It’s typically a good night hanging out with my great mate L. Wednesday’s mix of new music, new books and a trip to Azram’s Sheesh Mahal on Kirkstall Road LS4, for an extremely tasty dinner, was further evidence of this proposition.

It also, handily and because I was looking for it, allows me to continue the theme from The Mortal Bath’s closing piece of 2010 regarding writing output and minds trying to make sense of masses of data, with additional haunting motif supplied by a first glimpse of what looks an exciting new book, Sinister Resonances, from the consistently reliable David Toop.

L is into music. Lots of people are into music, in the way that lots of people like coffee, but lots of people only ever try the Grande Latte Semi-Wet. It even sounds like a foppish, irritating minor character in a novel about pre-revolutionary France. Anyway, L is familiar with the Grande Latte, and the continuous morphing of his heraldry in a bid to seek favour, but enjoys the company of those who choose not to vie at court for preferment.

To clamber down from this hill of coffee beans/dauphinoise analogy (and on into the fertile plane of a more general food analogy), I am describing someone who consumes music, in the economic sense and in the sense of it keeping him alive. Fuel packages arrive daily, from sound merchants such as Boomkat, Second Layer, Volcanic Tongue, Spin City, blogs like Olde English Spelling Bee, yea even digital hypermarts like Amazon, to name but a selection from the mall site map. They all bring… well, I can just about begin to describe, but I don’t want to just sit here listing links and have you riffing away when you just got here. It’s music you don’t tend to see in HMV (perhaps a lesson there, in that there are plenty of people still spending their money on music). The point for me is that it energises him, and I always come away from a meeting with my friend energised creatively. It always gets me a-wonderin’ about variety in the diet.

As well as intake, L makes and has made music for a number of years. We were in a couple of bands together – reader, hear our song! – and he has released lots and lots of recordings as part of an experimental group called Lanterns over the last five or six years. His latest incarnation, Castrato Attack Group, is ‘Dumber than a sack of hammers’. He was voicing a concern about his recent lack of output, which probably stems at least in part from the demands of his job as a full-time psychiatric nurse. He’s still a lot busier than I, who have not twanged a note in performance for some years now and am perpetually threatening to act on the feeling that it’d be ‘really great to be in a band again’.

I think the key is that he is always reading, finding, sampling, mixing flavours. It is enjoyable work to watch, as Jerome K Jerome nearly put it. I have only a fraction of the patience and attention span when it comes to rooting out sounds and looking for music in unlikely places (Spotify and digital watches both seem pretty neat ideas to me). This last point regarding music in strange spaces is something Toop, from my preliminary skim of Sinister Resonances, appears to expand on at much more impressive length. It’s as much the sounds of silence, what Debussy referred to in his celebrated quote, ‘Music is the space between the notes.’ I was listening to John Cage’s “4’33” during its charitable assault on the charts in 2010, and was, as intended, intrigued by the sounds occurring on the periphery as I listened. Music, and the act of seeking it out in its infinite forms, is a great way of entering one’s Calm zone. I am extremely glad to have a friend in someone who is such a quietly enthusiastic forager for noise.

As a word lover, I was also pleased to discover that there are now at least two senses in which people understand ‘to blog’ as a verb. Referring to the album ‘Bamboo for Two’ (see below), and further work, L said ‘You can just blog it.’ I had to take a minute to establish that he was saying ‘Look x up on a blog,’ whereas, I explained, I understood it in the form of ‘Writing about x on a blog’. His response was: “Well, you can always do both.” Thusly was the wusly.

The soundtrack:

Actress – Splaszh
James Ferraro – Night Dolls with Hairspray
Chrome – Half Machine Lip Moves
Monopoly Child Star Searchers – Bamboo for Two
Oneohtrix Point Never

…and those retail links:
Boomkat Manchester, UK
Second Layer London, UK
Volcanic Tongue Glasgow, UK
Spin City Sheffield, UK
Olde English Spelling Bee New York, USA
Amazon like, Amazon

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