Friday, July 30, 2021

new archival recordings

If anyone's still checking in here, I've just added a couple of recently compiled collections to the A Tiny Window archive.

One involves acoustic guitar and saz improvisations recorded with Joel here at the farm on Dartmoor between December last year and April this year. They're rough Zoom recordings of wonky jams, basically, but there was enough material there to edit down to about 40 minutes of pleasing nuggets.

listen here

There will hopefully be a lot more of this to come, involving Joel's hurdy-gurdy and tabla playing too.

This is some material recorded around Summer Solstice, when out and about in the Avebury landscape, my usual midsummer adventurings. There are also some jams from a week earlier, here on the farm, with Joel plus some Bristol muso friends – Conrad (Evil Usses, etc.), Graeme (Dubi Dolczek) and Ben (tasteful acoustic blues player). That was a spontaneous fireside kind of thing, the Sunday of my birthday weekend.

listen here

The Friday of my birthday weekend involved me doing what usually happens on a Saturday evening here – putting together a three-hour mix for Radio Routestock in one of the barns, with a few people around to enjoy that. These go out as Professor Appleblossom's Friday Night Dance Party on the Routestock stream 7-10PM UK time each Friday, and then get archived here. I got dressed up for that one, got really into it, had some trance-loving neighbours over to enjoy the sounds, so it went pretty electronic towards the end.

The Saturday I got taken to Falmouth by lovely Rosy and Jules as a sort of surprise - they'd got us on the guest list to see Dubi Dolczek playing at The Cornish Bank, a new venue on the High Street (an old bank, naturally) opened by Smugglers Records/Festival impressario Will Greenham with his friend Rufus. Japanese one-man-band/performance artist Ichi supported (we arrived about a minute beforehand!). This was my first gig (if you don't count the Canterbury Cathedral Choir singing Randy Newman in the Precincts) since spring 2020 when Sarah, Megan, Dan and I drove down to Folkestone to see Vula Viel in a mostly empty venue (Covid paranoia was kicking in). Hence Graeme, Ben and Conrad being at the farm with us the next night.

Summer solstice was followed by a really uplifting week in East Kent, mostly staying with Juliet and friends in Tyler Hill, where I DJ'd a double house party (an early set and a late set, about ten hours total) in a garden facing out onto a pastoral landscape. Bliss.

My Bloody Valentine, Reading '89

I woz there! This wobbly VHS footage really captures the intensity. My main memory impressions were of Debbie Goodge's stance as she pounded on her bass, how thin they all seemed, and just how much sound they were making.

This was immediately after what turned out to be Spacemen 3's last ever gig (although I don't think we knew that at the time). I saw MBV on one other occasion, at the Ancienne Belgique in Brussels (with Mercury Rev and fIREHOSE, as I recall) in '91 or '92. Possibly the loudest gig I ever subjected my poor ears to. The noise jam in "You Made Me Realise" felt like it went on for about half an hour that time, creating an really palpable tension in the crowd. Amazing times.

noise cover of The Big Ship

Not everyone's cup of tea, but definitely mine. I give you... a Bardo Pond side project playing a noise cover of Eno's "The Big Ship".

Monday, August 24, 2020


Sunday, July 26, 2020

Peter Green (1946-2020)

I hate to see this blog turning into an obituary column, but we're losing some of the greats at an alarming rate these days, it seems. This is my favourite Peter Green moment (I hear tell of bootlegs of face-melting live jams, welcome any tips in that direction):

BBC obituary

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Tim Smith (1961-2020)

Very sad news. RIP Leader of the Starry Skies.

I consider myself lucky to have seen the Cardiacs a few times and the Sea Nymphs once too – felt that peculiar feeling of joy you get when a mass of oddball Cardiacs fans assemble – you know if you know. The man was a musical genius, unquestionably. And utterly unique (my dad used to chide me for adjectivally qualifying "unique", but sorry Dad, Tim Smith was utterly unique).

I don't have much time for The Guardian these days, but they've run a nice obituary.

the backblog

Not a lot going on on The Spring for a while, mainly due to the lack of live music going on, and the difficulty in making music with other people. But there have been a few things.

There were the 200 mixes I put together over the first 15 weeks of social distancing and lockdown in the UK. That gave me a sense of purpose and something to work on (my mixing skills have come along considerably, as well as my appreciation of various strands of house music). This led on to a series of mixes for RadioRouteStock, which has now become a weekly three-hour session (currently Friday nights, 7—10, UK time).

2020-05-10     2020-05-17     2020-05-31     2020-07-11     2020-07-17

Some of the Crash of Moons Club crew met up for an outdoor distanced meet-up to discuss ways we might start to reintroduce live music to the Canterbury area (possibly some free acoustic outdoor picnic events in public spaces?). Mainly it was just good to see each other. One of our cancelled bookings for June would have been Shadow Biosphere, a.k.a. Caroline Jago, who was going to play in the undercroft of the medieval Eastbridge Hospital on the High Street, and we've since met and talked a lot about music (she was making trance back in '96, then went on to launch Seventh Harmonic, a kind of ethno-symphonic goth project (we share a love of Dead Can Dance's '87 LP Within The Realm of a Dying Sun) who release five albums between 1999 and 2011. I invited her to contribute a guest mix to the last Canterbury Sans Frontières and she delivered a beautiful hour of electronica.

