::                                                              ::
  ::                     - WHAT'S RATTLIN'? -                     ::
  ::     The "Periodical" Digest for Canterbury Music Addicts     ::
  ::                         Issue # 205                          ::
  ::                 Tuesday, December 2nd, 2003                  ::
  ::                                                              ::


Dear Rattlers,

Back to usual delays this time, both due to a lack of contributions (always the most decisive factor) and my own busy schedule, a sizeable portion of which has actually been devoted to seeing our favourite musicians onstage and listening to their new records.

Henry Potts provides below his own detailed account of the Acid Mothers Gong show in London on October 21st. This was part of the "Mind Your Head" festival masterminded by Glenn Max, the former Knitting Factory boss who has now settled in London's South Bank complex and was already behind Robert Wyatt's appointment as director of the 2001 Meltdown Festival. Acid Mothers Gong, a combination of musicians from classic Gong and the Japanese collective Acid Mothers Temple, shared the bill with the Incredible String Band (Mike Heron, Clive Palmer and two newer recruits) and former Can frontman Damo Suzuki with his band the Switch Doctors (hmm...) which, perhaps not coincidentally given the name, features the admirable Mike Howlett on bass. All in all, a great evening of mind-expanding music, if almost unbearable sonically at times, although I can testify to the fact that Hugh Hopper, who was sitting next to me in the audience, stoically went through the whole thing without even attempting to reach for his earplugs. Having forgotten to bring mine, I was reduced to using my hands.

Two days later, I paid my usual visit to the Vortex in Stoke Newington to see In Cahoots. Although the setlist was largely identical to their Paris gig of last June, the performance was noticeably - and, I assume, intentionally - looser - jazzier, I'm tempted to say. In addition to the whole of the new album "All That", we - a rather small audience, which nonetheless included Richard Sinclair and Paul Rogers - were treated to the "full-band" arrangement of "Delta Borderline" which is always a nice alternative to the equally excellent guitar-based rendition on "Out Of The Blue".

Next on my agenda came the "Dedicated To You" tribute to Robert Wyatt concert in Charleville-Mezieres (N-E France), on November 8th. This event has been in the works for about a year and a half, and I personally first heard about it, I think, in the summer of 2002. The ideas man for this was Patrice Boyer, head of the Charleville Jazz Action collective, who actually put together the line-up, with the exception of Karen Mantler, whose name was put forward by John Greaves. Apart from John and Karen, the band are all French - Sylvain Kassap on clarinets, Helene Labarriere on double bass, Dominique Pifarely on violin, and Jacques Mahieux on drums and vocals.

A nice contrast with the Soupsongs tribute was to present the material in bigger chunks of three or four pieces, and to mix cover versions and original compositions. I found this refreshing and adventurous, and also a fitting tribute to the Canterbury tradition. In the end, I think the self-composed material contributed by the band members worked better, and possibly even fulfilled better the aim of paying tribute to RW, than the covers - it's difficult to beat Robert at performing his own songs, and all three singers had their shortcomings, although they made up for it in expressivity.

Covered songs included, in chronological order, "We Did It Again" (as encore), "Box 25/4 Lid", "Pataphysical Introduction/Concise British Alphabet", "O Caroline", "God Song", "Gloria Gloom" (with a new ending by John Greaves), "Sea Song", "Alliance", "September The Ninth", and two songs from Robert's new album "Cuckooland" : "Forest" and "Trickle Down". Of particular note amongst the originals was Karen Mantler's hilarious and extremely catchy "Official Hymn Of The Robert Wyatt Fan-Club" - the lyrics of which included the memorable lines : "He should run for President of the USA / Even though he's a communist, I'm sure he'd find a way"...

The concert was recorded onto multitrack and a live album is planned. And there will be at least another performance, in Lille next February. Hopefully more will follow as this project truly has a lot of potential, "tribute" excuse aside. A brilliant cast of musicians that, I think, combined their talents rather successfully.

I was then back to London for an extended week-end, to attend, among other others, the Progeny festival. The line-up of this two-day event was a rather bizarre mixture of 1980s neo-prog (IQ, Pendragon, Arena, Pallas), classic sympho-prog (The Enid) and, somewhat surprisingly, Canterbury - e.g. Richard Sinclair, In Cahoots and Kevin Ayers.

