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I sat with a man

I sat with a man,
Over Coffee,
He taught me that divorce would cost me 10 grand for each year,
From my pension.
He said,
Contrary to appearances,
He felt positive about the future.
Now, he was in control of his own life,
Nothing more, nothing less.

But he couldn’t stop shaking,
And he could not look me,
or the waitress,
In the eye.

And she was a real looker.
But only a happily married man could tell you that.

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Judas Kiss Review

Lee from the recommended Judas Kiss Magazine has just been in touch with an advance proof of the Pilgrim review due to appear on their new look site – to be launched soon. Here is the review in full…

Human Greed – ‘Pilgrim: New World Homestead’ CD

To create music that truly sets a mood or changes an atmosphere simply by its presence and the tones it resonates is somewhat of an impressive feat. All the elements of its structure and its presentation have to be just right in order for it so succeed and yet time and time again an endless barrage of artists constantly try to achieve this formidable task and quite often fail. Ok the whole dark ambient genre is built up around this but how often does it actually reach its it marker by presenting a set of recordings that is little more than just a soundtrackesque set of low rumbles and drones?

Outside of this specific genre it’s even more hit and miss with so many recording artists just falling short. Of course there are those who do manage to skillfully succeed in their quest for wonderfully abstract atmospheric music and thankfully ‘Pilgrim: New World Homestead’ the second album by Scottish duo Human Greed does just that through the nine tracks that make up their album.

Consisting of dark abstract electronic drones and soundscapes that intermingle with glitched shadows of noise and the occasional sampled vocals, Human Greed create an icy cold and deeply unsettling atmosphere that emanates from their compositions and holds you firm with its powerfully malevolent grip. Like a musical accompaniment to a fragmented dream the mood and spirit of their work snatches imagery and feelings from various sources and delivers them in a hypnotically compelling way. At first you want to reject them but very quickly they absorb themselves into your being and become something you can lose yourself in all too quickly with little sign of escape.

From track to track the structure of their work changes. From echoes of early tape manipulations to stark and isolating drones to manipulated electronic noises and sounds to a subtle and yet affirmatively noticeable dark ambient structure that when combined together produces a cleverly structured dense sound and essence that produces its own aura around it and drops the listener squarely into the atmosphere it produces. Bingo! Spot on. It works just like it was meant to and whilst producing such a complex and indulging listening experience at the same time. ‘Pilgrim….’ Showcases Human Greed’s skill at producing and delivering wonderfully engulfing ambient-esque music of the very highest quality by showcasing a set of recordings what grows with each listen and entices the listener deeper and deeper into its compositions at the same time – a wonderfully absorbing listen. LP

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picking at the seam

you start on the sermon on the mount
and I will take the ascension
and clutter it with doubt

Lies, of course. I will spend the day clearing up all the fallen apples from the garden and cutting back the briers.
The soil has darkened and hardened, and really I should be taking to my bed.
A new friend has suggested that I digest some Bachelard. She thinks it may bring me back to verse, to words.

But I am more taken by the fact that I would have to take to my bed to read the text.

Forgive me. I am forty and I still fall asleep in the middle of my lessons.

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Business plan of the gods

A statement has arrived from the US distributor via the UK distributor so I have been sitting down with paper, pencil and calculator this evening – and – given the current exchange rate of 1.85 dollars to the pound, the retail price applied in the USA, the cut of the US distributor, the cut of the UK distributor, and the cost of getting product across the Atlantic, it appears that every copy of a Human Greed disk sold in the united States costs me just under £2 (GBP).

You get the cocaine, i’ll call in the dancing girls!


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Blight in white satin

The trouble with going off on holiday and finding yourself stranded in a strange home with only what you brought with you to fill the space – is that there is never any music.

There is a radio that picks up BBC Radio 4, and that is all.

This, in theory, is not necessarily a bad thing. Certainly, I have followed with interest Bill Drummond’s idea of having a period of time without music – a kind of enforced silence to guide you into considering why you do actually need music in your life.

But actually what happens without access to your own record collection is that you find yourself walking around a holiday house in Scotland, looking at the rain, completely unable to get Knights in White Satin out of your head.


Sometime later I realized that I could be playing tunes through the laptop – albeit through the laptops own speakers – so the effect is somewhat like wiring up baked bean cans as speakers.

Nonetheless I managed to crank out some Henry Hall, and had my son padding around the kitchen in his pyjamas saying “hush, hush, hush – here comes the bogeyman” and even went so far as to play around with GarageBand – which goes right against my work ethic of never deploying a piece of software unless it costs – in stores – a handsome three or four figure sum. I managed, by playing around with an oboe sample, a paragraphic EQ and a Dynamics Processor to achieve the ship foghorn effect I have been chasing for a month or so. Whether it will sound as effective when I get it back to the studio is, frankly, unlikely – but it got me out of the hall and away from Knights in White Satin.

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Smalltown lunch and dinner

My wife and I arrived in Anstruther for lunch, just as the school kids puked en masse from the school gates and began weighing themselves down with chips, low grade burgers and pies. They looked collectively monstrous. There was, naturally, a good turnout of last years seniors, already with prams and screaming babes of their own to hand, already spilling like over risen dough from the waist bands of their jeans, already tired and old around the eyes, bitter, sullen and stupid around the mouth… and so forth… There were literally hundreds of them.

