Iain Cameron's Diary
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2004-02-07 - 3:50 p.m.
In the bowels of Government, I see there has been a twitch of recognition that the Kelly naming strategy was flawed (to the point of illegality) and an announcement has been made that such a strategy will never be used again. Progress of a sort.
More work on assembling the Lullabyes concert – St Martins in the Fields 27 November 2004. Three blocks of music – jazz/blues, serious singing, serious music.
Jazz/blues seems to be in the best shape but then that’s no surprise and its great that Charlie Alexander of Jazzwise is going to be heavily involved. The detailed communication stuff is not my especial forte but now’s the time to do it. I have put some material in the Forum on the KK site including a review of site traffic by country.
One of things I like about the Jazz/blues section is the homage to Cousins and the White Hart (and maybe Bunjies) – the varieties of music that flourished in that part of London and all the interaction between song-writing, jazz and folk that went on there. I used to think that it mattered that the playing only took place in smallscale venues – no longer after having been to bars and clubs in NYC and Detroit where its exactly the same. Really interesting musicians just walk into the bar, set up in the corner and play extraordinary stuff for next to nothing. Some people listen and some people don’t. Actually in the folk clubs people mostly used to listen esp if Bert was on.
I also did some more on the Formula Student project which seems to be shaping well. I need to follow up some of the contacts I made at Dagenham. I have validated 5 factors for deeper investigation. I also need to find someone to pay for this stuff.
Having been set an income target adds an extra edge to all of this. I need to structure the shelf engineering side of my operations – for example I need to put a bit more structure into my outline qualifications stock model for the current decade. I think that the regional segmentation is quite novel. The thing I did for my boss on a new qualification structure seems to be running quite well.
Laurence Cranmer mailed and we agreed to meet up on Monday week at his house in Oxfordshire. I am doing a seminar with Chris Salmon in Slough that day. Chris is currently doing supply chain management but he is also a songwriter and was a professional musician in the 60s. I am thinking of suggesting some positioning ideas on the material Laurence has sent to Oxford on public reason.
Just now I am rather regretting that I didn’t log what I was thinking about with all those pieces that appeared in December and January. I can remember that they had something to do with keys a minor third apart and octonic scales – but beyond that there were many so many different routes and styles used. I have already started to forget what some of it was about in technical terms. I have listened through to one called twelve nineteen that I think is OK – except its in MIDI . Jano4tag has some quite lengthy WAV interludes mixed which help invigorate the soundworld but despite all the time I have put in, I am still not sure that its finished.
The failure of the Creative Labs USB-optical box has made me realise that I need to get some order into the various paths that I have tried to bridge that gap. Maybe my best bet is the Tascam 428. I bought that over a year ago and I see its still on sale in the shops for about the same price that I paid for it – so it probably works quite well. It is complicated though – and it only goes to coaxial SPDIF. But there are now quite cheap co-axial/optical converters. I saw one in Birmingham for about £30 a few weeks back. The other thing that I need to sort out is using the Creative HD MP3 as a an archive properly. It’s a means of accessing all the stuff I did in the Summer of 2002 which I quite like.
I listened to Paris 1919 last night on the drive back from Leamington. One point of comparison ought to be Bryter Later. If one were to put Desertshore, Bryter Later and Paris 1919 in a line they would represent a move away from high experimentalism towards songwriting. Its odd that the songs in Paris 1919 don’t seem to be more structured given where Cale is coming from – or indeed – that he is halfway between Desertshore and Horses. In the autobio Cale explains that 1919 reflects his listening to Jackson Browne’s first two albums – which Nico drew to his attention. JB was her accompanist at the Factory. Cale was taken by the way Browne combined pretty songs and nasty lyrics. So I went out and bought Chelsea Girl which was done about the same time as the banana LP.
I have had an interest in this album since it was used in that weird film with G Paltrow about the barmy family in the brownstone house in NYC. The album is even more interesting than the version of These Days initially suggested. The songs are by Cale, Dylan, Browne, Reed and Hardin ie the cream of the crop – the cover photo by Paul Morrisey. The obvious reference is Judy Collins In My Life plus the Lower East Side folky VU demos. So the lineage must go Chelsea Girls, Dersetshore, Bryter Later, Paris1919. I suppose 5LL might be another comparator. The step change between CG and DS is very very striking in terms of the producer’s empathy. Cale makes a fair point when he invites you to compare these records with Song for a Seagull and Ladies of the Canyon. He also says that he has no idea how she wrote the stuff but that once a song was complete, she always did it the same.
While I was at it, I got the 1985 Chelsea Town Hall live performance – I think it must be James Young on keyboards. His book about the Nico-Wise relationship is quite something but it looks as if for literary reason he actually sells her music short. The book is about addiction and the strange relationship with Wise. Young gives up his PhD in English at Oxford to be in the band – and he’s able to invest his narrative with an almost Russian profundity all the more artful because it creeps up on you.
But to provide the backdrop he choses to underplay the originality of the music itself and its lineage. It suits him to suggest that Nico is enclosed in her own world and that the meanings in the music are inaccessible. But when you listen to the band, that’s obviously not the case. For example the harmonium recalls Lamont Young and her pitching is more microtonal than off – as it can be within that experimental tradition.
The overlay is Madchester electronic – not least from Young himself – and that is quite a mix to conjour up. Its like Miles choosing to work with sequencers and producers at the same time – an innovative artist who has gone the distance making a selection from whats on offer in the mid1980s. Indeed the timescales are not so very different and both figures have a late-70s retirement phase.
At first pass I was also drawn to think of Robin’s duet on Blue Flame – a comparison which may or may not appeal to her..
The other thing that people often say about her music is that its bleak – implying that its too bleak – and that that bleakness has its roots in the chemicals. I would disagree with both propositions. Its not too bleak (any more than Time Out of Mind Is) and its emotional rootedness is less in the chemicals than in the artistic apperception. Like Pink Moon, Adorno’s theory of structure and artistic personality engage pretty well. Its just obvious (isn’t it?) that Pink Moon isn’t a full stop – it’s a point of departure.
Sarah Dunant was on the radio talking about the new Bertolucci film – talk about a blast from the past. One year Jon Cole got to be MD for the Footlights Review and they decided to go with rnr. This looks just obvious these days but in terms of prevailing cultural norms it was an enormous step as they had stuck with cabaret style music to that point. The band was Jon on lead gtr, Julian Diggle on drums, Dag Small on keyboards plus me on guitar and horns. Anyway that year the actors included Ms Dunant and the bloke who went on to play Arthur Dent in the Hitchhikers Guide. Most of the band went onto to be in the Movies who helped launch Joan Armatrading at the time of Show Some Emotion. SD was cheesed that when we got reviewed by the Times the flute playing came out pretty OK.
The film is all about sex and politics in Paris in 1968 which for this generation has enormous potency – plus the relevance of film which was important then and isn’t so much now. It bounces off Last Tango of course.
Wheeler was there by the way but more into songs than films as far as I can tell. I think I burbled on a few weeks back about Colin McCabe and Godard.
Oh yes – Sixty Forty is wildy brilliant – meet me in another time.. Worthy of Paulo esp in terms of the III chord.