Monday, October 27, 2008

A Fresh Start.

Normally, life out here proceeds with the infinite calm of 'silver mountains, iron cliffs', as beloved by the sages in the Shobogenzo. However, after the entropic events surrounding the organizing of the last couple of gigs, and my resultant somewhat over-wrought and fried playing, I have felt there might be other ways to make a living - so what could be more fun than taxidermy? Why the original author of the manual used an illustration of a mounted bat's head for his dust cover on the left here is something we'll probably never know. Perhaps this is the taxidermist's equivalent to putting small ships in bottles, (how do they do that?) another lost art. Disturbing imagery, perhaps, but humor me for a moment; especially as one could now always reside with ever-faithful companions, such as the former wonder dog Bonzo, (admittedly, after 12 years in the ground, not really a good prospect for stuffing) or even surround oneself with friends (and not-so) that one has outlived? Imagine the fun, as you regale them with stories, or even draw hilarious toothbrush mustaches and Frankenstein-style scars on them that they never would have put up with in this realm?

Anyway, things have gotten better over the last 24 hours: I no longer have to pretend that I'm Canadian, and have taken the red maple leaf off my backpack. (a later note - I now see that this little phrase is all over the Internet amongst ex-pat bloggers... that's me, always behind the curve) I always had a problem if anyone followed up with a question about Canada, only having hitched up there a few times in my late teens to circumvent the New Hampshire drinking age, therefore remembering very little about Montreal, or the trailer parks one inevitably ended up in. So I sat, in the small hours of election night, surrounded by half crushed tins of Co-op budget lager (the requisite bottles of Pabst Blue Ribbon being unobtainable in Suffolk) getting a bit emotional.

So apart from my playing, the gigs went well, and Riprap were able to pull the settings together of Malcolm's stuff convincingly on the night. In a contrast to working with just music, I find that the text is a very useful structure - I think this has always been the case, now more than ever, when the lack of agreed templates or song structures makes it more difficult to handle larger spans of musical time coherently. I tend to try and compose a series of discrete 'triggers' that have their own particular texture for us to move away from and towards - almost a series of stones in a Zen garden.

I consider myself incredibly lucky to have accidentally assembled an ensemble with such a spooky level of space and communication. The thing I was always aiming for was the type of open-ended trigger-forms that early (and I must stress the 'early', it all went a bit off after say, 1974) Weather Report developed from Miles. That, and the concept of acoustic/analogue group improvisation that remained largely unexplored since New Orleans. What you see on above is a fragment of some of the triggers we use to take off from and return to, allowing the structure to be open enough to allow the ensemble to react to whatever pace the poet chooses to read at. The interesting thing I have already noticed is that Malcolm already feels confident and comfortable enough to depart from the strict reading of the text, and enter into the general continuum of improv. Only in a small way at present, but it's something we can develop.

So, we continue our mad search for kicks

friday week gig ... maybe laptop guy as well.


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