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UNFOLDINGS...

Watched in shock as Notre Dame cathedral in Paris burned out of control in a raging fire last night. Live on television, the sight was heartbreaking as the beautiful Gothic architecture, well over 800 years old, succumbed to the flames whilst Parisiens looked on in horror.


I'd visited Notre Dame cathedral many years ago when performing with my brother Ian at a Parisian art gallery. I'd also performed at the 'French Church' in London, (which is properly titled the Church of Notre Dame and which contains a symbolic work by Jean Cocteau.)


A long held interest in the esoteric, hermetic aspects of religious architecture, (partly as a result of my past involvement with Rosicrucianism, Martinism and other occult movements,) found much food for thought in the complex symbolism of Notre Dame in Paris, and in its more modest London namesake.

In tandem with this, in the 1980s, I also became a member of an esoteric French Masonic Lodge which met every month in London. It was a very interesting time...


I'd developed a love of, and respect for French culture back in my teenage years as an art student. It was then that I first discovered Jean Cocteau, as well as many other wonderful French artists. In later years, I found that Cocteau had painted a mysterious mural in the Church Of Notre Dame in London, a painting which has been interpreted by some as having Gnostic and esoteric meaning. It was enlightening to see this 'in the flesh' when I performed the 'Opus Illuminatus'/'Altar Pieces' set there.


Paris remains one of my favourite cities, far more beautiful than London, so to see its great cathedral engulfed in flames was devastating. But this morning's television news reveals that the damage, whist still terrible, hasn't destroyed the building as completely as was initially feared and that it may be possible to rebuild and re-create much of what has been lost, (though some precious atrefacts contained in the cathedral's interior are gone forever.)


It will be a massive job costing billions and will take many years to complete, but at least there is hope that this iconic, eight hundred year old edifice may be restored, if not quite to its former 12th century glory, then perhaps to a reasonable semblance of such.


Here at home, the work I began last week on assembling a running order for my next new album has taken a dramatic turn. The album will now no longer be titled 'Vulcan Street', nor will it contain the track of the same name. I hadn't listened to the title track for two or three months but when I heard it whilst attempting to slot it in to the album's running order, I decided it wasn't good enough to warrant a place amongst the other songs. One reason for this was a sound within the drum track which resembled an electro-mechanical relay switching on and off. In isolation it was an interesting sound, or so I thought when recording it. However, in the context of the finished song and its myriad overdubs it sounds like a serious fault or glitch and its incessant clicking gets on my nerves. Perhaps in a different context it might prove interesting but it doesn't work in this song. And the song itself doesn't thrill me so much anyway.


The consequence of all this is that I've dumped the song, and the album's title. So, ‘Vulcan Street' is no more, demolished, gone.


I'll now need to restructure the album's track list and come up with a suitable new title. I have a couple of alternative titles in mind but will sit on them for now and see how things feel once the running order is finally settled.


Some changes to the content of the album too: I discovered a few songs left over from the 'Auditoria' sessions that I'd forgotten about and will try to incorporate a couple of them into this latest album. One of these is the song 'The Woman Of Tomorrow' which I've revisited and remixed. I guess things aren't finished until they're finished...


Other news: Last Thursday I travelled to London to film a documentary interview about Be Bop Deluxe's 'Futurama' album. Esoteric Records' Mark Powell conducted the interview which went well. Hopefully it will prove interesting to fans.

Esoteric/Cherry Red are soon to re-release the 'Futurama' album in a similar luxury box set edition to the recently released 'Sunburst Finish' package. Remixes and extra goodies abound.


Whilst at the record company's offices I also autographed a limited edition run of photo-cards which are planned for inclusion with the future re-release of the 'Modern Music' album. Managed to sign 250 of them in the afternoon before grabbing a cab back to Kings Cross station.


Once on the train I had to test my blood-sugar levels and inject insulin due to my Diabetes. This required locking myself in the train toilet whilst I attended to the task. I never like doing this in public toilets...aside from the hygiene concerns it feels somewhat sordid. The injection has to be administered into my belly, which requires an undoing of trousers and there is always the fear, on a train, that someone will burst in to the toilet whilst I'm in the middle of the act. There's also the problem of the train's lurching, swaying movement which doesn't help matters. Why can't UK trains be more like their Japanese equivalents? Japanese trains always seem to glide smoothly over the rails.


Earlier last week I fulfilled my appointment at the hospital for my regular eye injection. The scans revealed that the condition had deteriorated and that I required injections in both eyes this time. Having the procedure in one eye is unpleasant enough but it's particularly depressing having to endure it in both. It was well into the next day before the discomfort and black 'blobs' in my vision eased.

I get really down and depressed about my gradually diminishing eyesight. These injections are not a cure, (there is no cure for this kind of thing,) but merely a means to slow its progress. But it doesn't get any better, only worse. Reading has become such a slow, laborious process involving not only spectacles but a magnifying glass too. And even then it's far from easy.


I haven't yet made the change from my more hardware-based recording studio to the newer software-based one. I'm hoping to get this in place sometime in June with the help of my studio engineer friend John Spence and computer wrangler Paul Gilby. I must admit I'm more than a little worried about how my eyes will cope with a more screen-oriented, computer software approach. We'll find out soon enough I suppose…


2 pm now and I really should stop writing and get out for my usual walk around town to help reduce blood-sugar levels. Have to get back by 6pm for another telephone interview.


But, whilst on the subject of town: I was browsing in WH Smith's newsagents the other day and when I came home I was shocked to find that someone had sneakily taken a photograph of me browsing the magazine racks and then posted the pic on Facebook for all to see. Whoever did it must have been standing near enough beside me to get a close-up shot, but didn't have the good grace to ask if I minded. Nor did they ask for my permission to post it on Facebook. I was really annoyed by the downright cheek of this and it upset me for a couple of days. Very rude.


Oh, one more thing: Yesterday I was passing the Oxfam book shop in town and, on the spur of the moment decided to go in and have a look through the small rack of second-hand CDs the shop carries. To my surprise, in the section marked 'Jazz' was a copy of my solo album 'Return To Jazz Of Lights', (which, ironically, is not a jazz album.) Someone must have originally purchased it from my website and either found it not to his taste or simply ripped it to his computer before taking the CD to the Oxfam shop. Whatever, 'Return To Jazz Of Lights' is one of my absolute favourite albums, an album I consider to be amongst the very best I've recorded so I decided to liberate it from the Oxfam shop and so took it to the counter to purchase. Its price was £2.99, an absolute bargain! But how strange, having to buy one of my personal all-time best albums back. At least now it has a good home.

A flyer for 'The Jewel', an as yet unreleased solo album...



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© Bill Nelson 2020

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