Unfortunately the horrid sonics of the Astoria didn't provide the best conditions for either performers or audients, and I didn't even go back the second day. All the Canterbury bands had performed on the Saturday anyway, as the Carl Palmer Trio had been substituted by Kevin Ayers at the last minute (I understand Kevin performed again on the Sunday). Richard Sinclair played a duo set with Theo Travis - really shambolic to begin with, then slowly gaining momentum and concluding on a high note when the duo was joined by most of In Cahoots for a version of "Share It". Always nice to see Richard and Phil share the stage. On a personal note, I must say I prefer Richard's trio with David Rees-Williams on piano and himself playing bass instead of guitar. But Theo Travis is definitely a sympathetic contributor to Richard's music and I hope they'll eventually record together.

In Cahoots came next, with an unusual line-up. Mark Fletcher wasn't going to be available on that date, so Phil got hold of Liam Genockey, last heard in the Soupsongs Robert Wyatt tribute band and Elton Dean's "Moorsongs" album. However, eventually Mark's concurrent gig didn't happen, so he ended up playing, but since Liam had worked hard to master the 40-minute set, Mark "only" played a percussion kit - featuring, however, his already famous high-pitched snare drum. The ever-faithful Benj Lefevre got the best out of the PA system, but the sound was still far from perfect or even pleasant. I would have expected "Black Cat" to open to proceedings, as it's probably the closest thing to progressive rock on the new album, but instead Phil treated us to the jazzier tones of "Inca" and "Out There". "Delta Borderline" came next, and "Your Root 2" appropriately rounded out the short set. To be honest there wasn't much of a crowd at that point (late afternoon) - when I saw part of IQ's set later in the evening, the venue was almost packed.

I didn't know whether Kevin Ayers would turn up on his own, with a guitarist, or with a full band, and thankfully it was the latter. I found the backing band competent but not outstanding - the guitarist's solo in "Shouting In A Bucket Blues" was nowhere near as potent as Steve Hillage's on the original. Still it was great hearing Kevin, in fine vocal form, sing such classics as "Lady Rachel", "Mister Cool" and assorted others. Definitely out of place, though, in a "progressive rock" festival.

My most recent concert experience took place last Thursday - John Greaves' concert at the New Morning to celebrate the recent release of his recent JazzSongs album "The Trouble With Happiness". Actually it was a veritable showcase for John's new label, the prestigious Harmonia Mundi. There was an opening solo set by the amazing accordion player David Venitucci, at the end of which he was joined by Elise Caron, a French singer some of you may know as a regular collaborator with Albert Marcoeur. Elise has been at work on a collaboration with John Greaves, and two songs from it were previewed - John himself joined the duo on piano for the second one. The album's release is expected, I think, at the end of the Winter, and will have such prestigious guests as Louis Sclavis and Robert W., a long-bearded vocalist-percussionist whose participation to the project must remain a secret for now, I hear.

John, Sophia Domancich and Vincent Courtois played a somewhat shortened set as a result of these substantial "opening" proceedings, but did play most of the new album plus other classics such as "Kew.Rhone" and "Silence". The trio was augmented for the encores by Elise Caron - whose singing on "The Price To Pay" brought to mind the late Susan Belling - and David Venitucci. Of particular note were Sophia's impressive piano solos, which had an underlying anger I hadn't witnessed from her previously. At times her pounding on the piano's keyboard was almost unbearably violent.

I hope to receive reviews from Caravan's recent UK tour, an in particular the 35th Anniversary show last weekend.

Speaking of Caravan, I have had the privilege of hearing Dave Sinclair's recently completed solo album "Full Circle". This has an impressive cast of musicians - vocalists Richard Sinclair and Jim Leverton (plus newcomer Roxane), Caravan members Doug Boyle and Simon Bentall, and other brilliant instrumentalists such as Theo Travis, Fred Baker and Mark Fletcher. However, the musicianship is definitely not the focus of the album (although "Nowhere To Hide", the Caravan version of which can be heard on their latest album, definitely has all the hallmarks of progressive rock in this respect); it is very much a collection of songs, which bear Dave's unique melodic imprint. Obviously some of it is a little bit too commercial-sounding for my taste, but fans on Dave's contributions to 1980s/1990s Caravan (and songs like "Videos Of Hollywood" or "Travelling Ways") will find much to enjoy here. In addition to many new songs, Dave has recorded a re-vamped version of "O Caroline" sung by Richard Sinclair, who also performs on a couple of other tracks. The CD is currently being manufactured, and I hope to run an interview with Dave about it (and his various upcoming projects) in the near future. For more information, check out Dave's new website http://www.dave-sinclair.co.uk which is due to go online in a few days.