Summer solstice didn't involve a trip to Avebury this year (first time since '91!). I ended up having an incredible 30+ mile walk in the Stour Valley, visited the standing stones in St. Augustine's Abbey en route and spent the night on a neolithic longbarrow near Chilham called Julieberrie's Grave. The dawn chorus was incredible. After an exquisitely beautiful red-gold sunset seen from the edge of a wheatfield (in the company of some beautiful thistles), I cheerfully played a few Cantigas on my saz before setting off along the North Downs Way back to Canterbury.

My old friend Marcus surprised me by getting in touch to tell me had become obsessed by Peter Gabriel era Genesis, and urged me to watch this:

I was a huge fan of this era when I was 15—16, and have hardly listened since. Watching this was quite uncanny, partly because I knew all the words, all the musical twists and turns, but also because I'd never really seen what the band looked like onstage back then. Gabriel is such a weird creature, performatively. It's very captivating (especially the epic "Supper's Ready").

My friend Sam from the Cathedral Choir mentioned that since they've not been able to sing together due to lockdown (they're using pre-recorded music in the Cathedral), they'd been talking about getting together for an informal sing in the Precincts. I ended up "accidentally gatecrashing" this with friends Sarah, Megan, Andy and Dan (Sam invited me before discovering it was meant to be wholly private!) but no one minded that we were there. The "lay clerks" (correct name for the adult singers, "choristers" are the boys) stood, appropriately spaced, in a big circle under a beautiful plane tree up in a secret garden that's normally off limits (unless you're staying at The Lodge). They seemed very happy to be together again after months, so there was a lot of chatting and drinking wine, but also half an hour of singing, including (former Canterbury singer) Thomas Tallis' 16th century setting of The Lamentations (of the Prophet Jeremiah). They ended with something that reminded us of the Beach Boys! I remembered enough of the lyrics to Google and discovered it was — get this — a Randy Newman song from 1972 ("Dayton, Ohio — 1903"). We have a truly hip cathedral choir!

The last dozen or so episodes of my contemplative The Cambry Prayer lockdown mixes featured quite a lot of Bridget St. John, who I'd properly checked out (beyond her Kevin Ayers collaborations, which had been my primary interest). I remember John Peel talking about her in the 80s and 90s, as she'd recorded for his Dandelion Records label back in the 60s-70s. Beautiful stuff! Around the time I had her songs streaming through my mind, I noticed one of her intriguing song titles ("Curious Crystals of Unusual Purity") on a box of Maldon Sea Salt. I tweeted about this, tagged her in it (she's still alive and well, living in NYC, occasionally gigging with Kevin's daughter Galen, and has a Twitter account). She got back to me, which made my day : )


It turns out she'd got the title from a packet of salt crystals meant for water softening. So either they were a Maldon product and the slogan goes back to at least the 60s OR it was a different company and thus a weird coincidence. No word from Maldon as yet...

On the saz front, it's now been just over a year since I discovered the Cantigas de Santa Maria (triggered by a strange experience in the Avebury landscape just after summer solstice). I've been learning and practicing a couple of dozen of them (and related Marianist pieces from that era) most days since then. Luke Dodson took an immediate interest when he heard them and has been learning some acoustic guitar parts. Our first attempt to play them together felt like the beginnings of something powerful. I have plans to spawn a little Cantwaraburh Cantigas jam collective (entirely instrumental for now), all in good time...

Monday, July 20, 2020

RIP Judy Dyble (1949-2020)

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Canterbury Sans Frontières: episode 84

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 84

A tribute to Keith Tippett (RIP), an extraordinary mutant-Hatfield-Gong-Caravan improvisation from '74, an equally extraordinary Matching Mole studio jam from late '71, a couple of Robert Wyatt pieces, including one dedicated to Bridget St. John (whose work is celebrated beyond the obvious Kevin Ayers collaborations), Eno, Moondog, Lonnie Liston Smith, Orlando Gibbons and some new Canterbury-influenced material from Nottingham's Zopp. From the Canterbury of today, a guest mix from local producer Caroline Jago (aka Shadow Biosphere) and another track from that recent Koloto EP.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

lockdown mixes

I'm done for now with these two series of daily lockdown mixes. Here's the complete set of links:

Professor Appleblossom's Social Distancing Dancemixes (dub, disco, nu disco, reggae, ragga, dancehall, drum & bass, EDM, Afrobeat, Ethiopique, funk, hiphop, electro, 60s R&B, soul, rock'n'roll, boogaloo, Balkan, minimal techno, trance, deep house, global beats, breakbeat, jungle, Afrodisco, ska, Motown, Stax soul, downtempo, broken beat, soul-jazz, 20s jazz, 80s synthpop, 90s indie-dance, bossa, Brazilian sambass, rocksteady, Big Beat, gospel, electroswing, post-punk, New Orleans jazz, Tropicalia, krautrock, jazz-funk, post-punk, Ghanaian Highlife,...)

