CD Reviews

Sunday 31st January

January 31, 2010

Still not well, spent the first half of the day in bed but listening to Lost Daylight, the new Another Timbre album by John Tilbury and Sebastian Lexer almost exclusively. I have listened to this album a great deal over the past couple of weeks, initially sitting in awe of it and later spending time really trying to understand it better. It is in many ways a CD in two halves. The first half an hour of the disc consists of five performances by Tilbury of piano works by the American minimalist composer Terry Jennings. There then follows a forty minute recording by both Tilbury and Lexer of John Cage’s Electronic Music for Piano, a work from 1964 that was written for David Tudor. The album can be divided between the two not only simply by composer but also through the very different approach to aesthetics and beauty. In fact, it could almost be said that the two halves sit in complete contrast to each other, almost standing as a neat analogy for some of the main issues tackled by 20th Century composition.

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CD Reviews

Saturday 30th January

January 30, 2010

Cremaster have been playing together for quite some years now. I remember seeing them live a couple of times a decade or so back, have goodness knows how many CDs by them, and they have always been my favourite “noisy” improv group. I say noisy because on the whole their releases have been recorded and mastered at particularly high volumes, and generally speaking utilise really quite harsh, ugly sounds. This one is no different, it really screams in places, though not always. The last of the four pieces here is actually quite quiet and full of space, though it should be noted that the four tracks on the CD are described as four sections of one larger piece divided up for the listener’s convenience. As is my wont however, I have had the volume here turned down low to compensate for most of the extremeties, though I did manage one high volume run-through earlier when the house was empty other than me.

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Uncategorized

Friday 29th January

January 29, 2010

Sorry, no post tonight. I sat down this evening, after a very long day at work that began with a very early start and put a CD into the player to listen to and hopefully write about, but as it played the niggling stomach pains I have had since late afternoon began to grab my […]

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CD Reviews

Thursday 28th January

January 29, 2010

So last year we had a new Phosphor album, and this year a week before I watched a Sealed Knot concert there appeared a new album by Activity Center. Anyone would think it was 2001. In fact, as the sleeve notes to this new album indicate, the Activity Center duo of Burkhard Beins and Michael Renkel has been musically active since 1989. Whilst I knew theirs was one of the longer musical associations in the improv world I didn’t realise they had been playing together quite so long. This release then, the first in a decade captures a new version of the group. I have always known Activity Center as a mostly acoustic group, but here a fair degree of electronics have been added to the musical arsenal of both musicians, and while Renkel still focuses primarily on guitars, and Beins on one form of percussion or another, my ability to tell each musician apart has become much more difficult than it was a decade ago. Or maybe I’m just getting old.

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CD Reviews

Wednesday 27th January

January 27, 2010

Well amongst the many discs that arrived the other day was a collection of three releases involving the Japanese percussionist Seijiro Murayama. One of these is a duo release alongside Eric La Casa on the Hibari label, but the other two are both solos. Murayama has released what feels like an awful lot of music over the last twelve months or so, and perhaps we should be asking if it maybe a bit too much, but then perhaps also he has had a purple creative patch, and so the timing is right for a number of releases to capture his work. certainly I have enjoyed the music I heard recently from him. Tonight though I listened to one of the solos, a CDr named 4 pieces with a snare drum recorded in March of last year and released on the Petit label, a new one on me, though they appear to have a good number of releases out there previous to this one. Checking out their nicely designed website suggests maybe more of a jazz lean to previous releases, and this one seems to belong to the pl son subseries, but when I’m this tired one of the first things to go is my command of French. The packaging, being mostly handmade has a wonderful smell of printing ink.

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Uncategorized

Tuesday 26th January (Made it!)