And my wife was asking what I thought I would be listening to now if I was their age.

I found myself twittering on about how now more than ever I would be creating my own noise.

I cited the lack of artifact with the passing of tangible media in favour of downloads, and the democratising of art depriving the scene of aspiration, idolising of role models, focus, aim, and so forth. I mentioned the easy availability of software, the rise of the laptop artist… I felt older with each word. My words sucking all my credibility from the moment at hand.

Later in the evening – after an incomparable meal at The Cabin in Anstruther we decided to be perverse and get the bus back down the coast to Elie. (Perverse in that we chose to wait in the dark and cold for a 2 quid bus journey at the end of a £120 meal) The timing of the bus co-incided with the end of a teen disco and so we boarded with around sixty kids dressed in little more than trainer bras and mini skirts, mummy’s white stilletoes and a lot – a lot – of glitter. All was white, all was lace, all was Beckham gel and highlights. Mad flirting, scheming against the bus driver, trying to get a rise out of any stranger getting off the bus.

You could almost see the clean, straight line that will take them from here to long hours in front of daytime television, hopeless scrabbling for shit jobs in a fucked town, thickening, darkening, sliding, ever sliding into complaint, consumerism and mediocrity… and suddenly I thought of the little “goths” you get just once in awhile these days. Big Hair, make up, leather, sulking, pouting – and I couldn’t help but think – I wonder what they’re listening to, or making – right now in their bedrooms in their loving parents homes. They cop the blame for being the strange, unusual and dangerous, but here, as in every other city on earth, they do not partake of the everyday vulgarity of the grease-stinking herd. They are writing dreadful poetry, they are weeping over the cruel hand of fate that cast them into this anonymous hell, they are ridiculous in every way, pretentious, privately brazen, vain, obsessed, obsessive, preposterous – and I am with them every step of the way. They are the ones, largely, who get out, who reinvent themselves, who renew, who read like fuck, who scribble and scratch, who dream, who ultimately, to paraphraze Choukri, bend fate to their desire.

Yes, I’ll listen to the comical nonsense that these little warriors of the wasteland, hidden from the small town night, are listening to.

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It seems the curious thing with biographies is that good people survive bad ones. Or, perhaps more accurately, if you are interested in the individual you can read through a bad biography – perhaps only reading into it what you want to.

And this goes for autobiography too. William Buroughs renamed Paul Bowles’s Without Stopping as Without Telling – and certainly the book was a lesson in economy. Then Sawyer Laucanno’s Invisible Spectator appeared – the mere mention of it would throw Bowles into a rage. For myself, I could find nothing untoward in it, nor in Millicent Dillon’s numerous portraits, etc. It wasn’t until I saw Cherifa and Mrabet and some of the other “local” players in the story interviewed that I began to see something uncomfortable – that Bowles and his cronies were, to a degree, little more than East Coast snobs. Bowles armed as much by the manners of the well to do than any deep empathy with the “jumblies” he sought to live among. A return to the written texts merely made this suspicion more concrete and opened my eyes to my previous blinkered reading. (which does beg the question – what blinkers am I wearing now?)

The Tim Mitchell biography of John Cale that I have just finished reading was a dismal affair; its superficial, fawning vacuousness matched only by the proof readers ineptitude. Given that this was originally published by Peter Owen – a publisher not shy of charging a fortune for a pamphlet – I find it extraordinary why they elected not to treat the proofing of a manuscript as an important part of the process. Perhaps this all goes to explain why I picked it up for £3 in a remainder store. However, the fact is that Cale remains a very intriguing man – and consequently I read through the work more or less in a single sitting.

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The Bedside

Sitting by the side of the bed lies a John Cale biography, Rubicon, on the collapse of the Roman Empire, Sam Harris’s End of Faith and An Introduction to Repertory Grids. There are a number of concerns here and, of course, its unlikely I’ll get beyond the Cale biography on this trip away from home. And that will be enough to get me stoked up, fired and frustrated at the lack of noise making equipment and time I have to hand in this windy little retreat by the sea.

Daddy climbs the stairs with cosy bear and the turning of Caesar.
Christ lies in ruins with his father and his father’s brothers,
Weeping over their broken toys,
And you, you pick at the paper on your wall, tearing at the yachts and lighthouse.
Daddy gives you cosy bear and kisses your warm little head,
Puts Caesar to bed, consoles the fallen idols,
And stares out into the dark, with no small degree of anxiety
As logic and reason march all over the horizon,
Burning churches, kicking the Middle East out of the ninth century,
recasting the law, re-imagining poetry in the clean hands of scientists.
I take my anxiety back down the little wooden hill
And ask to be entertained by small lights in the corner of the room.
Instead, I am given wine – and the wine is good,
And all the little corner lights offer…
Polar Bears digging little troughs in the snow and lying down to die in the wind,
Ice failing, wanderings into open oceans,
21st century money coming face to face with Dark Age reason in the sun, in the sand, in the jungle – in the places where our oil hides;
machete, machete, machete…

And a night that never ends