Tuesday, July 27, 2004

We were both very excited last night, when we discovered that the really rather wonderful Magnetic Fields are coming to England in the autumn! Luckily Orynthia has managed to get us some tickets for the gig in Manchester on October 30th, so we get to see one of our favourite bands, in one of England’s most interesting cities and catch up with one of Orynthia’s relatives who currently studying in Manchester. Top news all round.

I spent quite a lot of today and this evening listening to the extraordinary new album from The Fiery Furnaces – Blueberry Boat. It’s due out here in early September and it may well take me that long to get used to it. Amazing lyrics combine with a clunky sound, which veers from lo-fi electro to 1970’s piano led singer songwriter stuff. At over 76 minutes it is probably too long, but they obviously wanted to give their imagination free reign on this one.

News of an important radio show for all lovers of British cakes ( that's me then!) can be found here.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Now that Orynthia’s mum and brother are safely ensconced in their new homes, we seem to have a bit more time to do some spur of the moment things, so yesterday morning whilst finishing off a leisurely breakfast, I noticed a small piece in The Guardian describing a new exhibition in Cheltenham featuring art from the private collection of Osbert Sitwell, it seamed like to good a chance to miss. The exhibition included work by many of our favourite artists – William Roberts, C R W Nevinson, Paul Nash and Wyndham Lewis, so an hour later we were in the car and starting the 40 odd mile journey up the M5. How lucky we were to be heading north rather than south, at the this time of year the holiday makers heading south to Devon and Cornwall often turn the M5 around Bristol into a huge car park and yesterday was no exception, fortunately the northward traffic was light.

As well as enjoying the small (approx 30 pieces) exhibition and the rest of the gallery, we had a lovely time in this very grand town. We both managed to pick up some bargains in the sales and had a lovely relaxed walk around the place, stopping briefly in a small café where I had a huge and delicious piece of home made egg custard tart.

After heading home we had an hour or so to relax before taking the short walk to Geoff and Emma’s for the now traditional summer barbecue. Once again they provided us with lots of lovely food and company, even if the pleasant summer day turned into a rather nippy evening, luckily we could all gather around their recently acquired Chimera, which was throwing out copious amount of heat.

Today we adopted our traditional roles in the garden, Orynthia the cultivator, me the destroyer. I had great fun hacking away at a massively overgrown winter jasmine plant, whilst Orynthia planted a purchase from yesterdays trip to “Nam”. It’s been great to have the chance to spend some time doing things on the spur of the moment rather than constantly having to dash off around Bristol.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Sometime last October or November I managed to injure my shoulder in the midst of one of our Monday night football matches. For a few weeks, I would flinch whenever anyone bumped into me, then it reached a point where without Orynthia’s help I was struggling to put on shirts, jackets of coats. As is common with most people, especially those that play any sport, I decided not to trouble my doctor with my self-inflicted problem, which would surely ease in the next week or so.

Well by April the problem was much less marked but was still hanging around and Orynthia persuaded me to go to see our local doctor, he agreed that I had much less mobility in my left shoulder than my right, consequently this morning I found myself at Southmead Hospital for an appointment with a physio in an attempt to get to the bottom of the problem. After much poking and prodding it was decided that I had actually sprained my collarbone at the joint with the shoulder, which had then fussed in a position, which restricted my movement. I have been given a small range of easy to follow exercises, which will hopefully ease the discomfort over the following weeks.

Everyone always moans about the NHS, but I have to say that as always I was dealt with in a very efficient, friendly and professional manner. If only I had listened to Orynthia and gone to my doctor last year, maybe then this (admittedly) minor discomfort would be behind me.

At last we have a few gigs to look forward to over the next few weeks. On Friday evening my colleague RLF is doing his splendid “Godzilla” set at The Cube, in support of Biosphere, in August the 5,6,7,8’s are playing at The Thekla then a couple of days later we have the unusual pairing of Paul Burch and Joanna Newsome at St Bonaventure’s. Finally in September P J Harvey pays a visit to Bristol.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Well after a quick sleep on Friday afternoon my energy levels did return to normal, allowing me to enjoy Ashton Court. In truth the highlights were more social than musical, we managed to catch up with loads of friends and the time really flew past. Musical highlights were provided by the Blackout tent on Saturday, with the vastly contrasting styles of Freeze Puppy and Gonga coming up trumps. Sunday saw some pleasant Jazzy sounds emanating from the WKD Big Top, before we sat through the unrelenting barrage of atonal blast, which Fuzz Against Junk decided to offer festival goers this year. However I can’t understand why this celebration of local music needs to suffer from the curse of the covers band, Bristol is full of people making original and interesting music, we don’t need bands that wish they were AC/DC, Madness or The Red Hot Chilli Peppers please take them all away.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Well Orynthia's mum has finally moved out of her old house. The only problem is that her new place is absolutly full to bursting with stuff. I still see a few more trips to the dump coming our way.

