this is the first part of a two part series where i present some snaps taken mostly late at night on my way home from somewhere i walk a lot usually the same old streets but there’s a number of directions and always variations on route i seem to stumble on the surface of buildings with roofs and turrets then slip sideways into a cobbled alley that leads towards a dungeon not really but you never know
i admit i’ve tampered with with some of the images but largely they are as they appeared on the night which never of course gives justice to what you actually see and some are daytime intrusions that i deemed worthy for reasons of chiaroscuro and i added a spontaneously created soundtrack not while i was watching the footage separately and took edits from forty odd minutes of recorded music if that’s what you can call it i don’t see what else to call it for now maybe later i’m working on my theories
I had a week in the French alps earlier this month at a resort Les Deux Alpes and was able to do a bit of walking about especially in the parc national des écrins. And took some rudimentary shots with my phone camera which I present below.
But first here is a soundtrack to listen to while you look at the pictures.
The mountain on the right is the Aiguille de Venosc. I can’t talk definitively about the rest.
Ah that makes it a bit clearer – Aiguille de Venosc again on the right but the mountain on the left must be the Roche de la Muzelle, 3,262 metres up and it has a small glacier.
And that’s a waterfall somewhere in the middle of the forest area on the previous photo.
The Lac de la Muzelle. When I got to the resort all I had was a pair of sandals and I was wondering whether I’d have to buy some boots. On my first day I went out in the sandals and thought I’d see how far I could get and how it would work out. They’re good Timberland sandals with a very solid base. Basically climbing up to this lake is the equivalent of climbing Snowden from sea level and it was a baking hot day over 30 degrees and for the last 1,000 metres (and the first on the way back down) there is no shelter from the sun. In fact that quotation from an old song of mine probably went through my head at the time although there are no gorse bushes up there. Lots of similar stuff though and probably more insects than I’ve ever seen. Anyway after that I had a more restful 2nd day, but I knew that I didn’t have to buy any boots.
This is a crepuscule shot that needed a better camera or at least more skill on my part but it’s caught a really interesting phenomenon where a cloud seems to have come down over the glacier.
Another lake, this one’s called Le Lauvitel. It isn’t as high up at the last one being at a nice round 1,500 metres approximately. It’s bigger though, easier to get to though still a pretty steep climb. I went there twice and the 2nd time I continued higher up to a smaller lake called Lac de Plan Vianney which is probably about the highest I got to (2,250 metres apparently). As I reached the point where I could look down on the lake I came over the top and there was an ibex a few metres away although it didn’t hang about and soon left me to private enjoyment of the lake. Actually there wasn’t a great deal of enjoyment because this was very different weather than earlier described. My sandals and my feet were both soaking wet and pretty cold. My feet were stained brown from the sodden sandals. I took each sandal off one at a time and gave each foot a rub but it didn’t really help much. I had no food with me and it’s possibly not that many generations since this was too a glacier.
In the evening after my 1st visit to Le Lauvitel the weather had changed. You can see in the previous photo that there are clouds building up. About 7 o’ clock I went out for a walk at the other end of the resort which is when I recorded the audio track which you may or may not be listening to. This shot shows the moment shortly before a massive thunderstorm. When the torrential rain started I was probably about a mile from my hotel within a minute I was totally drenched. Luckily the temperature was still warm and it just became a 20 minute tepid shower with all your clothes on. In my hotel room I had waterproof clothing but I hadn’t bothered to take it out with me and anyway it wouldn’t have helped my feet. The happy side of the experience was that there was a whole bunch of other people who were caught out like myself. I’m not sure what they’d been doing but they seemed like a large group and one of the guys was wearing a black cloak and had a shepherd’s crook or something like that. I didn’t actually have a conversation with them but we ended up laughing a lot together. Even drowned rats can have fun.
This is the other side of the resort which leads down to a reservoir, looking up to the large glacial plateau which allows people to ski most of the year. On my last day I climbed up on the left hand side of the mountain stream in this picture and then worked my way across to the ski-ing, mountain-biking side of the mountain. There’s a lot of lifts. The contrast between the natural life there and that in the national park is dramatic.
On my way up I diverted off for 10-15 minutes to get to this view of one of the cascades.
