William's Study (Diary Of A Hyperdreamer)
Friday 10th November 2006 -- 1:00 pm
After four attempts at coming up with a suitable 8 inch by 8 inch artwork for the 'STARS ON CANVAS' exhibition and charity auction, I finally settled on the very first one I'd created. Two others went into the bin and a third I decided to give to a good friend.
The canvas I've donated to the auction is called 'STARBOY' and will be exhibited at the Julie-Anne Gilbert Gallery, Arches 283a, Maderia Drive, Brighton BN2 1PT, from the 18th of November. The charity auction, (which is in aid of an organisation called 'Whoops-A-Daisy' which helps children suffering from cerebral palsy), will be held on the 26th of November.
Emiko took a photograph of me holding the artwork. As usual, I was horrified by my appearance which seems to get more wizened every time a shutter clicks in my direction. All is vanity...especially in this business.
Time still at a premium. I seem to be struggling to keep up, but that's always the case.
I'm currently working on several pieces of art which I'm framing as gifts for the loyal and dedicated Nelsonica Team who put together the fan convention every year. I'm taking them all out to dinner in just over a week's time and will give each of them an artwork. The table is booked for ten people but I still need to complete a few more drawings to frame. I find I really have to be in the mood to come up with visual art, whereas with music, I ALWAYS seem to be in the mood. In fact I've got several musical ideas that I'd like to explore at the moment but no available time to do so.
Perhaps I should list my plans for the coming months here, just to outline what I'm hoping to achieve.
These are in no particular order but the future, at the moment, looks like this:
1: Repair and upgrade my Mackie hard-disk HDR 24/96 multi-track recorder and make a start on mixing the Be Bop Deluxe Decca tapes.
2: Work with Paul Sutton-Reeves towards establishing a 'coda' for his 'Music In Dreamland' book, bringing it up to date. It isn't due to be published until early next year so there's now an opportunity to update the text to include more recent developments. The book was finished almost two and a half years ago but has been delayed due to the publisher's serious illness. The latest information I have is that it will see the light of day early in 2007.
3: Upgrade my computer and video editing software and attempt to make a start on my 'Ghosts Etched On Glass' film autobiography. This will be a more sophisticated version of 'Memory Codex Number One' which I screened at this year's Nelsonica convention. 'Ghosts Etched On Glass' is planned to be part of a special live event at Leeds University's School Of Music next April.
4: Transfer some of my more recent backing tracks onto my multi-track machine and overdub lead guitar parts, then mix and assemble a running order for 'The Last Of The Gentleman Rocketeers' album that will constitute volume two of the 'Painting With Guitars' series.
5: Go through several hours' worth of previously unreleased home recordings from the 1980's and assemble an album from the best tracks. An official title for this project has yet to be decided but working title possibilities are:
'The Time Traveller's Companion,'
'Electrical Goods And Knitting Yarns,'
'An Imaginary History Of Magic. (Music To Conjure The Ghosts Of The Past)'
'Songs From A Secret Museum.'
'Snowballs And Oranges.'
As usual, it's quite possible that NONE of these titles could be used and something entirely different concocted, once I've selected the album's track running order.
6: Make a special compilation album using only the oddest, most 'psychedelic,' trippy or eccentric tracks from my past home recordings and solo releases. Working title for this is: 'Superheads Recommend.' I want this to concentrate mainly on vocal songs but with perhaps a few instrumentals thrown in. It should be compiled from obscure tracks that were originally hidden away in dark corners of earlier albums plus some previously unreleased oddities along similar lines.
7: Assemble Volume One of a series of compilation albums focussing exclusively on Nelsonica recordings. These would not be literal copies of the original albums but re-sequenced tracks, set in a different context and with new packaging artwork.
8: Re-release the 'Noise Candy' recordings but as individual albums. Lenin Imports have not been in touch with me for a long time about the original release and have not responded to recent requests by my management for accounting so it's time I turned these recordings to my own advantage, rather than to anyone else's.
