Friday, March 02, 2018

Canterbury Sans Frontières episode 56

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 56

A slight variant on a Kevin Ayers classic, some newly unearthed tapes from Khan's last European tour (1972), Wyatt speaking on Ellington, guesting on cornet with Clear Frame and (perhaps) drumming with the Keith Tippett Group, National Health live in Kansas, a perfectly formed Henry Cow miniature, some overlooked cosmicness from Gilli Smyth and Gong and a rather lovely (if slightly cheesy) Caravan instrumental. Also, Jaga Jazzist live in Sao Paulo, American minimalist composer Ellen Arkbro and Bristol's Spindle Ensemble. The middle hour features an interview with Anthony Saggers (a.k.a. Stray Ghost) about his time living and making music in Canterbury as well as his creative ventures since.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Crash of Moons with Lapis Lazuli and The Ranch

14th February 2018
Bramley's, Canterbury

Another sold-out COMC (three in a row!)...people queuing outside for half an hour in cold rain to come in and see an ultra-weird Maltese prog-band. Another reason I love Canterbury in its current form.

Here are my sets as resident DJ Prof. Appleblossom:

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Canterbury Sans Frontières episode 55

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 55

Gong live in Rotterdam in '74, Robert Wyatt shrink-rapping, slabs of Matching Mole and Hatfield, an acoustic Israeli cover of a Kevin Ayers song, a Henry Cow classic and something which is quite lovely if you forget that it's supposedly by Soft Machine. Also, Freddie Hubbard in spiritual mode, Zappa at his instrumental best, Brooklyn's Woods and Derbyshire's Haiku Salut. From the Canterbury of today, we have something new from Syd Arthur and an unexpected Arlet remix. The middle hour of the programme features a "Canterbury in Finland" mix contributed by listener and Finnish resident (formely of Canterbury) Anthony Shaw.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Canterbury Sans Frontières: episode 54

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 54

This episode is loosely structured around the theme of the City of Canterbury's history, to tie in with the imminent publication of my "experimental history" book You Are Here: The Biography of a Moment. Although readings of short passages from the book are featured throughout, the focus is very much on music, spanning the centuries from the mid-900s to the summer of 2014. Celestial choral music from St. Dunstan, Orlando Gibbons and Thomas Tallis is interwoven with the earliest experiments from the Daevid Allen Trio, Wilde Flowers and proto-Soft Machine. Also featured: Steve Hillage, The Polite Force, Caravan, local jazz legend Tony Coe and a special one-hour mix of music from the local music scene during the period 2008-2014 (Syd Arthur, The Boot Lagoon, Zoo For You, Lapis Lazuli, Arlet, Koloto, etc.).

Monday, December 04, 2017

more recordings from Belgium this summer

More rough recordings of my saz playing alongside old Flemish musical friends Sven, Alan and Inge last July:

Listen Here

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Canterbury Sans Frontières episode 53

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 53

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of 1967, the middle hour of this episode features a mix of (British and US) psychedelia recorded in that watershed year, starting with the Soft Machine live at London's legendary Middle Earth that November, and including early instances of spacerock, acid-folk, heavy psych-rock and other flavours of the genre. Elsewhere in the programme we find Robert Wyatt in full Dada mode during his last full concert appearance (1974), a slab of classic 1970 Caravan, more Phil Miller (with In Cahoots and with Hugh Hopper), something from a late-period Lindsay Cooper dance score, an exquisite Kevin Ayers miniature and an extended tribute to Egg's late drummer Clive Brooks. From the Canterbury of now, a compilation track I'd overlooked from Koloto, a live studio session track from Syd Arthur and a very recent live recording from the Work8hop jazz octet, featuring pianist Frances Knight.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Belgian recordings from July

I've finally got around to editing the recordings I made in Belgium this July when Alan was over visiting from New Zealand and Inge came up from the south of France for a musical reunion of our old saz-and-mandolin duo Ail Fionn, supplemented by Alan and Sven on percussion. This was all recorded during an ongoing social gathering, so there are quite a few voices (friends and their kids) mixed in with the "medieval spacerock" (as someone once described our busking sound). As my usual excuse goes, it's all a bit rough. There's some wind noise on the microphone. But I'm really happy with this collection. Spirited.