Lastly, a request from Cuneiform Records' Steve Feigenbaum - Cuneiform are planning an enhanced reissue of Soft Machine's "Live in France 1972", and Steve is looking for any pictures of that particular line-up - Elton Dean, Mike Ratledge, Hugh Hopper and John Marshall - for use in the booklet. Please contact Steve at <CuneiWay@aol.com> if you have any leads!



From: Henry Potts <henry.potts@kcl.ac.uk>
Subject: Review of Acid Mothers Gong
Date: Fri, 31 Oct 2003 14:42:24 +0000

Dear Aymeric,

I thought I'd help keep the What's Rattlin' momentum going, so here's a review of the recent Acid Mothers Gong evening. [Thanks Henry !! - AL]

* * * * *

Mind Your Head 3: Sacred Music
at the Royal Festival Hall, South Bank Centre

Closing night featuring Acid Mothers Gong
also Damo Suzuki with the Switch Doctors
and Incredible String Band

The last night of the third Mind Your Head festival at the Royal Festival  Hall gave us two supergroups who promised to live up to the festival's  name. The evening's music showcased some of the best - and some of the worst - that progressive psychedelia has to offer in 2003.

With more of a festival atmosphere than the Royal Festival Hall normally sees, including extra security in Dayglo orange and furtive smoking of joints, the whole gamut of the counter culture seemed to have come out, making an audience of perhaps over 2000. After a brief intro by Daevid Allen and with many still milling around in the hall, the Incredible String Band were up first. They were atrocious. I had not heard them before, but their compositions were banal and the performance abysmal with the lead singer woefully out-of-tune. I did my best to sleep through the short set!

Next was our first supergroup of the evening. From the Gong family came Mike Howlett on bass, fellow House of Thandoy member Steve Higgins on guitar and Steve Cassidy from Here & Now on drums. They were joined by that stalwart of the UK synthesizer scene Mark Jenkins, while fronting the band was infamous former Can vocalist Damo Suzuki. I have no idea whether Damo Suzuki with the Switch Doctors, as they called themselves, is an ongoing concern or was a one-off, but it was an intriguing combination.

This was my first experience of Suzuki. After years reading about him, I had expected more idiosyncratic vocals and was somewhat disappointed at how ordinary his performance was (barring two rather pointless bouts of screaming)! Still, it was the instrumentalists who led the music. Howlett, Higgins and Cassidy got into some good grooves, even if they sometimes lacked development, while Jenkins added nice colour and effects on synth.

Then came the main act, Acid Mothers Gong, a fusion of Japanese cult band Acid Mothers Temple and Gong. The two bands met at the Mind Your Head event two years ago when both were supporting The Orb and tonight's collaboration was the result.

Now, try to pay attention to this line-up. We had most of AMT (Higashi Hiroshi - synth; Kawabata Makoto - guitars; Cotton Casino - synth; Tsuyami Atsushi [a.k.a. Atshshi, an alternative way of transcribing the Japanese] - bass & vocals), about half of Gong (Daevid Allen - glissando guitar & vocals; Gilli Smyth - vocals; Didier Malherbe - wind), plus Yoshida Tatsuya (leader of another Japanese band, Ruins) on drums and Josh Pollock from the University of Errors on guitar and megaphone. Total musical anarchy was how my friend described the result. I guess one's reaction to the concert rather depends on whether you think that's a good thing!

The rhythm section were fantastic: Tatsuya and Atsushi laid down intricate but groovy parts, sometimes more Gong-like, sometimes less so. (Atsushi at one point seemed to be nearly, but not quite, playing the riff from Chris Squire's "the fish".) It was just a shame that we couldn't always hear them and the rest of the ensemble seemed to ignore their lead more often than not. Makoto was more impressive during the encore, but prior to that seemed to be offering just a wall of sound from extreme stage left. Hiroshi, at extreme stage right, did his best to return the same. I'm OK with walls of sounds if you do something with them (e.g. Godspeed You Black Emperor!), but was getting little from this. My friend argued they were deconstructing melody and rhythm. I called it an under-rehearsed mess! Too often the concert degenerated into everyone playing as loudly as possible. With nine performers on stage, that's very loud. Simple tones and drones from Hiroshi, Casino, Pollock and Makoto tended to drown out the more interesting work of Tatsuya, Atsushi, Malherbe and Allen.