This weekend will be spent an the Ashton Court Festival, although I must admit that at the moment I'd rather just stay in bed, I hope my energy returns on Saturday.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

I realised today, that I have not written much about the music I have been listening to lately. So first mention needs to go to an album, which has been around for a few months and has finally wormed it’s way into brain, it’s by the enigmatic Devendra Banhart and is called Rejoicing In The Hands. It’s a deceptively simple album, which combines mesmeric song writing and singing with hypnotic acoustic guitar melodies. As described by RLF in our shop it’s part Nick Drake, part early Marc Bolan with a bit of John Fahey thrown in for good measure, it’s unlike anything else that is around at the moment and is really wonderful.

Next something that was released in USA last year, but has only recently emerged over here, Michigan by Sufjan Stevens. I have mentioned before how much I enjoyed his Seven Swans album, by way of contrast the arrangements on Michigan are much more expansive, however the intensity of his writing is just the same. Apparently he plans to record an album about every state in the union, can’t really see that happening but this is a brilliant start to the project and is well worth your time.

Something a bit newer now, released this Monday is a mini album by Sigur Ros called Ba Ba Ti Ki Di Do, it’s 3 instrumental tracks take around 20 minutes to slip past you and very wonderful minutes they are too. I went for the vinyl option as it comes with all the tracks on one side, whilst the other side has some lovely artwork etched into the vinyl. They are band whose previous albums have made little impact on me, but these is a fine piece of work, if you like people like Boards Of Canada, then this is one for you.

Finally a couple of Jazz things, the 2nd part of Giles Peterson’s Impressed series came out recently and once again throws the spotlight of some overlooked British Jazz treats from the 1960’s and 70’s and proves that we can play jazz in this country despite what some people say. To confirm the point a wonderful live recording of the Charlie Watts “tentet” recorded at Ronnie Scott’s a few years ago had finally emerged. It’s full of joyous and brilliant playing. And yes it is THAT Charlie Watts, moonlighting from his day job as drummer with a band who may well be past their sell by date.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

So it’s been another day of endless trips to the dump, in a desperate effort to clear Orynthia’s mothers house before Friday’s moving out deadline. How can anyone acquire so many receipts, envelopes and generally useless bits of paper? It really is quite astounding.

What else have we been up to? Well last week we went to see the really rather splendid Hot Club of Cowtown. They were doing their marvellous version of western swing, that strange style of music where Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelly somehow collide with Hank Williams to produce something, which can teeter on the precipice of parody, luckily in this case the astounding musicianship, and general bonhomie of the Cowtown gang meant that this was never likely to happen.

We have also been indulging ourselves in what may well be the greatest TV channel in the world BBC4. Last Thursday being a case in point, when we watched a wonderfully funny and informative show on Ikea narrated by the marvellous Paul Morley, this was followed by the 2nd part of an excellent series on UK art in the 1960’s, finishing up with a double helping of episodes from the wonderful series on the art of the 20th century The shock of the new narrated by a bizarrely coiffured Robert Hughes, then again in was made back in the time when lapels where as wide a 6 lane highway. Anyway it was all captivating stuff, not a bit of reality TV to be seen, fantastic! Why do we have to see shows about daft people doing dumb things, when could be exposed to wit, imagination and invention?

Monday, July 05, 2004

I guess the years are catching up with me. As a young lad, I could quite happily play football all day long, tonight after 75 minutes of 5-a-side, mine was the 1st voice shouting the famous slogan of over the hill footballers everywhere – “Next goal wins”. I guess that it’s pretty hard work because of the lack of games recently because of holidays and Euro 2004(well done to the Greeks by the way - fantastic to see team spirit overcome everything else). I still enjoyed the game but my legs had gone by that stage, still our band of Monday night kick about kings have taken the bold decision to join a local casual league. It sound just right for us – 1 game a month, average age of the team should be around 35, rolling subs and any team that take it too seriously can be thrown out of the league, should be fun.

Things are starting to get a bit strange in the shop; generally the word is out that we will be closing so most people know the score. However today I seamed to spend lots of team telling people that by the end of September Imperial Music would be gone. The reactions are amazing, people seem to be genuinely upset and although it’s sad it has been really amazing to work in such a well-loved establishment. When I leave I’ll be able to look back with great fondness at a very special time in my life.