Tuesday, May 30, 2006

part of an equation


Joseph Beuys, with Anthony Caro

Monday, May 29, 2006

Sporadicfest, Loughborough, UK, 27:05:06

To all who care to know, murmurists played the annual Sporadicfest, at Swan-in-the-Rushes, Loughborough, Leics, UK, on Saturday, 27th May 2006. One of the organisers, Rod Warner, said this as an opener: '...I got home late and utterly exhausted - but it was worth it... despite a patchy audience attendance, overall the day went well, the music was brilliant and thought-provoking, the use of film adding an extra dimension (despite the Sporadic white sheet screen!) - and Tristan Burfield's re-scoring of Cocteau's 'Blood of a poet' which started the proceedings, a fascinating re-take on an old favourite. Thank you to all - Richard and Liquidisers, Tristan, Jake Manning and Stephen Linehan for their acoustic set, the Failed Nasa Experiment mega band and the Murmurists. And of course to David and Murray (both of whom were on blistering form in the Plexus set - just playing it back - wild stuff). Here's a couple of photos- more to come and review when my energy levels pick up...'. Rod plays in improv outfit, Teledu/Ward/Warner, sometimes called Plexus. He also took the pictures above: top one being of Murray Ward, of Teledu/Ward/Warner or Plexus and The Failed NASA Experiment; under that, you can see Roger Bullen and Lee Mapley of murmurists. Click on the title of this bog to go directly to Rod Warner's blog. Here's the address anyway: http://soundsandtexts.blogspot.com/

Saturday, May 27, 2006

variousing, mate

Hello again George. I've enjoyed our banter. Glad it's been a distraction for you, too! Thanks for your kind words. I try! Discipline was a landmark for me. It changed the way I play. I was 17 or 18 when it came out, just started playing bass. By-the-by, I aped Levin's Chapman Stick techniques as far as I could on the bass. Plus, all that Belew wang bar stuff I got into - bending the neck, bending harmonics, etc. I'm playing an improv festival later today, and I'll be playing my six string bass in damned odd ways, like a would-be guitarist; all traceable back to that KC moment! Beat and Three of a Perfect Pair were not as good, but together they sat there like something to aspire to. All that poly-rhythmic stuff, the aesthetic stance, Fripp and Levin's restraint and Belew and Bruford's circus tricks, the minimalism with the excess. Never heard 'L' by G and C. To twat someone is to hit them! Hence: I'll twat him; he needs a good twating - all of which can reasonably be applied to Greg Lake and those of his ilk! I think I'll put it around that he's testing his new melodies out on lab animals. Give him some trouble! Can one have a PhD and be working-class...? Well, wide and deep waters, mate. I think so myself; as, to assume one cannot, is to say that that class itself cannot ever be so educated. Being a Dr. hasn't changed my perspective on the important stuff one iota. I barely tell people about it. I do, though, know lots of big words! ...and in an argument or discussion I always win if I'm in the right, right on an issue etc. In short, I have the tools for argument. Many less well-educated can be right but nonetheless lose, as it were. So, with the swanky vocabulary, one comes across as having 'bettered' oneself. I have few middle-class traits, though. I am, however, somewhat bourgeois - I was before the PhD, before the degree, before the A Levels, before the GCSEs! Your upbringing sounds interesting, mate. Mine was massively conventional. The first books in my parents' house were mine - encyclopaedias, then Marvel things. My dad was a lorry driver. My mum worked in shops. Getting the PhD was a rite of passage for me; passage into a world doggedly immured from my kind by those with fancy accents and good educations who nonetheless, once one peals back the surface, have little but tradition and empty rhetoric to keep them at the top of the British pile. I may not have the graces and know which knife to use, but I have my mind, and it kills aresholes at a billion paces. Simple as that. Britain is backward, mate. There's a social inbreding that, like the physical kind, leads to weakness, illness, and squalor. The upper-classes are fucked up because of their paranoia and pretense. So much in this country is sorted out at clubs and on the golf course. It's not what you know, but who you know; and it's changed little really. Freedom is an absolute concept. One is either free or not free; and the limited nature of freedom in the West means that, really - at bottom - we are still in chains, mate. If dumb consumerism doesn't get you, they'll get you hooked on art problems, on reading broadsheets, on brown rice, on ebay, on making your own music, on ranting about The Illuminati in an email, on reading Chomsky and thinking 'he's right, I'm gonna tell my friends'. We should be on the streets, but we're not. It was Trotsky and not Marx who was barking up the right tree! C'est la vie, though, eh?! Best wishes, Anthony

