...an interesting year, and the last half has brought a lot of change for me personally. I'm about to take redundancy (what a beautiful word) and will probably spend the next year trying to make stuff happen and scratching around for a living from music. this is potentially madness, but it's also incredibly liberating. it's about time, even if it's the wrong time.

as far as playing goes, this year's been one of the best. my instrument continues to challenge me and some days i feel like dousing it with petrol and setting a match to it may be the best use for it. but at the same time, i'm learning shitloads and finally playing things i can be kind of happy with. fourth page continue to be a quiet revelation, sonnamble (with the addition of wei-ya and paul) have evolved into a really powerful wee unit, and there a number of other associations which look likely to yield fruit in the coming months. playing in vienna was wonderful, and with any luck there'll be a few jaunts around europe over the next year. forwind continues to evolve, and that will take up a fair amount of my time. there's a lot to do, and a lot to think about.

much of the music i've been listening to this year was made before 1950. i'm increasingly drawn to the raw, the unmediated, the unselfconscious, the unironic. i fucking hate irony. there isn't much that i like that was made this year (chris watson's el tren fantasma was an exception, as were a couple of others i can't be arsed to remember), increasingly i feel out of touch with what is being made and what's being written about in the wire or played at cafe oto or wherever. much of it seems shallow, faddish or revisionist to me these days. it's hard to tell whether this is due to my own weariness or truly indicative of the times we're in. it doesn't matter, i suppose, and i'm wary of my own dis-ease with what i hear or read; i don't particularly want to be statler or waldorf.

three gigs

1. Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings - Brighton Dome
Two and a half hours of acoustic music from two guitars, voices and the occasional bit of banjo and thighslapping would not normally be high on my list of must-sees. But as any cursory glance over the music section of any broadsheet newspaper over the last couple of weeks will tell you, Welch and Rawlings are the dog's bollocks. And for once they're right. Despite the occasionally embarrassing audience shout-outs, this was one of the best gigs I've seen in a long time. It's rare to see such onstage chemistry between two people - their voices sound like they're coming from the same set of lungs and pipes; close, close harmonies (they like major seconds a lot). Rawlings' solos were quietly revelatory - it's not usual to get spontaneous outbursts of applause at the end of a solo at a not-jazz gig. But he earns them - there's nothing flash or superfluous in his playing, though the occasional quicksilver run might appear and take the breath away (as it did to the bloke sitting next to me at this gig, often alarmingly). Not to take anything away from his partner, of course.

2. Forwindings - Shoreditch Church
I can't be at all objective about this one, but despite a few technical issues and some notable last minute non-appearances, we seemed to pull it off and attracted enough people to make it worthwhile. More here. I really enjoyed the Elvers set - Ian was on great form, and the acoustic suited him down to the ground. The Sonnamble set was problematic for me, but not for anyone else, or so it seemed, and the audience seemed particularly into it. The Fourth Page set was probably our best yet in some ways - it felt really cohesive and focussed. Ed Devane's set was really lovely too. Next time may be less ambitious, but there'll definitely be one.

3. Dafeldecker/Budd, The Necks - Oxford Holywell Music Room
The Necks are less a band than they are some gateway to another universe. I've seen them probably half a dozen times and each time they leave me feeling slightly exhausted and disorientated. Maybe a bit like Yuri Gagarin felt on touchdown. I've tried writing about them before and failed miserably, so I won't attempt it again, other than to say they were fucking wonderful.

In support was the pairing of Harold Budd, whose work has ranged IMHO from the sublime to the insipid, and Werner Dafeldecker, whose double bass has graced some of my favourite records of the last few years. Dafeldecker is a rigorous sort and one of the 'third Viennese school' alongside people like Fennesz and Polwechsel/ It seemed like an odd pairing to me, but potentially fascinating. It wasn't. Harold did his usual thing (ie pretty, mournful long-spaced piano chords) while Werner treated his piano through tape delay and perhaps unintentional feedback, occasionally taking up the bass for some rattling, detuned dromes, thumps and squeaks. I was glad when they stopped. A solo set from each would have been far more rewarding, and I couldn't help wondering what was going through their heads. Certainly neither looked particularly at ease. Perhaps it was a bad night, but my guess it was more of a case of two diametrically opposed approaches not finding any common ground. I wonder whose idea that was....


