How much of the unreleased material I mentioned in my 12th August entry will ever see release is debatable, but the existence of Burning Shed and the economics of CD production certainly makes it all very possible.
I continually vacillate between admiring musicians who release almost every aspect of their work (Davis/Fripp/Nelson/Rundgren/Zappa) and those who only wait until a project is complete sonically and emotionally before letting go of it (Blue Nile/Hollis/Massive Attack). In many ways, it’s a battle between capturing the heat of now (personally and technologically) and attempting to pinpoint the heart of the timeless (within and without).
To a certain extent, No-Man now fit into the latter category. ‘Returning Jesus’ took five years to write, record, assemble and assess. It was an album that we wouldn’t release until we felt it was exactly what we wanted to say. In retrospect, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It’s still the album I’d rank as my best. Most everything else I’ve done seems slightly half-hearted by comparison with the debate and care that went into ‘Returning Jesus’. Viva preciousness!
Sometimes I feel there’s too much music out there which is merely good and adequate and that by releasing so much ‘work in progress’ that many musicians (myself included) are unnecessarily adding to the ever growing ‘heap of the acceptable’. On the other hand, at their best, these works can be significant indicators of a musician’s hidden qualities, or where their music is coming from/going to. They can also contain some of the musician’s more peculiar and risk-taking experiments. It’s this latter aspect that perhaps justifies the ProjeKcts box set, the Darkroom live triple and the Complete Plugged Nickel Miles Davis experience. Also, who says the creator is always right about what’s good in his/her work?
For my part, on one level I’m attempting to question the very nature of what I do and why I do it and touch something ‘eternal’. On another, I’m attempting to lose myself in an immediate spark of creativity and engage with the possibilities that contemporary technology has to offer. The world constantly changes and it’s a challenge to respond to that. While I continue to vacillate between the ideological extremes, I just make music.
Richard Barbieri calls me regarding a possible re-release of our 1994 album, ‘Flame’. New Porcupine Tree drummer Gavin Harrison (also on ‘Flame’) calls concerning Burning Shed. Other dealings with Andrew Keeling, Third Stone, Neil Sadler, City Of Culture 2008 and Diane, our friend in Canada.
Diane hasn’t been in contact recently due to having severed her hand in a work accident (I wince even reading her description). Luckily, three top Toronto surgeons have replaced the hand and feeling and movement is now creeping back. Along with Sid’s ‘Shingle Chronicles’, this makes me feel sick by association.
To bed, before I choke!