Friday, May 26, 2006


Hello George. I just added Roger Waters to my myspace friends: a notional RW, that is to say. Some of those happy-clappy myspaceans are genuine, however; pretty odd environment it is, too! I reckon the R U S H page is actually at least something to do with Alex Lifeson; whereas the Hegel page is plainly a homage, eh?! Hey, I like/d punk and prog! What a mixed-up kid... early Floyd is still pretty cool to cite in these parts; but say you liked Rush, Yes, Gabriel-era Genesis, that's another story...! But I did... I think Gates of Delirium is much riskier than Holidays in the Sun, and it's harder to listen to as well, and will upset more people, also. The Pistols was rock n roll. Good prog is far weirder, more arresting. I like The Clash, but they sound twee nowadays. The message is still valid, but its been incorporated, ratified, reified. Prog, meanwhile, still sounds anti-corporate, curmudgeony, difficult, non-advertising material, despite all its damning to be middle-class etc. That's where a band like Godspeed You Black Emperor! spring from - between the two, as a productive vacillation, using the strengths of both genre. The best music, in my opinion, does just that. Glad you like my site, mate. Thanks for looking. Best wishes, Anthony Original Message ----- From: G To: Anthony Donovan Sent: Friday, May 26, 2006 3:48 AM Subject: influences early pink floyd... heh heh my mis-spent youth... I shoulda' been digging the Clash... but I was a total Pink Floyd / Syd Barrett fanatic. White suburban druggy alienation par excellence. When the wall came out, my jean jacket (oh the torque! the embarassment!) with the wish you were here hands drawn on the back had this added onto the bottom: R.I.P. heh heh oh my do you know this bootleg, "The Cheerful Insanity of Giles Giles and Fripp" ? ciao G ----- Original Message ----- From: Anthony Donovan To: ************************ Sent: Thursday, May 25, 2006 9:48 PM Subject:************ *********** **** ********** *********** murmurists new and improved www.myspace.com/esoterian24skidoo http://murmurists.blogspot.com Fond regards No virus found in this incoming message.Checked by AVG Free Edition.Version: 7.1.394 / Virus Database: 268.7.1/347 - Release Date: 24/05/2006

Francis Bacon

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Retrospection/iffyness/t t .. tttt t ttt

town-hearted blues

Power Number

Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Liverpool, 1986


Appreciate the add; thanks for the association. We have, over the years, been big fans of PF. We did, however, jump ship in 1980 for sure; and we do prefer the very earliest things these days, before Darkside of the Moon's overt Prog mainstream; though there is beauty and insight there, also. That said, we like parts of Wish You Were Here and Animals, and, later, The Final Cut. So - what are we saying?! We have always been in the Waters-camp, as it is he who has remained vital and true to the social realist spirit of 1973-onwards Floyd, not the cover version-like caricatures of Gilmour-led Floyd. He is merely a guitar player. He merely co-opted the imagery invented by Waters, and in the most cynical way possible for money, to stay afloat artistically, trading on the ignorance and desparation of those fans who were starved of Floyd itself. Floating pigs do not an artwork make, mate. 'Perfect Sense' - wonderful. Please do have a look at our


(....) Marx attempted to address this problem; realising that - though the technical problems are themselves difficult and demand certain types of language - this has the effect of taking them away from the mainstream, into the academy. Change, Marx felt, must happen outside of that context; indeed, he felt it could only happen outside of it. With that in mind, he operated two systems, as it were: one as technical and difficult as that of Hegel, Kant, etc., the other consisting of polemic. The latter was meant to garner reactions both from people who could understand his philosophy and those who could never hope to, but who could see in his polemic something which described their lives and made them want to fight. Even with that double strategy, however, the versions of communism we have had and which Marx and Engels are blamed for have never been anything more than shallow immitations of that imperative. The problem remains to this day: how does one change the world for the better? And how can ideas and insights aid in that fight? Best wishes e24s esoterian24skidoo 23/05/2006 12:06 Thanks for your most recent comment. Its detail and your engagement is most appreciated. We are, we feel, in broad agreement. There are, to be sure, important differences between Marx's treatment of 'the future' and that of Hegel. Marx was more directly predictive. There was a pragmatic component to this; insofar as he was actively attempting to affect mass response. Hegel's audience, though no less ambitious in essence, was, we believe, distinctly more rarefied, more philosophical (as opposed to political), if you will. That said, the ultimate effect wanted by both could be termed political. As we said, we respect all efforts made with good faith. In citing such a thing as 'mysticism', as detected in some aspects of Hegel's critique, we did not mean to infer anything other than differences with the kind of straight, scientific approach demanded today, and that that fact alone has led to misinterpretation and misuse of Hegel's ideas and the man himself, as an historical figure. This, in fact, is what you are saying yourself, we feel. All ideas are misued, are they not? Hegel like all thinkers is caricatured and co-opted willy-nilly. One real reason for this, though, is the very difficulty of his work. (Continued...) esoterian24skidoo 22/05/2006 04:31 Thank you for directing us toward appropriate links - viz Hegel:Popper issues raised. We did, though, enjoy Popper's On the Poverty of Historicism. But, being avid and commited Marxians, we do have trouble with the central plank of his criticism of Marx's philosophy. Popper has, in that respect, too often been a source of seemingly useable Rightist ideas for fools of that persuasion. Hegelian philosophy has frayed, overly-mystical, perhaps too-romantic edges; and as a huge systemic critique, it is certainly out of favour with current trends. We, however, try to respect any and all efforts made in good faith. We are all only human, of course. Best wishes, esoterian24skidooDo please gander amongst our images and notes at http://murmurists.blogspot.com


