Iain Cameron's Diary
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2005-07-21 - 10:37 a.m.
The bid dominated the day in the office. About twenty years ago I was in charge of a bit of software that managed multi-dimensional data structures - it could handle up to 7 or 8 dimensions. The bid involves just such a structure - probably four dimensional. Where you have a team working on a common goal which has a structure like that at its core there is some scope for confusion and indeed that is what we had yesterday - probably more today.
By the end of the day I had mailed a first pass at the first half of my (two dimensional) bit off to the bid-writer. The eccentricities of the software suite that I have on my PC are part of the problem - also the limited number of the people about the place with an adequate Excel skillset.
Watched a Prince narrative vid from the late 80s - quite challenging in the sense that the music is mostly pretty good but the use of narrative is non-standard. I am also listening to a Luther Vandross retrospective. There is a good comparison in terms of the way the two artists use digital synths in a soul/RnB context - also related to the approach that Miles evolved during his last phase - and of course Miles was keen to work with Prince.
The sophistication of the LV crew in their approach to the beat is under-estimated. As I may have mentioned the BBC2 soul programme tended to dismiss 80s soul for being light. It isnít light compared for example with late Philly soul because part of the palette that appealed to 80s producers was the beefiness of electro percussion - but neither is it the same as hip-hop - with a strong emphasis on one and two.
Indeed the artist that has most similarity to hip-hop grooves is Prince. In the hands of LV the rhythm becomes very closely tied in to the dramatic narrative of the song - furthermore complex harmonies - ninths and elevenths are distributed across instrumental fragments - some virtual and some real. Its good stuff - and you also need to realise that the producers had probably been listening to early Detroit techno.
When I first started working with sequencers I was using 8 bit samples and many of them came from the instruments on these recordings . At that time one tended to programme each drum in a drum pattern and for that reason I am very sympathetic to the way the groove is broken up in some 80s soul. As I see it now Marcus Miller was my big influence at that point.
In the Wayne Shorter interview there isnít much about Trane (which there could be - it would be good to know more about the conversations about philosophy in the early 60s).
This is a really interesting point of view given that WS is acclaimed as a jazz-composer - and it was also the feeling I got from D Graham on Friday.
The Pheasant band I was in in the 70s never rehearsed - well we did once - but that was it. We could get away with it because we played various evenings in a pub in Drury Lane and we were kind of neo-classical in that we did bebop and Broadway standards. I used to think we were marginal - but nowadays my view is shifting. For example Miss Mitchell said that she thought that Herbie Hancock didnít take her 100% seriously until she did an album of standards. So just getting the standards down is no bad thing - either from the point of view of knowing song construction or knowing improvisation.
Did a bit of video sketching taking a sequence taking stills from it , processing both the stills and the movie and blending them. Also took some stills and worked on them in the photo editor. In the editor my style involves rectangles , colour inversion and passages of seriality. I think of it as a bit like Flavin and the neon tubes - also some crude spray can as a gesture to Basquiat. There has to be transgression of course - we have Detroit Mike Kelley to be grateful to for that.
Ren mailed from LAX en route to NYC with more about Pasolini and Kafka. He has specialized in early Pasolini - up to St Matthews Passion which is the one I know best from that period. When we were students we watched Oedipus Rex and Theorem which are a bit later. He also knows something of Kafka/Milena - but he is just moving into ND. This is a really interesting platform to work on.