there.

"All tracks work well, although the highlight for me is the grandiose Ogives No. 2, which I'm sure Mike will be horrified to read put me in Prog Heaven for a few minutes (watch him remove the track from his web site pronto)."

That remark from Andy Thomson always made me smile. High time to put Libra up on Bandcamp now.

5th February 2022:

4th February 2022: Messing about with the Mellotron Mk II plug in again. There are a lot of sounds in there and some processing to be done with them. Still not sure if this is anything apart from a novelty item to have, but one thing I can say without any fear of contradiction is that the builtin reverb is one of the best I have ever heard. GForce should market that separately (assuming they don't already).

We've had a new interloper at the house. This one was captured for posterity and the photo put through DeepDream on a Van Gogh filter for posterity. I think he looks pretty good!

Going to listen to Libra more objectively in about a week. It's too there right now.

On the process of recording: One thing that avid readers have doubtless seen is that I am forever in Zappa's debt when it comes to understanding the application of The Eyebrows on a piece. (Journals passim) Well the next exquisite little inconvenience that he described perfectly was LUMP which I have been battling with constantly, and it is all only really my fault.

FZ used it as a way of explaining why you cannot multi-track an orchestra:

(from 'The Real Frank Zappa Book', 1990, Simon & Schuster)

In short: if you close mike various sections of an orchestra to allow you to combine them in a subsequent production process then you get two things: a picture of an orchestra which is unhearable from any position in space and hence totally artificial, and an accumulation of the 'room artefacts' which, when piled up, produce something which you either have to scrub, play over, or live with. Without patience and the right people and tools, the latter option is the usual way.

(The other thing you might have to do is effect some sort of separation, preventing the sound from one instrument bleeding into another's, usually by baffling which prevents the orchestra seeing one another or even the conductor)

The actual source of the 'lump' (which I refer to as 'the motherlump') could be many things. It might be part of the sound transport mechanism, or the breathing (or swearing) of the players, or the audio 'bounce' in the room, or the various air conditioning units, or the room reverb, or even the individual artefacts from the instruments , such as the clacking of the bassoon keys which would otherwise be lost into the orchestral ambience.

Unfortunately, you get the same thing with multi-tracking if you don't really know or care about what you are doing.

Record track 1: Block chord backings, moody and dark. Turn down the EQ, maybe even a high pass filter. Give it a distant reverb, pan centre, mid volume.

Record track 2: Main voice, Mellotron flute. Lovely. Needs a bit of eq twisting to get it to stand away from the chords, maybe dip the mids. Room reverb to give a bit of a halo around it, tip it off at maybe 60%,

Record track 3: Arpeggiated synth to give some rhythm. Needs light compression to hold it in place, along with a bit of gated reverb to let it hang in the air only briefly. Open on a wide pan.

Record track 4: Bass pulse. Sits tied to the synth, so link the compressors, but turn this one down and give it a reverb to make it sound like it's coming from the same place as the chords. Eq off all the high frequencies, even if you cannot hear them. Make it a distant thud, panned 80% left.

Now play it all back as a test. It will sound like ocelot faeces. You have brought together four different (and competing) reverbs (which may not even be the same reverbs) and the whole thing will lose all clarity and will have the overwhelming overtone of the frequencies of the reverbs, rather than that actual sounds. DESPAIR

Solution! Bus together the synths, the bass, the percussion, the Mellotron etc etc. Apply separate effects to each. That will work, won't it? NOPE. Now you are grouping things together because they are the same sort of instrument, rather than because they are needing related 'treatments'. So you make up new buses and route them through this instead. And the plot gets more complicated. And the mush continues. DESPAIR INTENSIFIES

A better idea is this:

Also, just unearthed this. A little moment of a work in progress from Dance of the Knights:

Listening to this it sounds like I was playing to a very hard click track, which I now realise is a pretty bad mistake. I don't have many little moments like this one preserved - not sure why I kept this one. However, there is a huge lack of LUMP in this one as whilst recording it I was applying all manner of nonsense to it along the way, building something up which needed an emergency lumpectomy to restore things as they were. (There are also fewer instruments in this one than the final version, which makes for greater clarity)

2nd February 2022: Libra released. At last.

1st February 2022: Wut?

31st January 2022: Can I just remind my readers that this man is a complete cunt, unfit for public office, who throughout his life has lied to his colleagues, his employers, his spouses, the government and the Queen? Also, in a new twist today he accused Keir Starmer of failing to investigate Savile, and of the Labour front benches of taking drugs. Later, Nadine Dorries appears on C4 news and is swaying about like a sailor on unexpected shore leave.

For anyone interested, here is the 'update' provided by Sue Gray

This is extraordinary:

And so is this:

Anything to get that fuckwit out of my head.

30th January 2022: Latest purchase from GForce is this thing...

It's a recreation of the original Mellotron Mk II with a bunch of other bells and whistles thrown in that make it considerably more than that, and transform it into a whole musical processing system. I'd still pretty daunted by it and am still really trying to work out what I can do with it, so progress is slow. So far all I have managed is something that sounds a lot like Warszawa from Low...

...which is hardly a shock as there is a Bowie in Berlin preset on it...

I'm maybe one of the few Mellotroneers out there who never really wanted a Mellotron Mk II. I found the sound quality a bit iffy from the speakers, the range of original sounds pretty limited and lo-fi to the point of unrecognisabilty in some cases, and most of all I think I have a limited need for playing the cha-cha and the samba. For a couple of hundred quid direct from GForce I don't think I will be complaining too much, though but it is a challenge to make this this work the way I want it to.