January 26, 2010

So, I don’t know if anyone else noticed but today marks one full year of writing this blog daily. For those that were here a year ago (approximately half of you going by the stats) you will remember that the daily posting here is all Brian’s fault. I said I aimed to do a year when I first began this, promising maybe a couple of lines on some days and a couple of paragraphs on others. I’m quite pleased of how much I have done in the end, and now I am just awaiting this year’s Olewnick awards for avant garde music blogging to see if I get a mention this year 😉

In all seriousness it has been good doing this however, and I genuinely have surprised myself by how much I have been able to do. Others might say that my other musical activities might have suffered as a result of piling all of my energies into this blog but actually I really don’t think they have. Cathnor was running very slowly before I began writing daily here, and I think it will continue at this pace for a while yet. (New releases soon though!) So tonight I have poured myself a nice glass of RedBreast Pure Pot Still irish Whiskey and will drink to myself for having achieved a full year. I have to be up very early in the morning to travel to a work meeting away in a different area so, quite ironically given the date, I need to make my excuses and not write in length about any music tonight. I’ll be home far earlier than usual tomorrow though and should then be able to spend some time getting back to CD reviews.

For anyone wondering, I intend to carry on for a while longer, at least until it stops being a fun thing to do anyway. Thanks to everyone that has read along over the past year, its more fun knowing someone is reading…

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Concert Reviews

Monday 25th January

January 26, 2010

Yesterday I bought, and began reading Daniel Barenboim’s Everything is Connected, a book I have been meaning to read for a while since it was recommended by a friend, and one chapter in, I am enjoying it so far. I mention this mainly because of a nice (if slightly pointless) metaphor Barenboim proposes in the opening pages- he says that a musical note that dies away into silence is similar to an object being pulled down by gravity. If you lift something up high in your hand, you need to expend energy to keep it there. The same could be said, according to Barenboim’s metaphor, of a sound made by a musician. If they make no attempt to keep it going, if they do not undertake the action required, it will fall away into silence.

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Concert Reviews

Sunday 24th January

January 25, 2010

Friday then was the second night of the Another Timbre mini festival and featured two performances, each one once again launching a brand new or recent CD from the label. The first set came from the Loris trio of Sarah Hughes, Patrick Farmer and Daniel Jones who I saw not that long ago perform over in Bristol. Here though they were asked by Simon to play for forty minutes, something they had not done before and were unsure if they could successfully do. Their solution seemed to be to stretch everything out, slow things down even more than normal and allow the sounds to develop more gradually. This lead to things taking a little while to get going and begin to gel, but once they did the music this trio made was as full of captivating tension as ever. There seemed to be little change in instrumentation before they began, Farmer making a right mess all over an amplified bass drum with all kinds of mostly natural (and one thoroughly unnatural) objects, Hughes somehow conjuring lines of feedback tone from a miked up drinking glass upturned on a zither, and Jones with his turntable and assorted other objects, a large brass bowl the most notable on this occasion.

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Concert Reviews

Saturday 23rd January

January 24, 2010

The Sealed Knot played last on a bill of three sets organised by the relentlessly productive Simon Reynell of the Another Timbre label. Thursday was the first of four nights showcasing new AT releases, the first two took place over the last couple of days, the third and fourth will be in February. The evening began with the first live duo performance by Stephen Cornford and Samuel Rodgers. The pair have a new CDr just out on the Another Timbre Byways subseries that I have so far not had a chance to listen to. Cornford sat at floor level behind a massive wooden plinth onto which he has mounted the inside of an upright piano. He then attached contact mics and other bits and pieces that allowed him to capture a rich array of feedback that he then processed via a mixing desk. Rodgers worked more with the standard piano housed at Cafe Oto, with (I think) some degree of electronics applied. The pair created some very nice sounds, Cornford in general providing longer extended feedback, with Rodgers adding more percussive incidental parts. Like all three sets last night this one got better for me as it went along. The opening ten minutes felt a bit tentative and flat, all very lovely sounds but used a little predictably. As things progressed and Cornford in particular began to use more sudden, aggressive sounds so the duo came alive a little more, with both showing a nice ability to respond to each other quickly and with greater dynamic variety as the drones began to break up into smaller incidental segments.

