Friday, December 07, 2007


The continental adventure got cut short for various reasons - I've been back in England almost a fortnight (would be at Fraggle's squat Barcelona right now, had things gone according to plan).

That 'flu meant that my saz hardly left its case in France - I got it out one night up at Colin and Cami's winter base (Joel and Sarah's semi-ruined farmhouse in the Pyrenees) and had a bit of a play. Colin's hurdy-gurdy never emerged during my days there - he was rather busy making willow baskets and looking after his 16-month-old daughter. He did show me an amazing film of gypsy music, from Rajasthan to Western Europe, called Latcho Drom, though (and I discovered the rather excellent Northern Californian jazz-reggae band Groundation via Cami's laptop MP3 collection).

My sudden return meant I didn't get to see Inge's folk-trio Youshka playing, or to record their demo, or record anything with Inge. A shame.

I had an evening back in Exeter, with Vicky playing me her latest discoveries (Tape and Magnetic Fields among them - I'd read about Tape in The Wire some time ago, been really impressed by their approach to music...good to actually hear their stuff). Since then, she's switched me onto the mighty (and mightily weird!) Volcano the Bear. Woah.

The next day, it was straight to Glastonbury to work with Matt Spacegoat on the new maths book project. We were originally meant to meet in Granada, then it was Barcelona, then the south of France - in the end, it was St. Dunstans, a big old crumbling house right next to the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey (Matt's got bay windows looking right at the main structure which sits above the Crypt/Lady Chapel). He's got Pondlife Studios operating out of that room, had been recently working with Green Angels on their album, then touring (on bass) with Martha Tilston, then out in Poland and the Czech Republic playing sitar with Transglobal Underground. The morning I left, Primaeval were setting up in the room to record their new CD. Between all this, we managed to have a very productive creative week planning the illustrations for volume 1 of what has now evolved into an epic trilogy. Listening to a lot of inspiring music via Matt's iTunes playlists - Eno, Múm, Talk Talk, Cocteau Twins, Orchestre Baobab, Nick Drake - as well as a lot of Jethro Tull (the first band he ever got into, took me back to teenagedom too).

Fellow Spacegoat Pok got in touch during the week to say he was being helped to transfer some old video footage of the 'Goats busking in 1994. Here they are, in Exeter High Street, of all places. Note young Matt's resemblance to a young Robin Williamson in the opening shot...

[There's more on the way, apparently. Here be "Dragons".]

I had a couple of nice saz and mandola jams in the kitchen with Willow, which we both really enjoyed. I was getting up earlier than everyone else most mornings, sitting by the AGA in the kitchen jamming on my saz. Willow reported waking up in a pleasantly confused state one such morning, thinking Nick Drake was in the kitchen (down the corridor from his room) playing my saz [it was me, working on arrangements of "Horn" and "Black-Eyed Dog"].

Another resident of St. Dunstans is Tony, a Northumbrian medical doctor and luthier. He was playing little bits of beautiful folk guitar in the kitchen between the big meals and social hecticness, but we didn't really get a chance to jam. He did take a real interest in my instrument though, advised me on knotting the frets and suggested switching to internally-geared banjo tuning pegs. While I was there, he built most of a cittern from his "scrap box"! It was the perfect venue for Matt and I to get creative, although the book took priority over anything musical. I got to see Maya from Dragonsfly, Sam and Stevie from Green Angels, Sym from Tsunami/SunArmy, but no jams, unfortunately. I haven't recorded anything for ages.

Back in the Canterbury area now, working on a simple, joyful D major tune which has been kicking around for a while, listening to a lot of late 80's Dead (working on a saz arrangement of "Must Have Been the Roses"...aaah...)


Blogger Celestial Elf said...

I was so impressed by Pok's music and verse that i made this machinima film of him reading his poetry and playing his mandolin, please enjoy Excerpts from The Pook Of Pok, Bright Blessings ~

7:09 PM  

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