Thu 6th Feb 2020

This past week, I discovered Pat Methany’s music. This has thrown me back into listening to a lot of jazz music again, and including my old favourite from the rock/jazz fringes – Steely Dan.

I have always thought that Jazz really ought to be the music I should be playing, but I have had a mental block at the technical aspects, which seems odd as it is something I would have thought would suit me. In the past I have been on Jazz courses, but these seem to get stuck for ages in simple jazz blues, which never seemed to reach the key aspects (or probably I was just too impatient and fickle). I have always thought that the harmonic voicing associated with jazz is the beauty of the music, and something that appeals to me in other music too (English Suite by Duarte is a classical piece that I play that includes a lot of such harmonies).

So, my firm resolution is to embark on a study of jazz guitar, and to not let it defeat me. Here’s hoping that this resolution does better than the recent resolution to lose weight and get healthy. Too much continued stress in my mind to be ready for that quite yet, I think.

Tue 28th January 2020

It will no doubt take a while for the new band to take shape, and it will need to develop its own ‘personality’. Some signs that this may happen – we had a quite enjoyable rehearsal last week, with Pete Slade taking the Bass slot for the first time. We went through a few songs “under development” in some detail, including Tyrant, which I have somehow developed into something of an epic…

Family issues have been prominent recently for more than one band member, and this may slow things down somewhat in the next few weeks, and things may change shape a little. In the meantime I am getting my ‘acoustic’ songs out of mothballs, and enjoying playing them. not sure I want to take them out to Open Mics etc, but videos were always part of the plan.

Sat 21st December 2019

For myself, the imminent solstice ‘return of the sun’ is always a cue for a more positive and optimistic mood change, looking forward to warmer months ahead.

Musically, things starting to take shape, and in particular, we have started working a lot on the ‘holistic’ approach, which I have always wanted to do. This involves the integration of musical pieces with displaying videos, using co-ordinated lighting, plus, for our QWT studio set-up, the automation of it all, including using midi for sounds changes etc. As a techy person (and sometimes tetchy too!) this is something which seems very natural, and we have the time to do it some justice at the moment. It is also a spur to the songwriting process for me, as one can envisage performance and video scenarios at the same time as composing the song and lyrics.

Band-wise, we have been discussing a few options, and there seems a tentative consensus on a plan to take forward. Having a break from band meets now until the new year.

Sat 30th November 2019

The last few weeks have seen lots of preparation and several songs mapped out for ‘The Power Of Inertia’. There is probably enough good raw material for an entire album now, so am now concentrating on getting everything developed and evolved. Taking a lot of inspiration from my two Porcupine Tree DVDs – Anaesthesia and Arriving Somewhere But Not Here.

Band-wise, nothing is certain yet by any means, and although there is the occasional session, there is a need for further development of songs first. Still not sure how this will pan out, but the default bottom line is that my main project will be a effectively a solo project, albeit a ‘band’ project, if that makes any sense. There may be a bit of “cross-pollination”, as it were, with me getting others to help me out, in exchange for me helping with their projects. But let’s see what transpires.

Elsewhere, very pleased with my new pairs of specs, and also with my new dentist. I have also managed to lose a stone in weight so far (but lots more needed).

Now need to try to get out more and see some bands. gets to be an expensive business though, which is a part of the reason why new prog music bands often don’t get much of a crowd. Somehow, we have to change that. Thinking caps on.

Sunday 3rd November 2019

The past week has been very successful for me in getting various parts of my life in order. I hope I can continue that…

In fact, the difficulty in getting things moving has inspired me to come up with a name for my new Progressive Music project – “The Power Of Inertia”. An initial website has been created at www.thepowerofinertia.com.  Now to get things moving ! Watch this space…

Friday 25th October 2019

I’ve been taking some video clips of a couple of beautiful trees (Acers maybe) on the local heath, as their leaves turn to red before falling. The first part I did a few weeks ago, and I added some backing music as a semi-improvised pastoral classical guitar piece. Yesterday I went back to see how the trees were doing – the leaves are a little redder but still holding on.

