The world is full of fascinating ideas that straddle distraction and fancy in tandem with skill and meaning. The world is full of surprises no matter how the unimaginative attempt to turn it into a dull grey monotony. It seems rather easy to wonder at the imagination and skills of Leonardo da Vinci, or the anonymous man from the Antwerp’s Mannerism school of the 16th century that painted this masterpiece. (Just marvel at the folds of their clothing.)
But what about the man who imagined topiary and then turned it into an art? Today whilst strolling through the dead streets like a dandy after the apocalypse, casually making my way to the post office to pick up a bottle of designer shampoo, I noticed that the posh street where we were walking didn’t just have private gardens across the narrow road where they stood, but some fun-loving romantic had affected the hedge with verdant sculpture. It was rudimentary but it was definitely a throne or at least a large chair with ornamentation. It was only then that the face appeared in the larger bush at its side. What kind of mind sees that hedge and imagines these things as the hedge itself doesn’t prompt.
From the Fosbury Flop to Topiary who can predict what might appear in these halls, under these rafters between the shelves of this library of potential. Topiary comes from the Latin toparius, the word for a Greek landscape gardener. The art itself is accredited to Gaius Matius and he is said to have clipped a Roman garden into these exquisite forms in the time of the assassinated Caesar. Today’s topiary might not be the world’s greatest example, but the desire to execute the art has survived for the masses as well as the elite. Go here to see what might be possible.
We found an excuse to take the half-empty recycling bags and visit the supermarket for things we didn’t need just so we could walk to the sea on this beautiful day. There were people in the water and on the scruffy town beach of grey sand, old seaweed and pebbles. But we like it anyway, it’s not a glamorous beach, but who needs glamour when you have the sea and all its profound mystery right there in front of you?
There was a ship anchored off shore with a green hull sitting still on the surface like it was glued there. We couldn’t stay long as I had a sesh with Chris in New Jersey at 6 o’clock. (Chris turned me on to mannerism in art.) Earlier I’d been speaking to Nicklas from Anekdoten and as always we talked about the world and about music. Tonight I decided to listen to the same albums as he did today and why not. Except, I didn’t have one of them Puzzle by Mandrake Memorial (1970), but his and online reviews about it were so good that I ordered it.
So, music today c/- Nicklas started with Manfred Mann’s Earth Band and Solar Fire from 1973. I’ve had this album since then and it features Bob Dylan’s Father Of Day Father Of Night as the opening track. It’s what I call a ‘warm progressive’ album. It doesn’t freak you out with weird timings or gratuitous solos (although I like gratuitous solos, just as long as they are slow). This version doesn’t have their nod to Gustav Holst’s Joybringer but you can surely hear that as a bonus track on a CD reissue.
Next came Blue Oyster Cult’s Secret Treaties (1974). It’s another record I’ve had since then and played it to death. Later on in the seventies I saw them live not in Liverpool but at Manchester Free Trade Hall. At the end they were all in a line playing guitars, jamming, it was a memorable sight and I’ve never seen a band do that before or since. The opening track is Career Of Evil with lyrics by Patti Smith who at the time was the girlfriend of keyboard player and rhythm guitarist Allen Lanier. The rest of the lyrics on the album are (unusually) written by rock critic Robert Meltzer and producer Sandy Pearlman. A must have for fans of smart guitar Rock.
Next came Welsh heroes of Progressive Psychedelia (later mixed with San Francisco’s West Coast sound), Man, with their album 2oz Of Plastic With A Little Hole In The Middle (1969). It’s a trip! In those days they were just exploring with the music, with the sounds, with the direction, jamming, listening to their favourite bands of the time and coming up with their own ideas. It was their second album and also the second album they released that year, Revelation was released in January and this album in September. Those were the days – create, play, tour, release albums, repeat. It’s another must have album.
Last but not least, Tangerine Dream’s Encore, a double live album recorded in America in 1977 and released the same year. It features Edgar Froese, Christopher Franke and Peter Baumann, the same lineup responsible for the studio albums that include Zeit (1972), Atem (1973), Phaedra (1974), Rubycon (1975), Ricochet (1975), Stratosphere (1976), and Sorcerer (1997). It’s a double live album and series of improvisations, their second live outing after Ricochet. It was also the last album with this lineup as Peter Baumann left the band. Spot Jerome on the album cover gatefold. Thanks Nicklas for today’s choices.
Song Of The Day is Travelling Through The Sea Of Sun Machines from In Reflection (1987), which exposes my early love of German music.
In Reflection (1987)