Thank you for your impassioned, detailed reply. We appreciate your engagement. May we answer you this way...You said: '...As you well know, I, Joseph Albers, am dead, and now only exist as a sort of collective of notions among men. My work's impact on society is who I am now. Yes, a certain inspired faceless individual acts as operative behind this page because of the simple reality that I am not able to myself, and would never if given the choice, but that person in and of himself is not of consequence--what is significant is the fact that this page exists at all and does solely because I have become an inextricable part of the tapestry of our cultural consciousness. To think one person is behind all of the various homages to the deceased greats is to vanquish the credit these individuals deserve for the great inspiration they have bestowed upon the masses...'.To this we say: All is collective in the sense in which you offer that idea, of history, of humanity. We favour this notion itself, and celebrate the ideology behind it and those ideologies which naturally flow from it. Subscription to this - as an ideal - is both liberating and liberalising. There is, though, nothing lightweight about this; the commitment is both political and Political. Similarly, hommages - if thorough, earnest, and in good faith - are perpetuations in and of themselves. If the idea is good, then the perpetuation is useful and interesting. We are glad that different people are 'behind' each such hommage on myspace. That is simply wonderful.Best wishes, e24s RE: Sources As you well know, I, Joseph Albers, am dead, and now only exist as a sort of collective of notions among men. My work's impact on society is who I am now. Yes, a certain inspired faceless individual acts as operative behind this page because of the simple reality that I am not able to myself, and would never if given the choice, but that person in and of himself is not of consequence--what is significant is the fact that this page exists at all and does solely because I have become an inextricable part of the tapestry of our cultural consciousness. To think one person is behind all of the various homages to the deceased greats is to vanquish the credit these individuals deserve for the great inspiration they have bestowed upon the masses. Joseph Albers ----------------- Original Message ----------------- From: esoterian24skidoo Date: May 13, 2006 8:29 PM We use source in a difference sense from the one you infer in your answer; but your point is natural enough. But then - as a rejoinder - we say how far back, in history, does one go to find some basic, primal, connecting ontological well-spring? The Enlightenment is to Modernism what Modernism is to Postmodernism. Additionally, it may be true to say - or at least tenable to say - that there are several Modernisms, several varieties of Modernity. Such terms are secure only so far. By source we mean myspace operative, person. But that, of course, is clear enough; and the question remains. Dialectics is what matters. It is ultimately human and ultimately humanising. ----------------- Original Message ----------------- From: Joseph Albers Date: May 13, 2006 7:53 PM What source do you suppose all of us are coming from, if not the consequence of the legacy of modern art? Joseph Albers ----------------- Original Message ----------------- From: esoterian24skidoo Date: May 12, 2006 12:01 AM Joseph Albers we like. We like that era of Bauhaus; with it's transitions and contadictions; squaring the circle between what it was and what it was to become: a bridge between Itten as monk and Maholy-Nagy as machine, if you will. A respectful question is prompted in us: all these Modernist heroes on myspace.com - Rauschenberg, Johns, Satie, Cage, Schoenberg, Breton - are they coming from the same source, on myspace, we wonder? Regards esoterian24skidoo

Monday, May 22, 2006


Thank you for directing us toward appropriate links - viz Hegel:Popper issues raised. We did, though, enjoy Popper's On the Poverty of Historicism. But, being avid and commited Marxians, we do have trouble with the central plank of his criticism of Marx's philosophy. Popper has, in that respect, too often been a source of seemingly useable Rightist ideas for fools of that persuasion. Hegelian philosophy has frayed, overly-mystical, perhaps too-romantic edges; and as a huge systemic critique, it is certainly out of favour with current trends. We, however, try to respect any and all efforts made in good faith. We are all only human, of course. Best wishes, esoterian24skidoo Do please gander amongst our images and notes at http://murmurists.blogspot.com

Friday, May 19, 2006


Hello again * R.B. Kitaj, during his seminal, interventionist exhibition programme of 1976, The Human Clay, said, '...There is much to be done. It matters what men of good will want to do with their lives...'. I like this. It approaches the analysis of human-kind from the other direction from Caldwell, but still manages a bit of poetic reduction. Kitaj is characteristically generous and inclusive; and there's a political, ideological strength in being so. The text itself was used in order to support and promote the idea of a doggedly figurative - non-Abstract, non-Conceptual - art practice, in which, literally, the figure of the person was always central. Kitaj believed that to diminish the sovereignty of the person, even in painting, was dangerous; even indicative of those crimes against humanity meted-out by the Nazis, etc. In other words, by constantly and consistently reiterating the human figure, one is over-and-over reaffirming its importance. Kitaj was, at the same time, seeking to express his own Jewishness, but the point is made generally. Caldwell, it seems, seeks to choke-off possibilities, in his creation of a rarefied ghetto of happy knowing creatives and happy innocent children. A good proportion of the latter, of course - according to Caldwell - are destined for unhappiness or less-happiness, since they will fail to be creative in adulthood. How can one be happy in the knowledge of that? It's like Logan's Run: a temporary utopia. Kitaj, meanwhile - like Sadowitz, in fact - seeks to give people an inalienable chance. As a starting point, he insists that all people are worthwhile, similarly-blessed, etc.; and that 'men of good will' should act in good faith. This matters. It is a structuring-element in human history at the same time on the grand scale and interpersonally. That is to say, that all human good and human bad is composed of human decisions; and one can act with good faith or with bad. To my mind, the new war - for us over-entertained Westerners - is against apathy, laziness, sophistry, top-sheeting, lack of real engagement. I hope my efforts here demonstrate my willingness to get-up-and-go with stuff passed my way! Best wishes, Anthony

R.B. Kitaj said...