I spliced this footage onto the previous video, and then gave it a song backing, with full band, inspired by the grandeur of the trees, but also by their ultimate helplessness in the face of the power of mankind. Of course this power gets abused and we are now in undeniable catastrophic climate crisis (though still denied by some fools) caused mainly by the abuse of fossil fuels, the demands made by a rapidly increasing population, and politicians with their heads in the sand (up up their own arses). The song came together quickly, using some ideas I had in waiting. I hope to finish a demo of it in the next couple of days, and will share it if I think it turned out ok.

Monday 21st October 2019

Interesting music session with Pete and Andy last Friday. Good musicians, and some interesting ideas from all of us. Not sure where/how this will go from here, but interesting and different from what I have been doing recently.

We also went out to take more footage for a draft ‘Castaway’ video. Of course, still learning how shoot, and how to put things together – which will be a long process, but a fun thing to do, and a much-needed variation for me to just composing/playing. This will also give a motivation for some trips out, so we can go places with an interesting purpose – to shoot footage – rather than just travelling for the sake of it.

Friday 18th October 2019

A two-day trip to Dorset, to help with a few chores at Gill’s Dad’s, was combined with a trip to Studland beach. The idea was to try out some camera shots for the video for ‘Castaway‘. Surprisingly there were quite a lot of people about, on a day with sunny spells mixed with extremely heavy thundery showers. We managed to stay dry, and more importantly, keep the camera dry, but it was difficult to get shots giving an impression of a deserted island with so many people about. We could have used some bokeh to put them out of focus, but it was too bright to use the open apertures, and I haven’t yet got any ND filters. Lesson learnt, and another one learnt was that, if we want to get a picture of someone walking in from the sea, then it would be easier at low tide, or at least at a tide where the waves aren’t crashing onto a shelving beach. I got pretty soaked. Another session planned soon.

Now getting ready for an experimental music session here tonight – the first for a while, and feeling quite out of practice.

Wednesday 16th October 2019

I failed to repair the PA speaker, so now it’s either about £180 for a new controller board (which should fix it) or £260 for a whole new unit. It can wait… Managed to fix the TV though,

Another journey to enjoy, I hope – The camera has been upgraded now to support V-log to improve the picture to cinema standards. So, now will v soon be taking the first initial outside shots, which will be for a video for a new song  “Castaway” (details and lyrics here). Quite exciting, but have to be realistic – this is going to take a hell of a lot of learning to get close to a reasonable standard, and will no-doubt need to pay for assistance eventually. Will refrain from using actors for a while – just use mainly the cheap option of myself ! (Robert De Niro doesn’t have much to worry about there…).

Meeting up later in the week with Pete and Andy to see whether we have any vibe going to encourage us to team up for a new prog project.

Thursday 10th October 2019

It started with a buzzing noise from the speaker, that quickly got v loud and caused me to dive for the power switch. One of my RCF PA speakers had developed a fault. V expensive and probably not cost effective to get repaired professionally, so it was onto the web to see if anyone had reported anything similar, and found a diy solution. There normally is something for this type of thing, and sure I found that the likely fault was either in the volume pot or some of the transistors. Should be a simple enough thing to try, so parts being ordered. Annoying though – I also have a TV to fix (replacing capacitors) which I’ll do at the same time.

On the music front, I decided that, before I do any film shooting, I’d better purchase the “V-log” upgrade for my Panasonic GH5 camera. Colour grading is a new thing to me, and apparently makes things more ‘cinema’ by effectively increasing the camera’s dynamic range, and making colour grading easier.

Going to do some recording now – changed words to a couple of songs, and want to prototype some keys and drums. The ultimate aim will be to get a proper keys and drummer to play these parts, but I need to give them a vague idea of what I am after….. and of course I keep changing my mind!