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Uncategorized

Friday 22nd January

January 23, 2010

Well I have written a post reviewing last night’s first evening of music from the Another Timbre mini-festival, but it needs a fair degree of editing as I wrote in on a train using my iPhone, and as I have just got home from the second night at 2AM again and have to be up […]

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Uncategorized

Thursday 21st January

January 22, 2010

Its 2AM and I have just got home from another evening at Café Oto, this time the first of two evenings arranged to launch new(ish) CDs on the Another Timbre label. An excellent night was had, some fine music in good company, but it is now far too late to write anything sensible, and as […]

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CD Reviews

Wednesday 20th January

January 21, 2010

Tonight however, I have been listening to something completely different, a CD by a group called Ruby Ruby Ruby named The Shadow of your Smile released on the Zarek label. Now this CD was actually released in the early part of last year, but a copy was only quite recently sent my way along with a few other items on the same label. Ruby Ruby Ruby are a group that includes musicians that are involved (to varying degrees) in improvised music, but here they come together to perform essentially straight-up versions of Billie Holiday songs, with the group’s female lead Margareth Kammerer taking the convincing vocal role.

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CD Reviews

Tuesday 19th January

January 20, 2010

Аρέθουσα, or (Arethusa as I will type it from here on!) was recorded in Madrid, Spain in 2008. Matthews, who works with software synths here along with processed field recordings, is an American ex-pat who has been a resident of the Spanish capital for a good few years now. Rives, who plays soprano sax here is a Frenchman who, last I heard was living in the Lebanon. Matthews’ intelligently written sleeve notes allude to change, comparing the musicians’ displacement from their homelands to the flight of Arethusa in the classic Greek tale. Certainly it is interesting to stop and think about how the sounds recorded here came together, the chance occurrences, the coincidental decisions made, how these musicians happened to be in the same place at the same time to record this music. When you consider again how Matthews has evolved his work away from his origins as a clarinet player to his input to this album then the journey to this point becomes even more complex.

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CD Reviews

Monday 18th January

January 19, 2010

Anyway this new solo CD from Aubrey is a release on Ben Owen’s excellent Brooklyn based Windsmeasure label, an album with the title s6t8r, which refers to the Stralau 68 music venue in Berlin where Aubrey collected the sounds used to make this album. The Stralau venue was the site of many experimental and improv concerts, several of which have appeared on CDs, but is now closed and stands empty. Aubrey recorded the sounds of the various rooms in the empty building, which serve as a resonating vessel for external noises, many of which come from a nearby railway line. There have been a number of CD releases in recent years that seem to use this technique. One that really caught my ear last year but somehow I never got around to reviewing (I’ll try and put this right soon) was Jez riley French’s excellent Audible Silence release. s6t8r works in a similar way to French’s disc in that it is constructed using sounds taken from empty rooms, water pipes, vibrating surfaces etc… While Audible Silence’s approach was somewhat minimal in style though, allowing sounds just to be themselves for much of the time, Aubrey has utilised a fair degree of editing and collage techniques to make the three tracks here. The end results are still very good indeed however.

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Art

Sunday 17th January

January 17, 2010

Back home from London this evening feeling pretty weary after quite a packed weekend but a really good one at that. Apart from an hour listening to Radio 3 in the hotel room yesterday I managed to spend the best part of three days away from music and the internet, which did me some good I think. We took in plenty of other cultural activities however, the trip to see Stewart Lee’s stand-up show on Friday night was as special as I had imagined it would be, unlike any other comedy I know, highly intelligent, viciously satirical at times and constantly challenging the usual audience/performer barriers. I thoroughly recommend that if you live somewhere where you could have the chance to see him live that you grab the chance. If you aren’t much of a comedy fan still do it.

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Listen Series

Saturday 16th January

January 16, 2010

So here is the first in a hopefully long series of audio downloads available here for free. Late last year, when it was announced that the long running and highly influential internet magazine Bagatellen was to close its doors I wondered what I could do as a tribute to a site that was really the first place on the internet that I read about this strange little area of music I like, and the first place I ventured forward and made any comment of my own. One of the more recent developments at Bags had been the Listen Series, which was just a collection of audio pieces by an assortment of eminent names that were put up as free downloads. As I had really enjoyed this series it occurred to me that it would be good to essentially steal the idea wholesale and transport it over here, to keep the idea running, partly as a tribute to Bagatellen and its long suffering head honcho Al Jones.