That’s the end except to say that British interest in this area of the alps perhaps didn’t start with a bang but a Whymper.
if we can get the better of the rich power-greedy blood-hungry leeches like murdoch and his ilk it may happen sooner than you think
here’s a lo-fi version of my song children of the sea
i lost a guitar strap a few weeks ago and the new one i bought has got a mighty creak so let’s pretend this was recorded on a sailing ship gently watching those little children dying and being re-born while the ropes creak and from time to time the captain’s peg leg taps on the deck
here’s a couple of improvised recordings i did at home about a week ago. it’s a couple of sequences devised for possible use in situations like i’m out playing on my own using my loop pedal and i do an instrumental. such musical fragments can turn into other things with the passing of time.
now it’s the end of may and everything is in full fruitfulness in my part of the world.
the air is dry
in the clear sky
the ash are blue
and so are you
I have finally managed to get all my digital music on one device, pretty much all anyway. That still leaves out a vast amount which is on vinyl although some of that has been digitised and is on the device though quality not brilliant. Anyway this task makes it easier for me to create a to some extent random mix and behold another exercise in granite-working.
The Jon Hassell track is really just a short thing but if you want to hear more of his music here’s a link to about an hour’s music from a 7 year old gig.
Der Ruf der Rohrflöteis a very atmospheric piece. When I shove it into Google translate I find it means ’The reputation of the reed pipe’. I’ve got the DVD of Nosferatu but haven’t watched it for a while – I must soon and I will try and spot where this track occurs, it’s track 10 on the soundtrack but that may not mean anything.
On my first Granite mix which was back in December, 2011, Wayne Shorter was included with a track from this same album. It’s not my only album of his but it’s just coincidence. I’ve thought for a long time that he’s undervalued as to how great a composer he’s always been. A friend told me the other day she’d been to see him with the Lincoln Center Orchestra at the Barbican and it’s good to see that maybe he’s starting to get recognition – since he’s 82 now it’s about time.
The Sinatra song is from a film called Higher and Higher which came out in 1944. I couldn’t find a clip of him singing this song in the film but here’s a 5 minute snip and there’s another song so you get the feeling.
Granite Mix 1 also had a track from Gang Starr there’s nothing really strange about this I know but I’m still worried. Shame what happened to Guru, but Premier is still representing as you can see in this clip of his set 3 years ago.
Lani McIntyre is perhaps not as well known as some of the other artists nor probably ever will be but I certainly was happy to find this clip of him with his orchestra and a bunch of sweet dancing girls.
Robert Wyatt first started to develop the political impact of his songs and music around 1980 but the album that first drew that together, Nothing Can Stop Us in 1982 only had one song written by himself, Born Again Cretin which was his first stab at writing a political song (at least first made public). Three years later he brought out Old Rottenhat and he’d managed to crack it with some really strong material that dealt with politics in an outstanding way. The song included in this mix is just as relevant today.
here i present another programme in the rock and roll years series – this time it’s 1960. if you look at the music of this year there’s not really that much to indicate what was going to happen in the next few years. one interesting thing about the pop music of that year is the incredible shortage of female contributors. in the melody maker top twenty charts for 1960 there are only 10 female artists involved. 2 of those are man, woman duos and one of those duos consists of actors in a film spin-off.
that percentage is incredible really although it’s actually greater than you might think because with the male artists it is the same old names cropping up again and again, with the odd novelty act like the piltdown men creeping in. there are some good songs though and i can recommend watching the show – you might learn something. incidentally if you have been following this series i have now corrected the faulty soundtrack in the 1958.
I bought myself a new amp some days ago, an AER Compact 60 III and in a time-honoured tradition I here present a recording using the new piece of kit, a 6 minute or so improvisation pirouetting around F7 and Cmin9 using my loop pedal. I called the piece whiling and so the post is called that too. Usually whiling is something done when you are whiling away. Without the away part it becomes something similar but perhaps not so pastorally pleasing.
