April 29, 2013

Rainy Days and Mondays and DIN Sync

Are things so boring that I must resort to talking about the weather? Well, actually I've always thought that weather was an interesting topic, and I think it increasingly with age (there is also an outside influence). Anyway, It got me thinking about how weather can effect one's mood. Usually on dreary, rainy days like today my mood reflects the weather, but I guess I'm just so content with the world right now that it hasn't. Also, I'm currently re-reading The Elements of Style (the second edition with the lovely introduction by E. B. White) because, as you've probably noticed, I have rather poor grammar and virtually no writing style. In the book the author talks about how we must always assume that the reader is in some sort of peril and it is the job of the writer to pull him out of it. So, in that regard I believe I've failed you, reader, with my last two posts. 

I, of all people, know how easily one's mood can shift; with my pitiful emotions always so close to the surface.  All it takes is something as common as a toothache or a broken heart and suddenly the world comes crashing down again. When that happens, the trick is to always be as productive as you can. Write a list of all the things you're going to accomplish in your day and then do them! I know when you're on the wrong side of joyfulness that all the songs you try to write sound awful and all the pictures you try to draw don't come out right. But keep trying! Something is bound to happen. And if nothing else, you can take some comfort in knowing that you didn't let your gloom get the best of you. 

What do I have on the books today? Some experiments involving my Garfield Electronics Mini Doc controlling my Roland CSQ-600 sequencer. After a little research last night I'm wondering if the mysterious "CSQ Sync" is just Sync24. If this is the case it could solve all my problems (or at least one of my problems). 

April 24, 2013

Oh, Virginia!

I must be getting old; I've really been enjoying my mornings. Today it was with Virginia Astley. She's the only new (well, new to me) artist that I've fallen in love with in the past five years. She really does exactly what she wants, doesn't she? How inspiring! It would seem such a simple concept to make music that sounds just as one thinks it should. Why are we so inhibited? I'm listening to her album 'Had I the Heavens'. It was hard for me to get past the perfection of 'Hope in a Darkened Heart', but I'm starting to think 'Heavens' is some of her best work. It's a little more understated than '...Darkened Heart'. And while I do miss Ryuichi Sakamoto's production, it's also nice to hear Virginia more in her own world. 

I've been hoping the cold weather would last, it's my favorite time of year. But it's hard not to enjoy the drops of golden sun today. I've got all the windows open and can hear a lawn mower off in the distance. It's so nice not living so deep in the city anymore. When I was a kid I used to think it would be strange to live so close to a cemetery. Now that I do, I rather enjoy it. It's very peaceful... especially with a hot cup of chai tea with honey and fresh ground cinnamon. Too much information, I'm sure.

Anyway, the point is: I love Virginia Astley. I think she's perfect in every way. And I'm glad that I'm me and I'm glad that you're you. We're all exactly who we're meant to be. The more we can accept that fact about ourselves and others the more we can live harmonious, happy, simple lives. We do have the heavens!

April 23, 2013

A Brisk Morning with Dance House Children

I woke up much earlier than usual today. It was still somewhat dark out as I made my way to work and it was cold too; maybe the last cold day we'll get. Surely the last day I'd be needing my big coat with the hood that zips up to cover half my face. While deciding what music to listen to on my walk I came across Dance House Children's 'Jesus' album. It's such a wonderful and somewhat jarring way to start one's day. The first song, 'Once Upon Your Lips', is mild enough for early morning listening but then we launch straight into the most intense song on the record: 'The Locket Maker'. It is so ridicules that a song with that title would sound the way it does. I was reminded of when I was a kid and discovered this music. It had tricked me into thinking that I loved electronic music --which of course I do, but I mean real electronic music with those pounding, four-on-the-floor kick drums, machine-gun-snare rolls and all sorts of needlessly harsh sounds.

Walking along the busy highway with the freezing wind in my face and 'A Lull In The Fairest Maple' blasting in my ears, I was instantly transported back to my basement bedroom when I was twelve years old. Having one of my "raves" which involved Christmas lights draped across my keyboards and me laying on the floor by myself looking up at my miniature disco ball spin around while I listened to Dance House Children. I was clearly confused by musical genres back then. I thought because Joy Electric had a song with the word 'disco' in the title that I enjoyed disco. I thought I was having a "rave" in my bedroom as I lazily blew soap bubbles in the constant flicker of a strobe light. Years later I'd see an episode of the news program 20/20 with Barbara Walters that would effectively dispel all of my delusional ideas about raves. 

I was so naive when I was young, and I look back on those years fondly; especially the years when I transitioned between my future plans of a life in the circus to my interests in electronic music. For me, discovering Ronnie Martin's music, Joy Electric and Dance House Children, must have been like when C.S. Lewis first read Phantastes by George Macdonald (because of course I'm very like C.S. Lewis). I used to miss it all so much and wish I could go back there. I thought life could never be as good as those innocent times. But I don't wish that anymore. Mornings like today remind me that I don't need to go back. It all still exists inside my head. I am still there. I'm still me. I haven't changed, there's just more of me. And it's hard to imagine now but I suppose when it's time for me to die, I'll be alright with that too. By then I'm sure I'll have had listened to Dance House Children millions of times and had enough perfect brisk mornings, sleepy kisses, cups of tea and buttery english muffins to cary me off, quite satisfied, into eternity.

April 16, 2013

Matterhorn Mountain & Tomorrowland

I've always thought it was so brilliant the way they put Matterhorn Mountain right on the border of Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. It really adds a perfect amount of nature to an otherwise cold/futuristic landscape. Too bad the Matterhorn was never added to the Magic Kingdom's mountain range in FL.

April 9, 2013

Delia Derbyshire: Once a Queen of Narnia?

I recently came across this photo of Delia Derbyshire and Daphne Oram just hanging out at a party it would seem. I was excited because it's the most recent photo I've seen of Delia --I've actually never seen a photo of her that wasn't in black & white. Isn't it amazing that this is what electronic music wizards used to look like? Where did we go wrong? I also came across this quote from Delia that I thought was rather interesting:

I came from - what they’d like to call themselves - an upper working class Catholic background in Coventry. I was there in the blitz and it’s come to me, relatively recently, that my love for abstract sounds [came from] the air-raid sirens: that’s a sound you hear and you don’t know the source of as a young child… then the sound of the “all clear” - that was electronic music. I mentioned the Catholic bit: I was taken to benediction as a child and it was all in Latin -plain song hymns in an abstract language. After the worst Blitz I was shifted to Preston, where my parents came from. It’s only today that I’ve realised that the sound of clogs on cobbles must have been such a big influence on me - that percussive sound of all the mill workers going to work at six o’clock in the morning."
Delia Derbyshire

It got me thinking.... Delia would have been just the right age to have been sent away to live with a professor during the war and potentially find doors to other worlds through wardrobes (...or whatever). It would certainly explain her "otherworldly" sensibilities.  Here's a photo of a young Delia in here would be Narnia days: