Monday, August 19, 2013

reconnecting with Exeter

It's been a while since I was last in Exeter, but this last visit reminded me while I like the place so much.

Tuesday 13th August 2013:
Another jam with Henry, Keith, John from Children of the Drone. Henry was playing his electronic drums, and we were all plugged into a mixing desk, each with a clean headphone mix. John and Henry were swapping bass and electric guitar (John using a lot of MIDI effects as usual). I'd forgotten how easy it can be to improvise music with the right people.

Listen Here

Wednesday 14th August 2013:
A brief saz and acoustic guitar jam with Chris at his flat. Chris mostly does electronic music these days and operates under various aliases online. But as time was limited, he got out his five string (one missing!) acoustic and we just played for a while, really pleasingly flowing stuff:

Listen Here

I then took off to Chagford (on the edge of Dartmoor) to visit Andy and Nomi who've just moved there from Oxford. There was a lot of catching up to do, so the instruments never came out. But I got the latest on Andy's bands Wod and Telling the Bees (both Oxford-based, but intending to continue) and we talked over the rather unsatisfying psychedelic music panel I chaired (and he participated in) at Breaking Convention in July. We also got a couple of walks in, along the River Teign and up the nearby Nettadon Hill. The 173 busride from Exeter to Chagford to back was made particularly enjoyable when I realised I had Spiro's Lightbox and Kaleidophonica albums on my Zoom digital recorder and a pair of earphones — their music seemed to blend perfectly with the Devonian topography. Andy reminded me that Alex from Spiro has another ("more abstract") project called Three Cane Whale which I shall have to check out — either Wod or the Bees are supporting them in Bristol sometime soon.

Back in Exeter I stopped by St. Mary Steps church (at the bottom of Stepcote Hill) which is usually locked, but which was open for a Thursday afternoon "solemn mass" celebrating the Festival of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. I wanted to have a look inside, and was curious what a solemn "high Anglican" mass would be like. Woah. It was remarkably like something out of Monty Python. Six clergymen, lots of costume changes, props, genuflecting, silly hats, bizarre ritual... and everything (apart from the opaque sermon and a few quick announcements) was sung in that odd sing-song voice. One of the strangest things I've seen in a while, and very far removed from what I was brought up to think Christianity was about. It was more like a kind of deeply confused Goddess worship. And the music was pretty joyless. But I'm somehow glad they're still doing it...


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