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Uncategorized

Friday 15th January

January 15, 2010

Well I am posting this a little more than five hours after yesterday’s post, but hey, you’ve still got one post a day! Its 7:30AM and I am going to London with Julie in a couple of hours, taking a break from music and the computer until Sunday evening. We have a number of things planned, but I am looking forward most to a couple of shows we are going to attend. Tonight we are going to see Stewart Lee’s current stand-up show, which is coming to the end of a sold out run at Leicester Square. This will be the first time I have seen Lee perform live, despite my being a big fan for a number of years. I have seen him in person at a few improv concerts before, but that’s not the same thing! Then on Saturday we are going to see the Turner and the Masters exhibition at Tate Britain, a show that is nearing the end of its run so I wanted to see it before it moved on. Should be good.

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CD Reviews

Thursday 14th January

January 15, 2010

I have been listening to one CD today, or CDr to be precise. It is one of the clutch of new archive releases put out by Cor Fuhler a few weeks back on his Conundrom label. This one is titled Mill and is a 1997 recording of an improvisation in a church by Fuhler alongside Misha Mendelberg abd Michiel Scheen. The three of them play assorted organs, a harmonium, a hammond organ, a choir organ and a church organ. I know, that is four organs and three musicians, but I don’t know who plays what or who plays two instruments. The recording is also so much unlike anything I have heard from Cor before that I can’t recognise his playing in there at all.

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CD Reviews

Wednesday 13th January

January 14, 2010

I have had an extra hour or so to listen to music this evening. Lucky me! I have finally managed to spend enough time to be able to write properly about Ryu Hankil’s first, wonderfully titled solo release Becoming Typewriter, that came out at the end of last year on the Taumaturgia label, and is available as a free download here as well as being released as a physical CDr. Because it has been out for a while, because it is so easy to obtain, and because I am late writing it up, I suspect that the vast majority of people interested in this recording will have already heard it, and probably enjoyed it, so instead of merely describing it I thought I would mull over some thoughts on the nature of this music and how we receive it.

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Uncategorized

Tuesday 12th January

January 13, 2010

Today was a generally unenjoyable day, I ended up working until very late tonight, and have just got home a little before 1AM, so there is no review tonight I am sorry to say. Time to mention a few of gigs coming up in ten days or so then, all organised as CD launch shows for releases on the Another Timbre and Matchless labels, and all at Café Oto.First on the 21st January The Sealed Knot, the Chris Burn / Simon Fell duo and the Stephen Cornford / Samuel Rodgers pairing celebrate AT launches, then the following night sees the much anticipated John Tilbury / Sebastian Lexer duo perform alongside Loris, again to coincide with recent or forthcoming Another Timbre CDs. Then a couple of days later a Matchless night sees Eddie Prevost, Seymour Wright and Ross Lambert’s SUM trio play alongside a solo Sebastian Lexer and Harrison Smith. I’m going to be at all three gigs, hope to see some of you there.

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CD Reviews

Monday 11th January

January 12, 2010

So today I have been listening to a recent-ish release on the Mikroton label, a quartet recording named Palmar Zahler by the quartet of Alan Courtis, Jaime Genovart, Chistof Kurzmann and Pablo Reche. Three quarters of the group are, I believe Argentinian, and indeed the album was recorded in Buenos Aires mid-2008. The other quarter being Kurzmann, the familiar Viennese musician who seems to spend a lot of time in South America these days all the same. The instrumentation on this disc makes interesting reading. Courtis is credited with homemade violin, contact mic, mp3 (maybe this should be mp3 player?) tapes and processing. Genovart ( a completely new name to me) is listed as recording, (live? then played back? hmm) synth and soft (presumably software?) Kurzmann plays lloopp, clarinet and yes, voice, and Reche works with minidisc, iPod, Alesis nanoverb (you tell me) and Korg MS10. I can’t help but demand that this music be good after having to type out that lot! Of course, bar the violin, clarinet and Kurzmann’s distinctive voice I haven’t a clue what sounds come from where…