Shots taken during a walk along Cuckmere Haven and The Seven Sisters (not in Tottenham). Music by me. Thanks to Josie for transport, catering, moral support and executive prduction.

Fourth Page on the radio

Fiona Talkington (not pictured) will be airing a track from Blind Horizons on Radio 3's ever-excellent Late Junction this week.

Our recent gig at the Vortex was also recorded by the BBC, though where, when or if it will be broadcast is all in the lap of the Gods (or more accurately, some radio producers) at the moment....

Also, here's the first review we've found of the album, direct from Krakow.

Sonnamble on the radio

RTE lyric fm have been showing us some love, bless 'em. Bernard Clarke showcases two tracks from Blindlight on the excellent Nova.


and there's also an airing for the old Elvers radio fave, Cutthroat...good times guaranteed!

River Frequency


A couple more rather positive reviews in for Blindlight...

the band are just back from the Another Festival in Vienna, where we were joined by Paul May on percussion (yes, him again) and Wei-Ya Lin on viola. we were treated incredibly well and got to do a lot of playing in a beautiful space; recordings will probably emerge soon. Chris Jones took some nice pictures (like this one) and video too. again, more on that later...

Fourth Page at the Vortex

Fourth Page are on a wee mini-tour next week as a duo of Paul May and Carolyn Hume, joined for one date by Charlie Beresford and finally appearing as a quartet at the Vortex on Sat 29th October. Get the party started!

An Indian Music Infographic

utterly beautiful. and it tells you stuff. (see the hi res version here via the always wondrous WFMU)

Jazz at the Grosvenor

some recordings from Jazz at the Grosvenor, SW9. This has been my Monday night ritual for the last couple of months and has given me terrible blisters which i seem to have conquered at long last. yes, i suffer for my art. and now it can be your turn.

Kornhauser/Spall/Marsh/May - Jazz at the Grosvenor 26/9/2011 by astrogarage

Somervell, Marsh, May Trio - live at the Grosvenor 19/09/11 by astrogarage


Found Drowned at Club Integral

Found Drowned at Club Integral by Forwind

Petra Jean Phillipson - Ice in June

shot at Taylor Taylor's in Shoreditch...

Fourth Page - Times Like These

Sonnamble review

first review in for the Sonnamble album. i'm not sure i entirely understand all of it, but it seems broadly positive....

i didn't want to buy it...

...but i did anyway. i've been flirting with the idea of one of these for a long while. not played it lapsteel style yet (i need a nut raiser) but even so it sounds very sweet.

i'm not sure if i'll ever play it at a gig but its function is more therapeutic than anything...lying on the bed while plinking meaninglessly away in open tunings is good for the soul. if not for anyone unfortunate enough to be listening...

Sonnamble on the Wire Tapper

A track from the new Sonnamble waxing is to be found stuck on the front of the August edition of The Wire. Global domination beckons. To be honest I feel quite ambivalent about the mag even though I've been reading it more or less every month since issue 2 (yes, I am fucking old). But it's a cheap way of getting the music into the cd players of a lot of people who might just like it, and that can't be sniffed at...

The new album (more on that here) is a bit leaner than the first; slightly more upfront and more focussed, perhaps. And it sort of marks the end of that phase of the 'band' - we've recently been working with just double bass and treatments, and at the weekend experimented with adding viola and percussion (a line-up that will make its live debut in Vienna in October).

More soon...

collateral damage

the ever sharp chris cutler has written a rather nice piece about free downloading for the Wire. i like the line about 'there are at least three Henry Cow fans who'd like the group to reform and record again'.

it's a good piece and worth a read.


some snippets from the recent past and immediate future....

1. the fourth page album is out. we'll be finishing another at the end of the month, for release on leo records (warning - this site will offend anyone with delicate graphic designer type sensibilities) in october.

2. simon hopkins (former collaborator) has put out a lovely bit of work on bandcamp. 'tis really really good. how to describe it? dark, creepy ambient improv soundscaping? that'll do. worth a listen.