9: Attempt to write and record some brand new songs for an acoustic based vocal album. Possible working titles for the album are:
'Songs Of The Blossom Tree Optimists.'
'Every Blessed Thing Is So Damned Fragile.'
10: Choose and assemble a compilation album focussing exclusively on past guitar instrumentals, choosing my favourite tracks from various albums. Working titles for this project are:
'Great Northern Twang Magus.'
'The Guitar Room.'
'Six Lane Skyway'
'Like Time Machines.'
Again, these are just initial titles. It could end up being something completely different.
11: Create some very short instrumental pieces, between one and two minutes in length which will become the basis of equally short video pieces. These to be made available as digital downloads from the Dreamsville Essoldo Cinema.
12: Work on the second volume of 'Diary Of A Hyperdreamer', to be published by Pomona.
13: Look at the possiblility of a select series of live concerts for next year. My idea is to stage them in interesting or unorthodox venues.
14: Work on my autobiography, 'Painted From Memory,' for publication by Sound-On-Sound. It would be nice to make this a quite lavishly illustrated
book, along the lines of an art book. It should also contain an accompanying DVD. It would need to sell as a limited edition expensive item to justify the time and cost involved in its production but I think something very special might come of this.
15: Create a new, commercially available DVD, following on from 'Flashlight Dreams And Fleeting Shadows.'
16: Try to organise something around the 'Orchestra Futura' project with Theo Travis and Dave Sturt.
17: Work towards expanding the Dreamsville site, opening up the 'Museum Of Memory' and 'The Guitar Arcade.'
18: Choose certain tracks from my back catalogue to be made available as internet downloads.
19: Write and record a brand new instrumental album, placing minimalist guitar in a pure digital electronica setting.
20: Work towards an audio-visual exhibition/installation which would gather together drawings, photographs, album sleeve art and video work and present them in a gallery context with an accompanying soundtrack. This would depend on the help of fans who own some of my artwork. I would ask them to loan the pieces to the exhibition. The art would be returned to them afterwards and their names and help would be acknowledged in the catalogue and in the exhibition itself. The exhibition would need to find a sponsor to help mount it.
21: Find a choreographer/dance company who might be interested in collaborating with me in the creation of a contemporary dance piece. I've wanted to try something along these lines for many years now but have never got around to finding out if it could be practically realised. I'm not getting any younger, as they say, so I really ought to put the pedal to the metal and attempt the impossible.
And that, for now, is enough. Plenty of goals to score, targets to hit.
Went to Whitby last Saturday, just for the day. An absolutely glorious, fiery sunset over the town as twilight flooded the opposite end of the harbour. A breath-taking, magical moment. Unfortunately, I hadn't taken my still camera with me but did have my camcorder so, thankfully, I managed to capture some of the dramatic and beautiful light. It will be used in one of the short video downloads I'm planning.
Emi and I had dinner at 'The White Horse And Griffin', as is our habit when in Whitby. On the drive home over the North Yorkshire Moors, we could see firework displays ringing the horizon. Starbursts and rocket trails. I told Emiko about my boyhood experiences of bonfire night, treacle toffee and the selection boxes of fireworks manufactured by such companies as 'Standard,' 'Lion,' 'Pains' and 'Brocks' that my father used to bring home for our own backyard display.
Emi likes the idea of bonfire night, even though there's no Guy Fawks equivalent in Japan.
Sunday we went to Salt's Mill at Saltaire, another fairly regular haunt for us. Emi managed a little bit of Christmas shopping. I guess mine will be the usual last minute panic, particularly as Emi will be busy at the flower shop until late on Christmas Eve. It seems like only yesterday I was taking down last year's Christmas decorations and packing them away in the cupboard under the stairs. And here it comes again, hurtling towards us driven by hyper-speed reindeers.
Found some old photo's of Emiko when she was a little girl, dressed in traditional Japanese costume for a school play. They are black and white photographs but I've messed around with them and got some nice colour effects happening. I may use one or two for a future instrumental album sleeve.
