Chatting with a pal today about This Process. We had a moment I’ve had when talking about it with other people, where it’s asked ‘…so, is that you off the drink forever?’

It’s been such a long time since I wasn’t drinking habitually that it’s a difficult question to get to grips with. That is to say, with it being such a completely normal and expected part of my life, to an often unhealthy degree in terms of both frequency and intensity, and with the habit performing quite a specific set of functions for me which I’m not entirely clear about or comfortable with, that not doing it is somehow worthy of extended thought and grappling.  Our ‘reasons’ for doing anything are complex, not easily reducible to one thing or another.

It’s perhaps not surprising, then, to not be able to just say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a question like the one phrased above. Nor was it likely intended to elicit one. Bear in mind this pal is a psychiatric nurse, and knows what they’re talking about, and I’ve known them twenty-something years.

It was a good question!

And, so, I don’t have a short answer.  I am conscious of trying to not be dogmatic or evangelical… Leaping in with both feet usually lands you in something or other. As we chatted, I recalled what I’d said about it in the Rotating Round the Sun post (linked to at the top of this post). It’s a process I have been thinking about… at the moment my view is framed by the exploratory aspects of it, as ‘doing something I haven’t done’.

As the habit of a lifetime, and with drinking alcohol being so widespread and commonly accepted as a way of being, I’ve found myself having to work as much on the language I use to talk about it. Grappling with the semantics of sobriety, for example. The predominance of negative terms used to euphemise the process, from the way I’m trying to speak about not drinking (see!) to the very concept of that which I’m trying to do (‘Not drinking?).

Forever, though? A thought that occurred to me today was how likely one would be to ask the same type of question if someone were to become a practising Buddhist, to pick a faith system at random.  Or to take up knitting, or yoga, or running, or vegetarianism, or death metal. Such things suggest commitment, certainly. And there’s a concomitant notion that to fully appreciate benefits, to acquire a new habit, may take time. And, it depends on the habit, and on the motivations for so doing…

‘…how’s that working out for you?’

I’m at a stage where it’s working well, so far. Beyond that? ‘We’ll see what happens.’

This review is over two weeks late – I’m blaming ASH CRISIS ELECTION CHAOS distractions.

SO Tuesday 13 April 2010, to the Miller, SE1, for an evening of drone sounds, psych-rock and “atonal pointillism” with Faux Amis,  Alexander Turner, Moon unit and Chora!

Time was (a few years ago) that such a gig would have had me clutching for the pen to scribble down some fever’d cosmic visions, suggestive and suggested sci-fi snippets, some of which were subsequently published in a short-lived music zine Conductive Jelly what I wrote.  I may dig some of those out for your edification (threats!…) There were retrofuturist sparking transformers, drumkits imagined as CGI monsters, images of ruined machine-age civilisations overgrown with creepers, like Deep Thought in the Hitchhikers film.

A lot of it was meant (in my head, anyway) to be read aloud, not really as stories but word string theory excerpts, playing with the zounds as a sort of written accompaniment to the percussive/drone/abstract alinear anti-pop sort of things I was being introduced to by my pals. Luke, who played guitar in a band I was in, had started doing such sonic experimenting with Andreas (from Moon Unit). Indeed they still are doing it, Lanterns be their name, and they can be found on myspace. I did some “sleeve notes” for one of their early recordings, and very kind
of them to let me near their work it was too.

That, reader, was then. However, at the Miller, I sat watching and listening and they, the words, just weren’t there. In a little flash of insight I not only recalled the memorable phrase ‘dancing about architecture’ (and that’s a great site, by the way) but I jumped a step along and did not feel a second’s remorse for having to re-cap my pen and pocket my book and just sit there basking in the sound. Different things inspire me to write, and it clearly wasn’t meant to be the music on the night, then, but it was inspiring in a different kind of way, in that it was a pleasant realisation of having found oneself in a superb new chapter or even volume without noticing.

The writer Amiri Baraka came out with this great idea of an ‘expression-scriber’, which would allow every kick, elbow, scream grunt and itch to be recorded… It struck me, as it has many times before when at their gigs, that the ‘stick a contact mic on it’ ethos of artists like Chora, Lanterns et al comes very close to that kind of immersive total expression.

Thusly, enough of this wittery. Go to their websites and check them out, buy their CDs and records. Here are some photos from the gig (taken on my phone, I know the quality’s variable). If you really want some more words, you can click on the photos for additional commentary.

And a noiseriffic time was had by all!