Listen Here

Friday, November 03, 2017

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 52

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 52

This episode is dedicated to the memory of Phil Miller (1945—2017), guitarist with Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North and National Health. As well as an early guest appearance on a Caravan instrumental and an experimental improvisation with Hugh Hopper, the programme contains an hour-long mix of some of his finest work, and almost entirely of his compositions. Also, an Egg classic, a Riley/Softs-influenced mid-70s saxophone trio, fellow-Louth residents Kinfolk playing a folkie version of a Robert Wyatt favourite, Carla Bley with Julie Tippets, the cosmische sound of Agitation Free in '73, more neo-prog/psych from Jane Weaver and Magic Bus, and Hugh Hopper improvising with local pianist Frances Knight and others. From the Canterbury of today, the title track from experimental pianist Sam Bailey's forthcoming album Shipwreck.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Canterbury Sound: Place, Music and Myth

Saturday 28th October 2017
Augustine House, CCCU, Canterbury

This one-day event was organised by a Bulgarian academic called Asya who's been studying music scenes, and Alan Payne, who's writing a PhD thesis on the Canterbury Scene in particular (I once interviewed him for my Canterbury Sans Frontiéres podcast). There were some short academic papers presented, personal reflections from Brian Hopper (Wilde Flowers, Soft Machine) and Geoffrey Richardson (Caravan), and live performances from The Quartet (doing "Rote-Thru" with Miriam, as I'd seen at Free Range two nights earlier), Koloto (including a new work-in-progress called "Red Fish Blue Fish"), Lapis Lazuli (now a quartet, played a blinding set, just two long pieces from Wrong Meeting) and Soupsongs, the Annie Whitehead curated Robert Wyatt tribute act.

I found the event to be a bit of an uncomfortable fusion of fan convention and academic conference, like it wasn't quite sure what it was trying to be. But that was just me (in a grumpy mood that day?). There's an excellent and enthusiastic description from former Facelift fanzine editor Phil Howitt on his newish Facelift blog here.

I was invited onto a rather large discussion panel which was convened a couple of times during the day, but didn't contribute anything in the end. I was also asked to lead a session involving a GoogleMap I created documenting the geographical connections within the wider "Canterbury Scene". There were a few interesting details that came out of that, including a friend of Dave Sinclair's clarifying where exactly on the Old Dover Road the house was in which he'd written "Nine Feet Underground".

Possibly the highlight of the event for me was getting to meet Phil (who'd sent me a complete set of back issues of Facelift a while back) and Calyx website creator Aymeric Leroy (the ultimate Canterbury Scene expert), whose tireless archiving efforts have been an absolute boon for anyone interested in this stuff — extremely helpful in putting my podcast together. The two of them had met for the first time the day before at Phil Miller's funeral. Also, Aymeric's had a book on the "Canterbury School" (I prefer that to "Scene" or "Sound") published in French, is looking to have it translated into English, so I may end up helping with that. Musically, the highlight was Soupsongs' rendition of Wyatt's "Alifib"/"Alifie" (from Rock Bottom) featuring Geoff Richardson on guest viola.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Rote-Thru with Miriam

Garage Coffee, Canterbury
Thursday 26th October 2017

This was the third or fourth time I'd seen "Rote-Thru" peformed as part of a Free Range event, this one differing in that Miriam did the Simon Smith parts alongside David Herd. The Quartet opened with a version of Coltrane's "Naima". They took this up to The Vortex in London the next evening.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Syd Arthur and Jane Weaver!!

The Quarterhouse, Folkestone
Wednesday 26th October 2017

I'd been waiting for this one for months, having fallen in love with the last two Jane Weaver albums. Ages ago I'd meant to contact Joel and suggest they try to organise some gigs together, but then forgotten to. This one happened accidentally due to a cancelled Jane Weaver gig some time ago that got rescheduled, and ended up coinciding with the start of Syd Arthur's UK tour.

Syd were on first, played all of the Apricity album except "Evolution" and "Plane Crash in Kansas", as well as "Hometown Blues" and "Garden of Time" from Sound Mirror, one monstrous new untitled piece to end and a crowd-pleasing "Ode to the Summer" encore. Magnificent. I was really impressed by some of the waveforms Raven is producing from his synth setup...they conjured up a particular type of intricate inner visuals (pixied-pointed Celtic cusps and bejewelled surfaces) which I associate with the most delicate acoustic work he's done with Liam, the same musical magic being produced through a different medium. Despite what you might think from the equipment on stage, they've not lost touch with that enchanted sylvan otherworldiness where their roots lie, the precious elfin thread back to the woodland glade where it all began is still intact. The phrase "mighty works of sonic architecture" came to mind. They're masters of what they do, and what that is just keeps getting bigger. And as always (despite claims afterwards of having had a bit of a struggle on stage) they make it seem effortless.