. . .Don't listen to the fools who say either that pictures of people can be of no consequence or that painting is finished. There is much to be done. It matters what men of good will want to do with their lives...

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Cheers * Hmmmh... Not sure whether I agree with the thrust of Caldwell's sentiment, mate. Similarly, unsure whether it's a manifesto for an inferiority complex or a superiority complex. Being likened to/lumped in with children hints at the former (inferiority), in one sense. To generalise - since this is an email and not an essay: the notion of childish/innocent genius apart, kids are unformed adults; they are less sophisticated, cruder. If that creates happiness in them, it's on the basis of a kind of ignorance, and is thereby merely temporary. The idea that so-called/supposed non-creative adult people are less happy than creative ones, hints at the latter (superiority); being amplified along the way by being dubbed a 'minority'. This seems somewhat distasteful to me. Elitism doesn't usually bother me in and of itself, you understand! I believe in horses for courses, and have no trouble thinking we are all different, with differing capabilities. Personal worth shouldn't be calculated in terms of or diminished by these differentials, however. All people are worth the same. More basically, though, Caldwell's reductive prose seems not to adequately describe/account for the truth as I at least see it. Forgive the pithiness, but I prefer Jerry Sadowitz's imperative that 'either every subject is up for comedy or none is'. The reductions of poetry don't always make for great explanation. Thanks for the stimulation. Having a lovely time here. Hope you are too. Good luck with CR. * keeps me informed. Sending a package of my slender artworking to him soon. Got gigs coming up - next week and in June. Busy, also, making films; very much liking that medium. That, plus making noises on the laptop, more or less keeps me out of trouble. Here www.myspace.com/esoterian24skidoo and here http://murmurists.blogspot.com can be found the fruits of my womb. Cheers, Anthony----- Original Message ----- From: *************To: <a.donovan7@ntlworld.com>Sent: Thursday, May 18, 2006 8:40 PM Subject: Quote > The only truly happy people are children and the creative minority. > > > Jean Caldwell> > > > -- > No virus found in this incoming message.> Checked by AVG Free Edition.> Version: 7.1.392 / Virus Database: 268.6.0/342 - Release Date: 17/05/2006

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Thanks for your message and enquiry. We have built things with contact mic attachments; plus, most recently, a fretless classical guitar. The more 'conventional' instruments we use are used unconventionally as a rule - at least when our attention is sufficient. Little is fixed. Little is predetermined. But happenstance is limited, of course: one does end up with results which fall into categories of one identity or another. A fretless classical guitar is wasted as novelty; we try, in small ways, to bring something more substantive out of it. Tell us about you activities, please. Best wishes e24s esoterian24skidoo 16/05/2006 06:49 Cornwall is nice - we believe, since we have never been. We know the North better; but are getting to know the so-called Midlands. Hope you are happy and well. We are. Performances are pending - which is always nice; plus radio, plus our ongoing filming, plus devising of new instruments to keep our interest. It is, though, the little things in life which charm us. Best wishes esoterian24skidoo we partly live here http://murmurists.blogspot.com esoterian24skidoo 09/05/2006 23:56 Thanks for the add. We like the material on your page. What kind of set-up have you got? Where are you based? We suspect maybe Brighton...? We make improvised experimental music and film as murmurists. You can see more about and by us here http://murmurists.blogspot.comUse the sidebar to access extensive archives. (Sidebar located at foot of page, at the moment!) Best wishes esoterian24skidoo

Sunday, May 14, 2006

J.G. Power-Ballard

Not depicted: & c.

