Oh the days go by, the crazy people stay crazy, the adults inspire little confidence, the sane people try to stay sane. There’s no bread or pasta or toilet rolls in the shops. Everything is cancelled and nobody knows who to trust, what to believe, who to blame, who you can touch, what the dangers actually are. Italy is out of control, but China seems stable. Where are we? Anxiety level is running high, everyone is nervous and this seems like just the beginning as schools in England close tomorrow. Those poor kids, the fear the older people have to face. According to this link, the normal flu has taken 22,000 lives in the USA already this year from all age groups. With this confusing statistic in mind in the wake of Corona, I’m moving on to life.
On a positive note Bandcamp are waiving fees for one day only, kindly giving us musicians the chance to take advantage of an income source. So we have just added Noctorum’s Afterdeath EP for download. You can also download all four Noctorum albums, Seeing Stars and solo records, check it out to see what’s available. On the physical, we have also added some t-shirts, MOAT’s first album on vinyl (with free CD) and some In Deep tote bags. In Deep and Afterlife t-shirts have very limited sizes (all small and just one XXL). But we do have a range of Noctorum Honey Mink Forever t-shirts. Yay!
So, today: Dare and I were in the studio, working on the Space Summit project, the collaboration with sessioneer Jed from Minneapolis. There was a whole lot of Ed’s drum stuff to sort out (still ongoing), but we put that on one side and proceeded to add guitars, bass and keys. We had an issue with my acoustic six. Dare was about to string it when the peg that holds in the bottom E string sheared off at the head and sat fast in the bridge and became immovable. He had to take it to the local luthier who has the tools. Between them they managed to force out the broken peg and Dare put on a new set of lovely silky smooth Elixir strings. So I went into the live room to play the rhythm part for the song. It’s interesting because it’s mostly upstrokes played with the pad of your finger. Try it, it creates a lovely texture. You can hear the sound on Hotel Womb from Starfish, although it is an electric guitar on that track (my Rick 6 from 1966).
Rickenbacker bass was next and I played with Jed’s ideas, redid them and came up with some new bits. Then I took out my 1965 Rickenbacker 12 string (so lovely to play) and replayed Jed’s 12 string guitar parts more accurately. It’s interesting working this way, working remotely. We have me coming up with the original idea on Skype (wherever I am). Jed then turns the idea into a song with lyrics, melody, vocals, other instrumental ideas and a vague arrangement and then he sends it to us. We keep his lead vocals and some of the guitar parts but change the bass, redo some guitars and add some more. We work on the keyboard ideas and treat them the same as the guitars accept Jed or Dare usually play them, I’m good with one finger. We’ll continue and hopefully if we get the drums sorted have it mixed by Saturday evening. That will be four songs down, six to go. 2021 seems almost realistic for a release.
There was a card from the post office for me to go and pick up a package. It was the first Gnidrolog album, a sealed reissue, very reasonably priced at £15.99. The album is called, wait for it, In Spite Of Harry’s Toenail. On one hand you can see why it didn’t really happen for them in 1972, but by this title you also might be able to see how they formed the controversial punk group Pork Dukes some years later.
Apart from a trip to the shop to buy 50 toilet rolls, 18 packets of pasta and 500 bottles of hand sanitizer, I was in the studio all day and didn’t finish till 11.30PM so I didn’t get to the album listening till late. Starting with an absolute classic obscurity, Afreaka by Demon Fuzz. They were in fact formed in England with members that had immigrated from Commonwealth countries. They are Progressive, Psychedelic Soul, Jazz and Funk all rolled into one. A must have if you ever see it as a reissue. Good luck finding the original album. I bought it in a record shop in Cologne called Nunk where I have got to know the owner Uwe a little bit. Cool dude, came highly recommended by him and he was right.
After that I looked through some of the records in the new reissues section that I haven’t got to yet and pulled out Seasons Changing by Byzantium. A few later luminaries were originally in the band although they are perhaps better known as working with people you know. Chaz Jankel (keys, guitar and vocals) worked closely with Ian Dury. Mick Barakan AKA Shane Fontayne played guitar with Springsteen, Ian Hunter, Joe Cocker and loads more. Robin Sylvester played bass with Christine McVie and engineered a few Rory Gallagher albums. Robin Lamble played with Al Stewart. David Hentschel became a producer engineer, working on Elton’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, allegedly George’s All Things Must Pass (although I can’t see a credit on the record but then again I played on Tom Verlaine’s The Wonder and didn’t get a credit either), Genesis’ A Trick Of The Tale and many, many more. So quite a bunch. They say they are Psychedelic, well this, their 2nd album, isn’t. It’s more sometimes Progressive and other times just, well, a seventies band. If you expect Psychedelia and heavy Prog or Folk Prog it’s not for you. If you expect an interesting seventies band, it’s great.
Next, Black Mountain’s newest record, Destroyer (2019). They come from Canada and I’m a fan. They’re an odd band, Rock, seventies sounding, heavy, not so heavy, a male and female vocal pairing with Rachel Fannan and Stephen McBean. Songs with lots of instrumental passages, riffs, mellotron. Stephen McBean is also in Pink Mountaintops. This led me to a heavy mood and I found Alice In Chains’ Rainier Fog from 2018. I always liked the Layne Staley harmonies on the early albums. Sadly he killed himself with drugs at the age of 34, but they found themselves a replacement in William Duvall and have followed the same path with guitarist and co-singer and songwriter Jerry Cantrell at the helm. Original bassist Mike Starr also died of a (prescription) drug overdose, he was 44. Alice In Chains are a little too heavy for most people I know but I always thought that the idea of this grungy sound with dark melodic harmony vocals was an interesting one. Plus, they made an EP which was more acoustic orientated called Jar Of Flies that I LOVE!
Farewell to the night with the appropriately titled and absolutely great Stupid Dream by Porcupine Tree from 2005. Perhaps a better title for now would be Realistic Nightmare.
Stay aware, stay awake, be good to yourself and everyone else. Write songs, write words, write poems, sing, you have no choice.