Sunday, 25 March 2012

Second half

Hi all. Apologies for my absence from the blog. Last weekend I was with family up in Northumberland, so unfortunately wasn't able to move forward with the book. Whilst up there we paid a visit to Cragside, the first house ever to be lit by hydroelectric power. This was the country home of the enterprising industrialist Lord Armstrong and later on in 1977 it became a National Trust property. The grounds of the property are spread over a spectacular 1.54 square miles of beautiful land. I've put a few photos, both old and new from the estate in this post.
The first image (above) is an impressive set of stained glass panels from the house and these are by artist William Morris. They represent the four seasons. From left to right: spring, summer, autumn and winter.
And so on to my progress with the book. I spent much of yesterday transcribing Manuel Gotsching's recent Redbull Academy Radio Show Fireside Chat. This was simply too good not to include, even if typing up the quotes from the one hour programme sentence by sentence was a bit of a painstaking process. Anyway, I'm there with it now and am incorporating the information in to the book before picking up where I left off: about halfway through the fifth draft (circa 1980, post Belle Alliance).
At the end of next week I have a 10 day stretch off work, so plenty of time to get stuck in and move forward with things. The only interruption, if you want to call it that, comes in the form of a visit to see Agitation Free at the Jazz Cafe in London, which should be great. I'll also be meeting up with a good old writer friend for a catch-up, something I'm very much looking forward to.
By the way: you've got to love the flyer for the Ashra show in Berlin in June (see top of the post). It certainly gave me a smile when I saw it! Is anybody going to see Manuel play E2-E4 in Madrid? Unfortunately I can't make it but if you go along and you get any pictures please feel free to send them on and I'll post them right here on the blog, along with an acknowledgment, if you'd like.

Ok: more work to do. Back soon....

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Half-time oranges

Well, as the hours of another weekend slip away, like sand through my fingers, I find myself at almost precisely the halfway mark of the fifth draft of the book. In some sports, including football, they have oranges at half-time. Perhaps I should too?

Yesterday I was writing about the New Age of Earth album and today I've been finishing off with Correlations, a couple of years later. That doesn't sound like much but including archival releases that's seven records. I'm quite pleased with my progress but it pains me to tear myself away from the project once more, as another week at work beckons.

Today I had a bit of e-mail correspondence with Ashra/Cosmic Jokers drummer Harald Grosskopf, as I wanted to confirm that what I'd written about the Ashra rehearsal sessions of 1978 at Berlin's UFA studios was accurate. As friendly and helpful as ever, Harald was back in touch in no time at all to provide a few fresh quotes on top of what I already had. Great stuff! Cheers, Harald. Top man!

It frustrates me to walk away again but I'll be back soon. It just takes a little patience and I'm getting there, for sure.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

A kosmische evening in Whitley Bay

Last night my wife, Vicky and I decided to have a walk down to the beach in Whitley Bay to look at a laser projection called Global Rainbow, which is here for four nights as part of the celebrations for the 2012 London Olympics.
My pictures hardly do justice to this impressive visual spectacle, which stretches from the headland near St. Mary's Lighthouse (see my blog post on New Year's Day) across the sky and over to the horizon, as far as the eye can see.
On the way back I was pointing out the planets to my wife when we both saw a large object in the sky that looked as if it was on fire. At first I was deeply concerned that we were witnessing an aircraft in trouble, as a long plume of yellow and purple flame seemed to trail from behind whatever it was. As a result of the lasers there were lots of people around and we could hear them collectively expressing shock as they too witnessed what we were seeing. Unfortunately by the time I'd focused my camera on the object it was well on its way towards the edges of visibility, as it shot overhead. I captured the photograph below, which was rather disappointing but I'll certainly never forget what I saw.
This morning the object, a meteor, has made the national news in Britain, with an amateur film shot in Whitley Bay shown on the BBC. It is possible to read about it and watch a clip here. A worker at a space observatory in Kielder, Northumberland has tweeted: "Of 30 years observing the sky - fireball best thing I have ever seen period." I would certainly be surprised if I ever see anything as spectacular again.

From cosmic skies to cosmic writings today has seen me take the fifth draft of the book as far as a section about the New Age of Earth album. No massive changes to what I had already written. I'm just carefully checking facts and spellings etc. and making a series of minor adjustments as I go along. Getting there, as ever. These, it seems, are cosmic times.....

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Manuel Göttsching book is four

Well, this month my Manuel Gottsching book turns four years old. Writing this has now spanned countless weekends sat researching and writing and a large chunk of my early 30s. From time to time someone will ask me why I started writing the book and to explain this I have to go back to March of 2008 when I was on a trip to Paris. I thought it would be fun to include a handful of photographs from that very holiday as a part of this post.
Knowing that the coach journeys from Newcastle to Paris and back again, not to mention all of the trips to various locations were going to take many hours, I loaded up my MP3 player with lots of music and ended up listening to Manuel Gottsching more than anything else.
I can remember listening to the @shra live albums on the way to Paris and once there New Age of Earth played as I took in the sights along the banks of the Seine.
As our coach skated around the streets of the city Blackouts was my album of choice, with 77 Slightly Delayed seeming to match the frenetic flow of the traffic. In the Louvre I remember listening to Midnight on Mars, whilst admiring the art and I wasn't bowled over by Disneyland Paris but I do recall my pleasure at listening to Lotus in the sun, as I waited for my friends to come off the rides. I also listened to Blackouts as I waited in the rain outside Galeries Lafayette, an enormous and beautiful department store, the interior of which looks as much like a vintage opera venue as it does a place for shopping.
As the trip progressed I wondered how I could find out more about the music I was listening to. As a fan I wanted to know about the circumstances surrounding its creation and the inspiration behind it. The more I thought about it the clearer the solution became. If I wanted the answers I had to find them myself and this would involve writing a book. Surely if I felt this way others would too and there would be an audience for this?
On my return to England I started to research and it was six months before I finally put pen to paper, feeling that I knew enough to confidently start work on a first draft.
So, why has it taken four years, thus far? Well, because I work full time and on week nights I'm usually too tired to do anything particularly creative. This leaves whatever time I can find during weekends (usually five or six hours) to get stuck in.
....and where am I four years on? About a month ago, having almost completed the fourth draft I reported that I was nearly there. Is this true? Well, sort of. I think that post was a little premature and a result of both impatience and restlessness - cabin fever, if you like, having been sat here writing for so long. After this length of time I think I owe it to myself and anybody who will want to read the book to go the extra mile to make sure it is as good as it can be.
Last weekend I worked pretty much wall-to-wall on the fifth draft and I'm 40 pages into what is currently a 143 page document. At this point the sensation is a little like freewheeling down a hill after having pushed a car to the top. Most of what I'm doing now is a question of carefully adapting what is already there. I say this but some sections seem to be fine as they are.
So, for anyone who is following the blog and cares about when the book will be ready I say thank you, both for your interest and also for your patience. I'm probably as impatient as you are right now to get the job done and for you to be able to read it. I shouldn't be too long but I don't want to jump the gun and make predictions. An author friend of mine said that I would know when the book was finished, as I would feel that I couldn't do anything more to improve it. I'm not quite there yet but I'll be there soon, I'm sure. Four years and counting. Ha-ha!