Sunday, January 08, 2012

Adam and Josh birthday jams

On returning from the West, apart from a winter solstice sunrise ramble out to the little known neolithic long barrow known as "Julliberrie's Grave" a few miles west of Canterbury, I was completely immersed in finishing Volume 2 of the trilogy of maths books I've been working on for quite a while now. Matt T was due to visit after Christmas for the final push, and I had a lot to prepare in those few days before he came, so I worked right through Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day... Actually, Christmas Eve I did briefly stop by The Unicorn in St. Dunstans to catch up with a cluster of Furthur/Dawn Chorus/Sondryfolk friends. I'd just been given a copy of Rob Young's Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain's Visionary Music, a truly wonderful present, by Miriam, so I had that with me... everyone very interested, as would be expected — Dawson spotted the Simon Reynolds quote on the cover and so we ended up discussing his "Hardcore Continuum" essays and recently 'created' genre which he's calling "hypnagogic pop".

'Electric Eden' cover

Josh Magill was down there too, along with most of the rest of the family, and mentioned a joint birthday party with Lapis/Delta drummer Adam to be held at The Bungalow on the Old Dover Road on the 27th, so I allowed myself to get out to that too. When I arrived, there was a thunderous two-drumkit jam going on in the rehearsal room, Adam and Josh drumming (naturally) with Cameron, Phil and Neil from Lapis respectively on bass, sax and guitar. I stuck my head in to listen and Neil (as always) immediately suggested plugging my saz in. So I did. I didn't realise this was being recorded, but Phil later sent me some MP3s, so I've made a little edit of the better stuff where I can be heard:

Listen Here

Matt was down the next evening, and we worked flat out to finish the book...which we did, achieving our end-of-2011 deadline with a few hours to spare! So we still got to enjoy New Year's Eve. Miriam and her friend Mark (who once came along and jammed with us during one of our Random Article sessions) were performing as a duo for a feast being held in the cafe part of the Goods Shed, the farmers' market near Canterbury West station, where Miriam sometimes works. So we dropped in to listen to the second set and furtively sip local ales in the shadows. They played a mix of jazz standards, Django, klezmer, a little bit of rebetika (Mark plays bouzouki as well as guitar), Miriam singing and playing violin. The highlight came right at the end, when Miriam made a little announcement and then suddenly they were singing an a cappella version of the revolutionary 17th century Diggers' anthem "The World Turned Upside Down" to the (presumably mostly well-off) diners. Ha! Wonderful... I know she learned that one from Chumbawamba's English Rebel Songs while working on a theatre piece about the Luddites some years ago. Then it was back up to the woods for a big fire, more ale and general merriment. Matt disappeared briefly at one point and reappeared with his bouzouki (Mark didn't join us) one point I (blurrily) remember him jumping over the fire while playing it. At some point both Miriam and I must have disappeared and reappeared with our instruments, 'cos at one point we were all playing together. I remember thinking "This seems in tune, in time, generally rather together, but I doubt that it actually is..." I'm glad some music got played anyway, regardless of what the wildlife made of it.

Matt and I also paid a visit to Muskie Studio, the little twinkly, padded caravan space our Canadian friend Paul Clifford has put together on a farm in the bleak, flat, cabbage-growing area near Ash. He and his wife Anne are always a joy to be around. Paul played us some of his recent solo recordings, he and Matt discussed studio technique and technology... I can't even begin to describe what his stuff sounds like, as it has a Beefheart-like refusal (or inability?) to conform to any sort of convention or expectation (without sounding like Beefheart). He also told us about his friend Michael J. Ward-Bergeman who he plays with in Groanbox who's just finished up a self-imposed project called "Gig 365" (yes, that's a whole year of gigging every day, without fail, a "gig" being defined as a public performance of at least half an hour to at least two people...and he succeeded, while travelling around the planet, playing in chip shops in Thanet, airports in Latin America...)

Paul also made it to a recent Random Article improv session for the first time in a while (we've switched our weekly night from Thursdays to Wednesdays so we can check out Sam Bailey and Evan Parker's new "Free Range" nights up at the Veg Box Cafe on Thursdays). That one was him, Miriam, Tom and I. Still haven't listened back. In fact, I've a huge backlog of RA jams I really must get around to editing. Sigh...

And even more recently, last Sunday, Andy R and I met up as usual to play Go at his house in Wincheap. Fellow resident Ash's newish band Famous James and the Monsters were rehearsing in the cellar, now with Phil Self from Cocos Lovers (also living in the house) on mandolin, Josh Magill from Zoo For You on drums, and a couple of other people borrowed from other bands filling out the sound. We were directly above them, in the front room, contemplatively placing black and white stones on a grid while Helen painted and collaged and told us about her experiences with the "Occupy" movement in London. From below came the sound of an incredible band, on top form, blasting through their set, punctuated by whoops and hollers and the usual ridiculous banter...but it felt like being at our own private gig (with the band, bizarrely playing from under the floor) than overhearing a rehearsal. Superb. They're more of a "good time" band than the various prog-psych-math-post-rock bands that have come out Canterbury in recent times, but there's nothing wrong with that. And I could sense some complex shifting polyrhythmic something creeping in there via Josh's excellent beats, so they may become far more than just a good time band. They've a gig soon at The Black Griffin — I expect I shall be there...


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