some time ago i did a post with the books that i’d read in a certain year and this is a continuation of that. but this time it’s the books i read this year which currently is 2015 and here they all are
Ancient North America
Brian M Fagan
Memoirs Vol 1
William T Sherman
Memoirs Vol 2
William T Sherman
Selected One Act Plays
George Bernard Shaw
The March Of Portola
Zoeth S. Eldredge
Trips To Mars
Narrative of New Netherland
The Faber Book of America
ed. by Christopher Ricks & William Vance
The Red Badge of Courage
A History of Europe
JM Roberts (II)
The History of Louisiana
Le Page Du Pratz
Philip K Dick
By Night In Chile
The Divine Comedy 1 Hell
Lucy M Rossetti
A Life of Philip K Dick
Paul Tingen (II)
Jonathan A C Brown
Voyage around the World
The Enchanted Wanderer
White Rooms & Imaginary Westerns
Philip K Dick
Across The Plains
Robert Louis Stevenson
Briefing For A Descent Into Hell
Doris Lessing (II)
Philip K Dick
Honoré de Balzac
Hung Lou Meng
The Last Crusade
What’s Welsh For Zen
John Cale & Victor Bockris (II)
Andy Warhol & Pat Hackett (II)
Alfred Jarry A Pataphysical Life
The Jugurthine War
The Letters of
Lady Mary Wortley Montague
The Woman of Andros
Thornton Wilder (IV)
Andy Warhol & Pat Hackett
Madame de Sévigné
When We Dead Awaken
Visions and Revisions
John Cowper Powys
i’ll write a bit about some of them not all because that would be too much.
the first one i mentioned in my last post so enough about that.
general sherman is one of those great characters they named a tank after him. anyone who gets a tank named after them must be ok?
the march of portola tells the fascinating tale of the european discovery of california. what a hostile environment that was back then.
i returned to the american civil war with stephen crane’s book which arguably helped to define war correspondence and cast a new light on the overall theme of war.
john roberts’ a history of europe can be seen as a companion piece to his triumph of the west series which i have posted the 1st episode and promise to deliver more in time. the tension between christian and muslim society grows ever more emphatic.
philip k dick’s galactic pot-healer is a very weird trip and i think it would make a fantastic film but you would have to have a lot of cgi for the underwater sequences. maybe not – a few plastic models floating in a tank might do the trick. later i read the biography very much around the time of reading barry miles’ book about bukowski. 2 californian lives.
whereas gershwin was east coast.
going back to the history of europe/christian/muslim equation jonathon brown’s book tries to shed some light on some of the important issues which seem to be becoming more and more vital day to day.
the new translation (2 years old by now) of the enchanted wanderer and other stories was something i had my eye on for a while. sometimes it pays to hold off immediate desires and play a long, laborious game of catch. the eponymous tale is a masterpiece and it’s all good.
i’d read all of bruce chatwin’s books (maybe not some obscure ones if there are any) except for utz so was glad to find this in a 2nd hand bookshop – oxfam at the top of park street in bristol i think but possibly elsewhere. whereas the leskov interacts with walter benjamin’s the storyteller essay then utz interacts with the unpacking my library essay.
and then straight into doris lessing’s briefing for a descent into hell. dantaesque?
eventually as the year staggered to completion i plunged into the world of jarry and warhol – an unnatural combination, one devolving into a world of poverty and the other becoming increasingly wealthy especially with death. both benefited from death one dying in his mere thirties the other lasting into his fifties. both difficult to measure exactly how influential. whatever i’ll stick with them.
I’ve written six songs this year, which is probably, I feel, about the right number. The first book I read this year was by Brian M Fagan and it’s called Ancient North America. Sometimes it can be a bit repetitive but it’s a good introduction to get you thinking about pre-Columbus North America.
The section that most fired my imagination was that dealing with the Chacoan Culture which flourished from about 800-1200 CE in what is now the San Juan Basin in Nevada. These were the ancestors of the later Pueblo and Navajo peoples and probably some others too.
One of the prominent features in the archaeology of the various sites in the area is the proliferation of turquoise objects. Over 200,000 turquoise pieces have been found.
So my first song of the year is called Turquoise. The first person of the song is a female craftsman/artist who fashions raw turquoise into artefacts. Maybe no women did that work, we’ll never know, but that is only one of the fanciful elements suggested by the lyrics. As usual I tend towards ambiguity, believing that to be the best way in the long run.
Anyway I went down to the open mic at the Grain Barge a few weeks ago and for some reason I sang that song, only the 2nd time I’d performed it I think. Mike Dennis who does a great job running the night told me that he was knocked out by the song and asked me if there was a recording of it. A few years ago I would often record a demo of a new song, but I got out of the habit and generally these days I can’t be bothered to do that. But the next time I saw Mike he mentioned the song again so I made the effort and recorded it in a rough fashion.
As usual, sorry I didn’t work a bit harder at doing it better, it’s just not in my nature.