micromuseum stamps trees

Tree Stamps

It’s been a long time since I last posted a stamp series so this time I’m combining another category to try and keep the whole category thing meaningful.

Malaysia gained independance in 1963 so this stamp must precede that. Trees usually feature on stamps as incidental but in this case they are central to the image. Deforestation rates are greater in Malaysia than anywhere else in the world.

The rand became currency of South Africa in 1961. The random quality of the criss-cross background to the fruit tree is weird.

Early shields of Ceylon under Portuguese, Dutch and British dominion all featured coconut trees (and elephants). It’s hardly surprising that Sri Lankan cuisine should feature coconuts so much. In 1432 a Chinese gentleman called Ma-Huan visited Hsi-Lan-Kuo (as he called it) and wrote

The cocoa-nut, which they have in abundance, supplies them with oil, wine, sugar, and food.

I think this is a commemoration of 50 years of Danish nature conservation

Finally a stamp from my own fair country, Britain I mean, not Sussex. I have 3 more from this series of paintings by Leonard Rosoman, who if he is still alive is about 98 years old. They feature Harlech Castle, The Cairngorms and Antrim. In 2002 Rosoman was the guest on the radio programme Desert Island Discs. The luxury item he chose to have on the desert island was a sloping lawn. I think to maintain a sloping lawn on a desert island would require magical powers.

One final point. The first and last stamps both feature the head of Elizabeth II. I think it’s highly probable that no other head has been featured on stamps more often than hers nor ever will be.


The Savage God Arrives

So far my forays into the world of nonsense have dealt with works directed at an audience of children. I selected Edward Lear‘s Book of Nonsense as a starting point although I think I tried to make clear that there were antecedents. Now I should like to glance at a different approach to Nonsense Literature – where the premise begins with a childish slant but which is led to dark, adult and inherently profound themes. Again it’s impossible to draw a line and say that one thing is the absolute starting point, but there is one event that seems to stand out.

In 1895 at the Théâtre de l’Oeuvre Alfred Jarry‘s play Ubu le Roi was presented to an audience. In terms of theatrical success it was a disaster, but its influence was enormous.

The play grew from the imaginations of a bunch of schoolboys in Rennes who sought amusement at the expense of a vulnerably inept schoolmaster by rendering him as a grotesque caricature with no redeeming characteristics. But there is more to Jarry than adolescent scatological anarchy and he was to construct a science of Nonsense, ‘Pataphysics, which ineffably defines itself on the plane where the rational and the irrational meet. It is principally a construct of language and anticipates many of the concerns of the 20th century such as psychology and semantics.

Perhaps more than anyone before (or even since) his life became an artwork. In fact it is not difficult to trace just about anything in art and culture since Jarry back to him.

Thanks to Wikimedia Commons for the images.

film music

Fern Fronds

I know I just put my song a clef at the end of the last post so this is a bit of repetition but I’ve also had a fern film hanging around waiting to be done and there is a line in the song which goes

fern fronds gently sway

and so I decided to use it as a soundtrack for the film. I have a few of these hastily thrown together moving still lifes which are best watched in full screen mode with the sound set to max preferably in a darkened room hanging like a bat from the ceiling.

On watching it I noticed towards the end a small fly trying to grab everyone’s attention and it made me think of another piece I did a few years ago where a bee steals the show so here’s that one as well. In this one the music is bespoke and uses a couple of samples from my song The Lost Keys which is on the Dry Rib cd Whose Last Trickle.



The new Neureille album is now available on Itunes. It’s a digital release but I have had 200 hard copies made for promotional purposes. I’m packaging these simply in soft plastic cases with some rudimentary homemade art work and notes.

This is the front cover…

and here’s the back

There wasn’t a lot of space for too many words so I’d like to just provide a little bit more extra information here.

Paul Wigens also did the drumming on Disparue. He’s a great bloke and ideal for me to use because of his musical knowledge, experience plus of course his drumming ability. He has a number of musical projects on the go usually, but I’d like to particularly recommend his duo with Pete Judge, which is called Eyebrow.

Jim Barr is another superb musician, his principal musical project being Get The Blessing. He played some guitar on the jam we recorded which was used to produce the 3 extra tracks – Eurapsid, Vega and Altair as well as the Tibetan singing bowl on Cup & Bowl plus all the engineering. But also I should point out that all the recording was done in 2 days and it wouldn’t have been possible to get the tracks to sound as good as they do in that time without his ability to assimilate the music so quickly almost like in the back of his head. For example, most of the saxophone parts were recorded in 3 takes. Pretty much as soon as the takes were done, Jim would have worked out which were the best parts to use.

Someone who isn’t credited at all on the cover who should be is Rob Williams of Ruby Studios who spent a few hours with me tidying the whole thing up and mastering the album.

In addition I want to thank all the musicians in Bristol who have supported and encouraged me, in particular, Everton Hartley and Ant Noel.

Here’s the first song on the album.

A Clef

film music

three videos

Here are 3 videos 2 of which have been on little song films and 1 other which hasn’t. Sorry if I state the obvious.