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20]

[21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32] [33] [34] [35] [36] [37] [38] [39] [40]

[41] [42] [43] [44] [45] [46] [47] [48] [49] [50] [51] [52] [53] [54] [55] [56] [57] [58] [59] [60]

[61] [62] [63] [64] [65] [66] [67] [68] [69] [70] [71] [72] [73] [74] [75] [76] [77] [78] [79] [80]

[81] [82] [83] [84] [85] [86] [87] [88] [89] [90] [91] [92] [93] [94] [95] [96] [97] [98] [99] [100]

The Cambry Prayer (eclectic mixes of beautiful/contemplative/chilled/sacred music):

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20]

[21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32] [33] [34] [35] [36] [37] [38] [39] [40]

[41] [42] [43] [44] [45] [46] [47] [48] [49] [50] [51] [52] [53] [54] [55] [56] [57] [58] [59] [60]

[61] [62] [63] [64] [65] [66] [67] [68] [69] [70] [71] [72] [73] [74] [75] [76] [77] [78] [79] [80]

[81] [82] [83] [84] [85] [86] [87] [88] [89] [90] [91] [92] [93] [94] [95] [96] [97] [98] [99] [100]

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

50th birthday thing

11th June 2020

So the weekend minifestival ("Profstokk 2020") I'd planned for my 50th birthday obviously wasn't going to happen, due to the COVID thing. I waivered around the idea of some kind of online thing, eventually ruling it out. Then I noticed that my actual birthday was a Thursday, that Sam Bailey had been running a series of online "Free Range TV" avant-garde events since lockdown, and that he didn't have one scheduled for the 11th. So he kindly let me take over the stream. I made this 3.5 hour thing, filming myself around Canterbury curating a kind of time-travelling live music extravaganza. I have no idea how long this will stay up on YouTube, so if you're interested, probably best to watch sooner rather than later. 138 people watched on the night (including me, outside, by a fire, projected on a fairly large screen, while dealing with the live YT comments/chat). Over 230 as of a few days later:

Also, for those who are unaware. I've been working on my DJ mixing skills during lockdown. If you're looking for hour-long kaleidoscopic mixes of high-quality multi-genre dance music, I'm making one every night and posting them over at my Mixcloud page. There are also hour-long "contemplative" mixes each day (The Cambry Prayer), a lot of spiritual jazz, acid-folk, sacred choral music, ambience, minimalism, etc.

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Canterbury Sans Frontières: episode 83

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 83

The middle hour of this episode features a guest mix from our regular correspondent Sir Robert Bunkum: "Sun Ra in the East" (part 1 of 4: 1955-63). Also, Gong Maison live in 1990, Henry Cow live in '74, a pretty hectic Wyatt remix, John Greaves and a fictional Japanese teenager revisiting an old curiosity, Soft Machine playing musical chairs with their heavy friends live on the BBC in 1971 and Caravan in session on New Years Eve '68. From the Canterbury of recent times, new material from Koloto, Frances Knight, Lapis Lazuli and Sam Bailey.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Canterbury Sans Frontières: episode 82

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 82

A Kevin Ayers song perfectly suited for the currently locked-down Canterbury, a '67 Soft Machine B-side, Dave Stewart fusioning out with Bill Bruford and Alan Holdsworth, classic Gong from '71, Matching Mole riffing on Caravan in early '72, Caravan working on something new in early '73, something cosmic from Harmonia in '74 and Hatfield in the studio in '75. Also, some early 80s Czech chamber-prog, a new release from Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and Canterburyesque sounds from both Billy Bottle and the Multiple and Barcelona's Magic Brother & Mystic Sister. From the Canterbury area of now, Lapis Lazuli recorded live with the legendary Damo Suzuki late last year, a new EP from Koloto, fresh soundtrack work from Raven and something beautiful from Frances Knight's forthcoming album.

Friday, April 03, 2020

last gig for a while

Friday 13th March 2020
The Quarterhouse, Folkestone

We were just on the edge of "is this OK?" here in the UK back then (seems like an aeon ago). I had my doubts about the wisdom of going out, but it was Sarah's birthday, and it looks like we (me, Sarah, Megan and Dan) all got away with this excursion. A pretty thin audience, due to Coronavirus fears. Support from harpist India Blue, a Sussex-based enchantress in pixie ears and flowing clothes, in the same kind of world as Jennifer Bennett. Vula Viel were wonderful, I enjoyed dancing, unseen, like a fool at the top of the mostly-empty auditorium. Eventually Sarah and some more engaged audience members got up and danced at the front (Sarah got a surprise when joined by her lovely mum, a wonderful moment). Very impressed by Ruth Golla's militant bass playing!

I DJ'd a party at Olivia's party the night before. Last party for a while. Jimmy, a DJ I know, was there, keen to hear some disco, so I did my best, got the front room jumping for quite a while:

Since lockdown, I've been practicing my mixing skills at home, mixing a live one-hour dance party every evening ("Professor Appleblossom's Social Distancing Dance Mixes") and then assembling a more contemplative hour's mix of sounds for people who aren't in a dancing mood (this was Kim's suggestion, thanks Kim!). I'm calling the latter "The Cambry Prayer", a reference to Riddley Walker and an uncanny experience of being in the Crypt of the Cathedral just before lockdown, completely alone. I'm up to sixteen Dance Mixes and eleven Prayers, all streamable from Mixcloud here.

Monday, March 09, 2020

Canterbury Sans Frontières: episode 81

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 81

Some new Canterbury-sounding sounds from Nottingham via Zopp, a Goa trance remix of a Gong classic, a Robert Wyatt remix, Egg playing Bach, something from a disputable Soft Machine album, an Italian ensemble covering Hugh Hopper's "Facelift", a little bit of Hatfield and a chat with Didier Malherbe. Also, a hugely impressive Henry Cow improvisation from '75 and a selection of their favourite music according to a Melody Maker interview from a year earlier. From the Canterbury of recent times, Lapis Lazuli, Shadow Biosphere and a chamber ensemble called CantiaQuorum interpreting a William Turner painting.