Went out with four of our best friends for dinner last night. A belated birthday celebration for Steve and for Emi. We went to 'San Martino' in Harrogate, an excellent restaurant that was introduced to me by my friend Paul Gilby. A very civilised, convivial evening and a further respite from my work.
The last two days have seen another plunge in temperature. Feels quite wintery now. Big pullover time. I think I'll go set a log fire...ready to light later this evening. Get the smell of woodsmoke in the air.
Tuesday 14th November 2006 -- 10:10 pm
Spent the afternoon with Paul, (Gilby,) who is helping me to update my recording system software. He's fitted a new floppy drive and upgraded the memory of my Mackie HDR 24/96 multi-track recorder. Just a few more things to do to it tomorrow and then I'll be able to mix the Be Bop Deluxe Decca sessions for future release. Once I can set some personal time aside to deal with that, of course.
Went to London last Saturday, just for the day. Emi to her usual Japanese Buddhist temple meeting, me to the Tate and the usual round of bookshops. I bought several DVD's: The original BBC TV series of Dennis Potter's 'Pennies From Heaven,' also DVD copies of films I have on VHS but wanted to secure as DVDs: 'A Kind Of Loving' and 'The Magnificent Ambersons.'
I also got 'Hope and Glory' and a DVD titled 'Legends Of Western Swing' which features vintage performances by Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys, Spade Cooley and several others. Finding time to watch all these is another matter.
It was the Lord Mayor's Parade and fireworks display on the Saturday too, something of which we hadn't been aware of. The city was even more busy than usual. Late afternoon, when Emi returned from her temple service, we met up with her friend Kyoko and had a drink at a Cuban bar in Wardour street, not far from where the old Marquee club once stood. As Emi and Kyoko talked about this and that, my mind drifted back to the time when Be Bop Deluxe performed at The Marquee in 1974. We were booked to support a band called 'String Driven Thing.' It was at that same Marquee Club gig that we were finally signed by EMI Records, an event which led to our first ever album, 'Axe Victim.'
In one of my ancient sketchbooks, I have a very rapidly executed drawing of the Marquee's interior that I scratched out under dim lights, whilst bored and waiting for our sound check. (I think one of the figures depicted in the sketch is our then manager, Colin Mawston.)
I was thrilled to be playing there, on the exact same stage that my teenage heroes, such as Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix and The Who, had performed on in the '60's. That creaky old platform held a special magic for me, as did the tiny, scruffy dressing room behind the stage itself.
Several years later, when they demolished the club, I was saddened. It played an important part in the history of British pop culture and should really have been preserved. But so much that should be saved is lost. (And so much that is preserved isn't worth the preserving.)
One of the half-wild cats that live in the environs of our house fell sick on Sunday evening. A tiny, lovely little kitten that hasn't yet been given a name by us but has become one of our favorites. There are five or six feral, or semi-feral cats sharing our garden with us. We put food out for them and provide a rudimentary shelter in the form of a plastic waste bin, turned on its side and placed under a garden bench.
This particular, recently born kitten is the tiniest of the litter, but the most affectionate and characterful. She is mostly a dark, cloudy grey colour with little patches of ginger and white. A little bumble bee of a thing. I took to her from first setting eyes on her when her mother, a gentle and elegant tabby we call 'Gizmo,' carried her round to our front door, as if the kitten were an offering to us.
The kitten was fine midday on Sunday, before Emi and I went into town for the afternoon. Dancing around and mischievous. When we came back home, the other four feral cats all ran out to greet us, as is their custom, but the tiny kitten wasn't to be seen. After a few moments she emerged, painfully slowly, from the aforementioned shelter. She could hardly walk. We picked her up and took her into the house. There was fluid dripping from her mouth.
We wrapped her in a thick towel and placed her in a shallow carboard box and watched her anxiously. It looked as if she was dying.