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Concert Reviews

Sunday 10th January

January 10, 2010

Last night’s concert then. I know I bang on a lot about the sense of community and mutual support amongst musicians around London right now, but last night was a great example. Not only were 90% of the audience other musicians that had come out in support in the icy weather when any other audience was staying home away from the snow and ice, but when the concert’s organiser Sebastian Lexer became unexpectedly snowbound in Germany and unable to fly in for the event, other musicians just stepped up and took over running the concert. Eddie Prevost drove down on icy, dangerous roads from Essex even though it was clear there would be little to no money to be earned from the performance, and an all round sense of camaraderie prevailed. The music was good as well.

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Uncategorized

Saturday 9th January

January 10, 2010

I headed directly into London and caught the excellent Interlace concert tonight, whch featured a Jean-Luc Guionnet / Eddie Prevost duo, a solo set from Ross Lambert and the trio of Paul Abbott, Seymour Wright and Daichi Yoshikawa (pictured). So I have been awake twenty hours, worked hard for nearly ten of them, caught a total of seven trains and walked about in sub-zero temperatures on ice-rink streets, but it was worth every little bit of the effort. No tmany people ventured out tonight though. I’m not certain, but I think that myself and Olivier Rodrigues were the only two non-musicians in the hall unless you count the hardy cockroach wandering about the place (and I hear he’s a pretty good percussionist anyway) Good job there were a lot of musicians around. The music though, was excellent, and I will write about it in a post tomorrow, alongside a further Classical Sunday post. For now I am too tired to type straight.

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CD Reviews

Friday 8th January

January 9, 2010

Tonight I have been listening to some really difficult music played by one of the musicians performing tomorrow. Although Jean-Luc Guionnet will presumably be playing sax tomorrow, this new album released by the Arteleku organisation (The same Basque outift that recently published the partly excellent Noise and Capitalism book) is named Gezurrezko joera and is another performance by Guionnet for church organ. Guionnet’s organ albums (I think this is the fourth solo, plus there has been at least one collaborative album) seem to really split audiences into two camps, those that find it intriguingly good, and those that really hate it. I personally sit in the former camp. Brian Olewnick managed to get around to briefly reviewing this album a few weeks back Read More ....

CD Reviews

Thursday 7th November

January 7, 2010

So I spent the day indoors, wrapped up warm, clearing my inbox and listening to a few CDs. I still have plenty of Cathnor related tasks to clear up tonight as well, so will keep tonight’s review brief. The disc I have been listening to is the first from a clutch of releases sent to me by Ignaz Schick from his Berlin based Zarek label; a little three inch disc named, intriguingly Cooks and Devils and credited to Snake Figures Arkestra, who are Schick (Turntables, objects, Organ pipes, bows, electronics) and Marcel Turkowsky (modified walkmen, realia objects, memory box and tapes). There are no typos in that list of Turkowsky’s instrumentation. Any idea what realia objects are? Or a memory box for that matter?

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CD Reviews

Wednesday 6th January

January 7, 2010

The music in question is yet another release on the Another Timbre imprint (I’m trying to absorb all of the recent batch before the next set appears in a couple of weeks… its not easy keeping up with this label) This one is named Empty Matter and comes from a duo made up of two of my very favourite musicians (and people) in the world, Lucio Capece and Lee Patterson, their first recordings together made in a London church back in June last year, when both musicians had travelled in from far off strange lands to appear (in different groups) at Another Timbre’s Unamed Music Festival. Usual caveats… I consider both of these musicians to be friends, have released music on cathnor by both of them and will probably find it slightly harder to be subjective than usual blah blah…

