Friday, 12 April 2013

The morning...well, afternoon...after the night before

It was a long time coming but my first gig in about 10 years, and indeed first ever solo gig, happened last night.  It was an absolute blast.

This was the fifth of these themed nights at The Parrot bar in Carmarthen.  So far it's been Nurse With Wound, Sublime Frequencies, Coil & the Esoteric Underground, Sun Ra and now Ambient / Drone night.  I played a mix at the Esoteric Underground night but this time out I had a different idea.  I'd been saying that I wanted to play a gig or two this year and this seemed like too good an opportunity to miss, particularly as these nights have a dedicated if, let's say select rather than sparse, audience.  This meant that my first time making drones on a stage was going to be a nice mellow anonymous little outing where i could ease myself back into the whole live performance thing.

It didn't quite work out that way.

When my name appeared in the event title I had a feeling that that idea was blown...

When my name appeared on the monthly listings I had a stronger inkling...

When Matt's Stretching Horizon's column appeared in the local paper on Wednesday i was fairly sure...

The big orange writing on the sign on the door did nothing to alleviate my fears...

(photo by Rhod)

And when I saw the goodly amount of people who turned up on the night I was certain...

early crowd (Quiet World alumni - Adrian Shenton & Susan Matthews amongst them)

(photo by Si)

later crowd (there're more to the left of shot and at the back right where the comfy seats are)

(photo by Si)

It's really good to see so many people willing and wanting to come out on a Thursday evening to hear something that they probably had no previous idea of just cause they saw a little article in the local paper.

We arrived early to set up and sound check...

(I love my old suitcase - there's a mixing desk and a MfOS:WSG underneath what you can see)

...only to discover we had incompatible plugs - i'm all old-school jack plugs whilst the Parrot's PA is XLR.  Luckily this was sorted by the technical genius that is Aled (thanks fella) and everything sounded nice and loud.

this is (a blurry) Aled (who worked the bar and the kitchen from 5 until midnight - kudos)

(photo by Si)

Either side of my performance we had DJ sets from first Simon

and then Matt

Matt is part owner of the club and the proprietor of the Tangled Parrot record shop upstairs (recently described in The Guardian as one of the 10 best independent record shops in Britain). These nights are also his idea (and he's recently grown a very distinguished jazz beard).

(photo by Si)

I started at around 9:30 and played a 40 minute set in front of a projection of the the pylon I used for the cover of The Prescient Machine sleeve...

 (photo by Rhod)

...and the Aurarora videos as made and provided by very buff monkey Mr. Rhod Thomas.

This is Rhod in a gold crash helmet (it's not from the night I just like it).

(photo by Jody)

The set went pretty well,  it was a little difficult to hear the subtleties of what was happening from where I was sitting and also there was a gaggle of very loud folks by the bar who talked for most of the set.  I was expecting that though - it's a pub after all - so that wasn't any sort of problem for me although a few people mentioned later that they found it annoying - Rhod described one of his video clips as being filled with "the fucking screeching nag guffawing'.

I was so pleased about the projections, I think they really helped create the vibe.

(photo by Rhod)

(photo by Rhod)

(photo by Si)

(photo by Rhod)

(photo by Rhod)

Here's a quick little vid edit

For a first gig back and all nerves aside (I've always got terrible stage fright - even when I'm teaching a new class) I think it went really well.  Met lots of new folk and finally got to meet Adrian after several years of typing to each other and had a thoroughly good time.

Many thanks to everyone who came along I hope you enjoyed it (one person told me I sounded like Tool but without the guitars - I think he may have been drunk).
A particular thanks to the Parrot crew - Matt, Si & Al - for being a fantastic bunch of chaps.
Long may these nights continue.


Wednesday, 10 April 2013

30 hours and 7 minutes

it's not that I'm nervously counting you understand but that's how long it is until I make my return (30 hours and 6 minutes now) to playing live.

The set is pretty much as ready as it's going to get.  Some of it is fixed in stone, some of it is entirely improvised and some of it is maybe a bit weak but is resisting all efforts to build it up. ah well.

hopefully it'll be fun.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Heliostasis and the Quiet World

Good morning from a grey and cold Sunday in Swansea.  I say grey but it's a light sort of grey.  light enough to make the prospect of a walk later today an enticing idea.

I've been playing around with Bandcamp over the last few days (and will continue to do so for the next few) and have uploaded a new release and one of my very first.

The new album is something that's been sat on my hard-drive for about a year now because I'd forgotten about it.  I found it again on Friday and so decided to make it available for all to hear.  The title came about during a conversation with my partner as I'd abandoned the working title (because I couldn't come up with a cover design) and was bandying around words like 'entropy', 'heliocentric' & 'stasis' (yes I am reading a lot of science fiction at the moment) the latter two of which she smashed together to give the title.

the second upload was the first full album I made as Psychic Space Invasion (another name that got mashed together after a conversation with Sioux).  It was made in the back half of 2002 and I started letting people hear it in early 2003.  It was never intended to be the start of anything.  It was just something i was pottering with using a computer that a good friend (Hi Jason) had kindly made for me. People seemed to really like it and so I just kept making more copies to give away.
I never charged for copies of This Quiet World and so I'm continuing that tradition by making this a FREE download.


Tuesday, 2 April 2013

consumed by righteous fury

i was going to do some music today but instead spent a large chunk of it trying desperately not to be consumed by hatred for the asshole tory politicians (and the fucking idiots who voted them in) who from today have simultaneously set about dismantling the NHS (britain's single most important and wonderful institution), cut benefits to those most in need and have awarded themselves a massive and utterly unwarranted tax break.

i'm nowhere near as politically active (or informed) as i used to be but i am still a pretty committed leftie.  i made a decision a number of years ago to make my politics more personal and to try and express them through my life.  i generally no longer involve myself with big issue topics and simply try and live an ethical life.  the sheer, rampant scumfuckery of these arseholes is dragging me back to a level of hate and anger i thought i'd left behind.  i think these bastards need to burn but i don't want to think thoughts of hate.

with that aside, i'm just back from a nice weekend in Cheltenham where i successfully managed to buy myself far, and i really do mean far, too many books.  i spent last weekend clearing shelf space and decluttering my very cluttered 'study-o' (part study, part studio). only to have completely refilled the shelves less than a week later.

have also been rediscovering the joys of Cluster, and lots of other contemporaneous German bands.  i love that era and delve into it from time to time looking for both old favourites and something new.  it's Cluster who have stuck hard and fast this time mostly i suspect because of the synthiness of the set i'm putting together. 
the newcomer to my ears is Klaus Schulze who I've never really tried before but decided to give his 'Cyborg' album a try and it's phenomenal. the spacey synth of Cluster and Tangerine Dream soaring over some really intoxicating dronework. i listened to, and thoroughly enjoyed, a few of his others since but that's the one i keep coming back to.

tomorrow there will be music.