I decided to call an emergency vet's number and made arrangements to take the kitten to a surgery not too far away from our home. I was informed that, as it was Sunday and an out of hours call, that it would be expensive. I coudn't have forgiven myself if the kitten had died without me giving it a chance of survival, no matter how slim, so I agreed to the fee and Emi and I drove to the vetinary surgery, the kitten still wrapped in the towel in the cardboard box. The lady vet, who was very sympathetic and pleasant examined the kitten. She said that the poor little thing's temperature was very low and that she thought the kitten might not make it through the night. But she coudn't figure out what the problem was. One possibility may have been poisoning, she thought.
She asked if we knew whether any neighbour might have left rat poison around or something similar. I couldn't see any reason for our neighbours to use such a thing as the cats normally take care of vermin and, as a result, we live in a rat-free environment. The vet gave the kitten an injection of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs but said we should expect the worst. It sounded hopeless.
We returned home with the kitten and kept her indoors, wrapped up in a towel and laid on top of a hot water bottle to try and get her temperature back up. We had to keep checking on her heatbeat and breathing as, at times, it appeared as if she'd given up the ghost.
Two anxious hours later, she moved slightly, her eyes flicked open, then closed again. Emi and I knelt beside her, fearing the worst. A little while after that, she slowly appeared to be more alert, looking up at us with such a pitiful gaze. Then suddenly she sat up and, after a moment's hesitancy, hopped out of her carboard box.
Within minutes, she was playing with the fringe of a carpet, trotting around the room filled with curiosity. A miracle!
We kept her inside overnight. She slept in the bathroom adjoining our bedroom, apparently content, even though she'd never spent a night inside before. Now, two days later, she seems fine. We've been anxious to keep an eye on her, dreading a relapse, but, fingers crossed, she is surviving. Last night, whilst I caught a little bit of late night tv, she slept curled up on Emi's bosom, as content as content can be. I'm in two minds as to whether we should keep her in the house as a domestic pet, or let her be part of the wild bunch who live outside in our garden. I have to think of a name for her too.
It's odd but I wasn't much of a cat person as a child. My parents preferred dogs. Cats were always dismissed as being 'not very nice' by mum and dad. But now, I really love cats. William Burroughs adored them too and Jean Cocteau said that 'cats contain the soul of a house.' Well...I'm in total agreement with that.
Looked through some photographs that Emi had taken of me at the Harold Budd farewell concert just over a year ago. I hate my appearance. That vanity thing again, I know but, I wish I could regain something of my younger appearance.
Someone posted, on the website forum, an old picture of me when I used to sport dyed blonde hair. Wow! Couldn't believe it was really me. I should have been out chasing the girls looking like that instead of being Mr. Domestic. (Not that I've ever been particularly adept at the Mr. Domestic scenario.)
I also found some photo's from way back, taken when my brother Ian got married. We were both slim young things back then. One particular photo that I like from that wedding day shows just the two of us, me in the backround and Ian in the foreground, outside the registry office in Wakefield, facing in different directions.
It's only a casual snapshot but it has something that attracts me to it. Maybe it's my casual stance...I've got my hands in my pockets and one foot half off the ground. Or maybe it's my brother Ian's happy expression and the polaroid SX70 camera that he's holding, (which I think he'd borrowed from me as we had a Be Bop Deluxe SX70 club in the band in the late '70's). Anyway, Ian and I both look fit, happy and healthy. And so damned YOUNG!
I had my Rolls Royce then and lived the archetypal rock-star life although I deliberately dressed as conservatively as possible 'off stage' to defuse people's expectations. I tried to avoid the rock gypsy vagabond look that was commonplace at the time and was attracted to the idea of looking as un-rock-star-like as possible whilst still being in a position to go on stage and take total command of a rock music audience. An audience which, at that time, was used to men wearing either denim, leather or glam satin. My rejection of this sort of signifying uniform was seen as a kind of inverse perversity, I guess. At least by those who measured authenticity by hair length and flared trouser width.
I also recently saw some photographs of the Rolls Royce mentioned above, taken on the same day, (Ian's wedding day). It was a pale metallic-blue Silver Shadow, unbelievably, the least reliable car I've ever owned, apart from the pre-VW era Skoda that I drove for a year or so after my divorce claimed everything of value.
