guitar, harmonica, little instruments, electronics
tenor sax, soprano sax, flute
the occurrence of a face
recorded late Nov/early
Dec in two five-hour sessions at Parr St studios, Liverpool. It's a fully
pro studio, tho we were in the demo studio upstairs, which suited us well,
cos we got to use some pretty good mikes and valve pre-amps, and the fact
that it's only 16 track isn't much of an issue when you're going direct to
stereo. The room was a bit dead accoustically, but we're seriously happy with
improvised music is a bit strange in a lot of ways, and there's a part of
me that says in an ideal world i wouldn't do it for public consumption at
all, tho of course there's a part of me that loves the idea. didn't we all
grow up browsing thru racks of sleeves (size of sleeve dependent on age,
i guess), and gradually broadening our mental universe thru stumbling on
new recordings? recorded music is part of the warp and weft of modern life,
and that teenage record collector in me is seriously chuffed that there's
a sleeve with my name on it - but...but...it's a funny thing taking this
music that we made of the moment and for the moment and translating it to
the calm persistence of a digital medium. it'll probably outlive me, the
product of those two autumn afternoons overlooking the garages (the studio
seems to be the only thing on Parr St that doesn't offer MOT's and fix taxis,
for some reason). they've turned into little concertos and symphonies now,
those improvisations. i'm starting to recognise sections, and be able to
hum bits, and somehow it doesn't feel right. it should be gone in
the air by now, not cluttering up an accoustic space it was never conceived
to fill, flaunting emotions long after the stimuli for them have disappeared.
i feel like an old man on a park bench watching the world turn into something
i no longer recognise while i nurse an impotent and unarticulated sense
that i no longer approve of this thing i helped create.
i find myself
thinking (not for the first time) about Helen Lane. she was a not particularly
unusual person, as far as i'm aware, her words forked no lightning. She
may have been Canadian, but perhaps i got that wrong. She died of cancer
in, i think, the mid-fifties sometime. She achieved her immortality somewhat
inadvertantly, when biologists cultured some of her tumour on a petrie dish.
Now the thing about tumour cells is they have no control mechanism to tell
them to stop growing. And Helen's tumour cells, one cell thick across the
surface of the agar proved to be an excellent medium for subjecting living
human cells to various experiments and experiences that would be somewhat
unethical if they were attached to a living human. The HeLa strain of tissue
culture is still available today, and when i heard the story, in the seventies
there were over twenty tons of Helen in the world, and still growing - no
idea how big she might be by now, but i sympathise. Bits of me are off around
the world to multiply unpredictably, although i escaped the trouble of having
to die of cancer first, i guess.
so maybe, in
an ideal world (but not this one), i'd just play for those who would listen.
we would gather, music would start and then end, we would consider the fast-fading
images of what had just passed, and examine the shapes and artefacts that
its passing had left. but in the meantime, there it is, my little child,
my monster, my holiday snaps, my tumour, the photograph that would steal
my soul, it has gone out into the world, and people will be able to listen
to me play, or something very like me, anytime they like, without my leave,
while i eat, tend to my childrens' needs, while i sleep, the events of last
autumn can still be heard, beautiful ghosts, part of other peoples' lives
and histories. it's not very big, considering how much was put into it.
i do hope you take to it, and can find room to house it while it finds its
feet on its own. it's yours now...