Porno Adorno

Indeed, they might be giants

Decaf Bjorknutrino

Friday, May 12, 2006

part of an equation

part of an equation

Friday, May 05, 2006


Cheers D. Why people invent and proliferate these viruses is beyond me. Of course, I know it's some disgruntled, hormone-insane American teenager living in Seattle, thinking he's a political activist, whose dad works for Microsoft, or, as B said last night, the anti-virus companies! But MS aren't going to be hurt by it; just the likes of you and me, toiling away for three hours to extricate their dubious entertainment. Again, mate, glad the wanderlust has hit you. Make the most of it is all I can say; have adventure; it's really important. Yeh, murmurists is coming to life, for sure. I am enjoying it. There's a good positive spirit; and it's pretty easy-going, too. Conceptually it's all there; good potential. The film aspect will add to it. But the noise is right; which is the main thing. There was a nice violent passage during Wednesday's rehearsal. It just happened. R set the tone. I reacted with a suggestion of menace(!); then R was right there, like it was time to let go. Then, L added perfectly to it with some menace of his own. It all came together. Can't wait to get Walker's The Drift; and Climate of Hunter, which I don't really know. Performance is DVD and White of the Eye is video. Annie got them from Amazon, I think. I didn't know Performance was out on DVD; which sounds odd, given that it's a so-called cult classic. You and me know it's more than that, though! Cheers; I know the score with fitness; as - believe it or not - I used to be fit when in my teens! Was skinny, but strong. Strangely, I was very good at arm-wrestling! Not used Cu-Base at all; unlikely for a bit, too. Same with Albleton. I prefer to keep it simple, intuitive at the moment; in time, though, I'll get into - what K calls - mouse music. I intend to realise some compositions that way; maybe next year. I want an output of minimalistic horror film scores, as part of esoterian 24 skidoo. Put CDRs/DVDs out of brown music, as I intend to call it! Brown because - like that colour is all colours mixed as one - it will be a complete mixture of tones; a kind of serial music, but constructed from vertical clashes of sound - as opposed to being horizontal, like drone music; if you get the references. Sketch over! Thanks, in anticipation, for your package to come. 'Disgruntled proggists...? How'd you mean? Not sure I can just run live feed into mic socket as you suggest. I need to experiment. Not sure I have Sound Forge. Will take a gander at Wave Editor for options in that way. Thanks for advice. Hope dentist not too sadistic. Best wishes, Anthony----- Original Message ----- From: D To: Anthony Donovan Sent: Friday, May 05, 2006 7:22 AM Subject: Re: ...that email I said I'd send! Hello there! Nice one on the computer front mate! Nope, nothing is self explanatory in computer land so congratulations, first virus i encountered I ended up reformatting so well done there :) Yep it is ok to say * tis naught but the truth. *************. Good to hear you're playing again so soon and that there is footage from last time too. Learning the ropes with the video stuff is a bit weird but well worth it, I still have plenty of that to do myself. Look forward to seeing/hearing results from your filming. Thought you'd be up to speed on the walker album, nice little list of entertainmet there. Is the performance on dvd or video? Good stuff on the gym, keep it up mate, will reap the benefits. Take my advice..don't slack off once you get well fit, it hurts real bad starting it all over, i've done it too many times. How are you doing with cubase? Tried it out yet? Looked too complex to me, stuck with ableton though i should use it a lot more. Got some soft synths for it too, absynth and 'space explorer', at least that's what i think it's called, it's not as cheesey as it sounds though lol. Will get a copy of belfast performance to you with other material i mentioned. They were a bit crappy on the post gig front certainly, that was the original disc too, rubbish, will send you replacement. Look out for disgruntled proggists at the festival. Will look up Chewbacca, think i've seen the name before but never heard them. Give the buggers hell about harris street mate, the fools. If you run a line from the mini disc (audio lead form headphones/line out) to the microphone socket of your comp you'll be able to record it in, i used dreaded nero wave editor but sure you could record it in to soundforge/other prog along those lines. You'll have to record in real time but you'll get it that way. Ok mate, off to prepare for a dental adventure lol. Best wishes D----- Original Message ----: Anthony Donovan To Sent: Thursday, May 04, 2006 9:04 PMSubject: ...that email I said I'd send! Here we go... Was proud of myself sorting the Trojan out. Watch out for it, mate. It's going around. Got good advice from a bulletin on internet. But had to do the specifics myself. Nothing is self-explanatory with these fucking computers! Dentist - yeh, yuk ... Ouch... Rather you than me. Glad that you are proposing all that travel. You've worked hard for years, mate **** Great destinations, too. Why not. Glad, also, that music is happening for you. Of course, would like to hear results at some point. We're playing improv festival in Loughborough, 27th. The film I'm making is, I think - and for a first effort - pretty OK really. As I said, I'll burn you a copy when I've finished it. No doubt the gig will be filmed; and I have footage of the last one. The intention is to edit this, though; as it's just raw, stationary camera. Once I'm on top of this, I'll send you stuff. I am getting to grips with the film end of things now. See you later. Supposing you'll read this in the morning. So hope last night was OK. Say hello to the worthies from me. Best wishes, Anthony No virus found in this incoming message. Checked by AVG Free Edition.Version: 7.1.392 / Virus Database: 268.5.4/332 - Release Date: 04/05/2006

Thursday, May 04, 2006

part of an equation

triangulate, if you please: F Frith/K Rowe/D Bailey

Corporeal Foucault, gg00, & Lee Lifeson-Peart, Cafe Abdab, 2006

Pig Ignorant & Disney Gombrich, Cafe Abdab, 2006

Xy Satie, Tart Ersatz, & Lee Lifeson-Peart, Cafe Abdab, 2006

Vegetable Brecht, Cafe Abdab, 2005

Jape Clogger, Cafe Abdab, 2006

Disney Gombrich, Cafe Abdab, 2006

Noun (o.n.o.)

Eno-Ob-Scene-O, Cafe Abdab, 2006

trick of the shite

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Soutine Routine, Cafe Abdab, 2006

slogans with arrows

re Scott Walker; re The Drift

Ben Williams, in New York Magazine writes...
Elvis Dreams of 9/11
And other brilliantly strange concoctions from the elusive pop genius Scott Walker

On The Rising, Bruce Springsteen wrote about 9/11 from the point of view of firefighters and horrified bystanders. Toby Keith (“Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue [The Angry American]”), Neil Young (“Let’s Roll”), and the Wu-Tang Clan (“Rules”) gave us the outraged, ass-kicking-patriot perspective. The Beastie Boys (“An Open Letter to NYC”) rallied to celebrate New York. Scott Walker writes about 9/11 as a nightmare Elvis Presley is having. On “Jesse,” the third track on Walker’s new album, The Drift, Elvis is sitting on the Memphis prairie in the moonlight, talking aloud to his stillborn twin brother, Jesse—as he would often do “in times of loneliness and despair,” according to Walker’s sleeve notes. Elvis is dreaming about the planes smashing into the Towers. It starts with an ominous drone. A bass guitar throbs darkly (which, says Walker, represents the planes approaching). Then Walker slowly, deliberately whispers, “Pow, pow” (which, he says, represents the planes hitting the Towers). A disembodied guitar riff from “Jailhouse Rock” floats menacingly. Drums never arrive. At last, Walker floats into the song with his deep, rich baritone: “Nose holes caked in black cocaine . . . ” (“Pow!”)(“Pow!”) After six more minutes, and images of Elvis crawling around on his hands and knees, “smoothing out the prairie / All the dents and the gouges,” the music dies, and he’s left wailing: “Alive / I’m the only one / Left alive / I’m the only one / Left alive.” It is devastating. And, against the odds, convincing: By the end of “Jesse,” Walker has somehow fused his unlikely subjects. You imagine the Towers as a stillborn twin: the ultimate phantom limb, an ever-present void in the skyline, an ache that never goes away. Walker, who is 63, has one of the greatest voices in pop history, and in his younger days, when he battled orchestras as part of the sixties pop group the Walker Brothers, he was not afraid to use it. What he has lost—not much—in fullness over the years, he has more than compensated for by developing a unique, quasi-operatic style. He will twist a word, and a line, inside out, stretching vowels, leaving syllables to die in the air, gliding imperceptibly up and down his register. It is theatrical, designed to wring shades of meaning from diamond-hard lyric fragments. And also purely musical—if meaning remains elusive, and it often does, well, confusion still sounds gorgeous. If it is rare to find artists working at their creative peak into their sixties, it is rarer still to find one releasing his most radical work yet. The Drift is Walker’s first album in ten years and third in 30, after 1984’s Climate of Hunter and 1995’s Tilt. It will be followed by a documentary, Scott Walker: 30 Century Man, in which everyone from Radiohead to Brian Eno lines up to sing his praises. This extraordinary trilogy exists entirely in Walker’s own, self-invented musical world, and it is not an easy world to enter. The music is dark, velvety, and almost motionless, yet full of tension. Sometimes, it sounds like an aria; at others, like industrial noise. On The Drift, Walker has pared this sound to the point where he barely needs melody anymore. Instead, there are whirring synthesizers, great orchestral blocks of sound, noises of unknown provenance—a recent BBC interview showed studio technicians whacking a great side of meat—a donkey braying, and, at one point, a malevolently quacking Donald Duck. Yet this is not experimentation for experimentation’s sake. Everything Walker does has a purpose, and his songs unfold like carefully scripted dramas, even if we’re not sure what the plot is. It has taken him a long time to get here. The Walker Brothers left Los Angeles to make it big in England in 1965, as American acts felt compelled to do for a couple of years in the wake of the Beatles. They succeeded on the back of a Spector-esque wall of orchestrated sound: “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” remains a pop classic. Teenybopper stardom didn’t suit, and in 1967, Walker went solo, discovered Jacques Brel, and released a string of albums—Scotts 1 through 4—that reinvented his persona as an existential balladeer. Listening to these records, you picture him wandering the boulevards of Europe, talking about avant-garde film and literature in cafés, obsessively analyzing his last affair even as he begins the next. If that sounds overripe, often it was. In order to enjoy this music, you need to develop a taste for sweeping string arrangements, plaintive reed instruments, and maudlin self-dramatization. Scott 4 is the cult object (the first real sign of Walker’s experimental ambitions, it tanked), but Scott 3 is the best and most balanced of these albums. The buzzing strings on “It’s Raining Today” sound like a Bernard Herrmann Hitchcock score. Walker’s philosophical leanings meant he occasionally succumbed to pretentiousness, but they were also what made him more than just another crooner abusing the great American songbook all the way to Vegas. Which is pretty much what he became in the following decade, releasing a string of mediocre cover albums that dipped into country and cabaret. It was not until 1978 that he picked up the threads from Scott 4 songs like “Angels of Ashes” and “Boy Child”—fragile, lambent, otherworldly—on the ill-fated Walker Brothers reunion, Nite Flights. “The Electrician,” in particular, prefigured his later work. Again, those psycho-movie strings, now wedded to an ominous bass line and a lyric about an executioner in South Africa sung in a sluggish slur: “If I jerk the handle / You’ll die in your dreams / If I jerk the handle / Jerk the handle / You’ll thrill me and thrill me and thrill me.” Two things happened here. First, Walker ditched his doomed romantic persona and started writing characters. This was crucial: It allowed him to retain his tragic mood while divorcing it from self-indulgence. Secondly, he began to write about the world as a horror show—the first Iraq war (“Patriot [A Single]”), the Holocaust (“The Cockfighter”), drugs (“Dealer”), and, on The Drift, the public stringing up of Mussolini (“Clara”). This is not the commemorative, self-glorifying style of “political music” practiced by U2, or even the empathetic reportage of Springsteen. Instead, Walker speaks from inside the events he writes about. If he sings about an executioner, he sings about the turn-on of killing someone. If he sings about a junkie, he verbalizes the drug experience. And makes it sound like an agonized rhapsody. Without Walker’s occasional hints, we might have no idea what any of these songs refer to. Even when we do, much remains opaque. Yet this is what makes them more than simply topical. The images burrow down into your subconscious anyway. Mystery is part of the point.It’s also part of the persona. In that BBC interview, Walker’s interlocutor peppered him with variations on “You’re a bit of a weird recluse, aren’t you?” Walker responded with infinite calm and sanity. He chooses to retreat behind the work, to resist autobiography. In an age where branding your personality is the preferred art form, he couldn’t be more out of time.

