Tuesday, June 05, 2018

new saz baptism in JP's backyard

19th May 2018
West Side, Stevens Point, Wisconsin

After a month in Point waiting for a saz to arrive from Turkey, it showed up two days before I was set to leave. That would have been my dad's 94th birthday.

I did get to take it out and play it once (it's going to stay there for future visits). Stef from Sloppy Joe was keen to play music before I left, and JP and Molly offered to host in their backyard, with a bonfire. My playing was somewhat affected by (i) having not played for over five weeks; (ii) several bottles of Point beer; (iii) playing in fluctuating light/temperature conditions; (iv) not having heard most of the songs before, but enough with the excuses, make your own minds up:

Listen Here

I've added a bonus track, National Public Radio's most famous voice, Carl Kasell, reading "Jabberwocky" onto cassette some years ago as a prize for my friend Maud (not "Maude") when she won on a radio quiz show. I'd digitised it for her (she has no tape player these days) the day before.

Crash of Moons with Witchdoctor and Iran Iran

Wednesday 30th June, 2018
Bramley's, Canterbury

Another excellent Crash of Moons Club night, aided by the expanded COMC team. Witchdoctor (from Herne Bay) were sounding better than ever and dropped a cover of the Cardiacs' "Everything I Can't Eat" in the middle of their set. After a brief false start, Bristol's Iran Iran blew the roof off with their heavy noise/doom prog. They seemed amazed at the reaction (presumably used to a few blokes in the their 30s standing watching grimly) when the Canterbury crowd started throwing themselves around to the joyous racket that was being made. Crazy energy!

Perfect sound as always from Big Will on the mix.

I was back in action as COMC resident DJ, Professor Appleblossom. Here are my mixes (a Cardiacs-inspired set before Witchdoctor, morphing towards doom/math/postrock in the inter-band set and getting kinda disco in the post Iran Iran set). I got to play much longer than usual for that last set, great to see so many people dancing to such things as Lee Perry and Augustus Pablo's "Vibrate On", The Raincoats' "Ooh Ooh La La" and Orchestre Poly-rythmo de Cotonou.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Canterbury Sans Frontières: episode 59

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 59

Kevin Ayers acoustic in London in 2006. Hugh Hopper (i) collaborating with Portland, Oregon's Caveman Shoestore in '99; (ii) back at Canterbury Art College performing "O Caroline" with the Pig Band (HH, Coxhill, Pyle, Biddulph) in '84; (iii) with Shortwave (HH, Malherbe, Pyle, Miller) at Gong's 25th birthday party in 1994; and (iv) with Soft Heap (HH, Dean, Pyle, Gowen) in '78. Richard Sinclair with (i) Caravan in '83; (ii) Italian band Zenith last winter; and (iii) with local pianist David Rees-Williams in Seattle, 2002. Matching Mole's full set at the Bilzen Jazz Festival in August '72, Gong on French TV in '71 plus Canterburyesque sounds from Manna/Mirage, Birds and Buildings, Arkham and Parc X Trio. A recently surfaced Manzanera/Eno/Wyatt jam, a Hillage B-side and some cosmic jazz from Sun Ra and His Arkestra in '59. From the Canterbury of now, new music from Koloto, Nelson Parade and Humble Pious, plus something from a 2014 Arlet EP.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Canterbury Sans Frontières: episode 58

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 58

Caravan demos from late '72, a fragment from the legendary Hatfield/Gilgamesh "double quartet" composition, Richard Sinclair singing a Hatfield classic with Italian prognauts Zenith backing him, something from Robert Wyatt's opus magnum Rock Bottom, Art Bears, Hillage live in Germany in '77, another intriguing Hugh Hopper obscurity (featuring Didier Malherbe), an oddity from Daevid Allen's little known Twelve Selves album and a tribute to Spirogyra's Martin Cockerham (RIP). Also, Herbie Hancock getting far-out in '73, a major new electronic release from Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, former Miles Davis sideman Barney Wilen recorded somewhere in Africa in 1969 or '70, and a psychedelic studio gem from the good old Grateful Dead.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Crash of Moons DJ mixes (The Thirteen Club, Milon)

25th April 2018
Bramley's Bar, Canterbury

I was away for this one, sadly, but provided remote (transatlantic!) DJ mixes for before/between/after bands. Here's what (hopefully) got played on the night:

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

recent jam at Jacob's

Jacob's flat, St. Thomas Hill, Canterbury
7th April 2018

Jacob — electric and acoustic guitars
Luke — acoustic guitar
Oli — soprano saxophone
Laszlo — beats and samples
Matthew — saz

Listen Here

Local MC Reminisce was hovering nearby, occasionally suggesting we switch up the beat, but declined to spit any bars on the occasion. Lasz was using Ableton Live to trigger beats and samples.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Canterbury Sans Frontières: episode 57

Canterbury Sans Frontières: Episode 57

Some unearthed Kevin Ayers recordings from the legendary June 1974 concert with Eno, John Cale and Nico, and also of Caravan's reunion at London's Marquee club in 1983. Also, Robert Wyatt talking Tchaikovsky, the Delta Saxophone Quartet covering Soft Machine, the Soft Machine themselves live in May 1970, Pink Floyd live and King Crimson in the studio in 1971, more Khan jams from the 1972 European tour, Lindsay Cooper and friends live at The Bastille in '82. From the Canterbury of recent times, The Boot Lagoon live in December 2010 and a couple of Lapis Lazuli remixes.

Richard J Blyth, COIMS and Ekoda Map at Crash of Moons Club

Wednesday 28th March 2018
Bramley's, Canterbury

Another unqualified COMC success!

Here are my mixes from the occasion as resident DJ Prof. Appleblossom:

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

early jams with Jacob

I've been jamming fairly regularly with Jacob Brant (a.k.a. Yakobfinga, once of the Canterbury postrock/drone band Bardo Thodol), and occasionally one or two other friends. Saz and acoustic guitar mostly (though he's also a mean bass player). Neither of us has been directing this process, but it's slowly crystallising into something. Here's a compilation of some jams and fragments (some a bit wonky, but still worthy of preservation) recorded since last November.

Listen Here

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.