I am feeling quite musickal at the moment, perhaps it is the rainy weather keeping me indoors. Anyway here is a track by the increasingly inaccurately-named Archway Guitar Quartet, which is me and Matt’s experimental jazz odyssey project. It is featuring Matt on guitars and rhythm programming, and me on classickal guitar.
Well I once made a musickal record album called puresound, which was received with great critical acclaim by both people that listened to it, one of them was me though so it is not that convincing. It is just some loops and samples and things that I did in a sound editor, while drunk.
Here is some more if you liked that. It is made of some things I found while rooting through Ulrich Schnauss’s bins, but he saw me out of the window and told me to clear off. In German obviously.
Well I did not have it the other night in fact, as I got distrackted by watching a programme about a top secret Russian aeroplane which was 150 times the size of a Jumbo jet. They had to have special giant stewardesses to push the huge supper trolley (I made that last bit up actually. But the rest is terrifyingly real.)
It was quite exciting yesterday as I was working at an advertising trade show in Olympia, full of smartly dressed shiny faced people with practised fake smiles and industrial strength make-up. There were also a lot of evidently hired dolly birds, in skimpy outfits or skin-tight PVC (eurgh! clammy!). I would love to be a fly on the wall at the meeting where their manager says ‘So that concludes the briefing on our new corporate sales strategy… oh, and it would really help us out if you could wear a silly plastic nurse’s outfit tomorrow.’
The funny thing is if they were allowed to just wear normal clothes and talk to people normally, they would probably have more effeckt as no one is going to buy a £1 million PPC bid management platform from someone dressed as a lunchtime stripper. Also, I bet they do not say to the male sales people, ‘Oh, and would you mind wearing tight rugby shorts and a sleeveless T-shirt? And being attractive?”
Anyway, when I got home I thought I’d have that relaxing bath as I have been feeling a bit stressed out lately due to doing about 4 people’s jobs. I am one of Nature’s techies and it is nice being indispensible, but even I get a bit worn out when I am fixing laptops with one hand, typing code with the other, and reconfiguring a server with my feet. So I had a tasty creamy chicken soup and crusty bread for dinner and got into the bath.
It is great actually having baths as it is like a hot, wet bed. Actually that simile does not sound awfully attractive but you know what I mean. I had a glass of posh wine and listened to Beethoven’s piano sonatas, and read Christopher Priest’s The Prestige and Patrick O’Brian’s Post Captain. It was quite a long bath!
Well I have been dusting off the old guitar. Quite a lot of dust came out of the ceiling as well due to me getting lyverbyrd’s effects processor to work. It needed some batteries (you would never know I am tecknical).
This is a cheerful little song I invented especially for k.s. who gave me the title! Sorry I did not have time to make an accompanying video.
You realise this may be basically the most important Google video of all time.
It is just a man sitting in a room playing the complete guitar works of Heitor Villa-Lobos. If you do not know he was a slightly nuts Brazilian that wrote the most vivid and exciting guitar music, anyone that plays the classical type guitar knows all about Villa-Lobos and probably plays his Preludes or Studies. I can play a bit of one of them, not very well, except I get a bit mixed up in the middle and do not remember it.
The bloke that plays in this video is really good although I do not know who he is. (It does not matter so do not write in.)
I just watched an entertaining episode of Grange Hill there. What will that shrieking ginger tycoon Pogo Patterson get up to next? But it reminded me of the brilliant fact that the original Grange Hill theme tune is called Chicken Man. Every British person of a certain age knows that music and most of them do not know that. It sounds a bit like a guitar made out of a squawking chicken and it is by ace library music composer Alan Hawkshaw, who lives in a semi-detached house and wrote the diddly-doo music for Countdown and the importint-news! music for Channel 4 News.
I ate a delicious chicken based pizza too!
I did not see any meteoroloids as it turns out. Because of cloud!
I had a super day out bikling today though and went to Barnet, came back via Tescos where I bought healthy chicken salad ingrediments, stopped at the Dignity for a couple of refreshing pints of Leffe and to do the Telegraph crossword, and then relaxed with intellergent dramas such as I, Claudius. It does not get much better than that really, except that I also recorded a new session from the Archway Guitar Quartet!
I have had a nice relaxing day chomping bacon, reading Hikaru No Go and listening to Julian Gray & Ronald Pearl’s Baroque Inventions. In between times I am also reading Richard Fortey’s The Earth: An Intimate History, and plotting the delicious curry I will be making later.
So it is a good day all around really. Also, more songs from the Archway Guitar Quartet:
Here are some bits and pieces that we recorded last night in Matt’s living room. It is the Archway Guitar Quartet’s debut release! I hope you like it.
Imagine taking a full-scale cathedral organ, the kind with three million pipes and a basement full of machinery, turning all the blowers right up to ‘hearing damage’ mode, and then leaning on all the keys and pedals at once. That’s the opening chord of Volumina.
You feel as though, in settling down to write this piece, Ligeti carefully collected together lots of textbooks on classical harmony, sacred music, organ writing and so forth - and then chucked them out the bloody window. Volumina is an exploration of the sound limits of the organ, making it sound like the most adventurous of synthesizers before such things were even invented. Ligeti conjures extraordinary, hallucinogenic soundscapes from the instrument. Eerie floating, throbbing textures of wind moaning through industrial piping give way to furious explosive rages that sound as though a serious bar brawl has actually broken out inside the organ. In between these are frankly disturbing collections of noises that sound as though they were made by no Earthly instrument, ranging from banging on the pipes to blowing across them to what sounds like the hoarse, dying bubbles of someone choking to death on a kazoo, while someone twiddles the tuning knob on a radio.
One reviewer wrote “Volumina is a piece whose notes (every key on the organ, in fact) are sustained throughout its entire fifteen-minute length. What makes this piece so unique, however, is the way in which these static notes are manipulated in order to demonstrate the instrument’s full range of sonic capabilities. The work is not about melody; in fact, most casual listeners would consider it to be somewhat if not entirely unlistenable. Rather, Volumina was composed to explore the complete spectrum of sound that can be expressed by simple, unchanging notes without any reference to melody whatsoever.”
You might be more familiar with Ligeti’s work than you think. If you’ve ever watched 2001: A Space Odyssey and started thinking, “Dude. This music is pretty fucked up right here,” that’d be Ligeti. Volumina is about as avant-garde as you can get without going right beyond music and breaching the Geneva Conventions. The mere performance of this piece has actually destroyed two organs, and caused a complete electrical failure in the Royal Festival Hall.
It is one of those things which, a bit like perforating your cheeks with a stapler, is really nice when it stops. But after a few listens it does grow on you. At times you just want to laugh out loud and shake Ligeti by the hand for being such an outrageous fucking nutcase. I can see him sitting there, scoring a particularly horrific anti-tonal sonic assault, chuckling to himself and scribbling in the margin, “That’ll shit them right up.”
After listening to this have a good long lie down in a darkened room with a cocktail of anti-psychotics.