5th January

January 5, 2003

After two weeks of shuffling around like Dickens’ Scrooge as re-written by a mightily anxious Samuel Beckett, it’s good to emerge blinking into the daylight of reality.

December proved interesting with the Burning Shed mini-festival being both a pleasure and a pain. The words never and again sprung to mind on at least a thousand occasions during the two day event.

The Friday event was over-ambitious, under-attended and initially chaotic.

Luckily, it had enough of musical interest to justify the effort involved in making it happen. Musicians formed unlikely and inspired bonds and the collective improvisations may well provide Burning Shed with a fine future release.

In direct contrast, the Saturday event went smoothly and was well attended.

The main sets (from Roger Eno, myself and Peter Chilvers, and Hugh Hopper/Theo Travis) were musically strong and warmly received by an enthusiastic audience. Hugh Hopper asked me to join him as part of his wonderful improv set with the ubiquitous Theo Travis. Having admired Hugh since being a young teen in the barren wastelands of North Cheshire, it was something of an honour.

Overall stars of the festival included, Andy Butler for his persistence in the face of potential chaos, Theo Travis for his incredibly inspired versatility and desire to play on everything with everyone, and Diane, Ross and the Centrozoon team for making their way to a frozen Norwich from exotic foreign lands. Special mention should also go to Stephen Bennett for gifting us his first live performance in over a decade (his Kajagoogoo styled hand-held synth making him look as if we’d had him in suspended animation since his last performance in the mid-1980s!).

Feeling my creative hard disk to be full, I wasn’t keen on doing any more writing for a while. December and early January collaborations with Henry Fool, Hugh Hopper, Rhinoceros and the thinking man’s Eraserhead, Lord Peter Chilvers, put that plan firmly in the wastebasket.

The new Henry Fool material and the Rhinoceros piece are fresh extensions of my familiar wading in the waters of croon (and quite lovely too, I think).

The Hopper material is jagged and jazzy and anything but familiar or lovely.

The brand new Bowness/Chilvers piece, however, found us making an unexpected and experimental 14 minute lover-man soul piece in 5/4. My working title of ‘Papa Love’ hasn’t yet got the bearded one’s approval, but good taste will hopefully prevail!

Early 2003 will see the release of the ambitious new No-Man album and a return trip to Toronto for myself and the Lord. In addition, Burning Shed will embark on its most major release to date (details later). Despite its wimper-like ending, 2002 proved a good year for the label. Let’s hope 2003 is even better.