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CD Reviews

Tuesday 5th January

January 6, 2010

It is an album called Memory Stick by a duo named 212code, released on the Modisti netlabel, which offers the music for free download here. I was sent a DVD case containing a 4:1 quadrophonic recording of the material, which sadly I cannot play here, but also a CDR burn of the music as a stereo mixdown, which is what I have been listening to. Although I think I am correct in saying that the 212 area code refers to Manhattan, New York, I’m not sure where the two musicians here Maerran Laginestra and Pedro Lopez currently reside. In fact I don’t know much about them at all. The press release that accompanied the package provided a link to a website for 212code, but it is not active. So beyond the fact that both musicians seem to work with computer processing of soundfiles, I know little else.

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CD Reviews

Monday 4th January

January 5, 2010

I must admit to being very unsure about this record before I ever listened to it. Musik – Ein portrait in Sehnsucht is a recent release on Erstwhile by Burkhard Stangl and Kai Fagaschinski. The reason for my uncertainty is based upon recent Erstwhile CDs that these two have appeared on separately, both of which focussed on the combination of improvised, abstract forms with pop music, In Fagaschinski’s case the Magic I.D release, and Stangl the live Schnee disc. The recent NeuSchnee album from 2009 is actually the first Erstwhile release I have not even bothered to purchase in ten years, simply because, having read descriptions of it I have a good idea it won’t be one I would enjoy. I feared the same might be the case for this Fagaschinski/Stangl release, but reading up on it it did not seem to contain singing and included a number of field recordings, so I picked up a copy.

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Classical Sundays

Sunday 3rd January

January 4, 2010

OK, so I must stop beginning posts with “OK”… Actually this will be a brief post, seeing as I have spent just about all of today toiling in front of the pages of this blog, but being a Sunday, and given that my work here today has had a Beethoven / Lindsay Quartet soundtrack to it for the last fourteen hours I thought I should write about the late Beethoven quartets again. The thing about this music is, I think that I can put it on in the background while working and have it sit there as some kind of pleasant aural colouring for the room, something that won’t distract me too much, but work in an, if you like, ambient way.

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Uncategorized

Ta Daaaa!

January 3, 2010

OK, so unless there has been something really bad gone wrong you should now be looking at the new design for the blog, something I have been working on since October, on and off, and over the last few days in particular has caused me no end of hard work! I am of course eager to hear what people think, and more importantly, I am eager to hear if anything isn’t working, not showing up, broken links etc… When I first moved my blog here from the old Learning to Listen site I warned you all that my love of design would mean I would be changing the design from time to time. Well, it occurred to me early on that before I wanted to play with the style I really had to add some content, so hopefully over the past year I have added enough to be able to get away with tweaking things again now.

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Uncategorized

Another Fine One

January 3, 2010

A year ago today I posted a piece here that not only summed up my favourite CD releases of 2008, but also tried to sum up how I was feeling about improvised music in general, focussing somewhat on my dissatisfaction at the way the small internet based bulletin board communities had somehow managed to drive a bus through the middle of improvised music, dividing it cleanly in two, with one side labelled EAI (modern, innovative and good) and the other EFI (old, stagnant and bad). I argued back that the reality is nothing like as simple as that, and that the two somewhat non-descriptive acronyms were effectively useless and somewhat unfair and unhelpful generalisations. A year later I still believe these things firmly, but have, on the whole, ceased to be concerned by these issues. Why? Certainly the use of these terms to describe music in online circles is as commonplace as ever, what has changed?

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Uncategorized

Saturday 2nd January

January 3, 2010

OK, so things didn’t go as planned again today. I worked all morning on the new site, labelling up every pst and creating custom fields (don’t ask) for every image ever posted here so that a piece of image resizing software I hope to be using at the new site will work. I also have […]

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Uncategorized

Friday 1st January

January 1, 2010

OK, so like just about every creative project I have any involvement in, the new look site is taking longer than expected and most probably will not go live tonight, although I fully intend to keep at it until I fall asleep on the keyboard… Nothing has gone dramatically wrong (yet) but I had a […]

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