Centre stage were the three Gong members. Malherbe was as good as ever, but struggled to be heard. Smyth's vocals were either inaudible or uninspired, although a quieter period had spacey music as a backing for her to recite a typically Smythian anti-George Bush poem. Allen's guitar was often lost in the maelstrom, but he contributed some nice vocals. His half-naked torso was rather frightening though! Visually, the band definitely put on a show. Hiroshi was in a furry jumpsuit, Makoto's cape would have made Rick Wakeman blush. At one point, Malherbe was the only one still playing, although some sort of manipulated tone or feedback from, I think, Hiroshi kept going and still drowned Malherbe out. However, everyone else was cavorting wildly about the stage. The whole show was enormous fun to *watch*. Cotton Casino soon ended up making out underneath her keyboard rig with a someone who had appeared from backstage. They then smoked a joint before, two pieces later, she re-joined the music making.

In this musical anarchy, I am afraid that the person who really annoyed me was Josh Pollock. His guitar playing was just more white noise most of the time -- again, he seemed better in the encore -- while his 'megaphonics' drove me up the wall. Why have Pollock's simplistic beeping on a megaphone when you have Didier Malherbe? Why have him singing through a megaphone when you have Allen and Smyth?

In all, the contrast with the Switch Doctors just before was marked. Jenkins, Higgins, Cassidy and Howlett complemented each other, adding to the totality of the performance, whereas too often the massed ranks of Acid Mothers Gong seemed to be competing with each other, subtracting from each other's performances. I feel perhaps I am being too negative. It was an interesting experiment: Acid Mothers Gong had their moments and I'm glad I went, but I guess I'm just frustrated because there was a fantastic band of Tatsuya, Atsushi, Malherbe and Allen who were overwhelmed by mediocre but noisy contributions that probably worked a lot better if you were on acid.

Henry Potts, 31 Oct 03


From: Peter Giffes <pgiffes@yahoo.com>
Subject: Canterbury radio
Date: Tue, 14 Oct 2003 11:04:45 -0700 (PDT)

Hello Aymeric,

It has been quite a bit of time since the last time I felt the need to write, but I figured this was one of those times.

I have always been a big fan of the Canterbury sound and progressive music in general. Recently, I had the pleasure of hearing XM satellite radio for the first time. I am not sure of its global reach, but in the United States it is widely available if you are willing to purchase the gear, and subscription. I will add here, that I have not listened to commercial radio for a very long time for reasons that are obvious to anyone that likes good music. There is a station on XM called Music Lab (channel 51). It is mostly progressive music including Caravan, Soft Machine, Gong (a lot of it), Porcupine Tree, Genesis and so on...They do go off on a tangent every so often and play things that are out of this realm, but generally speaking, it is the only station I know of where you can actually hear this type of music consistantly and uninterrupted by commercials. I have heard many new things that I had never heard before. Imagine how refreshing it is to hear old favorites and then some great new stuff.
If you can get it, give it a listen...
Peter Giffes


From: "Roger Farbey" <Roger@farbey.freeserve.co.uk>
Subject: Jazz in Britain
Date: Sat, 13 Sep 2003 09:41:50 +0100

Dear Aymeric

Just a few things to keep everyone up to date re: the British music press: In June this year there was a really splendid feature in The Wire on Soft Machine which also touched on other related bands like Nucleus and Keith Tippett's Centipede. Then in August there was a great piece in Jazzwise on Soft Machine and Softworks. Both features were what I would call 'substantial' in length with good photographs too. So a good year for Soft exposure.

By the way, in doing some research at the British Library on the Melody Maker jazz polls I realised that it is 30 years ago this year that Soft Machine 'Six' was voted top British jazz LP (in 1973). Then in 1974 they were voted top British small jazz group - with John Marshall, Roy Babbington and Karl Jenkins taking top places in their respective musical categories too.

For more details check out the MM polls at the Unofficial Ian Carr and Nucleus Web Site:

ps, can't wait for the two new Hux releases you mentioned (Softs 2nd part and Ninesense)!

All the best
Roger (Farbey)


From: IChippett@aol.com
Subject: Dave Stewart
Date: Sun, 23 Nov 2003 12:30:51 EST

Just found this on the DS website.

<<A recent TV documentary on the BBC Radiophonic Workshop ('Alchemists Of Sound') featured opening titles music by Dave Stewart. Barbara Gaskin's hands also appear in this sequence, splicing tape, making tape loops and playing the RW's famous green metal lampshade! The programme, produced by Victor Lewis-Smith's independent ARTV company, was filmed in the BBC's historic Maida Vale studios.