The Dylan Band in Whitstable

Saturday 7th March 2019
The Old Neptune, Whitstable

Two sets of Dylan from a pretty competent tribute band (formerly the Bob Dylan Experience) in a pub full of wasted Whistablites and a few dear old friends. Some of the obvious classics and some real obscurities too. A shame the organist wasn't involved this time, as that would have filled the sound out nicely. Thanks for Eldad for motivating this get-together.

Sunday, March 08, 2020

UKC Chamber Choir and Consort at All Saints, Graveney

Friday 6th March 2019
All Saints Church, Graveney

Many thanks to Megan for the lift out there. I'd had a bad day, and hearing some beautifully sung choral music was just what was needed. As expected, the Byrd was my favourite, but the Ola Gjeilo was a close second. The programme was a bit more contemporary than what I'd been led to expect from the flyer, but it didn't matter. That was the first time I'd been in All Saints, a surprisingly large church for a small village, and one with a peculiar internal layout.

During the set break we went outside in search of the yew tree that long ago burst through (and partially subsumed) its iron railing.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

The Selkies and Alabaster dePlume in Faversham

Saturday 29th February 2020
The Hot Tin, Faversham

This was my first time inside the converted tin church since it's become a venue. Mike and Romana who run it are doing great work.

Beautiful sets from The Selkies (all originals, sounding more confident than ever) and Alabaster dePlume (mostly instrumentals from his new album, the band this time being Conrad, Donna and Matt Webb). AdP surprised most of us mid-set by reciting, from memory, Salvador Allende's final speech before his death in the 1973 coup in Chile.

Big Will got in touch a couple of days before to ask if I'd like to DJ (of course I did). I started with a kind of gentle psych-folk vibe before The Selkies, ramping up the energy as the place filled and the noise floor went up. There was a brief transition set and then a dance party at the end (somewhat dampened by the 10pm curfew, when the sound had to be turned right down):

Fortunately, our friends Oli and Ugne live nearby, with no neighbours(!) and were happy to host an afterparty, doubling as Will's birthday bash. So I played another set there:

lunchtime concert with CantiaQuorum

Wednesday 26th February
Colyer-Fergusson Hall, UKC, Canterbury

An all-German programme from a trio version of CantiaQuorum (violin, trumpet, piano). Beautiful!

Luke Smith's Lazy River Lo-Fi session with Tim Armstrong

Tuesday 25th Feburary 2020
The Moorings Cafe, Canterbury

Nice to hear Luke, Tom and Dave the Drummer once again, in a new setting. Brilliant, surprisingly psychedelic, poetry from Tim Armstrong too (former head of languages at the local Kings School).

southwest adventure

15–24th Feburary 2020


I spent some time in the West Country recently. Not that much music making (despite visiting a lot of musician friends), but I did get to hear Graeme (a.k.a. Dubi Dolczek) sing some Bob Nolan cowboy songs he's learning for a new project with Leonie and Lewis. Also, Leonie played me the masters of her forthcoming Collaborations Volume 2 album and Lewis showed me a computer game called HyperFlight he's recently created, with his own (quite Yama Warashi-like) music as soundtrack. In Bath I helped Rosie sort out her harp pickup/loop station/amplifier setup, which I hope will help her get even deeper into her (very beautiful) harp playing.

There were a couple of enjoyable jam sessions, though. One with Keith, Henry and John (from Children of the Drone) at Henry and Lucy's new place near Nadderwater, west of Exeter:

Listen Here

...and another with Joel (on hurdy-gurdy) and Conrad at Joel and Sarah's farmhouse on Dartmoor:

Listen Here

Sunday, March 01, 2020

Once In A Lifetime!

Note the forearm chops at 1:10... love the attention to detail! Sorry about the Disney logo : (

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Valentines bonfire session

Friday 14th February 2020
secret woodland location near Canterbury

A World Peng gig at the Gulbenkian that afternoon which had been scheduled, but collapsed (part of a very sketchy cultural festival called "South By Southeast") was meant to be followed up by an evening woodland performance. In the end, Luke played a solo set to a few bewildered students drinking coffee and tapping on their laptops, and turned up slightly dispirited to the fire I'd lit. Oli of the WP collective showed up too, also Flo from The Selkies and her boyfriend. No one seemed too keen to sing or play, so after a while, I put some tunes on. Global grooves eventually morphing into deep electronica, and beyond:

The next day was Megan's birthday, which she was celebrating up in London. I was on a coach out to Bristol that evening, and put together a dance mix together for the party she was planning to have in Canterbury on Friday:

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Canterbury Sans Frontières: episode 80

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 80

A long lost Henry Cow gem, Daevid, Gilli and New York Gong live in Kansas City '69, National Health in the studio in '78, Kevin Ayers and the Whole World at their most experimental, Caravan live on Bay Area radio in '74 and Soft Machine on German TV in '73. Also, Jane Weaver, Floating Points and Robert Wyatt both guest vocalising with Ultramarine in'93 and playing live (!) with Paul Weller and Danny Thompson a couple of years ago. From the Canterbury of recent times, something new from Lapis Lazuli, Dr. Sarah Gail Brand pushing the trombone well beyond its sensible limits and a guest mix from a mystery maker of mixtapes which have been showing up in nearby Blean Woods.