I also have a photograph of the Rolls and my Panther Lima taken outside of Haddlesey House around the same time. There I stand, proud as punch, totally unaware of the tidal wave that was soon to sweep all that kind of thing away. I was apparently as unaware of the fact that such an ostentatious display was as much a sign of rock conformity as the tiresome heavy metal posturing I so despised at the time. But then, no one's perfect. But I digress...
Wedding Days, Birthdays, Divorces, Solicitor's appointments and Funerals, the incandescent waystations of our lives.
I've said this before but, when my brother Ian passed away on the morning of his 50th birthday in April of this year, an entire chapter of my life went with him. Just before he was buried, I arranged to have a little silver Buddhist medallion I owned placed in his suit pocket. It was in an envelope along with a farewell letter I'd written to him. The Buddha medallion had been a favourite of mine and, despite my current rejection of superstition, I wanted to give it to Ian to protect his soul and spirit in some way.
Last Saturday, when I was in London, I managed to find an absolutely identical medallion. So, I bought it to carry with me as a physical connection between the two of us. I'd looked for one on my previous visit, a few weeks earlier, but hadn't been able to locate one that was exactly the same as the one that I buried with Ian. But, almost miraculously, an identical medallion appeared. In Watkins esoteric bookshop in Cecil Court in London.
I don't know...Miraculously cured kittens and synchronistic Buddha tokens...it's enough to make me believe that there are more things between heaven and earth than I might suspect. If only in a moment of emotional need and weakness.
Meeting up with my good friend John Spence on Thursday. We usually only meet under 'working' conditions at Fairview studios. It will be good to take time out from our respective career pressures to relax and chat without any other distractions.
The Nelsonica Team Dinner coming up very soon, this Saturday. I've still got a drawing or two to finalise before then to give as gifts to the team members, (as I mentioned in my previous diary entry).
Jon Wallinger and Paul Gilby have already claimed their 'thank you' artworks and taken them home. They are local boys so have picked up their prizes during recent visits to Nelson Acres.
Reading a huge book about Edgard Varese at the moment, a massive catalogue from an exhibition held in Switzerland. Bought it second-hand locally. The pile of books by my bedside is now so high that I didn't bother to purchase a single book on my trip to London last weekend. And THAT is most unusual for me.
I will now go downstairs and see if the kitten is o.k. Nestled up to Emi's breast, no doubt. Lucky creature.
The images accompanying this diary entry are as follows:-
1: A rough felt pen/Biro sketch made by Bill Nelson at The Marquee Club, Wardour Street, London, on the 14th of January 1974 when Be Bop Deluxe performed there.
2: A photograph of Ian Nelson, (foreground), and Bill Nelson, (background), taken outside Wakefield's Registry Office on Ian's wedding day.
3: A photograph of Bill Nelson outside Haddlesey House with his Panther Lima and Rolls Royce Silver Shadow cars. Early 1980's.
Monday 20th November 2006 -- 7:00 pm
Some tragic news yesterday. Chuck Bird, who fulfilled the role of webmaster at the American Bill Nelson 'Permanent Flame' website for several years, has sadly passed away, a victim of diabetes. I received an email from his brother Larry informing me that Chuck had died just one week previous. I was deeply shocked and saddened. Chuck was a genuine fan who ran the U.S. website without any thought other than to provide fans with a facility worthy of them.
Chuck was forever loyal to the music and myself, never allowing temperament or personal ego to enter the equation. He always came across as a modest man and an extremely dedicated and knowledgeable fan. I'm proud to have counted him amongst my friends and I'm still trying to come to terms with this unexpected and unhappy development. I know that fans will feel the same sense of loss that I do.
On those occasions when I was able to meet Chuck, he was positive, optimistic and enthusiastic, always polite, respectful and kind. And when the urgent need to provide fans with a reliable U.K. website arose, Chuck was one of several people who gave me the personal encouragement and moral support I needed to go ahead with the Dreamsville project, particularly when I felt like giving up completely as a result of lack of support elsewhere.
