Sunday, October 11, 2009

And while we're in the mood - here's David Jones. (One for The Walrus of course!)

"... the bards of an earlier Wales referred to themselves as 'carpenters of song'. Carpentry suggests a fitting together and as you know the English word 'artist' means, at root, someone concerned with a fitting of some sort ... Perhaps all we can say is that the 'carpentries of song' in whatever medium, or by whomsoever joinered, must be anathemata of one sort or another." ('Autobiographical Talk', collected in Epoch and Artist, pp 30-31)

Rene Hague's Press, 1930

The printing press ... the making of The Book as Object ... labour and function combined with decoration imperial and occult. A Wellsian Time Machine? An ark or other ritualistic apparatus? A desiring-machine (is that a fleece or dirty rag depending from the coffer, how exactly do energies transfer to the page ... )? And as with so much of Jones' pictures (and poetry for that matter) a showing forth and a showing through. Time and space - layers of semi-transparency.

How little attention I've given his work in the past. Much to address here.

... and talking about Zappa ... I've just raced through this - John Adams' auto(music)biography. I had it beside me at lunchtime on Friday and I'm sure it was mistaken for some born-again tract. A title like that plus Adams' fresh-faced grin - well, you could be fooled into thinking I'd seen The Light.

It's quite illuminating about Adams' compositional methods and reading (a nice anecdote of him asking Ginsberg for Burroughs' address). Adams is pretty tough on Boulez (accusations of arid prescriptivism) and cautiously complimentary about FZ (one might even risk 'condescending' at times ...). I'm less convinced of my Adams-Zappa association the more of I hear of his music - but who cares? Each has his own musical world and I'm not taking sides.

"We composers often are at a loss to explain how we made something ... I suspect that most composers work in a stste of semi-trance, a creative state that is precariously balanced between conscious, logical decision-making and the unknowable instinctual workings of the freely associating brain. I have a deep respect for my own subconscious apparatus, for the part of me that is unknowable ...

... A compositional idea may come from any source. The composer's mind is like flypaper, ready at any moment to attract and trap an idea, a single sound or a complex of sounds. It may be the rhythms of a group of people chattering in a restaurant, or the Doppler effect of a passing train, or three notes from someone else's song, be it Mahler's or Otis Redding's. Or an inspiration might arise from half-consciously diddling with some piece of technology. We need to foster and jealously protect the 'what if' mode of creative play, taking delight in moving sounds around just for the pleasure of seeing and hearing what might happen. The point is to maintain a childlike openness, not to foreclose on a possibility because it does not immediately fit your preconceived notions of what the piece you wish to compose ought to sound like." (pp 192-3)

These paragraphs alone are worth the price of admission.

Listening as I type to this - the first CD in the 40th Anniversary box of Henry Cow, The Road (Volumes 1-5). Super stuff: Pre-Teenbeat ... Rapt in a Blanket ... Amygdala ... . I love the optimism of the sound. Cutler's drumming, Frith's guitar parts, the woodwinds, lyrics about ordinary things - an irresistible marriage of precision and ramshackle. Had Zappa been born in England and brought up on mugs of Typhoo tea and tins of beans this would have been his music.

A pretty good 'map' of what's been going on the past week or so.

The rather incongruous 'Kate Bush' bubble is for her 80s album Hounds of Love. I took it out of the Mediatheque on an oh-well-why-not basis. As chance would have it, she quotes Tennyson's 'The Holy Grail' ("Wave after wave, each mightier than the last ... "). I haven't brought myself to listen to the record for - twenty? - years let alone read the sleeve notes. So did some obscure part of me remember this ... ?

Monday, October 05, 2009

Go to The Sticky Pages Press site for details of a new release ...

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Check out too ...
These are good, too ...
Two images taken from Francoise Vandenwouwer's blog at -

Beautiful books - grimoires, miniature odysseys and dream journeys ...

Some months ago I posted a dream in which I found a bookstore with shelf after shelf of small press poetry and home-made editions. Perhaps it's a version (vision?) of heaven. (Another being a busy French brasserie where the angels are waiters dashing through revolving doors carrying seafood platters, cassoulet, steak du patron et frites.)

So it's been a bit like going to Paradise & back - or the suburbs at least - the past two days.

The Marché du Livre de Mariemont - Salon de la petite édition et de la création littéraire.

In other words, a festival of Artist's Books just down the motor way from Brussels. Table after table of the most fascinating works - word-based, image-based, xerox-basic through to luxurious thousand euro limited editions.

Fingers trembling, I'm left with the question: Why do anything else?

. Driving into work the other morning with 'Village of the Sun' playing & humming & drumming along  & think...