A long-time collaborator with ARTV, Dave also composed music for 'Inside Victor Lewis-Smith', 'TV Offal', 'Ads Infinitum' series I & II, 'Scandal In The Bins' and 'Artie Shaw - Quest For Perfection'.>>

Thought this might interest Rattlers!



From: "Jerry Bartlett" <jerry.bartlett@virgin.net>
Subject: BBC radio 4 "Rotters' Club"
Date: Wed, 5 Nov 2003 13:36:28 -0000


Forgive me if this is old knowledge, but just in case... I have just discovered the BBC is presenting a four-part radio play entitled "Rotters Club".

"Jonathan Coe's touching tale of musical, political and sexual passion in 1970s Birmingham. The Rotters Club is for anyone who ever experienced adolescence the hard way."

There is a fair bit of music; Henry Cow is mentioned and heard on several occasions, and you can probably guess what the theme tune is.

Part two was aired today at 11.30am (I'm off work with a cold!), but in any case, you can catch it on the BBC website:

If you're quick, you might just catch episode 1.



From: "serge.wodrascka" <serge.wodrascka@wanadoo.fr>
Subject: HH French Quartet
Date: Mon, 1 Dec 2003 06:08:46 +0100

H.H. French Quartet will play at "Les Naïades", St-Jean-Aux-Bois, near Compiègne, France, on Saturday, May 29th, 22 h.
Hugh Hopper : bs
Patrice Meyer : gtr, gtr-synth
Pierre-Olivier Govin : all Eb saxes
François Verly : dms, perc
Serge Wodrascka, vice-president of "les Naïades".


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
*               FORTHCOMING CANTERBURY-RELATED CONCERTS                 *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

        [for more info : check out the 'Concerts' page of CALYX]

==> CARAVAN <============================================================

Dec 12 - ZOETERMEER (Netherlands), De Borderij / Dec 13 - HELMOND (Netherlands), Plato / Dec 14 - VERVIERS (Belgium), Spirit Of '66

Line-up: Pye Hastings, Jan Schelhaas, Richard Coughlan,
         Geoff Richardson, Doug Boyle, Jim Leverton, Simon Bentall

More info/updates at http://www.caravan-info.co.uk

==> "DEDICATED TO YOU" TRIBUTE TO ROBERT WYATT <=========================

Feb 10 - FACHES-THUMESNIL (France), Centre Musical 'Les Arcades'

John Greaves - Vocals, Bass & Piano / Sylvain Kassap - Clarinets / Hélène Labarrière - Double Bass / Karen Mantler - Vocals, Organ & Harmonica / Jacques Mahieux - Vocals & Drums / Dominique Pifarély - Violin

==> GONG & CO <==========================================================

Info/updates at http://www.planetgong.co.uk

==> John GREAVES <=======================================================

Dec 06 - POITIERS (France), Maison des 3 Quartiers / Dec 13 - BELFORT (France), Le Granit (Nuit du Violoncelle)

with Sophia Domancich (piano) & Vincent Courtois (cello)

==> Didier MALHERBE <====================================================

Mar 06 - St.JEAN-AUX-BOIS [nr Compiègne] (France), Les Naïades

DM TRIO : Didier Malherbe, Patrice Meyer, Philippe Foch

More info/updates at http://www.didiermalherbe.com

==> Patrice MEYER <======================================================

Dec 06 - VILLEBON-SUR-YVETTE, MJC Bobby Lapointe [special guest: Pierre-Jean Gaucher]

PM Trio: Patrice Meyer (guitar), Rémy Chaudagne (bass), Karim Benasiza (drums)

==> SOFTWORKS <==========================================================

Mar 03-05 - MEXICALI, CA (USA/Mexico), Baja Prog 2004


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
*                        AND OTHER GOOD GIGS...                         *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

==> John ETHERIDGE <=====================================================

Dec 11 - OXFORD, Wheatsheaf Pub (The Spin) [JE + Pete Oxley Trio] / Dec 20 - LONDON, Vortex Jazz Bar [JE Quartet]

==> Keith TIPPETT / MUJICIAN <===========================================

Dec 06 - COIMBRA (Portugal) / Feb 10 - CARDIFF University


                          END OF ISSUE 205

WHAT'S RATTLIN'?     -      WHAT'S RATTLIN'?      -     WHAT'S RATTLIN'?

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