Here's that new piece a few days later in Southampton (starts after about a minute, cuts off suddenly unfortunately...)

And then Jane rocked it. She's a brilliant performer, totally captivating. She only played guitar one one piece ("Loops In The Secret Society"...during which they keyboard player also strapped on a guitar, a total of four guitars chugging away on a motorik groove). There were a couple of new songs I think, and a double encore including her masterpiece, "Argent". The only thing I missed from the records was her self-harmony vocalising but she can't be blamed for that. Her band were having a great time being technicians of Spaceship Jane. A nicely subtle lightshow too - psychedelic without being in any way retro.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Ranch stick around for a couple of days

Friday 20th October, 2017
Club Burrito, Canterbury

I think it may have been due to a cancellation elsewhere - not sure - but amazing Maltese progsters The Ranch stuck around Canterbury for a couple of days after their mindblowing Crash of Moons appearance on Wednesday. Thursday night they showed up at an open mic at the Black Griffin. I wasn't there, but heard about it form Juliet who'd booked herself a slot that night but then generously gave it to them. There they encountered Dominic "Mistah Wolf" Wolf, a Whitstable-based beatboxer who provides percussion for local reggae stalwarts Hey Maggie these days. The next night they'd been booked to play Club Burrito and as well as playing more-or-less the same set I'd seen at Bramley's, they were joined by both Dom (who can beatbox effortlessly in weird time signatures) and a young MC called Jack Mythos who has rapidly become ubiquitous on the local scene. Jack can (and will) freestyle until the cows come home. What a band!

The Ranch and Port Erin at Crash of Moons Club

Wednesday 18th October 2017
Bramley's, Canterbury

An amazing Crash of Moons, just a few days after my return to the UK. The Ranch are a Maltese prog band with a virtuosity and creative brilliance that (in my opinion) puts them in a league with Cardiacs, Henry Cow, some of Zappa's better bands. Unbelievable. Great prog-scat singing from guest vocalist "Master Penguin". Port Erin were very brave to follow this, but pulled it off. Much more rocking and substantial than there records suggested. As usual, I was DJing as Prof. Appleblossom. I'd misunderstood which order the bands were going to play in, so the continuity of the music was slightly compromised, but both bands seemed to dig the sounds I was selecting.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Surprise! with Lapis Lazuli and reduced Cocos

secret woodland location near Canterbury
Monday 16th October 2017

Wow. Just back from seven weeks in Wisconsin in the wake of my dad's passing, and my friends back in Canterbury threw the most amazing surprise gig/party for me to welcome me back and thank me for the effort I've been putting in to bring people and music together in the woods in recent times. I was completely in the dark right up until I walked to the site wondering what was going on! Thanks go to Juliet for instigating (and then distracting me during the setup, along with Emilia, Cam, Jacob and Laszlo), Adam, Kim, Dave and Libby for actually making it happen.

A reduced three-piece Lapis Lazuli (Luke on bass, Adam on drums, Neil on guitar) played a semi-acoustic set, getting the audience to provide key sound effects and drones. Amazing to see Neil pulling off all those intricate guitar parts on an acoustic instrument! Altogether wonderful. And then Cocos Lovers (minus Nicola and Dave) played, almost all new material (Natasha's song "Mother" stood out), followed by a few Billy/Phil songs and then a jam involving me and Lapis which went on until everyone had drifted away. The whole thing was quite dreamlike, as I'm used to being the one organising these gigs, running around, making announcements, making sure everyone's OK...this time I could just sit back and enjoy the magnificence of it. I woke up feeling loved. Thanks everyone!

Lapis Lazuli and Acid Mothers Temple

Ramsgate Music Hall
Sunday 15th October 2017

Just back from the States and then straight into this...

I missed the train I was going to get while being happiy distracted by Juliet and Emilia outside Canterbury West, and missed first few minutes of Lapis set. This was the first tiem I'd seen the new quartet. They played just two long pieces: "Phyghphe" and "Reich".

