It’s over a year now since I started work on recording the fifth Neureille album but I still need a few more sessions before it’s finished. I’m happy with the way it’s going and contributions from Paul Wigens, Everton Hartley, Mike Dennis, Pete Judge and Jim Barr have been superb. The next session is going to involve Ant Noel if we can get it together and that then shouldn’t leave too much to do.
In the meantime here’s a couple of improvisations I recorded on Sunday – just me and the loop pedal. The 1st is about 3 and a half minutes, the 2nd 8 minutes something. I thought about adding some words but instead here are the words I was thinking of using – you can always try a voice over of your own. It seems I wrote these at 1am on 2 October 2015. My diary tells me that earlier in the evening I’d been at Jocasta’s open mic night at the Clifton Wine Bar. The text file history tells me that I then modified the words on 3 April 2016 at 11.30pm. My guess is that I then added the last 11 lines and gave the thing a title which is West to East and East to West
the melting preferential stripped of alternate meaning the diaspora of the circumference of the passing shroud swill bits that squirm through deltoid species the fascinating fandango of the fantastic phalanx add extra sum-ups slowly and from below the twining undergrowth of holistic chasubles dredged as if from saffron drain combustible syringes cotton-bud simplicity mixed with altruistic tendencies for symbiotic adherences turtle-clad appendages bristling with slimy tendencies for chlorine aroma aroma like sedge harvested from cocoon mocking hysteria a thimble-full and then plenty squidged through the blatant synergy of druid-built floating platforms until suppressed and supplanted by visual images of cacophanies long forgotten in boats squeaky on a high-built sea like throats weakly on a fibre tree I admit to a remote tendency for torrid themes of treachery and in-built divisions of geometry that fly up into the terrasphere and cast a shadow right to here where symbols drift and conflicts clash who cares to lift whose conduct rash and so I pause and seldom rest west to east and east to west
In 1967 Penguin books brought out a series of poetry anthologies aimed at a teenage audience. They were called Voices 1, Voices 2 and Voices 3. My mother spotted them I think and got me the series for which I’m thankful. This was about 1969 when I was fourteen or fifteen. These books were a great way to learn to appreciate poetry and also the way the artwork was interspersed with the words it was a great way to learn about art too because without experience these things can seem to be a bit daunting. Second hand copies of the books are easily available at very reasonable prices. If you’re interested I would suggest that your search string contains the name Geoffrey Summerfield who was the bloke who put together the series.
Last year it was the Lake District the year before the French Alps. This year’s mountain shots are from Greece. First of all the view from my room at a guest house in Makrinitsa. We are looking down on Volos and the Pagasetic Gulf. Mount Pelion on whose lower slopes I frolicked for a few days is mythically the holiday resort of the gods from Mount Olympus and it was the home of the centaurs. When I left I walked down to the city station through the hamlet that’s on the left of the photo via a little-used path.
This next shot is a shift to the left and is taken fairly early in the morning from the balcony below the room I was in. On the left in this shot is the neighbouring village of Portaria and I became very familiar with the 3 or 4 kilometre walk between the 2 villages. This view makes me think of a line in a song I wrote last year which is set in Greece.
the sea stretches blue
and mingles with the sky
Later on I tested my mettle in the region of the mighty Mount Olympus home of the gods itself and walked from Litochoro to the ruined Agios Dionysios Monastery and back which probably wasn’t a good idea in the July heat. You’ve already guessed that I survived but when I got back to Litochoro my hands were so swollen you could barely see my knuckles and my feet and ankles were in a similar state. This is a view up to the top of the mountain taken not that far from the town.
Finally somewhere along the way there are gorges within gorges and they’re all gorgeous.
next week i’m going into the studio to start recording a new album that will consist of a number of songs nearly all of which i’ve written in the last four years which was when i last laid an album (yes it’s an egg-like process for me). the one exception was a song i wrote back in mmix i think which is called hermetic and a demo of that can be found elsewhere on this website in a post that is called something to do with dunwich.
creativity often outruns itself so i’m leaping ahead to the album after that and then i’m bouncing back with the idea of trying to cover a rather large backlog of songs stretching right back to the seventies so i’m spending a little time thinking about them and thought maybe i’d do some demos to see which dozen or so i could pick out.
the first one i’ve done is a song from about seventy-five or seventy-six that is called anyway. i used to write a lot of songs about writing songs and this is one of the better examples of that i think. my reasoning was that i should write songs about what i was doing right then and right then i was writing a song. if you listen to the words then you might think ultimately that i’m saying writing songs is a pointless exercise. so if there is a point then it is that even though it’s pointless i’ve done it anyway so maybe it’s not pointless after all. or something like that.
birds have been a theme for me for a long time although actually there’s only 4 songs that have a bird reference on the current album. it’s possible that this bird thing started with anyway’s flock of bullfinches. probably not but it’s a nice thought.
At last I have got my film of the Bristol Cream 2016 tour to Marseille ready and here it is. It speaks for itself really but I haven’t gone to the trouble of giving it any credits in itself so perhaps I should just say that I pretty much used up 98% of whatever I shot and made some use of some fairly random elements. The music comes from French composer Olivier Messiaen’s Fêtes des belles eaux. As far as I know Messiaen has no connection with Marseille but he is French so that should be ok. If I could be bothered I would make some slight adjustments but sorry I can’t take or leave it – you never know there may be a sequel.
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.
Here is a live recorded session with something I’ve been experimenting with for a little while where I use a loop pedal to loop on vocals as well as guitar. It’s early days and it needs a bit more work and in particular I need to get out to some open mic nights and play it live here and there.
There’s about 12 and a half minutes of improvised jiggly bits firstly a version of a piece of mine which is called beech trunk for reasons which I have documented earlier (the film may have to be re-filmed). And then I capped that off with a spontaneous piece in D (carrying on in that vein) which I shall call On A Sunday Soon because that’s the only meaningful/recognisable lyric in the inclusion. Occasionally cars drive past outside and they add ambient textures of drive-past determination.
I am going to Brazil in a few days time and will try to bring some things back to share with those of you who are prepared for that sort of article.
There’s a fair bit of clapping/slapping in the recording which is my foot on the pedal of the loop pedal. I could do that quieter but I like to make it clear what’s happening to emphasise the live and spontaneous nature of the performance.
now we’ve passed christmas and the next big thing in the religious calendar is easter which this year will be april 20 (sunday). this year easter marks the 37th anniversary of my first experience of travelling abroad when in 1967 i visited spain and morocco with my father.
here are a few of the images from morocco that i have manipulated i’m afraid these are taken from scans of slides and either i could clean the slides or i could spend hours tidying them up in photoshop but i haven’t so forgive the visual noise.
the first is a casual street scene – 3 characters meeting – innocent? or sinister? quien sabe?
below the peluqueria victoria sign (peluqueria is hairdresser) more street life. i think there’s something special about old poster images but the people are cool too
and now here’s me with mrs taylor who my dad and i were staying with – her and her husband mr taylor. we are standing by a very old tree. possibly the oldest tree in central tangier. as you can see i was wearing my school uniform because it was the only clothes i had that were smart and for some reason it was important for me to be smart in tangier. whether that was my idea or my father’s idea i can’t remember. but i’m sure that i caused quite a stir dressed like that when i went with my father and mr taylor to a restaurant one night in the casbah. as we walked through a busy bazaar type shopping area with traders standing outside in the narrow street they passed many appreciative comments my way :- ah eenglish schoolboy bobby charlton
england had just won the world cup so they were trying to impress me with their knowledge of english football players
this next one gives a bit of insight into what you might be thinking if you were thinking of buying something – we’ve got some pans and we’ve got some baskets – what more you could want?
mr and mrs taylor used to be our neighbours when we lived in dollar, scotland in the fifties. i think mr taylor’s grandfather had ran the sultan’s mill for him sometime in the 1st half of the 20th century and they had inherited the property and gone out to live there after retiring. at the back of the garden there was the huge wall of the casbah and then on the other side you looked straight across to the gateway to the market. the gateway large enough to contain a table where they sold various breads. while i stayed there i can only remember being totally drawn to the windows where i could watch all this while hidden to the passers-by. i imagine that this fascination was evident to my gentle hosts and i’m sure they felt some sort of gratification at this.
I am planning a few posts to commemorate the life of my old friend Andrew Goodwin who tragically died as a result of a fire in his apartment in Berkeley, California a couple of weeks ago. Andrew’s fiancée, Sandy has created an online memorial.
For now I’m just going to post a photo from our first gig at the Oranges & Lemons in Oxford sometime in 1978.
And also a home recording of a song which I wrote back in 2008 on the night I heard of the death of another friend of mine. The feeling and some of the words (particularly the last line) express some of my emotions related to Andrew’s death.
rain yellow flowers caricatures south west england against deep interiors of the african continent during the nineteenth century. this blends into specific meridians of meandering thought. laburnum flowers here dangle concupiscent and aleatorically irrelevant.
i think i’ve pinned it there but don’t blush. derogatory whispers split infinite commands of rectitude. skies consonant and irregular at quavering times to drift nonsensically towards the plains of contusion.
guitars voices and a solitary saxophone resplendent with guttural perches strapped on and blending into darkened vortices of sick – sicle – syphon – ssss.ansidote
renal yell flickering
rhodes year freshman
ripped yeast farine