Sunday, February 02, 2020

Lapis album launch

Friday 31st January 2020
UCA Bar, Canterbury

The whole band dressed as their fictional new manager Louis Padilla, to launch their new double album (CD only) Damo Suzuki & Lapis Lazuli — Live At The Ramsgate Music Hall 21.09.2019 / Louis Padilla's Muzak Uzi. They played some improv pieces based on some of the improv tracks captured on the Muzak Uzi disc, then "Reich" (from Wrong Meeting) and ended with their 4/4 fave "Hired Soul". Support from Jack Goldstein was intriguing. The audience could've been bigger, but presumably the damp weather, winter blues and Brexit Day gloom kept a lot of the Crash of Moons Club regulars away. Anyway, thanks to everyone who came down, and here are my mixes as resident DJ Professor Appleblossom:

I wasn't quite sure how to precede the unclassifiable genius that is Jack Goldstein, so I just went for a multi-genre "euphoric" vibe to counter the prevailing gloom. Not sure this worked... a lot of stylistic discontinuity, and people not really up for feeling euphoric? It got quite poppy and gospel-y at times. i went prog-euphoric before Lapis, and then a funky dance set for the party people who stuck around afterwards. The UK left the EU during Lapis's set, so we didn't have to listen to the fireworks outside. Weird night. And I played The Doobie Brothers, twice. What was that about?

Monday, January 27, 2020

Ugne's birthday party

25-26th January 2020

Great vibes. Early on, Ugne was playlisting dubstep from about ten years ago (revisiting her 16-yr-old party life in Lithuania). Around 2a.m. she suggested I put on some tunes, so I did. Lively dancing for a couple of hours to my populist funk/soul/disco/hiphop/dancehall set, led by Paul and Ramona(?), an enthusiastic couple who run The Hot Tin (a deconsecrated church venue in town).

Around 2:18:05 in the mix there's an unlikely segue from Afrika Bambaataa into The Sea Nymphs. This was the point when the last bunch of dancers finally departed and it was just me, George from Witchdoctor (massive Cardiacs/Sea Nymphs fan), his sleeping girlfriend Jamie and friend Rich. I decided I was going to stay up and then walk to Oare Marshes for sunrise, then tea and toast with Oare friends Tracy and Nick. So to fill in the next few hours, I put on some chilled electronica and spiritual jazz, washed up, pottered about and chatted with the stragglers:

Jam Sandwich!

Friday 24th January 2020
Smugglers Beer & Music Cafe, Sandwich

I'd only been to this venue once before, during Sandwich Folk'n'Ale festival last summer, when it was open and serving beer, but the music was next door in the Fleur De Lis. This time I got a lift over with Megan, Luca (Soft & Whippy Jam Band frontman) and Roz, got comfortable, had a nice chat with Will and Natasha's son Henry (Now about 18? I can remember him beatboxing with Cocos when he was a small kid about ten years ago!), enjoyed S&W immensely (the place filled up, people were dancing, wonderfully mixed demographic — an "awkward wedding" vibe, as Will put it). The Maywaves (young local rockers) rocked out and had a load of their friends and family packed in around them having a great time, so that was contagious (even though the music doesn't do that much for me...yet...I'm sure they'll evolve in interesting directions!)

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Lapis Lazuli at Elsewhere

Saturday 18th January 2020
Elsewhere, Margate

My first visit to this relatively new, hip venue/record shop/bar. Five bands for a fiver! Sander Cohen and Traps were very loud and aggressive, I wasn't really in the mood for that. Great stuff from Codex Serafini (Brighton ritualistic jam outfit with our mate Harry on drums), I didn't really get Inevitable Daydream — they were trying out some new semi-acoustic popsong-type stuff, rather than the usual heaviness... they ended on a good one though. Lapis weren't at their peak form, Neil a bit partied out from his birthday the night before. But even when they're not a their best, they're still pretty incredible. An amazing drum solo from Adam during "Falling Line"! I'm continually blown away by his drum skills...

I had a nice chat with Georgie from Lazy Pilgrims (now defunct, replaced by a project called Wishing Machine). She remembered me DJing in Nomadsland at Smugglers Festival last summer, specifically playing Jon Hassell. We ended up talking about Another Green World, Margaret Atwood and the theory of hyperobjects.

Libby and James' joint birthday party

Friday 17th January 2019
Libby's cabin, near Canterbury

A live set from Molly's Lips (Phil and Billy from Cocos Lovers), Libby's favourite regional act, plus 6+ hours of me DJing for an interestingly mixed demographic — doing my best to please everyone, there's quite a bit of feel-good, novelty and some slightly cheesy 80s elements (for Lib!). It got deeper as the night went on. Great party!

warmup set: 0:00:00
dance set: 1:22:02

Friday, January 10, 2020

Canterbury Sans Frontières: episode 79

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 79

A Caravan live radio broadcast from 1974 California, Matching Mole back in the UK drinking their politics away in '72, late period Soft Machine with Alan Holdsworth on guitar, the Elton Dean Quartet playing Coltrane in '77, the Steve Hillage Band getting cosmic in Brighton back in November and a Robert Wyatt singalong from the dead centre of Canterbury. Also, a Jane Weaver remix, spiritual/political jazz from Joe Henderson and a rather Cantuarian Zappa outtake. From the Canterbury area of today, some atmospheric electronica from Shadow Biosphere (a.k.a. Caroline Jago) and a collage of archival Raven Bush productions.

Sung Eucharist + Sarah Brand's PhD gig

Monday 7th January 2020
Canterbury Cathedral and St. Gregory's Centre for Music, CCCU

A strange, slow, sorrowful day, feeling rather freaked out about the Iran situation. It was Epiphany, and I decided to go to Evensong to seek solace in hearing some William Byrd sung beautifully in the Cathedral. It turned out to be a sung Eucharist, which was rather unsettling in its ritual formality (although the Byrd was celestial, as expected).

