Today I am tired, early start after a late night. It was a big day of sessions culminating with collapsing on the red couch, even with earlier napping during the football and the cricket. I spoke with Tony in Sydney, Joanne in Portland, Doug in Wappingers Falls and skyped with Jed in Minneapolis as we start to discuss how we think Space Summit might find its way to the public ear (as with MOAT). Speaking regularly to people all over the world gives great insight into how others have it with the pandemic, it’s good to hear from people on the ground. I hardly went out today except for a short trip to the shops, it was quiet, it’s Sunday. I was thinking ‘masks’ from next weekend but in many places that’s already a rule. I wonder why I don’t feel that my freedom is threatened, but I don’t. I saw an article in the Independent newspaper today about how to do your hair and makeup whilst wearing a mask, I think I’m from another planet.
I remember when the weekend was the time of sport but now it’s all the time, Formula 1, football, cricket and today darts, golf, it’s endless. And I have no problem with sport but I wonder why is it so huge, I appreciate the skills and the passion but I guess it’s also the camaraderie? The team, the supporters sharing the glory and the pain? I don’t think I love the competition aspect which is ridiculous because without that the whole thing would be meaningless. When my team loses I’m disappointed but I want to see the game played by great players as much as seeing my team win. Dare and I were talking about going to a football game, ok so the atmosphere, but the seats are so close together and unless you are in the right place you can’t really see how the game progresses and unravels. I went to the world cup final in 1994 in the US and was behind the goal. That final was decided on penalties – in the opposite goal. So not only did I see little of the game but I missed the penalty shoot out. Also behind me, there were a whole lot of disgruntled Americans who complained the whole way through because there were no goals. I guess if you are into basketball, football might not be your thing. How is it possible that the whole experience would have been better served on TV?
A couple of people were talking about their customs experiences and I was reminded of the time I was approached by two plainclothes police/customs agents on a train in Germany and asked to undo my pants. It looked like I was transporting drugs to these morons because I had sunglasses and black clothes. They should be called the cliché police. Another time in Italy, Venice actually, we flew in, looked like a band and I had a boom box with a big bag full of cassettes. They checked every one, there were about 70 in there and they opened every plastic case. They had a big Alsatian dog that they lunged towards us. I remember the dog handler grinning.
I was so busy this week that I wasn’t even close to the No. 1 spot in the French lessons but I was somewhere in the Top Ten and was promoted to the Amethyst League anyway. Although I’m on a 46-day streak, I think I need a 346-day streak before I’d be expecting to have a conversation of any depth and even then you need to live in the country and be on it all the time. I’ll be fine with ordering in a cafe or getting directions and knowing a lot of verbs, grammar and phrases, but it’s a foreign language and there’s accents to deal with. I have trouble in Newcastle.
I am so sleeping in tomorrow, my neck hurts, I’m tired, I feel a bit sick and tomorrow is handwritten lyrics day, they take a while to do, there’s buying and preparing the paper, getting the right pens, writing the words with no mistakes and then Olivia has to conceptually illustrate. So they’re coming but we have a few to do, so they take a bit of time. Everyone seems to like them when they get them, worth the wait.
Last thought of the day, it’s Anna Sofi, cellist and mellotronist from Anekdoten’s birthday today. Wish her a great one on the Anekdoten Facebook page.
Music today started with Jeff (who brought the Focus album around that I bought on eBay the other day), he dropped by to give me some great books – The Kinks, Squeeze, The Specials’ Horace, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles and a blue vinyl Sly And The Family Stone single, Stand. These were all gifts for the In Deep Music Archive library and I’m most appreciative of such a gesture. Also today the Be Bop Deluxe Axe Victim box arrived – on a Sunday. It looks beautiful and I know that what’s inside is just that.
Listening wise, looking back at Eno’s records from the nineties begs the question, as Electronic records, do they sound dated because of technology? Well, most everything does sound like its era. Strangely, dated is a negative term and retro a positive one despite them ultimately being the same thing. Nerve Net from 1992 does sound dated and until those sounds become hip again they won’t be seen as retro. That’s the problem with ‘now’, it’s tomorrow’s yesterday.
Robert Fripp appears on four tracks, Robert Quine on one, Jamie West-Oram (The Fixx) on one (and Christine, voice on one, his wife?), John Paul Jones (Led Zep) plays piano on one and Benmont Tench (Tom Petty) key percussion on one. Brother Roger also appears. Then there’s two dozen people I haven’t heard of.
It’s pretty much a journey through processed sounds and samples made into rhythms. It’s the kind of music you’d play when you are shopping for a new robot…in 1992. Only The Roil, The Choke gives a hint of that side of Eno that we miss from the seventies vocal albums. Then there’s Ali Click which reminds me of Numb, the U2 song that The Edge spoke on Zooropa (1993). I guess the idea came from here and that U2 were always listening very closely to what Eno was doing, he co-produced Zooropa with producer/engineer Flood. It’s also redolent of Burnt Friedman and Jaki Liebezeit’s Secret Rhythms series, a collaboration that began 20 years later, so perhaps it’s not dated at all but more a signpost for the future as Eno’s works often are.
The Drop was also released in 1992 but was recorded between 1985 and 1990. It’s more sounds to associate with images than music. I can see the strange beings to which these snippets operate as a soundtrack. How they move, how they slip in between each other, how they stare over the edge of an abyss, how they investigate the paraphernalia of their circumstance. I remember those strange Czech animations from the distant past with the atmosphere of winter forests. This is the electronic version as they leave that winter forest and find themselves under the bright lights of a metropolis, investigating the machines.
The Shutov Assembly was released in 1997 and it’s that high period for the CD. Vinyl was dead and albums like this were made for the format. Uninspired artwork, except for the minimalist principal, it probably looked good in the nineties. Eno was famous for inventing music not to be listened to and these tracks although not exactly ambient fit in to the same category. It’s not that they’re bad it’s just that they’re only mildly interesting and Eno’s name makes the difference. Occasionally a track stands out as moodier than the rest, in this case the 16-minute Ikebukuro. Don’t get me wrong they are like lamps with red bulbs, they’re not doing much till you turn them off and then you miss them.
Small Craft On A Milk Sea was a collaboration with Leo Abrahams and Jon Hopkins. There seems to be some connection between this music and the soundtrack to the Peter Jackson film The Lovely Bones. Wikipedia says: “The trio also entered the studio in April 2010 to record music that was rejected from the film soundtrack to The Lovely Bones and five of those tracks ended up on Small Craft On A Milk Sea.”
How do you record music that’s been rejected when Small Craft On A Milk Sea is more of an improvisation than set pieces? The album begins mellow with Emerald and Lime and I can hear that this might be the music over the credits to a film. It continues with Complex Heaven and the title track but by Flint March it all starts to change to more drum-based and incessant themes, continued on Horse and 2 Forms Of Anger. Bone Jump is a short respite but Dust Shuffle and Paleosonic keep it angry. Slow Ice, Old Moon and Lesser Heaven return to atmosphere. The album ends more in the mood it started with Calcium Needles, Emerald And Stone, Written, Forgotten and Late Anthropocene. It’s an odd album of mood and fire, don’t put it on thinking you might use it to fall asleep to because just as you get comfortable you’ll find yourself banging your head on the top bunk.
Video Of The Day is two examples of the thoughts of Brian Eno. Short and long (long starts at 07:28).