fourth world…

It’s an odd old world, spent the day raging at the injustices befalling me to only realize they were of my own making. Resulting in the question from my wife, “what stage are we in today?” The answer firmly being the ambient stage.

IMG_2764.JPGLeadings to Possible Musics, the Brian Eno, John Hassell collaboration.

Treated trumpets and handclaps and guitars and basses, landing somewhere between jazz and experimental, seldom does the trumpet sound like a trumpet although it is the lead instrument. It is insistent and driving and quiet and restrained, except when it’s not, who knew. Somehow it suits the mood as we transition from eve to day. The season is upon us and good will is raining down in an almost palpable way. The money has been spent and the presents wrapped, the meatballs are made and ready to go in the oven tomorrow. The family has gathered, well most of them actually live with us. Currently we have four generations under one roof. It’s an old fashioned way of living, complete with frustrations, remonstrations, salutations and consternations, as well as many a hug, snuggle and some help with lifting the heavier shit.

This all made so much more sense last night, now it’s into the night of the day and the IMG_2774meatballs are eaten, gifts unwrapped and I am sat here alone with the dog, the house is silent except for Aerial by Kate Bush which really deserves a better post than this, Maybe one day but for now this is what it gets, seems I am leaving the ambient stage.

Me and the dog took a long walk today as I streamed this in my ears and now I am here with the record late into the night where maybe it belongs although it is light an airy really. As I waded through the mud puddles and sheltered under a tree from the rainfall I was reminded of how lucky we all are to live here. It’s going to be work but if the collective effort of four generations can’t do it I am not sure it can be done. This last year has been about creating a space to be, pushing the berry bushes back, connecting with the county about a plan for the riparian sections and just getting it together in the country. Then we were faced with a crushing blow or two that shook us, I think we are heading in the right direction though.

This was the view from the walk, I think that something special will be left here soon.


For those who have missed it here is some tractor porn, a cheeky view through the trees.


Happy whatever you all celebrate and I hope the New Year brings what you hope for including, health, happiness and prosperity and if none of those at least Peace Man.



There were a handful of records that would be passed around at school, Space Ritual, by Hawkwind, Leg-End by Henry Cow. You by Gong any number of Magma and Pink Fairies albums along with the Pretty Things, Brian Eno, Robert Fripp, Can and Syd Barrett. They were the sounds of the outsider, those who could not always make the rugby team or cricket team and may fall over their own shoelaces if engaged in a cross country race.

It was music that was perhaps too difficult or strange for the Marillion and OMD loving masses. It was an entry to an altered state that may leave you forever changed or damaged. It was music that was a solitary experience best listened to in the dark so that nobody could watch the convulsions and drooling as it happened.

The pinnacle of this listening experience was a double album by Tangerine Dream called Zeit. I am not sure who actually owned this record, it was ever present being passed around on a Friday afternoon and then cradled under the chosen ones arm as they headed for the door and the bus and their own experience with Zeit. It was however not everyone who got passed this record. I am not sure who the librarian was of the odd and strange records passed around but he was a snob to be sure.

There was a certain relentless move of the album through the outsider elements of my school until it came to be my time to be chosen. I to this day remember the weight of the record under my arm as I walked along Eaton Rd. to Prescot Rd and the Number 10 bus that would eventually result in the H6 or 8 that would take me home and my future fate. I had heard the stories from others, horrible terrifying impenetrable and ultimately didn’t make it through the album.

This was the record that had ruined reputations, lost friendships and caused any number of strange psychological disorders throughout the sixth form. This was the serum to all that was normal and safe and ordinary.

I had of course heard Tangerine Dream before, their melodic and catchy shorter tracks and the sprawling psychedelic longer tracks, they were at the time what I would consider conventional, the type of music you may drift off to sleep to. Meditative almost. I figured I had a pretty good idea what to expect and was convinced it couldn’t be that bad.

That night as I placed the record on the turntable and wrapped my ears in headphones, I know I would end the night listening to Tommy Vance on the Friday Rock Show and everything would be okay and on Saturday I would head out to town see some live music, drink some beer, be loud around the old guys in the Marlborough and head off to the Goo’s to sleep it off and eat his mums cooked breakfast on Sunday. We may even meet up early on Saturday play D&D and listen to the Scorpions at Johns ifs things were slow.

IMG_2744.jpegFour sides, four tracks how difficult could it be. 70 minutes or so later I was convinced my world may have changed. It was the bit between the tracks on every Floyd album, discordant melodic, shocking, terrifying, like slow moving fear coming to consume you. This had to be the shit Stephen King listened to in order to write those books to terrify a generation, this was revolutionary and almost impossible to describe.

I never went out that Saturday instead I called up a young woman named Debbie and went on our first date, she thought me “brooding and moody and fascinating,” her words. We went to see Escape From New York, probably at the Futurist, Debbie loved the soundtrack, my ears it seems had been polluted, changed, affected or infected, who knows, synth music was never the same.

The following Friday I handed the record off to the next victim having lain on the floor for a week listening to it every night, consumed by the slow moving, glacial inevitability of the music. Almost pushed to the ground by the sound.

It has taken me almost 40 years to buy Zeit. Once I bought it it sat in it’s space on the Tangerine Dream shelf waiting for me to take the time to listen, experience. This weekend I dropped it on the turntable and I was 17 again, fearful and grateful at the same time. transfixed and forever changed. Unknowingly Zeit changed the way I listened to music, it was the barometer for strange, at times it was the loudest and quietest album I could remember. Spending that week with it also changed my weekends, well about 50 percent of them.



Lets get ambient…

An intense week heading into the holidays. Time for the year in review maybe or maybe not.

It’s been a trip of  a year  this year. I put on a suit for the first time in over 35 years. This was at the request of my mother and meant I had to go buy one, M&S sufficed to provide me with a passable semblance of respectability and a long period of thought about the conventions we are forced to conform to. At times I looked around to see people wearing clothes they were not comfortable in to honor another person. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why we do it other than that’s what we always do.

I’ve been pretty much standing still since June in many ways. Rolling around on my tractor, mowing the dreaded blackberries and just hanging out in the country. Me and the dog have walked every inch of the property we can get to over the last couple of months and even made it out to the mythical logging road beyond the boundary. Signs of coyote and other critters around, mainly seen by their poop.

I was going to do one of those end of year lists but this year more than others has been a meander through things old and new without a sense of direction and I really am not good at those lists.

So I flew back to get my mum to come hang out for Christmas with her grandchildren and to meet her first great grandchild, This has bee a joyous thing to see.

IMG_2736.JPGI basically flew to the UK with Brian Eno’s Ambient albums in my ears for the 12,000 miles or so round trip. I am thinking that the constantly shifting and repeating and ever changing music on the 4 Ambient albums are a perfect representation of where I am at right now. Sitting still and yet forever shifting and changing and reconfiguring to meet the needs of the day, afternoon, moment. I am particularly attracted to Ambient 4 On Land, this is perhaps the darkest of the ambient albums and for that reason the most contemplative, mixing natural and found sounds, synthesizers and conventional instruments. It is often as if the melody or overtone is in conflict with what is going on under the surface of the music, maybe this is what is drawing me in right now.