The 1st one is called scenes from a recurring dream and was something that I had an idea for and Roger Thorp filmed it. My original idea was to have had several locations where different things were to happen, in particular I was planning to vomit by the side of a small dockside building. But it was easier to just stick with the railway line. The track’s gone now so the footage is a valuable social document. The music had been created a year or so previously on the day I had bought a compressor and a Zoom RFX 2000 and in order to try them out I made up this completely spontaneous track. I used a sample from a Dance Construction CD as a basis and then built it up from there. The sample sounds like “I’ll come home” but it’s probably something completely different, but I used that to make up some pointless lyrics. I’ve got a remix (visual) of this to another track of mine, undergrowth, I’ll dig that out too sometime.Roughly around the same time Edward Ball asked me along to assist on a video he was shooting for mod band Rinaldi Sings. I think I get a credit as assistant director, but I must confess that Edward did most of the hard work. He did 2 versions of the video – the one that just goes with the song and then a longer version which is a bit more narrative driven (I die more convincingly in that one). And then I did my cut which is much shorter and I redid the music by sampling the Rindaldi Sings track then adding my own bits. It’s quite small and sits in the middle of the screen, and I would have sorted that out, but a couple of times I tried some weird transition and the small frame in the middle flashes out. It was a complete surprise to me when it happened so I kept it in with the small central frame. So there.

Finally this last film is mainly some footage taken with a Canon stills camera with limited video capability. A night-time jaunt in Mousehole, Cornwall probably very early in January sometime in the early 21st century. This is interspersed with some BBC footage of high tides at Porthleven. And the whole thing’s tied together with a quotation from Moby Dick. Well it’s all a bit spurious, but what do you expect for a zero budget? That’s the 2nd quotation from Herman Melville to appear somewhere on this blog, but I’m not going to start a Melville category. Not just yet anyway. Let’s see how the next few years develop. Just a word about the music. It’s another piece of spontaneity using this time a sample of a djembe loop as foundation.

micromuseum music vinyl

micromuseum 4

The bulkiest category within the micromuseum is vinyl. About 800 items. This is the first one I actually bought back in the summer of 1971 while I was visiting my sister in London. I bought it from HMV on Oxford Street. It was something I wouldn’t have been able to get in the North-East where I lived at the time.

Most of the music I listened to at that time was on the radio or something I had taped from the radio. The piece of Ligeti‘s I’d taped was Lux Aeterna and I thought it was about the best music ever at that time. I might have had some more of his stuff but that one stood out. Somehow I’ve never actually seen the film 2001: A Space Odyssey so I didn’t know that Lux Aeterna and Atmospheres were some of the most heard pieces of contemporary classical music (for want of a better description) ever. I’m always interested in the fact that people can accept certain types of music as soundtrack to a film which they wouldn’t care to listen to without the visual element (especially if they have no memory even of the visual element).

Ok that’s the first one I bought, but the oldest member of the archive is this.

That’s not necessarily the oldest item in that I might have bought something older second-hand since then. In fact, it’s just the oldest survivor. I had more vinyl given to me before then, but it’s all now gone. I remember in the mid-sixties, my father bought a new turntable and it was the first he had which could no longer play 78″ records. To celebrate he joined in with my brother and sister and I and we smashed up the whole collection of 78s. In retrospect a mistake although I’m glad I haven’t been carrying them round with me all those years since then. I wonder how far they have regressed to natural mineral elements in some landfill somewhere in North Yorkshire. Probably hardly at all.

Actually Ligeti means a lot more to me than Rossini, but those are great overtures. La Gazza Ladra in particular means a lot to me. I can almost feel another Tintin post coming on.

jazz music quotations

Quotations 3

Jazz Quotations

Here are some quotations gleaned from the Down Beat magazine archives which make some interesting points.

Be-bop wasn’t developed in any deliberate way. For my part, I’ll say it was just the style of music I happened to play. We all contributed ideas, them men you know plus a fellow called Vic Coulsen, who had been with Parker and Al Hibbler in the McShann band. Vic had a lot to do with our way of phrasing.

Thelonious Monk

Everyone came up to Minton’s to listen. All the fine musicians sat in – Pres, Charlie Christian. There’s no truth to the story that we purposely played weird things to keep our musicians outside the clique off the stand. All we asked was that the musician be able to handle himself. When he got up on that stand, he had to know.

Kenny Clarke

But I think even Indian music has its origins in the African art form. You can see the influences. Whatever we do, it can be traced back to some of the African forms-there are so many. It’s like the languages; there might be a thousand dialects in one section of Africa, and the music has as many, if not more, dialects, you might say.

Elvin Jones

When America gets to the point that they won’t have to use styles to have people express what they do in a category, then the creativeness in all popular music is going to grow. When you think of rock ‘n’ roll, rhythm ‘n’ blues, they’re using the same notes but they say, “We’re playing this, we’re playing that.” But in Europe, years ago it was just what your name was. If your name was Jim, it was go and listen to Jim – not Jim plays the blues. It was just Jim doing what he’s doing. If that was the case in America, we’d all be a lot better. For instance, I never heard anyone say “white music,” but I hear everyone say “black music” – and I was black before there was music. That’s kind of a drag, and has nothing to do with music.

Ornette Coleman