3. in other news, i'm now playing with this lot. not an obvious choice you may think, but i'm rather enjoying myself. this weekend we're at the penn festival in buckinghamshire as part of an entirely baffling line-up. i am looking forward to being a long way from the stage when Dr and the Medics are on.

here we are at the Bedford last month (scroll through to 49 mins or so if you can be arsed)

4. two new-ish projects are rumbling along - one is a quartet with saxophonist julie kjaer, trombonist ian mclaughlin and drummer paul may. this is currently my favourite band in the world. or at least, my favourite one with me in. the other is a trio with paul and the stupidly talented phil somervell; we'll be playing barely recognisable standards in interesting ways every monday at the Grosvenor in SW9, starting in august. be there, or be somewhere else.

5. there's other stuff, but i'm bored writing this now. god knows how anyone reading it may feel.

the future is creepy

Elvers review

read it here!


the second pylon

a gig


time to write a bit about what i've been up to and what i may get up to in the next few montha assuming i don't get run over by a bus or something.

Forwind seems to have become the hub for much of my musical activity. i'm slightly embarrassed by the fact that i seem to be on every release in the catalogue. the Clang Sayne album is getting a digital issue, and the Fourth Page album will emerge there soon. also it's likely it'll be the home for the fruits of a recording session last weekend for a new trio of myself, James O' Sullivan and Paul May. this group was a long time coming, but seems to have been worth the wait. we worked at onecat with the excellent Jon Clayton engineering; an 8 hour session enabled us to record 70 minutes of material and mix it too at a leisurely pace. the results are pretty strong and sometimes dark as pitch. James and Paul were on top form; both of them get so much variation out of bits of metal and wood by purely physical (and sometimes magnetic) means. there was little we came up with didn't work at some level, and we're shaping it into some kind of form at the moment. james described the final piece we recorded as a 'fucking beast'. more on that later.

Sonnamble are gearing up for more action too. Conor has a few mixes on the go of stuff recorded last year, just before our Dublin gig. but a more recent session yielded some delicious results - just double bass and live processing. lots of space and some lovely interaction. not using loops makes things a lot harder work and riskier. it's easy to generate structure with loops for one thing. but without them you get much more of a sense of the relationship between what we're both doing, which is essentially playing the same instrument. ooh er.

a few home sessions with mr Chris Jones have come up with some nice stuff too., some entirely unplugged, and others entirely, er, plugged. there's an unplugged one here. also Chris has taken on the sisyphean task of going through all the material the quartet with Andy and Conor. there's a lot of it.


also there's been a few (sometimes choice) gigs with Neptune Is Mars, Lucy and more, but i'm starting to bore myself now so i'll leave it there...

4th Page debut gig


conor and shane have been working their butts off on the forwind site. three new releases are out or just about to emerge from elvers (skilfully and rather beautifully remastered by conor), james o' sullivan and (at last) a digital release for clang sayne's winterlands.

have a look.

city of lost angels

did a wee gig with petra jean phillipson earlier this week, and very nice it was too. meanwhile it looks like there may be some more performances of city of lost angels later this year. let's hope so. here's a taste of the print room performances from a few months back...

City of Lost Angels from Verena Paloma Jabs on Vimeo.


i shot this from the office window. 5 hours in under 2 minutes. music by Rachels from their fab album Systems/Layers.

Fourth Page

so the quartet with charlie, carolyn. paul and me has now got a name. a website, a blog and an album in the can. this features stuff taken from two sessions recorded in carolyn's garden studio. we mastered it last week and it was probably the most painless session i've ever experienced; no attempting to remix it with multiband compression or anything like that. it all sounded pucker from the off, which is entirely down to charlie's engineering skills.

here's the website

and here's a blog with a full track to listen to.

in the coffee.

i love slim and slam. plus, scatman crothers on drums!

Elvers are entering the building...

Elvers is now the name for the trio formerly known as Watson, Marsh and May. After months of neglect, we've finally sorted out the results of the recording we did last year. This should be out as a digital release on Forwind 'ere long. Meanwhile, we'll be playing at Scaledown next Friday...

oops, did that in proper capitalisation.

oh. brilliant.

from 6 Music News -

Airlines will not be forced to allow musicians to carry large instruments on to planes, the government has said...


you'd think this confederacy of dunces could manage at least one policy that didn't piss me off.

meanwhile, on the landscape channel

i shot this on the way back from dublin a month or two back. the music is from a couple of years back - lap steel and fairydust.

neptune is mars

winter songs

i've just done a podcast for forwind, featuring some top pop hits by the likes of polwechsel, marcus schmickler and toru takemitsu. it's a floorfiller and no mistake. you can get it here.