From there I wandered over to St. Gregory's to hear Sarah Gail Brand play her PhD concert (the viva for her thesis was the next day). Extraordinary, the sounds she gets out of a trombone!

And I like her attitude. She got the PhD, I'm glad to hear (the research behind the thesis "The Impact and Affect of Ensemble Interrelationships on Performances of Improvised Music – a Practice Research Study" is described here).

Back home, I spent a few hours listening to Raven Bush's first "Theta OSC" series. This comprises seven sonic creations he's put together for a loosely themed project, something which he's asked me to do some collaborative writing for. I got into a real flow with some creative writing that night, looking forward to developing that.

New Year's Eve!

Tuesday Dececember 31st 2019 - Wednesday January 1st 2020
secret woodland location near Canterbury

Just back from the States, set this little party up, lit a bonfire and played via my little 12V rig (thanks James!) from just before 7pm til just after midnight, flowing through numerous genres and trying to read the space, keeping it fairly "up" and populist. Jackie Wilson's "You're Love (Keeps Lifting Me Higher and Higher)" took us up to midnight, at which point I shouted out something about having now "entered the 20's", and went into a mini-set of 1920's hot jazz instrumentals.

...then Lewis played for a few hours (electroswing, trance, etc.), then I played a more random kind of 4-6a.m. set for the stragglers, about which I remember relatively little. Not a lot of continuity in this, but it must have made sense at the time. Happy 2020 everyone!

Mike Bjella and friends

Saturday 28th December, 2019
Emy J's, Stevens Point, WI

My mum and I went to see her friends Michelle and Steve's son Mike Bjella playing at a local coffeehouse during my last night in Stevens Point. Nice to share some left-field musical culture. They played some fairly free stuff, some more overtly jazzy stuff, a song or two and a Finnish folktune. Mike (primarily a saxophonist) gets together with his old musical friends and plays a little show whenever he's in town. This time it was Aaron Kruziki (winds, guitar) and Devin Drobka (drums). Here's something similar in the same space almost ten years ago (more of an straight-up jazz thing):

I met Mike's dad Steve last time I was in town back in the spring, after seeing him perform a farewell concert (retiring as violin teacher from the local university music department), we talked about Max Richter. I was introduced to Mike after this gig, talked about his recent move to Vermont (he's a music teacher there), about the Brattleboro Free Folk scene, mv&ee (aspects of Vermont he has yet to discover), also his involvement in the Montreal and Toronto music scenes. I remembered some names from episodes of Canterbury Sans Frontieres (Parc X Trio from Montreal, the Toronto-centric Mechanical Sound Forest blog) which were part of his orbit. Nice connection.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Christmas Eve with Mike McAbee at the Elbow Room

Tuesday 24th December 2019
The Elbow Room, Stevens Point, WI

I was expecting the ususal Tuesday night songswap down at the Elbow Room, so this was a nice surprise. Mike's a local friend-of-friends who comes back from Iowa to see family for Xmas and so there's been a tradition of him playing a Christmas Eve show for the usual crowd of lovable misfits down at the Elbow. I hadn't seen him in action for a few years — he really is a great barroom entertainer, singing all the songs everyone knows (with witty/cynical/surreal commentary) and enjoying singing them, even if he doesn't like them, while randomly wandering around the venue with the freedom of his radio headmic and guitar pickup.

A young woman called Sheila was guesting on violin when I arrived (apparently she's playing with local stalwarts Irene's Garden these days). A friend of Mike's joined to sing harmony on "With Or Without You" (which Mike announces as being "With Or Without Yous" by "Yous2" when in Central Wisconsin, "With Or Without Y'all" by "Y'all2" in Texas). His son Abe rather touchingly joined him for a short a cappella Irish song before they downed shots of Jameson's together. He noticed I'd brought my saz and asked if I wanted to join, so we did a reasonably competent "All Along the Watchtower" (me playing into a vocal mic precariously balanced on a barstool).

"500 Miles", "Come On Eileen", "Boys Don't Cry", "What's Up?" etc. got everyone singing along. He was slipping the line "Jeffrey Epstein didn't kill himself" in wherever it would rhyme (e.g. covering Bob Seger a la "Take those old records off the shelf/ Jeffrey Epstein didn't kill himself". Seemingly an in-joke mocking rightwing conspiracy theorists>? But yeah, I think it's fair to conclude that Jeffrey Epstein didn't kill himself.

Later in the night I asked for "Fisherman's Blues" by The Waterboys (Mike's toured in Ireland and Scotland so that seemed a safe bet). He seemed to think I wanted to join in, so I did — bad idea... saz out of tune, nervous system under the influence of Point IPA — but in a noisy drunken Christmas Eve haze i don't think anyone noticed.

Tuesday blues in Madison

Tuesday 17th December
The Ohio Tavern, Madison, WI

Back in Madison, passing through. After experiencing a German version of Cornish pasties ("bierochs") and non-alcoholic beer, I ended up down at the Ohio Tavern for their "Tuesday Bluesday" with residents Blythe Gamble and the Rollin' Dice. Guitar, drums, bass and belting vocals, plus a couple of guest harp players. Mostly originals, it seemed — good stuff.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Canterbury Sans Frontières: episode 78