This guy seems to have ideas....

The one very excellent thing about it is that the rhythms and accompaniments are now actually in perfect sync, something that the old Mk I and Mk II Mellotrons simply didn't have all the time, suffering from Foxtrot Drift at the worst moments. These are now in a hard lockstep with one another, which is good news for anyone still playing this at the local tea dances.

Finally snagged these on 200g vinyl at last:

The pressing of In the Wake of Poseidon is actually quite sibilant in places and is almost unbelievably a worse pressing than the dreadful and almost transparent Polydor pressing I acquired in 1979, or thereabouts. Musically it's still a terrific listen, even though it does bear more than just a passing resemblance to its rather more famous predecessor. Objectively, it's a step up in purely 'artistic' terms, but in terms of actually being progressive it's a bit motionless. Lizard is still classic curate's egg, which starts off quite nicely with a boisterous rendition of a tune whose lyrics are so obscure that they manage to out-Sinfield Sinfield himself, but which then vanishes into its own arse with incredible speed. The lyrics are just art of the problem: they are meaningless to listener and - quite obviously - the singer too. Hey Ho. But there are other moments that make it fairly clear the band was not a happy one at all. Stories abound about the absurd setup times for the correct snare sound to be produced, and I find it all rather indefensible. The second half starts beautifully for maybe thirty seconds, then deserves to be put down. (agree with RF: Prince Rupert should have stayed in bed.) But...the Mellotron coda to that song and the subsequent bolero and noisy battle scenes are actually wonderful: so good that they are not even a guilty pleasure.

That little oboe motif at the start always puts me in mind of the very beginning of The Rite of Spring, another piece I discovered the same week I found Lizard at Phoenix Records in Edinburgh.

Shoutout to the boys and girls at Juno Records who without fuss replaced my 200g copy of Islands after it was found skipping merrily across the surface during the best bit on the whole record.

Libra now beset by small technical issues which are adding up to an infuriating level.

19th January 2022: Small burst of inspiration for Libra 19 just occurred to me.

Nothing to do with these lo-fi superstars though. I have listened to this album maybe twenty times now, and I still think I have missed stuff out. Like Mr Waits before, this guy lives in a complete world of his own, or so it seems.

17th January 2022: All 20 tracks for Libra now bedded. Now for the difficult bit.

I could live in this guy's head for a week and still not understand him. Where does it all come from? What's he building in there?

11th January 2022: Presently spending some time along with this legend, again:

I know all the criticisms about it, but there is no getting away from the fact that this really was television's first work of art. It overstayed by about five episodes (I think the seven episode idea just misses out too much) and - heresy - I am not a huge fan of the premise of Fall Out (I think he was written into a corner of his own making there), but there is so much else to appreciate that it's still quite breathtaking. Episodes like Many Happy Returns, Dance of the Dead and (especially) Free For All are simply masterful bits of drama unlike anything that has come before or since.

On watching Many Happy Returns again for the umpteenth time it struck me that there is a huge clue in there somewhere. When No 6 finally gets out and back to those he thinks he knows, he faces down their doubts about his integrity by saying he doesn't know who or which side is running the Village. The fact that he woke up to find the entire place empty (to me) says one thing: that the Village was made to house him and him alone. How else would they manage to empty the entire place and leave him alone there? It's all set up for his 'benefit' alone. All the rest of it is just window dressing. So if it's set up for him, then it cannot be 'us' and hence must be either 'them' or another unseen 'them' of whom we are not familiar.

There are other moments in The General and Schizoid Man (sort of) that confirm this notion. On that basis, I wish I could recommend this, but it reeks of fanwank. It has a reasonable premise at the heart of it, but...

Some of the art in it is okay though...

...but I think in a lot of ways it is trying to be this...

...or this

10th January 2022: Oh dear...it's all getting frightfully abstract now. It's actually quite a decent way to round all of this stuff off, I think. I've climbed up to #18 now and plan of quitting either at #20 or when I run utterly and completely out of steam, whichever comes first. I have a notion of piling up recordings from Desert Island Discs on one another to make a cacophony of voices, sort of like a Spem In Alium gone hideously wrong. I sort of did that before in another style elsewhere but this could maybe work on another level. Hmm. Terribly abstract.

4th January 2022: Libra is going a bit crazy. Up to 17 tracks now, which is way more than I was expecting. So here is a good question: when do I (or anyone) know when a project is done and ready for release?

Dead Tracks and Spectacular both extended for way longer than was planned, and some (such as the Colours series) was actually designed to go on for a while. But in the latter case, it was a conscious case to make ten albums with ten tracks inside six months, whereas with the others it's not even remotely as clear cut as that. SO when do I get to know it's time to knock it off?

Here is the truth. I have no fucking idea. Sometimes it's a plan. Sometimes it's a feeling. Sometimes it's a wish to get something out to refute rumours of my death. It's really more a measure of the speed of my work, rather than anything to do with a thematic idea or even - let's not kid ourselves here - anything to do with actual planning. No.

Why did I never mention this here..?

Awesome. No idea why, but Mercedes have just started to annoy me recently. Yes, Lewis is the GOAT, but Max is the future. What balls they both have. And what a will to succeed Max has.

I've heard no new music to inspire me at all, so instead here is one of the greatest moments in sporting justice that I have ever seen.

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