Pie Dinner, Cafe Abdab, 2005

Mountains, molehills; hills of beans; erratic consumption. Easy, cheesy


Certainly, one does not always have to pick fights! Your profile is, though, provocative - and meant to be, of course! Perhaps this cyber-profile is the profile you carry through into everyday life? A constructive dissatisfaction with the world is, we feel, a good thing. It shows a laudible lack of apathy. Stay grumpy. Personally, we try to look on the bright-side, whilst preparing for the worst. That said, it's as well to keep things in perspective. We don't live in, say, Iraq; so we are not under that kind of threat. The threat here is of living a half-life - as an unreflexive, only semi-conscious consumer. So much seems piecemeal, idle, half-arsed. But it is possible, we feel, to side-step the culture we are given. One just has to be prepared for struggle and application, and - moreover - the need to invent and maintain one's own infastructures in paramount. We have never been mainstream, though. Education is the thing to save the situation. The lack of same is what is wrong. That leads to most of the ills we see. There is a general and generalised, widely-accepted lack of respect, for everything from the wonders of nature to the wonders of the self, of self-hood, of Being that is. There is, put another way, a lack of hope; coupled with a disbelief in the possibility and efficacy of progress. Societly, this manifests itself as the model of consumerism caricatured above; in terms of individuals, this leads to a careless attitude toward making the most of one's life, notions of self-development/improvement, etc. Islands of Doubt, as Talking Heads once termed it, can be made, however. One can remove oneself from the general flow. What choice is there?


Just to say, we do drop by your journal on a semi-regular, albeit sporadic, basis. It's always a chuckle; often insightful. The best misuse of an apostrophe we know of is 'Leed's'; which we saw whilst out one time. 'Carrot's' (pertaining to the plural) is another fine error. They do have a kind of charm; but are, in another sense, indicative of a kind of woeful decline; kind of apocalyptic, socially-corrosive; as you seem to think yourself. We admire your get-up-and-go, in pointing these things out. For us, the overwhelming feeling, when confronted with the same, is of lassitude, ennui, rather than outrage, however. *.com is a microcosm of society in general; it cannot help but be. On the whole, we tend to feel sorry for the lost souls here. * Not everyone has sufficient intelligence and sufficient confidence to affect the leap from *. If we are to take your profile at face-value, you appear confident and *. *. From that basis, all else flows; strength and sanity are what one reaps, because the fundamentals are right and are in-place. We do not, though, feel superior in being secure. We feel happy. We attempt, in our own small way, to spread this around, by being such things as 'good company', 'helpful', 'understanding', et al. This is pure Hippydom, we know! With that, though, we are firm in our demand for respect and * a zero-tolerance with rudeness, crassness, etc. We avoid ****/ had several arguments on here; but has never picked a fight. The commitment is to dialectics, rather than seeming to try to solve the world's ills by listing them. At first, we thought you yourself were of this type; using your intelligence, and the fact that you can spell etc., as weapons against those who are less able to present themselves with grace and clarity. But, over time, we see that you are (a) playing it for laughs and (b) there is a will on your part to be constructive, which emerges as one becomes familiar enough with the mock-outrage of your prose. Are you, then, a Will Self-style grumpy old man? Does one tune-into your profile on that basis? You are, to us, a bit of light-relief; from the - let's face it - tedium of viewing the usual *

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Eno-Ob-Scene-O, Cafe Abdab, 2006