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 78

A couple of tracks from Hatfield and the North's classic '74 debut album, Soft Machine in '72, Kevin Ayers in '74, Steve Hillage in '76, Daevid Allen guesting on some highbrow musique concrète in late 60's Paris, his old friend Terry Riley improvising with son Gyan in Lithuania, Didier Malherbe's Hadouk Trio live in Paris, the "other" Lindsay Cooper alongside Keith Tippet and Trevor Watts, Henry Cow with Robert Wyatt guest vocalising and an acoustic Caravan cover. From the Canterbury area of today, tracks from Hello Gecko and Anderida, plus the Canterbury Gregorian Music Society live at St. Mildred's Church. The middle hour of this episode features a mix of tasteful techno and progressive electronica, 1992-2019.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Crash of Moons Club December Dance Dojo

Saturday 7th December 2019
UCA Bar, Canterbury

The Crash had been slowly accumulating some fairly low-level debt, so we decided to pay ourselves off by throwing an end-of-season dance party. I started with a warmup set as people were arriving, leading into Lewis (a.k.a. DJ Myriad)'s eclectic global/tribal trance set, then Lloyd (a.k.a. DJ Special Terry) playing some classic funk and soul on vinyl. Bianca (a.k.a. DJ Binx) had to cancel but sent along her mate Dan to fill in, who instantly enlivened the room with his funky house, nu-disco and drum'n'bass tunes. I then put on my Professor Appleblossom labcoat and ramped things up with disco, dancehall, Afrobeat, funk, hiphop, electro, etc., culminating with Bob Marley's "One Love" just before the 1am curfew. Thanks to everyone for coming down and helping keep the Crash of Moons Club afloat, and creating such a great vibe. Also to Lewis and Rachel for the fabulous decor, Neil for the technical support and Trish at the bar for being so accommodating of us.

Here are my sets:

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Barbados Independence Day

Saturday 30th November 2019
Flo and Sam's house, Old Dover Road, Canterbury

Florence invited me to a party at her and Sam Brothers' house, jokingly themed as a joint Barbados Independence Day and Winston Churchill's birthday party. I ended up DJing, starting off with a set of Barbadian calypso and spouge (I'd rapidly educated myself in the history of Barbadian music that afternoon). We then had a flag raising ceremony outside (yes, Flo and Sam's housemate had sourced a genuine Barbadian flag) with me blasting the island's national anthem out of the window. Then it was a mix of down-tempo dance music and dub with Churchill speeches mixed in. Rather thematically, there was a genuine WWII bomb crater in the front garden, and a post-war bomb shelter/bunker built under the house (which Sam has converted into his guitar repair workshop).

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Anderida, Chop Chop and Oh Mama at Crash of Moons Club

Friday 29th November 2019
UCA Bar, Canterbury

I'd put Anderida forward after hearing their collaboration album Here Goes... with my poet friend Ameera. Their set was based on that, with Ameera's voice pre-recorded (she's in Maastricht now). Amazing guitar work from Marcus Weekes, and great overall jammed-out band sound. Chop Chop are an arty Brighton band with a Galician poet as frontman. Very hard to describe or pigeonhole, but they turned out to be seriously engaging. Oh Mama (also from Brighton) had played a short set at a Crash of Moons event some months ago and were keen to get them back. The etherial vocals and crunchy riffage make for a sound that reminds me a bit of Heron Oblivion (Meg Baird from Espers' recent project). We got a reasonable enough turnout, although with such a density of Crash gigs in recent weeks, it seems that people were becoming a bit apathetic and/or taking them for granted. Where was everyone? What else was going on on a Friday night in Canterbury that was better than three amazing, original live bands for a fiver??

Anyway, here are my mixes from before/between/after:

Friday, November 22, 2019

AMM at Free Range

Thursday 28th November 2019
St. Gregory's Centre for Music, CCCU, Canterbury

This was the third (I think) Free Range visit from the legendary experimentalists. This time the lineup was Keith Rowe (electronics/radio/strings), John Tilbury (piano) and Eddy Prevost (drums/percussion). The last Free Range of the season. I sat behind EP carefully watching his electric-tooth-brush-on-gong work, etc.

OMG Hillage!!

Sunday November 24th November 2019
The Concorde, Brighton

Bloody hell!! Steve Hillage! "Actual Steve Hillage!" as Gong frontman Kavus Torabi beamingly introduced him after Steve had introduced the rest of them. I'm not even going to attempt to tell you how mindblowing this gig was. At one point during the Om Riff I swear his guitar was gone Hillage was just playing pure light : )

That was the first time I'd seen Gong since Daevid died. It occured to me that it was also the same place I'd seen Daevid (with Gong on the 2012 tour) for the last time. Although I'm still not entirely convinced by the new material (their set was all new stuff apart from a superb "You Can't Kill Me"), as soon as they were jamming I was transported straight off into Gongspace. This was Gong, despite my original reservations about them continuing as a band with that name. I got to stick around after the bouncers had swept all the hangers-on at the bar outside, as Adam from Jouis happened to be working there. This then meant that I got to have a friendly chat with Kavus and Gong wind player Ian East (who lives in Herne Bay and regularly comes along to Crash of Moons gigs).

...and many thanks to Adam and Louis from Jouis for putting me up at their psychedelic crash pad afterwards, the perfect place to come down from an experience like that.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Luo, Inwards and Meshes at Crash of Moons Club

Wednesday 20th November 2019
UCA Bar, Canterbury

Luo were staggeringly good, Inwards played one continuous, lush set, and Meshes' stuff was pretty interesting too. Not a huge audience, but respectable. As resident DJ Professor Appleblossom I played electronica sets before/between/after:

0:00:00 pre-Meshes (ambient/glitchy/Warp-y sounds)
0:57:24 pre-Inwards (more of the same)
1:08:47 pre-Luo (likewise)
1:20:47 robot-disco-that-wasn't to-be, later taking an abstract turn for the packdown crew

Sunday, November 17, 2019

John Butcher, et al. at Free Range

Thursday 14th November 2019
St. Gregory's Centre For Music, Canterbury

It doesn't really feel like Free Range in this space, but it works for now, and we witnessed an incredible performance from this trio (one long improvisation and one shorter one). I had an intense conversation about music theory with Luke Menniss (Lapis Lazuli's mercurial bass player) before they got started.