Chuck, along with a few other generous and far-sighted people, (including Sound-On-Sound magazine, Jon Wallinger, Dave Graham, my management, my close friends and family), helped me to overcome any doubts and fears. They pursuaded me to go ahead and build a website to serve those people who cared about my work. It was thanks to their combined encouragement that the Dreamsville site has become so valued by fans.
An example of Chuck's generosity: Without any prompting from anyone, Chuck suggested that I might like to take on the bill nelson.com address that the 'Permanent Flame' site had used since its inception. He offered to transfer the ownership of the internet address over to me for use by the Dreamsville site.
He also passed on all the archived files that 'Permanent Flame' had amassed since it was originally created by Mark Rushton, back in 1995. Mark also approved of Chuck's altruistic act and I am indebted to them both for their help and co-operation, along with Paul and Ian Gilby, Sound-On-Sound magazine and the Dreamsville/Nelsonica team, who all have had a hand in setting up and running the current official website.
As a tribute to both Mark and Chuck, the original site that Mark initiated and that Chuck came to maintain has been archived as a fixed item in 'The Permanent Flame Museum,' on the Dreamsville site. It will remain as a historical testimony to their initiative and enterprise.
Once again though, for the second time this year, mortality has raised its spectre. Increasingly, I find myself experiencing personal bereavements. I accept that this is what must happen when one's friends and family enter a certain stage of life. But the knowledge that these things are inevitable does nothing to soften the blows when they come.
When all tears are shed though, it's life we're left to deal with, and our own lives and personal ability (or inability) to face the future with equilibrium and hope. It's easy to lose sight of what matters, to become wrapped up in issues of no positive advantage to us.
Maybe I'm allowing pessimism too strong a hand here, but the society we inhabit seems to have become an increasingly cynical and sick place. It's impossible to ignore the malaise that seeps into so many aspects of our daily life.
I personally find myself struggling to deal with the general unfairness and moral ambiguousness of 'things', even though I'm sometimes unwillingly sucked into their twisted orbit. But it still comes as a shock to me that some people seem incapable of grasping the bigger picture, the preciousness and fragility of life, whether it be theirs or anyone else's. It's as if some souls are born genetically immune to anything other than the most petty concerns and obsessions. Why is it that gentleness and sensitivity are in short supply whilst cynical spite and small-mindedness flourishes? It seems that it takes hardly anything these days to build an ugly monster from the most insignificant of human emotions.
Perhaps we have only two choices, either to resist the route of spiritless ignorance, or to turn our hand to the wheel, (the wheel of Dharma?) and steer away from the cheap and easy option, the tabloid mentality, the lazy temptation that leads to a profound loss of everything that might redeem us. But somehow, it becomes tougher than ever to resist the prevailing darkness and to shine our warm lamps into the cold, mean shadows.
I've been personally struggling with various, similar issues of late. I feel as if matters should be directly addressed, that certain injustices need adjustment, that things that have been portrayed in a particular light should be revealed for what they really are.
Then again, when I stand back and look at these things in context, they are so pathetic and trivial as to be not worth even the slightest effort on my part.
Maybe I should simply let the rotten go to rot. Nature will take its course without any need of intervention by me or by others. No cause for concern.
I must simply remember to get on with what experience has taught me to regard as true and real, no matter how meagre these experiences may appear in the overall scheme of things. But it's the only positive alternative and the only one I'm equipped to offer. The empty darkness is for those who have already shown themselves to be without a lamp to illuminate the way. Somemight advise me that life is dark enough without straying into the shadows of others.
But....It's not in my nature to be blind to those shadows or indifferent to those who are lost in them. As selfish and pre-occupied with my music as I often am, I find it difficult to stand back and let the suffering suffer, whether that be the runt of a cat's litter or an adult human being. It seems cruel to turn away from these issues. But I am, more often than not, ill equipped to do much about it. Whatever I do will be flawed and stricken by my own inadeqacy. I'm not up to the task, nor do I pretend to be. But I do try.