AMT were predictably mind-melting, the set list going somthing like:
"The Wizard" [Sabbath cover] > crazy suite of riff-based jams > "The Wizard"
"Flying Teapot" > "Lady Pink Lemonade" > "Master Builder" > "Lady Pink Lemonade"
...and then an "Ether Ships"-style Hillage guitar style riff leading into a kind of techno freakout meltdown!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Benjamin Zephaniah and the Revolutionary Minds

Jazz Cafe, Camden
Saturday 14th October

I'd just flown back in from the States this day, met up with old E. Kent friends Eldad, Nick D, Tracy and Nick for this gig. Benjamin Z doing his thing with a solid dub band backing him up, great vibes:

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Funkyard Dealers and Soul Symmetry

Saturday 7th October, 2017
Rookies Sport Pub, Stevens Point, WI

I saw this poster and, having been impressed by Soul Symmetry out at the Yes!tival recently, decided to have a night out after a period of quiet insularity. The poster and name of the support band weren't too promising, but I was pleasantly surprised. Young whiteboy funk band? Yes, but a great one — big slabs of funky music, interwoven with psychedelic jams and nicely laid back. None of that Chilli Peppers in-yo'-face-ness. The Dealers and Soul Symmetry appear to both be part of a lively, cheerful friendship group in the area who came out to have a good time — mostly UWSP students and ex-students I would guess — so there was enough energetic interaction between musicians and audience to create an intimate jam-band-type experience. The colourful mandala drapes they put up behind the stage helped brighten up the rather sterile setting too — good effort.

It was a completely different demographic to the Yes!tival crowd (older hippies, average age mid-40s, kids and grandkids running around...) but Soul Symmetry were able to connect with this audience (for whom a lot of their influences have a completely different meaning) just as effectively, playing an extended version of the set I heard them play last time. Incredible chemistry between these players. I'd forgotten that they do reggae too (very well, not a watered-down version — their one reggae number was heavy). They could be an extremely competent dub/reggae band, pure blues-rock band, space-rock band or funk-rock band, but instead they're choosing to explore and fill in the spaces between these nodal points, in the American jam-band tradition. They served up a satisfying amalgam of Southern-boogie-psychedelic-funk vibes, mostly strong original material but also including covers of the Allmans Brothers' "Whipping Post" and (as an encore) "Statesboro Blues", Elmore James' (via SRV?) "The Sky is Crying" and a remarkably effective pairing of Pink Floyd's "Breathe" and "Time" which sent the crowd into ecstasy. They played one less-than-appealing slow smoochy pop-funk thing near the end of the set, but other than that I couldn't fault them. One glass of water, no conversations (it was too loud for that), hours of dancing, I walked off into the Central Wisconsin night with a big smile.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Anna Jo and Luke Callen

5th October 2017
Emmy J's, Stevens Point, Wisconsin

Anna Jo's from (the geographically interesting corner of) Kansas, but seems to have adopted Stevens Point as a home. Luke was originally from La Cross, WI, but met her out in Colorado where he no lives. He's a folk singer living out of a van, living his dream, loves John Prine, can deliver a convincing "talking blues"... They played some stuff together, plus alternating solo mini-sets. Nice.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 51

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 51

Soft Machine rehearsing at Ronnie Scott's in 1969, a 1977 Daevid Allen & Euterpe rehearsal tape, Coltrane and Pharaoh playing, and Robert Wyatt singing, the same jazz standard, an African Can cover, some Chilean spacerock, very Caravanesque sounds from Totnes's Magic Bus and something beautiful from the new Jane Weaver album. From the Canterbury of today, Syd Arthur live in Hyde Park a couple of summers ago plus sounds from local producers Xylitol and Humble Pious. The middle hour is a guest mix provided by local psych/prog musician Harry Hayes.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Crash of Moons DJ sets (Chroma/The Brackish)

Bramley's, Canterbury
27th September 2017

I did my usual monthly Crash of Moons Club DJ set as Professor Applebossom despite being thousands of miles away in Wisconsin. This entailed sending over prepared mixes created for the occasion. It was trickier than usual because the two acts featured that night were so different: a local hiphop crew and a skronky/weird postrock quartet from Bristol. But I think I succeeded. The first part is a straightforward mix of underground hiphop (not something often heard at Bramley's), the second part (between acts) morphs gradually from hiphop into guitar-based noisy/disjointed postrock, and the third set (as usual) was for dancing, starting this time with Suicide's "Ghost Rider" (which I've since heard at least one person there really loved). Listen here: