William's Study (Diary Of A Hyperdreamer)
Wednesday 22nd October 2008 -- 9:00 pm
Too much news and not enough time to write it up in any great detail.
Nelsonica 08 is almost here and I'm way behind with my preparations, as is generally the case at this time of year...However on THIS particular occasion, I'm REALLY floundering, particularly in terms of the work I still need to complete for my part in the band's live performance. The physical and mental stress has felt much more acute than usual, so much so that I've actually been a hair's breadth away from cancelling that part of the event altogether. The extra pressure has been compounded by so many other problems...difficult to convey to anyone not actually sitting over my shoulder observing the day to day complexities and frustrations.
Anyway, more of that later but, first, a resume of matters touched upon in my previous diary entry. And I'll try to keep this as brief as possible:
Emiko came back from Tokyo on the 26th of September, (not the 25th as I'd erroneously noted in my previous entry). I was so pleased to have her home again...the two and a half weeks she was away were difficult for both of us, sometimes depressing.
Emi's mother has undergone surgery to remove the malignant tumour from her intestine. It was a worrying time for the family. Nevertheless she seems to have come through that process remarkably well, especially for a woman in her 80's.
She remained in hospital a few weeks after the operation, slowly recuperating, but was finally allowed home last weekend. We're hoping that she will continue to make progress and enjoy a complete recovery, 'though the matter is still, naturally, of some concern to Emiko and I.
Whilst Emi was away, I tried to help the time pass more quickly by spending even longer hours in my studio than usual. I began work on a special audio-visual project for this year's Nelsonica convention. It combines music, spoken-word samples, abstract sound and video cut-ups. It is titled 'The Departure Of The 20th Century In A Hail Of Memory.' The piece took three weeks to complete, (due to my slow computer and long out-of-date software), but I think it will work well as an opening item for the event.
The idea is to present the piece as soon as convention attendees have taken their seats, at the very start of the day. The images and soundtrack will create an atmosphere complimentary to the theme/title of Nelsonica 08, (ie: 'The Experimental Time Traveller's Ball'). The piece lasts for a fraction over 16 minutes and can be interpreted as a personal time-travel trip through various cultural moments gathered from of my own era, or as fragmented, cascading images of memory, a mind unspooling in a dream-encrusted, poetic twilight.
Besides the above work, I spent a fair amount of time helping my mother with her ongoing struggle to secure an appropriate settlement from her late husband's estate. This has involved the further preparation of legal documents and various meetings with solicitors.
My own part in all this has been to give time and support wherever and whenever she has needed it. Sadly, the situation remains unresolved and things have now progressed to the litigation stage. This is a highly unpleasant process for my mother but one which she has been forced into by others. I continue to be dismayed by the 'cold shoulder' she has been given and the whole sorry business is causing all of us who care for my mother a great deal of distress. In a decent world, it should be absolutely unneccesary for her to go to these absurd lengths. Although the next few weeks should see the arrival of the next phase in the proceedings, there still may be a long way to go before the matter is settled.
My mind has been constantly divided by conflicting duties, forces pulling this way and that: My mother's inheritance problems, her psychological and emotional struggles as a result of her bereavement, her practical day to day re-adjustment to life as a widow, etc. Her increased dependency on me as an only son.
Also, Emiko's concerns about her mother's health and general situation around that, Very worrying for Emi, especially being so far away across the world from her mum.
Added to this is Emiko's job redundancy and the difficulties she's faced as a result, especially trying to find employment in the current economic climate. The psychological impact this has inflicted upon her, the loss of self-confidence these kind of situations bring, all conspire to darken the mood.
Plus, she's had to endure my self-inflicted, punishing creative workload and the negative effect it seems to be having on my own health, both physical and mental. Self-inflicted, maybe...but unavoidable under the circumstances.
Then there's the list of various things required for Nelsonica, a list which seems to become more and more demanding each year. Of course, I'm not, as the saying goes, getting any younger. It definitely feels as if my energy levels are depleting as time goes on. (Or maybe it just seems this way because I take on too much. Perhaps I don't know where to draw the line.)
Anyway, I won't continue to list any more difficulties, other than to say that they have sometimes become so overwhelming that there have been moments of utter despair when I've wondered where all of this might be leading. Well, that's life. It's one thing to deal with it in theory, another in reality.
On a more positive note, let me try to list what I've actually achieved , in creative and positive terms, during the last 12 months or so:
1: An interconnected series of three instrumental albums, each filled to the brim with new examples of my guitar music. ('Silvertone Fountains,' Illuminated At Dusk,' and 'Mazda Kaleidoscope'.)
2: A brand new vocal album, ('Golden Melodies Of Tomorrow'), that weaves together various colourful threads and styles into something that, I hope, comes across as a unique and personal musical statement.
3: An exceptionally tightly packed Nelsonica limited edition album, ('Clocks And Dials'), that gathers together 38 diverse tracks across two CD's, all presented beautifully in digi-pak format.
4: A musical soundtrack for a documentary film titled 'American Stamps.' (And for which I've managed to secure a 'world premiere screening' at this year's Nelsonica.)
5: Another feature packed Nelsonica convention.
6: A solo set for Nelsonica that I've assembled and re-assembled at least three times before arriving at a concept I've titled 'Clouds, Dreams And Rain: The Melancholy Romance Of Guitars.'
7: The assembly of a band to perform as a separate item at Nelsonica. Band title? 'The Gentlemen Rocketeers.'
Bass: Dave Sturt.
Flute, Sax: Theo Travis.
Drums: Dave Cook.
Second Guitar: Dave Standeven.
Keyboards: Steve Cook.
Keyboards: Jon Wallinger.
Man up front with a guitar but with not a clue what's actually going on: Yours truly.
8: A continued, regular interface with my audience via this website diary and the Dreamsville on-line forum. Easy to underestimate how much time goes into this activity. More than people realise, I suspect.
9: The creation of a song to donate to 'Sara's Hope Foundation' as an exclusive download. Following in the footsteps of last year's 'Six Strings For Sara' instrumental track, this time it's a vocal piece, 'A Million Whistling Milkmen.'
10: A design for a limited edition Nelsonica watch.
11: I've finally managed to make some drawings and paintings for this year's Nelsonica auction...but not nearly as many as previous years. (The time just wasn't available.) However, the ones I HAVE made are interesting and this year's 'workbox' cover is especially nice, I think, being executed in paint, rather than coloured pencils. I still need to add something further to its contents though. Must remember to do this.
And there are more achievements but I don't have time to list them all...lots done but more still to do...
The main worry for me at this moment in time is that I haven't found an opportunity to start work on learning the material designated for the band set. Or, for that matter, to re-familiarise myself with the solo set music.
Here's the track list, running order for my solo set at Nelsonica:-
1: 'BLUE AMORINI.'
2: 'BEYOND THESE CLOUDS THE SWEETEST DREAM.'
3: 'IF I WERE THE PILOT OF YOUR PERFECT CLOUD.'
4: 'GOLDEN DREAM OF CIRCUS HORSES.'
5: 'THE RAINDROP COLLECTOR.'
6: 'NIGHT SONG OF THE LAST TRAM.'
7: 'THE GIRL ON THE FAIRGROUND WALTZER.'
8: 'ONLY A DREAM BUT NEVERTHELESS.'
9: 'BEATNIKS FROM OUTER SPACE (I was a junior spaceman.)'
10: 'A DREAM FOR IAN.'
11: 'FOR STUART.'
This doesn't look like an hour 15 mins worth of music but some of those pieces are quite long. And demanding. I had prepared three new instrumental tracks for the set too but there wasn't enough room for them. I didn't want to change the flow of the above set list to accomodate them, just for the sake of them being new. So maybe another day.
But here's the bottom line: I know NOTHING and rehearsals start next Monday for 3 days.
Day 1 is me on my own, trying to figure out my complex pedal board/processor rig, (which I only ever use live, never at home due to lack of space). And then I must try to run through my one hour 15 minute solo set and try to become confident enough to play it in front of an audience.
The following two days are devoted exclusively to the band, to see if we can bolt together enough tunes to make up a performance. (Two days! Jeez!) Untested territory this as we have a new line-up. And this is where I REALLY haven't a clue.
As mentioned above, I'm not prepared in the least for any of this. Just totally out of the loop. And the reason? Well, had I only the band thing to worry about, perhaps it would be o.k. But just take a look back over all those other things I've been dealing with and you'll see my problem. The short answer is: Too many things going on at once.
Tomorrow I have to take three guitars for set-ups/repairs, on Friday I have to travel to Fairview near Hull to master my backing tracks. On Saturday I have to disconnect various items from my studio, pack all the equipment I need for Nelsonica and drag it downstairs. (There's a LOT of it!) On Sunday the equipment is being collected from here and will be delivered to the rehearsal room in Leeds on Monday morning. From then on, it's rehearsals for three days as itemised above. Then a clothes dry-cleaning/preparation day, (and, I hope, a haircut), followed by last minute bits and pieces.
How I'll fit my personal learning time into any of this is a mystery. I just hope the band will forgive me when I stand there scratching my head and wondering what the next chord is. I've never been so ill-prepared and I absolutely hate it. It's not my style. I hope the Nelsonica audience will forgive me too, when I appear a shaking, nervous wreck on stage on the day itself.
This diary entry, of course, helps matters not a bit. It's taken up far too much time already, even though it contains a third of the information I intended it to carry.
So, I'm going to close here and see what I can achieve in the time available to me before I go to bed.
So... the next entry will be AFTER Nelsonica, (provided my sanity is still intact!) Wish me luck and if you're going to the convention, please be gentle with me!
Images with this diary are:-
1: Bill and Emi circa 1983/4.
2: Tinkerbell The Cat in Bill 'n' Emi's garden.
3: A photo of Bill's Nelsonica 08 artworks
4: A closer look at the Nelsonica 08 artworks.