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Thursday May 25 2006

I am alerted by my spies,

or at least those called Pete Madams, to a lot of Miles Davis stuff currently airing on the Beeb in celebration of the great man's 80th birthday. Miles himself, of course, is not expected for the festivities - corporeally at least. Although as usual slightly miffed at the phasey 96 kbps sound quality, I'm thoroughly enjoying it all. So a tip of the hat to Pete. You can see a picture of him with his band here. Pete and Veda Park, that is. Pictures of Miles are about too if you know where to look.

Huge new product excitement gripped me earlier in the week as I found that Moleskine - geek/cult/stationery fetishist notebook outfitters of choice - have come up with something that is exactly what I've always wanted. Exactly precisely. It's "THE MOLESKINE 18 MONTH WEEKLY PLANNER + NOTEBOOK SOFT COVER". I love it so much that I have retained the upper case description cut and pasted from their site. This is a capital letter product, and make no mistake. Why? Because it is a diary and a notebook combined. This means carrying one Moleskine rather than two, or <sharp intake of breath> some other traitorous weapon. This means that, since my notes tend to the concise, I will be able to enter relevant information on the notes page opposite the week. So there will be an in-built record of when notes were written! This is the real genius of the design. Having a soft cover also delights me, because it will make the thing much more comfortable to carry in a pocket. Like when I'm sporting my pedal-pushers and shirt in the summer, for example. I love this product.

Also exciting acquisitions this week: "The Best of Willie Nelson", and Jeff Beck's recent "You Had It Coming". Great music. Who delivers a song like Willie? Who plays guitar like Jeff?

And on a pastoral note, I - and probably everyone else in the country too - have just been reading "A Parrot in the Pepper Tree", which is Chris Stewart's follow-up to the classic "Driving Over Lemons". Really refreshing tales of life on a remote and basic farm in Andalusia. Well, if I can't quite get off to a remote place in the sun just yet there's no reason not to vicariously enjoy reading about doing so. It's a bit wet and chilly here in Oxford at the moment, so morale is low.

Modern Art Oxford have a great exhibition of stuff from Beirut at the moment, predominantly in the video medium. Why I was so into this I cannot explain, but don't miss the opportunity to see all the good stuff they show. I am not getting round much of the Art Weeks stuff, although I had planned to attack it with military organization. Other things happening, and slight art fatigue I think. I've tried so hard to absorb visual art this last two years or so that now I feel I must return to music for a while. Perhaps this is because I have rather more musical work than usual, which is a really good thing. I'm contemplating installing some fairly modest - although nonetheless pricey - multi track recording kit at home, so that I can do more quick and dirty stuff. It would be nice to be able to get people's work down informally without the travel to, and overhead of, a studio. I've had modestly successful results in making a couple of albums in the kitchen this way for other people using borrowed 8-track kit. And a bit of work on my production techniques is definitely called for, even though my basic style is to make recordings which appear not to have been produced at all. Then again, this is what most producers aspire to. Stuff that just sounds right, without sounding contrived or manufactured.

There are a couple of weighty tomes on recording that I need to buy off Amazon. Actually, there are a lot of things that I need to buy off Amazon. Better try to make a few quid.

Posted at 7:36 pm by Jim Woods

Tuesday May 23 2006

Rather a lot of revelry and not a great deal of writing over the last few days,

due to the multi-day celebration of my birthday. A fine curry with mother and sister, now off on holiday in Cornwall sailing in the rain, on Friday. Qumin is the place for Indian food around here these days; other places, by and large, have proved not to be. I don't know when exactly Indian restaurants started going downhill around here, but there's been a bit of a decline over the last few years. Saturday was a large drink, in fact so large then it culminated with breakfast at half past eight in the Tick-Tock. I have been forced to forgive the proprietor's brazen short changing me of a tenner a year or so ago, since it's one of the less expensive places I can infest for breakfast. After making some sort of recovery from the weekend I now have a ton of chores to get through. A ton. So if rehearsals permit, I'm going to crack them this week. The rain will prevent me wishing I had other things to do. It will also precipitate mightily as I struggle around town, I am sure. And I want to get round a load of the Art Weeks stuff as well. This may not be the week to write essays here.

Posted at 2:43 am by Jim Woods

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