Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Assistant, BB and Will Self...

Back to the gig, briefly... On after us, the Strings didn't do much for me; it was very professional, piano-led rock somewhere between Steely Dan and Starsailor, without the former's wit or the latter's yawning earnestness. Their songs were OK and they went down quite well. Girlinky were much more my kind of thing, and played a snappy, seething set which easily topped their performance at the Pressure Point last year. By this time we'd most of us repaired to the bar and were feeling pleased with ourselves and a bit triumphant. Playing in London feels very different to Brighton, but perhaps that is just playing-outside-yr-home-town syndrome. Either way, we were surprised and pleased with the way it went, delighted to see everyone and keen to play again soon. We're going to try to get some demos recorded next, time permitting, and then hopefully work on some new songs; I've got a couple I'm keen to try and we can start to use the keyboards a bit more creatively now that we're using Reason.

In the meantime, I've been talking to Andrew a lot about how his project, The Bedsit Bomber, is going to progress into doing some live performances. Thus far he's been hamstrung by using just his computer and the ubiquitous Reason, neither of which really lend themselves to spontaneous performance. But he's just bought himself a Yamaha AN200, which is a very cool desktop analog-modelling synth; and should mean that playing 'live' is now possible. All the same, the many complications of MIDI and the logistics of setting up a stage show is befuddling both of us. Either way, his recent songs are excellent, so when he does play live it'll be a treat. We spent a bit of time before Xmas putting together a collaborative set of tracks which we never finalised, provisionally entitled 'Hedgehog Ash / That Got Twisted Out of Reach', so now that he's working on his live set I might try to get my side of that EP completed, and we'll make it available when we're done. Not holding my breath for an immediate turnaround though - busy.

Went to see the urbane and prickly Will Self read from his new novella (Dr Mukti) last night, and really enjoyed it. Not so much the reading itself (though it was good) as the question and answer session afterwards. Asking him questions was a bit like offering to go in goal while Alan Shearer takes penalties, or firing gentle lobs up for Andre Agassi to smash past you. Some of the questions were bad ("why don't you like piercings?"), some were good (the man who talked about his sense of sadness about his children not reading), some predictable ("Which writers inspired you?") and some were bizarre (the German woman who asked about any of his 'indiscretions' with philosophy'). All were treated in much the same manner, as cues for him to spin a soliloquy out of, whether it concerned psychiatry, the boundaries between Brighton and Hove (which intersected his aunt and uncle's home when he was younger, and which prompted the jokes "shall we take the next course in Hove?", or "I think we shall have dessert in Brighton"), his love of words or strange, absurd riffs (one of which concerned his becoming upset by critics - which he says he isn't - and crying and crying onto his bed until the water filled the room, and then he would go for a swim, round and round, until he met a mouse, and then they would climb out to the bed, where they would hold a caucus... you get the picture). Like his books, his talks are triumphs of style; yet there is content there too; it's not just the way he says it, but what he says, too.

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