Sam Bailey played a short support set using TWO grand pianos. One hand on each, seated between them!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

classical guitar at St. Pauls Without The Walls

Monday 11th November 2019
St. Pauls Without The Walls, Canterbury

Incredible playing from Michael Butten: Dowland, Gerhard, Rodrigo, Bach (a violin sonata MB arranged for guitar), Legnani, Britten and Albeniz. It was the Dowland that drew me to the event (as well as a chance to spend some time in the best-named church in England!), but the fugue movement of the Bach was a real revelation, and Britten's Downland-inspired piece was entirely new to me. He hadn't prepared an encore, so played Downland's "Frog Galliard" a second time (his favourite, and one of mine). Thanks to the good people of the Canterbury Guitar Society for putting this on.

Monday, November 11, 2019

"Soyboy" video shoot

Sunday 10th November 2019
Blackfriars Street, Canterbury

Luke "Pyramid Youth" Dodson was shooting a music video for his soon-to-go-viral song "Soyboy" at Laszlo's place in Blackfriars Street, under the umbrella of the mysterious local World Peng organisation. It was effectively a wild houseparty with Nancy on camera duty, and the dresscode went something like this:

shamanic kombucha goddess / paisley underworld spirit / quantum steampunk wizard / cosmically triggered kimchi psychonaut / forest glade pixie nymph / Joe Rogan's DMT guardian entity / Kentish river pagan / four-dimensional disco monster / cyber-discordian traplord / beetroot raggamuffin / bin-dive druidess

I showed up as Professor Appleblossom in my labcoat and ended up playing a DJ set, starting with rowdy dancehall and hiphop, gradually drifting (via some surprises) into deep-chill spiritual jazz for the late-night crew.

We then somehow ended up watching hurdy-gurdy videos, including this, after I remembered the name of an extraordinary player I'd happened to see trying out an instrument at the Saint Chartier instrument makers' fayre in 1999:

Canterbury Sans Frontières: episode 77

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 77

Gong in '73, Lindsay Cooper with Hugh Hopper and friends live in 1990, Hugh solo in '76, another Robert Wyatt cover from North Sea Radio Orchestra, a stripped-down National Health live in '77, a slab of Egg's first album, some neo-Canterbury sounds from the San Francisco Bay area, neo-krautrock from Tokyo and a French perfume advert featuring Daevid, Gilli and Kevin! From the Canterbury area of today, new stuff from Paisley Mess and Hello Gecko. The middle hour of this episode features a mix of experimental sounds from Season 8 of the weekly Free Range series of avant garde events held locally.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Canopy Connections at UCA Bar

Friday 8th November 2019
UCA Bar, Canterbury

This was the launch of the just-formed Kentish Rhizomes collective (Lewis, Emilia, Rachel and me). You always worry no one's going to come to these things, but we got a great crowd. Two VJs, two DJs (me as Professor Appleblossom, Lewis a.k.a. Myriad) + circus performers and spoken word + a fabulous live set from the Papylonian Babooshkies (the electric version). Lewis played a trance-oriented set after the band, I played a pretty eclectic one beforehand. There was a little welcome ceremony in the middle of my set and then Emilia and Megan began a performance piece with silk fans as I started back up again with some Ituri rainforest Baka singing, Gabonese Bwiti beats... and then just went off...

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Crash of Moons with Codex Serafini, Punching Swans and The Ranch

Thursday 6th November 2019
UCA Bar, Canterbury

Another Crash triumph! Codex Serafini were a wonderful surprise. I knew our friend Harry Hayes was playing with them (they're Brighton-based I think) but didn't realise he was the drummer. They play their heavy drone-style rock in matching robes, faces hidden behind curtains of long hair, creating an otherworldly, ritualistic atmosphere. Punching Swans brought the punchy post-punk skronk from Medway, and The Ranch (from Malta) were back for their third Crash appearance with a brilliant new guitarist and album's worth of new material. Edgier and grittier than before, still very danceable and fun though.

Here are my mixes as resident DJ Professor Appleblossom. The drummer from Punching Swans came over during "Cruiser's Creek" by The Fall to say how much he was enjoying the selection ("Hit after hit!"), always a good sign. I even got a request (from a bloke about my age who'd come over to say I had "eclectic taste for such a young person"!!) for "Lies, and Then" by Psychic TV, which I never got round to playing. Not sure what I think about Psychic TV these days...

Melt Banana in Ramsgate

Saturday 2nd November 2019
Ramsgate Music Hall

Support from Joshua Blackmore (who seem like a 2019 Bill Bruford, composing complex music for drums and synths, and putting together a band to play it). Melt Banana punkier than expected. I can vaguely remember hearing John Peel play them in the early 90's, but more the name than the music. It took a while to get used to the fact the drums and bass were prerecorded (just the two core members on vocals and guitar this tour). But singer Yasuko's live triggering of the drum breaks, and general energy, made up for this. Pretty unrelenting, but I got into it. A lot of people there got really into it (a moshpit emerged for a couple of songs).