Monday, May 01, 2006

Ronnie-James RaDioHead & Lee Lifeson-Peart, Cafe Abdab, 2006

Tired of fixation; now looming over documentorial spaces

Ilko-Bilko, 2005

dot dot dot, with moxie

J.G. Power-Ballard, Cafe Abdab, 2006

Here, X = X. There is no Hister; there is no starry alignment, mate

Pig Ignorant, outside Cafe Abdab, 2005

Porno Adorno, Cafe Abdab, 2006

O stringed

Jape Clogger, Cafe Abdab, 2006

J.G. Power-Ballard & Xy Satie, 2006

Grievance Dave Mignon, Decaf Bjorknutrino, & Porno Adorno, Plot, Wigan, 2003


Cheers Rod. Last Walker LP was 'Tilt', released 1995; 'Climate of Hunter' was 1984, I think. So, with 'The Drift' coming out this year, he averages one every 11 years. Think is, they sound like they took that long. Tilt is, for me, the greatest thing ever. It blew me away when I heard it first time; and I played it every day, at least once, I think, for the next five years! The only other things I could stomach were Neil Young's 'Harvest', and really experimental things. Walker's solo albums are similarly amazing: numbered 'Scott', 'Scott 2', 'Scott 3', 'Scott 4'; in case you don't know. His Brel stuff is wonderful, also. 'Tilt' you must own! Good compilation of earlier stuff is 'Boychild'. That has 'Such a Small Love' on it, which, as a song, for me, has never been bettered. (If it's at all appropriate to rank art thus, that is.) As you say, 'Tilt' sold badly. That's a shame; but to be expected, given the sorry state of the mainstream. Same with 'The Dreaming' by Kate Bush; another masterpiece - difficult, obviously precursory to the more perfectly-formed 'Hounds of Love', but more interesting, in my opinion. Walker moved here in the 60s, in order to absorb that European sensibility; that Modernist line: Symbolism, Surrealism, Dada, Existentialism, Phenomenology, et al. There is something unAmerican about him. He's a kind of exile. Like the painter R.B. Kitaj, if you know the reference. Yeh, he's on the darker, 'doomy' side, as you say. The Wire mentions T.S. Eliot in reviewing 'The Drift'; not just journalistic bluster, I reckon, too. Walker has taken that sensibility - that way of quoting, of having multiple voices, toward a unified or even fractured but meaningful message. He's akin to Borges. There are lots of references; little in music, though. Anyway, I love Walker's stuff, and could bang on about him all day... I'll explore the issues regarding DVD projection and get back to you. Hope the sheet is from Emin's bedroom! It can't be dirtier than the one on the official 'Bed'! If I were you, I'd try the Turner Prize before Venice. Test the waters. ***************Sorry to hear ******** Best wishes, Anthony----- Original Message ----- From: "rod>To: <Sent">a.donovan7@ntlworld.com>Sent: Monday, May 01, 2006 10:35 AM Subject: RE: Sporadicfest > Hi Anthony - I'm intrigued by Scott Walker... I had his album Climate of > Hunter back in the 80's and was very impressed - not followed him so much > (and he doesn't put out stuff that often - can't remember the last album's > name - on the tip of my Wire somewhere! - but I liked it - and not many did > as I remember)... He sounds a fascinating guy, an American who moved to > Europe and operates within a very European cultural paradigm. Bit doomy, > mind you - but hey ho> Not sure about the projector scenario I gathered that * might have > problems getting one in which case we coul no doubt supply - but if you can > bring your own, I'll go for fail-safe any time. We have the wonderful > Sporadic 'screen' - the large white sheet allegedly stolen from Tracy Emin's > bedroom several years ago and which I am thinking of entering in the Venice > Biennale - tee hee -actually not such a stupid idea, come to think of it. > It should be adequate to the task - and also provides a bit of cover at the > back of the room.> ***************** r> >>From: "Anthony Donovan" <a.donovan7@ntlworld.com>>>To: "rod>>>Subject: Sporadicfest>>Date: Mon, 1 May 2006 10:15:43 +0100>>>>Re: Sporadicfest: that sounds fine, Rod. Thanks. I'll let Roger and Lee >>know. As suggested, we are thinking in terms of 45 minutes; and I'm >>producing a film of that length to accompany the improv. Do we need to >>provide projector/player? We're assuming you have screen. Massed jam would >>be fine; but we'll leave that to timing on the night, as you say.>>>>I do like your guitar pieces. Actually, I liked what you did just kind of >>warming up before your set on 25th March: a sort of clawing technique with >>the right-hand; and the bright, uneffected sound of the Strat. Would make >>nice splashes of more 'natural' sound over/in with the electronica, if you >>see what I mean... Anyway, musings...>>>>May not be your cup of tea, but personally I'm just waiting for the release >>of Scott Walker's 'The Drift' on 8th May. Big Walker fan. And 'Tilt' was >>monumental, in my opinion. The material I've heard from Walker's latest is >>even better. Anyway, advert over!>>>>Cheers.>>Anthony>>>>>>>>----- Original Message ----- From: "rod>>>To: <a.donovan7@ntlworld.com>>>Sent: Monday, May 01, 2006 9:27 AM>>Subject: RE: myspace-out>>>>>>>Thanks for nice comments! - by the way - if it's ok with you re timing - >>>would you fancy doing a spot in *********** May be a possible jam as well, but we'll have to see about >>>time...>>>>>>regards>>>>>>rod From: "Anthony Donovan" <a.donovan7@ntlworld.com>>>>>To: "rod>>>>>Subject: myspace-out>>>>Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2006 23:21:13 +0100>>>>>>>>Hello Rod>>>>>>>>Hope this finds you well.>>>>>>>>Just to say, really like your material on your myspace page. I >>>>particularly like 'rockthistoo'. Downloaded it ...... and play it, too!>>>>>>>>Best wishes>>>>Anthony>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>-->>>No virus found in this incoming message.>>>Checked by AVG Free Edition.>>>Version: 7.1.385 / Virus Database: 268.5.1/327 - Release Date: 28/04/2006>>>>>>>>> > > > > -- > No virus found in this incoming message.> Checked by AVG Free Edition.> Version: 7.1.385 / Virus Database: 268.5.1/327 - Release Date: 28/04/2006