Does that excuse me? Or simply place me among the ranks of those whom I despair of the most?
Perhaps only the music I create stands a chance of offering something approaching the value of healing. Some people seem to assure me that it has that quality, or at least a potential to attain that quality. And that's why I am, and will remain, an artist first and foremost. Best to leave the argument and debate about such things to those with little else to do and even less to offer.An old cliche but a true one: A Daffodil doesn't have to agonise about being bright yellow. Nor should an artist worry about what he naturally is.
The kitten I referred to in my last diary has survived and seems fit and well, although she has continued to live the outdoor life with the other four cats that we feed. I was heartened by the response on the Dreamsville site to my telling of the tale in my previous diary entry. It says something positive about those people who appreciate my music that they are compassionate towards animals. There was such a warm response from cat-lovers on the site, many of them relating their own similar experiences and even posting photographs of their cats on the Dreamsville Forum. It was something I didn't expect but it was a pleasant surprise to get such warm support for such a simple act of kindness. As someone once said:" Never trust a person who has no empathy with cats."
Last Saturday's Nelsonica Team official dinner was a happy occasion. Ten of us around the table, (Jon, Dave Graham, Ian Haydock, Ged, Eddie, Paul Gilby, Duncan, Martin Bostock, Emiko and myself,) even though one person, (Ian C,) couldn't attend as he was away on holiday. We all had a good time although I drank rather too much wine and felt a little worse for wear the next day.
At the restaurant, I presented the team with framed artwork that I'd made for each of them. I'd been panicking, worried that I wouldn't get all the drawings finished and framed in time, so it was a great relief to finally give everyone their gift with no one left out.
There will be two new members joining the offcial Nelsonica team this coming year too. They have enthusiastically accepted the invitation that Jon Wallinger and the rest of us extended to them,amidst jokes about the strange initiation rites that they would have to undergo. Maybe I really SHOULD devise something along those lines, turn it into a quasi-masonic, mock-esoteric secret society, just for laughs!
On a practical note, the new team members will prove extremely helpful as the last couple of years has seen the annual convention becoming more complex and better attended than ever. The original team has expanded to deal with the increased content and organisational skills involved and they make a great job of it, which I know the convention attendees appreciate.
This last week, my studio equipment software was updated to deal with the proposed mixing of the ancient Be Bop Deluxe Decca sessions. Paul came over to install new software and replace an ailing floppy drive. It took a couple of days but eventually everything was re-assembled, wired up and put back in place. I'm currently going through various old plug-in hard drives to convert and store specific multi-track masters that were recorded on the old operating system. They have to be put through a special conversion process, one by one, before I can use or store them on the new O.S. There are several pieces that I definitely don't want to erase, particularly the multi-tracks for the Sailor Bill album. That project took up so much time and energy and is so complex that it would feel like sacrilege to not archive the master tracks. I might even want to remix the album, (maybe as purely instrumental pieces,) at some point in the future. Who knows? Better not to lose them, I think.
I had a brief listen to the multi-track Be Bop Decca sessions too and was taken aback by how flat and dead the recordings sound, even though they were recorded in what was the classic Decca Studios. When I put up a recently recorded piece alongside them, it suddenly became apparent how far recording technology has come since the early 'seventies. My humble little home studio system sounds expensive, rich and three-dimensional compared to the Decca recordings, which sound like they were made in a fake-fur lined box. I'm increasingly less sure of the 'vintage is best' argument, 'though to be honest, I've always been an early adopter of musical technology. In an ideal world, it's not about either/ or situations. It's fun to combine the vintage approach with the modern and that's generally the way I work with my own recordings.
The cold weather back again today. Christmas stuff in town, everywhere you look. I ought to try and get an earlier start on the seasonal shopping this year. But it will probably be last minute, as always.
The photographs accompanying this diary entry show:-
1: The rehearsal room used for the Nelsonica 06 concert preparations.
2: Bill's mixing desk in his home studio.
3: A view of Bill's home studio room.